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(2015) #pg70pit MG Winners

Thanks for visiting our Middle Grade winners! These are seven picks of the top-rated entries judged by voice. We looked for thoughtful word choice, appropriate rhythm, and evocative imagery. Don’t forget cohost Carissa’s top 7 entries, on her blog!


Code Name: I See Your True Colors Shining Through

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): I turned my arms into chainsaws and sliced through the water, only taking one breath. As soon as my fingers hit the wall, I somersaulted and made for the other end of the lane like crazy. When I reached it, I leaned against the edge, sucking air.

“Rena?” She’d disappeared.

Suddenly she popped up right in front of me. I yelped and may have even peed a little. Did she feel that?

Taking my face in her hands à la Spinlow, she leaned over, kissing me right on the nose. Enough lighting surged through me to electrocute us both.

“What was that for?” I asked, voice cracking.

Rena squeezed my facial chub. “Jordan Ray Murphy,” she whispered with an insane, Zane-like gleam in her eyes, “that was the freakiest – and fastest – I’ve ever seen anybody your age swim. And you weren’t even kicking.”

“I was.”

“Well, not properly.” After that, Rena made me swim a billion more laps, then finally pulled herself out of the pool and motioned for me to follow. I did, crossing my arms over my moobs.

“That’s enough for tonight. Let’s get you home so you can go to bed.”

Thank God.

“I’ll pick you up tomorrow as soon as you’re done milking. Then we’ll start your training regime. And don’t eat breakfast.” She tossed me a towel. “I’ll have something ready for you that’s allowed on your diet.”
I stopped drying my hair. “Diet?”

Word Count: 35,000

Genre: Contemporary Humorous

7 words for your MC: Overweight eighth-grader swims toward his operatic aspirations


Code Name: It’s Close to Midnight

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words): “It’s time, Justin. Your doctor even believes if you accept she’s not coming back, your panic attacks might stop and—”

“First, I thought my conversations with my Doc were private. Second, I’m much better.” Sweat trickles down my cold back. She set me up with this dinner. Orange chicken and rice churn in my stomach.

“I’m trying to do what’s best for us.”

Guilt punches at me but I block the blow. How could she want to get rid of mom’s stuff, forget about her?

“Okay, just calm down. Justin, breathe.”

Didn’t realize I wasn’t. She’s a little fuzzy so I blink hard. Inhale, Exhale… “I vote no on the roommate. I’ll get a job. I can cut grass, pick up trash. I’ll find something. We don’t need to gut Mom’s room.”

“We’re not—It’s been over a year. She’s not coming back,” she says softly.

Don’t know how to respond to that. I grit my teeth so hard my jaw snaps.

“Think about it. We can talk later, okay?”

All kinds of thoughts and feelings bubble up inside of me, but I swallow them down. This isn’t how I wanted to spend my last moments with her.

“What? So, you hate me now? I suck at being a big sister, huh?”

My gaze drops to the table. The fire in my throat is only a little less intense than the blaze behind my eyes.

“Hey, you’re supposed to disagree.”

I shrug. “You do suck at it sometimes.”

Word Count: 34,000

Genre: Fantasy Adventure

7-word description for your MC: Sad, broken boy challenges monster, reclaims life.


Code Name: Father of mine… where have you been?

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“The cure’s here?” Dad says. “Where? Which plant is it?”

My voice catches. The cure isn’t in the grove, but I know Dad won’t believe me if I say that. I point to a plant behind him. If Dad wants a closer look, he’ll have to move away from me.

Not that distance will save me from his arrows.

“This?” Dad says. “Are you sure?”

I can’t answer. I can’t even move my head.

“This is hellebore, Asclepius. It’s toxic.”

Dad pulls an arrow from his quiver.  He nocks it and aims at me.

I flatten myself behind the huge oak tree, but with Dad on the other side it might as well be a sapling.

“The offer stands, but this is your last opportunity to take it,” Dad says. “What did you use?”

I opt for the truth. The way Chiron talked, it’s doubtful the Pantheon can use the plant anyway.

“Vlita,” I say. “I used vlita.”

The grove is too quiet. I peek out from behind the tree. I can’t tell if Dad’s furrowed brow means he’s angry or confused, but I fear he’ll soon call me a liar and let loose the arrow.

“Vlita?” he says, “You mean the weed?”

My head bobbles a yes.

“And where do I find the kid?”

“I don’t know.”

Thwack.

The oak I’m hugging blasts in two, piercing my hands with splinters.  The thunder of cracking tree limbs echoes around me, and the earth rumbles. I keel over, hands on knees, trying to keep my balance.

Dad nocks another arrow.

Word Count: 89K

Genre: Mythic Fantasy

7 words for your MC: Curing patient reveals estranged father’s murderous plan


 Code Name: More Than Just a Dream

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Connor tilted his head to one side. “Phillip, how’re you going to make all that money?”

“Real estate, like my dad.” Phillip tossed Antonio a chocolate bar. “Mia, how’s that Ouija board working out?”

“What?” Mia stiffened, the heat from the bonfire nothing compared to the heat now rushing into her face. She couldn’t relax for one second around this kid. “Well…I—”

“You know, dude,” Connor cut in. “It’s just for fun.”

“Is it?” Out of nowhere, Phillip whipped the box of graham crackers sideways at Connor, but Connor, all quick reflexes, caught it easily with his free hand.

“Nice catch,” Mia didn’t bother hiding her smile.

Phillip smirked. “Antonio says you think you talked to a ghost.” He lowered his skewer into the flames, lighting all four of his marshmallows on fire.

Mia’s smile faded. Seriously? Her own brother, spilling her secrets. She shot Antonio a furious glance, but he kept his head down, concentrating on breaking the chocolate into pieces.

“Really?” she asked Phillip, leaning back in her chair, all casual. “What else did he say?”

“Not much.” He pulled his skewer out of the flames and blew out the now blackened, shriveled marshmallows. “That’s why I’m asking you.”

Connor laughed. “None of it made sense. It just pointed out random letters.”

Mia wanted to hug him. Maybe she couldn’t count on her brother to be loyal, but she could count on her best friend. Even if her best friend wasn’t totally on board with her plan to search cabin three. Yet.

Word Count: 40,000

Genre: Mystery

7-words for your MC: Desperate to save grandparents’ failing lake resort


Code Name: Dream Weaver I Believe

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

My face presses against something scratchy, cold and hard. Every bone in my body feels bruised. Putting my hands under me, I push up, but the ground doesn’t look like the wooden planks of the ship. It’s more like cement.

I roll over and stare at a starry sky. It was daylight a second ago, and the temperature must have dropped below freezing. I rub my arms as I sit up, staring at a city skyline stretching across the water. The cement is part of a wharf lined with warehouses. So the ship didn’t catch me. Am I somehow back in New York? Did Jake wake up? He must have.

I scramble to my feet and jog down the pier, searching for any signs of life. Every few yards a lamppost emits a halo of light along the wharf, but the buildings remain in shadows. I run faster, trying to keep myself warm and wishing I could’ve got my coat and backpack from the ship. I’d at least be able to use my cellphone on this side of the Mirage.

After passing a few ocean liners, I finally find a work crew piling containers onto a conveyor belt and transferring them to a ship.

“Hello!” I shout, waving to them.

They stop working, and one of them walks over.

“This is a secure loading zone,” he says, his hot breath fogging in the cold air. “What are you doing out here?”

Word Count: 56K

Genre: Urban Fantasy

7 words for your MC: Human lie detector; seer of dream dimensions.


Code Name: The Dream that You Dare

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

Everyone was gawking. Unless I wanted my reputation here to be the same as it was in Cleveland, squared, this was my last chance.

I pulled off my hood and turned to Woody. “I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

I fielded questions until the bell rang. It was easier than I thought it would be. Everyone was shouting at once, so I got to pick and choose.

“What was the audition like?” asked Ernesto.

“Well, when I got there, they handed me these SIDES. Sides are scenes with dialogue. I had a few minutes to look them over, then I read for the director.”

Not that I’d ever actually seen a side. At my audition, they were only looking for non-union extras. I’d stood in line for four hours in the hot sun before I was allowed inside the building for my thirty seconds with the casting people. They told me to say my name and age. Then they sent me to another line to have my measurements taken. I was the right size to fit one of the costumes, a parochial school uniform that was the sweatiest, itchiest thing on the planet, so I was in.

“How much money did you make?” This was from Woody, of course.

“I don’t know. I never saw my check.” The girl who sat next to me in the bleachers said they were paying us $27. Plus lunch. “My mom gave me $10 and put the rest in the bank for college.” Or maybe it went towards the electric bill.

Word Count: 51K

Genre: Realistic, historical

7-word description for your MC: Earned her artistic license at age six


Code Name: I Was Not Magnificent.

Your 70th Page (up to 259 words):

“Of course he’s not mine,” Rapscallion answered. “One look at him should tell you that. Where’s his dazzling good looks? His impeccable fashion sense? His luxurious hair?” He laughed, as though at the ridiculousness of the idea. “He’s just travelling with me for a while.”

“Ah, well, it’s a pleasure all the same,” said Ernest, shaking Zack’s hand. “Where are you from then, my boy?”

“London,” Zack answered.

Ernest frowned.

“You’ve gotta be a little more specific when you’re travellin’, mate,” Rapscallion explained. “What planet, what time, what galaxy?”

“Oh, right.” Zack scratched his head.  “Planet Earth then, I guess. From … 2014.”

“And what galaxy is that?”

“Erm … the big one?”

Ernest chuckled.

“He’s from the Milky Way,” said Rapscallion.

“Oh, how marvellous!” said Ernest, clapping his hands together. “Such an exciting place. What is it you’re doing travelling with Rapscallion exactly?”

“He’s taking me to an auction. Part of his charity work.”

Ernest looked at Rapscallion suspiciously. “Charity work?”

“Yeah, you know, helpin’ unhappy kids and all that.”

“I see.” Ernest paused. “I don’t mean to offend you, Rapscallion, but you’ve never struck me as the charity work kind of man before.”

“Just turnin’ over a new leaf, aren’t I? Trying to do something for the kids and all that.”

“I see.” Ernest nodded, though he didn’t seem entirely convinced. Then his face darkened suddenly, as if a thought had just occurred to him. “This auction, however … it wouldn’t be Wilhelmina’s auction, would it?”

Word Count: 65,000.

Genre: Science Fiction.

7 words for your MC: Troubled boy gets chance to time travel.


Click here to see more MG entries

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Click here to see Adult entries

Are you an agent who would like to request more from these writers? Comment below with the code names, how many pages you’d like to see, and your contact information. Alternatively, you may email veritylanelaraATgmailDOTcom with your requests.

Winning entrants, it’s your responsibility to vet agents and see if they would be a good fit for you.

Writers, go cheer each other on with the hashtag #pg70pit on Twitter!

6 thoughts on “(2015) #pg70pit MG Winners

  1. Christa Heschke says:

    I’d like to see I See Your True Colors Shining Through and The Dream that You Dare. Please send the first 25 pages, query and synopsis to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com

  2. Lisa Jane Weller says:

    I love the sound of ‘I Was Not Magnificent’. If the author of this entry would be interested in querying me, I’d love to read more! Please feel free to send a query letter (including author bio) and the first 50 pages of your manuscript (attached as a Word/rtf file) to “submissions[at]broadlandliterary[dot]com”, with the subject line “Pg70pit Submission – Your Novel’s Title (Genre)”. Many thanks!

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