Yes! So here they are – the winning #pg70pit entries in the MG category.
Judges scored entries based on the strength of their writing voice. These fourteen 70th pages from unpublished manuscripts got the highest scores in the middle grade category.
The fourteen winners are divided equally between this blog and Lara Willard’s blog (in no particular order).
Agents may request queries, partials, or fulls in the comments.
On Lara Willard’s Blog:
- Science Fiction—Look at that sky, life’s begun
- Mystery—Another One Bites the Dust
- Fantasy—We Will Walk Careless
- Contemporary—In an Octopus’ garden in the sea
- Fantasy—We’ve Got Magic to Do
- Fantasy—Are we Dancer?
- Contemporary—We say nothing more than we need
On this blog – see below:
- Fantasy—Shine Bright like a Diamond
- Contemporary—I want to fly like an eagle
- Fantasy—She’s so good at being in trouble
- Fantasy—A Lionheart
- Science Fiction—Smiles returning to the faces
- Mystery—I’m still looking up
- Fantasy—Once there was an African Love Song
[Shine Bright like a Diamond]
7 words for your MC: Eager, precocious tween helps, heedless of consequences.
Siggie dragged his hand down his face, willing away the anger tightening it. Master will get mad at another outburst. “Let’s start over, okay, Ern? I’m Sigorart, but you can call me Siggie. I wanna buy from you for my master. You know him—the Severe Magus.”
“Merkey-Ben ain’t here, Underfoot.” Ern stepped around the stall, passing his hand over the many glass jars packed with dried herbs and gnarled roots. “I don’t have to sell you any of these. What’s to stop me from squashing you with my boot and taking your money?”
The massive wolfhound carried Siggie forward, snarling. The merchant stomped his large foot, and she responded in kind, slamming her huge paw on the cobblestones.
Siggie squeezed his legs against her flanks. Please don’t back down, Corolla. He can probably smell my fear from here with that big, fat nose. “I don’t need my master to deal with the likes of you. Back off before I feed your liver to my wolfhound.”
The merchant looked from them to the clamoring crowd. Several guards around the area had weaved to the edge of the circle. Ern cleared his throat and scratched his neck. “Ah, bah!” He waved Siggie away. “You tell Merkey-Ben to come see me himself. I’ll not be selling my precious goods to an upstart underfoot.”
Siggie clenched his fists in the wolfhound’s neck hair. “My master’s name is Arch Magus Emerekerben the Severe, and I’m a gnome. Go ahead, Pinkskin. Get either of those wrong again. I dare you.”
Word Count: 36k
[I want to fly like an eagle]
7 words for your MC: Space-obsessed sixth-grader shoots for stars. (Crashes, burns.)
“Hey!” Beau yelled, hopping up. “I was about to slay the boss dragon. You just made me lose my golden nun-chucks!”
“Have you seen what’s going on at my house?” Marty pointed out the window.
“MAR-TY! MAR-TY!” the crowd chanted over the Ninja Lord theme.
Beau stared at the swarm of kids on Marty’s lawn. “Dude, you are totally famous! Can I have your autograph?”
“Read the diaper sign!”
Beau winced. “Look, that wasn’t my fault. The reporter asked if I knew anything interesting about you, and it just . . . slipped out. She tempted me with chocolate-covered cruellers. You know chocolate makes me crazy.”
“And you know my life is over, don’t you?”
“Yeah, right. You’re a celebrity now, thanks to me.”
“You betrayed me for donuts! I figured there was at least an autographed jock strap from Super Bowl Joe involved.”
Beau’s eyes turned evil. “You. Take. That. Back.”
Crossing his arms, Marty said the stupidest thing possible. “Make me.”
Beau climbed on top of the couch, King Kong-style. He hurled himself at Marty, smashing him to the floor. Marty was no match for Beau’s beef, and from the pain in his scalp, he was pretty sure his locker wound had exploded. There was only one way to escape – unleashing the mother of all nipple twists.
“That’s not fair!” Beau yelped, rolling off Marty long enough for him to get away.
“Like what you did to me was fair!”
Belinda trotted into the den, still in her horse suit. “Greetings, Martian!”
Word Count: 33k
[She’s so good at being in trouble]
7 words for your MC: Tween Scientist discovers Earth’s lost magical twin
Beneath the arched dome of twisting roots and sod, they passed a water mill, a parchment shop, and an Italian guy claiming the best pizza in Washington Ditch City. Nobody cared about Riley or the tree-girl beside her, but they stared hard at Marey. A string of whispers and frowns followed them.
“Did you turn them all into trees, too?” Quinn asked, but Marey ignored the dig as she led them down a dark, mossy alleyway. Behind the squat saloon, ragged soldiers crouched low around a dice game. Riley’s throat caught, but she quickly searched their foreheads. The General’s rot mark was missing.
“WOOO!” Two glowing hands shot upward and gave themselves a high five. A loud, disappointed roar erupted from the huddle as pebbles rained down.
“Ready fer ’nother beating, boys?” Path’s pebbly hands smashed into one giant fist and grabbed the dice.
Marey sighed. “There’s our lout.”
She pushed her way in and climbed atop the jackpot of unfamiliar coins and tarnished medals to loud booing. She crossed her arms. “We’re here for Path.”
“Oh, it’s you, y’old bat,” Path said, his speech slurred. “How’s schlessons, girls?” A wobbly finger pointed at Quinn’s half-human half-tree form. “Someone’s got studying to do!”
“Take ’em!” a soldier said, sneering. “I can’t stand ’is gloating ways.” He rested a hand on his rusty musket.
“As if that thing still shoots, Tolliver. Oh, please!” But Path scooped up his winnings and swooshed inside the saloon. He didn’t clear the doorframe, but he didn’t notice, either. “Well, come on, bat!”
Word Count: 75k
7 words for your MC: She’s earnest with good intentions, accidents unintended.
We’re all likely about to die.
In my defense, jumping inside a whale’s mouth did save our lives before it doomed us to a watery grave. I feel like I should at least get credit for that. Maybe some angel wings when I get to Heaven?
But yeah, we’re probably going to die.
Which makes this no different than any other day in my life since we fled from the witch hunters I suppose. So, like the two hundred days before, I hold on tight and set to work helping my family survive. The water leaking into the whale’s mouth is making both difficult.
The ocean pressure coils around the whale like a boa constrictor. My head aches as if it’s compressed by the same. The whale I summoned into the world is anchored in my mind. Everything that afflicts my whale echoes through me.
Mercy’s dainty hands clenching my shirt are the only reminder I need of the consequences if I fail to keep the whale manifested. Thousands of pounds of water surround us and only my belief that this whale is real is shielding us from it.
Faster, I think, imagining the whale clenching its mouth and paddling its tail like a sprinting dolphin.
The water pooled in the whale’s mouth shifts as the leviathan heeds my call, causing us to float within its mouth. In the darkness, there’s no way to know how close we are to sliding into its throat.
Word Count: 59k
[Smiles returning to the faces]
7 words for your MC: Become an inventor like Dad? No way!
Several makeshift signs had been nailed onto the two posts at the entrance to the mostly absent bridge, with warnings hastily scrawled in dripping red paint: Danger! No Trespassing! Go Back! Death and Dismemberment! Something Wicked This Way Comes!
Ledger stood up in the Jeep and held onto the top of the windshield. “This doesn’t look good.”
Savvy stood too, leaning against her brother. “What do we do now?”
They all got out of the Jeep and stood in front of it, surveying the impassible gulf that lay between the broken bridge and the other side. Seymour was thefirst to speak.
“According to my calculations, the bridge that isn’t there used to span exactly one hundred eighty-seven feet, four inches—or if you prefer metric, that’s fifty-seven point one meters.”
Ledger’s shoulders slumped. “That’s a lot of meters.”
Piper leaned forward to peer into the ravine. “It’s a long way down. Even if we could lower ourselves from here and climb back up the other side, it would take forever.”
Savvy was the first to perk up. “Maybe we could fly over, using Granddad’s umbrella!”
Ledger shook his head. “It wasn’t strong enough to carry me, remember?”
“Oh, yeah, you’re right.”
Piper put one hand on the top of her head, the other hand holding her chin, as if to contain some wild thoughts that might escape before they were fully formed. After a minute of concentrated staring into space, she spoke slowly. “A zipline.”
Ledger and Savvy answered together. “A what?”
Word Count: 68k
Genre: Science Fiction
[I’m still looking up]
7 words for your MC: Milkshake loving, mischievous, quirky tween craves adventure.
Aunt Helene was getting ready for her book club, mumbling something about how if Mrs. Newman thought she was going to pick the next book, she was crazier than a hoot owl lying head first in a bowl of pennies. As if that wasn’t weird enough, out of nowhere she shrieked, “Cheese and crackers on a crust of an apple pie, I forgot all about the boiled baby!” Then she ran into the kitchen.
Lily and I nearly choked on our sandwiches, which we thought were made from last night’s turkey leftovers. A few minutes later after a whole lot of banging, Aunt Helene emerged, looking a bit disheveled, holding a large covered baking dish. Large enough to hold a …
“Phew,” she said. “It’s fine. Do you want to see it?”
“No!” Lily and I screamed together. I backed my chair against the wall to widen the gap between us.
“Well, no need to yell,” Aunt Helene responded. “The ladies are going to be so surprised. They didn’t think I could do it, you know. And I’ll tell you … it wasn’t easy. It was definitely a struggle. But I finally got this sucker down. I just hope it tastes as good as it smells.”
“You’re going to,” I gulped, not sure I could finish my sentence, “I mean, you and the ladies. You’re all going to …” I pointed at her dish with a trembling finger. “Eat that?”
“Well yes, Gabe,” she laughed. “What else would we do with pudding?”
Word Count: 40k
[Once there was an African Love Song]
7 words for your MC: Heartbroken. Finds strength in the African wilderness
There was a bone-shuddering snarl and then powerful, slobbery jaws closed around my neck. Hot raw-meat breath filled my nostrils. My eyes were about to explode. Spots of light swam in front of me but between them, I was able to make out a giant white paw. Just as I was about to pass out, the jaws left my neck and clamped onto my backpack.
Too weak to move or fight back, I was dragged along the forest floor then up and up and up. My clothes rubbed against something rough and hard. Tree bark.
The warriors and hyenas were closer now—shouts and yowling and yipping below.
Up we continued, through twigs and leaves then face down along a thick branch. The bark scraped my face like a cheese grater. We came to a stop. The jaws released.
I heard a sound—a deep, steady rumble vibrating through the branch. Purring? The animal that had dragged me up the tree was purring.
Pain knotted my neck but I managed to lift my head half an inch. Crouching next to me on the branch was a white lion. It looked like the one I’d seen on the night I arrived at KuluKulu. Its huge mane shimmered in the puddled moonlight and it watched me steadily through crystal-blue eyes.
So this is what they do before they feast—they watch their prey and purr. Will the first bite feel like red-hot pokers tearing into my flesh? I hope it’s over quickly.
Word Count: 49k
A HUGE congratulations to all the winners!
These are some incredible pages you put together and you made me want to read more from ALL of them!!