PW #117: MG Historical Mystery: UNDER THE DUST OF RANSOM

Pitchwars Badge (Square MG)Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Rebecca Wells
Mentee Name: Jenn Brisendine
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Historical Mystery
Word Count: 50,000


A Roma girl traveling dust-swept Kansas, twelve-year-old Zora senses the darkness covering the town of Ransom. When townspeople discover a murder, they’re quick to whisper “Gypsy!”—and Zora’s beloved guardian is jailed. To save her, Zora must reveal Ransom’s secrets… and uncover a few of her own.


Western Kansas, 1934 

The wolf was at the door again, but it wasn’t a wolf you could shoot with Kat’s rifle. And even though the sky should’ve been lit up, you couldn’t see this wolf; its dark body spread miles and swallowed the full moon. 

But you could hear it.

Scrit scrit scrit of a thousand gritty claws on the wagon steps, and Ohhhhwhhuuul from an ancient, bitter throat. 

“Zora.” Kat’s voice slipped across our wagon’s tiny inside, big enough for two skinny beds and Kat’s old trunk between. The wagon stood strong, a little one-room house on wheels with a driver’s seat and horse hitch, a good vardon built to caravan long travels—though it rode lonely these days, just me and Kat. “You got Beast and Girl into the shed, yes?”

“Sure did, and got the feed bags on them too,” I whispered. We’d been using an abandoned shed, west of Ransom by a mile, for a week now, the dust ever drifting into dunes against the walls.

The wolf let out another howl, set the wagon rocking. It stirred the night pictures in my head: fiddles, dancing, fire.

“Someone coming.” The words flashed out of me before I knew they were on the rise. I pulled Kat’s old night wrap round my gown, heard her step quick from her bed. Yellow light burst from the oil lamp as she twisted the knob.

“Soon?” she said all sharp-like.

“Now,” I said.

Hard raps on the wagon door.

Author: Nikki Roberti

Share This Post On


  1. Interesting to see a book with a Roma protagonist. Please send a query + the full MS to leon@lperkinsagency (with Pitch Wars in the subject line), along with a one-sentence description of your book.

    Post a Reply
  2. I like the set-up and would love to keep reading! Please send the full MS attached as a Word doc to and put “Pete Knapp — PitchWars” in the subject. Thanks!

    Post a Reply
  3. Hi Jenn

    This looks great and I’d love to see more. Could you send me a detailed synopsis (500-700 words would be wonderful) together with the full MS as a Word doc to claire at rhaliterary dot com?

    Good luck!

    Post a Reply
  4. Yes, please! I’d love to take a look. I’m at, and Word attachments are most preferable if possible!

    Post a Reply
  5. Love the setting and would be happy to take a look. I’m at Word attachments most preferable if possible!

    Post a Reply
  6. I’d love to take a look! Please send the first 50 pages and a one-page synopsis as an attachment to with “Pitch Wars request” in the subject line and the query in the body.

    Post a Reply
  7. Beautiful sense of place from the outset, and such surprising and elegant language. I’d really love to read this. Could you send the full ms as a PDF, please, to with Pitch Wars and the title in the subject line, and the query in the body of the email? Thank you so much.

    Post a Reply
  8. I’m intrigued! Would love to read more, if you could send the query and full manuscript (word doc, please!) to Excited to take a look!

    Post a Reply
  9. I’d love to read more of this! Please send the first 50 pages attached as a word document to:



    Rena Rossner

    Post a Reply
  10. I have been looking for a book with Roma characters! Your opening completely intrigues me. Please send the query and full ms as a .doc or .docx file to LBiagi at jvnla dot com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. I look forward to reading!

    Post a Reply
  11. I’m intrigued! Please send the first 25 pages, query and synopsis to chquery[at]mcintoshandotis[dot]com and put “Pitch Wars request” in the subject line.


    Christa Heschke
    McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

    Post a Reply
  12. Wow! I’m very excited about this. Your excerpt is beautifully written and I absolutely love the pitch. I really want to read on! Please do send the full MS to with ‘Pitch Wars’ in the subject heading.

    Post a Reply
  13. Any business today aims to be on the first page of major search engines for higher visibility and higher sales. Before hiring an SEO agency make sure they’ll send you monthly reports of what they’ve done and the difference it’s made to your rankings for the agreed search terms. The world is at your feet as far as selecting a good service.

    Post a Reply

Leave a Reply to Taylor Haggerty Cancel reply