PW #216: Middle Grade Contemporary Magical Realism: BREATHING UNDERWATER

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Ellie Terry
Mentee Name: Sarah Allen
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary Magical Realism
Word Count: 46,000


While on the cross-country road trip of her dreams, Olivia hopes to acquire the perfect shot for the National Geographic Photo Contest, but when her sister Ruth’s depression takes a turn for the worse, Olivia’s determined to do all she can to save her sister—even teaming up with a bearded motorcyclist no one else can see.


My big sister’s bladder is the size of a pea. We’ve stopped for bathroom breaks at least three times since we left Knoxville a few hours ago. If Mom were here, she’d say Ruth was doing it on purpose, making us stop all the time. But I don’t mind.

The loft of the RV already feels like my bedroom back home. I’ve got my biography of Anne Bonny, my stack of National Geographic magazines, and of course my stuffed killer whale Murphy that no amount of eye-rolling from Ruth could make me leave behind. I tried to sneak him into my backpack before Ruth noticed, but she saw him and said, “Really, Olivia? Are you thirteen or three?” Mom made her apologize. Then we climbed into the RV and took off. Mom’s cousin Eddie, the one driving, gave a whoop when we got onto the freeway. I wanted to whoop, too, but it would have bugged Ruth.

My head is pressed against the window, where I can look at the lollipop sky and the passing trees and the tops of cars that look small from up here. I wish I could see it all at once, and never stop looking. I’ve got that whole stack of National Geographic magazines, but I’m so distracted I haven’t needed them yet. Even the telephone poles look beautiful today. If my new camera had come in time, nothing would be safe.



Author: Heather Cashman

With a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, the lab reports always lacked the fantastical element Heather's imagination demands. Hypotheses turned into taglines and novels, so she's going back to college for a Creative Writing degree. Her novels range from Epic Fantasy to Contemporary Speculative Fiction, she dabbles in picture books, and is currently seeking representation. ~Member SCBWI

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  1. I’d love to have a look! Please send the full along for my review. A Word attachment is most preferable if possible. Thanks!

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  2. This sounds great. Please send the first 50 pages as a Word doc or PDF to, and be sure to include “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. Please also include your query in the body of the email.

    Thank you!

    Melissa Nasson
    Rubin Pfeffer Content

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  3. I’m so intrigued! Please send the first 50 pages attached as a Word doc and the query in the body of the email to queryjennifer[at]lizadawson[dot]com. Thank you!

    – Jennifer Johnson-Blalock, Liza Dawson Associates

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  4. I would love to see more of this! Please send a query (in the body of the email) plus the first 50 pages as a Word doc attachment to, and make sure to put “Pitch Wars Request” and the title in the subject line.

    Looking forward to reading!

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  5. I’m so intrigued by the voice and premise here, and I would love to see the full manuscript in Word format with the pitch pasted onto the first page. Please send materials to with PITCH WARS in the subject line.

    Thanks so much! I’m looking forward to it!

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  6. Road trips and National Geographic are two of my favorite things! Please send the full manuscript as a Word document with the title in the subject line to amy (at) aplusbworks (dot) com. Thanks!

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  7. I’d love to take a closer look at this! Can you please send me the full query (pasted in the email) and attach the 1st 3 chapters? Send to with the subject line “Pitch Wars: Breathing Underwater.” Thank you!

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