PW #224: Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery: THE CAROUSEL KEEPER

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Rebecca Wells
Mentee: Hope Grietzer
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary Mystery
Word Count: 43,000


Following a family tragedy, Maggie makes a secret wish on the rumored-to-be-magic carousel at her uncle’s island amusement park. When mysterious sabotage endangers the wooden horses and her wish, Maggie must race to unmask the culprits. The carousel’s fate, the park’s destiny, and even Maggie’s future will depend on finding her courage.


Maggie hurried ahead of her mother, slipping between the jumble of elbows and beach bags crowding the wooden pier. One last dodge around some boys in soccer jerseys and a group of teens sucking down sodas and there it was—the ocean.

Seagulls cried overhead and waves splashed like fireworks against the rocky shore. The whole world was as blue as a robin’s egg. Maggie climbed on the bottom rung of the pier railing and breathed the salt-soaked air. This place was nothing like Ohio, and somewhere out there, hidden beyond the horizon, an entire amusement park waited for her on an island poking out of the sea.

A tiny candle of hope flickered in her chest. She slipped her fingers into the pocket of her jeans, touching the creased newspaper clipping nestled inside.

“There you are.” Her mom joined her at the railing and handed her the soft, salty loops of a pretzel wrapped in wax paper. “I thought you might need a snack.”

“Is that the ferry?” Maggie asked, nodding toward a weathered ship moored at the end of the pier.

“Sure looks like it.” Her mom stood on tiptoe and scanned the flock of tourists departing from the boat. “But I don’t see your Uncle Jon. Maybe he met your father at the ticket booth. Stay…”

“I know, stay right here.”

Maggie waited until her mother was out of sight, then set down her pretzel and tugged the newspaper clipping from her pocket.


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. Loving the idea of supposed magic carousels and a mystery! Please send the full manuscript + query + synopsis to LBiagi (at) jvnla (dot) com, with Pitch Wars in the subject line. Can’t wait to read!

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  2. 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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