PW #225: Middle Grade Contemporary: RUBY IN THE SKY

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Laura Shovan and Tricia Clasen
Mentee: Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo
Category/Genre: Contemporary Middle Grade
Word Count: 46,000


Ruby Moon Hayes (12) is as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen Vermont sky. She doesn’t want kids at her new school to ask about her past or find out her outspoken mother has been arrested. Ruby’s only friend is the town’s reclusive Bird Lady. There is more to the Bird Lady’s story than people know — as there is to Mom’s and Ruby’s. As Mom’s trial draws near, Ruby must break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves.


People disappear all the time. Sometimes you see their faces on the Internet or plastered across the backs of tractor trailers. Sometimes they stare from posters as you stand in line at Walmart. Sometimes, when they’ve been gone a long time, an artist can draw their face the way they probably look now, so you can recognize them when you see them again.

Sometimes people are there, then poof, like a magic trick, they’re gone.

On that first Saturday after we moved to Fortin, when I watched my mom handcuffed and placed in the back of a police cruiser, that’s what I thought about. People disappearing.

I’d just handed Mom the tape to seal the drafty windows of our latest “forever home” when Bob Van Doodle barked. We peered outside as the cruiser fishtailed up our unplowed driveway. Mom dropped the tape.

“He must be here about my complaint,” she said. “He must have questions. Or paperwork. Remember how Dad hated paperwork?” She pressed her necklace’s moon charm against her lips.

The officer raised his hand to knock, but Mom had already opened the door. A blast of frosted air propelled him inside. The door shut. The window rattled. I hugged myself.

“Dahlia Hayes,” he said.

“Yes?” Mom said.

“Ma’am, you have the right to remain silent.”

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. Wow, this was a really gripping first page, and I love the premise. Please send the full manuscript (as well as a synopsis if you have one) to with “Pitch Wars: [YOUR TITLE]” as the subject line. Please also include your query in the body of the email. I look forward to reading!

    -Lauren Spieller, TriadaUS

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  2. Lovely, lovely writing, Jeanne! Please send a query, synopsis, and full manuscript (Word documents will suffice) to — and don’t forget to mention #PitchWars in your subject line. Thanks—looking forward to my read!
    Good luck,

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  3. Wow! I love this! Please send it as a Microsoft word document with “Pitch Wars manuscript” in the subject line, including your query letter in the first page of the document. Suzie at newleafliterary dot com.

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  4. Hi! I’d also love to see the full please with query and whatever synopsis you have available.

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  5. Oh my goodness, I love this opening! I’d love to read the full of this if you would please send as a Word attachment. You can email me directly at carrie(at)prospectagency(dot)com. If you would put PITCH WARS in the subject and the query in the body of the email that would be great. Excited to read more!!

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  6. Love this! Please do send query & first 3 chapters my way to joan at – thanks!

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  7. Hi Jeanne,

    Talk about a gripping first page – I’d love to read more! Could you send the first 50 pages to Make sure to include Pitch Wars in the subject line!

    All the best,
    Brianne Johnson

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  8. I can’t wait to know what happens next. 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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  9. Intriguing premise and great opening. Please send the full manuscript with a query letter to ilse(at), I’d love to read more.


    Ilse Craane

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  10. I would love to read more! Please send the full manuscript 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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  11. Hi Jeanne,

    What a beautiful opening and interesting premise! I’d love to continue. Can you please send the full manuscript to with “query” and “pitchwars” somewhere in the subject line?

    Thank you so much!
    All my best,


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  12. I’d like to see more! Please send a query and the first 50 pages as a Word attachment to and please put “Pitch Wars – Stefanie Lieberman” in the subject line. Thank you!

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  13. This sounds really amazing–great concept, great writing, great voice! 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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  14. Hi Jeanne,
    May I request the manuscript as well? If you could send it as a Word doc to submissions[at]stonesong[dot]com, that would be lovely.

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  15. Very compelling and want to read more. Please send the complete manuscript (as a Word attachment) and query (in body of email) to Please put Pitch Wars Request in the subject line. Thank you.

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  16. I can’t wait to see more of this! Please send the complete manuscript and query to me at:; include PITCH WARS in the subject. Can’t wait to read!

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  17. I’m hooked! I’d love to keep reading. Please send the full manuscript attached as a Word document to with “Pitch Wars – Pete Knapp” in the subject. Looking forward to reading! – Pete Knapp

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  18. I’d love to read as well! Please feel free to send the query + full ms (as a word doc) to w/PitchWars in the subject line. Thank you!

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  19. I absolutely loved these opening pages and would love take a look at the full manuscript. Please feel free to send it along as a word document to andrea [at] with “PitchWars Requested Manuscript” in the subject line. Thanks! I’m looking forward to reading.
    Andrea Somberg
    Harvey Klinger Inc.

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  20. Jeanne–What a compelling opening! Please send the manuscript and a synopsis as Word doc attachments to with Pitch Wars and Query + title in the subject line. Can’t wait to read!

    Roseanne Wells
    The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

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