PW #227: Middle Grade Contemporary Humorous Fantasy: SAMTO DIES AGAIN

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Sarah Cannon
Mentee: Elle Evans
Category/Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary Humorous Fantasy
Word Count: 55,000


When Samto bounces back to life after a tragic hot dog incident, he and his best friend Max decide Samto’s the hero their Cursed swamp town needs. Braving gators, snakes, fires and floods, it’s all heroic training for a boy who’s gonna save his town and break an ancient Curse—even if he dies a hundred times trying. Gordon Korman’s UNGIFTED touched by SAVVY.

First Page Excerpt: 

Somebody mashed their lips against mine.

My stomach boiled with butterflies, but my head told me something more fateful than a first kiss was going down. I pushed the lips away and wiped my mouth.

“Samto?” said a squeaky voice.

The kitchen light hurt, but I opened my eyes enough to see Max leaning over me, his face scrunched up.

“Wh— ” I tried swallowing, but my throat was scraped raw and dry. “What happened?”

“Samto! You’re alive!”

I took a deep breath, which felt like a splash of cold water in my lungs, except without the drowning. I was flat on my back on the kitchen floor.

“I was about to start mouth-to-mouth,” breathed Max. “But you don’t need it. It’s a miracle!”

Here’s how I think of my best friend Max: like a miniature action-figure, rubbery and game for anything, surviving jumps off heights that would kill the rest of us. He believes in miracles, which is why jumping usually works out for him.

“I don’t feel so good,” I said. “My stomach, ugh.”

“It hurts?” said Max. “From the compressions?”


“On your stomach. CPR. I might’ve done it wrong.”

“You did CPR on me?”

Max blinked. “Well, you were dead.”

I let my head fall back against the linoleum. My stomach was backing up and my brain felt fogged. Take it from me, being recently dead makes you slow on the uptake.


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 can’t turn down gators, snakes, fires, and floods. I’d be delighted to consider this. Please send the full manuscript as a Microsoft word doc to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com with “Pitch Wars request” in the subject line, pasting your query letter in the body of the message. Can’t wait to read.

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  2. I’d love to see more of this! Please send me the full manuscript along with a one-sentence description of the premise at!

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  3. Snappy and awesome start – would love to see more! Pls send query & first 3 chapters my way to joan at 🙂

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  4. Ohhh yeah, I’m totally down for this pitch! I’d love to see where this story goes. Please email your full manuscript as a Word attachment to, along with your original query and a synopsis (if available) with “Pitch Wars: SAMTO DIES AGAIN” in the subject of your email. Thanks!

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  5. I would love to keep reading. 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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  6. Yes! I still love this opening, Elle. 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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  7. Hi Elle! I’m absolutely loving this. Can you please send the full and your query to with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line? Thanks so much!

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