PW #231: Middle Grade Contemporary (with a dash of magic): EIGHT TIMES CRAZY

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Jessica Vitalis
Mentee: Yael Mermelstein
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary (with a dash of magic)
Word Count: 59,000


When twelve-year-old Orville receives a clue to his long-lost dad’s whereabouts, he’s determined to drive cross-country and bring him home. But after discovering Dad in a psychiatric-care facility, Orville’s convinced his own kernels of ‘crazy’ are destined to pop, dooming him to the same fate. Following the instructions of a magical new friend, Orville embarks on one last journey. If he’s successful, he’ll heal himself––and his broken family.


Pinning my hopes on a trip to the post office makes about as much sense as blowing the snowy fluff off a dandelion and expecting that to make my wish come true. But I’ve got an entire field full of reasons to believe in magic––wish-granting flowers and post offices included. Back when—

“Orville!” Mom shouts. “The white line in the middle of the road is an order, not a suggestion!”

Oops. I steer the car back on course and tug the sun-visor down.

“Good boy,” she says. “Keep a low profile.”

There’s nothing low profile about having your twelve-year-old at the wheel. Even if I’m so tall I look sixteen, the legal driving age in Liberty, New York. They don’t call me Beanstalk Bayswater for nothing. I’ve been the family chauffeur since my eleventh birthday and if you want to know the big secret of why, you’ll have to ask Mom because she won’t tell me.

Luckily, Dad taught me to drive when I was just a sprout. I can’t recall if his lap was bony or pillowy, if he curled his fingers around mine while I turned the key, or if he rested his chin against my head as we circled the pebbled lot behind an abandoned department store. That’s probably because I can fit all my dad-shaped memories into a single backpack––even one already stuffed with books.


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. This was so charming! 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. Hi Yael,
    Your story sounds like a fun ride—I’d love to read more of this! 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. What an intriguing start – love the voice here! Please do send your query + first 3 chapters my way to read on further 🙂

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  4. Hi Yael! 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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