When: Sunday 3rd March until Friday 8th March 5pm GMT.
Where: On Twitter, in reply to the pinned tweet on the @writementor account.
How to enter: reply to the pinned tweet, with your best twitter pitch (one per person) using the #PitchWM hashtag. You must also RT the pinned tweet to be eligible. Other genre/age hashtags are optional.
What do you win: There will be 3 winners prizes, selected by @StuartWhiteWM.
1 month free membership on #WriteMentor SPARK:
1 x Level 1
1 x Level 2
1 x Level 3
Who is eligible: Children’s manuscripts. From CB via MG up to YA.
Below you will find the Longlist, then a list of Notable Mentions, who just missed out, and finally a list of Readers’ Favourites (those who did not make the LL).
Right, time to get serious – this was so hard to do – the list is longer than I planned because there were so many novels we couldn’t say NO to!
Missing out on this long list is not a reflection of quality, simply the old combination in any creative pursuit – LUCK, TASTE and TIMING.
There were at least 40 more novels that could have gone onto this list and not reduced the quality in any way.
That said, the novels that did make it were INCREDIBLE.
How did we decide?
Entries were read 7 times (5 adult readers, 2 kid readers) and to make the list, you needed to get 6 or 7 YES votes!!! I KNOW!!!
When you receive your personalised feedback, you’ll get the number of YES votes with it – if you had 4/5, know that you just missed out and that this is still a great achievement – most of your readers wanted to continue. That’s a win in my view.
We also averaged the scores given by the 7 readers – the top 20 average scoring entries also all made the LL, regardless of YES votes, but mostly these overlapped.
Then we had our Readers Favourites – each reader told us their favourite and we took this into account in composing the list. Ultimately a few didn’t make it – we have listed them at the bottom. 4 novels got 2 readers favourite votes. Those were also added to the list if they hadn’t made it on other criteria.
So, I think you’ll agree, we’ve been thorough, we’ve done all we can to reduce the subjectivity of a single reader or 2, so we hope this has created the strongest possible list.
Of course, we are bound to have missed a few off here which will go on and be successful. See above comment on LUCK, TASTE and TIMING. If you weren’t successful this time, it’s due to that, not a lack of ability or promise in your novel.
Thank you to everyone who entered, and we hope if you’re not on this list, you’ll find the feedback we send useful, or at least enlightening. All I ever want to know when I miss a list, is how close I was and what did the readers think, and you all now have that chance, if you chose it at entry.
If you are on here (or even if you’re not) feel free to tweet about it using #WMCNA but if you’re on the longlist, do not tweet your title. You may tweet your title if you are on the bottom two lists.
Without furthering the agony, here is the list of novels (anonymous to allow impartial judging) that made it onto our long list.
We are making changes to how we run the programme. This is based on feedback from mentors/mentees last year but also based upon making it increasingly flexible for all involved.
We are changing to a bi-level structure.
This means there will be two options you can apply to.
A. submission package/partial
B. full manuscript
A. submission package/partial
If you apply for the sub package/partial option, you will work with a mentor on those aspects but we forsee this taking much less than 4 months, so you’d be free to query once you’re done. If you apply for this option, there is no agent showcase at the end.
I would imagine your mentor will help you with querying at this stage, but this option is for those who don’t want a complete overhaul (or are not able to commit to overhauling a full ms in the summer).
Picture books mentors/mentees are likely to apply for this option, unless they are working on/willing to work on several picture books (in which case you may apply for option B).
B. full manuscript
For those applying for a full manuscript mentorship, this will mean a full 4 month commitment to overhauling your manuscript to make it submission ready for the agent showcase.
The expectation is that you will be open to making larger changes to your manuscript and spending all/most of your summer making your manuscript the very best it can be. If this is not possible for you, no worries, but do apply for A instead.
This is not the option for those who aren’t able to work intensively or are not responsive to making large changes to their novels. You are going to receive 4 months of mentorship from an experienced writer, so the expectations are greater.
We have extended the overall period of this years programme.
This is again in response to feedback we received from last years mentees. This extra time should allow for not only large structural overhauls, if they are needed, but also the finer elements.
I have to honestly admit, as a mentor myself, that I struggled with the timeline, to fully help my mentees, and so others have said. I don’t want to compromise the quality of this programme by imposing restrictive timelines. This extra month should help.
Smaller application window
Again, in the interest of the applicants welfare, we have reduced our application window, and also our reading window (a little!). This is to ensure that the painful wait between applying and receiving a decision is reduced and less stressful/anxious.
There were many positives last year, but we also appreciate there are things we could have done better. We will address all of those suggestions and will endeavour to improve the programme in every aspect this year.
For the prospective mentors
A few words on mentors and those considering applying. I am VERY open as to who we take on as mentors. We probably can’t say YES to everyone who applies, but if you’re on the fence, go for it, or chat with me. Don’t self-reject.
So many of my writing friends told me last year that they didn’t think they’d be any good or be able to help their mentees. Imposter Syndrome struck hard. But they had a go anyway and the feedback from their mentees blew the imposter out of the water!
Please trust in yourself and your experience and ability. I certainly will, if you apply, and are successful. We are looking for writers with experience and skills to help another writer. Who have great values and altruistic reasons for applying.
We are looking for agented/published writers, editors, anyone who works in the industry and has experience of working with writers and feels they can offer valuable skills and experience to improve another writer’s craft and manuscript.
While we are primarily looking at MG/YA, this year I’d love to have a few mentors for the younger end of children’s fiction, i.e. chapter books, or even picture books (these would most likely fall into the A category). If you write either, do consider applying.
What do I need to apply?
You will need to have a completed manuscript.
You will need to send us a query letter, 1-page synopsis and 1st chapter along with your application, so ensure these are as good as they can be.
You can apply to 3 mentors. So be sure to research them thoroughly and chat to them during our Twitter Mentor chat week, starting 8th April.
Twelve-year-old Derek Hyde isn’t tingling with undiluted joy that the spookiest old mansion in town is about to become the Hyde Funeral Home & Used Coffin Outlet. Especially since he has to live there with his mortician parents, Jack and Formalda.
Of course, being driven in the family hearse to his first day at middle school doesn’t exactly add whipped cream to his broccoli.
As if things couldn’t get more horrific, an evil classmate named Nussbaum attacks him in the cafeteria with a plate of beef stroganoff. Seems this kid used to love living in the old mansion himself, but got yanked out after accidentally blowing up his own mom and dad with his chemistry set. Now his dead parents are stuck as ghosts and Nussbaum is a foster kid stuck on revenge, vowing to get even with Derek’s family for taking over his haunted home.
Derek desperately craves a nice place to live, but a couple of minor details stand in his way—just some blood-curdling apparitions that scare the pants off him and a classmate bent on landing him in his parents’ embalming room. As a client.
DEREK HYDE KNOWS SPOOKY WHEN HE SEES IT is a 44,000-word, tongue-in-cheek ghost story (think THE ADDAMS FAMILY meets GHOSTBUSTERS) with strong series potential that will appeal to Middle Grade readers who enjoy the creepiness and humor of PARANORMAN and Lauren Magaziner’s THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES.
I’m a member of SCBWI and the South Bay Writers Club, a 2018 #SunVsSnow mentee, 2018 #WriteMentor mentee, 2018 SavvyAuthors Pitchfest selectee, graduate of University of Maryland with a BA in English Lit and author of 14 tech books published by Bantam, Simon & Schuster and other top publishers. I’m also a poet, playwright, musician, composer, inventor, entrepreneur and chief cook & bottle washer.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I would be happy to send the full manuscript upon request.
Chapter 1 – Home Creepy Home
Twelve-year-old Derek figured there might be far worse things in life than being raised in a funeral home. For example, you could… um…
Okay, here’s one. You could have your brains eaten alive and slurped down by cranky, overworked zombies who haven’t had their morning coffee.
Or how about this? You could be stuffed into a spin dryer at Leo’s Laundromat & Hideous Stain Removal Service and set to Extra Dry/Huge Load.
But Derek wasn’t eaten and he definitely wasn’t spin dried, either. Just driven to the sleepy town of Littleburp in the family car (actually, an old yellow school bus), and then to a really unfortunate and grossly undesirable address: 1313 Slimeytoes Lane.
As the bus splashed its way through a beautifully timed thunderstorm on the worst day of Derek’s life (so far), his mom and dad worked at keeping his spirits up by singing their favorite, most embarrassing song: Poopy Head, Poopy Head, Don’t You Be a Poopy Head.
It didn’t help.
It was bad enough his adoptive parents had dragged Derek out of his seventh grade class and away from all his friends to limp across the country in a broken-down school bus on this Journey to Nowhere. Much worse was the notion that they were about to move him into a spooky old mansion they planned to convert into a funeral home.
Because his parents were funeral directors. Morticians. Undertakers.
On this blustery autumn day, noisy brakes slowed them to a squealing stop in front of their new home. Derek watched through his rain-streaked window as a flash of lightning lit the sky behind the most frightening mansion he’d ever seen.
It had towers. With turrets.
It also had a widow’s walk on the roof. And a creaky old weathervane made in the shape of a French guillotine, but without a head-basket. (Either that, or it might have been a cheese grater with a thumb hole. Derek couldn’t tell for sure.)
Anyway, it was worse than eerie. This place was horrific.
As if that weren’t off-putting enough, someone had planted an ancient cemetery right next door, and beyond that a small, abandoned building with a peeling but elaborately rendered sign that read: Our Lady of Immaculate Kitchens.
Derek read it twice.
A damp gentleman with a clipboard in one hand and an umbrella in the other rushed down from the mansion’s front porch and scampered across the lawn to greet them. The glasses perched on his nose were fogged by the same rain that drenched his wrinkled pin-striped suit.
Standing outside the bus, he shouted, “Mr. and Mrs. …um…” He swiped his coat sleeve at his glasses and squinted at the clipboard. “Hyde, isn’t it? Welcome to your new abode.”
Derek’s skinny dad pulled a lever to open the bus door and bounded down the short rubber steps to pump the poor man’s umbrella hand. “Glad to meet you, Mr… uh…”
“Duckworthy. Horace Duckworthy, at your service. From the Unreal Real Estate Agency.”
I am currently seeking representation for my upper MG novel, Moth.
Home-educated Rosy, mute since her mother’s death, slowly discovers her voice with the help of a mysterious boy, young specimen hunter Iren, set against the backdrop of Oxford’s Natural History Museum.
Using the museum’s resources and her wits, Rosy embarks on solving the long-forgotten disappearance of a rare moth from Papua New Guinea, the Imperial Emerald, over a century ago.
But Iren is on the hunt too, and what begins as a psychological game with each other, quickly turns into an unlikely friendship.
As Rosy unravels the clues, delving deeper into the expedition’s murky past, they find their experiences, over a century apart, unite them, and cause buried memories to resurface.
But is Iren truly all he seems? When she discovers he’s been withholding crucial evidence from her all along, their friendship, and Rosy’s resolve, is put to the test. Crushed by events, Rosy crumbles, and has to face something she has avoided for too long: she has to talk about the accident that killed her mum.
Moth is a story about friendship, being lost and found, and emergence to new life.
Moth is complete at 47,500 words. The manuscript is available, in part or full, upon request. I am a #WriteMentee and a SCBWI member. Thank you for your time and consideration.
The first time I saw him he was riding the ichthyosaur, like he was one hundred percent confident he wouldn’t fall.
I looked back towards the suspended skeletons, twenty feet up, hanging from the cast iron and glass ceiling. He was casually balancing on the reconstructed model and watching the people below, the visitors peering into glass fronted display cases and parents rounding up small children.
Dad was rushing to the lecture room, weaving between tourists and the neo-gothic columns that held up the old museum. I hurried to catch him up and tugged on the end of his jacket.
‘What is it?’ he asked. ‘Can we do this later? I can’t be late.’
Nobody else saw him. They can’t have done. Or if they did, they weren’t bothered. Just how he’d got up there I had no idea. And I was pretty sure Oxford’s Natural History Museum didn’t have a sign saying please climb aboard the exhibits and probably kill yourself and crash into the twenty thousand year old mammoth below.
I tried to keep up with Dad, at the same time looking back, watching the boy, as the ichthyosaur swayed a fraction. He was older than me by a year or two I guessed. He had that cocky teenager thing about him, like he owned the place, like he didn’t care what anyone thought. Then he caught me staring. For a second he saw straight through me. When I didn’t look away, he squinted, his expression turned from relaxed to curious then serious, and then he doffed an imaginary cap in my direction. I turned away and bumped into a lady who tutted at me when I didn’t apologise.
I caught up with Dad as he entered the lecture room. The clock nearly said two. I strained to see around a pillar and the tall display cases towards the ichthyosaur, but when I glanced back once more, the skeleton rider was gone.
We were only five minutes into his lecture and already I’d slid down my seat and prayed it wouldn’t be like that for the whole half an hour. Dad kept forgetting what he wanted to say and checking his notes. I glanced around; people kept their gaze on the slides; I hoped they couldn’t detect the tremble in his hands as he aimed the PowerPoint clicker, the way he kept putting one hand in his pocket for no reason and pulling it out again. I decided not to come to the lecture hall again. From now on I’d stay behind the scenes in Dad’s office.
‘We have a few of these rare examples in the collection,’ he said, ‘on the second floor. Although of course, not all are on display, not the elusive Imperial Emer….’ He stopped himself.
My ears pricked up. Did he just almost say what I thought he almost said?
MILK MOON, is a humorous, MG novel complete at 40,000 words,where Wallace and Gromit, Curse of the Were-rabbit meets The Granny Project by Anne Fine.
Thirteen-year-old Prunille hoped the Milk Moon would heal Clemen-Gran’s stroke-damaged brain, not change her into a werecow.
With the help of her younger sister, Prunille discovers the local island of Toussaint might hold a cure to the ‘curse’. But when the nursing home manager senior-naps Clemen-Gran and brings her to the very same island to pursue her science experiments, the two sisters uncover a truth more complex than any were-legend. Clemen-Gran may not get out of this alive.
In this humorous tale of mystery and adventure, the two sisters must sail tumultuous waters to find the cure and rescue their gran from the dinner plate. Inspired by own experience of my father’s severe stroke, this novel examines family, grief, and reinventing yourself.
I am a SCWBI member and a sub-editor for Words and Pictures online magazine. I won the first prize of the Children’s Funny Fiction Competition, Winchester Writers’ Festival 2018 for Milk Moon. The competition was judged by Stripes Publishing, who have requested to see the manuscript again when I’ve finished editing.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Cases of inhabitants of the island turning into werecows were first witnessed in 1897 by a traveller, whose name was not recorded. It is said that the transformations struck like an epidemic, sometimes following advanced signs such as grazing or mooing. The first change would often happen by the light of the full moon of May, the Milk Moon.
Cowpeople of the Island of Toussaint by Erasmus Pilliver
Prunille was still holding onto Clemen-Gran’s rules for the sake of old times, even though she was now thirteen and none of the rules made much sense anymore.
An awful lot had changed since her grandmother’s stroke. Their grandmother’s house rules – as familiar as her burnt batches of jam – had been replaced by nursing home rules when she’d moved in last year. At least Prunille could pretend that some things were still the same, couldn’t she?
Before the stroke, rules were:
Bring sweets, preferably sugared almonds.
Don’t wear nice, clean clothes.
If you’re wearing nice, clean clothes because your mother made you, for goodness sake bring a change!
Bring something that you like to read – even if it’s the list of ingredients on the Galettes Pur Beurre. Especially if it’s the ingredients on a FULL packet of Galettes Pur Beurre.
Come armed – Authorized: slime, water balloons, dry leaves collected on the way, last night’s leftover mash, homemade confetti. Unauthorized: anything sharp, anything glittery, anything to do with poo, anything that’s been in the fridge for more than a week, anything that belongs to someone else. New additions might be considered – submit two days in advance.
After the stroke, Clemen-Gran had only a bedroom, bathroom and small sitting room to herself. She had to share a dining area with the fifty-three other residents of Au Soleil Care Home for the Elderly. The rules were all about visiting times, and wiping your feet, and being quiet. And not bringing any sweets!
That wouldn’t do. That wouldn’t do at all. So Prunille came up with a plan.
Once a week, on a Friday or a Saturday night, Prunille and her younger sister Florence would sneak into the home to take their grandmother out for the night.
Clemen-Gran’s mission was to observe the comings and goings of the night staff in charge of the gates and visitors. She recorded everything on her phone by video – although sometimes she pressed the button at the wrong time and would record herself having a cup of tea or watching tv. Prunille and Florence test-walked the fastest route from their flat to the home and, when visiting Clemen-Gran during normal visiting times, spotted that the back door of Au Soleil had a broken lock.
The plan took shape.
And that was how, on a chilly Friday night of May, the shadowy shapes of Prunille, Florence and Clemen-Gran advanced slowly along the walls of Au Soleil for one of their secret outings, with a slight hobble in the case of Clemen-Gran.
Chester and Lottie: Partners in Grime is a 42,000-word MG comedy set in – or rather under – contemporary London. It should appeal to anyone who enjoyed the whimsical humour of Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists and the grubbiness of Fungus the Bogeyman.
Chester Morris is a germaphobic 12 year-old who dreams of being a top chef. His overbearing father wants him to follow in his mucky footsteps as a London sewer flusher. So begins one of the most disastrous ‘bring your son to work’ days ever. Lost deep underground in a gloomy world of fatbergs and rat swarms, Chester meets up with a Belgian girl called Lottie. She idolises her father, even though he’s a failed scientist who’s never invented anything that’s worked. Well, until now. The potion he gave his daughter has accidentally created a 50-foot rampaging monster from the congealed contents of the sewers. As Chester and Lottie team up to defeat the sewage beast, she shows him how he can follow his dream and still make his father proud.
That’s the heart of the book, buried under layers of filth and jokes. Should you make your parents happy or find your own dream to chase? I briefly enrolled to study medicine and become a psychiatrist, like my father. The world is a saner place because I didn’t. Instead I worked as a journalist, mostly at the BBC, then as a film critic. I’m now a full-time screenwriter having sold my first two scripts. The first won the BAFTA Rocliffe New Writers Forum and was optioned by the producer Camille Gatin (The Girl with all the Gifts). The second was developed at Qwerty Films and is currently being cast by the director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn).
Lottie and Chester was ‘highly commended’ in the Winchester Writers’ Festival – Children’s Funny Fiction Contest; third in Peerpitch 2016 and longlisted for the Bath Novel Prize.
Many thanks for taking part in this scheme.
Chester and Lottie – Chapter One
Chester edges through the sewer, the murky water lapping over the tops of his wellies and trickling down the back of his legs. Ugh – and it’s warm. He rummages in his pocket and brings out a small bottle of hand disinfectant. It slips from his grip and splashes at his knees. The bottle bobs away into the darkness along with the last of his willpower. ‘This,’ he whispers, ‘has to be the worst Bring Your Kid To Work Day… ever.’
Chester raises the lamp and wades after his father. He’s only just started high school but is already much taller than Dad – five feet eleven if he’s measuring to the top of his springy hair. He watches their shadows on the wall. It looks like a gnome is being stalked by a giant stem of broccoli. Any other day, that would make him laugh.
Chester catches up with Dad at a bend in the tunnel. ‘We’re lost. We should go back.’
But he’s not listening. As usual. He’s sticking his bald head into a rusty pipe and taking big sniffs. ‘Mmm… I reckon we’re right under Chinatown. I’m getting a strong whiff of soy sauce from this outflow pipe.’ He swings the lamp low over the water. Jabs a plump finger at the rancid stream. ‘Told you!’ A half-eaten dumpling swirls in an eddy between them. ‘The Morris nose never fails.’
Here we go again. Chester’s lost count of the times he’s been told about the ‘Morris nose.’ Dad reckons he can navigate the hundreds of miles of Victorian tunnels by smell alone. One of the many reasons why, according to him, he’s won the Golden Plunger Award for the last 20 years.
‘Come on son.’ Dad surges ahead, whistling. Chester gingerly wades after him. The sewage level is now up to his hips, and still rising. Time to think of some of his favourite things to cheer himself up. Like the mrrrruh noise his cat Chairman Meow makes when you rub behind his ears. A fresh pack of Eureeka! individual hand wipes. Or watching home-made bread rise through the glass oven door. Flipping cookies from the baking tray. Cracking an egg with one hand… they’re mostly cooking ones. Ever since he can remember, he’s wanted to be a chef. Right now, that dream has never seemed so far out of reach.
Dad stops again. Filling the entire tunnel, right up to the arched roof, is a huge, white shiny boulder. Chester brings his lamp closer. Recoils. The boulder glistens and shivers in the lamp light as if it’s alive. Stuck to it are a number of things that have been washed down the drains. A TV remote control, a headless Barbie doll and a traffic cone. An unhappy goldfish peers out from under its greasy surface.
Please find attached the first page of my novel “The Far Side of the Galaxy”. This is a science fiction adventure story for readers aged 10 – 13.
When 13-year-old Daniel Armstrong plays around on his dad’s laptop, he discovers a strange new puzzle game. But when he solves the puzzle, his Dad explains that he works on a top-secret project for the United Nations, and that puzzle is a key part of the project. Invited to CERN to see the project for himself, Daniel discovers that the world’s largest science experiment is in fact a giant cage that has trapped a wormhole, deep underground, for nearly a decade. But now that cage is failing – and if the wormhole escapes it will tear the world apart.
Thinking that the puzzle he solved holds the key to fixing the cage, Daniel gets to work. But something goes wrong. The cage fails, and Daniel gets pulled into the wormhole. The good news is that he discovers how to fix the cage; the bad news is that he’s now stranded, across the stars, on the far side of the galaxy.
Together with a reluctant alien warrior, a neurotic high-tech robot and a scientist who died before Daniel was born, he must survive hostile environments, battle legendary creatures and defeat powerful enemies as he tries to find a way to get back home and save the world.
This is my first novel, complete at just over 67,000 words. While it is self-contained with a definite resolution, there are other stories to be told with these characters and I have sequel plans.
I would be happy to send on the full work should you like this sample.
Daniel stared through the cross-hairs of his rifles telescopic sight as he paused to catch his breath. Everything he had been through so far had led to this point. His eight-man squad was down to five, but Daniel had accounted for some loss when planning the mission. He knew he could rescue the prisoner with a team of five. Six would have been better; with eight it would have been a breeze. But, at a pinch, five would do it.
He cleared his throat and checked in with the squad. “Status report”, he growled.
“Rascal Two, clear.” That was Lucas, stationed at the cell-block entrance.
“Rascal Three, clear.” Jack, in the guard station, monitoring the cameras.
“Rascal Six, clear.” Mark, in a sniper’s position north of the compound.
“Rascal Seven, clear.” Andy, likewise, covering the south.
Daniel’s sights were also clear, the corridor ahead of him empty. He turned quickly on the spot making sure no one had crept up behind him, his eyes never leaving the cross-hairs. Nothing – his escape route was secure.
He switched his focus back to the prison cell in front of him. The cell contained two men, but Daniel was only here for one. A door of thick iron bars was now the only thing standing in his way. He signalled for the prisoners to take cover. The pair crouched down behind the mattresses that they had turned into a makeshift shield in the far corner of the cell.
Daniel pushed the ends of the detonator wires into the plastic explosive surrounding the door lock and retreated down the corridor, trailing the wires behind him. Pressing himself flat against the bars of the next-door cell, he clicked the button on the detonator now in his hand.
The C4 exploded with a loud crunch, firing the lock across the narrow passageway, where it clanged against the bars of the cell opposite. The sounds echoed around the corridor, ringing in Daniel’s ears as he scooted back to the cell and pushed open the mangled door.
“This is Rascal One”, he announced to his squad. “I have secured the package. We are Oscar Mike.” On the move. He signalled to the prisoners peering cautiously over the mattresses, telling his target to follow him, then raised his weapon and began a rapid advance towards the exit. As he moved, he mentally checked off each step in the escape plan.
East along the corridor. Turn left.
North to the guard station; pick up Rascal Three. Jack falls in covering the rear of the party and the trio turn right.
East toward the cell-block doors. There’s Rascal Two, Lucas, one hundred metres away, a shadow in the doorway.
Something’s not right.
Daniel slowed his pace. He couldn’t put his finger on it but something was off.
An alarm suddenly blared out, a banshee howl that rose and fell like an air-raid siren.
The shadow raised its weapon. That’s when Daniel realised…
“Rascal Two?” he yelled.
“Rascal Two”, he repeated. “Report”.
Daniel toggled his HUD. The Heads-Up Display confirmed his fears:
When the people of Bandicoot Ridge begin acting strangely, twelve-year-old Ivy Hithergreen is convinced her Aussie hometown is on the brink of an environmental disaster. Ivy, who is known for her passion for science doesn’t believe in magic or fairy tales–but that’s all about to change.
With only her conspiracy-theory loving BFF Murph for support, Ivy discovers that the brains of the townsfolk have been hijacked in their sleep by dream dwelling mind thieves, determined to wipe out humanity forever. Then, when her dad is taken, Ivy realises she must finally open her mind to the supernatural or lose him forever.
Ivy on the Otherside is a humorous MG novel with magical and STEM elements, which might appeal to readers who have enjoyed the Robyn Silver series by Paula Harrison or Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend. It’s a tale of friendship and determination and that having a little faith in both science and magic is no bad thing.
I have completed the Curtis Brown Creative Writing for Children Course with Catherine Johnson and am currently working my way through the Writers’ HQ collection of courses, including Plotstormers I & II and Making People. I have been long listed for The Scribblers #Peerpitch 2018 and #1st 50 competitions and am a member of several writing critique groups. I currently work as a freelance graphic designer and greatly enjoy using my poor young children as book creature test subjects.
Thanks very much for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
I stood outside my classroom door and drew a breath so deep I inhaled a passing fly. I was forty-two minutes late, with half a rosemary bush stuck in my hair, odd socks on my feet and a major hunch that trouble was brewing in Bandicoot Ridge. It was way too much for a Wednesday, especially one that hadn’t included breakfast yet−and no, the fly didn’t count.
Seriously weird stuff was happening around town and I needed answers, but first I had to face my teacher Mrs. Snottygobble−easily the angriest person on the planet. Just the thought of her wrinkly old head screaming at me for being late made my ears thump nervously.
I looked over my shoulder and considered legging it home, but Murph and I were due to present our science report and I wasn’t going to let him down. So, I tightened my ponytail, straightened my back and pushed open the door.
Snottygobble wasn’t there! I couldn’t believe my luck. Not wanting to waste a single second, I jumped over the recycling bin and zigzagged like a rugby player to my desk.
“What happened to you?” asked Murph, as I slumped into the chair next to him.
“So, why’ve you got a caterpillar in your hair?” He picked at my head like a gorilla mum. “You fall into a bush?”
I swatted his hand. “Sort of.”
“Seriously Ivy, you’re a mess.”
I closed my eyes and rubbed my temples. “I’ve seen things Murph. Really weird things.”
“Yeah?” he said, eyes as big as emu eggs. “What?”
He was mad for the freaky stuff. Anything magical or supernatural had him jumping out of his skin.
“Promise you won’t go all paranormal detective on me?”
Murph nodded, but his left eye squinted slightly, meaning his promise wasn’t totally rock solid. I decided not to tell him everything, not yet anyway. I’d stick to the hedge bit—at least it would explain the hair.
I glanced at the door to make sure Snottygobble wasn’t there and lowered my voice. “You know Margaret from the antique shop?”
Murph wriggled to the edge of his chair. “The posh one with purple hair?”
I nodded. “Found her on my way here. In the hedge between the park and the post office.”
Murph arched his eyebrows. “She was in the hedge?”
“Not all of her.” I scratched the end of my nose. “Just her head. The rest of her was sticking out on the pavement.”
I recoiled. “No!”
His shoulders dropped. I was losing him.
“She was in her nighty. Tryna stab beetles with a fork.” I added a few jabbing motions for effect.
He nudged his glasses. “She catch any?”
I shuddered. “Yeah, she ate it.”
Murph gasped and put his hand on his heart. “Poor thing. What a way to go.”
He loved insects, so it was difficult news for him.
“Forget the beetle, Murph! A bug eating woman with her head shoved in a hedge is the real worry!”