PW #219: Middle Grade Contemporary: LISA PIZZA’S PERNICIOUS CURSE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Names: Tara Creel and Jenna Lehne

Mentee Name: Jennifer L. Brown


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 49,000 words


When twelve-year-old Lisa tries to contact her mom at a séance, she unleashes a curse complete with exploding appliances, rampaging waterfowl, and one dragonish teacher. Dubbing themselves Curseologists, Lisa and her best friend must stop the curse before it separates them forever and claims her family’s restaurant as its next victim.


The rules of the “I’m So Hot” game are simple. Don’t laugh. Don’t skip a turn. And my super-important rule for today: don’t get distracted. Easy enough, except my traitor eyeballs keep flitting to the dirty van parked in front of the restaurant. If I’m not careful, I’ll lose my lead from last week when Marshall laughed so hard his smoothie shot out his nose.

Projectile smoothies are worth lots of points.

Outside, the sweaty movers wrestle Mom’s jukebox into their van. It’s putting up a good fight. Like it wants to jam itself under the green, striped awning and back inside where it belongs.

I tap the window. “I’m So Hot I’m trapped under that mover’s armpit.”

“Lisa Pizza, you’re going down.” Marshall wiggles his eyebrows. “I’m So Hot I’m trapped inside his butt crack.”

I snort, which is strictly illegal in the game, but I’ve got no witty comeback. I have jukebox-shaped holes in my brain. Mom-shaped holes. All my funny fell out of them.

For six years, Mom’s jukebox filled Martinelli’s with rainbow swirling lights. Its records crackled, playing songs so old even Dad—who is almost forty—calls them oldies. It was a piece of her, my piece, and Dad sold it.

I uncrumple a flyer from my pocket. A punk rocker put it on the corkboard two nights ago, after ordering the lasagna, which is when I learned punk rockers eat Italian food. The flyer reads, “Offering séances, tarot card readings, and palmistry.”

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