PW #222: Middle Grade Mystery-Twist of Magical Realism: HEARST’S GREATEST TREASURE

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor: Jenna Lehne
Mentee: Tara Creel
Category/Genre: Middle Grade Mystery with a twist of Magical Realism
Word Count: 52 000


When thirteen-year-old Amelia’s parents ship her off to her Grandpa’s in California, she discovers a clue to Hearst’s greatest treasure and her boring summer turns into a treasure hunt. But when artifacts go missing, Grandpa’s job is in jeopardy. The treasure and the artifacts are linked, but if Amelia doesn’t find out how, Hearst Castle is going down, and taking her Grandpa with it.



The dry, Californian heat forces crazy thoughts into my mind. I’m standing at the edge of the pool, staring at the blue, glass mosaic tiles on the bottom, which make the water look even more inviting.

Do it.

I know that lady dropped me off here and told me not to touch anything, but technically, I’d be floating in the water … still not touching any of the fancy stuff around this place. I mean, with this heat-pool combo, she’s basically setting me up to fail.


At least the voice in my head agrees.

I look deeper into the water. Wow, are those tiles made of gold?

Only one way to find out.

I reach down to slip off my Converse — I’ll only dip my toes —

“Amelia! I’m glad you made it safely!” My grandpa calls out from the arched doorway. He looks just like his picture — dirty blond hair like mine, a few wrinkles, pale blue eyes, and a shiny, white smile.

“Thanks.” I wrap my arms awkwardly around him in the first Grandpa hug of my life.

I’m hot and sweaty, but Grandpa feels as cool as a refrigerator, and smells like aftershave and coffee. Without thinking, I sink into his arms. Immediately, the internal battle I’ve had of whether to be excited about the visit or mad at my parents for ditching me for Africa, shifts in the direction of excitement.


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