PW #228: Middle Grade Contemporary: LIGHTS! CAMERA! BRAINS?

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Brooks Benjamin and Caroline Thompson
Mentee Name: M. L. Brown
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 49,000


When Marty, a squeamish seventh-grader, takes a role in a zombie sitcom to earn money for space camp, his biggest headache is eating brains–until his parents face foreclosure. Now Marty must summon his inner corpse to save his home, even though being undead just may kill him.


It wasn’t called the Twirl-N-Hurl for nothing. Marty Ruckers eyeballed the ride’s spinning squirrel cages and swallowed. “It’s now or never.”

“Are you sure?” asked his best friend, Beau.

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Every other year at the Start of Summer Carnival Marty had chickened out, but this year was different. This year his career as an astronaut was at stake. He swallowed again. “Let’s do this.”

Beau elbowed Marty in the ribs as they headed toward the ride, nodding at a couple of make-up-caked girls standing in line. “What’s the Ruck-O-Chuck reading on those two babes?”

Marty shrugged. “Seven point five . . . maybe eight.”

Beau swaggered into line behind the girls, wiggling his bushy eyebrows and grinning like a fool.

Marty didn’t watch their reactions; he was too busy studying the ride for the best direction to spin the cage. “Spinning forward is probably less likely to make me sick than spinning backward.”

“Want to change your mind?”

He shook his head. If he couldn’t handle a carnival cage ride, how would he survive space?

Beau shoved a pink wad of cotton candy into his mouth and said, “You know, you should come to football camp with me. That’ll knock the squeamies out of you.”

“Sorry, man, I can’t do both. This summer I finally have enough cash to pay the Camp Cosmos fee. Whew! Those girls are wearing way too much perfume.” Marty’s gut clenched from the smell and he turned downwind toward the crowded carnival midway.


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