Mentor Name: Thomas Torre
Mentee Name: Gretchen Kaup
Title: THE MIRAGE SHIFTER
Category: Middle Grade
Word Count: 59,000
When twelve-year-old Aiden enters his comatose friend’s dream, he discovers a realm where sleeping kids are pawns in a larger game. Confronting unseen beings and multinational law enforcement, Aiden shifts from dreams to reality, racing to wake his friend before they’re trapped in a nightmare forever.
Wasting time playing video games. That’s what Mom thinks I’m doing right now—hanging out with Jake and crushing him on the original PacMan. It’s the only arcade game at Manhattan Mall, tucked in a corner of the food court next to a vending machine. The rest of the mall is mostly clothes, so PacMan is the only good excuse Mom would believe for why two twelve-year-old boys would want to hang here after school.
It’s not that I lied to her. It’s more like I kept back part of the truth. I am at Manhattan Mall, and Jake and I did play PacMan together. Only one game, which I won like I always do. But Mom has no idea Jake and I play another game, one that puts more money in our pockets than when we came.
“So are we going to do this or not, Aiden?” Jake asks, pacing in front of the mall bench where I’m sitting. His red head twists right and left like he thinks security will catch us any second.
“Could be risky,” I say. “It’d be better if we found a larger crowd.”
We’re near the Hallmark store with a window display full of red—hearts, balloons, and cuddly bears—sickening reminders of the coming holiday.
“How many heads did you see inside?” I ask.
“Only four,” says Jake. “An old blue-hair, a lovey-dovey couple, and the nose-pierced clerk.”
“Okay, we’ll wait,” I say, pulling on his backpack and forcing him to sit.