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Monday, 2 November 2015  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Pitchwars Badge (Square MG)

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Cat Scully
Mentee Name: Kendal Snow
Category: Middle Grade
Genre: Mystery
Word Count: 63,000


Elsie doesn’t believe in magic—or curses. But when the strongman goes missing and fires threaten to destroy her parents’ trapeze troupe, she must uncover the truth behind a decades-old circus curse and a mysterious falconer who makes everything around him change shape, including Elsie’s own memories. Nancy Drew meets Something Wicked This Way Comes.


The circus was a normal place to live until a few hours before showtime. After a lazy Sunday spent washing laundry and raking leaves, performers stretched across the fairground lawn. They juggled ceramic vases with their eyes closed or back flipped off their brother’s shoulders to warm up for the evening ahead. It didn’t matter that the ticket booth hadn’t opened and the audience hadn’t arrived; Applegate and Rook’s Festival of Mysteries rumbled with activity.

Elsie Caldera moved through the crowd, dodging outstretched arms and whirling props. Even the fire jugglers didn’t slow her down.

Strands of lights hung across the midway. They hadn’t been switched on yet, and the wires crisscrossed the sky like a web. Mr. Riabold sat perched on a ladder. His head brushed the lights as he strapped on his stilts. It wasn’t time for him to enter the ring—he wasn’t even in costume—but he always tried on his stilts before showtime so he could remember what it felt like to be ten feet tall.

Elsie squinted up at him. “Have you seen Oskar?”

If anyone had a bird’s eye view to spot a missing strongman, it was Mr. Riabold. But he hadn’t seen him. Neither had the Palermo twins, brother and sister contortionists who sat twisted in knots by the tent.

“Haven’t seen him since breakfast,” the brother said as he lay on his stomach with his legs arched over his head, his toes on his eyebrows.


Filed: Pitch Wars

  • Amy Jameson says:

    Oooh, I’m totally in! Love the pitch. Please send the complete manuscript as a Word doc to query(at)aplusbworks.com. And I’d love to know more about you, so please tell me about yourself!

  • Rachel Marks says:

    I have always loved the circus 🙂 Please send on over the first 100 pages in a word doc to rachel@rfliterary.com. In the subject line put Pitch Wars Request. I can’t wait to dive in!

  • Leon Husock says:

    I’d like to see more! Please send a query + the full MS to leon@lperkinsagency (with Pitch Wars in the subject line), along with a one-sentence description of your book.

  • Peter Knapp says:

    Excited to read this one — please send to query@newleafliterary.com!

  • Claire Anderson-Wheeler says:

    Hi Kendal

    This looks great and I’d love to see more. Could you send me a detailed synopsis (500-700 words would be wonderful) together with the full MS as a Word doc to claire at rhaliterary dot com?

    Good luck!

  • Jim McCarthy says:

    Circus curses? Yes, please. I’m at jmccarthy@dystel.com and would love to have a look. Word attachments most preferable if possible!

  • Rena Rossner says:

    I’d love to read more of this! Please send the first 50 pages attached as a word document to:



    Rena Rossner

  • Laura Zats says:

    I’ve been looking for a good circus book for almost two years! This one seems right up my alley! Please send a query (with #pitchwars in the title) as well as the first 100 pages to laura@redsofaliterary.com!

  • Stefanie Lieberman says:

    I’d like to read more! Please send the first 50 pages in Word format and a query letter to submissions@janklow.com, and include “Stefanie Lieberman” in the subject line of the email. Thanks!

  • Louise Fury says:

    I’d love to see more. Please send me the query and first 50 pages in a word document with the pitch on page 1. Include #pitchwars in the subject heading. furyqueries(at)thebentagency(dot)com


  • Christa Heschke says:

    This sounds really cool!Please send the first 25 pages, query and synopsis to chquery[at]mcintoshandotis[dot]com and put “Pitch Wars request” in the subject line.


    Christa Heschke
    McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

  • Moe Ferrara says:

    !!!! I’ve been on the hunt for a good circus story. I love this and definitely want to see more. Please send the query + synopsis + Full Manuscript in one word doc to MFsubmissions [at] bookendsliterary.com with “PitchWars Request – THE FLYING GARZINIS” as the subject. I can’t wait to take a look!

  • Victoria Marini says:

    Hey Kendal,

    I was lurking on PitchWars and I LOVED this entry! Brenda was kind enough to let me comment here. If you’re able, I would love to see the query and the full manuscript, please! Victoria@gelfmanschneider.com


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