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PW #202: Middle Grade Contemporary: REACHING FOR STARLIGHT

Wednesday, 1 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Julia Nobel

Mentee Name: Stefanie Wass


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 47,000 words


A mysterious riddle could lead Sam to a long-lost violin that would pay for her mom’s last-chance cancer drug. If she can’t solve the clues, she might lose her mom forever. THE KEY TO EXTRAORDINARY meets COUNTING THYME.


It’s three hours before the biggest audition of my life and Mom is slumped at the kitchen table, texting like her fingers are on fire.

Mom never, ever texts.

“You let me sleep in.” My eyes travel to the empty stovetop. I’m fine with cereal, but Mom usually insists on making a big breakfast, since she’s convinced that’s the key to a top-notch performance.

“Hi, Sweet Pea.” Mom drops her phone. Her mascara is smeared, and instead of her usual fashionable dress and bracelets, she’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans. “Thought you could use the rest. Want me to make toast? We’re out of eggs.”

“I can do it.” I shoot her a sideways glance. “Everything okay?”

“Absolutely. That was Dad. He’s meeting with students, but he’ll be at the audition.” She stands up and plants a kiss on my cheek. “He’s looking forward to hearing his favorite pianist knock the socks off the Young Artists Camp judges.”

My stomach turns into a soft pretzel. I love piano, but I’m not thrilled with the Mozart piece for the camp try-out. Classical music is beyond boring. “After the audition, can Kendall and I go to the mall?”

Mom opens the cupboard, grabs a loaf of bread, and twirls the plastic twisty tie. “What, Sweet Pea?”

“The mall. Can Kendall and I go?”

“Maybe. Right now, can you play through the Andante section? The dynamics still need work.”

The corners of my mouth hitch up in a grin. Practice, practice. The old mom is back.

Well, at least until we get in the car.



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