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PW #203: Middle Grade Contemporary: FIRST CHAIR

Wednesday, 1 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Ashley Martin

Mentee Name: Valerie Pepper


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 48,000


Lula James is obsessed with goals. #1: Make first chair flute so her parents will finally look at her the way they look at her brother Marcus. When Lula succeeds, she definitely gets noticed—for all the wrong reasons. New goal: Repair the relationships damaged in her pursuit of perfection, or forever be known as the “Ego Princess.”


The best thing about playing a piece of music just right is how it makes me feel. All tingly, breathless, and filled with this warm cloud of awesome…it might be the most amazing feeling ever.

No, it’s definitely the most amazing feeling ever.

I needed that feeling right now, because I couldn’t walk into the orchestra room. My feet were heavier than timpani drums.

Students jostled past me. I practiced my breathing: inhale for ten slow beats, exhale for ten slow beats. I, Talula James, could do this. Every year I made new goals and every year Get Into Stevens Academy for Seventh Grade was on top. The Academy took the city’s 350 best arts students and lumped them into one school, seventh through twelfth grade.

Now that I was actually here, I was shark bait. How was I supposed to act with high school kids? They were everywhere. I was a sixteenth note and they were the symphony, drowning me out.

I inhaled. A sign above the orchestra door said Passion! Believe me, you had to have passion to get into this school. I’m talking two and three hours of flute a day kind of passion. Running scales, practicing your technique, working nonstop. PASSION!

I exhaled. I. Could. Do. This. Inside that room were kids like me – kids who lived, breathed, ate, and slept music.

New goal: make friends with the flute players. Because if I didn’t, I’d be eaten alive.

Filed: PW Entries

  • Natascha Morris says:

    Very interested to see more. Please query me at QueryMe.online/1067/PitchWars2017. Thank you!

    Natascha Morris

  • Marie Lamba says:

    Nice start! Please submit your query to me at marie.jdlit@gmail.com with your query letter and the first 20 pages pasted into the email. Please put PITCH WARS REQUEST and your title in the message line. Also, attach the complete manuscript as a word file. Thanks!

  • Danielle Burby says:

    I’d love to take a look at this! Please email me at querydanielle@nelsonagency.com and include the first twenty pages of your manuscript in the body of the email along with a one-page query letter. In the subject line, write REQUESTED QUERY (PitchWars) and the title of your project. This will help ensure that your query isn’t accidentally deleted or caught in our spam filter. I look forward to reading!

  • Caitie Flum says:

    This looks great! I’d love to take a look.

    Please send the query in the body of the email + full manuscript as a Word attachment to querycaitie@lizadawson.com with “Pitch Wars request” in the subject.

  • Leon Husock says:

    I’d love to read more of this! Please send a query and the full manuscript along with a single-sentence description of your premise to leon@lperkinsagency.com

  • Christa Heschke says:

    I really love the music angle here…reminds me of when I played clarinet in band 🙂 I’d be interested to see more! Please send a query, first 50 pages and synopsis to chquery@mcintoshandotis.com. Look forward to reading!
    -Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

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