Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Word Count: 47,000
My Main Character would use sun or snow to battle their biggest obstacle:
Riley would use snow, not just for his heat-seeking snowball launcher, but also as his own nature-made personal freezer to cool his lasers. And that means he wouldn’t hold his breath when mom reached for the mysterious container in the back of the refrigerator. And his parents wouldn’t ask the dreaded question heard throughout the neighborhood (they never used their inside voices) “Riley, what have you done now?” He needed a secret snow freezer because he couldn’t tell them the box contained an emotion-changing laser he invented to save their marriage.
Sixth grade scientist Riley Cooper has a hypothesis: if he can get his parents to stop fighting, the vein in his dad’s forehead won’t explode and they won’t mention the D word. Divorce. To prove this, Riley invents the Emotion Modification Device (EMD), a laser capable of zapping the brain and temporarily changing a person’s emotions to the exact opposite.
Thrilled with the success at home, Riley believes the device can change the world. And win the Nobel Prize. This dream propels him to expand his subject group. He targets his homework-obsessed teacher, but makes the humongous mistake of letting his best friend fire the laser. The EMD misfires and transforms their kindhearted principal into a deranged bank robber instead. Riley races to recover her personality and attracts the attention of Bruester Locke, a corrupt prosecutor who wants the device to influence voters and give him unlimited power.
Because of the problems his invention caused, Riley stops using it at home and the effects fade. His parents begin fighting again, but Riley must focus on keeping the EMD from dangerous hands. He devises a plan that involves the newest technology, reinventing his old Taste Adjustment Device that turned his skin green, and pushing his physical strength and stamina to their limits. If Riley can outsmart the prosecutor, the EMD will be safe and he will have another chance to save his family. If he fails, the prosecutor will get the device, his principal will go to prison, and his family will be torn apart forever.
RILEY COOPER, INVENTOR: EMOTIONS AND LASERS is described as TESLA’S ATTIC meets WRITE BEFORE YOUR EYES. This manuscript won third place in the Sixth Annual SCBWI Carolinas Novel Writing Contest.
First 250 words:
The delivery van turned onto my street twenty-one hours late. What was the point of two-day shipping? It’s engine rumbled and my heart thumped in time with the vibrations. I tapped my fingers on my leg. The van coughed and sputtered to a stop in front of my house. The exact same time we reached Angus’s driveway for our daily after-school snack and homework session. I didn’t bother to drop my backpack because I knew I wouldn’t be staying.
Mel glanced from me to the truck as she kicked off her sneakers and balled up her sweatshirt for a pillow. “Expecting something?”
“Yeah, just a couple of mirrors.” My eyes were glued to the driver as he put a small brown box on my doorstep.
“What are the mirrors for?” Angus asked. He flipped his long hair from his face and the gleam in his eyes told me my escape wouldn’t be easy.
“Nothing. Just playing around with stuff.”
I waved my hand like it wasn’t anything better than the heat-seeking snowball launcher I made and calibrated to my brother’s regular body temperature of 97.9. But really, it was the most brilliant invention I’ve ever made.
“Are you going to actually sell this creation?” Angus was practically drooling by this point.
Clearly my talents weren’t in the art of deception.
“Not everything’s about money,” Mel said.
Her stare of righteousness made me squirm. But she was right. This wasn’t about money. It was about saving my family.