Title: Mischief, Mysteries, and Milkshakes
Entry Nickname: Ice Cream Rebel Rousers
Word Count: 45,000
Genre: Middle Grade Mystery Humor
Eleven-year-old Gabe and his younger sister Lily are dreading summer vacation. They’d rather do anything than spend eight weeks with Aunt Helene in her creepy old house. No Wi-Fi, no cable, a grandfather clock called The Howler that randomly shrieks, and plenty of rules, the strictest of which is to stay away from the antiques—especially the old writing desk in the library. It belonged to their Great Uncle Patrick and, well, some secrets should never see the light of day.
When Aunt Helene goes out for her weekly tea, where she wears white gloves and eats tiny sandwiches stuffed with pink goo, Gabe and Lily decide that some rules are made to be broken. Finding the key, they sneak into the writing desk and discover a journal written by Patrick when he was young. The journal contains secrets about hidden rooms and tunnels throughout the house where a once-cursed treasure is allegedly buried.
Determined to learn more, Gabe and Lily enlist the help of their new friend, ten-year-old Harper, a self-proclaimed milkshake addict. Faced with riddles to solve, creepy noises that most certainly couldn’t be voices from the past, and a realization that their aunt may also be on the hunt to keep the treasure all to herself, the three children set out to unravel the mysteries of the house, in hopes of being the first to get to the hidden treasure before summer ends.
First 250 Words:
The rules for Aunt Helene’s house were clear: Nothing slimy, loud, or messy, keep all rooms neat, ask before doing anything, and no fighting with your sister.
Keeping the rules wouldn’t be impossible; they would just be annoying. As far as summers went, this one was officially going down in the books as the worst in my eleven-year history, and it hadn’t even started yet.
“Are we here?” my younger sister Lily quietly asked, clutching her doll close to her body with white knuckles as I peered out the window.
Dad had pulled the car over, but there was no sign we were getting out. Lily stared at me with wide eyes, waiting for some kind of confirmation. But how would I know if this was Aunt Helene’s house? I’d never been here before either. In fact, up until a few weeks ago, I didn’t even know we had an Aunt Helene.
“Hey, Lil,” I whispered across the back seat of the car.
“I heard Aunt Helene keeps pet rats in her basement.”
“Gabe!” Mom twisted around from the front while Dad looked at us in his rear view mirror with a smirk on his face. “Don’t tell your sister tales like that. You know she scares easily. Lily, honey, he’s just kidding. Aunt Helene is … lovely.”
“But Grandma said—” I started.
“Grandma is the reason you and your sister are going to Aunt Helene’s for the summer. Try to understand. Please?”
Title: The Order of Black Hollow Lane
Entry Nickname: The Order of Black
Word Count: 57,000
Genre: MG Mystery
Ginny’s mom is a world-renowned parenting expert with no parenting skills of her own. She doesn’t even give Ginny any warning before shipping her off to a boarding school right before her thirteenth birthday. If only Ginny’s dad was around to look after her, but he disappeared when she was three. She figures she’s heard the last of him.
Then the box arrives. It’s crammed with ornate medallions. There’s no return address, just a note that says, ‘These belonged to your father.’ Ginny thinks it’s just an old heirloom until she sees symbols from the box in an unexpected place: her new boarding school. She starts investigating and finds out her dad was a member of a mysterious student society: The Order of Black Hollow Lane.
At first it seems like nothing more than an old boys’ club, but then Ginny finds evidence that they had something to do with her dad’s disappearance. She’s desperate to learn more about what happened to him, but The Order won’t give up its secrets without a fight. Now Ginny has to decide if finding out what happened to her dad is worth the risk…even if it means risking her life.
First 250 Words:
There are certain things a mother doesn't really need to know. Trivial things, like whether or not you clipped your toe nails this morning, or that you stepped in something sticky at the park. But the box in Ginny's nightstand was not one of those things. Ginny knew it wasn't. And that's why her fingers twitched every time her mother came into her room.
"Are you ready, dear?" her mom asked as she opened the door. "The press will be here in a few—“ She put her hand to her chest and gasped.
Ginny held her breath. She had put the box away, right? If her mom saw it, if she found out....
Suddenly her mother's eyes filled with tears.
"Oh Ginny," she said with a smile, "that dress...you look just...just beautiful."
Ginny breathed out and picked at the crunchy taffeta on the front of her dress. She had to put the box out of her mind. She needed to focus today.
“Don’t you just love these little pink polka dots?” her mom asked as she brushed Ginny’s hands away from the dress. “They’re all hand-sewn, that’s why they pop out so much!”
It looked like the dress had come down with the measles. The sleeves puffed out like pink toadstools, which would come in handy if Ginny ever needed a place to hide a cat.