Middle Grade & YA

lauren-caitlenWhen I first joined the LKG Agency as Lauren’s Chief Cook & Bottle Washer back in 2008 (wow — 2008?  Seriously?  When did that become five years ago?), the agency was 99% non-fiction.  The 1% was a middle grade children’s book, the last survivor of Lauren’s initial impulse, when starting the LKG Agency, to handle children’s fiction as well as practical how-to.  But her specialty, and her success, was primarily in non-fiction, so when that last middle grade project was done, we didn’t really look for any more.

But it gave me hope, because children’s books have always been my sweet spot.  A very large number of my favorite books (of which there are a very large number) are children’s books.  As a child, I nearly wore out my library’s copy of Lazy Tinka and Ginny and the Cooking Contest, and later committed what I’m sure is a mortal sin when I lied to the library and said that I’d lost their (only!) copy of Robin McKinley’s Beauty because I couldn’t bear to return it.  (I’m so sorry.)  And Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is my go-to Halloween book. Of course when I joined a literary agency I would want to investigate children’s fiction.

As it turned out, selling Lauren on the idea wasn’t that hard.  Actually…as it turned out, I wasn’t the one that ended up selling anything.  You see, having written a middle grade fantasy of my very own, I asked Lauren to read it, and she turned around and offered to represent it.  Add to that, she told me that if my book sold, then we could open LKG to children’s fiction again.  Well, it sold.

So now that LKG is open to it, what exactly am I looking for? I could give you the tried-and-true spiel about memorable characters, snappy dialogue, and gripping plots, but I thought it might help you and me if I got a little more specific.  Okay, nitpicky.  And, as a bonafide nerd, I can get nitpicky.

First, I’m just looking for middle grade and young adult now.  Please, no picture books or early chapter books.  And please, no dystopian futures (it’s not really my thing), a lot of violence (also not my thing), or books written in the present tense.  (Wow, I just described The Hunger Games, didn’t I?)  Please, no zombies.  Vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards, angels and demons, the Greek Pantheon, Thor and Loki and Fenrir, superheroes, aliens, super-powered aliens — all good.  But zombies give me nightmares.

Please do send fantasy, whether it be like Harry Potter and Sarah Prineas’ Winterling trilogy (contemporary fantasy about modern kids!); or Stephanie Burgis’ Kat, Incorrigible series, and Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia (historic fantasy re-writes with both humor and heart!); or Kristen Cashore’s Graceling, Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball, and Erin Bow’s devastating Plain Kate (traditional fantasy!  With horses!).  And, why, yes, I am listing some of my favorite books on purpose, on the chance that you have read these and your book compares favorably to one of them.

On a related note, please do send sci-fi, which I also love, having grown up on Star Trek: TNG.  Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7 will forever hold a place in my heart because it is a futuristic sci-fi with spaceships and lasers, but it also has a boarding school!  (I love books with boarding schools.)  Ah, that reminds me: please do send things with boarding schools.

Please, please, please send fairy tale re-tellings.  Please.

So if you have a sci-fi retelling of The Hedgehog Prince that takes place at an orbital boarding school that circles Saturn, or a story about a girl who discovers she’s descended from the Norse gods and has to earn her place as a Valkyrie to stop Fenrir from breaking free and starting Ragnarok, please do send it along.

But, seriously, no zombies.


21 Responses to Middle Grade & YA

  1. Justine Erler December 30, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

    Please consider my new novel Starcrush, now available as an e-book on Amazon.

    If you are interested, I will send you a copy in pdf format.



    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway December 31, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

      Hi Justine,

      Thanks for commenting! We’d prefer if you sent a query to Crubinobradway@lkgagency.com; it just helps us keep everything organized.


  2. Carolyn February 4, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

    Thanks so much for being specific about your wants. This is extremely helpful. I’ll get right down to querying you!

  3. Vinay March 21, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    Dear Madam,

    I have recently written a romantic fiction book titled ‘LOVE NEVER DIES’ which I want to publish. If you are interested to read my MS then please respond.

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway March 30, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      Dear Vinay,

      If you’d like to submit, please check out our submission guidelines on the Submissions page for what we’re looking for and how exactly to send it along. It keeps everything more organized.


  4. Asror Allayarov March 26, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    I am Asror Allayarov. I live in Uzbekistan.
    I am a journalist and a writer. I am 27 years old.
    Can I publish my novel in the United States of Amerika? Could you help me?
    My novels includes Uzbek life and political games.
    I hope hear you soon

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway March 30, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi Asror,

      You can definitely publishing in the US. As for if we’d be interested, you should send a more detailed query outlining your project. You can check out our submission guidelines to see exactly how and what we’re looking for.


  5. Nancy Bishop March 26, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    I would like to know you submission guide lines.
    Thank you
    Nancy Bishop

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway March 30, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      Hi Nancy,

      Our submission guidelines are listed on our Submissions page.


  6. Cori Reinartz March 27, 2014 at 5:38 am #

    This posting really caught my eye. I first received a notice about it in an email from writersdigest.com. I wanted to explore and see what more was written in the post. I became a little heart broken though when I heard present tense is not acceptable. I am currently in the beginning phases of a book I’m working on in between school and work. But this did help me to better see what a lot of agents are looking for and that I need to completely change my book around if it even has a chance of being worth anything.

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway March 30, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

      Hi Cori,

      Thanks for checking us out, but please don’t be heart-broken. This isn’t what a lot of agents are looking for — it’s really my personal preferences. I am personally not a fan of present tense, but a lot of agents are, and you should by no means change your book because of one person.

      Best and good writing,

  7. Joanie Murray March 27, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    This is so awesome! I am working on book two of a planned three book series. I self-published book one last year. Would you, by any chance, consider looking at at the first one? I think it could be exactly what you are looking for. It is a middle grade fantasy.


    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway March 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

      Hi Joanie,

      I’d be happy to – check out our Submission guidelines to see how and what we’re looking for.


  8. Grant E. Fetters March 30, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    I am seeking an agent for my work that is mostly YA, Middle grade, and Children’s fiction. I have added the first chapter of a current project below.

    In a small town, Jeffery an average boy will have the adventure of a lifetime when he discovers that one of the family’s bath towels has been magically replaced by a very special Cape. The Cape of Luxor. The Cape has arrived at Jeffery’s home in the laundry basket and while helping his mother fold the clothes he discovers the Cape of Luxor is alive and actually talks to him. And so…The adventure begins…

    “When all hope is lost, something magical has to happen and in this case to the least expected, and the most deserving.”

    Chapter 1 The Cape of Luxor

    “Looks like another lazy summer day.” Jeffery said. “I guess I’ll go out to the backyard and see what’s happening.”
    Jeffery is an only child living with his Mother and Father on Maple Street. A prime example of the majestic Maple tree is in the middle of his backyard. It is one of the largest trees in the neighborhood. This old tree not only shades most of the backyard but it also shades each of the other neighboring yards. Jeffery’s dad spent a whole week building a massive fort up in this tree. The fort holds two different levels, split into two rooms; although small they are very distinct. It is a great place to hang out.
    Jeffery lies down, all stretched out under the limbs of the big maple and begins to dose. Mom has asked him to help her with the laundry, and will call him inside when ready for his help. His chore is to fold clothes in the basement.
    I guess that will be my good deed for the day. Jeffery thinks.
    As Jeffery drifts in and out of sleep, he spots different shapes in the cloud formations. There is a dragon; a bird, then came a bear, it soon turns in to a car, then into a mountaintop.
    “Hey dude,” Steve calls out as he drops his bike next to the house. Steve walks towards the base of the tree. “Are we going to play in your fort today?”
    “We can for a little while,” said Jeffery. My mom has chores for me and I have to help her soon. She’ll call me in when she needs me.”
    “That’s cool dude. I’ll hang-out, till she does.”
    Just then, “Jeffery,” Mom calls out. “Come on in the house now, and give me a hand.”
    “OK mom. I’ll be right in… Well, I got to go.”
    “OK,” said Steve
    “Are you gonna come back later?”
    “Yeah, sure I’ll swing by.”
    Jeffery’s mother does not need his help with the laundry but she wants him to learn everything he can, whenever he can. She tells him, “Someday you will be on your own and you will need to know these things.” He rolls over to get to his feet then slowly walks towards the house.
    Most nights, Jeffery goes to bed before his dad gets home from working late in the city. He does not see his father much during the week, so when his dad is home, he likes to do special things with him. Once in a while, the two of them will go to a ball game or go fishing. Jeffery likes to go fishing with his dad because he can simply take a nap on the bank of the river. There is never any pressure to do anything or be anywhere. It is nice, to have quality time with dad.
    Walking up to the back porch of their house, Jeffery can smell the aroma of something sweet. “Oooh! Nice!” said Jeffery. Mom has been baking cookies again, and they are still warm. Chocolate chip… my favorite. Jeffery walks slowly over to the counter to get a good look at the cash of cookies. Jeffery takes in the wonderful smell, and he thinks. I might have to snag one of those cookies on my way to the basement.
    “Stay out of those cookies!” Mom yells from the basement. She heard Jeffery walking across the hardwood floor. She can tell he is near where she placed the cookies out to cool. Newspaper is spread out on the counter and if there is any missing, it will leave a grease spot where the cookies are. Any blank spots on the paper will be a dead giveaway.
    “Darn it,” Jeffery snapped. “I’m caught before I even get started. She’s got super human hearing.” Jeffery gives his ever present patented eye-roll.
    The family’s house is a big old Victorian house built a long time ago when… says dad, “Back in the day, these old homes must have been built by real craftsmen.” He always said things like that, until he needs to fix something, and then he says, “Looks like they used a broken ruler to measure this one.”
    To Jeffery the basement is a horrible place. Worst of all; are the spiders, they are everywhere. It’s dark and smells bad. Jeffery tries to avoid the basement whenever possible. Mom knows Jeffery hates going down to the basement but still acts like it is no big deal. For her maybe, but for Jeffery, it is always a nightmare. At the top of the stairs he looks down the steps with fear in his eyes. You can’t keep putting it off, just do it and get it over with. Jeffery bounced down the stairs to the landing and called out, “Mom…Mom?” Not wanting to go any further than absolutely necessary.
    “Yes, Jeffery I am over here; come help me.”
    On the way over to the laundry table Jeffery keeps an eye peeled for webs. He looks for the little creepy buggers spinning their way down from the rafters. On the laundry table he can see the pile of clothes is small, Mom is almost done. Only towels are left to fold. For our small family, we sure go through plenty of towels. Jeffery grabs a little towel and folds it in the three layer pattern his mother has shown him. She said it makes them look nice on the towel bar. Big deal…they are going to get all messed up anyway, but he folds them the way she wants. Mom grabs one of the laundry baskets and a pile of small towels. She turns towards the steps. “Sweetie, bring up the rest of the bath towels when you come up.”
    “OK Mom,” I’m not going to be down here any longer than I need to be. He whips through the rest of the towels except for that really big monster towel. I don’t remember this towel. It is so much bigger and heavier than all the other brown towels. This one must to be new.
    Holding the massive towel up, Jeffery can see right away this towel is different. There is something wrong here, he thinks. Why is this towel here? It is much too large to be just a bath towel. There must be something special about it. Maybe, it’s these colors. There are very thin red and blue stripe lines running down the length on one side. I’ll bet these are magic colors.

    Just a plain brown towel, is that what it’s supposed to look like? But is it really just a brown towel? It looks like all the other towels except for the colored threads on the one side.
    This is way too large for a bath towel. It will drag on the floor at bath time. It’s so awkward. I’m going to need help to fold this one.
    Jeffery runs upstairs to get his mom’s help. On the way up the steps Jeffery tosses the monster towel up into the air thinking, I’ll catch it as it floats down over the basket. He moves towards the stairs and the big towel drifts down over his head. As the towel settles down over his head and shoulders it comes alive and takes ahold of him. A strange feeling falls over Jeffery all at once, it is like an electrical charge that tingles all over his body. He knows something extraordinary is about to happen. Jeffery drops the basket on the top step and runs up to his bedroom with the big towel covering his head and hair. It drapes down over his back as he runs. He takes two steps at a time up to the second floor.
    At first, the power of the towel is frightening. I don’t know what’s happening to me. Jeffery tosses the towel in the corner of the room, and crouches down behind his bed. He watches the towel for a long time. Nothing really happens; it just lay there on the floor all wadded up.
    Why did this towel make me feel so crazy? Could it be special? Is it possible this is a magic towel, or maybe a magic cape disguised as a common bath towel?
    I think…. I know what sets this towel apart from all the other towels in the closet. It’s got to be those magic colors. That’s what makes it different than all the other brown towels. I’ll bet, only the wisest and bravest crusaders in all the world can see the magic colors or know what they mean or how to put them to use.
    “That must be it,” Jeffery cries out.
    If I hold it with the lines on the left side, the towel does nothing. It is just to wipe your hands on, or dry off after your bath. However, if I hold the towel so that the lines are on the right side, the side of ‘Truth, Justice, and the American Way.’ That’s when it comes to life, and then… Watch out! You’re in for the ride of your life.
    As Jeffery cowers down behind his bed, he thinks. What do you expect will happen? You don’t think this towel is going to jump up, all by its self and start talking, do you? That’s crazy. There is nothing to be afraid of? It’s just a towel. Go over there, pick it up, and take it down to the closet and close the door.
    “Don’t be foolish Lars. You know I am more than just a TOWEL!”
    “What? Who said that?”
    Jeffery looked around the room. There is no one else in the room. There is a chest of drawers beside his bed. Toys are scattered around on the floor and assorted clothes mixed in for good measure. Jeffery looks at the closet door, and even though it is closed, he knows that’s where the voice has come from.
    “OK, the gig is up. I know where you are hiding! Come on out, the joke is over! I know you’re in there.”
    “I am not in the closet. I am right here on the floor where you tossed me.”
    “Pretty good one Steve. I know you’re in there.”
    “I’ll just see for myself.” Jeffery called out to the big voice. He tiptoes over to the closet door… He grabs the knob to fling it wide, and Whomp. The door does not open, he forgot to the turn the knob. Jeffery is going to rip the door right off its hinges. However, the door does not move, and the force he used to open the door flung his arm around so hard that it knocked him to the ground.
    Well…I guess the element of surprise is gone, Jeffery thinks.
    “Come on out here Steve. I know you’re in there.”
    Jeffery got up from the floor, and opens the door very slowly to find no one there. There are the normal things; clothes, discarded toys, sporting equipment and about two years of accumulated dust and crud. He then turns and looks at his bed.
    “The voice is under the bed!”
    “If you’re done Lars, we can get started. Come over here. I want to talk to you. I want to explain a few things.”
    He knows this is just a joke but he goes over to the bed and sits on the edge. The towel lay there in the wadded mess where he tossed it earlier. Jeffery reaches out with his foot and very slowly taps it with his shoe.
    Nothing, I must have been dreaming. I knew it! That’s just crazy to think this towel is… or ever could be, more than just a towel.
    “I’ll fix this. I’ll give you a good stomp. I’ll stomp the life out of you!”
    “Quit fooling around Lars.”
    “Oh crap! The darn thing is trying to eat my sneaker.” That is when Jeffery jumps back up on the bed; his knees bent and feet drawn up tight. He sits there making little rocking motions.
    This is crazy. Get a hold of yourself, Jeff ol’ boy. You’re really losing it today.
    He sat there on the bed, never taking his eyes off the towel.
    “Who is Lars,” asks Jeffery.
    “Wait… You’re not Lars?”
    “Where is Lars?”
    “I don’t know any Lars.”
    “Oh no! There has been a foul-up…”
    “Wait a minute, this can’t be! I must be losing my mind. A talking towel!”
    “No, you are not losing your mind. I am the ‘Magic Cape of Luxor.’ Well, I’m not the cape, the cape is there, wherever there is? I am on Luxor. Uhm… Ah… You have been chosen to help us with our quest. We need you to be the guardian of your sector, to protect the way of life for everyone in your area. Will you accept this challenge?”
    …Nothing…. all is quiet. Jeffery does not make a single sound. “Wake-up Jeff, wake-up, this is all a dream. Just ignore it and it will go away.”
    “You will be known as ‘Dweebell of Luxor’ the protector of Morgan Creek.”
    “Wait! What do you mean protector,” inquired Jeffery. “I can’t protect anyone. I am only nine years old. I can’t even drive. How am I supposed to help anyone if I can’t drive a car?”
    “Don’t worry, let me go over a few things…, about the rules …I guess that’s what I need to tell you. We have given you the Cape of Luxor. It has very special powers. The power of the Cape, that’s where this all starts. With this Cape, you will learn how to use your new powers for whatever you wish. Each of your powers, you will learn as you need them. For right now, just realize that you have been chosen. From all the people on your planet, you Dweebell, are the one person we are counting on. You are needed. We have called upon you to do your very best. Will you help us?”
    “What extra powers? Can I fly? What other powers do I have?”
    The room is silent, not a sound. Jeffery looked around the room. He thinks someone is playing a mean joke on him.
    “Mr. Luxor? Hey! Dude…are you still there? OK Steve… you had your fun. Come out from where you’re hiding.”
    “Dweebell… sorry…I am reminded by my supervisor to inform you, DO NOT tell anyone about this. You must not discuss the powers of the Cape or anything about us to anyone. You cannot use your powers for evil or help anyone do evil things.”
    “What powers? What POWERS? What do I do?”
    “We will be in touch. Until then…”
    “Use the Cape, Dweebell, use the Cape.”
    “Oh great, ‘Use the Cape.’ What does that mean? This has to be a joke.”
    Picking up the towel he stuffed it in the bottom drawer of his dresser, Jeffery spends a few minutes looking under and behind everything in his room. He is determined to find out where the big voice came from. Exhausted, Jeffery flops down on his bed. He needs to get to the bottom of the big voice. He jumps to his feet and runs down the stairs to the hallway. He is going to call Steve to see what he is doing and where he’s at.
    “Hello,” the voice said on the other end of the phone.
    “This is Jeffery.”
    “Where are you?” asks Jeffery.
    “I’m in Cleveland!”
    “That’s strange. That’s not where I called?”
    “Well where do you think I’m at? Where did you call?”
    “Actually I thought you were in my closet.”
    “Really? Do you think I’m still there?”
    “No. But you said you were in Cleveland.”
    “Jeffery, I’m not in your closet and I’m not in Cleveland, you goof-ball. I am at home and I’ve been here ever since I left your place earlier. Are you losing your mind?”
    “No, but I thought for sure you were hiding in my room. Steve, can you come over here right now? I’ve got something to show you, and you’re not going to believe it.”
    “No, I can’t right now. My dad has chores for me to do before he gets home. I will a little later.”
    “OK, That will be fine. Come over when you can. I have something really big to show you. You’re just not going to believe this! I have a few things to check out too. You’re going to love this.”
    “Well then…Tell me now,” demands Steve.
    “No, actually I am not supposed to tell anyone, but you will have to see this, to believe it. I’ll tell you as soon as you can get over here.”
    “OK, Later.”
    Hanging up, Jeffery goes back to his room and over to the chest of drawers, he slowly opens the bottom drawer. The towel is still there. “OK, now what?” He takes the towel out and wraps it around his collar like before. It immediately comes to life and transformed into the Cape of Luxor. The magic in the towel transforms the ordinary looking bath towel into a beautiful gold silky cape with black accent markings. It is as light as a feather and as soft as brushed cotton. It shimmers as though it is alive.
    The power of the Cape of Luxor surges through Jeffery’s body, “I feel like I can do anything. I am able to stop crime in its tracks. Right the wrongs of Morgan Creek.”
    Striking a pose, Jeffery exclaims, “With a watchful eye and the ability to resolve conflicts in the neighborhood, Dweebell is on patrol. I must do my best to help those who can’t help themselves. I will do my best to protect and serve. I will look after the little ones too, the local pets and other animals that happens to enter my patrol zone. I must make sure they are all protected and safe from harm.”
    “Oh wow, this is too much.” Jeffery thinks. “I must be losing my mind. I can’t be a super hero.”
    After flipping off the cape, it falls to the floor. It lay there on the floor in a heap. As it lay there is turns back into the shape and color of the brown towel as before. Jeffery moved over to the bed and sits on the edge. Staring at the towel, Jeffery is at a loss for words. He does not know what to do.
    “What am I supposed to do? What can I possibly do to help anyone? Who will listen to me, or what I have to say? But, if I do go through with this, there must be something done about that name thing. I’m not going around the neighborhood known as Dweebell anything. Maybe… Thor, or Master of Luxor. I guess I can at least try it out for a while, see if I like it.”
    Jeffery slowly moves back over to the cape. Unsure of what he should do or where he should start. “I will call you the Cape of Morgan Creek,” and with that, he places the cape back on. Just as before, as soon as he ties the cape around his neck it comes alive.
    “What is that? I hear sounds outside my window. I can sense something is wrong. Someone needs my help!”
    Looking out his bedroom window, “Why, that’s Old Man Reynolds, big, old, mean as hell-cat, T-Rex.”
    T-Rex is sneaking up on the Anderson’s dog Patches. Patches is napping in the summer sunshine just outside his doghouse. Jeffery sounds out a whistle, quick and loud, which wakes up Patches from his lazy dog nap. Patches spies T-Rex just in the nick of time. He was about to pounce on him from the board fence. With his claws extended, T-Rex would have made a mess of poor old Patches. Now that Patches is awake, he starts to bark at the cat. T-Rex must go bother someone else. He has been caught in the act and Patches will not fall asleep quite so unaware.
    With that, Dweebell strikes a pose, tall and proud. “Another crime has been thwarted in Morgan Creek.”
    This makes Jeffery very proud and excited that he is able to be there when ‘help is needed,’ to aid those who needed him. “The world is no longer in chaos and all is as it should be. Life is good.”
    Dweebell can hear sounds and voices from miles away and see further than he could ever imagine. Everything is clear, crisp, and fresh.
    “What else can I do? I know! I will go outside and help out others in my area.”
    Dweebell goes down the stairs and out the front door. When he gets out on the sidewalk, he looks first left then right. Jeffery wants to find someone to help, something to do.
    “Listen… just listen for the crime,” Jeffery said. “I should be able to hear it happening… nothing! Maybe I need to be closer, closer to the action.”
    Jeffery starts to walk down the sidewalk, he strains to hear any crime or distress. He does not hear anything different than any other summer day. “That is a good thing, I guess.”

    I will walk around for a while and see what I can find. Maybe something will happen and I’ll be the first one on the scene, I’ll take care of it right then, before it gets out of control.
    “I might as well walk up to Milford Street, there is always something going on up there. Maybe I can be of assistance.” As Jeffery makes his way up the street, he spots Mrs. Hanson coming back from the store. She is carrying several bags of groceries. Jeffery thinks, “I can help her.”
    “Mrs. Hanson, – wait! Let me help, let me carry those bags.”
    “Jeffery, is that you?”
    “Yes, Mrs. Hanson, it’s me Jeffery, from down the street.”
    “Jeffery, oh yes, I can see you now. You look different to me somehow.”
    “It’s me! The same old Jeffery. Let me take a couple of those bags. I’ll help you take these to your house.”
    “That is very sweet of you to help an old woman.”
    “It’s quite alright Mrs. Hanson, I like to be helpful.”
    Dweebell walks with Mrs. Hanson and carries her bags up to her house. It is a big house, on a corner lot. Her house has one of the largest yards in the neighborhood. Summers, Jeffery mows her yard, and in the wintertime, he shovels her sidewalk to keep it clear of snow. Jeffery takes the bags of groceries up and into the house. He places them on her kitchen table.
    “Well, I must be off. I have to get back out on patrol. I need to finish my rounds. You have a nice day Mrs. Hanson.”
    “Oh, I will, and thank you so much for helping me with my groceries.”
    “That is my pleasure. Good-by!”
    “Tell your mother I said hello, and have her call me.”
    “I will.”
    Dweebell leaves Mrs. Hanson’s, and it occurred to him that he is able to make a difference in the neighborhood.
    “I wonder what other powers I possess. I should test them out. It will be so cool if I can fly! I need a cliff, or a tall building.” But there are no cliffs around here, or tall buildings. Jeffery is deep in thought, “where can I test the cape.” He thinks of his tree fort or the garage roof. Then Jeffery trips on a raised crack in the sidewalk. He falls, head-first into the grass to the right. “What the heck?” Jeffery rolls over on his side, checking for scrapes or cuts. “It is a good thing I am wearing the, ‘Cape of Morgan Creek’. I could have been hurt.”
    “This is amazing,” he thought. “The power of the Cape is beyond anything I have ever experienced. I like the powerful feelings it gives me. I will do everything within my powers to help those who need my help.”
    As Jeffery stood up, he can see his friend Steve walking his way. “I like Steve; he is my very best friend. We are always together. He is going to love my new cape. Wait! I almost forgot. I am not to tell anyone about the ‘Cape of Morgan Creek’. Certainly, the Dude from Luxor cannot mean Steve too. He is my best friend.”
    “Hi, Jeffery!”
    “Hey, Steve.”
    “What’s with the towel?”
    “It’s not a towel.”
    “That’s what it looks like to me. Just a simple towel.”
    “This is not just a towel, this is my magic cape. I call it the ‘Cape of Morgan Creek’. It is a very special cape. It gives me special powers.”
    “Powers? Like what.”
    “It gives me all kinds of powers to do special things, and help those that need help.” Steve begins to walk away. “Wait! Where are you going?”
    “Well, I was going over to your house to see if you wanted to play in your backyard,” said Steve. “But it looks like you are in your own little dream world, and can’t be bothered by us simple mortals.”
    “Actually, I am on patrol right now. I need to go around the neighborhood and make sure everything is as it should be. Make the world safe for everyone.”
    “Ha, ha, ha. You…. you’re kidding right?”
    “No, I’m serious. This all happened earlier. The Dude from Luxor said it was up to me to take care of everything.”
    “You’re an idiot!”
    “Don’t say that, you don’t know. You weren’t there when the big voice told me all about the Cape and how I was chosen to look after my area. That’s when I thought it was you, playing a mean joke on me.”
    “What are you supposed to do?”
    “Well I am not sure. I didn’t get any assignment, I haven’t tested the powers of the Cape. I’m thinking…. I should see if I can fly. I’ve been given all these special powers and the Cape is only one element of those powers. Also, I will discover other powers as I need them.”
    Steve walked up close to Jeffery and stared at the towel, he moved his face right up next to the towel and then started to sniff at it. He even cocked his head and looked like he was listening for something. Maybe he thought the towel is going to make a sound. “We should go back to your place and check this out.”
    “OK, we can do that. So do you believe me?”
    “No! Not at all, you look foolish.”
    On the way back to his house, Jeffery told Steve about helping Mrs. Hanson and how he prevented T-Rex from hurting Patches, but Steve said, “that’s no big deal.”
    “Let’s go up to your tree fort,” said Steve.
    “Yeah, that’s a great place to check out the other powers. Close the hatch behind you when you get up there. I don’t want anyone to know we are in the tree fort. We can keep an eye on my patrol zone from the windows.”
    “Hurry up Jeffery, get up there, or are you going to fly up?”
    They climbed up the ladder and Steve closed the hatch. Jeffery threw the bolt to lock the door. They both sat cross-legged on the floor facing each other. There are a couple of plastic milk crates to sit on but they sit on the floor instead.
    “So what else can you do?” asks Steve.
    “I don’t really know. I don’t know what’s possible.”
    “You’re an idiot.” Steve grabbed the Cape by the corner and flipped it up in the air. “It’s just a towel. Tell me why you think it has magical powers. Or is it the towel that has the powers and you’re just along for the ride.”
    “Don’t say that, it is a magic Cape.”
    “Yea, yea. Tell me why you think this towel is more magical than any other towel in your closet.”
    “Dweebell… I thought I told you not to tell anyone about the cape. Especially, about its power.”
    “What was that?” shouts Steve.
    “I am sorry, but Steve is my best friend.” Jeffery looked right at Steve with a surprised look on his face. “SEE… I told you it was special! Now do you believe me?”
    “No!” said Steve. “Who was that?”
    “Dweebell, I will have to put this in my report to the top man of Luxor. I am half tempted to take away the Cape. Give it to the proper recipient.”
    “No, wait. Steve is not just anybody, he can help.”
    “Who are you talking to, where is that voice coming from?” asks Steve.
    Jeffery leans towards Steve, and in a low conspirator’s voice, “It’s the Dude from Luxor.”
    Still shaking his head, but looking at Jeffery. “You’re crazy man. And, what is a Dweebell?”
    “That’s me, that’s what they call me.”
    “You are a dweeb for sure.”
    “Forget about that! I am working on the name thing.”
    “Dweebell?” asks the Dude. “What have you done today, with the power of the cape? Have you been safe? Have you operated within the guidelines of the Cape of Luxor?”
    “I’ve helped Mrs. Hanson with her bags. I also made sure Patches did not get hurt by T-Rex.”
    “What are you talking about? Who are you talking to?” asks Steve.
    “The Dude from Luxor, I told you!” Jeffery goes on with his report. “I did not have much time to test the powers of the cape. Steve can help me. He is a good friend and I trust him with my life.”
    “I will take this under advisement. This is highly unusual.”
    Steve and Jeffery sat there face to face looking at each other; Steve has a look of amazement but still disbelief.
    “Now what?” inquires Steve?
    “I don’t know. This is still new to me.”
    “Can he hear us?” Steve asks.
    “I am sure he is still there listening.”

    “Yes, I’m here… But…. I want to get something done about this name thing. I can’t be known as Dweebell anything. I want a name change. Something cool, for my friend Steve too.”
    A long pause, there is no sound except for the deafening sound of skepticism.
    “Ok Dweebell, I mean…. Atlas. You will now be known as Atlas, and for your little friend we will call him Orion. Do these names suit you better?”
    “Yes, they do. Thank you.”
    “Wait, I didn’t agree to anything, not yet,” griped Steve.
    “Hush, Steve. You will get us into trouble.”
    Steve starts to stand up, “Can I speak to you outside for a moment?”
    “What do you mean outside, we’re in a tree!” said Jeffery. “Just go along with me for a minute, I’ll explain later.”
    “All right,” said Steve. “But I don’t like this.”
    “Atlas, I have a mission for you.”
    “Yes, we are ready. What do you want us to do?”
    “Wait a minute! What do you mean, WE?” Steve nearly screamed.
    “Atlas, I want you and Orion to be here tomorrow at this same time and I will give you instructions. Can you do that?”
    “Yes we will be here.”
    Steve poked Jeffery and he shakes his head no, then pushed towards the hatch. Steve is leaving. Jeffery grabbed his leg to keep him from leaving.
    “We will talk more tomorrow.”
    “Stop, Steve. Give me a minute.”
    Steve pauses for the moment as they stare back and forth at each other.
    “Wow, what do you think of that?” asks Jeffery.
    “That was nuts,” Steve said. “I can’t believe you fell for that mess.”
    “Yea, I know pretty cool huh.”
    “What do you mean… this is crazy?”
    “No, you’re wrong! This will be great! We will be able to do something fantastic. I can’t wait to find out what our assignment is!”
    “Do…What do you mean do? I’m not doing anything some voice tells me. You’re just as crazy as he is. Who is he, where is he from, what are you thinking?”
    “What do you mean?” cried Jeffery. “He’s the Dude from Luxor.”
    “Do you plan to do whatever this nut-bag tells you? What if he tells you to rob a bank, are you going to do that? Are you going to jump off a bridge if the big voice tells you to? You’re crazy if you think I’m going to help you. I’m leaving”
    “Stop, Orion. I need your help. I can’t do this alone.”
    “Don’t call me that. When you fall out of your ‘crazy tree’, don’t come crying to me. I’m not going to pick up the pieces.”
    “Orion, I need your help, please don’t go.”
    “Stop calling me that. I’m going home.”
    Steve climbs through the hatch and down the ladder. Jeffery can see him walking across the back yard. He leaned out through the hatch and called out after Orion. “I’ll talk to you later!”
    Steve raised his hand to acknowledge he heard.
    “He will come around I know he will. I have to go slowly with him and tell him the reasons we need to do this.”
    “Jeffery? Are you up there? I saw Steve leaving.”
    “Yes, Mom. I am.”
    “Mrs. Hanson called me and said how much help you were to her and she wanted me to say thank you again for your help today. Did you help Mrs. Hanson?”
    “Yes, I carried her bags back to her house.”
    “That’s a good boy, keep up the good work.”
    “Thanks Mom!” I will.
    “Come on in the house, I have cookies and milk when you’re done playing.”
    “I will!” She might think this is play but I am certain, this is serious stuff.

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway March 30, 2014 at 3:38 pm #

      Hi Grant,

      Could you email us your material? It’d make things a little easier. Our submission guidelines are listed under Submissions on our website.


  9. U.C. Kalu April 1, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    Very glad to have stumbled upon this page. :)

    I was curious, are you interested in futuristic science fiction, sort of inline with GATTACA and THE UGLIES series? I know YA sci-fi has become a tough sell lately with the success of dystopian titles. Thanks.

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway April 6, 2014 at 3:38 pm #


      Yes, I’m a big fan of futuristic science fiction (and I am not a fan of dystopian). Check out our submission guidelines to see how to submit.


  10. Jeanna April 17, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

    Hi, Caitlen. This post was great for giving an idea of what you’re looking for–thanks! I am really looking forward to submitting to you.

    In the submission guidelines, it mentions providing a synopsis. I have heard such a wide range of synopsis guidelines from various agents (ranging from three paragraphs to four double-spaced pages!). I wondered: do you have a preferred length?

    Jeanna Mason Stay

    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway April 18, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      Hmmm…this would probably make a good subject for a blog post. But until that happens, let’s say I’m looking for two-ish pages, describing the main action and characters in your book. It doesn’t have to have every single detail, but give me a good idea of what your book is about and what’s going to happen. Your main character is hydrophobic and his/her facing that and overcoming it is a huge part of their character arc in the book? Yes, that needs to be in the synopsis. Their relationship with their pet newt that is sweet and adorable but doesn’t really hook into the plot? You can probably leave that out. Basically, I want the synopsis to give me a good idea of what is going to happen in the book, so I can see how you pull that together when I get to the manuscript.

      Hope that helps!

  11. Kelsey April 23, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    If having received a partial request, should we expect some form of response; and if so than how long? :)


    • Caitlen Rubino-Bradway April 23, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

      Yes, you should get a response if we’ve requested a partial. As it says in our Submission Guidelines, we try to get back to everyone within two months. However, because of the feature on Writer’s Digest (and I think it’s been reposted a couple other places), we’ve been a little overwhelmed with submissions recently, so it might take a little longer.


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