Thursday, June 7, 2018

QK Agent Round 3: I Can Keep a Secret, MG Mystery


Entry Nickname: I Can Keep a Secret

Word count: 44K

Genre: MG Contemporary Mystery


Fueled by the disappearance of her mother, twelve-year-old Genevieve Sterling is determined to save her family’s failing newspaper and prevent her dad from leaving town.

Gen strikes a deal with classmate, Shepherd Locke, son of the Chief of Police, to dig up the town’s juicy gossip. However, they discover Sturgeon Bay lacks a significant crime rate. Because of their mutual disdain for two kid-bloggers stealing Gen’s stories, Gen and Shepherd form a secret organization to protect their scoops. When Mimsy McGregor, the unofficial queen of Door County, asks Gen to print her obituary, Gen’s pen is ready for her most promising lead yet.

The next morning, the queen is found dead in her home. In search of clues to solve the murder, Gen and Shepherd go undercover during the annual cranberry contest on the late queen’s estate. Hot on the trail of suspects, Gen exposes a deadly secret linking Shepherd to the murderer. She must survive etiquette games, battle twin bloggers, and catch the killer before she ends up writing Shepherd’s obituary.

THE INK AND PAPER SOCIETY is a stand-alone MG contemporary mystery with series potential complete at 44,000 words. It will appeal to fans of the book Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.

I am a member of SCBWI and Children’s Book Insider and a finalist in several writing contests. My MG novel, Free Runner (Saguaro Books 2014), was an honorable mention winner in the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. This manuscript won runner-up in the 2018 Revise and Resub contest hosted by a team of professional editors.

First Page

The tapping echoed off the brick walls, a time bomb counting down the seconds to impact. I hoped Dad sat at his desk typing the latest headline and not googling remote control detonators. This past year, he let the staff go and placed a For Sale sign in the brownstone window. I refused to tag along on another vegan road trip or join the recyclable living commune, The Dancing Rabbit. Besides, Mom might return home at any second.

From the landing, I scooped a stray Nerf gun from the ground, following the noise. Scouting the stairs on ninja feet, I dodged a balloon and tumbled into the first-floor newspaper office. My eyes scanned the empty desk. The scent of fresh baked goods filled the air.

“Surprise!” My dad stepped into view with a full sheet cake in his arms, happier than a kitten in catnip. “It’s retirement day, Gen. The end of everything lame and boring.”

His journalism degree fell from the wall. Possibly because my grandad caused a minor earthquake when he rolled over in his grave. I scooted back in case the earth opened and swallowed Dad whole.

“No more deadlines. No more classified ads,” he said.

“No more paychecks.” I inspected his shirt and tie and prepped him for a new career. “I hear used car salesmen and substitute teachers are in high demand.”

My informant waved at me from the window. The tapping. He enjoyed collecting secrets the way people on Hoarders collect soup cans and cats.


  1. WILD CARD! Please send full manuscript plus synopsis to with #QK-WC-Zampetti in the subject line. :-)

  2. I definitely would've Wild Carded this one if I got to it sooner. I'd love to see it though! Please send a query, synopsis and pages to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com. I look forward to reading!
    -Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

  3. I'd like to see 30 pages. You can send them with a query letter to querycarlisle at with the subject Query Kombat Request - Title. Thank you!

  4. Hello, I'd love to see more of this! Please send your ms as Word Doc to me at with query and "Query Kombat" in subject line. Thanks!

  5. Loving this! Please send your query and pages to, and mention Query Kombat and your title in the subject!

  6. I’d love to see more of this! Please send your query and upload your manuscript + synopsis to Thanks!

    —Moe Ferrara @ BookEnds Literary