Pitch Wars Agent Round!
Nov03

Pitch Wars Agent Round!

Welcome to the Pitch Wars Agent Round! For those unfamiliar with Pitch Wars, it’s a contest where published/agented authors, editors, or interns chose one mentee plus an alternate each and offered critiques on how to make their work shine. Over 1200 writers entered the Pitch Wars contest this year, and only 75 were chosen for the agent round. As a special reward for waiting in the wings and working tirelessly to get their manuscripts and pitches in shape, we’ve put together a special showcase for our alternates on Dee Romito‘s blog I Write For Apples on November 6. If any agents have time, please stop by and see if there are any pitches you’d like to make requests on. For a list of the amazing agents participating in Pitch Wars 2014, go here. AGENTS: To make requests, simply peruse the following entries and enter what you would like to have the writers’ send you in the comments of the posts. Please include submission guidelines and/or additional instructions. PLEASE only agent comments. All others save your comments until after the agent round. If you would like to cheer on your friends, go to the Twitter hashtag #PitchWars and show your support there. Thank you! Here are the links to each entry’s post separated by category with genres referenced for your convenience…   Middle Grade Entries 1. THE SAD STATE OF EMMALINE BLACK – Middle Grade Gothic Fantasy 2. A JAR FULL OF BUTTERFLIES – Middle Grade Literary Fiction 3. LITTLE MISS BLOGALOT – Upper Middle Grade Contemporary 4. ODDITY – Middle Grade Science Fiction 5. GRIMM AND BEAR IT – Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy 6. THE CONSPIRATORS’ CLUB – Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery 7. AMELIA FOOTE ROLLS ON – Middle Grade Contemporary 8. PHOEBE FRANZ’S GUIDE TO PASSPORTS, PAGEANTS, AND PARENTAL DISASTERS – Middle Grade Contemporary 9. THIRTEEN O’CLOCK – Middle Grade Light Science Fiction 10. SEE YOU THEN, JOSHUA JACOBS – Middle Grade Contemporary  11. THE ZOOKEEPER’S MACHINE – Middle Grade Adventure 12. SKIDSTER – Middle Grade Futuristic Science Fiction 13. FORTUNE IT FORWARD – Middle Grade Magical Realism 14. SPARROW – Middle Grade Paranormal 15. ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES – Middle Grade Contemporary in Verse 16. THE ADVENTURES OF RATBOY – Middle Grade Adventure   Young Adult Entries 17. BEAT – Young Adult Thriller 18. RENASCENCE – Young Adult Contemporary 19. KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME – Young Adult Contemporary 20. LEFT WITH US – Young Adult Literary 21. TIMEKEEPER – Young Adult Historical Fantasy/LGBTQ 22. THE GIRLS OF MARCH – Young Adult Contemporary 23. DEFINITIONS OF INDEFINABLE THINGS – Young Adult Contemporary 24. OF NIGHT...

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1. THE SAD STATE OF EMMALINE BLACK  – Middle Grade Gothic Fantasy
Nov03

1. THE SAD STATE OF EMMALINE BLACK – Middle Grade Gothic Fantasy

Mentor Name: Ben Brooks Mentee Name: Erin Latimer Title: THE SAD STATE OF EMMALINE BLACK Category: Middle Grade Genre: Gothic fantasy Word Count: 60,000 Pitch: Found guilty during England’s witch-hunting frenzy, Emmaline Black is sent to St. Clements, London’s most prestigious witch correction facility. After she uncovers the awful truth about their “cure” for magic, patients begin to mysteriously vanish, and Emma, on the verge of revealing the facility’s secrets, might just disappear next. Excerpt: Emmaline Black made people uncomfortable. To begin with, she had the nerve to be slightly odd looking. With ghostly white skin and long black hair, she managed to be both pale and dark at once. Worse still, strange things frequently happened to her. Things broke, or fell over when she was upset. Sometimes when she wasn’t even standing nearby. People were already nervous enough. Lately it seemed the papers were always filled with wild rumours: a boy in Birmingham who’d squashed his mailman flat by just looking at him. A girl in Cambridge who’d turned her mother to stone. Even a couple of twins in Worcester who had brainwashed their parents into believing they were circus clowns. Cries of “witchcraft” were growing louder, and anything too different was apt to set people’s nerves on edge. So it was ridiculous to imagine anyone would choose her. Emmaline sat in the corner picking at a run in her striped stockings, attempting to ignore what was going on in front of her. It was a naming day, and there were visitors at the orphanarium. The woman was looking around the empty room, blue eyes wide with horror as she took in the peeling wallpaper and the cobwebs that hung from the corners like ghoulish party streamers. She pulled her fur stole closer about her shoulders and shivered, turning back to the...

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2. A JAR FULL OF BUTTERFLIES – Middle Grade Literary Fiction
Nov03

2. A JAR FULL OF BUTTERFLIES – Middle Grade Literary Fiction

Mentor Name: Brenda Drake and Brooks Benjamin Mentee Name: Donna Munoz Title: A JAR FULL OF BUTTERFLIES Category: Middle Grade Genre: Literary Fiction Word Count: 50,000 Pitch: After leaving Mexico to live in Texas, Graciela’s beloved traditions are slipping away. But when her plan to get her family back home goes horribly wrong and her sister is diagnosed with cancer, she must let go of the past and embrace her new life or risk being left behind. Excerpt: Outside my window, the motor of my papí’s truck screeches, and then click, click, clicks. He’s trying to get it started, so he can leave to work, but it won’t budge. This happens almost every morning. Maybe it doesn’t like to wake up. Same as me. It never did this back in Mexico. Even the truck knows better. Texas isn’t home. I climb down from the top bunk and press my forehead against the cool window. My tired eyes blink at the new sun. Papí rests his head on the steering wheel. The truck looks glum under the shade of the driveway’s canopy. He tries to revive it again. Its rusty body shudders and stops. I know exactly what he’s doing in that truck. He’s gently pumping the gas a few times, begging it to start. “Ándale, mi niña.” He’ll say in Spanish. This means, “Come on, my little girl.” He straightens and does the sign of the cross and lowers his head to pray. Papí’s old truck needs a lot of coaxing and a lot of prayer. If that truck doesn’t start, he won’t get to work. Sometimes I wish it wouldn’t start. Then he’d come back in and maybe sit at the breakfast table with me, and we could eat and talk and laugh, just like we used to, Graciela and Papí. Now, that only happens on Sundays. I consider praying for the truck not to start. But instead, I do my own sign of the cross, hoping for a...

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3. LITTLE MISS BLOGALOT – Upper Middle Grade Contemporary
Nov03

3. LITTLE MISS BLOGALOT – Upper Middle Grade Contemporary

Mentor Name: Brooks Benjamin Mentee Name: Melyssa Mercado Title: LITTLE MISS BLOGALOT Category: Upper Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 49,000 Pitch: Thirteen-year-old Ami Sanchez is DONE being the victim of mean-girl sabotage. So when she discovers anonymous blogging, she can’t resist plotting a secret-revenge scheme to take down the school’s queen bee…which might delete the trust of everyone she loves––including her only friend. Excerpt: I was ten steps from my locker when my training bra popped open in mid-stride. …Right in front of EVERYONE. This seriously had to be the worst Monday in history––or just the worst nightmare ever. Trickles of nervous sweat slid down places I didn’t even want to think about. A steady hum buzzed in my ears as I wished myself gone a thousand different ways in both English and in Spanish. Please be a dream. Please be a dream. Por favor–– I risked taking two steps then skidded to a stop like I’d just been freeze-tagged. The loose cotton straps wiggled and rode up towards my neck. Okay, moving––bad idea. Every brain cell screamed for me to make a run for the girl’s bathroom (or Mars), but I couldn’t get my feet to agree. “Are you waiting for a bus or something, Ami? You do know they don’t actually stop inside the school right?” I didn’t know the kid’s name who got all the laughter from that stupid joke, but I knew I hated him. My daily promise to try and make more real friends instead of the virtual kind vanished––again. I squeezed my eyes shut, mentally offering everything I owned, including my precious cell phone, in exchange for just one swift cartoon poof! out of the school hallway. Surely, there was someone up there willing to bargain with me. Or at least take pity on a now bra-less seventh grader. But the bra gods (and my luck) must have been out to lunch....

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4. ODDITY – Middle Grade Science Fiction
Nov03

4. ODDITY – Middle Grade Science Fiction

Mentor Name: Cat Scully Mentee Name: Sarah Cannon Title: ODDITY Category: Middle Grade Genre: Science Fiction Word Count: 65,000 Pitch: Oddity, New Mexico is a haven for everything from evil puppets to tiny aliens, and eleven-year-old Ada Roundtree is its reigning queen of shenanigans. When her twin wins a mysterious grocery store sweepstakes and disappears, Ada must defeat a dark conspiracy at the heart of her hometown, or lose her sister forever. Excerpt: Times like now, as I hide behind a stack of gym mats holding Cayden’s head down so he won’t get clawed, I wish you were here. I don’t know why safety drills have to be so realistic. Everyone knows Cayden just moved here from Chicago. Why not prepare him a little before setting angry leopards loose in the gym, instead of letting him drag down our class’s score? Cayden’s our neighbor, and I know I should help him, but he’s holding me back. Raymond’s going to get more points than me. He dove straight for the weapons locker, like I wanted to do. We’re finally fifth graders, and there’s no one bigger to get there first. On the other hand, I know Cayden hasn’t finished his half of our diorama on “The Three Reasons Science is Risky.” If he gets eaten, I’ll have to do all that homework myself. A bead of sweat rolls down his forehead. He’s always pale next to Raymond and me, but right now he’s white as a yeti. “You know what my dad says every time we move, Ada? He says, ‘It’ll be an adventure!’ This time, I told him he was just saying it to make himself feel better. He’s getting back at me, isn’t he?” “Nope. This is pretty normal for Oddity. Do what I say and you’ll probably live.” Gosh, kid. Pull it together....

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5. GRIMM AND BEAR IT – Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy
Nov03

5. GRIMM AND BEAR IT – Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy

Mentor Name: Mentee Name: Amanda Hill Title: GRIMM AND BEAR IT Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Fantasy Word Count: 69,000 Pitch: Jack’s supposed to protect the world from fairy tales, not get dragged into them. Especially not as some mooching bear character. To lose both tale and tail, Jack must find three stolen gems. Oh, and kill his best friend’s uncle. This isn’t Disney. Excerpt: If I had to choose between hunting enchanted mice or nunchucks to the face, I’d go with the nunchucks. Sure, it’s painful, but at least it’s over quick. I’m beginning to think this night’s stuck in some eternal time loop when my foot knocks into three small rocks. They clatter like bowling pins through the silent forest. “Great, Jack. Why don’t you knock on the mouse’s door and tell him we’re here,” says Sydney. The way she’s looking at me right now, I might be enjoying nunchucks to the face after all. I gather the scattered stones and stack the bottom two, keeping the top one in my hand. The modern world calls these cairns and thinks they’re left by boy scouts or hikers. They’re really left by us, the Huntsmen, as a sign an enchanted mouse lives nearby. “Do you see the hole?” I ask. Sydney clicks on her flashlight and runs it along the forest floor, grumbling. “Can’t even find the door by himself.” Stopping a country mouse from visiting a city mouse might seem like a small, silly thing, but in the fairy tale world, every detail is important. I’m still scanning the ground when a brown and red blur skitters out of a hole and smacks into my sneaker. His knapsack clatters to the ground. “Grab him,” Sydney shouts. I dive to the dirt and wrap both hands around the tiny mouse. “Gotcha.” Between my palms he squeaks, “Tyrants. Monsters. Communists. Unhand me!”...

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6. THE CONSPIRATORS’ CLUB – Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery
Nov03

6. THE CONSPIRATORS’ CLUB – Middle Grade Contemporary Mystery

Mentor Name: E.M. Caines Mentee Name: Ellen Hill Title: THE CONSPIRATORS’ CLUB Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Mystery Word Count: 52,000 Pitch: For thirteen-year-old Peter Holm, boarding school is as fun as a freezing shower in winter until his new friend, Samantha, asks him to help her start a Conspirators’ Club. Its goal? To challenge the school’s unfair regulations with covert acts of rebellion. But when a friend goes missing, the Club knows a criminal is hiding among them, one who’ll stop at nothing to protect his secrets. Not even murder. Excerpt: Peter took another glance around the ferry cafeteria, his mind heavy with disappointment. Face it, he thought. Jason’s not onboard. He turned and burst through the swinging doors out on deck and— —knocked into a girl carrying a brimming cup of soda. Without a lid. “Sorry!” He stared in horror at the brown stain spreading across her white shirt. “Er…, you okay?” The girl’s head snapped up from gaping down at her front. Blue-green eyes caught Peter off guard with their intensity. Without a word, she stalked past him into the cafeteria, holding the rest of her soda at arm’s length. Peter frowned at her back as the doors swung shut behind her. “I apologized!” He wondered who she was. Too old for a sixth-grader, she had to be around his age. But he didn’t remember seeing her at the Academy before. “Nice going, squirt!” Peter sighed. Of course Mark, his older brother, would catch him making a fool of himself. He turned. Mark leaned against the railing, smirking, his back to the Horston Academy Island drawing closer. Peter shrugged. He had bigger worries to deal with than spilled soda. “I was looking for Jason.” “In her soda cup?” “Very funny.” He slouched over to the railing and rested his elbows on it. “What if he really did run away? Then he won’t come back at all.”...

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7. AMELIA FOOTE ROLLS ON – Middle Grade Contemporary
Nov03

7. AMELIA FOOTE ROLLS ON – Middle Grade Contemporary

Mentor Name: Gail Nall Mentee Name: Marilee Haynes Title: AMELIA FOOTE ROLLS ON Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 32,000 Pitch: When her best friend moves to Santa-something, California, Amelia faces a fifth-grade year filled with lonely lunches and solo sleepovers. Armed with a list of “must-haves,” she embarks on a quest for a new best friend. But when all signs point in an unlikely direction, Amelia has to decide whether to stick to her checklist or take a chance on an allergic-to-everything boy named Wheeze. Excerpt: I figured grown-ups told kids things “for their own good” at least four times every day. Since I was ten years, two months and six days old, that was a lot of “for my own goods.” I could have figured out exactly how many, but since it was summer vacation I’d promised myself not to think about math. But nowhere mixed in with all of the “look both ways before you cross the street,” “wash your hands after you sneeze,” and “don’t share a glass with your brother,” did anyone ever say the one thing that could have saved me from the gigantic problem I had. No one ever said, “Make sure you have a spare best friend.” It wasn’t that I didn’t know about spares. Mom always reminded me to pack a spare pair of socks – and underwear – when I spent the weekend with Grandma. And I always made sure to have a spare pencil for school – at least after the time I had to borrow one from Trevor Ming and I spent the whole day making sure my fingers never touched the chewed on bits. Wait. Would starting fifth grade without a best friend make me a chewed on bit? ‘Cuz ever since Caroline moved away, I’d kind of felt like one....

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8. PHOEBE FRANZ’S GUIDE TO PASSPORTS, PAGEANTS, AND PARENTAL DISASTERS – Middle Grade Contemporary
Nov03

8. PHOEBE FRANZ’S GUIDE TO PASSPORTS, PAGEANTS, AND PARENTAL DISASTERS – Middle Grade Contemporary

Mentor Name: Joy McCullough-Carranza Mentee Name: Elizabeth Dimit Title: PHOEBE FRANZ’S GUIDE TO PASSPORTS, PAGEANTS, AND PARENTAL DISASTERS Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 35,000 Pitch: Travel-loving, house-cleaning Phoebe Franz enters a local beauty pageant to win first prize: a trip to Ecuador. Even though she’s not-so-skinny and slightly scared of sequins, Phoebe’s determined to persevere. If she doesn’t, she may be stuck scrubbing her competitors’ toilets forever. Excerpt: The giant, glittery sign said: Enter the Three Corners Princess Pageant! Open to Girls Grades 6-8. But it should have said: WARNING! STAY AWAY! THIS PAGEANT IS NOT ALL SPARKLES AND SUNSHINE! Maybe my brain knew, and it was trying to warn me. Maybe that’s why I walked right past the bulletin board at Three Corners Middle School. But my friend Lacey skidded to a stop so quickly, I ran into her. The thing had hypnotized her with its mind-melting glitter. “Watch it, girl!” I rubbed my nose where it had hit her bony shoulder blade. “Phoebe, look at this!” She pointed to the sign. “I can’t see anything. That sign is blinding me.” I held my hands up to block the sparkles. She nudged me with her elbow, her gray eyes round as Oreos. “A pageant! Think of the dresses! And the makeup! Let’s do it!” I glanced back at the poster, then at my friend. And I laughed. “Get real. Think of me on stage, in a pageant gown.” I shuddered. “Or a bikini.” Lacey scrunched her forehead and looked down at her flat chest. “We don’t have to wear bikinis, do we?” “They do on TV.” I saw an awful lot of belly buttons when I watched the Miss Universe pageant last week. “Oh, I don’t think Mom would let me sign up.” She gazed at the sign again. “It would’ve been so fun.” I sighed with relief. Now Lacey wouldn’t pester me all summer. “Let’s go to my house. Daddy’s got a new...

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9. THIRTEEN O’CLOCK – Middle Grade Light Science Fiction
Nov03

9. THIRTEEN O’CLOCK – Middle Grade Light Science Fiction

Mentor Name: Juliana Brandt Mentee Name: Stacy Hackney Title: THIRTEEN O’CLOCK Category: Middle Grade Genre: Light Science Fiction Word Count: 52,000 Pitch: Twelve-year-old Emmaline doesn’t need help, not from anyone. But when a dangerous criminal uncovers a thirteenth hour hidden in each afternoon and uses it to rob the town, Emmaline can’t stop him alone. She’ll need her annoying twin brother, and every spare minute she can find, to save her home. Excerpt: Emmaline Fable stared down the biggest crook in three counties. Her heart thundered against her rib cage, but not from fear––heck no. As a fighter for justice, a herald for truth, an investigative power the likes of which the town of Lullaby had never seen, she owed her readers the truth. She tapped the ultimate weapon––her pencil––against the notebook clutched in her hand and waited. “Can you repeat the question?” A drop of sweat trickled down his flushed face and plopped onto his frayed coveralls. The name Jerry curled in white embroidery below his left shoulder. Without blinking, Emmaline leaned forward; clearly she was on the right track. He was sweating and he’d asked her to repeat the question. Classic avoidance tactics. Perfect. The fact that it was ninety-two degrees outside was beside the point. “Sure I’ll repeat the question, Jerry … if that’s even your real name,” Emmaline said. He scrunched up his forehead. Emmaline narrowed her unblinking, but now watering, eyes. “The question––did you get paid for each one of these so-called repair calls?” Jerry ducked behind the furnace on the side of the Simpkins’ house. “Are you working on a school report or something?” His voice echoed through the metal fan blades. “No, I’m not working on a school report. It’s summer vacation. For your information, I’m a reporter and I’m working on an article. A very big article,” Emmaline said. If he started shaking in his tennis shoes, she wouldn’t be a bit surprised....

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10. SEE YOU THEN, JOSHUA JACOBS – Middle Grade Contemporary
Nov03

10. SEE YOU THEN, JOSHUA JACOBS – Middle Grade Contemporary

Mentor Name: Lisa Lewis Tyre Mentee Name: Peggy J. Sheridan Title: SEE YOU THEN, JOSHUA JACOBS Category: Middle Grade Genre: Contemporary Word Count: 40,000 Pitch: When Suzie Martin meets her brainy new neighbor, Joshua, it looks like her year as the Incredible Friendless Wonder is over. But she gets more than she bargained for. Time travel experiments, talking with the dead, a mysterious illness—it’s too much! In one short year, she’ll learn more about fear, friendship and the space-time continuum than she ever thought possible. Excerpt: Two items caught my eye as the movers carried them into the brick house across the street: a lab table and a box marked Caution – Flammable. Weird. I blinked into the sun. Maybe I was seeing things. From behind the blinds of our living room, I watched for more clues about the people who would now live in old Mrs. Harper’s house. It was impossible to tell but they had to be from somewhere more interesting than Summerville, South Carolina. Our big claim to fame was being the birthplace of sweet tea. Not that I don’t like sweet tea, but it’s not exactly life changing. The men in gray coveralls pulled more out of the back of the long truck. Couches. Chairs. Boxes. None of them told me what I really wanted to know. Did this family have a daughter my age? Half of me hoped they did. The other half wasn’t so sure. The last time someone moved in to the neighborhood, it didn’t work out so hot for...

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11. THE ZOOKEEPER’S MACHINE – Middle Grade Adventure
Nov03

11. THE ZOOKEEPER’S MACHINE – Middle Grade Adventure

Mentor Name: Michelle Hauck Mentee Name: Jayme Allen Title: THE ZOOKEEPER’S MACHINE Category: Middle Grade Genre: Adventure Word Count: 47,000 Pitch: After a bad prank, twelve-year-old Hannie Bunker’s best friend is kidnapped by talking gorillas. A hairy clue leads Hannie to the zoo, where she discovers a machine that sucks talents out of kids. To save her friend and destroy the machine, she joins forces with a scientist Komodo dragon and a juggling jaguar. If they fail, Hannie will become the next lab rat. Excerpt: Principal Favela should’ve known better. Trying to outlaw pranks on the first of April was a pretty stupid move, especially for a middle school principal. On a drizzly day like this one, the place needed a little excitement. At least Hannie Bunker thought so. “I can’t believe we don’t get recess today,” Hannie said as her friend, Mei Lei, took the seat next to her in homeroom. “It’s not even that bad out.” Deep thunder rolled in the distance. “We still get recess; it’s just indoors,” Mei Lei said. “It’ll be fun—we can play Crazy Eights. Besides, my dad says we’ll be getting up to four-point-five inches of rain.” Mei Lei always knew a lot about the weather, given her dad worked as the back-up weatherman for the local news station. “Principal F. has us trapped in here like zoo animals,” Hannie muttered. “Luckily, I have a plan.” Mei Lei frowned. “Don’t do anything stupid—you almost got suspended for the toilet thing last year!” “Calm down, sheesh,” Hannie said. “I’m not going anywhere near the toilets, promise.” She stared out the window, watching as tiny raindrops rolled down the glass. Unlike Mei Lei, she found cloudy skies and card games extremely boring. Good thing she’d soon pull off something no student had ever done before: She was going to prank the...

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