PW #210: YA Contemporary: IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD

Pitchwars Badge (Square YA)Manuscript Status: 2 weeks delivery

Mentor Name: Kim Graff
Mentee Name: Courtney Gilfillian
Category: YA
Genre: Contemporary 
Word Count: 50,000


After a disastrous hookup leads to vicious gossip, seventeen-year-old Melissa wants revenge. With the help of her bestie, Jack, she creates an app to expose everyone’s secrets. But Melissa doesn’t expect Jack to get revenge on the wrong person—or her conscience to get in the way. Melissa has to stop Jack before it’s too late, sacrificing the app and their friendship, or she risks getting handcuffs for graduation, and seeing Valley Pines from behind bars instead of through a rearview mirror.


In high school there are girls who are gods. They command everyone’s attention with a swish of a skirt and a pout of the lips. My little sister, Stephanie, is one of those girls. So are her friends. Pay attention, they say. Look at me. You don’t want to cross these girls when they’re angry. These girls will key your car, sext your boyfriend, and pour Diet Coke in your locker. Only diet, they’re not like you—you fatass.

No one knows, but I’m above all of these girls—I know all of their secrets. I know who spiked the punch at the last school-sponsored event, whose mom is an alcoholic, and who cheated on their last History test. When you know things in high school it rattles you. You can feel it in your bones when you look at someone. It’s this shuffling sound in your ears that never goes away. Sometimes it’s the tick-tick-tick sound a dial lock makes when it spins. High school can drive you insane.

Every day at Trumbull High, you see the same people and they remember you for the same shit. Instead of being known for something good, you’re known for your worst moments.

My worst moment reared up last week at an end-of-summer party and punched me in the face.


Author: Brenda Drake

New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2) available now, creator of #PitchWars, #PitchMadness, and #PitMad, fueled by coffee and Goldfish crackers (but not together), and represented by Peter Knapp with The Park Literary Group. @brendadrake

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  1. This sounds fantastic! Please send the full ms as an attachment to query(at) and include “Pitch Wars Request for Jackie” in the subject line. Thank you!

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  2. Hi Courtney,

    I’d love to read the full–send it on over to, as an attached .doc. Please paste the pitch you’ve used here into the first page of the doc, so that I know which project it is.

    Mandy Hubbard
    Emerald City Literary Agency
    (Formerly D4EO Literary)

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  3. This sounds incredibly intriguing. I’d like to see more. Please send the manuscript and a query letter (MS Word preferred, PDF okay) to carlie @ with the subject line PITCH WARS REQUEST: Title of Work.

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  4. I’d love to take a look! Please send query (in the body of the email) with synopsis and full manuscript (attached as Word documents) to ESubmissions at Please mention Pitch Wars in the subject line. Thank you!

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  5. I love the idea of this concept; it feels very fresh, and I’d love to see more! Please send the query and full ms to LBiagi at jvnla dot com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. I look forward to reading!

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  6. YES PLEASE! I’d love to see more. If you’re interested at all, please send the first 50 pages (as a .doc) along with your query letter and a short synopsis (pasted in the body of the email) to submissions(at)jaw-litagent(dot)com with the subject line “Pitch Wars request:IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD”. Thanks so much, Julia

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  7. I’d like to read more! Please send the first 50 pages in Word format and a query letter to, and include “Stefanie Lieberman” in the subject line of the email. Thanks!

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  8. I’d love to read more. Please send me the query, synopsis and full in a word doc to furyqueries(at)thebentagency(dot)com
    Include #pitchwars: (Title) in the subject line.

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  9. I love a good revenge story. Please send the first 25 pages, query and synopsis to chquery[at]mcintoshandotis[dot]com and put “Pitch Wars request” in the subject line.


    Christa Heschke
    McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

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  10. Hi Courtney

    I’d love to read this – could you send me the full MS as a Word doc and if possible, an expanded synopsis (ideally 500-700 words)? claire at rhaliterary dot com.

    Looking forward to reading more!

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  11. I love this (and am now singing the song in my head, thanks) and definitely want to see more. Please send the query + synopsis + First 50 pages (I know the question always asked — you can go to the end of a chapter, but no more than 60 pages!) in one word doc to MFsubmissions [at] with “PitchWars Request – IF ONE OF THEM IS DEAD” as the subject. I can’t wait to take a look!

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