PW #132: Adult Romance: ONCE WHEN YOU WERE MINE

Manuscript status: Finished

Mentor: Brighton Walsh
Mentee: Jen DeLuca
Category/Genre: Adult Romance
Word Count: 89,000


Twenty years. Two continents. A third chance at first love. On a whirlwind trip to Leningrad, a sheltered American and a sweet but pragmatic Soviet fall in love as teens, bridging their language barrier with local underground rock and shared Walkman headphones. A decade later a missed connection leaves them yearning for unattainable love. When they get one final chance, his rock stardom and her newfound independence threaten the possibility of a life together.


Mom was right. Learning Russian’s going to kill me. 

Of course, Miranda’s mother had been thinking about nuclear war or her daughter being kidnapped by the KGB. But Miranda faced a more immediate danger: freezing to death on a Leningrad street while staring up at a sign she couldn’t read.

Miranda thought she’d been so clever, slipping the handlers and striking out on her own. She was seventeen—practically an adult!—with a semester of Russian under her belt. She’d been in the Soviet Union for three days. How hard could it be to explore by herself?

Pretty hard, actually. Panic set in quick when she realized sounding out words and understanding them in context were two different things. After several wrong turns, the letters on the signs started swimming together. Reading comprehension flatlined. H sounds like N. C is S, P is R. T is still T, right?

She turned in a tight circle, looking for anyone who might help her with directions, but this street was more desolate than the one before. Fire escapes corseted upper floors of high-rise apartment buildings. Boarded-up windows showed no signs of life. She’d long since given up on acting like she knew where she was going. There may as well have been a neon sign over her head with an arrow pointing down. AMERICAN. PLEASE MUG ME.


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. Curious to read more. Could you send me the official query in the body of the email, the first 50 pages in an attached Word doc, with “Pitch Wars Request” in the subject line to laura(at)triadaus(dot)com? Thank you!

    –Laura Crockett, TriadaUS Literary Agency

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  2. I’m intrigued. Please send an email with the query in the body and the full ms attached as a .doc to mallory(at)! Thank you!!!

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  3. Would love to see more! Can you send me the full ms + query + 10 pages pasted in the body of the email, with subject line: PITCH WARS + Title. Thank you so much, can’t wait to see!

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  4. Hey Jen, you know I want this one! Please send the full manuscript as a word attachment to, place “Pitch Wars”- Title of story and genre in the subject line. Include your query in the body of the email. Looking forward to reading your story.

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  5. Ninja request! Hi Jen, can you send me your full ( But you already knew I wanted this one. 😉

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