PW #322: Young Adult Contemporary: UPSTAGED

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Karen McManus
Mentee Name: Olivia Hinebaugh
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary
Word Count: 60,000


A contemporary retelling of AMADEUS set in a cutthroat performing arts school. Ellie is the resident theater genius at Ibsen High, until acting prodigy Mo enters stage right. Mo is dynamic, magnetic, and genderfluid. They can quite literally play any role. With Mo stealing Ellie’s spotlight—along with the girl she secretly loves—Ellie has to find a way to get rid of them, even though she’s never admired anyone so much in her life.


I really should have known things were wrong that first day.

The energy, usually palpable with tension and back-to-school jitters, was different. The other students were too chatty, buzzing with more than their usual self-involvement and adrenaline. People were whispering. And they were all whispering the same word: Mo.

But I was distracted, since I had an entrance to make. I’d spent half the summer choreographing Day One, Ellie’s Junior Year at Ibsen High School of the Performing Arts. My wardrobe was impeccable, makeup carefully applied. I knew exactly when to leave my townhouse in the posh Virginia suburbs. I arrived when the hallways were just full enough that I felt like I was really seen, but not so full that I’d get lost in the crowd. I had to be early to my first class, because I was a serious student and if the teachers forgot that over the summer, I needed to remind them.

I expected smiles and admiration, but got nervous glances instead. Even from the hyper-focused dancers, and the musicians who aren’t known for their grasp on social dynamics. I didn’t get it then, but I do now. Everyone was thinking the same thing: I was about to be dethroned as the darling of the theater department, and it’d probably make me snap.

Boy. They had no idea.

Author: Nikki Roberti

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  1. I’d love to take a look at the full manuscript. Please send it as a word attachment to querycaitie (at) lizadawson (dot) com with your query in the email, with the PitchWars request in the subject.

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  2. Ah, Amadeus; such a great concept! Please send the full manuscript attached as a Word doc with your query in the body of the email to queryjennifer[at]lizadawson[dot]com. And I see that Caitie also requested–please just remind us both when you send, and we’ll sort it out.

    Thank you!
    – Jennifer Johnson-Blalock, Liza Dawson Associates

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  3. Hi! I’d love to take a closer look at your work. Please send your query letter in the body of an email and attach the full manuscript as a word or pdf doc. You can reach me at lgarrison (at) thegernertco (dot) com. Thank you!

    ~Logan Garrison Savits
    The Gernert Company

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  4. Hi Olivia–Great premise and opening page. Please send the manuscript and a synopsis as Word doc attachments to with Pitch Wars and Query + title in the subject line. Can’t wait to read!

    Roseanne Wells
    The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

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