Pitch Wars – Young Adult Alternates (Magical Realism, Sci-Fi, Contemporary Fantasy)

YA Entry#11

Mentor Name: Kelly Loy Gilbert
Alternate Name: Robin Lemke
Title: The Dance of the Palms
Category: YA
Genre: Magical Realism
Word Count: 98,000


Winning Miss Lehua, at just 17, could mean a future in dance for Lani and freedom from her abusive aunt. Long ago, Pele laid down her own freedom for the people of Hawaii, and now she wants it back. She reaches out, through fire and fear, begging Lani to tell the truth with her hula. But Pele’s truth is heresy and would cost Lani the title and her dreams.


In the old days, when the islands of Hawaii were young, the magic of creation still lay thick upon them. And it was wild. It hung in the rocky crevices and treetops like a fog. It rushed with the lava. It needed to be controlled. Already the mountains twisted themselves into volcanoes, ready to destroy. Already the people of the islands retreated farther in and higher up and looked with fear upon nature as it gave birth to itself, over, and over. They pleaded for help. They looked to their chiefs.

Kanehoalani was not the greatest chief, but he saw the magic that lingered in the world, and he felt his responsibility. He would tame the island. He would absorb the magic into his own soul. No, the Creator said. He could not hold back the volcano. Only his daughter Pele, who stirred the poi pot, who spoke to the sharks, who learned the movements of the palms could become The Lady of Fire. She would save her people.

Kane wept.


"Watch those shoulders!" Lani called over the ukulele music.

Lani's job was to get this roomful of little girls to swing their hips and keep their shoulders still -- basic beginning hula. But they weren't having much luck. They looked more like defective dashboard dolls than the spirit of aloha. Lani stopped the music on her ipod.


YA Entry #12

Mentor Name: Renée Ahdieh
Alternate Name: Kirsten Squires
Category: YA
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 85,000


Under the control of the emperor, Jex inhabits victims and forces them to commit ritual suicide, just as his father did before being executed for treason. After rebels sabotage a kill, Jex must betray his childhood love and cripple the remainder of his father’s resistance—or die a traitor. Bushido-inspired space opera.


On my way to the kill, I recite the mantras that have been burned into my mind. There’s an art to choosing the perfect way to die. Precision is a must. I visualize myself carving an impeccable line across the victim’s stomach.

No. Not victim, I remind myself. Debased lowlife—a miscreant who defied the will of the Bi-Stars, the binary suns that our planet Dahabi orbits.

My fingers twitch, a mistake that would mar the flawless cut expected of me. Images of death flash through my mind, in rhythm with the nerves contracting my muscles. I tighten my hands into fists, forcing them to still. I have no reason to worry.

I am an expert in execution.

A lifetime of witnessing horror in the name of honor has made its mark. I’ve never made one move to stop them, not that I really could. Now it’s about to get worse. Now I will be the instrument of death.

“Upholding justice for the masses!” Elliot sings as we spiral down the tunnel to the basement of the Dome. He writhes to nonexistent music, hands slapped over nonexistent headphones. “Take them out and make them fall on their asses.”

“New addition to the Increpto motto?” I try for lightness, but my shaking voice betrays me.

“My personal addition. I’m adding truth to the equation.”

Ha. Truth. That will never be part of the Order of the Increpto, the official guardians of Dahabi. Or so they lead people to believe.


YA Entry #13

Mentor Name: Veronica Bartles

Alternate Name: Margo Berendsen
Title: Star Tripped
Category: YA
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 89,000


Seventeen-year-old Cam is desperate to believe in the mysterious boy who says he can restore her sight. But when she discovers his ex’s memories implanted in her mind, she can’t tell if it’s her or the other girl inside her that’s in love with him.


My sister loved birthday parties. Six months ago she died in a freak explosion, but today is our seventeenth birthday, and I’m not about to stop our party tradition. Even if she is gone. Even if the explosion (classified explosion, as the National Security agents keep reminding me) stole my sight, too.

Our living room smells of sulfur and sweetness from a candle-lit cake, and my ears ring as a bunch of voices start singing the birthday song. “Happy birthday, dear Cam…” Everyone stumbles over the blank space that should have my twin’s name in it, and my throat tightens up.

As the singing ends, I catch a voice I don’t recognize. He isn’t one of my theater friends, and I know he’s not one of Liz’s groupies, here to pay homage to her memory. I’ve heard his voice before, but the specific memory plays dodge ball with me.

“Your cake’s right here,” my dad says. “Make a wish.”

I want my sister and my sight back.

My mom turns me slightly, and my senses pick up the heat of the candles. And then — for a moment — I see them.

The doctors said I’d never recover my sight, and this is the first thing I’ve seen in six months. But I’m not imagining it. I definitely see a flickering light.

“Go ahead,” Dad urges.

I blow the candles all out with one breath. Just before everything goes dark again, I catch a glimpse of the stranger, the one whose voice I couldn’t quite place.


YA Entry #14

Mentor Name: Erica Chapman
Alternate Name: Megan Cronin
Category: Young Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 100,000


When kidnapped by a group of eccentric warriors, Elle learns her missing sister is hunted in a world where artistic talent is a weapon and vows to find her—even if that means trusting her captors. But as she falls for their leader and shapeshifting ravens close in, Elle must decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice to reunite her family.


The birds are dangerous—that’s what my father once told me. But watching the crows scatter and cry as a few idiots chased them away, I couldn’t imagine how he’d gotten that impression. The boys charged, boots churning up a fog of dirt and dead grass as their laughter carried across the wide lawn.

I’d learned a long time ago not to put much faith in my father’s words. You were born singing instead of crying. There’s a family allergy to chocolate. I love you. Lies—all of it.

As the birds retreated to a nearby tree, the boys moved on to their cell phones. They’d forgotten about the crows, but the crows wouldn’t forget them. My fingernails dug into my palms as I passed them, over the crisp grass and into Los Charco High School.

Trudging into Advanced Art—what used to be my favorite class—I followed my fellow students to the back of the room. After collecting paint, brushes, water, and my work in progress, I spread my supplies on an empty table. The tension in my shoulders eased as I inhaled the sharp scent of paint and clay.

My painting depicted one of the local lakes. I hadn’t been there in ages, so I was going completely by memory. It was almost finished besides some final details. A cloudless sky gave way to vibrant orange rocks and ivory sand bordered…a blue blob.


YA Entry #15

Mentor Name: Rebecca Yarros
Mentee Name: Ashley Poston
Title: Heart of Iron
Category: YA
Genre: Sci-Fi
Word Count: 85K


Anastasia meets Firefly as a 17-year-old space pirate navigates the lies of a kingdom on the brink of a civil war to save her crew, and the android she loves.


The bar reeked of stale piss and beer.

Emma crinkled her nose as they entered, her shooter finger tapping nervously on her holstered pistol. Bars were one of her least favorite places. They smelled worse than the crewmen’s quarters on the Dossier—which usually gave off the aroma of heavy body spray and moldy cheese. She was also the youngest one in the bar by a good ten years. She hated being the youngest anywhere, since she probably had more experience in her left pinky than every one of the patrons combined.

Or so she told herself.

Beside her, Dion tugged down his hood to hide his face. “I still hold my argument that this is not a wise idea.”

“With an attitude like that it bloody ain’t.” Emma squinted in the low neon lights of the bar until her eyes adjusted. They made their way to a peeling leather booth, and scooted in. “Who’s to say they’ll even show?”

He shifted his metallic gaze to her, and lingered.

“Stop looking at me like that,” she muttered, elbowing his metal side. “You’ll give people ideas,” she joked.

“Oh no, not ideas,” he replied in his emotionless static-y voice. It sounded like a radio signal shifting in and out of white noise. “We should have informed the Captain of our whereabouts if this goes awry.”

“Your confidence in me is heartwarming, Di.”

“There is a seventy-three percent chance that—”

She put a hand up to him. “Don’t finish that. Don’t you bloody try.”


YA Entry #26 (Entry was moved, don’t mind the out of order number!)

Mentor Name: Ricki Schultz
Alternate: Tiana Smith
Title: Scratch That
Category: YA
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Word Count: 60K


When Mia gets her hands on Cupid’s enchanted journal, she can’t help but do some high school matchmaking. The course of true love takes a detour in this modern adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.


Best friends weren’t supposed to keep secrets. But I could tell from the way Robyn tapped a staccato rhythm with her pencil, she was holding something back. Again.

I closed the French book I was supposed to be studying and fixed her with my best glare.

“You must be joking. Because there’s no way I heard you say that you’re going out of town. For two whole weeks in the middle of the school year.”

She dropped the pencil on the table and leaned forward. “Jealous much, Mia?” She lowered her voice so Mr. Phipps wouldn’t hear, but our study hall teacher was too engrossed in Better Homes and Gardens to notice anything going on in his classroom. “It’s a business trip. I have to go.”

“What kind of company sends a high school senior on a business trip?” Somehow, I knew it would come back to this. That she’d use her job as a buffer to keep me from asking more questions.

“You know I can’t answer that.” Robyn said. “Points for trying, though.” She leaned back in her chair and picked at her cuticles, signaling an end to the conversation.

Sometimes I liked to imagine she was a secret agent for the United States government. Because, yeah, that’d be pretty cool. Too bad Robyn was such an awful liar, making a career as a spy out of the question. Knowing her like I did, there was no way it was something sinister, so drugs or prostitution weren’t possibilities, and I really didn’t have any other theories.


**AGENTS  & EDITORS: To make requests, enter in the comments what you’d like sent to you. Please include submission guidelines and/or additional instructions. *Since there are several entries per post, be sure to list either the entry number or manuscript title when requesting.


  1. Tiana Smith, I'd love to look at 50 pages. I'm at jmccarthy@dystel.com.

  2. I'd like to see the first 50 of #13. Please send to query@newleafliterary.com with the subject line Pitch Wars Submission - Danielle.

  3. I would love to read more of #11 - THE DANCE OF THE PALMS. Please send your first 100 pages as a Word document to amanda[at]LMQlit.com.

    Thanks, and looking forward to reading!


  4. I'd love to read more of #15 (HEART OF IRON) and #26 (SCRATCH THAT). Please send the first fifty pages and a detailed synopsis as attachments to kirstensubmit@waxmanleavell.com, and mention Pitch Wars in the query. Thanks!

  5. YA #13 Star Tripped. Send your query and 3 chapters as an attachment to queries@belcastroagency.com. Thanks, Ella Marie Shupe

  6. YA #26 Scratch That. Send a query with 3 chapters as an attachment to queries@belcastroagency.com. I look forward to reading it. Thanks, Ella Marie Shupe

  7. I'd love to see more of #11 and #26. They sound wonderful! Please send the first 50 pages by email to lbiagi(at)jvnla(dot)com with the pitch. -Laura Biagi, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc.


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