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Pitch Wars Showcase

Please note: These are the entries for the Pitch Wars season beginning in 2021 and continuing through 2022. Please note that our Agent Showcase ends at 9:00 p.m. ET on Monday, February 14, 2022. Agents will not be able to leave comments requesting material after that time.
Adult #3: BLOOD OF COTTON, BLOOD OF CANE (Contemporary Mystery / Suspense #OwnVoices)
Irene M. Reed
Mentored by:
Shari Schwarz and Clarissa Goenawan
Book Title:
2018 Adult Entries
Contemporary Mystery / Suspense #OwnVoices
Word Count:


In Amelia’s family, there is no past.

No photographs.

No stories.

No identity.

But when her father vanishes in Mississippi, history rises from the dead. In a town where the Confederacy endures and secrets never die, Amelia must unearth her family’s lost identity and connection with a bloody African-American massacre—before the past silences her forever. UNDERGROUND RAILROAD meets DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY.



Mississippi, 1940

The Klan murdered Napoleon’s family on a Saturday afternoon.

The day was born cloudless and blue. Warm, but with a gentle breeze that blessed Napoleon’s skin.

A day the Lord created, his mother had said.

Later, Napoleon believed it was cursed by the Devil.

His mother kneeled in the backyard of their whitewashed pinewood house. She wore a roughspun dress and a wide, floppy hat, and she worked a trowel into the earth with her gloved hands. Beneath the shade of an old oak tree, Napoleon’s sister Sandrine, almost a year old, sat on a blanket, cooing as she cradled her straw doll. Every so often, she’d plant her feet and struggle to stand. Any day, she’d take her first steps.

Napoleon sat on the porch, listening.

Locusts droned, and wind crept through the leaves overhead. But the woods were mostly still. No birds sang; no squirrels bickered over unseen food. And there was no sound of Zeke Freeborn’s footsteps coming down the lane.

At the beginning of summer, Zeke and Napoleon sliced their forefingers, mingled their blood, and pledged friendship forever. Zeke had curly hair, brown eyes, and skin the color of weak tea spilled on a white tablecloth. He was high yellow—but not as light as Napoleon. Napoleon was mulatto, with skin the shade of buttermilk and eyes the color of newborn oak leaves.

Napoleon’s skin prickled. Zeke was never late.

24 responses to “Adult #3: BLOOD OF COTTON, BLOOD OF CANE (Contemporary Mystery / Suspense #OwnVoices)”

  1. Kim Lionetti says:

    Great pitch and the excerpt pulled me in. I’d love to take a look! Please upload your synopsis and full manuscript here: QueryMe.online/KimLionetti/PitchWars

  2. I would like to receive a Word document of the first three chapters, a synopsis, and an author bio (including all social media links) as an attachment to an email: rosenberglitsubmit@icloud.com

  3. Jenny Bent says:

    I really like the writing here and would love to see the entire ms. Please send to info@thebentagency.com as an attachment, with the query letter in the body of your email. Subject line should be: #pitchwars. Thanks so much!

  4. Ann Leslie Tuttle says:

    Dear Ms. Reed,

    As someone who grew up in the South and enjoys Southern fiction and dark mysteries, I was captivated by your opening page and premise. Please do send a query marked PitchWars with the first 50 pages of your manuscript to me at atuttle@dystel.com. I look forward to reading further.

    All Best,

    Ann Leslie Tuttle

  5. Amanda Jain says:

    This sounds fantastic. I’d love to read more! Please email your full manuscript as a Word doc to ajain@bookendsliterary.com with PitchWars in the subject line. I look forward to reading!!

  6. Lauren Spieller says:

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! I really enjoyed this and I’d love to see more. Please send your query in the body of an email, plus your full manuscript and a synopsis (attached). I look forward to reading!

    Lauren Spieller
    TriadaUS Literary Agency

  7. Jim McCarthy says:

    I’d love to have a look at this! If you could send along to jmccarthy@dystel.com, I’ll happily review! And if you want more information about me or DGB, feel free to check us out at http://www.dystel.com.


  8. Melissa Danaczko says:

    Hi Irene! I’d love the opportunity to read more. Can you please email (mdquery@skagency.com) the query and full manuscript? Thank you!

  9. Jennifer Unter says:

    Intriguing pitch and great writing. I’d love to read more. Can you send the first 50 pages as a Word attachment to assistant@theunteragency.com?

  10. Nicole Payne says:

    Wow! Please send the query, synopsis and first five chapters to nicole@goldenwheatliterary.com

  11. Jill Marr says:

    This looks fantastic! I’d love to read more.

    Please send the full manuscript in Word to jill@dijkstraagency.com.

    I look forward to reading!

  12. Amy Tannenbaum says:

    Hi Irene,

    I’d love to see more of this! Can you send me a synopsis and the first three chapters in the body of an email? Please send to atannenbaum@janerotrosen.com and mention Pitchwars in the subject line.

    Thank you–look forward to reading more!

    Amy Tannenbaum

  13. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    Hi Irene,

    I’d love to see the first 50 pages of this! Please submit your query, synopsis, and first 50 to http://QueryMe.Online/KaitlynJohnson/Contests. Looking forward to the read!

    Kaitlyn Johnson
    Corvisiero Literary Agency

  14. Abrams Artists says:

    This is a great sample! We’d love to take a look if you’re able to email the first 50 pages to books@abramsartistsagency.com

    -Abrams Artists Agency

  15. Ayesha Pande says:

    Dear Irene M. Reed,

    I’m most intrigued by the description of your novel, BLOOD OF COTTON, BLOOD OF CANE. Could you please send me the full manuscript as an e-mail attachment? I can be reached at queries@pandeliterary.com.

    Thank you very much. I look forward to reading your work.

    Yours truly,
    Ayesha Pande

  16. Stacey Donaghy says:

    Dear Irene,

    Riveting pitch and great excerpt! I would love to read the full MS.
    Please send your query to http://queryme.online/Stacey_PITCHWARS
    Be sure to add #PitchWars In front of your book title on the query form. Once your query arrives, I will request the full!

    All the best,

  17. Suzie Townsend says:

    Wow this is so well-written. The voice here is fantastic! I can’t wait to read more.

    Please send the query and full manuscript to me at suzie (at) newleafliterary (dot) com.

  18. Shannon Hassan says:

    Oh, wow, I am intrigued and would love to read more! Please send a query letter + 50 pages to shannon@marsallyonliteraryagency.com. Thanks!

  19. Becky LeJeune says:

    I would absolutely love to see more of this one – if interested, please send the full along with your query to becky@bondliteraryagency.com!

  20. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Irene,

    I would love to see this! Can you send the query and full manuscript to penelope@gelfmanschneider.com with #PitchWars in the subject line? Thanks so much!

    All best,

  21. Alexander Slater says:

    Hi Irene,
    BLOOD OF COTTON, BLOOD OF CANE looks fascinating. I’d love to read the full manuscript.
    Please feel free to email a Word document to ASlater@tridentmediagroup.com.
    Thanks so much, and congrats on all things PitchWars!
    Alex Slater
    Trident Media Group

  22. Annie Hwang says:

    Please send query letter in the body of the email and attach the first fifty pages and a brief 1-2 page synopsis as word docs with the subject line: Pitch Wars: [Title]. You may send to me at: annie@foliolit.com. Thanks so much, I look forward to seeing more!

  23. Stefanie Lieberman says:

    I’m eager to read more!
    Please send the pitch and the full manuscript in an email addressed to submissions(at)Janklow.com with the following subject line: For Stefanie Lieberman – requested Pitch Wars material.

  24. Weronika Janczuk says:

    Please send to weronika@d4eo.com:
    + query letter in email body
    + Word .doc with first 50-75 pages
    + subject line, PARTIAL REQUEST – PITCH WARS – TITLE