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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.
MG #13: WHILE I WAS AWAY (Memoir)
Waka T. Brown
Mentored by:
Rebecca Petruck
Book Title:
2018 Entries
Word Count:


When twelve-year-old Waka’s Japanese-born parents fear she is “losing her culture,” they send her from her Kansas home to stay in Japan with the difficult grandmother she barely knows and attend school during what should have been her summer vacation. Now she’s not the all-A’s pipsqueak but the “big dumb jock,” and her home is not six-people noisy but quietly suffocating. To survive, she must embrace her new identity and even her grandmother without also losing herself.



One January afternoon, my mom said to me, 「和歌ちゃん、ちょっと洗濯たたんでよ」.

She was on the floor, legs tucked under her amidst a huge pile of laundry when she spoke in the very-hard-to-hear “parent-asking-you-to-do-something-you-don’t-want-to-do” tone of voice.

There was a lot going on in the house. Dad was doing his calisthenics in front of the TV while he watched the news. “They’re ‘rajio taisou,’” he said, or the “radio exercises” he grew up with in Japan. Side step right, lunge to the side. Side step left, lunge to the other side. Lunge-walk forward to adjust the antenna on the TV, and backstroke back into position. Add some arm circles to the side and, oh wow, now he’s doing high kicks, can-can style. If the exercises alone weren’t enough of a distraction, add the fact that my dad was in his gray-and-black checkered polyester pants and blue-and-white striped polo shirt, long washcloth tied around his head to control his floppy black hair. Pretty clear that style-wise my dad was stuck in the 1970s, even though we were almost halfway through the 80s already. I had a hard time believing that his “Dad-isthenics” were exactly the same as the ones Japanese people did when he lived there.

19 responses to “MG #13: WHILE I WAS AWAY (Memoir)”

  1. Brent Taylor says:

    This sounds like a really special and important book. Please send the query and full manuscript (as a Word doc) to brent(at)triadaus(dot)com.

  2. Suzie Townsend says:

    Oh this sounds so good. Please send the query and full manuscript to me at suzie (at) newleafliterary (dot) com.

  3. 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

  4. Melissa Edwards says:

    Hi! I’d love to take a look. Please email the ms. as a double-spaced .doc to medwards@stonesong.com. Thanks!

  5. Carrie Hannigan says:

    Dear Waka,

    I very much enjoyed the excerpt and would love to read more. Could you send the entire manuscript as a Word doc attachment to channigan@hsgagency.com? Please write “Pitch Wars Requested Ms” as the subject.

    Thank you! I’m looking forward to reading it. And good luck today!

    Best wishes,
    Carrie Hannigan

  6. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    Hi Waka,

    This storyline sounds wonderful! I’d love to see the full manuscript. Please submit your query, synopsis, and novel to http://QueryMe.Online/KaitlynJohnson/Contests. Looking forward to the read!

    Kaitlyn Johnson
    Corvisiero Literary Agency

  7. Sarah LaPolla says:

    Hi Waka, I’d love to read your story!

    Please send the pitch in the body of an email to sarah@bradfordlit.com & attach the 1st 50 pages as a Word .doc. Use the subject line: Pitch Wars: [Title]

    Thank you!!!


  8. Carrie Pestritto says:

    This sounds super interesting and I’m curious to read more. Would you please send me the first 100 pages of this?

    Would you please send me an email with your query in the body and the partial as a Word doc attachment? You can reach me at cpestritto(at)ldlainc(dot)com. Subject should be PITCHWARS REQUEST – WHILE I WAS AWAY.

    Thanks so much and can’t wait to read!!

  9. Penny Moore says:

    Hi Waka,

    I’d love to read more of this! Will you please submit your query letter and manuscript at: https://querymanager.com/query/LiteraryPenny/PitchWars


    All the Best,

  10. Heather Cashman says:

    So much of this premise speaks to me. I’d love to read more!
    If you think we’d be a good fit, please send the full to heather.stormliteraryagency@gmail.com with Pitch Wars Query, your name, and the title in the subject line.
    Thank you and good luck!
    Heather Cashman
    Storm Literary Agency

  11. Rena Rossner says:

    I’d love to read this full manuscript. Please send it attached as a word document to: rena@thedeborahharrisagency.com


    – Rena Rossner
    The Deborah Harris Agency

  12. Alyssa Henkin says:

    Hi Waka,

    I’d love to see the full manuscript for this! Please send it along to my email at ahenkin@tridentmediagroup.com and copy my assistant’s email at henkin.assistant@tridentmediagroup.com.

    Looking forward to reading!


  13. Johanna Castillo says:

    Hi Waka,

    I am writing to request the full manuscript for WHILE I WAS AWAY.

    Thank you,
    Johanna Castillo
    Writers House Literary Agency

  14. Christa Heschke says:

    This sounds wonderful and I really enjoyed the writing! Please send the query, synopsis and first 100 pages to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com with Pitch Wars request in the subject line. –Christa Heschke, McIntosh and Otis

  15. Isabelle Bleecker says:

    Dear Waka,
    I love your storyline. I’d love to see more of this. Please send a query letter and the first 50 pages of your manuscript to me at Isabelle@Nordlysetagency.com

  16. Peter Knapp says:

    This sounds great – I would love an opportunity to consider! Can you please send the query letter (in the body of an email) and manuscript (attached as a Word doc) to queries@parkfine.com with “Pitch Wars submission – Pete Knapp” in the subject? Thank you!

    – Pete Knapp / Park & Fine Literary and Media

  17. Jennifer Unter says:

    I’d love to read more. Please send the first 50 pages as a Word attachment to assistant@theunteragency.com. Thanks!

  18. Kari Sutherland says:

    This sounds so compelling and I really like the voice! I’d love to read more. Can you please send the full as an attachment to: kari@bradfordlit.com and include “Requested PitchWars” in the subject line?
    Thank you!

  19. Abigail Samoun says:

    I’d love to see it! Please send entire ms as a Word or Pages attachment to Abigail (at) redfoxliterary (dot) com. Thanks!