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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.
T. James Belich
Mentored by:
G. Z. Schmidt
Book Title:
2018 Entries
Word Count:


Ember, a clever young snake, must solve the mystery behind a zookeeper’s death before the accused lion is executed, or else she’ll become the lion’s last meal. SHERLOCK HOLMES meets THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.



Ember smelled a body.

She flicked her tongue. Fear and uncertainty filled the cool, dry air. Clumps of zookeepers huddled on the paved paths below, their voices a quiet buzz, but no monkeys hooted, no cats roared. The Galapagos tortoise ground away at a breakfast of leaves and flowers. Behind him, the flamingos stood on single legs, silent but watching. Even the sea lions hushed.

Ember should have been in her cage, asleep for the day. Instead, she stretched her thin, winding body over the flat roof of the reptile building, the sun reflecting off her orange-brown scales. The silence captured her attention.

Two human police officers rolled a metal rectangle past her building, and the harsh screech of its wheels sent shivers through the concrete. A sheet covered the shape on top, but the scent of death—like warm, moldering leaves—was unmistakable.

Who had died?


The roof quivered, and a dank odor filled Ember’s mouth. Primates. Always in need of a bath.

Long, skinny fingers grabbed Ember’s tail and yanked her into the air.

“The King wants to see you.”

Ember stared through the dark slits of her eyes into the upside down face of a monkey.

The monkey blinked. “You know, the male lion?”

“What makes you think I have any interest in the affairs of mammals?” Ember preferred her fellow reptiles. They kept to themselves. And they didn’t stink.


Ember nipped the monkey’s paw. He tasted worse than he smelled.

He hooted and dropped her. “You’re a rainbow boa, right? A constrictor? Not venomous?”

If only she were.

6 responses to “MG #7: JUSTICE AT THE ZOO (Mystery)”

  1. Carrie Hannigan says:

    Dear James,

    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

  2. Carrie Pestritto says:

    I’m so intrigued by this story! I’ve been on the lookout for great MG and would be love to see 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 – JUSTICE AT THE ZOO.

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

  3. Wendi Gu says:

    Dear T. James Belich!

    I would love to read the manuscript. What an opening line! Please send the query with the full manuscript attached at wgu@janklow.com. I look forward to reading.


  4. Jennifer Unter says:

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

  5. Kari Sutherland says:

    This sounds awesome! Can you please send me the full as an attachment and include “Requested PitchWars” in the subject line? I’d love to read more of Ember’s sssssleuthing. 🙂 kari@bradfordlit.com

  6. Adria Goetz says:

    I’d love to read more! Can you send the first chapter to me at adria@martinlit.com?