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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 #9: TAKE BACK THE BLOCK (#OwnVoices Contemporary)
Chrystal Giles
Mentored by:
Maria Frazer
Book Title:
2018 Entries
#OwnVoices Contemporary
Word Count:


Wes would rather admire his sneaker collection than march in a protest with his activist parents. But the activism becomes personal when gentrification threatens his own neighborhood. Wes must find a way to save his community or he and his neighbors will be forced out of their homes for good.



I spent the morning of my eleventh birthday in burning summer heat carrying a sign that read, “We Were Here First!”

They’re so many other things I could have been doing on my birthday but there I was marching in what Mom kept calling a “peaceful protest.” I was the only kid, as usual. I had no chance of blending in with the sea of old ladies. Mom didn’t like me calling the ladies old, but they were old.

I walked a few steps behind Mom, ducking behind my sign as cars sped by. No way was I going to be spotted by my classmates. School was out for the summer but I couldn’t be too careful.

It was a thousand degrees outside and my favorite Carolina blue t-shirt was sticky, wet, and clung to my chest. It didn’t even match my Nike AirMax anymore. My kicks were now dusty and barely blue. That was my fault though; I should have never worn my good stuff to trample through dirt.

“Wes, hold the sign up straight and uncover your face,” Mom said.

“Come on, Mom it’s hot and I’m thirsty.”

“Don’t back talk me!”

I knew better than to talk back but it was too hot for manners. I wiped the sweat from my forehead. What time is it? We’d been marching for hours. My mouth ached for a drop of water.

I slowed down a little and swallowed a glob of spit to wet my throat.

It didn’t help.

28 responses to “MG #9: TAKE BACK THE BLOCK (#OwnVoices Contemporary)”

  1. Clelia Gore says:

    Love love this so far! I’d love to read more. Can you send me a Word document version of the full manuscript at clelia@martinlit.com. Please put “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. Well done!

  2. Patricia Nelson says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    I would love to read more of this! Could you please send your query, along with the full manuscript as a Word doc attachment, to patricia@marsallyonliteraryagency.com? Please make the subject line “PitchWars MG Request: Take Back the Block.”

    Thanks so much!

  3. Andrea Cascardi says:

    Dear Ms. Giles,

    I’m intrigued by this premise, and the opening hooked me. I’d love to read the full. Please can you send it to andrea+query@transatlanticagency.com as a Word or pdf attachment? Please put “Pitch Wars Requested MG and the title in the subject line. Thank you and I look forward to delving deeper into Wes’s world.
    Andrea Cascardi

  4. Alexandra Weiss says:

    Hi Chrystal! This sounds incredible and the voice is so strong. I’d love to read more. Please send a query letter and attach the full manuscript as a Word doc with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line to alexweiss.jdlit@gmail.com.

    Please note that if more than one JDLA agent requests this, please feel free to submit to the best fit. Thank you!!

  5. Elizabeth Bewley says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    I’d be happy to read your manuscript! Can you please send me the first 50 pages as a Word doc attachment? My email is ebewley@sll.com.

    Elizabeth Bewley
    Sterling Lord Literistic

  6. Elana Roth Parker says:

    Hi! I’d love to read more! Please email me at eparker [at] ldlainc [dot] com:

    * Subject line: PitchWars Submission: YOUR BOOK TITLE
    * Your query letter in the body of the email
    * The full manuscript attached as a Word document

    Elana Roth Parker
    Laura Dail Literary Agency

  7. 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!

  8. Carrie Hannigan says:

    Dear Chrystal,

    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

  9. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    This sounds great and I’d love to read more! Could you please send a query and the full manuscript to ebauman@aevitascreative.com and put “Pitch Wars” in the subject line?


  10. Chrystal,

    I love this premise! Can you send me the full and a synopsis (2-4 pages)? Please use Times New Roman, size 12, black, double-spaced text, 1” margins all around, and ½” paragraph indents. Attach the manuscript and synopsis as two separate Word documents (docx). Sent to: lynnette (at) theseymouragency (dot) com and add “Pitch Wars Request” along with your title in the subject line. Thanks.

    If more than one agent from The Seymour Agency likes your entry, please send requested material to the agent you feel will be the best fit. #OneAgentAtATime

    Looking forward to reading more.



  11. Carrie Pestritto says:

    I love this premise and I love your writing! I’ve been on the lookout for great #ownvoices contemporary MG and would be thrilled to read the full 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 – TAKE BACK THE BLOCK.

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

  12. Heather Cashman says:

    Chrystal, I really love this premise and voice. And I’m also going to try Dr. Pepper in my brownies. 😉
    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

  13. 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

  14. Alyssa Henkin says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    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!


  15. Danielle Burby says:

    This sounds right up my alley! I’d love to take a look at this manuscript. Please follow this link for submission instructions: http://queryme.online/1352/PitchWars2019

  16. Natalie Lakosil says:

    I would absolutely love to read this! Please send the full to me at natalie@bradfordlit.com. Looking forward to it!

  17. Johanna Castillo says:

    Dear Chrystal,

    I am writing to request the full manuscript for TAKE BACK THE BLOCK. I am particularly interested in #ownvoices, and so excited to read more.

    Johanna V. Castillo
    Writers House Literary Agency

  18. Christa Heschke says:

    I’d love to read on! 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

  19. Joanna Moult says:

    Hi there, I really enjoyed reading your pitch and extract. It would be lovely to read your full manuscript!
    Please send the full manuscript and a synopsis as a word doc(s) to submissions@skylark-literary.com, mentioning in your email that I requested the material from #Pitchwars
    In the meantime, I wish you the best with your writing!
    Regards, Joanna

  20. Isabelle Bleecker says:

    Hi Chrystal,
    This sounds interesting. Could I see more? Please send a query letter and the first 50 pages of your manuscript to me at Isabelle@Nordlysetagency.com

  21. 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

  22. Alexander Slater says:

    Hi Chrystal,
    I am instantly captivated by Wes’ voice. I’d love to read more. If you are willing to send the full manuscript, I’d be thrilled to read a Word doc at ASlater@tridentmediagroup.com.
    Many thanks,
    Alex Slater

  23. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Chrystal,

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

    All best,

  24. Kelly Sonnack says:

    Hi Chrystal!
    I’d love to read your manuscript. Could you send me the full via QueryManager? The link is in my bio on our agency’s website, or you can check my recent twitter feed for instructions. Please put “PITCH WARS” in the “referred by” field, or in the query letter section.
    Looking forward!
    Kelly (@KSonnack)

  25. Jennifer Unter says:

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

  26. Hillary Jacobson says:

    Hi Chrystal,

    I would love to read this! Please send the full manuscript as a word document to hjacobson@icmpartners.com.

    My best,

  27. Kari Sutherland says:

    I’d love to read more of this! Can you please send the full as an attachment to: kari@bradfordlit.com with “Requested: PitchWars” in the subject line? Thank you!

  28. Eddie Schneider says:

    Dear Chrystal,

    Your query sounds interesting—I’d be happy to look at the first 50-75 pages of TAKE BACK THE BLOCK, along with a 1-2 page synopsis. A .rtf file for the former is preferred, and the body of your e-mail is perfect for the latter.

    Thanks, and I look forward to reading your work.