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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.
PW2019 Adult #31: HISTORY LESSONS (Contemporary Mystery Black #OwnVoices)
Zoe B. Wallbrook
Mentored by:
Elizabeth Little
Book Title:
2019 Adult Entries
Contemporary Mystery Black #OwnVoices
Word Count:


Professor Daphne Ouverture knew her job was killing her dating life—she never thought it could kill her, too. But when her colleague is found murdered, Daphne realizes she might be next. With the begrudging help of two local cops—including one intriguingly well-read detective—Daphne must race to solve the murder before the killer strikes again, even if it means confronting the one past she’s vowed never to study: her own. STEPHANIE PLUM meets INSECURE.



Seven. She counted seven of them. Different sizes, shapes, colors. If Detective Asma Ahmed cared about dogs, maybe she’d be able to tell them apart. But she saw only short and fat ones, long and skinny ones, floppy ears, squat muzzles, long snouts.


Drinking beer.

Playing poker.

“God, this is a strange painting,” she muttered.

“A Friend in Need,” came the barely audible mumble from the corner of the living room.

Asma glanced over at her partner. He was inspecting a set of Hemingways on the bottom row of a bookcase, his long, gangly frame folded in on itself.

“What?” she asked.

“The painting,” he murmured. “A Friend in Need. It’s by Coolidge.”

“The president?”

“C.M. Coolidge.”

Asma raised an eyebrow. “You say that as if I have any idea what the fuck you’re talking about, Rowan.”

He pulled himself away from a copy of The Sun Also Rises and peered at Asma through thin metal frames, his soft grey eyes curious, amused.

“Cassius Marcellus Coolidge,” he explained in his quiet baritone, “was one of the first American artists to produce mass advertisements. This one was his most popular. It’s from the early twentieth century.”

“Thanks, Encyclopedia Brown.”

“Anytime.” He stood up. “Captain Hamilton should be here any moment. Should we discuss the pressing matter lying before us?”

“Oh—you mean the dead body on the floor?”

19 responses to “PW2019 Adult #31: HISTORY LESSONS (Contemporary Mystery Black #OwnVoices)”

  1. Amanda Jain says:

    I love the voice here and can’t wait to read more! Please send your query letter, synopsis, and full manuscript as a .doc attachment to ajain@bookendsliterary.com with PitchWars in the subject line. I look forward to reading!

  2. Melissa Edwards says:

    Hi Zoe,

    I’m intrigued! I’d love to see the full manuscript as a .doc. My email address is medwards @ stonesong dot com. Looking forward!
    All best,

  3. Kayla Lightner says:

    Hello Zoe,

    I love the narrative voice in the excerpt and would be overjoyed to read more mysteries with black women at the center! Please send the full manuscript to querykayla@lizadawson.com with PITCHWARS REQUEST in the subject line.


  4. Michelle Richter says:

    Hi Zoe,
    I’d love to see more! Will you send the query, synopsis, and full manuscript? Please submit to me here: QueryMe.online/MichelleRichter/PitchWars

  5. Hannah Fergesen says:

    So intrigued by this pitch, and this first page! I’d love to see the manuscript and a full synopsis, both in Word format. Please send to hannah@Ktliterary.com with Pitch Wars Request in the subject line.

    I’m really looking forward to reading!

  6. Jess Dallow says:

    Hi Zoe,

    I love what I’ve read so far and I’d love to see more! Please send the full manuscript, along with the query letter to jess@browerliterary.com with PITCH WARS + title in the subject line.

    Thanks so much!


  7. Hi Zoe,
    This sounds really intriguing. Please do send me your manuscript to Isabelle@Nordlysetagency.com along with your pitch letter. I’d appreciate it if you’d use the subject line Pitch Wars Request.

  8. Rosie Jonker says:

    I’m intrigued! Would you send the first three chapters, pasted in the body of an email, to Rosie@Rittlit.com with [QUERY] and [PITCHWARS] in the subject line?

  9. Kiana Nguyen says:

    Hi Zoe! I’d love to see a full of HISTORY LESSONS! Please send the query and an attachment of the full to knguyen@maassagency.com. Include the query in the email and first page of attachment. Please use the subject: PW 2020: TITLE. Thank you!

  10. Jennifer Unter says:

    I’m intrigued & would love to read more! Please forward the first 50 pages as a Word attachment to jen.nadol (at) theunteragency (dot) com with PW Request in the subject line. Thanks!

  11. Jill Marsal says:

    I would be happy to read your manuscript. Please email it to jill@marsallyonliteraryagency.com.

  12. Lauren Spieller says:

    Love this voice and these comps! May I please see the full manuscript + synopsis? It would also be great if you could include ‘Pitch Wars Request’ in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you! 

    Lauren Spieller, TriadaUS Literary Agency

  13. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Zoe,

    I would 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,

  14. Julie Gwinn says:

    I love this. Love the voice and would like to see three chapters and a proposal if you have one (other novel ideas, previous publishing, social media platform). The word count is a little long, wondering if you are open to editing it down to more commercial word count?

  15. Sharon Pelletier says:

    Hi Zoe, looking forward to seeing this!

  16. Melissa Danaczko says:

    Hi Zoe,
    I would love the opportunity to read more. Can you please send the full manuscript to mdquery@skagency.com? Thank you.

  17. Dawn Dowdle says:

    Dear Zoe,

    Thank you for your pitch. Your manuscript sounds very interesting. I would like to read more.

    Please follow the query instructions at http://www.blueridgeagency.com and make sure to put “Pitch Wars” in who referred you.

    Thank you! Looking forward to reading more.

    Dawn Dowdle

  18. Amelia Appel says:

    Hi Zoe,

    This excerpt pulled me right in! I love your voice and would love to see more of HISTORY LESSONS. Please send the full manuscript as a Word doc. attachment to amelia@triadaus.com with the pitch, full synopsis, and your author bio in the email. Also, please put “PITCH WARS REQUEST – HISTORY LESSONS” in the subject line so I can keep an eye out!

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

    All best,

  19. Erin Harris says:

    Hi Zoe,

    Thank you for participating in Pitch Wars! I love the writing and the premise here. Please send the full manuscript to eharris@foliolit.com, along with your query letter (description of project + author bio) with “Pitch Wars” in the subject of your email.

    I look forward to reading and talking further!

    All best,

    Folio Literary Management |Harold Ober Associates |Folio Jr.
    630 9th Avenue, Suite 1101, New York, NY 10036
    212-400-1494 x350 | eharris@foliolit.com | FolioLit.com