Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!

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 YA #02: ALWAYS, ALIA (Contemporary)
Aashna Avachat
Mentored by:
SA Patel
Book Title:
2019 Entries
Word Count:


Alia’s senior year to-do’s: get straight A’s, help Mamma at their henna shop, avoid crushing on Holden, and figure out how to afford her dream college. When Alia overhears rich kids complain about grades, she capitalizes on her intellect – for a price, Alia will sell essays and tests to other students. Although this lucrative side hustle brings her closer to her dreams, the cheating and lies might destroy her life.




Chapter One

The shop smelled like my mother, like the cardamom in her chai, the coconut oil in her hair, the lavender of her freshly pressed kurtas. Floral and spice filled the space with each box I cut open. If there was anything tangible that embodied Mamma, it was this shop, vibrant, full, and giving.

“Alia, box-cutter kaha hai?” My mother peeked around a metal shelf, hand outstretched, which meant she already knew where the box-cutter was.

I handed it over, and she sliced through cardboard to take out a plastic envelope, sending Styrofoam peanuts flying.

“Screws,” Mamma declared triumphantly. As she waved the packet at me, jingling metal inside, her brown eyes caught the sunlight streaming through the windows. Mamma gripped the shelf’s loose corner and started tightening the hinge.

I smiled and continued tacking price stickers on packages of dried fruit. Golden raisins and sweet apricots glistened like jewels. When I looked back, Mamma was staring out the shop windows.

Mamma was no longer taller than me, but something about the way she carried herself made her seem elevated anyway, regal. Today, she wore a yellow-green Junior class shirt I’d bought her last year over jeans. Her curly hair was pinned neatly with a butterfly clip, and her face was fresh, eyes rimmed with liner, brown lipstick without a smudge. A surge of love and pride filled me.

22 responses to “PW2019 YA #02: ALWAYS, ALIA (Contemporary)”

  1. Tara Gilbert says:

    This sounds wonderful. I’d love to see more.
    Please use the link below to submit the full along with a synopsis and query letter.

    Thank you for considering me! If more than one Corvisiero agent shows interest, please choose one of us submit to and let them know who else liked the pitch, so that we can share it with each other.


  2. Saba Sulaiman says:

    Hi Aashna,
    This is wonderful and I’d love to read more! Please send a query, synopsis, and the first fifty pages (Word documents will suffice) to ssulaiman@talcottnotch.net — and don’t forget to mention #PitchWars in your subject line. Thanks—looking forward to my read!
    Good luck,

  3. Kim Lionetti says:

    Hi Aashna: This sounds great. I’d love to see the full manuscript and synopsis. Please upload them here: QueryMe.online/KimLionetti/PitchWars. I’m looking forward to reading! – Kim

  4. Ashley Blake says:

    Hi Aashna, I’d love to see more of this! If you’d like, send the full manuscript to ashley@reesagency.com and put QUERY PITCH WARS in the subject line. Hope to hear from you soon!

  5. Peter Knapp says:

    Hi Aashna,

    Great to see ALWAYS, ALIA here – I’d love to see the full MS! Can you please send the full manuscript to queries@parkfine.com attached as a Word document, along with a 1-3 (or so) page synopsis if available (in the same document as the MS or attached as a separate doc is fine)? Please include a query letter in the body of the email and put “PitchWars Submission – Pete Knapp” in the subject of the email. Thanks so much for the opportunity, and I look forward to reading!

    With warm regards,

    Pete Knapp
    Park & Fine Literary and Media

  6. Marlo Berliner says:

    From the very first line I knew I wanted to read more of this! Please send the full with Pitchwars YA in the subject line to marlo.jdlit@gmail.com. Looking forward to reading!

  7. Tara Gonzalez says:

    Hi Aashna,

    I would absolutely love to read this – will you send me your query and first 20 pages to tara@emliterary.com at your convenience, and mention Pitch Wars in the subject? There’s no timeline on my end, just whenever you feel ready!

    Thanks so much!

    Tara Gonzalez
    Associate Agent
    Erin Murphy Literary Agency

  8. Samantha Wekstein says:

    I’d love to see the first fifty pages of this! If you are interested, please send them as an attachment to samantha@thompsonliterary.com with your query in the email body and #pitchwars in the subject. Thank you!

  9. Jim McCarthy says:

    I’d love to have a look! Kindly send the manuscript to me at jmccarthy@dystel.com. Good luck, and have fun!


  10. Natascha Morris says:

    You’ve done a great job in your revision here since I last saw this! I would love to see the rest of this, since I’ve always been intrigued by this pitch, Aashna. I would love to take a look if you would mind uploading to QueryMe.online/natascha/PitchWars.

    Thank you!

    Natascha Morris
    BookEnds Literary

  11. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Aashna,

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

    Looking forward!

    All best,

  12. Jennifer Unter says:

    This sounds great – I’d 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!

  13. Carlisle Webber says:

    I’d like to see this! Please send 10 pages and a query letter to carlisle @ fuseliterary .com with the subject PItch Wars – TITLE. Thanks!

  14. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Aashna,

    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,

  15. Hi Aashna,

    ALWAYS, ALIA sounds so good! I love a morally grey protagonist and a story revolving around family. If you think we’d be a good fit (you can find more about me and my tastes here: https://www.jdlit.com/savannah-brooks and here: https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/savannah-brooks/), head to http://queryme.online/1346 to submit more info and a 20-page sample. Be sure to put Pitch Wars 2020 in the referral section or as part of the title (ex: ALWAYS, ALIA: Pitch Wars 2020).

    I’m looking forward to reading more!


  16. Chloe Seager says:

    Hi – I would love to take a look at this. Please send the first three chapters and synopsis to childrens@madeleinemilburn.com.

    All my best,

  17. Elizabeth Bewley says:

    Dear Aashna,
    I’d be excited to read your full manuscript. Can you please email it to me at ebewley@sll.com?
    Elizabeth Bewley
    Sterling Lord Lit

  18. Wendi Gu says:

    Hi Aashna,

    I like the voice here and would be interested in reading the rest! At your convenience, do send your full manuscript in Word Doc to wgu@sjga.com. I very much look forward to getting to know Alia.

    All my best,

  19. Cindy Uh says:

    Dear Aashna,

    I can already tell that I’m going to fall for Alia and Mamma, and I’d love to read more! Please feel free to email me the full manuscript at cindy.uh@caa.com.


  20. Heather Cashman says:

    Hi, Aashna. I love this first page. If you think we’d be a good fit, please query me with Pitch Wars in the request line at http://QueryMe.Online/HeatherCashman, I’ll request the full asap and you can upload the file there. Thanks!

  21. I love the voice and would like to see more! Please send this pitch in the body of an email, synopsis and first fifty pages attached as a Word doc, with YA PITCHWARS and your title in the subject, to Jennifer@theseymouragency.com.

  22. Kerstin Wolf says:

    Alia’s mother’s shop sounds so peaceful. I can see this scene perfectly in my head. This is some beautiful writing. I would love to see the full manuscript of this. If you think we might be a good match, please submit your full manuscript using this link: QueryMe.online/kerstinwolf/Pitch_Wars