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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 YA #18: BEFORE WE WERE MONSTERS (Thriller / Horror)
Martha Keller
Mentored by:
Jenna Lincoln
Book Title:
2019 Entries
Word Count:


Six days ago, Liddy became part of an experiment that turned humans into cannibals. But when she discovers that her father is the head scientist behind these twisted trials, Liddy has to battle the Lab—and her dad—with a rogue researcher and a bloodthirsty pack of kids and pets. In the end, Liddy must decide whether she wants to return to a “normal” life or stay a cannibal forever.

Wilder Girls meets Stranger Things



They have permission to kill us.

They have the power to burn our tidy brick houses, to let the pink bedroom wallpaper blister into wet November smoke. They have the power to melt our picnic tables, our swing sets, and our bicycles down to nothing more than mangled bits of metal and ash. They have permission to lie. Someone somewhere gave the Lab the absolute authority to wipe away the sound of our footsteps, our laughter, and our screams.

And why not? We’re toxic, right?

Better to turn away. Better to let them hunt us down one-by-one until we’re nothing more than shadow and cinders. Better for you. Better for your own safety. But if you’re reading this, you should know that six days ago we were all more than test subjects. We were daughters and sons and crushes and friends.

They fooled us with love. They told us we were special. They promised to protect us.

And we believed them.

Now they want our silence and our shame. I’ll give them neither. Instead, I’ll give you my story—the journal entries, the newspapers, the letters, the long unspooling of memories I once thought were mine alone. Only then can you decide who is still human and who is a beast with no soul.

20 responses to “PW2019 YA #18: BEFORE WE WERE MONSTERS (Thriller / Horror)”

  1. Tara Gilbert says:

    Wow. I love your voice. 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. Kim Lionetti says:

    Hi Martha: I’d love to see this! Please upload the full manuscript and synopsis here: QueryMe.online/KimLionetti/PitchWars. Can’t wait to dive in! – Kim

  3. Megan Manzano says:

    Wow, I was sucked in by the writing here. Please send your query, synopsis, and first 30 pages to https://querymanager.com/query/MeganManzano/PitchWars

  4. Oh my, this opening. I’m dying to keep reading. Consider me hooked (and very bummed that I have to wait… hah!)!!! If you could please send your query, full manuscript and a complete, detailed synopsis to hilaryquery@ktliterary.com with “Pitchwars: Your Title” in the subject field. Can’t wait to dive in!

  5. Marlo Berliner says:

    I’m intrigued! I’d love to read more! Please send the full with Pitchwars YA in the subject line to marlo.jdlit@gmail.com. Looking forward to reading!

  6. Peter Knapp says:

    Hi Martha,

    This sounds strange and intense in all the right ways – I’d love to keep reading! 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

  7. Jennifer Unter says:

    I’m intrigued by how this might play out – would love to read more! Please forward the first 50 pages to jen.nadol(at)theunteragency(dot)com with PW Request in the subject line. Thanks!

  8. Ginger Clark says:

    I would love to take a look at this. Can you email me the first fifty pages as either a PDF or DOCX or RTF? Put the words “Pitchwars 2020 request” in your subject line. Thank you so much!

  9. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Martha,

    I would love to see this! Can you send your query and first fifty pages to penelope@gelfmanschneider.com with #PitchWars in the subject line? Thanks so much!

    All best,

  10. Rena Rossner says:

    I’m intrigued! I’d love to read the first 50 pages! Please send them attached as a word document to: rena@thedeborahharrisagency.com


    – Rena Rossner

  11. Sandy Lu says:

    Hi Martha,

    What a premise! Please send the full manuscript with your bio and complete synopsis (all in one Word document) to sandy@lperkinsagency.com. I look forward to read more.

    Sandy Lu
    L. Perkins Agency

  12. Andrea Morrison says:

    Dear Martha,
    BEFORE WE WERE MONSTERS sounds fantastic, and I loved your sample page. I’d love to read the full MS! If you’re interested in sharing, could you send your manuscript to me at: amorrison@writershouse.com?
    I very much hope to hear from you!!
    All best,

  13. Hi Martha,

    BEFORE WE WERE MONSTERS sounds so good! The atmosphere that comes through from just that one excerpt is chilling; I immediately want to know what happens next. 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: BEFORE WE WERE MONSTERS: Pitch Wars 2020).

    I’m looking forward to reading more!


  14. Christa Heschke says:

    Your writing is stellar and I LOVE horror! Please send the full manuscript and query to chquery [at] mcintoshandotis [dot] com. Please put “Pitch Wars request” and the title in the subject line. Can’t wait to read!
    –Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

  15. Dorian Maffei says:

    The excerpt pulled me in! I would love to read more. 🙂 You can submit via my online submission form:


  16. Kianna Shore says:

    Hi Martha!

    I am very interested in reading more about BEFORE WE WERE MONSTERS and would love if you could send me the full manuscript at your earliest convenience. My email is KiannaShore@ladderbird.com and if you could include “Pitch Wars 2020” in the subject line, I would appreciate it.

    Thank you!

  17. Amber Caraveo says:

    Dear Martha,
    I’m so intrigued by this concept – and by how and whether you can redeem cannibals! 🙂 I would love to read the full manuscript. Would you be willing to share it with me? I am a founder and director of the Skylark Literary Agency – http://www.skylark-literary.com – a boutique agency specializing in Children’s and YA fiction. We are based in the UK but sell direct in both the UK and the US, and we have a mix of UK and US authors on our books (including Alyssa Hollingsworth – The Eleventh Trade – and Arianne Costner – My Life as a Potato). I am a former publisher and editor, now agent, so I have a very good idea of exactly what editors are looking for! Please check out our website if you’d like to know more about me and Skylark. If you would be happy for me to consider representation, then please send the full manuscript and a synopsis to me at amber@skylark-literary.com together with a covering email telling me a little about yourself and mentioning that I requested this through Pitch Wars.
    Thank you and best wishes,
    Amber Caraveo

  18. Chelsea Eberly says:

    I got goosebumps reading this excerpt! Love the WILDER GIRLS meets STRANGER THINGS sensibility and that there is likely mixed media interstitials throughout. I’d love to read the full manuscript if you send it with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line to: submissions (at) greenhouseliterary (dot) com. Thank you!

  19. Heather Cashman says:

    Hi, Martha. This sounds fantastic! If you think we’d be a good fit, please query me at http://QueryMe.Online/HeatherCashman with Pitch Wars in the referral line, and I’ll respond soon with a full request so you can upload the file. Thanks!

  20. I love the voice so much on this one! 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.