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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 #14: THE IRONWOOD GIRLS (Contemporary Fantasy / Southern Gothic)
Mara Dabrishus
Mentored by:
Kristin Lambert and Sasha Peyton Smith
Book Title:
2019 Entries
Contemporary Fantasy/Southern Gothic
Word Count:


WINTER’S BONE x PRACTICAL MAGIC. Secrets don’t stay buried long in Rue Perkins’ tiny Ozarks town. When the local golden boy shows up after being presumed dead, Rue suspects he’s hiding a dark crime. But to discover the truth, Rue risks revealing her family’s biggest secret: that the Perkins women are witches, and her own twin sister may have made an unforgivable exchange for her magic.



My rules are simple: get in and get out.

Lunch hour is slipping away, and I’ve sat in my truck for most of it, thinking about the ways this can go wrong. 

Dog-day cicadas scream like a hissing buzz saw, whining to a fever pitch and dying down with a slow, softening sigh. On a day like this the backs of my thighs stick to my truck’s cracked vinyl seats. The windows are cranked down, but the breeze is dead. Gone. My hair slithers down the back of my neck in damp snakes, and I yank it into a ponytail, drumming up enough courage to do what I need to do.

Across the street, Rocky’s Rec is a spot of activity in a long stretch of sad shopfronts. Cain, Arkansas, is the kind of dying town they talk about on national news, but here, Harleys line up along the curb, their chrome sparkling hard in the stark September sun.

I need to get out of this truck. I have to. If I don’t, I could have this black hole in my memory forever. Not to mention detention for showing up late to fifth period.

The rusty hinges on my Sierra Grande creak as I jump out and land on the simmering blacktop. I push into Rocky’s Rec, blinking through the smoky gloom at the words trickling down the back wall–hell is here.

45 responses to “PW2019 YA #14: THE IRONWOOD GIRLS (Contemporary Fantasy / Southern Gothic)”

  1. Karyn Fischer says:

    Hi Mara,

    Oh my goodness this sounds intriguing–right up my alley! A gothic twin story would be a dream come true for me to work on. I’d love to see more of this one. If you’d like, please send the first 25-30 pages to QueryMe.online/1325/PitchWars. Thanks and I hope to hear from you!

    Karyn Fischer

  2. Kim Lionetti says:

    Hi Mara: This sounds great! I’d love to see the full manuscript and synopsis. Please upload them here: QueryMe.online/KimLionetti/PitchWars. Can’t wait to read it! – Kim

  3. Peter Knapp says:

    Hi Mara,

    This sounds great – 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

  4. Eva Scalzo says:

    This is so intriguing, please send query + full manuscript to QueryMe.online/evascalzo/PitchWars

  5. Marlo Berliner says:

    I. Am. All. In. Love the premise and the voice! 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. Natascha Morris says:

    Color me interested, Mara. Having gone to school in Arkansas I love this vibe you have going here. I would love to see the full. Please upload to QueryMe.online/natascha/PitchWars.

    Thank you!

    Natascha Morris
    BookEnds Literary

  7. Melissa Edwards says:

    Hi Mara,

    I’m intrigued. I’d love to take a look! Please send the ms as a doc to medwards at stonesong dot com. Thanks!!

    All best,

  8. 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!


  9. Alexander Slater says:

    Hi Mara,
    I’d love to read this! As the agency for Daniel Woodrell, I think it would be an awesome fit. Please feel free to email ASlater@tridentmediagroup.com with the full.
    Many thanks,
    Alex Slater
    Trident Media Group

  10. 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

    If more than one LDLA agent requests your book, you are welcome to send to as many or few of us as you like. Just tell us in the query, and we’ll chat amongst ourselves.

    Elana Roth Parker
    Laura Dail Literary Agency

  11. Tara Gonzalez says:

    Hi Mara,

    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

  12. 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!

  13. Amy Elizabeth Bishop says:

    Dear Mara,

    I’m fascinated by this setting and would love to read further! Could you send along your query and first 100 pages as a Microsoft Word attachment, with #PitchWars in the subject line, to abishop (at) dystel (dot) com?

    I look forward to reading!

    All best,


  14. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Mara,

    This sounds fantastic, 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?

    Looking forward!

    All best,

  15. Hillary Jacobson says:

    Hi Mara,

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

    Thank you!

    My best,

  16. Carrie Pestritto says:

    I love witches, I love Practical Magic, I love Southern Gothic, and I love a good mystery, so I’m definitely interested in reading more of this (also the writing that I’ve seen so far is fantastic)!

    Would you please send me your query in the body of an email, with the first 100 pages attached as a Word doc? The subject of the email should be “THE IRONWOOD GIRLS” and you can reach me at cpestritto(at)ldlainc(dot)com.

    Thanks and looking forward to hearing from you!

  17. Jana Hanson says:

    Hi, Mara —

    I would love to read more of THE IRONWOOD GIRLS. Please send the first 5 chapters to me at your earliest convenience (jhanson@metamorphosisliteraryagency.com).

    Thank you so much, and I wish you the very best of luck in Pitch Wars!

    Jana Hanson

  18. Sarah Landis says:

    I’m intrigued! I’d love to read the full manuscript. Could you email to me at slandis@sll.com? Thanks!!

  19. 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!

  20. Tara Gelsomino says:

    The voice here gives me definite Veronica Mars vibes! I’m intrigued and would love to see more. Please send query, full synopsis and first three chapters (and reference PItch Wars in subject line) to Tara@onetrackliterary.com if you’d like.

  21. Penny Moore says:

    Hi Mara,

    I love a good witch story, and this sounds so good! Your sample is intriguing, I’d love to read more. Please follow the directions on my query form and submit your MS here: QueryMe.online/LiteraryPenny/PitchWars2020. Thanks!

    All the Best,
    Penny Moore

  22. 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!

  23. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Mara,

    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,

  24. Lauren Spieller says:

    I’m a sucker for witches! 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

  25. Mollie Glick says:

    Hi Mara,

    Would love to read this. Could you send the full manuscript to mollie.glickasst@caa.com?

    Mollie Glick

  26. Suzie Townsend says:

    Would love to read more! Please send me your full manuscript with your query pasted into the first page (a word .doc is best but an .rtf will also work). Send to suzie@newleafliterary.com. You can put PITCH WARS REQUEST in the subject line.

  27. Quressa Robinson says:

    Practical Magic is one of my favorite movies/books. I’d love to see more. Please query me at this link (QueryMe.online/QueryQuressa/PW20192020) and follow the directions. If more than one NLA agent requests work from you it is okay to query more than one of us, just give us a heads-up. Good luck!

  28. Melissa Nasson says:

    I’d love to see more of this! Please send the first 50 pages as a Word doc or PDF attachment to melissa@rpcontent.com with Pitch Wars in the subject line. Thank you!

    -Melissa Nasson, Rubin Pfeffer Content

  29. Laura Bradford says:

    Love the hook! The excerpt is just barely launching into what will come and I’d love to read further…

    Please email me the full ms + synopsis and make a note in the subject line that this is a Pitch Wars entry. laura at bradfordlit dot com.

    Laura Bradford
    Bradford Literary Agency

  30. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    The voice and concept for this feel so captivating. I’d love to read the full. Please send to QueryMe.online/KaitlynJohnson/Contests. Looking forward to diving in!

    Kaitlyn Johnson
    Literary Agent
    Belcastro Literary Agency

  31. Sandy Lu says:

    Hi Mara,

    I love Southern Gothic! 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

  32. Andrea Morrison says:

    Dear Mara,
    I hope this finds you well. It was great to read your Pitch Wars blog post, as well as your pitch and sample. Your prose is electric and I wish I could turn the page already! I would LOVE to read THE IRONWOOD GIRLS. If you’re interested in sharing, could you send the full manuscript to me at amorrison@writershouse.com?
    I really hope to hear from you!
    My best,

  33. Colleen Oefelein says:

    Hi Mara,

    I’d love to read the full! Please email me directly at colleen@adventurewrite.com. Paste your query and synopsis directly into the body and attach your full. Thanks and looking forward to reading!

    Colleen Oefelein
    Associate Agent
    The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
    245 Park Avenue
    39th Floor
    New York NY 10167
    Facebook: Colleen Oefelein
    Twitter: @eerie_o

    Celebrating 19 years of making dreams come true!

  34. Laurel Symonds says:

    Hi! I’d love to see this. Please send a query and 25 pages to symondsqueries@thebentagency.com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. I’m looking forward to reading more!

  35. Ashley Blake says:

    Hi Mara, 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.

  36. Christa Heschke says:

    I have a soft spot for Southern Gothic and this sounds great! 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

  37. Dorian Maffei says:

    I love this! This is right up my alley–both your comp titles are on my MSWL. 🙂 You can submit via my online submission form:


  38. Allison Remcheck says:

    Dear Mara,

    I would love to have a look at THE IRONWOOD GIRLS. Please feel free to be in touch with me–with a synopsis and your first three chapters–via my box at this link:


    It would be great if you could write REQUESTED MATERIAL at the top of your e-mail.

    Thank you so much; I’m looking forward to it!

    Best wishes,

    Allison Remcheck

  39. Alyssa Henkin says:

    Hi Mara,
    I would love to read 50 pages of this! Would you please email me and my assistant, Alice, the first 50 pages as a Word document or a PDF, and please make the subject line “Pitch Wars 2020”? We look forward to reading! ahenkin@tridentmediagroup.com and henkin.assistant@tridentmediagroup.com. https://www.tridentmediagroup.com/agents/alyssa-eisner-henkin/
    Alyssa Henkin

  40. Bridget Smith says:

    I’d love to take a look! Please send the query and the first twenty pages to querybridget@awfulagent.com. Thanks – can’t wait to read more!

  41. Cindy Uh says:

    Dear Mara,

    I’m so intrigued! I’d love to read more if you’d like to send the full manuscript to cindy.uh@caa.com.


  42. Shannon Hassan says:

    Hi Mara, I am intrigued and would love to read more! Please send a query + 50 pages to shannon@marsallyonliteraryagency.com (with PitchWars in the subject line). Thanks, Shannon

  43. Chelsea Eberly says:

    I love the voice here and have been looking for a great Southern voice with a WINTER’S BONE setting–so excited this has witches and is a Southern Gothic! I hope you will send me the full manuscript to read with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line to: submissions (at) greenhouseliterary (dot) com. Thank you!

  44. Heck yeah! Would love to see more of this! 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.

  45. Diana Fox says:

    I’d really like to read more! Please email me the full manuscript at diana at foxliterary dot com. (Including “Pitch Wars Request” in the subject line is also helpful but not required.)