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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.
PW2020 YA #36: LIES WE SING TO THE SEA (Fantasy – Sapphic #OwnVoices)
Sarah Underwood
Mentored by:
Grace Li and Rebecca Mix
Book Title:
2020 Entries
Fantasy - Sapphic #OwnVoices
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
Sexual assault


On the cursed island of Ithaca, each summer brings the hanging of twelve maidens—offerings to the vengeful sea god. When Leto is sacrificed, she awakens on the shore of a long-forgotten island, prison to the tragic and immortal Melantho. Together, they must break the curse and unravel its terrible history—before the sea reclaims them both.

In the vein of CIRCE, a sapphic reimagining of THE ODYSSEY that explores the fate of Penelope’s hanged maids, featuring murderous monster girls and a grieving prince destined to die.



A silent maid braided Leto’s hair into an elaborate crown for her execution.

Her knees smarted as she knelt on the rough flagstone floor of the little room. Her arms, pale but for the bruises already blooming there, protested and cramped against the rope that bound them—wrist to wrist—behind her back.

The maid pulled Leto’s head sideways and pushed in yet another pin, scraping the sharp metal against her scalp and drawing thick strands of dark hair taut. Leto gritted her teeth and blinked hard, furiously avoiding the gaze of the hulking guard standing watch at the only door. He was fully armoured; a sword strapped at his hip and his features obscured by a shining silver helmet.

Leto fixed her eyes instead on the flickering light of the fireplace ahead. The scent of the burning incense hung in a choking fog and filled the room with a close, oppressive heat. Sweat ran in rivulets down her neck, over the terrible black scales that had risen on the skin there, marking her for slaughter, and disappeared beneath the neckline of her gown. The carefully arranged curls about her face were already damp and frizzy.

Some sacrifice. It was a bitter thought. Perhaps the gods would be so disgusted that they would simply send her back.

32 responses to “PW2020 YA #36: LIES WE SING TO THE SEA (Fantasy – Sapphic #OwnVoices)”

  1. Shannon Snow says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Your story definitely caught my eye. I would love to take a look. Please send the first three chapters, synopsis and a short bio to shannon@cmalit.com. Please put “Requested Materials-Pitch Wars” in the subject line so it will be sure to stand out in my inbox.

    If more than one person requests materials from my agency (Creative Media Agency, Inc., or CMA) just pick one of us. If it doesn’t work for that person, we will share it around.

    Thank you and I look forward to seeing your story very much! Best of success with Pitch Wars!!


  2. Larissa Melo Pienkowski says:

    I would love to take a look at this! Please feel free to send me this query and the first 50 pages as a Word attachment to larissa@jillgrinbergliterary.com, with your name, title, genre, and “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. (Also, if you have requests from two or more of us at JGLM, please do pick and send to only one of us.)

  3. Amy Elizabeth Bishop says:

    Dear Sarah,

    Ooh, I love a good Greek mythology reimagining and this sounds fantastic! I’d be thrilled to read your full manuscript – will you send it along as a Microsoft Word attachment to abishop@dystel.com, along with your pitch in the body of the e-mail?

    And, just to note: our agency policy this year is If more than one DGB agent has responded, you should choose who you want to submit to first and let that agent know who else at the agency requested. And we’ll work it out amongst ourselves. 🙂

    Looking so forward!



  4. Jim McCarthy says:

    I’d love to take a look. Kindly send the manuscript along to me at jmccarthy at Dystel dot com. A Word attachment is most preferable if possible. If more than one DGB agent requests, please feel free to send to the agent of your choice and just let us know who else at the agency requested. Thanks so much, and happy Pitch Wars!

  5. Rick Richter says:

    Hello Sarah! This sounds like a fantastic project and I’d love to read more. If you might be interested in working with us please send a full manuscript to me at rrichter@aevtiascreative.com and cc my assistant at cmarsiglia@aevtiascreative.com and use “pitch wars” somewhere in the title. Hope to hear from you soon!

  6. Amelia Appel says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I’d love to read more of this! Please send the full manuscript as a Word doc. attachment at your earliest convenience to amelia@triadaus.com. In the body of the email, please include your pitch, full synopsis, and author bio, and please have “PITCH WARS REQUEST – LIES WE SING TO THE SEA” as the subject line.

    Thank you so much and I can’t wait to read!

    All best,

  7. Lauren Spieller says:

    I love THE ODYSSEY, and this sounds like a really creative twist, so I’d love to read more. If you think we’d be a good fit, please send your query + full manuscript to Lauren@triadaus.com, and put “PW Request” in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you! ~Lauren

  8. Haley Casey says:

    Dear Sarah,

    This description of your work immediately had me hooked. I would love to read more!

    Would you please send your full manuscript, a synopsis of the project, and a short bio about what you do and any of your previous publications to Haley@CMALit.com? Each should be a separate attachment in Microsoft Word or PDF format. To ensure your email doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, please include “Pitch Wars” in your subject line.

    The two other agents at Creative Media Agency, Paige Wheeler and Shannon Snow, are participating in Pitch Wars with me. Should one of them also request your manuscript, we would appreciate it if you would choose the agent you’d most prefer to work with and only send them the requested materials. Should they pass on the project for any reason, and you find yourself still seeking an agent, then you are of course free to resubmit to another member of CMA.

    Thank you for taking the time to send me more of what you’ve written!

    Haley Casey

  9. Samantha Wekstein says:

    Hi Sarah! I love this premise. I’d like to read more. If you’re interested, can you please send your first 50 pages to samantha@thompsonliterary.com? Thanks!

  10. Rebecca Podos says:

    Woah, this sounds amazing! I would love to see the full manuscript at Rebecca@reesagency.com, if you’d like to send!


  11. Natascha Morris says:

    Hello Sarah,

    Not gonna lie, this perfectly captures a visual MSWL I have been looking for FOREVER with those scales. I really want to see this! Please upload at QueryManager.com/natascha/PitchWars. And if another Tobias Literary Agent requests, please know you can submit to multiple parties for this event, and we will discuss in house if multiple agents are interested.

    Thank you and can’t wait to see this!

    Natascha Morris
    The Tobias Literary Agency

  12. Maggie Kane says:

    Hello Sarah,

    I would love to read the full of LIES WE SING TO THE SEA! Please send it as a Word Document to maggie.queries@irenegoodman.com. If another agent at Irene Goodman requests your manuscript, please submit to just one agent at a time. If they pass, you are welcome to resubmit to another! Thanks so much!


  13. Samantha Fabien says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! You must be thrilled.

    This pitch and excerpt are haunting in the best way possible. With that said, I’d love to request the full manuscript to continue reading!

    If you’d like to share it, please send the query in the body of an email, with the full manuscript and synopsis attached as a Word doc.

    The subject of the email should be “Pitch Wars Request: LIES WE SING TO THE SEA for Root Literary” sent to submissions@rootliterary.com.

    Although not all of Root Literary is participating in Pitch Wars, please feel free to query whoever feels like the best fit! We’re happy to coordinate internally.

    All the best,

  14. Alexandra Weiss says:

    Hi Sarah! I’m so intrigued by your pitch and would love to take a look at the full manuscript, which you can submit here: https://querymanager.com/query/AlexandraWeiss/PitchWars2021

    Looking forward to reading more!

    Alex Weiss
    Azantian Literary Agency

  15. Caitlin White says:

    I was obsessed with The Odyssey in high school, so this caught my attention right away! I would LOVE to read the full. If you send your query and first pages to me (Caitlin White) on QueryManager at this link, I will request the full right away: https://querymanager.com/query/caitlinwhite

    Please put “Pitch Wars” in the “referred by” space. I represent projects at Emerald City Literary Agency alongside Mandy Hubbard and Linda Epstein. You can check me out on Twitter @caitforestell

  16. Katie Grimm says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I love the concept (CIRCE is an all-time favorite), and the evocative descriptions in the opening are fantastic–I’d love to read more! If you think we’d be a good fit, please send the query and full manuscript as a Word document to my attention at dca@doncongdon.com with PITCHWARS in the subject line. Thanks!


    Katie Grimm
    Don Congdon Associates, Inc.

  17. Jessica Errera says:

    Hi Sarah–I’ve been a sucker for any/all Greek mythology related stories since Rick Riordan published Percy Jackson. I’d love to see the full ms (and a synopsis if you have) to jerrera(at)janerotrosen(dot)com at your convenience. And please include Pitch Wars in the subject line so I know to dive right in!

  18. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    The mystery and intrigue behind this plot grabbed me immediately. I’d love to read this! If you find us a fit, please send your query, synopsis, and full manuscript to QueryManager.com/KaitlynJohnson/Contests

    Kaitlyn Johnson
    Belcastro Literary Agency

  19. Tamara Kawar says:

    Dear Sarah,

    I’d really love to read LIES WE SING TO THE SEA. If you’re interested in sending, could you please email the full manuscript to tamara.kawar@icmpartners.com and make sure you include “PW2020” in your subject line?

    Thank you!


  20. Michaela Whatnall says:

    You had me at “sapphic Odyssey reimagining”! This sounds wonderful, and I would love to read more. Please send your query and the first 50 pages as a Word doc attachment to mwhatnall@dystel.com. I’m looking forward to reading!

    Please note that if more than one agent from Dystel, Goderich & Bourret has requested your work, we ask that you choose which of us you’d like to submit to first, and let that agent know who else from our agency made a request. Thanks very much!

  21. Cortney Radocaj says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I love your pitch and sample!! Could you please submit your query, synopsis, and first 50 pages to my Query Manager?


    Please mention this is a PitchWars request at the beginning of the query, or in the referral section of the form. If another Belcastro agent requests, please make sure to only submit to one of us (we’re good at sharing!).

    I look forward to seeing your pages!!


    Cortney Radocaj
    Literary Agent
    Belcastro Agency

  22. Jessica Kasmer-Jacobs says:

    I’d love to see this! Please send your query, full MS, and synopsis (if you have one!) to jessica@dhliterary.com. Looking forward to reading!

  23. Peter Knapp says:

    This sounds great! I’d love to read more. Please send a query in the body of the email to queries@parkfine.com with “Pete Knapp – Pitch Wars:LIES WE SING TO THE SEA (YA)” in the subject line. Please attach the manuscript as a Word document, and include a short synopsis (either in the beginning of the same document as the manuscript or as a separate attachment). Thank you, and I’m looking forward to reading.

    Pete Knapp // Park & Fine Literary and Media

  24. Isabel Kaufman says:

    Hi Sarah, what a thoughtful, sharp angle on the story of the maids, and what a lovely, lyrical beginning! I would be thrilled to see more. Could you please email your query letter and the first 5 pages of your manuscript in the body of the email to submissions@foxliterary.com, with ATTN: Isabel and Pitch Wars in the salutation of your email? So hoping to keep reading!

  25. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Sarah,

    I’d love to see this! If you’re interested, can you send your query and full manuscript to penelope@gelfmanschneider.com, with PitchWars in the subject line? Thank you!

    All best,

  26. Laura Bradford says:

    This is so fabulously transporting! I’d love to see more! Please email me the full manuscript + synopsis at laura@bradfordlit.com. Please put Pitch Wars in the subject line and paste the pitch into your email. Thank you!

    Laura Bradford

    *If more than one agent from the Bradford Literary Agency has requested this, go ahead and send it to those agents and just let us know

  27. Amanda Rutter says:

    I really enjoyed your pitch and extract. Can you send the full through to Amanda Rutter from Azantian Literary Agency? Please also include the query, but no synopsis. The email should have Pitch Wars and the novel title in the subject line. The email address to use is amanda@azantianlitagency.com. If two agents from Azantian have requested, then please pick your preferred – we will share amongst ourselves if we think another agent would be a better fit. Thank you, and I look forward to reading!

  28. Lee OBrien says:

    I would love to see the rest of this!

    To query me, you can send the query and full MS to lee.queries@irenegoodman.com with the words “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. If another agent at Irene Goodman requests your manuscript, please submit to just one agent at a time. If they pass, you are welcome to resubmit to another.

  29. Zabé Ellor says:

    Leto’s voice is incredibly gripping here, and I love this premise!

    Please could you send the query and first fifty pages to me, as an attachment, at zrellor.books@gmail.com? Please paste your query on the first page of your attached sample pages, and also in the body of the email, and include PITCH WARS in the subject line. If more than one JDLA agent requests, feel free to first submit to the one you think is the best fit.

  30. Aida Lilly says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Would love to see the full of this, and congrats on your progress!
    If you’d like to submit to me:
    Please send over your full manuscript and a complete synopsis (with spoilers) to aida@ktliterary.com and include Pitch Wars in the subject line.
    If you receive a request from multiple agents at KT Literary, please only submit to one of us at a time.

    Thanks, and good luck!

  31. Jessica Felleman says:

    Hi Sarah! I’d love to take a look at your query letter, synopsis and full manuscript. Please send them over to me at jfsubmissions@jenniferlyonsliteraryagency.com and mention that I made the request via Pitch Wars in the subject line. The query and synopsis can either be attached or in the body of the email, but please send the manuscript as a Word Doc attachment. Looking forward to reading! -Jessica Felleman

  32. Christa Heschke says:

    Murderous monster girls? Yes, please! Please send the full manuscript, synopsis and query to chquery@mcintoshandotis.com with Pitch Wars request and the title of the manuscript in the subject line. –Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis