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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 #08: TOGETHER WE ROT (Contemporary fantasy with horror elements)
Skyla Arndt
Mentored by:
Allison Saft and Ava Reid
Book Title:
2020 Entries
Contemporary fantasy with horror elements
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
Mentions of Physical/Verbal Abuse, Body Horror, Loss of a Parent, Light Gore, Emesis


There is something rotten at the core of Wil Greene’s remote, frigid Michigan town. Trying to solve her mother’s brutal and ritualistic murder leads her to Elwood: her ex best friend and son of the mysterious, cultish Clarke family. The two must team up to uncover Hartsgrove’s grisly secrets before Elwood becomes his family’s next sacrifice. HEREDITARY + THE DEVOURING GRAY



Winter keeps the bodies fresh.

They thaw out in the spring, decomposing with the wet slide of summer. A putrid smell rolls over the town of Hartsgrove, the sickly-sweet stench of sun-bloated corpses.

The forest is littered with death. Like the Dead Sea, the Morguewood isn’t meant to harbor life. Creatures stubbornly try to exist and die there all the same. Deer stiff with frost, rib cages sloshing like water running over rocks. Bears with their eyes trained upward, past the starving flies and swirling maggots, up to the grimy gray sky above.

Things die all the time in these woods, but Mom was never supposed to be one of them. Mom with her sweeping grin; Mom with her winking baby blue eyes. When they found her, she was missing both. Her lips were stretched in a scream and her eyes were gouged out.

“There’s something unholy in this town, Wil,” she told me once, angling her head out the window. “You feel it, too, don’t you? The wrongness in the air. It feels like we’re in Hell.”

I didn’t feel it then, but I do now.

Now when the night is quiet and when the wind has died beyond my window, I feel it. It’s there when I hear a noise ricocheting off the trees, echoing back like a gruesome memory. The sound of my mother screaming still.

29 responses to “PW2020 YA #08: TOGETHER WE ROT (Contemporary fantasy with horror elements)”

  1. I’m in dire need of a good scare, and I’d love to read more. Please kindly send the full manuscript and a synopsis as word doc attachments to hilaryquery at ktliterary.com with ‘Pitchwars Requested Material’ in the subject field. I can’t wait to dive in!
    Hilary Harwell, Literary Agent
    KT Literary LLC

  2. Jenny Bent says:

    Hi! I’d like to see the full on this please. Please send to pitchwars@thebentagency.com with “pitchwars” in the subject line. It’s fine to submit to other agents at the Bent Agency if they also request, just please let us know so we can coordinate responses.

  3. Amelia Appel says:

    Dear Skyla,

    I am LOVING this! Please send along the full manuscript as a Word doc. attachment to amelia@triadaus.com at your earliest convenience. Please also include the pitch, full synopsis, and author bio, pasted into the body of the email, with “PITCH WARS REQUEST – TOGETHER WE ROT” in the subject line.

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

    All best wishes,

  4. Sarah Landis says:

    I’d love to read this one! Please email it to slandis@sll.com. Thanks! Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic

  5. Natascha Morris says:

    Hello Skyla,

    This sounds amazingly creepy! I can’t wait to read the full. 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

  6. Rick Richter says:

    Hi Skyla! This sounds like a fantastic project and I’d love to read more. Could you send a full manuscript in .docx (or .doc) format to me at rrichter@aevitascreative.com and cc my assistant at cmarsiglia@aevitascreative.com? Please use “pitch wars” somewhere in the title. Hope to hear from you soon!

  7. Haley Casey says:

    Dear Skyla,

    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

  8. Erin Clyburn says:

    Wow, Skyla! I was hooked by this premise and grisly opening and would love to see more of TOGETHER WE ROT. Please send your query, synopsis, and full manuscript through my QueryManager link: QueryManager.com/ErinClyburn/PitchWars. If you receive requests from multiple JDLA agents, feel free to submit to whichever of us feels like the best fit. I’m looking forward to reading your work!

  9. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Skyla,

    This sounds fantastic, and your writing gave me shivers! I’d love to see the full manuscript. Could you please send along with your query letter to ebauman@aevitascreative.com (and put Pitch Wars somewhere in the subject line)? Looking forward to reading!

    All best,

  10. Tara Gonzalez says:

    Hi Skyla! I would love to keep reading TOGETHER WE ROT. If you could send me a query with the full manuscript attached to tara@emliterary.com, with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line, that would be fantastic.

    Tara Gonzalez – Associate Agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency

  11. Samantha Fabien says:

    Hi Skyla,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! You must be thrilled.

    TOGETHER WE ROT already starts with the vivid imagery I love to see in darker YA/horror. I’d love to request the full manuscript so I can continue reading!

    If you’d like to share, 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: TOGETHER WE ROT 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,

  12. Claire Friedman says:

    Hi Skyla! This pitch sounds like it was made for me — I love it! I can’t wait to read. Please send the full manuscript to claire@inkwellmanagement.com. Excited to hear from you!

  13. Carlisle Webber says:

    You had me at fresh bodies. I would like to see this. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to carlisle @ fuseliterary .com with the subject Pitch Wars Requested Material: TITLE. If you get a request from more than one agent at Fuse, please choose one of us; we don’t compete with each other for manuscripts.

    I look forward to reading your work!

  14. Hi, Skyla. Oh man, you’ve really nailed the atmosphere. I felt chills reading this small section, and I’d love to read on. If you’re interested, please submit a query at QueryManager.com/SavannahBrooks and be sure to mention that this was a Pitch Wars request. I look forward to seeing more!

  15. Rebecca Podos says:

    Holy guacamole, this sounds stunning. If you’d like to send the full manuscript to rebecca@reesagency.com, I would love to read 🙂


  16. Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Skyla,

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

    All best,

  17. Renae Moore says:

    Please send your query, synopsis, and first two chapters of your book using the following link: QueryManager.com/renae/PitchWars
    Please feel free to apply to more than one agent at Tobias simultaneously. We will handle multiple submissions on our end.

  18. Jessica Errera says:

    Hi Skyla–your work reminds me of a YA True Detective and I am eager to read more! 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 jump right in!

  19. Dorian Maffei says:

    I love how dark this is! I am thrilled to request the first 50 pages! 🙂 You can send the query and manuscript through my online submission form: QueryManager.com/dorianmaffei/Request.

    If more than one agent from KC&A has requested the manuscript, please mention this in your submission. Thank you!

  20. Rebecca Eskildsen says:

    Hi! I would love to see this story in my inbox. If you would like to submit your manuscript to me, please send a query letter and the first 50 pages to reskildsen@writershouse.com. Please include “Pitch Wars” and your title in the subject line, and please only submit to one agent at Writers House at a time. Thank you!

  21. Peter Knapp says:

    This sounds great and entirely frightening. 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: TOGETHER WE ROT (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 considering.

    Pete Knapp // Park & Fine Literary and Media

  22. Cortney Radocaj says:

    Hi Skyla,

    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

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

  24. Zabé Ellor says:

    This atmosphere is incredible, and I can’t wait to see where this spooky mystery leads!

    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.

  25. Dana Murphy says:

    Hey there – I would love to read more of this! Please follow querying instructions here: http://www.thebookgroup.com/submissionguidelines — and include both my name and “Pitch Wars” in the emails subject line. Thanks!

  26. Sandy Lu says:

    Hi Skyla,

    What an opening! Please send the full manuscript, preceded by your bio and complete synopsis (all in one Word document) to submissions@bookwyrmlit.com. I look forward to reading more!

    Sandy Lu
    Book Wyrm Literary Agency

  27. Jolene Haley says:

    Hi Skyla! Jolene from Marsal Lyon Literary Agency here. This sounds delightful and I enjoyed your writing sample. I’m a huge fan of darker story elements and horror, so this immediately intrigued me.

    I would love to see this submission, if you’d like to send it to me. If so, please send your query, synopsis, and full manuscript as a Word doc or PDF to jolene @ marsallyonliteraryagency.com. Please make sure the subject is Pitch Wars Request: Manuscript Title.

    If you receive another request from our agency, feel free to review the agents on our agency website and choose one of us to submit to: https://www.marsallyonliteraryagency.com.

  28. Christine Lee says:

    Hi Skyla! You’re welcome to send your full manuscript and author bio to christine@leshneagency.com. Please include “Pitch Wars” and your book title in the subject line. Thanks, Christine

  29. Christa Heschke says:

    Your writing blew me away. I love beautiful, literary horror! 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