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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.
PW2021 Adult #37: BLOOD ON THE ICE (Speculative Thriller)
Mary Berman
Mentored by:
Sequoia Nagamatsu and Cole Nagamatsu
Book Title:
Speculative Thriller
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
violence, blood, firearms, child death, references to animal abuse and child abuse, mentions of alcoholism


For nine years Nina has lived in Antarctica, caring for a freshly thawed, thirty-foot sabertooth cat, the only creature she’s ever truly loved. But when a billionaire big-game hunter arrives—just days after Nina’s estranged sister dies, thrusting a child into Nina’s care—Nina finds herself trapped in mortal combat: fighting for her cat, her niece, and her life, and battling not just her enemy, but her own past. Godzilla vs. Kong meets the interiority of Severance.



Nina sat cross-legged on the ice by the dumpsters, filleting tuna by hand.

The dumpsters reeked. In the height of the Antarctic summer, after the sun had beaten the blue-painted steel for several unbroken months and would continue to do so for months more, standing near the dumpsters was like standing in a sewer, except that you had to wear four layers against the bitter cold. Trash duty was a task that everyone on the station avoided. But when preparing food for Murg, Nina preferred to toss the guts directly into the dumpster, rather than haul a sled of decomposing fish waste across the ice.

As she worked, squinting against the sun’s glare, she dropped the meat into a fifty-five gallon drum, which she had lashed to a ski-doo from the vehicle fleet.

Someone approached from the housing structure. It was Yi, a microbiologist, lugging his omnipresent bug-out bag. He brought the bag everywhere, never mind that they lived on the most punishing terrain on earth, with nowhere to bug out to. Nina didn’t know what he’d been through exactly, only that it had been some shit. You found people like that down here. People who’d sunk or drifted to the bottom of the planet because they were running from something, or running to something, or just couldn’t stop running.

9 responses to “PW2021 Adult #37: BLOOD ON THE ICE (Speculative Thriller)”

  1. Ann Leslie Tuttle says:

    Dear Mary,
    Your opening excerpt immediately drew me into BLOOD ON THE ICE, and you have a compelling premise. Please do send me the first 50 pages, and I look forward to reading further. My email is atuttle@dystel.com, and please note that this is a Pitch Wars request. Also, if you receive a request from more than one DGB agent, please approach the agent you feel might be the best fit and notify us of other requests in the agency. We’ll work it out on our end. I wish you success in Pitch Wars and with your writing and will hope to hear from you.
    Ann Leslie Tuttle

  2. Jennifer March Soloway says:

    An estranged sister dies before reconciliation, leaving a child in need of care, while a hunter creeps forth…I’m hooked! If you think I could be a good fit for you, please query me and submit the full manuscript: QueryManager.com/JenniferMarchSoloway/PitchWars2022

    I love a good story and look forward to reading yours!

  3. Jen Nadol says:

    Hi Mary,
    I’m so intrigued – love your opening, your prickly protagonist’s voice and this unique setting and premise…if you think we’d be a match, please send the opening 50 pages as a Word attachment along with a query to jen.nadol@theunteragency.com

  4. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Mary,

    Congratulations on your Pitch Wars entry! This sounds fantastic (you had me at “thawed sabertooth cat”), and I’d love to read the full manuscript! If you could please submit your query and materials using the following Query Manager link (so that the system flags it on my end): QueryManager.com/EricaBauman/PitchWars

    And if more than one ACM agent requests, please feel free to submit to them simultaneously—just let us know who else is reading and we’ll sort it out on our end.

    I’m so excited to read more!!

    All my best,

  5. Hi Mary. Congrats on PitchWars. Blood on the Ice sounds so cool. I’d love to read more. If interested, please upload the full manuscript using this link: QueryManager.com/1353/PW2022
    Talk soon,

  6. Danielle Egan-Miller says:

    I would love to take a look at this! Please send your query with PITCH WARS in the subject line and a synopsis + the full manuscript attached to mail@browneandmiller.com – I and my team will confirm receipt and dive right in!

  7. Paul Lucas says:

    Hi! I’d love to see the ms. Please send it as a word file to plucas@janklow.com and reference PW.

    Thank you and good luck!

  8. Isabel Kaufman says:

    I’m very intrigued (and love a Severance comp)! Please send 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 title of the email. So looking forward to reading more!

  9. Chelsea Hensley says:

    Hi Mary! This sounds fantastic, if you’re interested, you can send the full manuscript, your query, and a complete synopsis to my Query Manager at this link: QueryManager.com/Chelseahensley/PitchWars2021