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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 #17: THAT WRETCHED VALLEY (Horror)
J. L. Kiefer
Mentored by:
Cynthia Pelayo
Book Title:
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
(mild/imagined) animal death, violence/gore, language



Four campers enter the Kentucky woods trying to find the next undiscovered climbing spot. But the spot is cursed, and it’s only a matter of time before the woods, the ghosts, or their own cabin fever gets the best of them.



What baffled them was the skeleton.

The others were weird, but they couldn’t figure out the fucking skeleton. Just bones, no organic matter, arranged all together, every one of the two hundred and six in its place, a kneecap or two hidden by new fall leaves. Not one scrap of skin left. No sinews, no rotting brain, no nothing. Had the group resorted to cannibalism? It was one of the early guesses. But even that did not seem to fit. The bones wouldn’t be so clean, arranged perfectly, as if they belonged to a knocked-over classroom display, sans bolts. No scorch marks, not even any signs of instruments or scratches against them, and surely any form of cannibalism that left such a perfect anatomy would have included at the very least a blade to peel the flesh.

The coroners and first responders could make guesses at the others—animals, perhaps, though they had not discovered any wildlife, had not even heard the flap of wings overhead or the crunching of a swift mammal over leaves—but this fucking set of bones. It was wrong to move them, the investigators thought, even as they placed them into the evidence bags, each piece lifting away like gravel, no tendons or fat to hold them together. The perfect model undone, like putting a complicated puzzle back in the box after hours of piecing the cardboard together.

28 responses to “PW2021 Adult #17: THAT WRETCHED VALLEY (Horror)”

  1. Shannon Snow says:


    I was so excited after reading your pitch and excerpt. It gripped me immediately. I would love the opportunity to check this out!!

    If you would like to submit to me (please do!) email me your complete manuscript and synopsis in Word format to Shannon@cmalit.com. Please put “Pitch Request” in the subject line.

    I definitely hope to hear from you! ❤️😊

    Shannon Snow
    CMA, Inc. Literary Agent

  2. Shannon Snow says:

    J.L. I read the names backwards and addressed my pitch request to Cynthia in error! My error. That’s what you get for doing this in the wee hours of the morning!

    Would still love to see your books!


  3. Amy Giuffrida says:

    This sounds scary and haunting, which is what I look for in horror. And those comps? PERFECT! I would love to read the full, so please send me the query, synopsis, and full manuscript to me at this QM link: QueryManager.com/AmyGiuffrida/PitchWars

    Since we ask that you only submit to one of our agents at a time, if you receive multiple request from agents at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, please choose which one best fits you to submit to.

    I’m excited to get reading!

  4. Ann Leslie Tuttle says:

    Dear J.L. Kiefer,
    Your opening excerpt immediately drew me into THAT WRETCHED VALLEY, 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

  5. Eloy Bleifuss says:

    Hi! This sounds phenomenal. Would love a chance to read. You can send your query letter and the first 100 pages of your manuscript to ebleifuss@janklow.com

    Please note that you can submit to only one agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates at a time.


  6. Ellen Goff says:

    Hi there J.L.!

    This one really stood out to me. I’m from Kentucky myself and love anything speculative/spooky set there. Would you send me your full manuscript as a word doc to ellen@hgliterary.com ?

    Can’t wait to read more!

  7. Sarah Landis says:

    I’d love to read this one! Could you email me the full ms to slandis@sll.com? Thanks! -Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic

  8. Kurestin Armada says:

    Hello, and congrats on completing Pitch Wars! Absolutely love this creepy atmosphere already–please do send the full manuscript + a synopsis attached as word docs to my attention at submissions (at) rootliterary (dot) com, with Pitch Wars in the subject line. If any of my colleagues also request, feel free to pick one of us or just mention us all and we’ll sort it on our end. Cheers, Kurestin Armada @ Root Literary

  9. Hi J.L.,

    As someone who binged all of Yellowjackets in two days, this project immediately caught my eye. I’d love to see more of it. If you’re interested in submitting, visit my Pitch Wars event QueryManager page (QueryManager.com/SavannahBrooks/Pitch_Wars_2022). It’ll ask for your first 20 pages.

    I look forward to reading more!


  10. James McGowan says:

    Hi JL
    This sounds really great and I’d love to read it! If you’re interested in sending, please send to QueryManager.com/jmcgowan/Pitchwars. If you receive more than one request from BookEnds agents, please send to the one you feel would be the best fit. Congratulations on your PW success! -James

  11. Penelope Burns says:

    I would love to see more of this! If you’d like, can you send your query and full manuscript to penelope@gelfmanschneider.com, with #PitchWars in the subject line? Thanks so much!

    All best,

  12. Lori Galvin says:

    Dear J.L.
    Thank you for sharing your work. I would love to see the full. Could you please send to lgalvin@aevitascreative.com with Pitchwars in the subject line. Please feel free to submit to other ACM agents who request. Thank you so much.

  13. Rebecca Podos says:

    Oh, this looks AMAZING, and like my kind of horror. I would love to see the query and full manuscript through the Pitch Wars event link on my QueryManager: QueryManager.com/BeccaPodos/PitchWars


  14. Jill Marr says:

    I saw this on Twitter and came looking for it, I love your comps and…I mean…Kentucky woods–so spooky.
    Please send your first 50 pages in Word (with the subject YOUR TITLE: #PW2021 Showcase) to jill@dijkstraagency.com.
    I’m looking forward to reading more!

  15. Claire Friedman says:

    This sounds so fun – and I’m a huge “Yellowjackets,” so this sounds right up my alley. I’d love to consider — please send the full ms to claire@inkwellmanagement.com. Can’t wait to read!

  16. Marcy Posner says:

    Hi J.L.—

    These comps! Your excerpt only heightens the mystery. Please send your full manuscript as an attachment with your query letter in the email body to marcy@foliolit.com. Make sure to put Pitch Wars in the subject line so I can find it easily!

    If you happen to receive requests from my other colleagues, please select the agent you are most interested in working with and send materials only to them.

  17. Quressa Robinson says:

    Dear J.L.,

    Congrats on making it through the editing rounds with your mentor! I’ve been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to check out everyone’s showcase samples. Based on what I’ve read so far, I’d love to see more. Please query me at this link (QueryManager.com/QueryQuressa/PW2022) and follow the directions. If more than one Folio Lit agent requests work from you it is okay to query more than one of us, just give us a heads-up. Good luck!



  18. 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!

  19. Amanda Orozco says:

    Hi J.L.!

    Wow, I’m blown away by this chilling, atmospheric writing; I’d love to see more of this! Please send the query and full ms to amanda@transatlanticagency.com with “Pitch Wars” somewhere in the subject line.

    Feel free to submit to other agents at the Transatlantic Agency if they also request; please just let me know so we can coordinate our responses.

    Many thanks and looking forward to reading more!
    Amanda Orozco

  20. Matt Belford says:

    Hi J.L.! This is a great pitch and I’d love to see more of your work! Would you please send me your first 25 pages via my Query Manager form: QueryManager.com/MWBelford/PitchWars?

    Thank you!

  21. Cortney Radocaj says:

    Hi J.L.!

    I love the sound of this and would love to see more. Can you please submit your query, synopsis, and first 30 pages here?


    If another Belcastro agent requests as well, please choose one of us to send to and mention in your query who else has requested; we’ll be sure to pass the submission along to the other agent if it ends up being a pass 🙂

    Looking forward to reading more!

    -Cortney Radocaj, Belcastro Agency

  22. Logan Harper says:

    Hi Jenny. This sounds delightfully spooky and I would love to read it. If you’d like to share with me, please email a query letter, a synopsis, and the full manuscript (as a Word doc) to lharper(at)janerotrosen(dot)com. Please include “PITCH WARS – That Wretched Valley” in the subject line. Thank you so much and I hope to hear from you!

  23. Allison Hellegers says:

    I have a feeling this one is going to be VERY popular! Sounds amazing. I’d love to take a look! If interested, you can e-mail a query, a full synopsis, and the full to to alli@sls-submissions.com. Thanks and good luck!

  24. I’d love to read more!

    You can send your query letter, a synopsis, and the first 3 chapters of your manuscript to me directly at maria@psliterary.com. One document (attached to the email) that contains all three items is preferred.

    Please include “Pitch Wars” and your manuscript’s title in the subject line of your email.

    (If another agent at P.S. Literary requests your manuscript, please submit to only one of us.)

  25. Andrea Somberg says:

    I enjoyed these opening pages and would love to take a look at the manuscript if you’d care to send it along! Word document to Andrea[at]harveyklinger.com would be great, with PitchWars Requested Manuscript in the subject line. Thanks! -Andrea Somberg/ Harvey Klinger Inc./ http://www.andreasomberg.com/ http://www.harveyklinger.com

  26. Chelsea Hensley says:

    I love this! 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

  27. Lee OBrien says:

    This sounds so eerie–I would love a chance to read!

    Submission guidelines:
    You can send the query and full MS to to lee.queries@irenegoodman.com, with Pitch Wars in the subject line. If more than one IGLA agent requests your work, please only send to one of us at a time—if they pass, you’re welcome to reach out to another!

  28. Dana Murphy says:

    What an opening line! This is exactly the kind of voice-y horror I love and I’m itching to read more. Per our submission guidelines, please send a query and your first ten pages in the body of an email to submissions@thebookgroup.com — with my name, the books title, and “Pitch Wars” in the email’s subject line. I’ll be in touch as soon as I see it to request the full. (If you’d like to review our full submission guidelines, please visit: http://www.thebookgroup.com/submissionguidelines)

    I don’t believe any of my colleagues at The Book Group are participating in Pitch Wars this year, but if you do get requests from others — or if you’ve already submitted to someone else on our team — don’t worry! We happily accept simultaneous submissions. If you wouldn’t mind flagging this in your query letter, it’s helpful to know up front.

    Thank you! I hope I make the list of agents you chose to submit to but, either way, huge congratulations on your Pitch Wars participation this year.


    Dana Murphy