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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 MG #05: GROWING IN BETWEEN (Contemporary LGBTQ+)
Jess Callans
Mentored by:
Nicole Melleby and A. J. Sass
Book Title:
Middle Grade
Contemporary LGBTQ+
Word Count:


As puberty drives a wedge between twelve-year-old nonbinary Ollie and their lifelong friends, they dive into a research project to understand what defines womanhood in hopes of fitting in. But when a trans classmate invites them to join her queer book club, Ollie must choose between the safety of conformity and the risks of finding their own voice. A modern, queer ARE YOU THERE GOD?  IT’S ME, MARGARET.



I don’t even need to unfold the paper to know what it says, but I take a breath and open it anyway, desperate for no one to realize I’ve just drawn my own question out of Mrs. Johnston’s super anonymous sex-ed question box.

And I have to read it.

Out loud.

To the whole class.

This is my naked-in-public dream-come-true in the worst way. Like a perpetually-molted mantis shrimp, I’m soft and vulnerable in all of the wrong places. These little six-inch neon crustaceans have whip-fast claws called smashers and pack the fastest punch on the face of the planet. Their smashers come down on prey at almost fifty miles-per-hour and can even break through the glass of a fish tank.

They can break a human finger.

For all of history, I’ve held up my smashers like everyone else. I mimic my hard-shelled classmates and create the illusion that I, too, have a nice protective shell. The first rule of defensive mimicry is to never show off your squishy smashers when you’d be just fine running away.

So why, you ask, after a perfectly good run of never having my useless soft shell smashed, did I write down this absolutely ridiculous question, drop it into the sex-box, and think everything would be okay?

I’m just tired of wondering: Am I the only person in this whole school who feels this way?

38 responses to “PW2021 MG #05: GROWING IN BETWEEN (Contemporary LGBTQ+)”

  1. Shannon Snow says:


    I was very excited about your pitch and excerpt and would love to take a look at this! If you would like to submit to me, please email your complete manuscript and synopsis in Word format to shannon@cmalit.com.

    Please put “Pitch Request” in the subject line. I hope to hear from you!

    Shannon Snow
    CMA, Inc. Literary Agent

  2. Sarah N. Fisk says:

    This sounds like a book I really wish I would’ve had as a kid. Please submit the query, synopsis and first three chapters here: https://querymanager.com/query/sarahnfisk/PitchWars

    If multiple agents at Tobias request your materials, please submit to the one you think would be the best fit.

  3. D. Ann Williams says:

    Hi Jess,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! It’s a huge accomplishment and you should be proud. I adored ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT’S ME, MARGARET growing up (though it was well outdated by the time I read it), and a queer, modern retelling has me sold! I’d love to see the full manuscript.

    Please feel free to send me your query, full manuscript, and synopsis (if you have one) to QueryManager.com/DAnnWilliams/PitchWars2022

    Although not all of Emerald City Literary is participating in Pitch Wars, please feel free to query whoever feels like the best fit if you get multiple requests! We’re happy to coordinate internally if one (or more!) of us fall in love with your manuscript.

    Have a great showcase!
    D. Ann Williams (she/they), Associate Agent, Emerald City Literary Agency

  4. Melanie Figueroa says:

    Hi Jess,

    Congrats on completing Pitch Wars! I’d love to take a look at GROWING IN BETWEEN. You can query me directly using this link: QueryManager.com/melaniefigueroa/pitchwars


  5. Amanda Rutter says:

    I would love you to submit your Pitch Wars entry to me, using my Query Manager form: QueryManager.com/Amanda_Rutter/PitchWars Please send through the query letter and the full manuscript. If more than one Azantian agent requests materials, please pick the one you feel would fit you best.

  6. Ann Leslie Tuttle says:

    Dear Jess,
    GROWING IN BETWEEN sounds so engaging and a story that could be perfect for my MG list. I’d love to see the first 50 pages, and you can send them to me at atuttle@dystel.com. Please indicate this is a Pitch Wars request in your query line. If you receive a request from more than one DGB agent, however, please approach the person you feel might be the best fit and notify us of other requests in agency. We’ll work out on our end. I will hope to hear from you but, in the meantime, wish you success with Pitch Wars and your search for the perfect agent and editor for your work.
    Ann Leslie Tuttle

  7. Paige Wheeler says:

    I’ve always been a fan of Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret so I’d definitely love to take a look at the first 50 pages. Please email me the first 50 pages and the synopsis to my email address, paige@cmalit.com. In the subject heading write “Requested MG from Pitchwars” and I’ll do my best to expedite it. Thank you!

  8. Amy Giuffrida says:

    This is a book that MUST be on shelves right now! I would LOVE to see the full manuscript! 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! Amy

  9. Jim McCarthy says:

    I’d be happy to dive into this and not just because I’m very partial to your mentors! Please feel free to send the manuscript to me at jmccarthy@dystel.com. If other DGB agents ask for this, choose whoever you’d like to send to and let us know about the other requests, and we’ll work it out in house!

  10. Haley Casey says:

    Hi, Jess. I’m stunned by how lovely this sounds, and not in the least because you’ve written the type of LBGT+ story that MG readers so desperately need. If you’re willing, I would love to have the full manuscript, synopsis, and an author bio sent to me at haley@cmalit.com! As a note, if another agent at Creative Media Agency requests your work, please only send your materials to whichever agent you feel would be the best fit. (Though I hope it’s me, I hope even more sincerely that you make the best choice for you and the future of your writing.) Thanks! —Haley

  11. Beth Phelan says:

    Really love this opening, and the voice. Can I read more?

    Please submit your query letter and the full manuscript at this link: QueryManager.com/querybeth/PitchWars. I’d appreciate it if you pasted your query letter as the first page of your manuscript (like a sort of cover sheet), so when I send it to my kindle, I’ll have both!

    If another agent at GZLA requests your work as well, feel free to submit to both of us, but let us know that the other has it too.

  12. Mollie Glick says:

    Hi Jess,
    This sounds great! I’d love to take a look. Please upload your material to booksubmissions.caa.com with “Pitch Wars Request” in the subject line.
    Best wishes,

  13. Jennifer March Soloway says:

    When I read your pitch, I was immediately smitten. I have long hoped to find a modern, queer Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, and I fell in love with Ollie’s voice in this sample. More importantly, I am dying to find out the question and can’t wait to read more.

    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!

  14. Alexandra Weiss says:

    Hi Jess! I burst into laugher at your description of being a molted mantis shrimp. There’s so much I adore about this already and would love to request the full!

    If you’d like to send it my way, please upload it here: QueryManager.com/AlexandraWeiss/PitchWars2021

    ​Alexandra Weiss (she/her)
    Azantian Literary Agency

  15. Larissa Melo Pienkowski says:

    I’m really enjoying what I’m reading so far—this is absolutely up my alley! I’d love to see more, so if you’d like, please feel free to send me the first 50 pages at larissa@jillgrinbergliterary.com, with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line.

  16. Natascha Morris says:

    Hello Jess,

    Well you absolutely hooked me with that pitch! I have been dying to get my hands on a book with periods for years now! I would love to read the full if you want to query me: QueryManager.com/natascha/PitchWars Can’t wait to read more! And if more than one Tobias Literary Agency agent requests, feel free to pick the one you feel you would connect the best with.

    Natascha Morris

  17. Jennifer Herrington says:

    Hi Jess,

    Wow! This sounds fabulous! I would love to see more if you were comfortable sharing. Please submit your query, synopsis, and the full manuscript to: QueryManager.com/JenniferHerrington/PitchWars2022.

    I hope to see your submission!

    Jennifer Herrington
    Associate Agent
    Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

  18. Allison Hellegers says:

    Yes, please! This the book that we need right now. And I really just adore the sample. You can e-mail a query, a full synopsis, and the the full manuscript to alli@sls-submissions.com. Thanks, and good luck!

  19. Quressa Robinson says:

    Dear Jess,

    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!



  20. Alice Sutherland-Hawes says:

    Hi Jess,

    I love the sound of this and would love to read more! If you’re happy to, you can upload three chapter and a synopsis here – QueryManager.com/ASH_Literary/Pitchwars

    Hope to see your chapters!

  21. Hi, Jess,

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your voice!!! And what a fantastic high concept!!! Can you send me the full and a synopsis (2-4 pages)? Please use Times New Roman, size 12, black, double-spaced text, 1” margins all around, and ½” paragraph indents. Paste your pitch in the body of the email and attach the manuscript and synopsis as two separate Word documents (docx). Send to: lynnette (at) theseymouragency (dot) com and add “Pitch Wars Request” along with your title in the subject line. Thanks.

    If more than one agent from The Seymour Agency likes your entry, please send requested material to the agent you feel will be the best fit. #OneAgentAtATime

    Looking forward to reading more.



  22. Carlisle Webber says:

    I’d like to see this manuscript! Please submit it along with a query letter here: QueryManager.com/Carlisle/PitchWars2022.

    If more than one agent from Fuse Literary requests your work, please choose one of us to submit to.

    Good luck, and I look forward to reading your work.

  23. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Jess,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! I love the sound of your pitch, and your writing is so striking! I’d love to have the chance to read the full manuscript. If you could please submit your query and materials using my Query Manager link: QueryManager.com/EricaBauman/PitchWars

    I’m looking forward to reading more!

    All my best,

  24. Bonnie Swanson says:

    Hello, Jess!

    I am very interested in reading your manuscript! It sounds fabulous. Can you please send it to me in a word doc to querybonnies@gmail.com?



  25. Peter Knapp says:

    This sounds great! I would love to read more. Can you please send the full manuscript attached as a Word document to queries@parkfine.com with “Pete Knapp – Pitch Wars – MG” in the subject of your email? Please include the query letter at the start of your Word document, and if available please also send a short synopsis (but no worries if not readily available). Thanks! I look forward to reading.

    Pete Knapp / Park & Fine Literary and Media

  26. Jen Nadol says:

    Hi Jess,
    I’d love to take a look! Please forward a query & the opening 50 pages to jen.nadol@theunteragency.com.

  27. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    Love love love the rep and themes in this. I would love to see the full manuscript. If you find us a match, please send query, synopsis, and pages to QueryManager.com/KaitlynJohnson/Contests

    Kaitlyn Johnson
    Belcastro Literary Agency

  28. Laurel Symonds says:

    Hello! I’d like to see more of this! If you’re interested, please send me your query + first 25 pages with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line to symondsqueries@thebentagency.com. (If more than one agent from The Bent Agency requests materials, feel free to send to all of us–just let us know. Thank you!) Looking forward to reading more!

  29. Michaela Whatnall says:

    This sounds like the sort of book that would have very meaningful for me to find when I was young! I would love the opportunity to consider this project. Please send a query and the first 50 pages as a Word document to me via Query Manager at this link: QueryManager.com/michaelawhatnall/PitchWars2021 If you have any trouble using the link, you’re welcome to email me instead at mwhatnall@dystel.com.

    If you’ve received a request from more than one Dystel, Goderich & Bourret agent, please only submit to the agent here that you feel would be the best fit, and let that agent know about any other requests you received from our agency. Thank you!

  30. Lydia Silver says:

    Hi Jess,

    I love your voice in this opening – I already feel so much for Ollie and their poor squishy inner self. I’d love to read more. If you’d like me to consider your work, please could you send your full manuscript, along with a cover letter and your synopsis (sorry!) to my email? It’s lydia@darleyanderson.com.

    Thank you – and good luck!


  31. Ameerah Holliday says:

    Hi, I’d love to see more! Please feel free to send your query and first 50 pages to Ameerah@serendipitylit.com

  32. Becca Langton says:

    Hi Jess
    Your voice is so compelling, I’d love to read more! Please do query me through my email, becca@darleyanderson.com and include #Pitch Wars in the subject line. Darley Anderson is a well established global agency and I am so pleased to be building a US focussed list in a team that includes a Film and TV agent and a well experienced international rights team.
    Looking forward to hearing from you!

  33. Kari Sutherland says:

    This sounds so compelling–I’d love to see what Ollie’s project on womanhood turns up–and your voice is so engaging. If you think we’d be a good match, please send the full to me using the submission form: QueryManager.com/Kari_Sutherland_Query_Form/PitchWars.

    Warm wishes,

  34. Alyssa Eisner Henkin says:

    Full manuscript request to submissions@birchpathliterary.cm

    Love the pitch!


    Alyssa Henkin

  35. Chelsea Eberly says:

    I love this pitch and your opening! I would be thrilled to read your full manuscript. If you think we’d be a good fit, please use the following link to submit the full Word doc:


    If another Greenhouse Literary agent also requests your work, feel free to send to whomever you feel is the right fit.

    I hope to read more!

    All best,
    Chelsea Eberly

  36. Dear Jess,

    I’ve reviewed your pitch for GROWING IN BETWEEN and am intrigued by your excerpt. Please send your full manuscript in Word or PDF format to me at victoria@hgliterary.com and copy my reader at gabry@hgliterary.com. We look forward to reading your work.

    Thank you,
    Victoria Wells Arms

  37. Christa Heschke says:

    Hi Jess!

    This sounds absolutely phenomenal–my assistant Daniele and I would love to read it! We’re also great admirers of your mentors. 🙂

    Please send your query, synopsis, and full manuscript via Query Manager at this link: QueryManager.com/christa_heschke/PitchWars2122

    Thank you!
    -Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

  38. Kelly Peterson says:

    Hi Jess!

    You are brilliant, and your voice and writing style are flawless. I love everything about this. I’d love to read your full manuscript, if you wouldn’t mind sending it to me. This link will lead you to my Query Manager, where you can upload your query, synopsis, and full manuscript: QueryManager.com/KellyPeterson/PitchWars

    Wishing you the best of luck, and hoping to see your manuscript! =)

    Warm Regards,
    Kelly Peterson
    Rees Literary Agency