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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 #01: I AM NAYELI (Contemporary #Latinx)
Ellen Armendáriz Stumbo
Mentored by:
Shakirah Bourne
Book Title:
Middle Grade
Contemporary #Latinx
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
microaggressions/racism, use of a slur



If 12-year-old Nayeli were a superhero, her powers would be ballet dancing and keeping her divorced parents apart. Dance was her only safe space–until a chance to audition for a professional ballet company threatens to bring her Mom and Dad together. She wants them to accept both her Mexican and American identities, but after a family reunion gone wrong, owning her true self could mean losing one of her parents forever.



I have more in common with superheroes than anyone realizes.

When I was three years old, my parents got divorced. The judge suggested I be split in two, so each of my parents could get half of me.

They both agreed.

My birth certificate shows my name is Nayeli Grace Miller-Martinez. But that’s not who I am any longer.

With Mamá, I am Naye.

With Dad, I am Ellie.

Even my name has been split in two.

I have two cultures, two families, two houses, two rooms.

In one house I am your average American almost-teenager, living with my Dad, stepmom, and little brother. In the other house I am Mexican living with my mamá and my abuelos, who speak Spanish to me, and I try my best to speak Spanish back.

I’m like Clark Kent and Superman, or Peter Parker and Spiderman. They have two separate identities; they are split.

The first rule about having separate identities is you don’t reveal your other identity. I’ve learned from watching superhero movies that sometimes, it’s the only way to survive, and who am I to question superheroes?

But when I’m dancing? That’s when I’m just me. I am Nayeli. It doesn’t matter what language I speak, the color of my hair, or eyes, or skin, or which parent I’m staying with.

Dancing is my life.

34 responses to “PW2021 MG #01: I AM NAYELI (Contemporary #Latinx)”

  1. D. Ann Williams says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! It’s a huge accomplishment and you should be proud.
    I adore the pitch and think you’ve really captured Nayeli’s feelings. I’d love to take a look at the full manuscript.

    Please fill 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! 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

  2. Sarah N. Fisk says:

    Wow. I’m blown away by this opening. 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. Melanie Figueroa says:

    Hi Ellen,

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


  4. Andrea Morrison says:

    Dear Ellen,
    I hope this finds you well! I really loved your sample pages – I AM NAYELI sounds absolutely wonderful. I would so love the opportunity to read your full manuscript, if you’re interested in sharing it with me. I am at andreasubmissions[@]writershouse.com. (We ask that you only submit to one Writers House agent at a time.) I really hope to see your manuscript! Either way, it was a pleasure to read your pitch and wishing you all the best with this process. Congrats!
    Very best,
    Andrea Morrison

  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 Ellen,
    I AM NAYELI 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:

    This looks wonderful! I’d 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 sounds absolutely amazing! As a very amateur dancer, I am always searching for stories that share the beauty of dance not only as an art form, but also as a way to escape and feel beautiful. I would love to read the full manuscript of I AM NAYELI. 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!

  9. Beth Phelan says:

    Adore this opening and would love to 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, 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.

  10. Mollie Glick says:

    Hi Ellen,
    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,

  11. Lauren Spieller says:

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars, Ellen! I’d love to see this again. Please send your query + full manuscript + synopsis to Lauren@triadaus.com, and put “PW Request” in the subject line. I look forward to hearing from you! ~Lauren Spieller

  12. Katie Grimm says:

    Dear Ellen,

    The opening pulled me right in, and I would love to see more of I AM NAYELI! If you think we’re a match, please send your query and full ms (as a Word doc) to dca@doncongdon.com with “PITCH WARS REQUEST” in the subject line. Thanks!

    Katie Grimm
    Don Congdon Associates

  13. Jennifer Herrington says:

    Hi Ellen,

    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

  14. Allison Hellegers says:

    I think a lot of kids can relate to these feelings, and your voice is very strong here. Books about dance can be hard in the market, but I always want to read them. I’d love to take a look! You can e-mail a query, a full synopsis, and the first 50 pages to alli@sls-submissions.com

  15. Eva Scalzo says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I love the themes of identity you are exploring here. I’d love to see the full manuscript, if you are interested in sending it my way. You can submit the full here: QueryManager.com/evascalzo/PitchWars2022

    And if you want to know more about me, here’s a link to my website: http://www.evascalzo.com and my twitter handle is @evascalzo.

    Best of luck to you!

  16. Tamar Rydzinski says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I love your opening! And really want to read more. Please send your manuscript to querytamar@contextlit.com, making sure to write Pitch Wars Request in the subject line.



  17. Kristin Nelson says:

    Ellen, I would love to read more about Nayeli! Please copy/paste your pitch or query letter as the first page of your manuscript, and then click on this link to submit:


    If you encounter any issues, please email query@nelsonagency.com and we will assist you. Thank you!

  18. Tara Gonzalez says:

    Hi Sarah – yay, congrats on completing Pitch Wars! I’d love for you to send the full manuscript of I AM NAYELI my way, if you’re interested in submitting to me again. Please feel free to email me at tara@emliterary.com and mention Pitch Wars.

    Thanks so much! Tara Gonzalez (Agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency)

  19. john rudolph says:

    Hi Shakirah, I would LOVE to read your work. Feel free to email the complete MS to me at jrudolph@dystel.com. And if another one of my Dystel colleagues requested the MS as well, then please just approach the person you feel might be the best fit and let me know. Thanks so much, Shakirah, and I look forward to getting to know Nayeli.

    All best,

  20. Intriguing! I would be happy to read more. Please send the first approx. 10 pp to me, c & p in body of email: greatriverliterary@gmail.com
    Thanks much.
    Mary Cummings (formerly with Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises)
    Great River Literary greatriverliterary.com

  21. Rebecca Eskildsen says:

    Hi Ellen,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! I’m very interested in MG featuring kids navigating life with divorced parents, and I love your voice. I hope you’ll send me your project! If you choose to do so, please send your query letter and the first 75 pages as a PDF to reskildsen@writershouse.com. Please include “Pitch Wars + your title” in the subject line. Please note that Writers House only allows writers to query one agent at a time.

    I look forward to reading further!

    Rebecca Eskildsen

  22. Dawn Dowdle says:


    I would like to read more. This sounds like a fun manuscript. Please go to http://www.blueridgeagency.com, click on Submissions, and then click on my name. This will provide a button to take you to Query Manager. Please complete the form and upload your first three chapters. Please mention Pitchwars for who referred you. I look forward to reading your chapters. Thank you!

    Dawn Dowdle
    Blue Ridge Literary Agency

  23. Hi Ellen,
    I love the sound of this. If you’re interested in working with me please send me 50 pages and a synopsis to Isabelle@Nordlysetliterary.com. Isabelle

  24. Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    This sounds fabulous. 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

  25. Carrie Hannigan says:

    Dear Ellen,

    I would love to read I AM NAYELI! Please send the full manuscript as a Word attachment to: carrie@hgliterary.com.

    I am looking forward to reading it.

    Best wishes,
    Carrie Hannigan
    HG Literary

  26. Michaela Whatnall says:

    Oh, this sounds so heartfelt–I love the sense of voice and personality we see from Nayeli in this opening section! 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!

  27. Analieze Cervantes says:

    Hi Ellen!

    I’m digging your pitch/excerpt and would love to request the query, synopsis, and the first 3 chapters of your manuscript!

    Submit here: QueryManager.com/AnaliezeCervantes/PitchWars

    Can’t wait to see this in my box soon! Have a great day!

    Analieze Cervantes

    Literary Agent
    Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

  28. Rena Rossner says:

    Hi there!

    I’d love to read the first 50 pages of this. Please send them attached as a word document along with your query pasted into the email to: rena@dhliterary.com


    Rena Rossner
    The Deborah Harris Agency

  29. Becca Langton says:

    Hi Ellen,
    Your story sounds lovely, I’d be really pleased 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!

  30. Kari Sutherland says:

    Nayeli’s voice is so wonderful! I’d love to read more. 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,

  31. Alyssa Eisner Henkin says:

    Please send full manuscript to submissions@birchpathliterary.com

    Thank you.

    Alyssa Henkin

  32. Kelly Peterson says:

    Hi Ellen!

    I love this concept and your voice! As a ballerina/dancer and Marvel fan myself (currently re-watching Shang Chi!), I absolutely adore the escapism and reality dichotomy as well! 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

  33. Christa Heschke says:

    Hi Ellen!

    This sounds beyond incredible–my assistant Daniele and I would love to read it! Your premise and writing both blew us away.

    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

  34. Kristin Ostby says:

    I’d love to see this! Please query me at https://querymanager.com/query/kristinostby! If my colleague Chelsea Eberly has also requested it, please choose one of the two of us—whomever you think would be the best fit. Thank you so much!