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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 YA #29: THE SANDS BELOW (Arabian LGBTQ Fantasy)
Basil Al-Rabee
Mentored by:
Emily Grey and Rosiee Thor
Book Title:
Young Adult
Arabian LGBTQ Fantasy
Word Count:
Manuscript Content Warning(s):
Blood, homophobia, parental abuse, death (off-page).


WE HUNT THE FLAME meets IN DEEPER WATERS. When baker Kareem is falsely accused of murder, he’s sent to a magical healer as a test subject for pampered apprentice, Yasir. As the reluctant allies grow closer, they discover a nefarious plot hatched by Yasir’s mentor, and the boys must work together to prove Kareem’s innocence and save the deserts they call home.



Kareem’s hand is pressed against the naked tabun oven again, Baba’s favorite punishment. The scorching pain doesn’t bother him; he’s experienced enough to know how to suppress it. But the smell, flour mixed with charred flesh, sends this morning’s kibbeh rolling in his stomach. 

The bread needs an extra minute. They can’t serve underbaked khubz tannour to a wazir—not without repercussions.

“As soon as they are done proper, bring them inside,” Baba says, releasing Kareem. He looms as Kareem jerks his wrist, dunking it in cool water to numb the pain. “I must attend to Wazir Faisal. Keep your eyes on the bread, and don’t burn them.” 

“Understood, Baba.”

In the unrelenting heat, Kareem counts every second as the bread changes from a pale white to camel brown, no darker. The last thing he needs is explaining to the wazir of Khazab why his bread is late. Indeed, the last thing he needs is explaining anything to him at all.

Wazir Faisal made such a lavish appearance in their little village of Safeh, bringing hundreds of camels and fabrics to flaunt his dinars. If it were up to Kareem, he’d refuse to associate with such a man. Ah, but that would mean embarrassing Baba, something Kareem avoids at all costs.

The scent of his seared hand—nauseatingly sweet, like the dough he nearly ruined—is a reminder of what happens when he doesn’t.

12 responses to “PW2021 YA #29: THE SANDS BELOW (Arabian LGBTQ Fantasy)”

  1. Ernie Chiara says:

    Hi Basil,

    This sounds great! If you’d like to query me at QueryManager.com/ErnieChiara and include your first 20 pages with Pitch Wars in the referral box, I would love to check it out!

    Thanks so much, and best of luck!

    Ernie Chiara,
    Fuse Literary

  2. Masha Gunic says:

    I would love to see this! Please send me your query and full manuscript to masha@azantianlitagency.com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. If any other agents from ALA request this as well, please send to one of us at a time at your choice.

  3. Hi, Basil. This is fantastic! I need to see more!!! 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.

  4. Rebecca Podos says:

    Oooooh this sounds amazing! I’d love to see the full manuscript through the Pitch Wars event link on my QueryManager: QueryManager.com/BeccaPodos/PitchWars

    Best, Becca

  5. Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Basil,

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! This project sounds incredible, and your writing is stunning. I’d love to read more! If you could please send your query and the full manuscript using my Query Manager link: QueryManager.com/EricaBauman/PitchWars

    And if more than one ACM agent requests, feel free to send to both—just let me know who else is reading, so I can coordinate on my end.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    All my best,

  6. Beth Phelan says:

    Ooh, 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 (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.

  7. Eva Scalzo says:

    Hi Basil,

    This sounds intriguing and I am totally swayed by the IN DEEPER WATERS comp, LOL. 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!

  8. Michaela Whatnall says:

    Oh, this world sounds amazing, and I love the sound of the complicated dynamic between Kareem and Yasir! 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!

  9. D. Ann Williams says:

    Hi Basil,
    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! Your excerpt is intriguing, and I would love to read more. Please feel free to send me your query, full manuscript, and synopsis (if you have one) to QueryManager.com/DAnnWilliams/PitchWars2022

    Please let us know if you get multiple requests from ECLA agents, and we will coordinate internally if one (or more!) of us falls in love with your manuscript.

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

  10. Tamara Kawar says:

    Dear Basil,

    I’d love to read THE SANDS BELOW! If you’re interested in sending, could you please email the full manuscript to tamara.kawar@icmpartners.com, and make sure to include “PW2021” in your subject line?

    Thank you!



  11. 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 – YA” 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

  12. Jamie Vankirk says:

    This sounds great, and I’d love to see more! If you’d like, please send the query and first 50 pages as a word doc to submissions@rnliterary.com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject.