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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.
Zoe Zander
Mentored by:
Jessica Lewis
Book Title:
Young Adult
Word Count:


THE RIVER HAS TEETH x Sapphic Midwestern Gothic

Arden will brave anything to find her best friend, Octavia, who vanished weeks ago. When local police give up the search, Arden steals her dad's car to look for Octavia herself. But the Midwestern highways hide dangerous secrets, and soon Arden learns that Octavia is being hunted by a cult—and something much more sinister. And finding Octavia may mean putting herself directly in its crosshairs.



People came to Bonesaw, Minnesota to disappear. A blink-and-you-miss-it town with two seasons: a bitter, harsh winter, followed swiftly by a summer so hot and humid, every breath was wet and stifling. They followed each other like clockwork. A predictable dance that never left its residents with enough time to prepare.

The people were even worse than the weather. Worn down by time, the only ones who came to live in Bonesaw were folks stupid enough not to realize they’d be stuck forever. Dad always said that once Bonesaw got its claws in you, it never let go.

It wasn’t often that people disappeared from Bonesaw. So when Octavia vanished, she took a piece of Arden’s sanity with her.

There were three gas stations, two high schools, and five restaurants. And Arden Fischel had the luck of working at the cheapest one. Cheap meant Sundays were too busy. Too crowded. Too much loud, grating chatter and not enough tips.

Arden jolted from her spot at the Hostess podium at the sound of laughter. Bright, shining laughter. The kind that, even if nothing was really funny, you couldn’t help but laugh too. In her desperation to find the source, she turned too fast like she was a little girl again, chasing after a dragonfly down by the harbor.

But Octavia was no dragonfly.

25 responses to “PW2021 YA #31: THESE VICIOUS ROADS (Horror)”

  1. Sarah N. Fisk says:

    You had me sold at “Sapphic Midwestern Gothic!” 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Jim McCarthy says:

    I’d be happy to take a look! You can send the manuscript to me at jmccarthy@dystel.com. If more than one DGB agent requests, please feel free to choose whoever feels like the best fit! Just let us know who else requested, and we’ll work it out in house!

  4. 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.

  5. Rebecca Podos says:

    This is giving me Alice Isn’t Dead vibes, and I love it. I’d be thrilled to see the full manuscript through the Pitch Wars event link on my QueryManager: QueryManager.com/BeccaPodos/PitchWars

    Best, Becca

  6. Jennifer March Soloway says:

    A place called Bonesaw where people come to disappear, a crappy job at a cheap restaurant, a missing girl… I’m hooked! Plus, as someone who waited tables for several years, serving customers who rarely tipped, I can relate oh so well to Arden, and I’d love to read more. If you think I could be a good fit, please query me and share the full manuscript: QueryManager.com/JenniferMarchSoloway/PitchWars2022

    I love a good story and hope to have the chance to read yours!

  7. Lauren Spieller says:

    Congratulations on completing Pitch Wars! I’d love to read more. 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

  8. Haley Casey says:

    Hi, Zoe. I LOVE the description you wove into these paragraphs, and as a Kansan, I especially love the sound of a “Midwestern Gothic.” If you’re willing, I would love to see the full manuscript, synopsis, and an author bio sent to haley@cmalit.com! As a note, if another agent from Creative Media Agency requests your work, please only send materials to the person you feel is the best fit. (I hope it’s me, but I hope even more sincerely that you choose the agent who you think will best represent you and your writing.) Thanks! —Haley

  9. Jordy Albert says:

    I would love to read more! Please follow submission guidelines here https://QueryManager.com/JordyAlbert

  10. Cortney Radocaj says:

    Hi Zoe!

    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

  11. 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.)

  12. Claire Friedman says:

    Hi Zoe! This sounds so awesome — I’d be happy to consider! If you think we’d be a good fit, please send the full ms to claire@inkwellmanagement.com

  13. Penelope Burns says:

    I’d love to see 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,

  14. Bridget Smith says:

    This sounds great, and I’d love to take a look! Please send me your query and first 50 pages at QueryManager.com/BridgetSmith/PitchWars2022. Can’t wait to read!

  15. Dorian Maffei says:

    This is very up my alley! I’d be thrilled to read more! If you feel we’d be a good match, please send along the first 50 pages and fill out my submission form with the following link: QueryManager.com/dorianmaffei/Request

  16. 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

  17. 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.

  18. Jessica Spitz says:

    I love this excerpt and would be thrilled to read more. Please send your query and the full manuscript to jjspitz@wmeagency.com, and include “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. If multiple people from my agency (WME) request, please only send to one of us. Thank you!

  19. Kari Sutherland says:

    I love the way you describe Bonesaw and I’m definitely in the mood for some creepy YA horror. 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,

  20. Laura Bradford says:

    Hunted by a cult? I’m in! Please send me the full manuscript and synopsis (as attachments) at laura@bradfordlit.com and put Pitch Wars in your subject line.

    Thank you!
    Laura Bradford

    ***If you receive a request from more than one agent at Bradford Literary Agency, you are welcome to send to all agents who made the request, but just let us know when you send the material***

  21. Paige Wheeler says:

    Thanks for sharing your work at Pitch Wars. I’d love to read more! Please send the first 100 pages and synopsis to me at paige@cmalit.com. Please use “Requested Material from Pitch Wars” in your subject heading. Thanks so much.

  22. Becca Langton says:

    Hi Zoe

    Your pitch is really intriguing, 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!

  23. Christa Heschke says:

    Hi Zoe!

    This sounds absolutely incredible (and chilling!)–my assistant Daniele and I would love to read it! I’m a diehard horror fan, and your writing is gorgeous. 🙂

    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

  24. Diana Fox says:

    I would love to read this! If you choose to submit to me, please send the full manuscript as a Word or .rtf attachment and put “Pitch Wars Request” in the subject line of your email, so that I can keep an eye out for it and confirm receipt right away. Thanks!

  25. Dana Murphy says:

    I have actual chills from this sample! I would love 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