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PitchWars Possible Entries

August 1, 2014

I could use some help deciding which pitch to enter in the upcoming PitchWars. Which one would appeal most to the mentors/agents? I would also love any feedback on either pitch. Thank you!


The Summer That Saved Me (YA Historical)

Seventeen-year-old Cass Walker has two loves: her abusive boyfriend and Janis Joplin. After a fight that leaves her black and blue, she jumps at the chance to spend the summer of ’73 at her grandmother’s lakeside cabin. A summer of music and healing is exactly what she needs to distance herself from her boyfriend and help her scars fade.

As she’s unpacking, she finds a picture of her dad shoved in the back of a drawer. The dad that abandoned her. The dad that might know what pushed her mom into a life of drug dependence. The dad that might have a connection to Janis Joplin.

Just when she decides to spend the summer alone, she meets Brent, an All American tennis star from ritzy Westgate. He’s the absolute opposite of everything she’s attracted to. No to mention, he likes the Beach Boys. But their chemistry is undeniable. When a steamy skinny dip in the lake under the influence of LSD sends their attraction into orbit, she freaks out and pushes him away. He may not mistreat her, like every other guy in her life, but she’s no one’s ghetto project.

But Brent refuses to give up on her. And when he offers to help find her dad, she has to decide whether to let him help her. Meeting her dad could get her the answers she needs to ensure she doesn’t make the same mistakes her mom made. Even if it means letting in the one person she’s been trying all summer to push away.

The Summer That Saved me is complete at 66,000 words. It’s an edgy historical young adult novel set in 1973 that would appeal to readers of Sara Zarr and Laurie Halse Anderson.


Bee Stadium (MG Contemporary)

For twelve year old Jake Evans, life without baseball is out of the question. This season, his team has a legitimate shot at going all the way to Williamsport. And at the first practice, Jake finds out he’s a top contender for the traveling team playing in a tournament in Japan at the end of the summer. But when he finds out he might be benched for the season because he’s failing Language Arts, he panics. He’ll do anything do play.

Lucky for Jake, his teacher offers him an extra credit assignment to help him bring up his grade. Lucky, that is, until Jake finds out what it is. Advance to the school spelling bee. The problem is, Jake can’t spell. He’s struggled with school his whole life. In last year’s classroom spelling bee, he couldn’t even spell tulip right. A mistake his arch-enemy, and school bully, Kyle Filbert still teases him about. Well, that and the fact that Jake’s adopted and doesn’t look anything like his blond haired, blue eyed parents.

As Jake struggles to learn to spell words he can’t even pronounce, he realizes he may not touch the mound this season, much less travel to Williamsport or Japan. So, Jake enlists the help of his best friend, and sixth grade know-it-all, Brit to help him study. Because if he doesn’t hunker down and learn to spell, he’ll never escape Kyle’s bullying, he may not move to the next grade, and he could lose his one and only shot at little league stardom.

BEE STADIUM is a contemporary middle grade novel complete at 44,000 words.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 1, 2014 11:35 pm

    I vote for query one. I think a story that takes place in the 70s would have broad appeal.
    That first sentence draws me in as much as it pushes me away, because I have a hard time believing she truly loves her abusive boyfriend. How about, instead: 17yo Cass has two addictions: her abusive boyfriend & Janis Joplin.

    You can cut “that” in the second sentence and I’d name the boyfriend in the first sentence: her abusive boyfriend, XX, so you can use his name in sentence two: After a fight with XX (otherwise it’s not entirely clear who she fought with). I think you could actually cut sentence three (and might want to, since your query is a little long). I don’t see how a summer in a cabin equates with music; healing, yes. If you want to incorporate the healing, you could add to sentence two: the summer of ’73 licking her wounds at… which would imply healing.

    In paragraph two, I don’t understand the part about her father having a connection with JJ. You don’t bring JJ back in the query, and if you suggest something like this, it raises questions.

    I like paragraph three, but I don’t get the ghetto reference.

    Consider cutting the Brent not giving up on her sentence and jump into the next: When Brent offers to help her find her dad, she has a choice. Meeting her father (to reduce the dad repeat) could get her…etc.

    The last sentence falls flat for me. It seems like non-stakes, because we can tell she wants answers, and we figure she’ll let Brent help her find them. What does she stand to lose if she lets Brent help her? What if she doesn’t let him? Will she wind up like her mom (I assume an addict?)? Maybe a sentence about not letting him help could make her repeat history and wind up like her mom (only written better)?

    Also, consider spicing this up with 70s words and terms, i.e., she meets Brent, a groovy all American etc., and instead of: Their chemistry is undeniable, you could say: They really get down, or They really dig each other. Use as many 70s terms as you can, and you’ll give this a feel for the era, not just a story that takes place during that time.

    All the best with Pitchwars!

  2. August 6, 2014 8:14 pm

    Sorry I’m late responding to this. These queries are both polished and the stories are unique and interesting. Of the two, I would probably choose the first. It has an appealing emotional weight.

    One other thing you might take into consideration–have any of the agents announced for Pitch Wars seen either of these projects, whether through queries or in previous contests? If one is “fresher” than the other, it might give you an advantage.

    Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.

    • August 6, 2014 9:45 pm

      Thank you Abbe! I think I’m going with that one. A few agents have seen the MG already.

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