Pitch Madness 2017 Candy Land Edition…Game ON!!!!

Peanut Brittle

Welcome to Team Peanut Brittle House ! It’s been a long week of reading through all the amazing pitches. Our wonderful readers have narrowed the slush, and your team hosts have chosen seventy pitches for the agent round. To meet the slush readers and hosts go to this post here. And you can find out more about the participating agents on this post here.

For those of you not familiar with Pitch Madness, it’s a contest where agents compete in a game against their peers for pitches and you can find the rules and instructions of the game here.

I’m co-hosting with the amazing Darcy Woods! Check out her site and follow her, you’ll be happy you did.

Darcy Woods

Darcy Woods

Website | Twitter

Counts laughter as exercise. Lives to swoon. Award-winning YA author of SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS (Random House/Crown). Repped by .


Scroll down to view all 10 picks for my blog or click on the links to each post …

Middle Grade

P1: Middle Grade Contemporary: SIXTH GRADE SECRET SERVICE

P2: Middle Grade Science Fiction: INTERGALACTIC BACKPACK

Young Adult

P3: Young Adult Fantasy LGBT #ownvoices: FOUR MEETS FORTUNE

P4: Young Adult Contemporary LGBT #ownvoices: THINGS WE WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW

P5: Young Adult Fantasy: NIGHTBRINGER

P6: Young Adult Contemporary: YOUR HOUSE, MY RULES

P7: Young Adult Contemporary #ownvoices: FOR WHATEVER WE LOSE

New Adult/Adult

P8: Adult Contemporary Romance: MOONLIGHT & WHISKEY

P9: Adult Mystery: DERAILED

Comments are set to moderation so the agents won’t see the other agents’ requests. Please no comments other than those from the agents. After the agent round, we’ll release the moderation and let you all comment on the entries.

We’ll reveal the agent requests on March 17 starting at 4:30 Eastern time. All the twitter fun will happen on the hashtag #PitchMadness, where we’ll tweet the results of the agent round.

Join us for the Twitter Pitch Party on March 23 from 8AM to 8PM Eastern time on the hashtag #PitMad. It’s open to everyone!

How do you twitter pitch? You can find all the details here.

A huge HUGE thank you to my team and to the wonderful agents!

Go to all the hosts’ blogs to read more winning pitches …

Team Ice Cream Sea – http://www.brenda-drake.com/
Team Peanut Brittle House – https://pintipdunn.wordpress.com/
Team Licorice Castle – http://sharonmjohnston.com/
Team Peppermint Forest – http://wadealbertwhite.ca/blog/
Team Candy Castle – http://samanthajoyce.com/



P1: Middle Grade Contemporary: SIXTH GRADE SECRET SERVICE

Peanut Brittle

Title: Sixth Grade Secret Service

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 62,000

Pitch: The grandson of the most inept agents of the secret service must find the missing sixth grade president (his unrequited crush), before the school bully turns their democracy into a dictatorship.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

My name is Abraham Truman and my problem started over a hundred fifty years ago. During a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre, my great, great, great…great…great…whatever, grandfather, Secret Service Agent Jessup Truman, left Abraham Lincoln’s balcony to go to the concession stand…

The rest, as my dad usually said, is in the history books.

Suffice to say, my parents don’t talk about Grandpa Jessup much.

Ninety-eight years later in Dealy Plaza, Texas, my triply great grandfather, Agent Clyde Truman, tripped over his shoelaces and stepped away from Kennedy’s motorcade. He was just about to pull Mr. Bunny Ears out of the hole when—again, history…

Clyde is another un-relatable relative to my folks.

After him, the secret service stopped trusting my ancestors with anything more challenging than changing the First Baby’s diapers. Until my dad.

He rewrote Truman family history when he rescued the president’s wife from the clutches of a rogue nation. Then my over-achieving, older brother just had to go and thwart that communist takeover of the White House…

Me—I can’t even get across the cafeteria without spilling my food tray. Which means, if Grandpas Jessup and Clyde are any indication, I’m one trip, rip, or wedgie away from my parents not even claiming me on their taxes.

But, like my best friend, Tibby Roosevelt, always said, “It’s not like there’s much chance to prove yourself in the sixth grade.”

That went double for me, until Tibby decided to run for class president.

P2: Middle Grade Science Fiction: INTERGALACTIC BACKPACK

Peanut Brittle

Title: Intergalactic Backpack

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Science Fiction

Word Count: 45,000

Pitch: Epson’s never liked tests. Or stress. Or people, really. When an evil alien shows up in his backpack, Epson must face his fears and pass three deadly challenges to prove that humankind deserves to exist.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

“You stink.”

It was my first day of middle school, and my backpack wouldn’t stop insulting me.

Okay. I know. A talking backpack?

But, yeah. A talking backpack.

It was on the floor beneath my desk, face down. I wished it would shut up.

“Maybe odor and intellect are related in humans. Your tiny brain has to use more energy to conjure even the weakest thought, thus expelling copious amounts of burn-off in the form of sweat and pungent gases.”

I wanted to ignore him. That should’ve been easy since I didn’t understand half the words he said. His smug voice was so annoying, though, like a mosquito buzzing in my ear.

I shifted in my plastic chair and tried to listen to my teacher. There was nothing about Mr. Mattock or his classroom that was like elementary school. No warm-and-fuzzy stuff on the walls, no student artwork tacked up. Just four straight rows of desks, twelve deep. It smelled like a hospital and felt like a prison.

Mr. Mattock had already told us in his booming voice that he wasn’t one for “tomfoolery” or “monkey-business.” Yep. This guy didn’t have one chill bone in his whole body.

“The fumes are centralized in your armpits,” my backpack continued. “You slopped on gallons of that antiperspirant and it’s not working at all. Fun fact: You smell so bad because you’re issuing an apocrine sweat, easily categorized due to its location and foul odor.”

“That is a fun fact,” I muttered. What a jerk.



P3: Young Adult Fantasy LGBT #ownvoices: FOUR MEETS FORTUNE

Peanut Brittle

Title: Four Meets Fortune

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy LGBT #ownvoices

Word Count: 109,000

Pitch: OCEAN’S ELEVEN meets all-girl crew when Zoya ransoms a princess to exact vengeance on her parents’ killer. But if she doesn’t find the traitor in her gang, she’ll be the one to pay–with her life.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

This morning would probably end with the Royal Accountant dead somewhere.

That was how things usually turned out.

Kaia’s gut churned with adrenaline as she waited for her mark to fall into the trap.

The streets of Barvikha smelled like the underbelly of a fairytale – curdled milk in a crystal goblet, rotten candy apples sitting on a witch’s palm, wicked monsters lurking in the shadows.

And the girl with a heart-shaped eyepatch turning the corner of Andorra’s Church was just another one of those monsters bred in this city.

Zoya Mendeval, her partner. Kaia caught her eye and flicked her hand twice. The accountant is two steps behind you. Backtrack.

Zoya pivoted – and ran right into the woman they were about to fleece.

Miss Rhysa Llewelyn tipped forward, her feathered hat sliding off her curly swath of brown hair. “Watch where you’re going, crip!”

Zoya, the she-devil in question, raised her brows but didn’t drop the façade. “I’m sorry,” she babbled, brushing her fingers over Rhysa’s shoulder to distract from the other hand that picked a gilded key from her coat pocket. “I’m just so clumsy, you know? It makes for bad luck on the streets.”

Kaia leaned against the dank stone wall, grinning.

Zoya pulled at her eyepatch band, drawing Rhysa’s attention to the heart shape; her other eye glinted like the shiny edge of a whetted blade.

The woman’s face slackened and she rasped, “Oh, but you’re…you’re the Blackhearts’ gang leader. The Queen of Hearts.”

Well, shit.

P4: Young Adult Contemporary LGBT #ownvoices: THINGS WE WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO KNOW

Peanut Brittle

Title: Things We Weren’t Supposed To Know

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary LGBT #ownvoices

Word Count: 64,000

Pitch: To fight their boarding school’s book ban, rich-girl Elspeth and scholarship-girl Robin run an underground library. After the school’s librarian is murdered, the girls must figure out what Holmes Academy is hiding other than novels.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

As of today I’m a co-conspirator. Is First Year Student Representative a position of power? I don’t know, but if it is, I’m using it to further my own nefarious purposes. With my track record, that’s how I imagine my parents would see it. I’m sure the Holmes Academy Board of Trustees would.

My parents started this, and they forced my hand by bringing Holmes into it. If there are two people better equipped to raise a liar than my parents, I’d like to hear about them. They could train spies for the CIA. “Smile and hold the knife behind your back.” That would be our family motto. My mother and father would love that, actually.

A Fairfax never loses. A Fairfax always comes out on top. So really, I am only doing what they taught me to do.

There’s never anyone in the library on a Saturday night. Tonight is no different. Robin is behind the desk and looks to her right when she sees me. I follow her eyes and see another student. What are the odds? The girl’s got her earbuds in and is watching something on her laptop. I can’t imagine a reason why she would come to the library when she could do the same thing in the comfort of her dorm room.

When I get to the counter, Robin bites the side of her thumb but won’t take her eyes off the student behind me.

“Hi,” she says.

“Ready to do this?”


P5: Young Adult Fantasy: NIGHTBRINGER

Peanut Brittle

Title: Nightbringer

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 95,000

Pitch: A government backed by fear and sunlight. A rebellion born from unrest and shadows. Avery, a girl who can create night, must control her ability to protect her people–or watch her stars burn out.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

Night would never come.

It was 1:32AM, but sunlight cloaked the ocean in a white shine. I could find countless reasons to march across the hot sand and go home, but there was one reason to stay–and one reason was enough. I had to see the stars.

So I dove.

Lukewarm water made my nerves crackle. I swam until my lungs threatened to pop, until my vision was black. I kicked and pulled until the sand shelf dropped away. When I could see blue on all sides, I surfaced. A wave gathered, lifted me, and rolled past.

Light refracted in the cerulean water, distorting my legs. I tightened the knot on my bikini top and scanned the shore. Empty still. Good.

I filled my lungs, inverted myself, and swam down until the water’s weight pressed on my ears. Cheeks puffed, I looked around. A big-eyed fish gaped at me and beat its fins back and forth. Assured that I was alone, I squeezed my eyes shut and focused on my chosen memory.

It was of the first time I created night. My sister had been in the room when the blanket of navy spilled from my hands. She’d shouted for me to stop–they might see–but I’d been too enthralled by the blinking stars to hear her.

Stars. I had never seen them before that day. Only the red sun.

I peeked at my upturned palms. Darkness gathered among my fingers, then unraveled and bloomed into the blue.

P6: Young Adult Contemporary: YOUR HOUSE, MY RULES

Peanut Brittle

Title: Your House, My Rules

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 84,000

Pitch: Orphan Alexia spends her life going from one “fresh start” to another. When she meets the too-good-to-be-true Gems, can she stop running from her past long enough to build a future with a forever family?

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

There are a lot of ways to put your world back together after it falls apart. You can sew the frayed seams so it regains its shape. You can flip a switch to restore the gravity. You can even plug each hole and seal every crevice. Do whatever you want – it won’t matter. There’s nothing you’ll be able to do about the scars. They’ll swell past facades and crack masks, a constant pain you can’t kill or escape.

Unless you’re me.

“What do you think she wants?” Jamie asked, pacing the length of our room as I stood by the door.

I shrugged. “Maybe she wants to give me a million dollars and an all-expenses-paid trip around the world.” My friend rolled his eyes like I wasn’t taking this seriously and paced faster. I tried again. “Or, maybe –”

“Maybe she wants to send you away again,” Nate interrupted, arms crossed.

The three of us stared at each other, silent. I glanced between them, past what everyone else saw. Because when I looked at Nate, I didn’t see a broken boy who lived at the bottom of a bottle, and when I looked at Jamie, I didn’t see a walking rap-sheet, either. I saw my two brothers I would literally die for, even though they weren’t really my brothers. Just like this room wasn’t really ours, and this house wasn’t really our home.

“Yeah,” I said softly, “maybe that.”

P7: Young Adult Contemporary #ownvoices: FOR WHATEVER WE LOSE

Peanut Brittle

Title: For Whatever We Lose

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary #ownvoices

Word Count: 65,000


Day one: they leave Miami.

Day three: the ship stalls as a hurricane approaches.

Day five…all hell breaks loose.

Diverse Breakfast Club meets Titanic when high school students’ dream trip turns nightmarish.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

“Did you pack your medicine, mija?”

Alex’s palms itched with sweat, and she rubbed them on her shorts. Did she unplug her flat iron? Did she pack enough underwear? Did she lock her bedroom door? Why hadn’t she heard from Miles yet? Did he get her last eight texts? Maybe he got into an accident. Maybe the trip had even been cancelled.

“Alexandra, I asked you a question,” her abuela trilled through the car’s speakerphone, tongue thick with a Cuban accent.

“Si, Abuelita. The medicine is in my bags.” She probably missed her trip. Now she’d never get the scholarship. She plucked a few white threads from the rip in her fraying shorts and wound them tightly around her fingertip until it plumped and reddened. Wincing at the pain, she yanked the threads tighter.

Her abuela sighed. “Nina, did you check?”

After a few seconds of silence punctuated by static, Alex nudged her sister’s arm.

Nina pulled to a stop at the red light. “No,” she said, smacking her gum and picking up her phone. She updated her Instagram with a quick selfie—all cleavage and duck face. “Pero I made sure she packed tons of condoms.”

Alex shrank into the passenger seat, her ears reddening, and mouthed, “I’m going to murder you.”

“¿Como?” Abuela’s voice curled up at the end.

“Bottoms, Abuelita. You know, for her bikinis?”

P8: Adult Contemporary Romance: MOONLIGHT & WHISKEY

Peanut Brittle

Title: Moonlight & Whiskey

Age Category: Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Word Count: 90,000

Pitch: When plus-sized engineer Avery meets a tattooed commitment-phobe musician, she learns to rock her curves. As their connection intensifies, she must face her deep-rooted fear of rejection or lose the rocker who’s stolen her heart.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

I had a porn habit.

It wasn’t an obsession. It wasn’t a fetish. It didn’t require trips to anonymous meetings where I said, “Hello, my name is Avery and I’m addicted to naked men.” I simply enjoyed watching people have sex. The women in porn, however, never looked like me.

Mainstream porn stars looked more like a silicone Barbie, i.e. half-modeling career failure, half-sex doll/mechanical experiment.

Conversely, I was soft, curvy and…not a size six.

I’d been told that I wore the weight well, that I had a pretty face; all the shit curvy women heard. Men told me that I had a great rack. That if I lost 40 pounds I’d be fuckable––that’s actual verbiage––and even referred to flirting with me as “taking one for the team.”

I was sick of it.

It was high time I threw up the old double-bird salute to all the guys who’d passed me over––or worse, used me––to get closer to my best friend, Kat. I wanted to send out a giant fuck you to all the men who’d stuck me in the friend zone because of the width of my hips. Where were the dudes who claimed to love women with curves, because I sure as hell hadn’t found them?

I’d never be thin; some women weren’t meant to be, but like most, I wanted to feel feminine. Sexy in my skin. Desirable––just as I was.

Which was how I ended up in a tacky-as-hell waiting room.

P9: Adult Mystery: DERAILED

Peanut Brittle


Age Category: Adult

Genre: Mystery

Word Count: 84,000

Pitch: P.I. & single mom Kelly Pruett investigates the death and double-life of an accountant/dominatrix. But with the sole witness murdered, pursuing the killer may cost her custody of her only child—and also her life.

First 250 Word of Manuscript: 

Portland, Oregon has as many parts as the human form. Just like the body, some parts are more attractive than others. My office was in what some considered the armpit—the northeast. The narrow streets were dotted with pickpockets and drug dealers, the concrete striped with the spray paint tags of bubble-lettered gang signatures. Still, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. I’d grown up here in my father’s P.I. business.

I’d just flicked off the light in my back office when a loud rap sounded on the front door. From my desk, I couldn’t see who it was and I made no effort to check. It was six o’clock. I’m no wimp, but I don’t rush to open doors after dark. Besides, my daughter Mitz would be coming later and if I didn’t get to the grocery store beforehand, we’d be eating PB&Js for dinner. Again.

Another knock, more insistent this time.

I drummed my fingers on my dad’s mahogany desk and blew out a breath. It was more likely a vagrant than a client, but not knowing would bug me all night. I also couldn’t afford to lose an opportunity for a paycheck. Despite steady work from a few law firms around town, being a single mom usually meant more month than money.

Clicking on the desk light, I retrieved the canister of pepper spray from my purse. I strode through the reception area. Opened the door.

And gasped.