Pitch Madness 2017 Candyland Edition…Game On!

Image result for candyland candy castle


Welcome to Team Candy Castle! 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 Mary Ann Marlowe! Check out her site and follow her, you’ll be happy you did.

Mary Ann Marlowe

Mary Ann Marlowe

Blog | Twitter

Some Kind of Magic is Mary Ann Marlowe’s first novel. When not writing, she works by day as a computer programmer/DBA. She spent ten years as a university-level French professor, and her resume includes stints as an au pair in Calais, a hotel intern in Paris, a German tutor, a college radio disc jockey, and a webmaster for several online musician fandoms, plus she has a second-degree black belt.

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

Middle Grade

Young Adult

New Adult/Adult

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/




Title: Upstaged

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 47,000


In a diverse, gender-swapped A CHRISTMAS CAROL retelling, an ambitious twelve-year-old actress, Ebi, vows to scare her co-stars into quitting. But a theatre ghost complicates her plans, insisting Ebi experience her past, present, and future.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

Act I, scene 1

Auditions began with dancing, which was both cruel and stupid. Why make a bunch of kids get all sweaty, before they read? For all the directors knew, half these kids couldn’t deliver a line to save their souls. If Ebele Xia Scott ran auditions they would be much more efficient and much less smelly.

Of course, they also wouldn’t be auditioning for A Christmas Carol in August. The humidity was killing her. Ebi tore her eyes away from the horror of her frizzing bun in the giant wall of mirrors and focused on the assistant choreographer.

When Beatrice crooked her finger, Ebi crooked hers; when she tilted her head at an angle, Ebi mimicked the exact tilt; when Beatrice did a little hop before a spin, Ebi hopped a little before spinning.

Beside Ebi, her sister technically followed the steps, but added a subtle hip-shimmy to the standard chasse.

Typical Tilda.

Even more typical, all of the adults sitting behind the casting table seemed drawn to Tilda’s lengthy grace despite her sloppy improvising.

Ebi bit her lip and danced harder, wishing she could be long, and thin, and blonde like her sister. But Ebi, the adopted sister, didn’t have even an ounce of Mom’s bombshell DNA. Just once she wished people would be awed by her beauty.

Not that she wanted to upstage Tilda. They both had to be cast or neither would be allowed to participate, per Mom and Dad’s new rules. Something about family togetherness, blah, blah.


Title: Lucky

Age Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 42,000


Twelve-year-old Ryan’s family crumbled post-lottery win. With Granddad dying, Ryan sets out to find his missing mom. But when his insulin’s stolen, Ryan must decide if he’s willing to risk his life to reach her.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

I’d never waste a magical wish on something like being all-powerful. I wouldn’t ask for super strength, either, or the ability to fly. For all their powers, superheroes never seem happy. If the ability to blow things up with your eyes can’t make you happy, what’s the point? No matter how many people they save, the public always turns on them eventually.

My mom never understood this. She had this thing. She thought posing like a superhero made you do better on tests because pretending you had super strength made your mind powerful, and that made you do great at everything, including algebra. Way back in the fourth grade, when I had to give a three-minute speech on tornados to my class, she showed up, pretending I needed a shot of insulin, and dragged me into the hall to make me puff my chest out like Superman.

Of course, I’d refused.

In the echoing hall she’d whispered, “Ryan! This has been researched. It works. Just do it.”

I wouldn’t look at her.

Through gritted teeth she whispered her favorite slogan, “Fake it till you make it!”

I crossed my arms, and I couldn’t help but think I’d seen Superman stand the same way. Of course, my mom didn’t notice any of this.

Finally, she had said, “You can use the bathroom. I’ll time you from the hall.”

Alone in the boy’s room, I made stupid faces in the mirror. Then, since my mom wasn’t around, I sort of squared my chin and looked up at the sky out of the corner of my eye like Superman does.


Title: Curse of Silver Lake

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Word Count: 68,000


Gender-bent Swan Lake meets small town high school when untrained teenage witch, Maggie, becomes Ethan’s only chance at freedom from his jealous brother’s curse. If she fails, the popular quarterback will remain a swan forever.

First 250 words of manuscript:

Maggie slumped down in the seat of the truck and pushed her knees up against the dashboard, letting the semi-cool air of the vent blow through the holes in her torn jeans. The Texas highway was womb-dark, and almost deserted. There were no other cars in sight. Far in the distance, the prick of lights from some other town, in some other place glittered in the black night.

She focused on that spot in the distance, her mind strangely blank. Her cell phone lay face-up in her lap, the last message from her mother still displayed on the screen.

It was only eighteen words long. Just enough to crush her heart.

Mom: Your father is being released from the hospital now. Stop calling. He doesn’t want to talk to you.

The lock screen photo of her friends Cory and Eli outside the All Graces No Fire concert shimmered and went blurry through the tears in Maggie’s eyes.

“Are you going to keep looking at that thing, or do you want to talk about what happened?” Her grandma asked, startling Maggie out of her thoughts. Elena kept her eyes on the road, guiding the huge pick-up further and further away from the lights of Dallas, toward the small town of Silver Lake. It was almost five in the morning. Maggie had been up all night. She should have been exhausted, not just empty.

“My Dad’s being released from the hospital.” She let the phone screen go dark.


Title: Gravity Road

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: LGBTQ+ Contemporary Romance 

Word Count: 98,000


Closeted sixteen-year-old Monty plays it cool after “straight” boy-next-door Jake comes home with a college boyfriend. Monty deflects his infatuation with over-the-top antics that backfire, making his inadvertent coming out even more uncomfortable.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

One week into the summer before junior year and one day before this year’s Hudson Valley Pride, Jake Ainsworth parks across the street from my house and changes my life forever. It doesn’t matter that I can’t see his car anymore. It’s definitely him. I’d know his car anywhere. Among other things, he’s driven the same faded green compact SUV since he left for college last year.

Ethan and I happened to be in the middle of a training sprint when the car trundled past us, taking a right turn onto our street only moments before we did the same. The thing is, as it drove by, I thought I saw something different about it. Something important. I clocked it immediately but as he got further, it got smaller again and now I’m no longer sure it exists.

See, I thought I saw a sticker placed in the center of the back bumper just above the license plate. It isn’t just any sticker, either. Nor was it there during his last visit. Nor have any announcements of importance been made from his family to mine.

Following that observation, two distinct possibilities occur to me. One: that isn’t Jake’s car. Two: I saw the sticker wrong. I’m still a fair distance away. There is definitely a sticker but I can’t yet confirm what it is. If it turns out that neither of those possibilities is true, it would reveal an improbable truth that I’ve not yet prepared for.


Title: The Fire Before

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Horror

Word Count: 90,000


When the cursed entities called the Fury compel people in her hometown to commit escalating acts of violence, Kindred Walker must use power she never knew she had to stop them before her world burns.

First 250 Words:

On the day the Fury came to Exeter, I was stuck in detention.

I should have been outside that October afternoon, kicking fallen leaves and breathing in the chilly air. The brown and red trees I could see through the windows at the back of the room taunted me. Instead of playing outside, I was trapped in the Davis School’s study hall, kicking the leg of my cramped desk and sneaking guilty glances at my friends Dawn Cale and Elena Garcia. Last week, I’d convinced them that nobody would miss us if we snuck out of school to go for some frozen yogurt. I was wrong, and here we were.

The pale green walls in the study hall made everyone in the room look slightly nauseated. Banners with quotes from famous women decorated the walls. I sat closest to “‘Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You’ – Eleanor Roosevelt.” Well, coming to school every day scared me at least a little bit; I figured that had Eleanor covered.

I tried to puzzle through my Algebra 2 homework, but my plan of staring at the numbers and symbols until they magically made sense didn’t work, as usual. The school had cranked the air temperature up to “Suffocate” and the heat made me feel sleepy and stupid. I twisted a strand of my long hair around a finger and tugged, trying to keep myself from dozing off. 

A low, hissing voice snapped me out of my boredom.

Leave now. Save yourself.


Title: Saving Sophie

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Word Count: 83,000


Seventeen-year-old Gabe finds himself falling for Sophie, a disabled girl and the sole survivor of a devastating accident. Everything is perfect—as long as Sophie never learns Gabe’s brother was the cause of her tragedy.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

Her name is Sophie.

I’ve been watching her for a while now, taking notes in my head. I know more about her than any stranger should ever know about a person. It’s scary how much I know. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning the guilt presses so hard on my chest that I stay away for a few days. I tell myself to forget about her. But I always come back.

I know what you’re thinking, but don’t judge me yet. It’s complicated.

Sophie lives on a serene tree-lined street of mini-mansions. It’s so serene that there’s an actual Buddhist temple almost directly across the street from her house. The temple has a Yoga Mom’s class every morning at seven. The parking lot is always packed and that’s where I hide—sandwiched in between the minivans and Priuses.

I’ve been here so often that I could close my eyes and draw Sophie’s house from memory. All the houses on her street are unique, but the one she lives in is by far the coolest. Whoever designed it must have been stoned. The style is what I like to call “twenty-first century medieval gothic.” The house is tall and brooding with shuttered windows and all these little turrets everywhere. Basically, Sophie lives in Dracula’s castle.

I thought the place would rock out on Halloween, but they didn’t put up one decoration. Maybe the house speaks for itself. Or maybe Sophie’s new family has had enough horror for one year.


Title: The Goddess Candidate

Age Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary LGBTQ Fantasy

Word Count: 81,000


When modern-day God offers up his job, popular-girl Devon’s father applies. Only taking his place can save Dad from martyrdom—but becoming God would reveal Devon’s intimate secret, causing global uproar and estranging her father.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

You gotta have patience, to cut up a math book. You can only slice ten pages at once, and only that many because the pages are thin. But patience I’m good at, oh-you’ve-got-no-idea. I spent K-through-7 learning to be the popular girl, and by the day the Signs fell, I had made it.

It was a Monday, six-thirty in the morning, and the Earth Sciences room would be empty for fifteen more minutes. Mr. Burns wouldn’t be in until the last possible moment; he was half-retired already. So I sawed back and forth with what might have been relish, if my blade hadn’t been so damn dull. It was last year’s edition, and thicker than my old one. A rectangular nest between the pages would fit my compact, mascara, remover. My current hidey-hole was a skinny book from eighth grade, and as a sophomore, I’d need extra space.

My hand started cramping after five or ten minutes, and I gave it up. The old book would work until the end of the semester, when Dad expected me to get bumped into Algebra 2. He had no clue I was already in Pre-Calc. When report cards came out, Natalie would change the class on the printout, and I’d owe her six-to-ten Jolly Ranchers (lemon only), exchanged in the office like drug money.

I stuffed the 500-page monstrosity into my ugly black bag. Both textbooks had run me about two hundred bucks, and by the time I was a senior, I’d have to fork it over at least one more time.


Title: Sleepless

Age Category: Adult

Genre: Sci-fi Romance

Word Count: 80,000


Rose is finally earning her hard-won superhero license—if she can avoid breaking one important rule: No fraternizing between partners. But JiHo proves he’s just as irresistible as he is invincible. Talk about Kryptonite.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

The superhero internship interview was my last chance for post-graduate success.

Which meant everything that could go wrong, did.

The elevator hummed as it carried me and the unconscious man up the floors. The guy sprawled at my feet, collapsed atop the duffel bag he’d left sitting in the middle of the elevator. The bag that had caused me to trip in the first place.

Which made the situation just as much his fault, in my mind. I’d stumbled, the sudden shock making my powers flare to life. It churned just under my skin, ready to defend me.

“No!” I managed just as the guy reached out to catch me.

One touch was all it took. His hands caught hold of my bare arms and down he went, my ability plunging him deep into sleep.

The elevator chirped, signaling our approach to the chosen floor. My pulse sped up, my hands turning cold. If my advisor heard about this incident, I could kiss that internship goodbye. I’d land right back in counseling. Or worse, remedial training.

So, what to do? Throw a table cloth and a potted plant over him? Tape a sign to his chest that said, “Sleep protest in progress, do not disturb?”

The elevator pinged open. I spun, frozen.

The corridor stood empty. I blew out the breath I’d been holding. I mashed the button for the lobby then ducked through the doors before they closed. Sending a silent apology the guy’s way, I headed down the corridor to the faculty offices.


Title: Temping for Death

Age Category: Adult

Genre: Fantasy

Word Count: 94,000


When night-shift worker Ana injures Death in a freak forklift accident, she must take over his job while he’s on disability leave. Then an assassin targets Death, and Ana’s left holding the scythe.

First 250 Words of Manuscript:

This was the worst funeral Ana had ever been to. The chapel’s frigid air made her regret not bringing a jacket. Her folding chair was making her butt numb. And it was extra hard to maintain the right solemnity with the guest of honor sitting at the front of the room, looking back at her. He didn’t even have the decency to be dead, a point Ana previously believed was a requirement for a funeral.

The music crackling through the Ellsworth Lockburn Funeral Home’s decrepit sound system didn’t help. It added extra creep factor to the way Stan sat next to his casket at the front, watching the crowd like a shark eyeing a school of anchovies. Ana shifted uncomfortably, then stopped as Stan’s eyes turned in her direction. She hadn’t given anything to Stan’s pet cancer charity, in spite of him being an executive at her company. She planned instead to donate to the charity of Keeping Electricity On at Ana’s Apartment. Her night shift position at the Lowlight Gazette didn’t pay well enough for both options.

The music finally ended, and Stan rose to his feet. He straightened his impeccable suit coat and smiled through gleaming white teeth. “Thank you for coming, friends. And coworkers. As you know, it’s been a tough road for me.”

Ana hadn’t known, she hadn’t even heard about his diagnosis until it was corrected as a misdiagnosis. Executives at the Gazette didn’t hobnob with distribution workers like Ana. Not that Ana was interested in either hobbing or nobbing with Stan.