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PW #142: Adult Urban Fantasy: GRAVE DIRT

Tuesday, 31 October 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Elinor Sattler

Mentee Name: Samantha J. Robin


Category: Adult

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Word Count: 102,000


Archaeologist Sydney Reid scrapes by forging fake antiques, but when her boss uses her work to release an ancient Mesopotamian demon, she is suddenly clocking overtime dodging bullets, riled-up cultists, and the kind of magic that steals her future. Now she’s in a race against time to dig up a long-buried myth before she becomes ancient history. INDIANA JONES meets JANET EVANOVICH.


It was too early in the morning to sink this low, but three shots of espresso and the will to survive had compromised my morals.

I knocked twice at the grey fiberglass door and rescued the baked clay urn from the mess of pens and gum wrappers at the bottom of my purse. The pint-sized vase was not the most flattering advertisement for the ancient world. Most of the engravings were of vultures and barren fields, and the old priest at the center was smushed under the weight of an elaborate headdress, heavy brush strokes cursing him with scoliosis and bags under his eyes deep enough to shoplift a Volkswagen. Centuries ago, a vase like this would have been painted for ceremonial use, and there were some traces of red and coral left in the grooves of the priest’s robes.

I would have added some blue there too, but my roommate used the last of her nail polish.

I knocked again.

The door whined open to a rusted security chain and a scruff-chinned blond in flannel pajama pants. He wasn’t happy to see me.

“Sydney Reid, it’s six o’eight in the morning.”

I flaunted my vase. “I’ve got a piece for you, Mack.”

Filed: PW Entries

  • Sam Morgan says:

    Sounds like awesomesauce. I’d love to read more. Could you please send me the first three chapters in a .doc to smorgan at foundrymedia dot com with the subject line “Pitch Wars VI: Return of the Pitch”

  • Holy voice. I’d love to see your query in the body of an email, along with the full manuscript and a synopsis (both attached). Please also include a link to this entry. You can send your materials to lauren@triadaus.com. I look forward to reading!


  • Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    Yay for female Indiana Jones! I’d love to see your first 100 pages. Please send to https://querymanager.com/query/KaitlynJohnson/Contests with PitchWars in the referral box. Looking forward to the read!

  • Heather Flaherty says:

    Hi there Samantha, I would love to see more of this!

    Please send:
    – Query + 10 pages pasted in the body of the email
    – Attach FULL ms as well!
    – with subject line: PW ADULT + Title

    to:  flahertyqueries@thebentagency.com

    Thank you so much!

    Heather Flaherty (The Bent Agency)

  • Jim McCarthy says:

    I’d love to have a look. Please send the manuscript along for my prompt review. I’m at jmccarthy@dystel.com. A Word attachment is most preferable if possible. Thanks! Jim

  • Laura Zats says:

    I majored in anthropology because of IJ, and so I DEFINITELY want to read this. Please send the query in the body of an email with the MS attached to laura@redsofaliterary.com. Please mention Pitch Wars in the subject line!

  • Quressa Robinson says:

    Yes, please!

    Please query me at queryquressa@nelsonagency.com. In the subject line, write REQUESTED QUERY (PitchWars) and the title of your project. This will help ensure that your query isn’t accidentally deleted or caught in our spam filter. In the body of your email, include a one-page query letter and the first twenty pages of your manuscript.

  • Roseanne Wells says:

    Great comps, and the voice–I’d love to take a look! Please use the guidelines on jdlit.com to send 100 pp (instead of the usual 20) and put #pitchwars in the subject line. I can’t wait to read more!

    Roseanne Wells
    The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

  • This sounds so amazing! You had me at Indiana Jones — I would love to read the full ms! Please send the full manuscript to suzie@newleafliterary.com attached as a Word document with the query in the first page of the document. Put “PITCH WARS” in the subject. Please also include a dreaded synopsis if you have one. Thank you! Can’t wait to read!

  • Erica Bauman says:

    Hi Samantha,

    I’d love to see this! Please send a query and the full manuscript to ebauman@aevitascreative.com, and put “Pitch Wars” in the subject line.



  • Caitlin McDonald says:

    I love this opening! Please send the query, synopsis, and full manuscript (as an attachment) to query.cmcdonald@maassagency.com and include “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. Looking forward to reading!

  • Amanda Jain says:

    This speaks to the younger version of me who thought she’d grow up to be an archaeologist. I’d love to see more! Please send your full as an attachment to amanda@inklingsliterary.com. Thanks!

  • The comps!!! Indiana Jones = LOVE, and Janet Evanovich = LOVE. The premise is great. I’m hooked!

    Please send the full manuscript to Lynnette@theseymouragency.com, attached as a Word document with the query as the first page. Put “Pitch Wars” and your title in the subject line. Please also include a brief synopsis as a separate document. Thanks! Can’t wait to read!

    Lynnette Novak
    The Seymour Agency

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