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PW #348: Young Adult Contemporary Mystery: I KILLED BRENDA MORRIS

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Destiny Cole

Mentee Name: Jamie McHenry


Category: Young Adult

Genre: Contemporary Mystery

Word Count: 64,000 words


Jana Lee didn’t mean to kill Brenda. Yes, she crafted a poison during chemistry and yes, she slipped it into Brenda’s drink at the party Saturday night, but she wasn’t supposed to die. Or was she? Now with a murder investigation narrowing in on her and friends exposing secrets she thought were long-buried, things in Jana’s life couldn’t be going much worse.

Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying.


Brenda Morris wasn’t supposed to die Saturday night. She was supposed to take a drink, cough a few times, realize something was sour in her Smirnoff, and then maybe puke her guts out. Sure, she’d be angry about the drink, but her overreaction would be her own fault, not mine. This was to be her punishment and my payback. Ha, ha. The prank a full year in the making would finally offer vindication for the torture I’d endured at her beckoning.

But the poison didn’t work as expected.

She coughed like she was supposed to—and gagged while flailing her arms erratically. Everyone laughed. But I mean, it was funny. As much as I hated her, Brenda was quite the comedian when she wanted to be. For just a moment, I resented the fact that my joke had somehow backfired and she was, yet again, getting the best of me. But then she clutched her neck and tumbled to the floor, her perfectly shaped legs spreading awkwardly as if they’d been pulled apart by a string. As I watched in horror, Brenda’s eyes turned dark and hollow, staring back at me with insistent blame.

Sandra Keller, the star of every high school musical, screamed first. Of course she would.



Filed: PW Entries

  • Penny Moore says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I’d love to read more! Please email me at penny[at]empireliterary[dot]com. Please put Pitch Wars and your book title in the subject line and attach your full manuscript! Thanks! Looking forward to reading!


  • Ammi-Joan Paquette says:

    What an intriguing start! Please do send along your query + first 3 chapters to me at joan at emliterary.com – so look forward 🙂

  • Caitie Flum says:

    This looks great! It I’d love to take a look.

    Please send the query in the body of the email + full manuscript as a Word attachment to querycaitie@lizadawson.com with “Pitch Wars request” in the subject.

  • Jess Dallow says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I’d love to read more! Please send the full manuscript attached in a word doc with your query letter in the body of the email to Jess@Browerliterary.com with #PitchWars and your title in the subject. Looking forward to reading!


  • Sarah Landis says:

    I would love to read this one! Please send the full ms as a word doc to slandis@sll.com

  • Jenny Bent says:

    Please email query and full ms (as an attachment) to info@thebentagency.com, PITCHWARS in subject line. Thanks!

  • Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Jamie,

    I would love to see this! Can you send the full to penelope@gelfmanschneider.com, with your query in the body of the email and #PitchWars and title in the subject line? Thanks so much!


  • Hillary Jacobson says:

    The comps!! So so intrigued by this! I’d love to read more. Please send the full manuscript as a word document to hjacobson@icmpartners.com. Thank you!!

  • Why hello there, latter-day Heathers! I love this opening, and I’d love to read more! Please email the full manuscript, along with your query letter and a synopsis (if you have one) to bsherman@janklow.com, with the subject line “Pitch Wars: I KILLED BRENDA MORRIS.” I’m so excited to dive into this!

    Brooks Sherman
    Janklow & Nesbit Associates

  • Sounds great! Please send the first 50 pages in word doc to ksboutillier@maassagency.com with subject like “PITCH WARS YA”. Looking forward to my read — thanks so much! Always, Katie <3

  • I’d love to see more of this! Could you please send the full manuscript as a word doc with your query letter in the body of the email to kristy.hunter@knightagency.net with “Pitch Wars Requested: TITLE” in the subject line. Thanks!!

  • I love the voice here – wry and on-point. Great comps as well, but with notes of Heathers too, which I love. I’d love to read more. Please send an email to query@nelsonagency.com with PITCH WARS UPLOAD in the subject line. We will reply with our upload instructions. Thank you!

  • Natascha Morris says:

    This is great! Please upload your manuscript to QueryMe.online/1067/PitchWars2017. Thank you!


  • Blair Wilson says:

    Hi Jamie,

    This is great–I’d love to read more! Please send the full manuscript as a Word doc with the query pasted into the first page of the document to queries@parkliterary.com with “BLAIR WILSON – PITCH WARS REQUEST” in the subject. Thanks so much–looking forward to reading!

  • Roseanne Wells says:

    Yeah, uh huh. “Accident.” I’d love to read more! Please use the guidelines on jdlit.com to send 100pp (instead of the normal 20), and include #Pitchwars in the subject line. I can’t wait to dive in!

    Roseanne Wells
    The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

  • Beth Phelan says:

    Hi Jamie! Would love to read more of this. Can you please email your query, plus the full manuscript as a Word doc attachment, to phelanqueries@thebentagency.com, with “Pitch Wars request” in the subject line? I’m closed to queries except requested submissions, so don’t mind the automated response.

    Beth Phelan
    The Bent Agency

  • Hi Jamie, this sounds great! I’d love to read the full ms. Please send the ms attached as a word.docx and the query in the body of the email. Use subject #PitchWars and Title. Send to stacey@donaghyliterary.com

    Looking forward to reading!


  • Your voice is to die for! Sorry. Couldn’t resist. It’s true, though. 🙂 Your voice and premise hooked me, but when I saw Destiny was your mentor, it all made sense. She and I have similar taste. I’d love to read more!

    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

  • Christa Heschke says:

    This sounds so great! Please send a query, first 50 pages and synopsis to chquery@mcintoshandotis.com. Look forward to reading!
    -Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

  • Tanusri Prasanna says:

    I was so sad when I finished reading “One of Us is Lying” because I didn’t want it to end–so you couldn’t have found a better comp from my perspective! Please send the full manuscript and a synopsis to tprasanna@foundrymedia.com, subject “PitchWars request”. Thank you!

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