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PW #366: Young Adult Chinese fantasy (reimagining) #ownvoices: THIS MOTH WILL NOT BURN

Thursday, 2 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: 1-month delivery

Mentor Name: Leigh Mar

Mentee Name: Alyssa Carlier


Category: YA

Genre: Chinese fantasy (reimagining) #ownvoices

Word Count: 77,000


When sixteen-year-old thief Mo stabs a runaway witch-princess, she’s cursed to wear her face. To break the curse, Mo braves the unfamiliar world of witchcraft where she must survive the assassin hunting the princess—and equally dangerous, her own desire for power.

A Mulan and Swan Lake reimagining.


Once upon a time, they called the city Hong Kong. Mo called it a graveyard.

As she climbed higher up the long-abandoned skyscraper, Mo could see a handful of traffic lights scattered along the maze of roads. Far below her they sparked on, off, on, off. She’d scaled these skyscrapers for three years, but she’d never pinned down the rhythm.

The wind barely rattled the steel-and-glass windows. Mo swung between the rusting window ledges, slinking up the skyscraper. She broke three fingernails on her way to the first broken window. She’d forgotten to trim them again.

The room stank. Mo knotted her grey scarf around her face. Skirmishes in the abandoned skyscrapers broke out every day between the soldiers of the guangfujun—the light-restoration army—and the northern witch-troops. Scavengers like Mo hurried to the scene after the fighting ended, but before either side brought their corpses home.

Time to get to work. Mo whistled as she prodded through the bodies methodically. A purse of coins, hardly stained at all. Twin jade bangles from a tattooed arm with no body. A gold tooth gleaming in a smug grin. Mo pried it out with her knife.

It wasn’t stealing. The dead owned nothing.

Mo’s pockets were only half full when a strangled cry came from the floor above. She crouched behind a crumbling pillar, reaching for her knife. If it was only the guangfujun who found her, they’d laugh her off. But the witches knew not to underestimate teenage girls.

Filed: PW Entries

  • Kaitlyn Johnson says:

    This sounds great! I’d love to see the full once completed. No worries on the delay to finish! Please send to https://querymanager.com/query/KaitlynJohnson/Contests with synopsis and PitchWars in the referral page.

  • Penny Moore says:

    Hi Alyssa,

    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!


  • Rena Rossner says:

    I would absolutely love to read this! Please send the full manuscript attached as a word document to: rena@thedeborahharrisagency.com

    – Rena

  • 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.

  • Thao Le says:

    First line hooked me. I would love to read more of this! Please send a query letter, bio, and first 15 pages to thao@dijkstraagency.com using subject line: Pitch Wars Req – THIS MOTH WILL NOT BURN”

  • 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!!

  • Natascha Morris says:

    YOU HAD ME AT SWAN LAKE!!!! I’d love to see this! Please send me the full manuscript at QueryMe.online/1067/PitchWars2017.

    Thank you!
    Natascha Morris

  • Amelia Appel says:

    Hi Alyssa! This sounds absolutely fascinating – I would love to read more! Please send a query letter, full synopsis, and attached full manuscript to amelia@triadaus.com with “Pitch Wars” in the subject line. Thanks so much! I can’t wait to read!!

  • Kiana Nguyen says:

    I just love thieves and danger and curses! Please send your full manuscript to knguyen@maassagency.com attached as a Word document with the query on the first page of the doc. PitchWars Req + TITLE in subj. line, please. – Kiana

  • Penelope Burns says:

    Hi Mo,

    I would absolutely love to see this! Can you send the full to penelope@gelfmaschneider.com with your query in the body of the email and PitchWars and title in the subject line? Thank you!


  • Beth Phelan says:

    I’M OBSESSED! 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

  • Roseanne Wells says:

    I’ve been wanting a Swan Lake retelling for ages! I definitely want to see 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

  • Hi Alyssa,

    I’m already so captivated by the sample you’ve shared above! Please could you send the first 50 attached in a word document? I would really appreciate it if you would label your query REQUESTED: Pitch Wars and label the document with your last name and the title.

    Thank you so much! I can’t wait to dive in!


    Brianne Johnson
    Writers House

  • Alyssa, I’d love to read more of this! Please send the first 50 pages as a Word doc or PDF attachment to melissa@rpcontent.com. Please also include your query letter in the body of the email, and Pitch Wars in the subject line.

    I look forward to reading!


    Melissa Nasson
    Rubin Pfeffer Content

  • Christa Heschke says:

    A Mulan and Swan Lake reimagining?! Please send a query, first 100 pages and synopsis to chquery@mcintoshandotis.com. Look forward to reading!
    -Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis

  • I would really love to read this. Can you send the first 50 to me at kellyqueries at gmail.com, or via querymanager? Looking forward!

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