Son of a Pitch Contest Entry!


I found you through #MSWL and want to share my YA fantasy novel, MOONSTRUCK, complete at 74,000 words. Fans of Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo may enjoy the world building and looming darkness in MOONSTRUCK.

The gods have prophesized annihilation to Moriah’s sunless, seaside village.

Moriah has only one lunar cycle left until her village is destroyed. While her religion has always demanded sacrifice, she has never believed in torturing animals or shedding blood for a burnt offering. When a new interpretation of an ancient prophecy demands the Ultimate Sacrifice, her village’s High Priest, Mercury, chooses the boy she loves to die as an offering to the gods.

Moriah defies Mercury’s ruling and sets out on a quest to become the next Priestess, hoping to acquire sacred magic and defeat him. She is aided only by her best friend, as Mercury controls the villagers’ minds through a magical herb. As the village rallies around the approaching human sacrifice, Mercury moves up the day of the offering. Moriah realizes she must decipher the true meaning of sacrifice before she loses everyone and everything she’s ever loved.

I am a full-time proofreader, part-time copywriter, and all-the-time coffee drinker. My short fiction, nonfiction, and poetry have been published in Strong Verse, Typehouse Literary Magazine and more. I was one of twelve authors selected by Nova Ren Suma to attend “A Week in Residency” at the Writing Barn in November.

Thank you for your consideration,

Dani Nicole



As I climb Mount Halex, I look out at my sparkling village and wish I could save it.

I’ve explored it all as a gatherer. From the glowing seaside shrubs to our thick forests enchanted with sacred light. I’ve swum in the crushing presence of the gods’ magic my entire life.

But I’ve never climbed this mountain, clinging to ropes that threaten to snap. I’ve never risked my life to gather the sacred zyca fruits.

Until now.

All I can do is try to breathe through the suffocating cold, and remember what it feels like to be warm. My best friend climbs next to me, groaning with every pull upward. I imagine her hands are dry and cracked like mine. Our work gloves were too slick for climbing, and without them, my blood pools up around the rope and stains it. I’ll leave my mark on this mountain, one way or another.

I can’t hear much over the wind, but Larah’s breath is ragged. She seems so delicate here. Small frame, small arms, small hands. Not many know her true power. Her true ferocity.

But I do.

“We’re almost there,” I shout, hoping I’m right. The wind impossibly roars louder and any hope of conversation dies.


It’s a word that means less every day. I’ve always known about the Prophecy, but sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Still, I can hardly glance at the moon. I don’t want it to know how much I miss the sunlight—that yellow glow and warmth. During this season of Rymna, the sun never rises, and the moon reigns with majestic, taunting power.

Some say it knows our weaknesses. Some say we must sacrifice to the god of the moon to appease him. I’m not sure what I believe anymore.




7 thoughts on “Son of a Pitch Contest Entry!

  1. Hi! Overall, I think you have a really interesting concept, and I really enjoyed reading your query and first 250. However, there were a few points of confusion for me. For example, this sentence in your query, “She is aided only by her best friend, as Mercury controls the villagers’ minds through a magical herb.” raised a lot of questions for me. Is her best friend immune to the herb? Is she? Unless it’s crucial to the plot, I think you could cut the part about the herb here, and just mention she’s only aided by her best friend. Also, you use the word “prophesized,” but I think it should be “prophesied.” I also think you could combine the last two sentences of the first paragraph, and cut out “Mercury moves up the date of the sacrifice,” since that doesn’t seem essential to the plot either. Also, I’ve seen a lot of agents wanting specific stakes, so I would try to make the closing sentence of your second paragraph more specific. “True meaning of sacrifice” and “everything and everything she’s ever loved” are both a bit vague, and also confusing, since I thought only one person’s life was at stake.
    Your first 250 were strong, and I got a good sense of voice. One suggestion I have is using Larah’s name when you first introduce her, rather than introducing her simply as “my best friend,” which sounds a little awkward.
    I think you have some real promise here, and with a few small revisions, you should be good to go. Best of luck!!!


  2. Hi Dani, this is a pretty strong entry you have here. There are only a couple of things I would change for flow’s sake in the query. For instance, is it necessary to know in the query that Mercury moves up the sacrifice? The boyfriend’s impeding sacrifice is already a ticking clock, so I would just simplify a few awkward sentences and make it more compact. So after you clarify why the best friend is immune to the herbs, just explain that Moriah must understand the real meaning of sacrifice before Mercury sacrifices the one she loves (and maybe risk angering the gods further?). Also, some inconsistencies in information: the gods prophecy the destruction and the village WILL be destroyed in one lunar cycle? I believe you mean that Unless they do one more sacrifice the village will be destroyed. Just clarify there with the correct tenses and clauses. I do think you can condense the query a bit. Not sure we need to know that animal sacrifice is distasteful in three lines of prose. “All sacrifices are distasteful to Moriah, but when Mercury chooses the boy she loves, she sets off on a quest to acquire magic so she can overthrow Mercury and stop him from killing.” Or something of the sort.

    The first 250: the one line punch after the long paragraph feels too repetitive and it feels too much of a gimmick. Save it for the really, really important realizations, not with the obvious, like “until now” (which we know because she is now climbing the mountain she said she never climbed before). The rest is fine. I hope it works out for you and good luck.

    If you want to reciprocate:


  3. Query – I would cut everything up to the sentence about sacrificing the boy. that is the hook and needs to sentence #1

    Also, comps and bio not allowed in the contest

    Excerpt – some tense issues where you slip from 1st person present. our work gloves WERE.

    Also, try to bring some of the human sacrifice prevention into the 1st 250.

    If you want to reciprocate –


  4. The query sets out the external stakes and I see Moriah’s internal struggle – but I don’t see Moriah. Who is she? Just an average girl? Always had it good? Never had it good? Family? How old is she? Does she have small problems too? I think one paragraph introducing her would help pull me in. Good stuff – and good luck!


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