Monday, June 21, 2010

Agent Pitch Contest


The pitch contest starts now!

We have the fabulous Sarah LaPolla with Curtis Brown LTD. ready to peruse your pitches and pick her favorites! So if you're ready to enter read on...

Here are the rules:

1. You must be a follower of my blog.

2. You must follow her blog Glass Cases too. (which is really just a bonus reference for you!)

3. You can only enter one pitch - be sure it is something she is looking for.
Your pitch can only be 1-3 sentences long. (not long run on sentences!) Leave your pitches in the comment section of this post. It's that simple!

Prizes:

1st place winner can submit the entire manuscript
2nd place winner can submit a partial (first 3 chapters)
3rd place winner will get a query critique

Any questions, please let me know! The contest will run until tomorrow night at midnight. Good luck to everyone!

And now the moment you've all been waiting for...Ms. Sarah LaPolla herself...




Thank you again Sarah for graciously agreeing to this interview here today and to judge this contest. What a great opportunity for everyone!
Tell us about yourself and how you got into agenting?


Thanks so much for having me. I recently became an associate agent with Curtis Brown, Ltd., but I guess you can say I first got into agenting while I was getting my MFA (creative nonfiction) a few years ago. I knew I wanted to work on the publishing side of writing, so I started interning with different agencies. I only had a vague idea of what an agent actually was at the time, but I ended up really liking that field. Then a friend told me about a job in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown… and two years later here I am!

What do you feel sets you apart from other agents?

I don’t know if much sets me apart from other agents, to be honest. Like most agents, I got into this business because I love books and finding new writers. We all share the same passion, even if individual tastes in what we’re looking for vary.

When it comes to queries, what kinds of things are instant rejections?

I hate the phrase “instant rejection,” and I hate to admit that I do it. I usually try to give every query the same level of consideration, but sometimes it is clear writers are not doing their research. If I see a query for a screenplay or picture book or something else I definitely will not represent, then I instantly reject those. Or if the actual query letter is sent as an attachment or as a link, I just delete them with no response.

What are your top 3 books of all time? And why?

This is like choosing my three favorite children, by the way! (Well, if I had children.) I would have to go with The Catcher in the Rye (JD Salinger), The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky), and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (Michael Chabon). With Perks, it was just the first book I fell in love with. Like, really, really in love with. The Catcher in the Rye was just written in a way I hadn’t seen before. It was brilliant, as was Holden. And with Kavalier and Clay, I literally let out a breath in amazement once I finished. To me it’s like the perfect novel. There are so many layers and it transcends genre and style; Michael Chabon’s work in general is pretty awe-inspiring.

I just realized it looks like I have a thing for depressed or wayward youth. I guess I do, but I assure you I also like happy, well-adjusted characters too!

Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us.

I don’t know how surprising this is, but few people know of my love of Broadway musicals. I have a secret desire to sing and like to pretend I can, but I sadly lack the talent.

What are you looking for and how can authors submit to you?

I’m looking for character-driven novels, mostly. The genres I’m most interested in are literary fiction, urban fantasy, magical realism, paranormal romance, and young adult, particularly older YA or crossover. I prefer email submissions (sl@cbltd.com) with the query pasted in the body of the email. Sending the first five pages of the manuscript is fine too, as long as they are also pasted in the email. No attachments.

From an agent’s perspective, what is the biggest mistake a writer (agented or unagented) can make?

I think it’s always a mistake when writers try to follow trends. If you sit down and say to yourself, “_______ is popular; I’ll write about that,” chances are it’s going to be bad. If you don’t write what you want to write, it’s not going to be your best work, and it’ll show.

Is there any other advice that you would give to aspiring authors at any stage of the process?

The main thing is to stay professional and not get discouraged when querying. Rejection is a part of writing, so it’s bound to happen some time. As long as you love what you do enough to keep going, you’re in good shape.

Thanks again Sarah for the awesome interview and great advice! Again, good luck to everyone and have a great day!

55 comments:

Vicki Tremper said...

KWIZERA MEANS HOPE, a young adult manuscript complete at 45,000 words, touches on the themes of joy, hope and new beginnings. Rwandan teenager Cecile Kwizera survived four years of war, one hundred days of genocide and the death of her father in a refugee camp, and now she must overcome the guilt of having survived.

Thanks Sarah and Renae!

Joyce Lansky said...

In my 67,000 word completed manuscript, BEING BOMPSY CARLEFFA, fifteen-year-old Ben discovers his entire life, including his name, is bullshit. He lives with his mother in a crappy apartment and believes a bogus lie about a father who died twelve years earlier. But things change when Ben meets a sleazy mobster, hanging outside his classroom, who is about to screw his life up—forever.

Thanks for the contest
jlansky(at)comcast(dot)net

Clara said...
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Clara said...
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Clara said...

What a lovely interview!

Ok, so leeeeeeeet´s pitch my YA fantasy "JADE´S HURRICANE":

Jade Kadeem witness normal humans brutally murder her father. As a result, she creates a monstrous hurricane; something not every element tamer can do, especially a child.
Join Jade as she embarks on a journey to control her Godlike powers and her thirst for revenge, before it´s too late.

Hanna C. Howard said...

Thanks so much, Sarah and Ranae! Here's the pitch for my 50,200 word YA fairy tale, EPHEMERAL:

Headstrong, sixteen year-old Yseult is beautiful: unsurpassed, exquisite, the very definition of perfection… and she hates it. When she acts rashly in an attempt to escape an arranged marriage, she meets a beastly-looking young man who cannot perceive her beauty, and thinks she has finally gained all she ever wanted. But Yseult soon learns that to break an ancient curse and save her love (and her happiness), she must stop running and confront the things she fears—including herself.

Martina said...
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Amparo Ortiz said...
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Amparo Ortiz said...
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Amparo Ortiz said...

Thanks for the contest, Renae!!

Here's my pitch:

Chosen as a Shielder, seventeen-year-old Lexie Cruz protects Souls with the "I'm not crossing over yet!" motto. But when her nemesis's family is kidnapped, he must free them by slaying an unborn Soul--someone who's still alive. If only Lexie would give him the chance...

Jaimie said...

Thanks for hosting the contest, Renae! And thanks, Sarah!

Good luck, everyone!

Here's my urban fantasy, WE WHO ARE GODS at 82,000 words.

When Ares, God of War, regrets his life of senseless slaughter, he leaves Olympus to live as a single father in America. He’s happy passing as a human to his teenaged daughter and refuses to tell her the truth -- until the Olympians are after them.

Theresa Milstein said...

Aura is a paranormal romance at 51,000 words.

Born as her mother lay dying from wounds inflicted by a vampire bite, Aura is raised by her overbearing aunt and uncle. Wanting everything to be normal in her relationship with the new British student, she ignores her inability to bleed, transient superhuman strength, and fascination with blood until her estranged father appears and tells her that these are signs she’s becoming a vampire. Aura must decide whether to follow her religion and heart, or recent taste for blood.

Kris said...

Pitch for The Sweet Spot, a 68K YA realistic contemporary sports novel w/ a touch of romance.

With the family golf course on the verge of bankruptcy, Kate decides she's going to be the first girl to win the Junior State Championship to draw the crowds back, but her plans are derailed when her best friend and crush is accused of vandalizing the course with a blowtorch.

Thanks for the opportunity! Good luck everyone!
krisasselin (at) yahoo (dot) com

Cheryl said...

Nikko's Bond (YA, Sci-fi)

Nikko is a host – a child bred to symbiotically support one of the Old Ones. Nikko’s best friend is declared surplus when her symbiont dies before they can merge, and Nikko must decide between merging with his own symbiont or saving his friend from termination.

Lydia Kang said...

Thanks Renae for doing this!
Pitch for Arrows and Ink, 75K YA historical romance.

In 1834's unsettled Ojibwe territory, fiercely independent 17-year-old Pol Sterling battles wolves, bears, and her own wounded heart to find love with a young man obsessed with another girl's mysterious letters.

Thanks Sarah for considering my pitch!
Lydiakang (at) yahoo (dot) com

Janet Johnson said...

What a great contest and interview. I always enjoy hearing what agents have to say.

Here's my pitch for my YA fantasy, The Other Prince:

Before Prince Charming rescued Snow White; before he fought her evil step-mother in a knock-down, drag-out battle, he faced his biggest challenge to date: training his inept little brother, Prince Bob, to be like him. This is Bob's story.

Melissa said...

What an excellent interview and contest. Again, why am I not ready to pitch? She sounds like an ideal agent. I could have totally submitted to her! My story is character driven, paranormal romance and fantasy. Oh my.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Pitch for 'Love Potion N° NOT!' 53,000 words. YA Romance

After drifting beside her mission-driven Pagan Priestess mother for the last six years, seventeen year old Avery Desjardins might finally have a place to call ‘home’. But her idea of a normal life is turned upside down when she’s deemed a ‘freak’ before her first day of school, makes friends with Coventry’s token albino, and is stalked by the high school jock Craig Savoey.

Sarah N Fisk said...

Thanks so much for this contest! Good luck to everyone.

Here’s the quick pitch for MIRANDA’S FIRE, my 60,000 word YA Urban Fantasy novel:

When supposedly-extinct demons attack The Tournament and kill or kidnap every adult Mage, sixteen year-old Fire Mage Miranda must rescue them from a place she was told doesn’t exist. Miranda grapples with a seductive ancient knowledge while discovering most of what she has been taught about her world is a strategic lie.

Sarah said...

Thanks everyone! Keep 'em coming :)

And thanks, again, Renae for the interview! It was so much fun :)

lbdiamond said...

Wow, this is fabulous! Firstly, GREAT interview, ladies!!!

Here's my pitch for DARK PRIDE, YA paranormal complete at 70,000 words:

One year after her father’s disappearance, sixteen-year-old Nickie Leone discovers an unexpected inheritance from him: she can morph into a panther.

Now her father’s nemesis wants to use her as bait to lure him out of hiding. Without her dad, Nickie must learn how to adapt to a life of insatiable hunger, acute hearing, and hypersensitivity to smells—until seventeen-year-old Xavian sees her transformation into a panther and offers to help. With her father’s enemy chasing her, Nickie must pair up with Xavian and locate her father before they all become extinct.


Thanks!!!

Candyland said...
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Kate Larkindale said...

ASSIGNMENT 9, complete at 71,000 words

Traumatized by a childhood in which the people closest to her disappeared, Casey acknowledges her demons through writing an assignment and finds the courage to pursue a relationship with the equally scarred Mark.

Candyland said...

I crapped up my entry. Here's attempt numero dos:)

This is fanfreakingtastic! I love a good pitch contest! Sarah sounds insanely awesome. Here's my pitch for 57,000 word edgy, contemporary, 9:59 REWIND.


Between her dad's mysterious death and little brother's kidnapping, Caty Greyson is having a bad case of "Effed-Up Year Syndrome." So when a shiny, red REWIND button appears, you'd think she'd pass up the chance to live through the painful suckage all over again. Instead, she presses it, with hopes of erasing the one moment it all went to hell.

Neil Ostroff said...

An alien invasion isn’t always preceded by world-wide military reaction and breaking news reports, sometimes a thirteen-year-old boy is the only one who knows. Tim Madison always thought he was ordinary, if not a little boring. When he wakes one morning to find the world frozen in time and all the colors mixed-up, he learns how special he is.

Renae said...

Wow, these pitches are awesome! Thank you Sarah for the interview and good luck choosing a favorite!

Jana Stocks Brown said...

Fun interview!

Pitch for Whisper from the Grave a 95,000 word Urban Fantasy:

Dianna McDunna never planned to be a hunter, but plans have a way of changing, and she became one of the best. On the eve of her retirement from the night life a letter from an old friend and mentor sends her across the ocean to London, England where a dark force is ripping through the city's vampire population, and a deadly blood disease haunts the streets. Dianna must join forces with Benjamin Taney, a frumpy librarian of a hunter turned vampire, to stop the rise of a new order of vampires and to cure the disease before it claims her as its next victim.

Claire said...

If heartbreak is the price for adventure, is it worth it? Should Kate fight for Brad, or should she settle for his best friend, who just happens to be another attractive American? Or should she retreat back into the world of fiction, living vicariously and free from gut-wrenching pain?

eliteaps said...
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eliteaps said...
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eliteaps said...

When Alex Laxa, a burnt-out card dealer on planet Voleron, witnesses an assault on the beautiful Lara Warren and rushes in to help, he becomes the focus of a deadly manhunt. He and his new companion discover that she unwittingly stumbled upon Project Shepherd, a program so secret that her employer, The Company, mind-wipes anyone who learns of its existence—which now includes Alex. SPYRE, a science fiction adventure, is complete at over 88,000 words.

Thank you,

eliteaps98 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Here's the one line pitch for my81,000-word, YA romantic suspense novel, LOST IN A HEARTBEAT.

When a terrifying secret puts her best friend’s life at risk, seventeen-year-old Calleigh has to live a lie, and keep her new boyfriend from discovering the truth.

Caitlin said...

Thanks for the awesome interview Renae and Sarah! Here's my two cents' worth for my 65K novel, 'Starlit Symphony':

Having superheroes fight in a war was never going to lead to good things, as seventeen-year-old reluctant superhero Stella Wyatt finds out.

Sent into a war, and in a platoon made of marines and fellow 'supers', Stella finds friendship, betrayal, romance, brutality, and a murder-mystery or two. All's fair in love and war...

Adventures in Children's Publishing said...

Hi Renae,

Thanks for letting me correct my blooper -- and thanks again for hosting this amazing opportunity for writers!

When a 17-year-old half-mortal sees her stepfather punch her mother, the explosion of supernatural energy she uses to send him flying across the room fractures the protective barrier around the mortal world and intertwines her energy with that of a vengeful goddess. Plunged into a terrifying journey of magic and self-awakening, Michaela finds herself unable to resist the enigmatic immortal who helps her. But as her fascination for him and her danger both increase, she must choose between saving her mother, or braving forbidden love and risking her life to safeguard the human race.

Jeanne Lyet Gassman said...

Thanks for hosting this contest, and it's great to meet you, Sarah!

Okay, here's the pitch for my 95,000-word literary historical, The Blood of A Stone:

Didymus of Tiberias wants to forget he was a slave who murdered his abusive master to escape, but when his Jewish friend and fellow escapee reveals he's confessed their crimes to a prophet named Jesus of Nazareth, Didymus is willing do anything--even kill again--to keep his past a secret. He never expects to fall in love with Tabitha, a leper healed by Jesus. Now he must decide if telling her the truth about himself is worth the price: arrest and crucifixion.

Jenn said...

Thanks for this great opportunity!

This is my pitch for my YA historical romance WISTFUL LOVERS.

When Julianne Avery Haynsworth is forced by her parents to marry an eighty year old man at the age of fifteen, she escapes in the middle of the night dressed as a stable boy. She soon finds shelter with the Bennetts and end up falling in love with their son Hayden Bennett despite the fact that he considers her “the brother he never had”. But she is far from safe when she gets a surprise visit from the last people she ever wanted to see—her parents.

Nichole Giles said...

Fantastic contest. Lots of fun.

Here's my pitch. The book is titled GIFTED, and is a YA magical realism.

Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson has never been an ordinary girl, but she never suspected her healing Gifts and psychic Sight are inherited from an ancient ancestor who was killed by a demon—a demon who now means to kill Abby. When the boy she loves is fatally wounded by dark forces, she must decide if she’s willing to risk her own life to save him, or if her Gifts are really a curse that will kill them both.

Thank you.

Dorothy Dreyer said...

Excellent interview. Here's the pitch for my 60K YA paranormal PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES:

As seventeen-year-old Faith Daniels gradually pieces together the forgotten events that landed her on the neurosurgeon's table, she becomes haunted by her past — literally. And there's nothing worse than being stalked by a bunch of your dead classmates, except perhaps becoming one.

When Faith eventually recalls the details of the catastrophe that lead to these unexpected and ghostly class reunions — and the horrific realization of her brother's involvement in the the death of her friends — she must make a heart-wrenching decision: hide the truth (and continue to be pestered by ghosts) or betray her family.

Jus Accardo said...

The Gatekeepers is a 89,000 urban fantasy

When snarky bank teller Sabrina Lang is tossed into a dumpster and discovers that it's actually a gate to another realm, she learns she's a Vendarian, destined to guard the Gates leading on and off Earth so nothing dangerous gets in, or out.
To prepare for her illustrious new career as a Gatekeeper, Sabrina is partnered with Dayne, the old guy who threw her into the dumpster, and his off-limits hottie nephew Drache, who is determined to see to her mental—and physical—training.
When their enemies breed an unstoppable hybrid army and launch a full-scale invasion, Sabrina learns three very important things--Drache's not what he seems, "unstoppable" is a relative term when you're a hybrid yourself, and there's only one Gate large enough to support that kind of passage--hers.

A.L. Sonnichsen said...

Wow, a lot of great pitches here! Here's mine for BACK, a contemporary YA at 70,000 words:

Heather loves her life in China, but after five years her parents make an abrupt decision to return to a small town in Washington State that has nothing to offer except wine grapes and sunsets. While Heather grapples with discontent and a longing for all she left behind, she must forgive the older sister who made their return necessary. She must also decide whether a neighbor boy’s love – as innocent as it is forbidden – is worth fighting for.

Thanks for the great contest, Renae and Sarah!

Amy

Jaime Loren said...

Great competition, ladies, and thank you for the opportunity!

Here is my pitch for Waiting for April, a paranormal romance complete at 110,000 words:

In an otherwise normal world, twenty-one-year-old college student, April Fletcher, has no idea she is living her fifteenth life as the same person.
Scott Parker, her ‘best friend’, is well aware, and has spent centuries trying to find a way to save April - his childhood sweetheart and fiancée - after becoming immortal with her very first, last breath.

Unfortunately, what Scott Parker doesn’t know is that there is someone else out there who became immortal with April’s last breath - and that person is dead set on living forever.

Erica Woo said...
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Erica Woo said...

Sixteen year old Bee Hewlett struggles to understand her fledgling friendship with her new reclusive neighbor Jude, after she follows him during the night to the grave of a boy who died seven years ago. Preoccupied with uncovering the reason behind Jude’s night dwelling way of life, Bee’s relationship with her boyfriend Marcus spirals out of her control, lasting much longer and going further than she ever expected.

YEAR SEVEN is a 52,000 word coming-of-age novel in which it is left to Bee to decode the mysterious circumstances surrounding Jude’s life and to decide for herself what she believes about his story, and what, if anything, she can do to change it.

Feeling Fiction said...

Devil’s Garden is a 70,000 word, older YA urban fantasy with legends from the Everglades.
Under the advice of a cunning psychic, Glory abandons her posh Floridian home and journeys into the enchanted swamps to right her mistakes, thereby saving her mother’s life. She meets the love of her life, Joel, and his pesky girlfriend, who lead her into Devil’s Garden where she must survive betrayal and entrapments in her search of the authentic Fountain of Youth.

MarcyKate said...

THE GHOST WRITER is a YA Paranormal novel complete at 60,000 words.

Eighteen-year-old theatre intern Tessa James can’t even watch Ghostbusters without nightmares, so when letters written in a foreign language appear on her nightstand she does her damnedest to ignore the implications. But when Tessa realizes the letters are pieces of an actress’s diary from 1935 and accidents from the past begin to happen in the present, she’s forced to face the facts: her dream-job internship at the Castle Theatre has turned into her worst nightmare.

Katy Upperman said...

Great contest! Here’s my pitch for my 69,000 word YA romance, LOVING MAX HOLDEN:

Junior year is shaping up to be one of the best of seventeen-year-old Jillian Eldridge’s life—she’s thrilled that Max, her childhood best friend, is now her boyfriend, and she’s surprised to find she adores her new baby sister. But Jill’s happiness is challenged in a major way when she uncovers shocking proof that her stepfather is cheating on her mother—and with the last person Jill could have imagined. Now Jillian is faced with an impossible decision: lie to the boy she’s been in love with her entire life, or tell the truth and destroy not only her family, but Max’s as well.

PW said...

Casting the Circle 114,000 word Dark Urban Fantasy/Supernatural Mystery

Christian O’Conner had a normal life working his way through college at a lousy job, fighting with his brother and falling in love with his childhood sweetheart until the night a supernatural entity destroyed it all. Now along with help from his troublesome Gypsy ex-girlfriend Alison Herne, Christian must find out why fellow investigators are disappearing before they’re next. Complicating matters, Christian’s childhood sweetheart returns from the dead asking for help. Sometimes what’s in the rural darkness between New England cities isn’t what you think.

A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...
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A Pen In Neverland: Angela Peña Dahle said...

Great contest! I'm going to pitch but this one is just for fun because my novel is incomplete. I do love to practice. Still, I'd like to know what others thought of it anyhow. Great pitches everyone!

Here it is, my YA science fiction suspense novel pitch:

Tristan, a heart transplant specialist and surgeon, discovers he is in the ultimate race towards death as he struggles to restore free rein to the Immaculate Minority–the few still fighting for freedom against the Unjust Collective of America--and uncover the secrets of two clever and determined sisters caught in the middle of it all. How could he have known he would need to risk the love of his life and break an age old oath to uncover the truth? Can Tristan find a solution without becoming a pawn to the game of life and death?

Kristi Helvig said...

Here's my 1-sentence pitch for BOUND, an urban fantasy YA complete at 60,000 words:

When wings of a murdered faerie fetch big bucks on eBay, a teenage girl realizes her kind aren't only being oppressed-they're being hunted.

Blue Pelo said...

"Porked"

It’s 2007, Michigan leads the country in unemployment, its main industry has collapsed and the state is nearing shutdown. Rather than passing a budget and righting the state’s finances, the narcissistic Republican Senate Majority Leader Thaddeus Crown, allows a bipolar colleague to change the fiscal debate to one concerning the political viability of renaming the Capitol Christmas tree, the Holiday tree.

“Porked” examines how journalism, public apathy, racism and polarized political structures have contributed to the demise of the country’s most economically traumatized state.

Thanks for the opportunity!

Jemi Fraser said...

Thank you ladies for this wonderful opportunity!

Here's my pitch for Steamed Up, a 67k YA Steampunk mystery with a splash of romance.

In a Victorian London where steam power rules and Bobbies don’t, two teens stumble onto a plot to defraud the Bank of England – and that’s the good news. The deaths of Nico’s mentor and Ella’s family bring the teens into an uneasy alliance to find answers and revenge. Using their tinkerings, the two find out more than some would like, and if they are to survive, they’ll need to trust in themselves, each other and an old man’s dream.

Jessica said...

First, thank you so much for holding this contest.

Jadonites, prbibilrps and talking animals aren’t exactly what Lexy expected to find in the library of her new home. The creatures of Shyando are expecting her and her friends to save them from the evil king, Dusaro. My novel, Lexy, is a young adult, urban fantasy complete at 62,000 words.

Thank you for considering my submission.

Darin said...

Thank you Sarah and Renae for this great opportunity. PAWN'S GAMBIT is a contemporary fantasy novel, complete at 115,000 words.

Steven Bauer always thought chess was just a game, until the sexy brunette in the black dress did her level best to incinerate him. He assumes the role of White Pawn in an ancient conflict that pits light against darkness for the fate of the world. Before the Game can begin, though, Steven must gather the remaining forces of the White, and he isn’t alone in seeking his brethren as the opposition led by his attempted assassin, the Black Queen, is also on the hunt.

Douglas E Wright said...

Thanks Sarah and Ranae for the terrific interview. Though, this tale is in revision, here’s my pitch for my 70,000 word literary supernatural suspense novel: MOONDANCERS.

When thirty-eight-year-old class-driven Rohan King and fifty-three-year-old retiree, Jake Koss, discover they were corralled for the Netherworld’s Taskmaster replacement scheme, they pull together a group of disenchanted souls to battle for their past.

Thank you both, Sarah & Ranae, for the opportunity.