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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Charis M. Ellison and her mentors, Tobie Easton & Jennieke Cohen

Friday, 30 November 2018  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


Our mentors are editing, our mentees are revising, and we hope you’re making progress on your own manuscript! While we’re all working toward the Agent Showcase starting on February 6, 2019, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2018 Pitch Wars Teams.

First up, we have . . .

Charis M. Ellison – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Tobie Easton – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Jennieke Cohen – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Tobie and Jennieke, why did you choose Charis?

Out of all the submissions we read during this year’s Pitch Wars, EMBER stood out to us right away because of its fresh, unique spin on Cinderella and its enchanting, beautiful worldbuilding. As we kept reading, the multifaceted characters and their complex relationships paired with evocative, emotional writing that kept us glued to the page. We were so excited to get to join this dynamic, body-positive fairy tale heroine as she cracked a magical curse–and attended some of the most imaginative costume balls we’ve encountered!

Charis, why did you choose to submit to Tobie and Jennieke?

I actually didn’t! True confession: I’m terrible about second-guessing myself, and I made up my mind at the last minute to enter Pitch Wars. I knew that I could either stay up all night stressing over which mentors to choose or I could make my selections really quickly and hope for the best. I got lucky! My submission was passed to Tobie and Jennieke by another mentor, and I was absolutely thrilled when they chose me! Although really I should have known it was meant to be, since #teamCookieDough shares the name of my very favorite ice cream flavor, and my book matches perfectly with their wishlist for fantasy rooted in the real world, fairy-tale retellings, and romance—EMBER re-imagines Cinderella in a world based closely on the mid-1700s, with thoroughly researched gowns and a lot of pining.

Tobie and Jennieke, summarize Charis’s book in 3 words.

gowns, enchantments, friendship

Charis, summarize your book in 3 words.

Masquerades, Magic, Family

Tobie and Jennieke, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Tobie: I fell in love with EMBER when Charis compared the palace to towers of glittering sugar cubes. Also, I once named a foster puppy Gus Gus after the character in the Disney version of Cinderella.

Jennieke: I fell in love with EMBER when Charis incorporated cool, fascinating forms of spell casting, including an old shoe hidden in a chimney. Also, one of my goals is to one day wear a dress like Drew Barrymore’s in Ever After.

Charis, what do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Writing EMBER has been a long journey—the first draft was me finding my way back to the writing I loved after years of depression. I poured a lot of my own emotional journey onto the page. In the subsequent drafts (eight of them) I had to figure out how to take all of those feelings and use them to tell a good story without losing its heart. I wrote and rewrote, but I knew that my book was never quite as good as it could be. With the help of Tobie and Jennieke EMBER is already transforming, and I know that I’ll come out of Pitch Wars with a book that’s stronger and better. I also hope to have new skills and a community of other writers who will help me keep growing long after February 2019.

Charis, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I’m a body-positive fat girl, the huffiest, puffiest Hufflepuff, and a military brat. Moving frequently as a kid meant that I spent most of my time living in books, and I never grew out of it. I currently live in Fort Worth, TX, and when I’m not writing I love to research historical clothing and daydream about costumes that are way above my sewing skillset! EMBER grew out of my love of historical romances and fairy tales…and also my huge frustration with fairy tales in popular culture. It’s a retelling of Cinderella, but Ember is a fat, freckled girl who did NOT want to go to the royal ball–and she doesn’t trust the mysterious, beautiful woman who shows up at midnight to dance with the prince. EMBER is a love-letter to all the girls who have never seen themselves as the heroine of a fairy tale because they don’t think they look the part.

Check out Tobie’s recent release, EMERGE …

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk. So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right?

That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 6 – 11, 2019, and our next #PitMad is December 6, 2018!


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