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Pitch Wars Team Interview with Jessica James and mentor, Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla

Monday, 6 December 2021  |  Posted by Brenda Drake


Our mentors are mentoring, 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 9, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2021 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Jessica James – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Heather Van Fleet – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Jessica Calla – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Heather and Jess, why did you choose Jessica?

Heather: I was immediately drawn to Jessica’s barista-enemies-to-lovers manuscript, with its flirty banter, sexy times, and Jess’s wonderful writing. HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT is an entertaining romance with the perfect mix of swoon and angst that keep me hooked!

Jess: I fell for Seth–my new barista, guitar-playing, book boyfriend–from the start and couldn’t wait to spend more time with him in Jessica’s PNW coffee-filled world!

Jessica, why did you choose to submit to Heather and Jess?

Their wish list stood out to me immediately! Our tastes aligned quite a bit, and they were looking for contemporary romance full of tropes and banter, which felt like a really good sign. I was also super excited to see them tweeting about their editorial strengths during #AskMentor chats, because it became very clear they had the knowledge and experience to help me overcome my weaknesses.

Heather and Jess, summarize Jessica’s book in 3 words.

Heather: Sexy, Fun, Man-bun (Is that one word?).

Jess: Flirty bantering rivals!

Jessica, summarize your book in 3 words.

Swoony, Playful, Caffeinated!

Heather and Jess, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Heather: I’m addicted to chocolate-covered espresso beans. Seriously, is there anything better than the combo of coffee and chocolate? I also have a very needy Labradoodle, who I can always count on to interrupt my zoom meetings and writing time!

Jess: Not relevant, but I used to teach dance–ballet, tap, and jazz. My dream job was to be a dancer on a cruise ship and live a Love Boat life!

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

I want to level up my romance writing! Since I’m new to this genre and age category (my Pitch Wars manuscript is my first adult romance project) I know I have so much to learn. It makes me super eager to put in the work to make this book shine! I’m also really looking forward to getting to know other folks in the Pitch Wars community.

Jessica, tell us about yourself. What makes you and your manuscript unique?

I studied classical voice in college, and building all of those practice skills really prepared me for long hours of revision. My background means I tend to write music into my stories. (One of my MCs is a guitarist!) I’m also a stereotypical PNW coffee lover so it was only a matter of time before I wrote about baristas. My spouse and I have always gone on weekly coffee dates, and we used to alternate between two coffee shops in particular. One day I wondered, “What would happen if they were on the same street? And then what if two of the rival baristas fell in love?” Hate-to-love is a favorite trope of mine, so the idea for HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT sparked from there!

Check out Heather’s upcoming book releasing January 27, 2022, THE LIARS BENEATH …

Preorder now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble |

A romantically dark YA thriller set in the backdrop of Iowa’s suspenseful farmlands.

After a tragic accident ends her best friend’s life, 17-year-old Becca Thompson succumbs to grief the only way she knows how: by wallowing in it. She’s a fragment of the person she once was—far too broken to enjoy the summer before her senior year. But when Ben McCain, her best friend’s older brother, returns home, Becca must face her new reality head on.

She isn’t interested in Ben’s games, especially since he abandoned his sister during the months leading up to her death. But when he begs for her help in uncovering the truth about what really happened the night of his sister’s death, Becca finds herself agreeing, hoping to clear up rumors swirling in the wake of her best friend’s accident.

An unhinged ex-boyfriend, secret bucket lists, and garage parties in the place Becca calls home soon lead her to the answers she’s so desperate to unveil. But nobody is being honest, not even Ben. And the closer Becca gets to the truth—and to Ben—the more danger seems to surround her.

Clearing her best friend’s name was all she wanted to do, but Becca is quickly realizing that the truth she craves might be uglier than the lies her best friend kept.

Check out Jessica’s upcoming book re-releasing December 28, 2021, THE LOVE SQUARE …

Pre-order now: Amazon

On the west coast, Nebraskan Clare Davis hates her new life managing a bookstore in LA until she meets up-and-coming movie star Dylan Barnes. Dylan can’t help enjoying her midwestern charm as he shows her the wonders of California.​

On the east coast, Alex Popovich loves his carefree life as a minor league ballplayer in his hometown Brooklyn. When his best friend, gorgeous ballroom dancer-slash-office worker Jenna Stecco asks him to take that leap with her from friend to more, he bunts and lets her go.

When Jenna hooks up with Dylan, the four friends must fight their way out of the wrong corners of their love square to pair with their perfect match and find true love.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 9-14, 2022. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens. 


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