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

Thursday, 21 January 2021  |  Posted by Angel Zhang


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 10, 2021, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2020 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Riley Rhys

Riley Rhys – Mentee



Heather Van Fleet

Heather Van Fleet – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Jessica Calla

Jessica Calla – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Heather and Jess, why did you choose Riley?

Heather and Jess: We loved the MatchMe pitch: two singles in NYC using a dating app for very different reasons match with each other, have a painful first date, but become friends and make a bet to choose each other’s dates. So fun! MatchMe is a modern millennial romance in the age of the dating app. The story’s banter and characters drew us in on our first read (Logan… sigh… )! We also loved the bisexual rep and also how the city becomes a character in and of itself.

That sounds like a fun premise for a great story. And Riley, why did you choose to submit to Heather and Jess?

We were so excited about the potential of becoming part of Heather and Jess’ #TeamAwesome! Their post about mentoring style and what they were looking for immediately stood out to us because it seemed to us that MATCH ME would hit a number of the items on their wishlist and we loved their obvious enthusiasm — which has been 10x as amazing to experience in real life! We were also so impressed with the level of detail they shared about the process and what they’d be doing as mentors. Heather and Jess go above and beyond and we are so grateful to be working with them.

It’s wonderful when the star align! So Heather and Jess, can you summarize Riley’s book in 3 words.

sexy, fun, sex-positive.

Riley, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sexy, shenanigans, waffles

Love sex-positive and love waffles. I’m sold! Heather and Jess, can tell us about yourselves? Something we may not already know.

Like Patricia and Asja, Heather and Jess connected creatively and personally (honestly, it was love at first sight), and decided to write a book together: LOVE IN THE AISLES. We had a great time collaborating, sending chapters back and forth, and pantsing our way through. The best part was that we wrote it for fun, but then loved it so much when it was finished that we decided to put it into the world and sub it!

That sounds like a perfect story plot but I’m thrilled to learn that’s your real life. Now back to Riley. What do you hope to get out of the Pitch Wars experience?

Our biggest hope is to get the book ready for submission. We both absolutely adore this story but can also tell that it needs work and so we entered PW with the hope of being able to extend our collaborative work to include fresh eyes and minds to help get the book to the level we know it has the potential to be at. We’ve been incredibly lucky to have had the level of support and spot-on notes that Heather and Jess have provided — when this book reaches its final form it will be so much better because of their mentorship contributions. We also really love the community aspect of it all — getting to know other writers and mentors is one of the best parts of the PW experience.

It’s so important to have other supportive writers in your corner as you navigate your journey! And Riley, can you tell us about yourself? What makes you and your manuscript unique?

We met at a rooftop party during BEA one year and immediately decided that we were going to work together. Our creative work together took a variety of forms before we started co-writing as Riley Rhys, but we have always been natural collaborators. Luckily for us, being best friends was also in the stars as part of the deal and the level of trust and support we’ve found in each other has been a huge inspiration for the healthy, positive female friendships between characters in our books. MATCH ME was ultimately inspired by both of our lifelong loves of romantic stories, a strong desire to see more supportive friendships, sex-positivity, and self-love on the page, and most of all — wanting to see more bi-women heroines find their OWN happiness…and a person to share that with along the way. We started this project knowing that our heroine was going to have a lot to figure out about herself and what she wanted. Learning to prioritize her own wants and needs without feeling guilty about that is a love story in and of itself. Really at the end of the day we wanted to take two people who needed to learn to love THEMSELVES and then give them a bonus at the end by having that internal work put them in exactly the right place (internally and externally) at the right time with the right person.

I’m excited to watch MatchMe’s journey to publishing. Crossing my fingers for your success! Thank you Heather, Jess, and Rileyfor the interview!

Check out Heather and Jessica’s recent release, LOVE IN THE AISLES (Sunrise Valley Book 1) …

Love in the AislesOn a scale from one to ten on the epic failure charts, Charlotte Dawson’s day just passed an eleven.

The last thing Charlotte wants to do is go to the supermarket, but with a four-year-old to feed, she doesn’t have a choice. Just when she thinks she’s free and clear of marketplace drama, Charlotte finds herself in the throes of a hide-and-seek game with the nosiest woman in town. And if that wasn’t enough to add to her bad day, the hot new bag guy catches her hiding out…in the liquor section…on a Sunday in the South. But she can’t formulate the words to tell him to get lost. In fact, she can’t speak at all once she gazes into those hazel eyes.

Having been ditched at the altar by his long-term girlfriend, Hollywood sensation Ian ‘Cleary’ Tate escapes to Sunrise Valley for one reason—peace. Serving as a temporary apprentice under his stepfather at Adler’s Market is the perfect cover—nothing says redefining his life like a little manual labor. Until he runs into a problem…Charlotte Dawson, the widow of the town’s biggest hero. He in no way expected to develop a fascination with the bumbling, yet refreshing, young mom, who just so happens to have the grace of a one-legged chimpanzee.

In a series of unexpected encounters between the aisles of the supermarket and the gossip-filled streets of Sunrise Valley, Charlotte and Ian get to know one another, Georgia style—all under the watchful eyes of a group of meddling old women known as the GOLs (Gossiping Old Ladies).

It’s not easy falling in love after heartbreak, but Ian and Charlotte have a chance at exactly that…if Ian’s secret Hollywood fame and Charlotte’s former life don’t get in the way first.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Book Depository

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 10-15, 2021. Make sure to stop by then and check out all our mentees’ entries when it opens.


Filed: Interviews

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