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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Arianne Costner and mentor Shari Schwarz & Brooke Salesky and mentor Melissa Marino

Friday, 22 September 2017  |  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 on November 1st-7th, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2017 Pitch Wars Teams.

And now, we have . . .

Arianne Costner – Mentee



Shari Schwarz – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Arianne, why did you choose to submit to Shari?

Shari’s bio was the first I read, and I knew right away she would be the perfect mentor. We share a passion for reaching the “reluctant reader,” and she appreciates humor. I could tell she was a skillful, dedicated, and experienced person who would help me take my manuscript to the next level. Plus, we have a few random things in common, like a teaching background, a love of instruments, and the same Myers-Briggs personality type, so she just really stood out!

Shari, why did you choose Arianne?

I fell in love with Arianne’s main character Ben and his witty, humorous voice right from the start. That along with great pacing, several nice plot twists and heartfelt elements of the story kept me laughing, ultimately tearing up and cheering out loud in the end.

Arianne, summarize your book in 3 words.

Dorky. Mascot. Prevails.

Shari, summarize your Arianne’s book(s) in 3 words.

Suspension or basketball mascot.

Arianne, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I live in a small town in the middle of the Mojave desert with my husband and one-year-old son. I used to teach seventh grade English and haven’t quite accepted the fact that I’m no longer a teacher! I absolutely adore the middle grade crowd. I love talking with them and listening to their conversations, taking note of their interests and their struggles and the things they find funny. I wanted to write a book my students would pick off a shelf. One that would make them laugh! And think! But mostly laugh, because we could all use more laughter in our lives.

Shari, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

A few years ago we moved from a small acreage where I raised chickens and goats and realized a lifelong dream of owning my own horse.

And next, we have . . .

Brooke Salesky – Mentee



Melissa Marino – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Brooke, why did you choose to submit to Melissa?

Melissa’s characters have such great chemistry, and that’s one thing that I wanted some mentoring on. They’re real, they jump of the page, and you feel all the feels with them. I want to do that and I thought she would be a great writer to work with. I also thought she’d be super fun– And I was not wrong!

Melissa, why did you choose Brooke?

I picked Brooke because I had to. From the moment I read the query, I knew her manuscript was something special. Then I read it and not only was it something special, it was beyond amazing. A beautiful, fun story of tension- filled colleagues turned star crossed lovers set against the backdrop of stunning India. When I was finished, there was no doubt. It rose above the others in terms of the ideas I had for ways to improve it, and also in terms of just how much I wanted to see this book out in the world. It was breathtaking. I grabbed hold and am still holding tight to this gem.

Brooke, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sexy, coworker, tension.

Melissa, summarize your Brooke’s book(s) in 3 words.

Culture shock love.

Brooke, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your MS unique?

I love travelling and I’ve lived and worked in a few different countries, including India where my book is set. India has always had a soft spot in my heart. It’s an amazing world, and one like no other. I love it because it’s a culture of contrasts in so many ways. I met my husband there and had such an amazing ride going through that journey with him and his family, I wanted to try and bring that experience to the page.

My manuscript is about Emma, a programmer from Seattle, who moves to the Bangalore office where she meets Rishi, another IT guy who was promised her job but then they gave it to her at the last minute. There’s a lot of tension between these two, because now they have to lead this new project together, and irritation and resentment abound. To top it off, Emma’s friend stuck a copy of the Kama Sutra in her bag, which Rishi sees Day One and it gets his mind running in a direction he doesn’t want it to. Especially because his parents are forcing him to get married. The problem is that he can’t find a wife that meets all of their criteria, and his. When Emma is forbidden to go to the slums for their pilot testing because she’s a foreigner, she makes a deal with him. If he helps her sneak in, she’ll help him write an algorithm to find the perfect wife—the marriage code.

It’s a contemporary romance, but I also wanted to get in some cool stuff about India and make the reader feel like they’re there. The smells, sounds, culture, color, and food (obviously, you got to have the food!) play a big role in both Emma and Rishi’s lives and I hope make the reader feel transported there as well.

Melissa, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Every Christmas I bake over 300 cookies just so I can give them away to everyone I can. 🙂

Our mentors’ latest releases…



Treasure At Lure Lake is a Middle Grade survival adventure for ages 8-12 told in dual-POV from the alternating perspective of two brothers on a backpacking trip in the Colorado Rockies with their grandfather.






SO WICKED by Melissa Marino

Amazon | B&N | Ibooks | Kobo

Fate has a wicked sense of humor. Alexis’s new life was made up of two things: baking and hiding the details of her old life in Chicago. The first allowed her to finally find some happiness. And the second is about to be destroyed by a man who knows all her secrets. Marshall Rawlins was prepared to do anything when he moved cross-country to launch an upscale cocktail bar—anything except work with Alexis, his best friend and business partner’s ex-wife. Adding Alexis’s boozy-baked goods to his menu would be a major feat for his bar. But striking a deal means getting in bed with the enemy. Battling between distrust and desire, Alexis and Marshall give in to a passionate, forbidden affair. They know if they’re discovered the consequences would be bad—it’s just hard to remember that when being together feels so, so good.


Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is November 1st-7th, and our next #PitMad is December 7, 2017!


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