Have questions about submitting to Pitch Wars or just want to know what it is? Start here!


Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Charisse Eschmann with mentors Julie Artz and Jessica Vitalis & Daniel Best with mentor Kristen Lepionka

Wednesday, 27 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 . . .

Charisse Eschmann – Mentee

Website | Twitter


Jessica Vitalis – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Julie Artz – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Charisse, why did you choose to submit to Julie and Jessica?

Julie and Jessica are amazing, experienced, and active in the writing community (check out their awesome articles in The Winged Pen). I read that working with them was like getting a mini-MFA and I was like, YES, this is what I need — Sparkling Unicorn Professors!

I knew that they were looking for diverse stories and fantasy with voice and and hoped they would connect with my book. I’m so honored and thrilled to be their mentee!

Julie and Jessica, why did you choose Charisse?

Jessica: We knew from the very first page that Reese’s story was “the one” for us; besides her gorgeous writing, the story was right in our wheelhouse––a magical story filled with tons of heart (and #ownvoices to boot!).

Julie: There was so much goodness in our inbox, but on the last day of the submission window, I’d read through every sub without feeling that tingly magic I was hoping for. Then, at the very end of the day, a submission (seriously, the very last one we got!) arrived that made me type !!!! next to it on our spreadsheet. After the first page of the first chapter, I knew it was the one, a feeling that each subsequent page reconfirmed for me.

Charisse, summarize your book in 3 words.

Fireworks. Fear. Heroes!

Julie and Jessica, summarize Charisse’s book(s) in 3 words.

Jessica: Hope, Superheroes, Train

Julie: Courage, Friendship, Magic

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

I am a social worker and a Chicago girl, so in love with both sides of my city that I can’t choose between the Cubs and the White Sox. I’ll always root for both.
When I started this book, I was thinking about kids with big feels and big dreams, trying to figure out the meaning of home and friendship and how to follow hurt with healing. I wanted to write an adventure across my city to show those kids that no matter what’s going on in their lives or on the news, there’s another side to every story, a greater narrative that’s filled with hope and caramel apples and maybe (just maybe) enough magic to make a few wishes come true.

Julie and Jessica, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Jessica: I used to moonlight as a hand model.

Julie: My first job was teaching tennis to kids aged 4-12.


And next, we have  . . .

Daniel Best – Mentee



Kristen Lepionka – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Daniel, why did you choose to submit to Kristen?

I chose to submit to Kristen Lepionka because her debut novel is not only a mystery featuring a black character, but also because of an article I read where she explained how she came up with the name of her MC–something I went back-and-forth on to make sure my MC’s name passed the “”resume test.”

Her Pitchwars Mentor page solidified my decision to pick Kristen! We both like a lot of the same authors. Her page also told me to be prepared to work my butt off. My goal in entering Pitchwars was to take my manuscript to the next level, and I knew Kristen would work me until it got there.

Lastly, I also chose Kristen because she is a former mentee of the fantastic Kellye Garrett, a writer I’m excited to follow.

Kristen, why did you choose Daniel?

I picked Dan because his manuscript was so suspenseful that I read it in one night and couldn’t stop thinking about it.

Daniel, summarize your book in 3 words.

 …Missing Black Woman

Kristen, summarize Daniel’s book(s) in 3 words.

Timely intersectional suspense

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

I am a black lawyer living in Columbus, Ohio, home of the Buckeyes (a poisonous nut, seriously). I am excited about Ohio State and Florida State football!
What makes MBW unique is that it’s told from two primary viewpoints, both of which are black characters. The benefit of being a black person writing black characters is that I can incorporate how some blacks view and have to psychologically adjust to the majority culture–be it because of self-imposed pressure or reality. MBW also ties in social justice issues and LGBT issues in a professional environment.
Another unique aspect of MBW is that includes an activist group similar to the “”Black Lives Matter”” movement. Their goal is to show that treating black lives equally incorporates more than situations where shootings occur, but it should also include the disparity of media coverage missing black women receive when compared to their white counterparts.
I’m pumped to be apart of the 2017 Mentee class and even more excited to have a mentee twin to go through this process with (shout out to Rheea Mukherjee! WE. GOT. THIS.)

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

I’ve wanted to be a mystery writer for as long as I can remember. I was a super weird kid who’d write crime stories for school assignments–but whatever, I was just practicing! 🙂


Our mentors’ latest releases…

THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK by Kristen Lepionka (June, Minotaur Books)

Kristen Lepionka Books

Since her cop father died in the line of duty, private investigator Roxane Weary’s only active investigation is the bottom shelf of her liquor cabinet. When she becomes a death row inmate’s last chance at proving his innocence, she uncovers a string of missing teenaged girls and a tangle of secrets in an Ohio suburb. As her investigation gets darker and darker, Roxane has to risk everything to find the truth. Lives depend on her cracking this case–including her own.


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



Comments are closed.
We're thrilled at the different ways those in our Pitch Wars community are giving back—and we encourage them to do so. However, please keep in mind that Pitch Wars is not affiliated with any of these various contests, promotions, etc., including those of our mentors and mentees. Promoting any such opportunities via our social media channels doesn't imply endorsement or affiliation. We encourage you to do your research before participating.

Pitch Wars takes a stand. ANTI-BULLYING. Click here to review our policy

Pitch Wars 2021

Blog Archives

Blog Categories

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.