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Pitch Wars Team Interviews: Erin Cotter with mentor Carlie Sorosiak, Dana Edwards & Dan Lollis and mentor Shanna Rogers, & Deborah Falaye and mentors Claribel Ortega and Kat Cho

Monday, 16 October 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 . . .

Erin Cotter – Mentee

Website | Twitter

Carlie Sorosiak – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Erin, why did you choose to submit to Carly?

Carlie’s wish list matched some aspects of my manuscript—but it was reading her debut If Bids Fly Back that had me convinced I had to submit to her! She creates that perfect balance of poignant and light-hearted fun that I love in contemporary books. It’s a balance I want to get better at fostering in my own writing. I spent most of the Pitch Wars pre-announcement window with fingers crossed hoping she’d want to see more of my work!

Carly, why did you choose Erin?

I was immediately drawn to Erin’s story. Albert and Rosa are such vibrant, original characters. Erin’s novel was one of the only submissions that made me laugh out loud; and that’s so difficult to do! The voice is like if Rainbow Rowell and Stephanie Perkins had a book baby. It’s equally sweet and powerful. Erin knows how to write romance really honestly, and I absolutely cannot resist a good romance. Plus, the story takes place in Austin, Texas, one of my favorite cities in the world! Choosing Erin as my mentee was a no-brainer. She’s so easy to work with, and I feel like I’ve also gained a friend.

Erin, summarize your book in 3 words.

Sweet, funny firsts.

Carly, summarize Erin’s book in 3 words.

Powerful, humorous, bittersweet

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

I never thought I’d write contemporary YA. When I was younger I’d always write fantasy and dystopia. I wasn’t sure how to make a story interesting if it didn’t have magic or government cover-ups! Contemporary seemed like the hardest genre to write. But when the stress of dissertation writing got to me, I decided to write a YA contemporary just to see if I could. I fell in love with the genre! Now I write about Edith Wharton and Theda Bara by day and write YA contemporaries at night.

Definitely Just Friends is a love letter to the city of my heart: Austin, Texas. I spent 22 years in a city that I never quite fit into. I thought places didn’t have souls or personalities—they were just collections of stuff you happened to live in. But when grad school brought me to Austin it was heart fireworks and heart eyes for days. It still is! Definitely Just Friends encapsulates this sense of how you can fall in love with a place as much as a person.

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

My two YA novels, IF BIRDS FLY BACK and WILD BLUE WONDER, are both semi-autobiographical. I currently live in England but have moved thirty-one times. My dream is to settle down in the middle of Montana and run a goat sanctuary. I’m not even kidding.

And next, we have  . . .

Dana Edwards & Dan Lollis – Mentees

Dana: Twitter | Dan: Twitter


Shanna Rogers – Mentor


Dana and Dan,why did you choose to submit to Shanna?

We loved Shanna’s sense of humor and her might-need-an-intervention level of gif usage. Her wishlist was right up our alley. She wanted humor, mystery, family stories, twists, and kids trying something outside of their experience, and our manuscript was a good match. We loved her website and felt that she’d be the perfect mix of cheerleader/coach/drill sergeant.

Shanna’s full of spunk and encouragement, and we think the three of us make a great team.

Shanna, why did you choose Dana and Dan?

Beyond loving their book, I got a good sense of their dedication to making their MS as strong as possible.

Dana and Dan, summarize your book in 3 words.

Fun. Adventure. Pizza.

Shanna, summarize Dana and Dan’s book in 3 words.

Mystery cousins competing

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

We’re a co-writing team and love creating and writing together. Our story is told through alternating points of view of Abby and Brandon, two twelve-year-old cousins. This allows us to add our own distinct voice, experience, and perspective to our story. We get the added bonus of being able to share ideas and bounce off each other’s writing and style. We’re each competitive, and we push each other to do our best work. And, we’re still twelve at heart.

Also, we love the idea of family stories and the importance of immediate and distant relatives. Family is a big aspect of life for a middle grade reader. None of us get to pick our relatives, but they’re the people we’re connected to for life. They’re the ones we love and enjoy and the ones who make us want to hide in the bathroom during family reunions.

And pizza. Our story has lots and lots of pizza.

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

I hate cilantro.

And now we have . . .

Deborah Falaye – Mentee


Claribel Ortega – Mentor

Website | Twitter

 Kat Cho – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Deborah, why did you choose to submit to Claribel and Kat?

Both Claribel and Kat have been on my radar since the mentors wishlist came out months ago. A dynamic duo that was looking for an #ownvoices fantasy inspired by non-western culture with a bad-ass heroine and strong friendships? Hell yes! I knew immediately I was going to submit BLOOD SCION to them, but I was also super intimidated because I knew they were high up on other mentees’ lists as well. Seriously though, who wouldn’t want to be a part of Teamoji? So when I found out Claribel and Kat had chosen me as their mentee, I was shocked to say the least. But also beyond grateful for the opportunity to work with them. The second we got on Skype, everything clicked. After that conversation, I knew if anyone could get a book to SLAY, it was going to be these two fierce ladies.

Claribel and Kat, why did you choose Deborah?

Kat: It was immediate apparent that she had a natural talent for storytelling. Her words just jumped off the page and grabbed onto our hearts. She was immediately able to get us to root for Sloane on her journey to discover both her past and fight for her future. The subject matter was not always an easy one to read because the horrors of war and #ChildrenNotSoldiers is a very real thing that plagues our world today. But Dee was able to capture so much heart in her writing, that it became a need to finish the book instead of just a want.

Claribel: Dee’s first line hooked me right away. Her prose is beautiful and her ability to pull you into a scene is remarkable. We loved the mixture of the gritty background of a war along with the inclusion of the importance of family, friendship and love. On a more personal note, Dee is just a great person. We immediately hit it off with her and found we all had a lot in common. She is tenacious, hardworking, kind and funny: all things we were hoping for in a mentee and most definitely got 🙂

Deborah, summarize your book in 3 words.

Nigeria. Mythology. #ChildrenNotSoldiers. That last one counts as one word since it’s a hashtag, right? LOL sorry guys!

Claribel and Kat, summarize Deborah’s book in 3 words.

Powerful, heartbreaking, unputdownable!

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

My family and I moved from Nigeria to Canada when I was twelve. Growing up in Nigeria, I was surrounded by culture. From the Yoruba language I woke up to every morning to the Orisha stories my grandmother told at night, the root of my heritage was alive and well. So naturally when I came to Canada, people said, be careful not to lose your culture. It’s a warning many children of immigrant families probably grew up hearing. It was also one of the first thoughts that sparked the idea for BLOOD SCION. What happens when a girl has been forced to grow up with little knowledge of her culture except for these powers she inherited from the gods? How does that shape her identity? How does she learn to assimilate, reject everything she is, in order to live and survive in this new world? The two things I love the most about my manuscript is the Nigerian culture inherent in the story and the strong message of #ChildrenNotSoldiers explored throughout the book.

Claribel and Kat, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Kat once wanted to own a horse farm and did show jumping as a teen (not well). She was also an extra in Step Up 3D (her biggest claim to fame)

English is Claribel’s second language and she’s really scared of mice and whales.


Our mentors’ latest releases…

WILD BLUE WONDER by Carly Sorosiak

Ask anyone in Winship, Maine, and they’ll tell you the summer camp Quinn’s family owns is a magical place. Paper wishes hang from the ceiling. Blueberries grow in the dead of winter. According to local legend, a sea monster even lurks off the coast. Mostly, there’s just a feeling that something extraordinary could happen there.

Like Quinn falling in love with her best friend, Dylan.

After the accident, the magic drained from Quinn’s life. Now Dylan is gone, the camp is a lonely place, and Quinn knows it’s her fault.

But the new boy in town, Alexander, doesn’t see her as the monster she believes herself to be. As Quinn lets herself open up again, she begins to understand the truth about love, loss, and monsters—real and imagined.



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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