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Pitch Wars Team Interviews with Cheryl Caldwell and her mentors, Kit Rosewater and Ash Van Otterloo

Monday, 27 January 2020  |  Posted by Rochelle Karina


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 starting on February 5, 2020, we hope you’ll take a moment during your writing breaks and get to know our 2019 Pitch Wars Mentor and Mentee Teams.

Next up, we have . . .

Cheryl Caldwell – Mentee



Kit Rosewater – Mentor

Website | Twitter


Ash Van Otterloo – Mentor

Website | Twitter

Kit & Ash, why did you choose Cheryl?

Kit: Cheryl’s prose made me laugh from the first page! I knew that whatever adventure she’d take me on in her narrative, I’d enjoy the ride within her vibrant and humorous writing.

Ash: Her voice!!! It snaps, crackles, and pops right off the page, and there’s nothing bland about it. Ready or not, Cheryl’s whisking you off on some heartfelt shenanigans!

Cheryl, why did you choose to submit to Kit & Ash?

The first things that caught my eye were the premises of their upcoming debuts. They sounded so fun and I could picture BACKWATER GUMSHOE on the shelf with theirs. Once I read about their mentoring strengths, I knew I’d be getting two for the price of one and they have not disappointed! Kit and Ash have helped me take my manuscript from a fun little story to one with meaning (and all the feelings!), all while keeping the main character’s spunky attitude intact. I hit the jackpot when I clicked the box next to their names!

Kit & Ash, summarize Cheryl)’s book in 3 words.

Kit: Shoeless, shenanigan stakeouts.

Ash: Determined, funny, observant.

(Mentee name), summarize your book in 3 words.

Humorous, unexpected tenderness.

Kit & Ash, tell us about yourself. Something we may not already know.

Kit: My two childhood dreams were to be a writer… and also to be the next Crocodile Hunter. Steve Irwin was my absolute idol growing up. I’d go out in the mesa behind my house after school and catch horned toads, lizards, and snakes. I’d always let them go, of course, just like Steve. But I have such a soft spot in my heart for all animals, especially reptiles!

Ash: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve adored collecting fossils, bones, and rocks! Where I grew up in AL, there were scads of marine fossils from the Cambrian Period, and now that I live on the West Coast, I love combing the beaches for interesting stones. My windowsills are completely strewn with a smattering of rocks and fossils at all times!

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

My main goal has been to get a better book and become a better writer. With every first-draft or revision I write and every tool I add to my toolbox, I get a little better. I knew Pitch Wars would put me through the wringer of revision deadlines and arm me with tools and ideas I could only get through a process like this. For those who are curious, there was no blood, there were no tears. There was, however, a boatload of sweat and more kicking and screaming than I’d care to admit. But in the end, I believe I will walk away with a manuscript I am proud of and a brand-new community of writer friends, one that will include my wonderful mentors.

Cheryl, tell us about yourself! What makes you and your manuscript unique?

Shoes is a fun, lovable character who has bossed me around the page since I penned the first line. Her unique view of the world and not-so-pretty emotions about her father’s role in her parent’s recent divorce are woven through a humorous mystery wrapped around family, friendships, and the island way of life. I think it’s important that children see their realities reflected in the stories they read in a forthright yet digestible manner. It is my hope that Shoes and her rag-tag group of friends in BACKWATER GUMSHOE does this while making the reader laugh at the same time.

Check out Kit and Ash’s newest releases.

THE DERBY DAREDEVILS by Kit Rosewater, available March 2020
A highly illustrated middle-grade series that celebrates new friendships, first crushes, and getting out of your comfort zone

Ever since they can remember, fifth-graders Kenzie (aka Kenzilla) and Shelly (aka Bomb Shell) have dreamed of becoming roller derby superstars. When Austin’s city league introduces a brand-new junior league, the dynamic duo celebrates! But they’ll need to try out as a five-person team. Kenzie and Shelly have just one week to convince three other girls that roller derby is the coolest thing on wheels. But Kenzie starts to have second thoughts when Shelly starts acting like everyone’s best friend . . . Isn’t she supposed to be Kenzie’s best friend? And things get really awkward when Shelly recruits Kenzie’s neighbor (and secret crush!) for the team. With lots of humor and an authentic middle-grade voice, book one of this illustrated series follows Kenzie, Shelly, and the rest of the Derby Daredevils as they learn how to fall—and get back up again.

CATTYWAMPUS by Ash Van Otterloo, available now
In the town of Howler’s Hollow, conjuring magic is strictly off-limits. Only nothing makes Delpha McGill’s skin crawl more than rules. So when she finds her family’s secret book of hexes, she’s itching to use it to banish her mama’s money troubles. She just has to keep it quieter than a church mouse — not exactly Delpha’s specialty.

Trouble is, Katybird Hearn is hankering to get her hands on the spell book, too. The daughter of a rival witching family, Katy has reasons of her own for wanting to learn forbidden magic, and she’s not going to let an age-old feud or Delpha’s contrary ways stop her. But their quarrel accidentally unleashes a hex so heinous it resurrects a graveyard full of angry Hearn and McGill ancestors bent on total destruction. If Delpha and Katy want to reverse the spell in time to save everyone in the Hollow from rampaging zombies, they’ll need to mend fences and work together.

Fans of A Snicker of Magic and The Witch Boy will love this funny, folksy, fresh debut from Ash Van Otterloo that proves sometimes it takes two witches to make the strongest magic happen.

Thank you for supporting our Pitch Wars Teams! The Agent Showcase is February 5 – 10, 2020, and our next Twitter Pitch Party on #PitMad is March 5, 2020! Want to know more about #PitMad? Go here


Filed: Interviews

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