Pitch Wars Wishlist 2021

Hi there! I’m Alexandria (she/her) and welcome to my 2021 Pitch Wars wishlist! I’m so thrilled to be mentoring this year. Below you’ll find a breakdown of who I am, what I write, what genres & age categories I’m accepting, what I’m excited to see in submissions, what I might not be the best fit for, and a little about my mentoring style. If you have questions regarding my wishlist, feel free to reach out! You can always @ me on Twitter (@ambellefleur).

I encourage you to read this, and all mentor wishlists, carefully. You can only submit to four mentors/mentor pairings, so it would be in your best interest to choose the mentors you believe will be the best fit for your manuscript.

A note on direct messages: Unless your question contains sensitive information you don’t feel comfortable publicly asking, I’d prefer you @ me vs direct messaging. DMs aren’t always the most reliable (messages wind up in my requests folder and I might not see them right away!) and another mentee might have the same or similar question you have. In that case, it would be helpful that I respond publicly! Thank you for understanding!

*Portions of this wishlist might not be safe for work*

A Primer on Pitch Wars

Pitch Wars is a volunteer-run mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns choose one writer each to mentor. Mentors read the entire manuscript and offer suggestions on how to make the manuscript shine for the agent showcase. The mentor also helps edit their mentee’s pitch for the contest and their query letter for submitting to agents. You can learn more about Pitch Wars at pitchwars.org.

 

Let’s move on to the basics!

Age Categories/Genres

  • Adult

  • New Adult*

  • Romance (contemporary, paranormal, historical, erotic)

A Little About Me + What I Write

Official Bio: Alexandria Bellefleur is a bestselling and award-winning author of swoony contemporary romance often featuring loveable grumps and the sunshine characters who bring them to their knees. A Pacific Northwesterner at heart, Alexandria has a weakness for good coffee, Pike IPA, and Voodoo Doughnuts. Her special skills include finding the best Pad Thai in every city she visits, remembering faces but not names, falling asleep in movie theaters, and keeping cool while reading smutty books in public. Her debut novel, Written in the Stars, was a 2021 Lambda Literary Award winner and a 2020 winner of The Ripped Bodice Awards for Excellence in Romantic Fiction.

The Fun Stuff:

  • My debut novel, WRITTEN IN THE STARS, came out November 10, 2020 and my sophomore novel, HANG THE MOON, released May 25, 2021. The third book in my series of connected standalones, COUNT YOUR LUCKY STARS, will release on February 1, 2022.

  • I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2017. I submitted to Pitch Wars in 2016, but was not chosen as an official mentee. However, one mentor was so kind and gave me invaluable feedback. I learned so much as a mentee and I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity to share not only my craft knowledge, but also what I’ve learned about publishing as a business based on querying, being agented, being on submission, and now, being published.

  • I did not get an agent from the agent round. Instead, I found my amazing agent through querying. Querying does work! Some books need a longer pitch and that’s okay.

  • My Pitch Wars book was not my debut.

What I Want to See

I am mentoring ADULT ROMANCE. This means 1) your characters should be 18+, 2) there must a central love story, and 3) there MUST be a happily ever after/happy for now (HEA/HFN).

As a queer author of queer romance, I would love to see stories by marginalized authors and featuring marginalized characters in my inbox. I will not ask prospective mentees to disclose their marginalizations or specify whether their story is #ownvoices. However, if you would like to include that information and feel comfortable doing so, that’s great and I’ll welcome that info. I will never share it. Any gender pairings are welcome and I also welcome stories that feature polyamorous relationships.

  • Contemporary

    • I’m accepting contemporary romance and rom-coms. Don’t feel pressured to call your contemporary romance a romantic comedy if it’s not one. I'm more than happy to answer questions about where I think the line is between contemporary romance and rom-coms, though it it can certainly be subjective.

    • Give me all the sapphic romances. (This goes for all subgenres, not just contemporary!)

    • I would love to see stories with bisexual main characters no matter the relationship pairing. Bisexual characters in M/F relationships are valid! (This also goes for all subgenres, not only contemporary!)

    • This is the genre I write in, so it’s also the genre I’m most familiar with.

    • I’m drawn to voice-y contemporaries. I have no preference regarding POV or tense, but I want the voice to jump off the page.

    • Some of my favorite authors who are currently writing contemporary romance are Talia Hibbert, Christina Lauren, Tessa Bailey, Alexis Daria, Rebekah Weatherspoon, Casey McQuiston, Alexis Hall, Alyssa Cole, and Olivia Dade.

  • Paranormal

    • I prefer my paranormal on the steamier side. Throw that door wide open. In fact, go ahead and take it off the hinges. 🔥🔥🔥🌶🌶🌶

    • I’m a sucker for fated mates. I love stories that don’t shy away from unpacking and interrogating consent within the framework of the trope and stories that do not tether cis-heteronormativity to the trope.

    • Vampires, werewolves, other shifters, demons, and ghosts (provided you have an HEA) are all welcome.

    • In terms of witches, I’m looking for super fresh hooks.

  • Historical

    • I welcome most time periods, but I’m eager to see time periods outside of Regency.

    • I’d kill to see a historical romance comped to Peaky Blinders, Penny Dreadful, or Harlots. I’d also love comps to Scarlett Peckham and also Sierra Simone’s Markham Hall series. That being said, I also enjoy lighter historical romances in the vein of Tessa Dare, Julia Quinn, Olivia Waite, and Sarah MacLean.

  • Erotic

    • I’m accepting submissions for erotic romance which is different from erotica. Erotic romances require an HEA whereas erotica does not. I am not accepting erotica submissions. Erotic romances have a central romance wherein sex plays an integral role in the characters’ romantic arc.

    • Some of my favorite erotic romance authors are Sierra Simone, Katee Robert, Rilzy Adams, and Charlotte Stein.

Tropes I Love (All Genres)

  • Enemies to lovers, rivals to lovers, and hate to love

  • Fake dating

  • Sibling’s best friend/ best friend’s sibling

  • One bed

  • Opposites attract and grump + sunshine

  • Cinnamon roll heroes

  • Meta elements (characters who are writers, read romance, references to romance/rom-coms, fandom, etc.)

  • Forced proximity

  • Age gaps

  • “Let’s just bang it out of our systems”

  • MUTUAL PINING

*A Note on New Adult

I am accepting New Adult romances. In the last few years, New Adult has been a hard sell in the world of traditional publishing as it has become a shorthand for higher heat, college-set romances. However, there are always exceptions and I know of several New Adult romances publishing this year and in 2022. What these books tend to have in common is a fresh hook. Many of them are high concept.

If selected and depending on your hook, I might ask you during revisions to consider aging up your manuscript to Adult.

Things That Are a Hard Sell for Me

(These usually aren't for me, but there will always be exceptions, especially if your manuscript really hits on other aspects of my wishlist.)

  • Secret baby romances

  • Stories where the pregnancy of a main character plays a significant role or for a significant duration of the manuscript

  • Billionaire romances

  • Love triangles

  • Closed-door romance (However, if your story is closed-door or light on steam and on-page sexual intimacy is something you’re specifically looking to beef up, I absolutely welcome your submission! I can help you with that. I’d love to help you with that. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with closed-door romance!)

  • Super slow burns. I usually like to see on-page intimacy no later than 70% (that’s a rough estimate; basically I’m not a good fit if your characters don’t bang until the very end of the book). Also, if the burn is going to be slow, I like it to burn hot. I want a pressure cooker romance, not a slow simmer, meaning I want to see lots of chemistry and tension prior to the on-page intimacy. You know the Mr. Darcy hand brush scene in Pride and Prejudice (2005)? I want that. Loaded touches. Weighted conversations with doublespeak. Banter as foreplay. Sweating over eye contact.

  • Virgin heroines in contemporary

  • Amnesia stories

  • Sports stories (unless it’s gymnastics, ice skating, cheerleading, or involves the Olympics. Absolutely send me those!)

  • Books where the pandemic features heavily

  • Historical romances set in the 1970s-1980s

What I’m Not a Good Fit For

  • Stories without an HEA/HFN because those are not romance

  • Stories featuring infidelity between the main characters (either on-page or before the start of the manuscript) or main characters who have cheated in the past. If your character has been cheated on, that’s fine! I’m just not a good fit for stories that involve past or presently committing infidelity as part of a character arc.

  • Heroines who are “not like other girls”.

  • Student/teacher relationships

  • Workplace relationships that do not address any potential power imbalances

  • On page sexual assault or detailed recovery from sexual assault

  • Pet loss and detailed grieving following the loss of a pet. Brief mentions are fine, but if it plays a big role in the story, I’m not a good fit.

  • While I welcome polyamorous romances, I’m not a good fit for harem and reverse harem romances.

 

My Mentoring Style

  • I’ll give you an edit letter that breaks down what I feel like is working (I absolutely plan to gush about your manuscript and will probably send you an email with exclamation points and perhaps even gifs!) and what I feel isn’t working within your manuscript. It will cover big picture categories like plot, pacing, character, romance arc, etc. and will also include smaller story specific notes.

  • I generally find it most helpful to read an edit letter and sit on it for at least 48 hours before coming up with a gameplan. I’ll likely suggest you do the same 😊

  • I’ll be available to talk through the edit letter and brainstorm ideas for revisions.

  • Prepare yourself for some prep work! Refining character GMC + flaws/wounds/false beliefs is a strength of mine. I feel like having that smoothed out prior to drafting/revisions is helpful and saves time, so I’ll send you resources + worksheets. If you want to get ahead on this, I recommend you get a copy of the Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi and Angela Ackerman and look through it. It’s my favorite writing resource. I’ll likely also send you a beat sheet for pacing specific to the romance genre.

  • Some other strengths of mine not listed somewhere above: dialogue, characterization (including secondary characters), character consistency, internal conflict, and pacing.

  • If I make a suggestion for a change that you don’t agree with, I’ll be happy to discuss my reasoning and see if we can brainstorm an alternative solution, but at the end of the day, your manuscript is yours. You need to feel comfortable and happy with the story you’re sending out into the world.

  • I'd love a mentee who is eager to learn and improve their craft so that they can take the lessons learned during Pitch Wars and apply them not only to the manuscript they are applying with, but also future manuscripts. I think open communication and mutual respect are critical to the mentor/mentee relationship.

 

If you have any questions about my wishlist or mentoring style, please don’t hesitate to ask. Again, you can find me on Twitter @ambellefleur!

Keep scrolling down past the footer for the complete list of adult mentors!