2018 PitchWars wishlist for Heather Van Fleet and Lana Sloan

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I am so excited to be co-mentoring with my 2017 PitchWars mentee, Lana Sloan this year. Together, we'll be taking the romance mentor/mentee world by storm as #TeamAwesome 2.0.

Lana and I will be accepting all things romantic NEW ADULT and ADULT...with a few exceptions of course. With that being said, PLEASE be sure to read through our wish list carefully so as not to sub something to us we won't be accepting. (We'd hate for you to waste one of your mentor picks on someone who does not even accept your genre!!)

Now, here's a little something to help you get to know us, personally.

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About Heather

Hi! I'm Heather, a stay-at-home mom of three crazy girls and two pups, one big, one tiny, both of which have officially turned me into a stereotypical dog lady. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, Chris, and this year we'll be celebrating 16 years of marriage. The seven of us live in northwestern Illinois, less than a mile from the Mississippi river.

I’m represented by Stacey Donaghy of Donaghy Literary, and my adult contemporary romance series, Reckless Hearts (A Three Men and a Baby retelling, Alpha Marines style) is published through Sourcebooks Casablanca. Book one (Reckless Hearts) and book two, (The Right Kind of Reckless) are both available in stores now. Book three, (Recklessly Ever After) releases at the end of October.)

First and foremost, I am a HUGE romance reader. Like, I will ONLY read a story if it has a central romance. I've been that way since the age of twelve when I would sneak into the romance section of the library and finger through the old, metal shelving units for all things Harlequin books. Now, I'm lucky enough to stay at home and write those types of romance books as a career.

Industry wise, I worked as a content/developmental editor for nearly two year at a small press and fell head over heels with my job. Now, I do the occasional content freelance gig for a select number of romance authors.

For the past five years, I've interned with various literary agents, and have come to the conclusion that becoming an agent someday, is my end goal in this industry. There is something amazing about helping an author achieve their goals, and I think that's one of my biggest draws to being a mentor through PitchWars.

Currently, I'm an editorial intern at P.S. Literary where I work under the fan-tabulous Maria Vicente. Working at PS is seriously the best job I've ever had thus far. A dream, bottom line.

About Lana

Howdy, I’m Lana and it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you.

I’m a SoCal mother of two small kiddos and the owner of way too many pets, including two dogs, four cats, and a parrot. Over the years, I’ve also had a revolving door of hard luck cases ranging from alligator lizards, to opossums, to pigeons.

Before I started college, I met my future husband at a goth club in Hollywood, CA. It’s been nineteen years this month—yikes!—and though my outlook on life, musical tastes, and clothing choices have brightened significantly, beneath the surface I’m still an angsty girl who can’t believe she was lucky enough to get her happily ever after.

I have two short stories out in the world: ‘Come Find Me’ a contemporary erotic romance in Ticket to Ride about a chance encounter on the parking deck of a Seattle ferry, and ‘Perinacht’ an erotic historical fantasy romance about a man seeking vengeance against the pirate who killed his beloved in Pirates: A Boys Behaving Badly Anthology. I’m represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency, and I’m currently on submission with my steamy contemporary romance Just a Taste of You, which was featured in PitchWars 2017.

I LOVE ROMANCE. Whatever I write, and whatever I consume as a reader, I’m always looking for a romantic angle. If you threw a geometry book in front of me, it wouldn’t take long for me to deduce that the parallelogram has been making eyes at the isosceles triangle from the very first page. Bottom line, I live for love stories, whether real or imagined.

For the past three years, I’ve helped other writers through critique and beta reading in romance and other genres. I have a strong attention to detail, and feedback on the sexy stuff is a personal specialty.

As a past mentee, I’ve also been on the other side of Pitch Wars. I know how hard you’re going to work, all the emotions that are going to rock you, and that in the end it WILL be worth it. I’m ready to kick your butt in a very empathetic way and shower you with champagne gifs when you have a breakthrough.

What to expect if we pick you as our mentee:

As your mentors, we will work with you on the big picture as far as your manuscript goes. This includes fixing plot holes, beefing up character development, cutting the dreaded telling versus showing, pacing, and all the stuff that goes along with content/developmental edits.

Throughout this process, we will be your best friends, standing by you long after the contest is over. BUT at the same time, we will also be the two people who push you the hardest.

If we think your book needs an overhaul, we’re going to need a mentee who is not afraid to tackle that. You only get a few months to make this baby shine, so you must be willing to work hard and fast. If you're not willing to possibly kill your darlings, change your love interest, remove a point of view, or change an entire book from first person to third, or vice versa, then you might not want us as your mentors. We’re not saying this is something that HAS to happen, but we will suggest it be done if we feel it needs it. In the end, though, this is YOUR baby. We're only here to make it pretty and guide you along the way with our knowledge.

We will give you a lovely, gushing editorial note with all our big thoughts and plans, then we will each go through your book (twice) doing both content/developmental edits along with line edits.

This will be hard. Grueling, even. Like we mentioned before, we’ll push you to your breaking point. You may think it's not possible, but it is. If you have the drive and time to make it happen, then we will do whatever we can to help you along the way. More than anything, we want you to walk away from this contest with a top-notch manuscript that’s ready to land you that dream agent.

Now, on to the good stuff.

Here is what we want to see in both ADULT and NEW ADULT submissions for PitchWars, 2018:

Contemporary Romance

Tropes we love to devour:

1.       Best friend’s older brother

2.       Brother’s best friend

3.       Friends to lovers

4.       Next door neighbors

5.       Enemies to lovers

6.       Childhood friends to adult lovers

7.       Single dads or moms

8.       Secret Babies

9.       Roommates to lovers

10.     Reunion stories

11.      Forced Proximity

- First and foremost, please, oh PLEASE give us your diverse and ownvoices romance novel this year. We're open to anything M/M or F/F especially. 

- Got a heroine who is plus-sized, a total badass, or even unlikeable? Send them our way. As Heather's website says, every girl deserves an extraordinary romance. 

- Make us laugh! Give us your over-the-top rom coms. The adorable meet-cutes too. We'd love to find the next The Hating Game by Sally Thorne or anything that gives us a Penny Reid vibe. 

- Give us your stories with camping and/or the outdoors. A romance like the movie Indian Summer would be fantastic!

- Nature in general as a huge obstacle for a couple would be fabulous too. Inclement weather books where the h/h must survive through a hurricane or tornado, while trying to navigate love, are always delightful. Like, a Twister remaking...with way more romance, plus some sex, please. Something ALA Frigid by J. Lynn or The Gamble by Kristen Ashley.   

- A road trip gone wrong story? Yes, please. Something that holds a The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski vibe. 

- How about survival stories? Do you have those? Something like, On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves.  A couple stranded somewhere with only each other to lean on... Even better if the trope is enemies to lovers.

- Got a superhero story with a strong, central romance plot? Appeal to our geeky, comic book side and we will forever adore you. SEND, SEND, SEND! BONUS POINTS FOR A SUPERHEROINE! #GIRLPOWER

- Give us your sports romances. Especially if it's not a stereotypical jock story. Hockey players, wrestlers, baseball players, soccer stars, rugby players, MMA fighters, golfers, etc. (BONUS POINTS IF THE HEROINE IS THE SPORTY ONE!)

- Stories featuring a band of brothers or band of sisters, (literally or figuratively) with series potential, are solid gold! (This kind of ties into our sports romance request too.) Basically, if there is a unique connection between your characters, we'd love to see this. (ALA military characters, frat brothers, sorority sisters, groups of people who have been through tragedy together and stay close long after, like Roni Loren's The Ones Who Got Away series. 

- GIVE US ALL THE BANTER! Character banter that makes us laugh, or gives us the chills during sexy times, would be pure heaven. 

- Dirty talking heroes in the bedroom... Yes. Please.

- Reformed bad boys with HUGE hearts of gold would both be FANTASTIC!

- Give us your grumpy heroes. The ones who hate the world, only to have a leading lady come into their lives and change their views and make them smile. (NOTE: The heroine/hero must win over the grump with their sparking personalities, not their sparkling lady or man bits.)

- Got an adorkable hero? A ginger? We will absolutely take them both, please-and-thank-you.

- How about a story that takes place in a theatre, or even on Broadway? Dancing, singing, and sexy times on and off the stage! Give us your Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Ramos', or George Salazar characters!

- Quirky characters/characters with interesting idiosyncrasies and proclivities – we’d love something neither of us have seen. Characters who don’t approach life in the same way as the masses. PRETTY PLEASE!!

- We adore our rock stars, country boys, and mountain men with the flannel shirts and the bushy beards!  We also LOVE tattooed guys. The ones with piercings? YES. Oh, yes. *Grabby hands*

- Good guys. Sweethearts. SWEET JESUS, we need more of those in our world. Give us your shy gentlemen. The mama's boys who let loose thanks to their leading ladies, or leading gentlemen.

- We LOVE romantic thrillers and romantic suspense! Anything that's gripping and will hold us until the end. Nothing is hotter than two people fighting for their lives, and somehow finding time to have sex in the midst of it all.

- Have a Jax-like character from Sons of Anarchy in your story? Send it! Motorcycle club books in general can be a hard sell in the romance industry right now, especially if they are really dark, so we might be picky on plot line. Bottom line is, if we love it, and think we can help it, then we'll grab on and never let go.

- Give us your erotic and/or BDSM romances. BUT, not a Fifty Shades retelling, please. We need NEW sexy, not something that's already been done before.

- If your book is not necessarily filled with sexy times, but you'd possibly like it to be, then let us help you learn how to open those doors!

- We WILL look at sweet romance. Promise. BUT, more than likely we'll be begging you to turn that baby into something a little more intense. (IF it fits the story and you're comfortable doing that, of course.)

Paranormal Romance & Urban fantasy romance

- We LOVE paranormal romance. (The steamier, the better!)

- Give us your shifters. Your alphas or betas. Wolves, bears, tigers, etc. Think Patricia Brigg's Mercy Thompson series or Molly Harpers Naked Werewolf series. Both are set in a more contemporary world, which is a total plus for us.

- Sadly, we are not huge vampire lovers. UNLESS, of course, you wow us with something that is completely different and out there. Nothing that's been done before, basically.

Fantasy Romance

- First things first... We are NOT the mentors for worldbuilding. Like, at all. BUT if you have a fantasy romance that has a couple who drive the story, we'd be down for that, completely. Please, though, don't send us complicated wording and wild, make believe worlds that need their own dictionary to understand because, honest to goodness, we'd likely get bored.

- No more than two POV's for us in fantasy romance, please.

- Think, Amanda Bouchet for example. Her Kingmaker Chronicles are sexy and lyrical with a fierce heroine! Those are the kinds of fantasies we'd devour. 

Sci-Fi with VERY strong romantic elements

- Sexy alien guys are HOT, especially if they look or act like Jennifer Armentrout's Daemon Black from the YA Obsidian series. So, PLEASE... if you have an adult or NA book with the grown version of this hottie, we will FOR SURE gobble it up!

- Anything that has a Laurann Dohner or Eve Lanlais. (Sexy Cyborgs, alien mates? Yes, please!)

- A romance that takes place in space? ON a space ship? Another planet? Sure! We'd be down for that. 

Historical Romance

- We're open to this, but it has to be steamy, please.

- We also want any potential mentee who will be submitting these to us to know that we are the mentors who can help you with sexy times, kissing, romance, plot, all that good stuff. But YOU have to have a handle on historical accuracy.

Things we DON'T want to see in our submissions:

- We're not into Regency Romances.

- Stories with slut shaming are huge no's for us. if a woman loves sex, and has lots of it, we absolutely do not want her to be looked down upon by other women, or men, because of this.

-  Women's Fiction and NON HEA's... Both of these are going to be no's this year. If you want to make us sob in a book, then do so in the middl, then give us our happy ending.

- Love triangles are not our jam, so if your story has one, and you send it our way, be forewarned... It's not a deal breaker, but IF we happen to pick your manuscript, and the love triangle is avoidable, then we will likely tell you it has to go.

*FINAL NOTE*

If you send us something that has zero romance in it then we likely won't even read it. So PLEASE do yourself a favor and don't send us something non-romance related because you think it will change our minds. We'd hate for you to miss out on an opportunity to be picked by a mentor that does want to read books with no romance.

In the end, like agents, us mentors look for voice first and for most. Something we can connect to. Something that makes us want to weep with joy and hug and kiss and possibly lick the pages of your manuscript. When it's all said and done, we will pick the manuscript we fall in love with and can feel ourselves helping the most. In fact, it may have nothing to do with the things we mentioned above. 

If you want to chat more with us, or have questions about our wish list, (or just want to find out how awesome we are) then follow us on Twitter  @HLVanFleet @lanasloanwrites 

Thanks for stopping by and giving us a look! And don't forget to check out all of the other adult mentors listed below.