Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Hello writers! We’re Rosie (she/her) and Ruby (she/her) and this is our…
2021 Pitch Wars Submission Wishlist!
We are SO happy you’re here!
Below you’ll find information about who we are, what we’re looking for in submissions, what might not be the best fit for us, and links to our mentor profiles and social media handles where you can get to know us a bit further and ask specific questions.
But first! A bit of housekeeping: if you don’t know, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program that pairs published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns with writers looking to refine their craft and grow their community. The three month mentored revision period ends in February 2022 with an Agent Showcase, where the class will publicly share their pitches + an excerpt from their first page. Agents who respond to materials may request to read more.
>>> Please be sure to review the full 2021 program timeline to make sure the revision schedule works for you<<<
We know there are a lot of mentors to meet but we encourage you to read our (and all mentors’ wishlists) carefully. Since you can only apply to four mentors/mentor teams, you want to find the wishlists and mentors you think will be the best fit for you and your manuscript.
Before we get started: heads up! Parts of the rest of this wishlist may not be safe for work ;)
Let’s cover some quick basics! Age Categories/Genres we’re accepting:
Adult + New Adult
We’re not a good fit for:
Books with no HEA/HFN
Books with on-page sexual assault (UPDATE: for us, on the page sexual assault is sexual assault, described, on the page whether that be in real time, retold through narrative, dialogue, flashback, etc.); NB: we believe that there is an important place for books with these themes in the romance genre and we have read and enjoyed books with these themes, but for the purposes of Pitch Wars we absolutely cannot take these books. To be clear, we will be triggered by books with on-page sexual assault. This is a hard limit for us. We appreciate all potential mentees’ understanding in advance.
Few/no female characters
Stories that heavily feature children, on the page child loss, or secret baby tropes
Reality TV romances
Fade to black or “sweet” heat levels
If you’re still with us, read on! We have a lot more detail for you below!
Who We Are:
We are critique partners, emotional support people, and friends, who met as 2018 Pitch Wars mentees and partnered as mentors for 2020.
It sounds cliche, but Pitch Wars changed our lives and we’re so excited we have another opportunity to give back to the community and see the other side of the process. The feeling of being a Pitch Wars mentee turned mentor continues to be akin to rowdy campers recently promoted to counselors and let us assure that it RULES.
We’ve learned so much as mentees, mentors, and published authors, and we plan to share all of that knowledge, not just about writing and editing but about publishing as a business and how to get the most out of this program—including navigating the highs and lows of a very public writing contest.
As part of the 2018 class, Rosie was mentored by Heather Van Fleet & Lana Sloane, who taught her, among other things, that you actually have to show the main characters falling in love instead of just assuming everyone gets it because they’re obviously meant to be. In 2019, she had the honor, along with fellow romance writer and dear pal Meryl Wilsner, of mentoring Anita Kelly who is now repped by Kim Lionetti and who’s debut LOVE AND OTHER DISASTERS releases on January 18, 2022 from Forever.
Ruby was mentored by Helen Hoang, who taught her the importance of love scenes that move the story forward and that external conflict can and should exist in a romance (what a concept!).
Together we also had the opportunity to mentor in 2020. Our wonderful mentee, Maggie North, is now repped by Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management.
How & What We Write:
Rosie is a plotting and spreadsheet nerd, a connoisseur of sexual tension, and a stickler for external conflict.
Ruby places a lot of importance on the minute details in prose to evoke emotion. Her day job is giving feedback to professional writers and she’s mastered the art of gentle but critical advice.
Rosie and Ruby love sex scenes and are generally recognized as the sex writing experts of the group. There’s an art to writing intimacy that they have made their mission to master and that they are excited to pass on to their mentee.
FUN FACT: Rosie is an excellent cook and Ruby is an excellent baker and Rosie introduced Ruby to the excellence that is Claire Saffitz, for which Ruby is forever thankful.
Rosie’s Pitch Wars manuscript, THE ROOMMATE released in September 2020 from Berkley/PRH in the US and Piatkus/Little Brown in the UK. The book and its sequel THE INTIMACY EXPERIMENT, which released in April 2021 have been optioned for film. Her third book UP TO NO GOOD is coming again from Berkley/PRH on October 4, 2022.
Ruby’s Pitch Wars manuscript, HOT COPY, released from Carina Press in April 2021. Her next book WHILE IT’S HOT releases June 28, 2022, from Carina Adores. Ruby also has a short erotic fiction story, OUR FRAGILE MOUTHS, in The Big Book of Orgasms, Vol. 2, releasing on February 8, 2022, from Cleis Press.
To learn more about Rosie and her books, visit her website here.
To learn more about Ruby and her books, browse more of her website.
Now for what you’re really here for: what we’re looking for.
As a reminder, we’ve narrowed our scope of subgenre this year to contemporary and historical romance.
The following would be best fit for us:
Across subgenres we’re looking for Escapist Romance. Over the past 18 months we’ve been craving books that transport us from the day-to-day of our current world. Books that pull off bringing together extremely unlikely characters, in extremely unlikely places, for extremely unlikely shenanigans will absolutely grab our attention. Basically, the less likely your book is to happen in real life, the more we want to read it!
The definition of romantic comedy as it pertains to romance novels is a hotly debated topic in our genre's community. But we’ve thought a lot about it and for us, a rom-com is a romance novel in which humor (of any kind) propels the plot vs a book that has comedic moments that add enjoyment but do not drive action within the narrative. If you’re not sure of where your book falls, that’s not a problem at all. If we select you as our mentee we will help with this.
Our favorite types of romantic comedies have depth developed through layers of emotion. Greats like When Harry Met Sally, 10 Things I Hate About You, Lovebirds, and even Clueless have tender moments as well as ones that make us laugh.
Some of our favorite literary rom-coms come from Mia Sosa, Lucy Parker, Alexa Martin, and Casey McQuiston.
High heat! We consider ourselves steam queens. Some of our favorite author’s setting the pages on fire are: Charlotte Stein, Sulekiya Snyder, and Rachel Reid.
For clarification: when we say high heat we mean on the page sex with multiple scenes (it doesn’t have to be 9 like in Hot Copy but we'd love more than one) and by sex we mean: any and all consensual acts of intimacy.
We’re also big fans of tension. Get us breathing heavily before anyone has even touched each other. Authors who do this well include Talia Hibbert and Tessa Bailey (and Ruby would like to add that Rosie a master of tension).
Speculative elements. We love the trend towards light magical elements in contemporary stories. Christina Lauren’s In A Holidaze with a Groundhog Day time-loop is a great example.
We love high concept/hooky books. Think Alexis Daria’s telenovela enemies-to-lovers in You Had Me at Hola or Helen Hoang’s unique lens for the lessons in seduction trope from The Kiss Quotient. If you have a one sentence logline that makes us sit back and say WOAH, we wanna see it! (But also, if you don’t have a concise pitch yet, no worries, we’re here to help with that.)
Modern fairy and folk tales. Building off the escapism we mentioned earlier, we’d love to see the next book that puts a fresh spin on contemporary kingdoms like Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries (aged up, of course), or Katee Robert’s Neon Gods.
We also have a soft spot for quieter stories that are deep character studies. We gobble up the meticulous prose of Kate Clayborn, Mia Hopkins, and Beth O’Leary.
Give us all the nerdy/niche interests! Think Jen Deluca’s Ren Faire in Well Met, Olivia Dade’s fanfic/cosplay in Spoiler Alert, or Kwana Jackson’s Real Men Knit.
Competition. If you’ve got a rivals to lovers story, just open up the dumpster now because we are trash for it! While we’re not experts when it comes to sports, we’ve got clear eyes and full hearts (can’t lose!) for the romance aspect.
Niche/non-Western sports would be especially welcome (cricket, Olympic lifting, rock climbing). No matter the sport, just make your characters compete for more than just first place (their hearts, we mean make them compete for their hearts, too).
And of course, we love workplace romance as long as you’re careful with power dynamics.
We’d love to prioritize under-represented time periods (i.e. outside of Regency). We love Gothic Gilded Age The Widow of Rose House from Diana Biller and Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series.
We’d also like to prioritize under-represented characters in historicals. For example, we love Felicia Grossman’s regencies featuring Jewish characters, Olivia Waite’s f/f The Ladies Guide to Celestial Mechanics and The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, and Sherry Thomas’s Charlotte Holmes, coded as neuro-divergent, in the romantic mystery, Lady Sherlock series. History wasn’t all white allocishet or neurotypicals and we’d love manuscripts that celebrate that fact!
Finally, WE WANT QUEER BOOKS
Contemporary or historical, let’s make it queer! Stories like:
Pitch Wars 2020 mentee Courtney Kae’s In the Event of Love
Timothy Janovsky’s Never Been Kissed
Alexandria Bellefleur’s Written In the Stars series
Jack Harbon’s Meet Cute Club
KD Casey’s Unwritten Rules
Meryl Wilsner’s Something to Talk About (and their forthcoming Mistakes Were Made)
Cat Sebastian’s The Soldier’s Scoundrel
KJ Charles’s Slippery Creatures
and the aforementioned Olivia Waite’s Feminine Pursuits series...to name just a few (that’s obviously not a few, that’s a lot, but we just can’t choose and please don’t make us).
In general our favorite tropes include:
slow burn (a good slow burn will be ripe with that tension we mentioned loving so much)
rivals to lovers (see Competition)
enemies to lovers (Ruby especially will throw herself into a burning trash heap for a good enemies to lovers)
friends to lovers
lessons in seduction
marriage of convenience (no one has proposed marriage to us in the hopes of collecting a sizeable inheritance so now we must drag the depths of the romance genre to live vicariously through our favorite books)
There! Is ! Only! One! Bed!
opposites attract (grumpy/sunshine; rake/wallflower; Sporty Spice/book nerd, you get the picture)
Here’s some other good stuff to know about us:
An extension on our note about on the page sexual assault: consent is a requirement for all acts of intimacy on the page, regardless of heat level.
We’re looking both for stories by marginalized authors and those that empower marginalized characters, regardless of marginalization. While manuscripts written by authors with similar lived experiences are preferred, prospective mentees will not be asked to disclose their marginalizations.
WE! LOVE! WOMEN! We want stories that celebrate women, not that pit them against each other or characterize someone as “not like other girls.”
Here’s what we’ll do as your mentors:
Our editing process will be shaped from our experiences in Pitch Wars as well as with our editors at Berkley and Carina Press.
We will flail about how much we love your work, but…
That doesn’t mean we’ll pull our punches. We want to make your manuscript the best it can be. Critique can be hard. We won’t be mean, but we’re not going to go easy on you either. We’ll work with you to figure out the best way for you to receive feedback!
We’re always willing and able to talk through edits with you and brainstorm ways to take your story and characters deeper. Never be afraid to reach out or worry that you’ll be a bother to us. We’re here to help you!
We won’t make your story ours. It’s your book. We will point out our concerns and suggest ways to fix them, but we will not dictate what you do with your story. At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with your manuscript.
Our communication style will rely heavily on twitter DMs (or DMs on another platform if necessary), but we’ll also be available for video calls, if desired. Please keep in mind that Rosie spends most of her time in the UK and Ruby is the mom of a young child. We’ll do our best to respond to all communication within 24 hours (though most likely always sooner). We’re totally ready to work with you and work hard but we’ll work best with a mentee who can be flexible for us and we’ll be flexible for them, too, because we know that on top of being in Pitch Wars our mentee also likely has professional and personal obligations and is - like us - on month 18ish (???) of a global pandemic.
Finally, here is a brief and incomplete list of ways we could help you
Beefing up the chemistry between your characters (including your supporting cast, especially if you think the book has series potential. Build that backlist, baby!)
Ironing out issues with pacing
Organizing and streamlining your writing process
Mining your characters’ internal lives
Sharpening your dialogue
Strengthening your conflict—internal and external
If you’d like to learn more about us, check out our mentor profiles and/or follow us on social media. If you’re so inclined, you can also add our books on Goodreads.
Thanks for reading and best of luck on your writing journey!