Pitchwars 2021 Wishlist for Farah Heron and Namrata Patel

Pitch wars graphic showing an owl camping. Text reads We are 2021 Adult Mentors. Pitch wars established 2012 Into the publishing trenches we go with you. www.pitchwars.org

This Wishlist might not be safe for work due to excessive use of Ted Lasso gifs, and some light swearing.

For a gif and image-free PDF of this wishlist, click here.

Summary: Farah Heron and Namrata Patel are adult mentors, and will be looking for romantic comedies, contemporary romances, and commercial women’s fiction.

Middle aged white man saying Some people pronounce it 'jif'

It’s PitchWars  Wishlist time again! We’re so thrilled to be adult mentors together this year! In case you’re not familiar with the program, PitchWars is a mentoring program where published/agented authors, editors, or industry interns each choose one writer to spend three months revising their manuscript with. It ends in February with an Agent Showcase, where agents can read a pitch/first page and can request to read more.

Two 40 something brown ladies, one in a blue sari and one in a silver sleeveless top.
Namrata and Farah in 2019

This is our first year mentoring together, and we’re thrilled. Farah was  Namrata’s PitchWars mentor in 2018, and we’ve been friends ever since. Farah writes rom-coms for adults and teens, and Namrata writes Women’s Fiction, and we are both passionate about diversity and equity in publishing.

To see Namrata’s wishlist, click here. Make sure to check it out… our wishlists are the same, but Namarata’s gifs are different (and awesome!)

The two coaches (white men) from the show Ted Lasso hitting their beer glasses together and taking a drink.

Farah is a South-Asian romance writer from Toronto. Her debut, The Chai Factor was named one of the summer’s best books by The Globe and Mail, and was praised in Book Riot, Smart Bitches Trashy Books, Bustle and more. Her next release, Accidentally Engaged, was praised in Entertainment Weekly, USA Today, NPR, The Toronto Star, Glamour magazine, and Oprah magazine. Her young adult debut, Tahira in Bloom, will be out November 1, 2021, and her next adult release will be Kamila Knows Best, out March 8, 2022. This will be her third year as a PitchWars mentor. All of Farah’s amazing past mentees have gone on to sign with agents and have sold books to major publishers.

Namrata is an Indian-American writer who lives in Boston. Her writing examines diaspora, dual-cultural identity among Indian-Americans and explores this dynamic while also touching on both—the family’s we’re born with and those we choose. Namrata has lived in India, Spokane, London, and New York City. Her debut, The Candid Life of Meena Dave, will be published by Lake Union publishing in summer 22. 

So what are we looking for? We are open to Romantic Comedies, Contemporary Romance, and Women’s Fiction. 

Romantic Comedies & Contemporary Romance

This is hopefully self-explanatory: We want romance genre manuscripts that are fresh, preferably funny, and modern. If it’s funny, and at times irreverent, and has a satisfying, swoony love story, it’s for us.

White man sits next to a white woman on a couch and she put a furry Blanket on his lap.

Does that mean we want only fluffy books? Nope, not necessarily. Some of our favorite rom-coms tackle serious issues. Farah wrote a whole article on this topic.  By the way, we’d love to see anything like the recommended books in that article. To us, rom-com is more about the language used rather than zany hijinks or humiliation. Lots of banter, close friends and witty language.

Bring us something like The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon, a Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole, One and Only by Jenny Holiday, or The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa.  

Women’s Fiction

This is pretty much exactly the same as above, but the focus of the story is a little more about the woman’s journey than just the romance. Romance can be is present, but we see deeper into the woman’s desires, driving forces, and see her character arc stronger than the love interests. These books tend to have only one POV, instead of the very common alternating POVs in romance.

Two white woman laughing on the back of a rickshaw that is covered with small lights, each of them are holding a bottle of champagne.

Examples of the types of Women’s Fiction we want: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, Beach Read by Emily Henry, Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park, or The Midnight Library Matt Haig.

There is a lot of overlap between these two genres. Sometimes we can’t even tell where a book would fall, but if you’re not sure if your manuscript would work for us, ask! More than anything, a strong voice, and a satisfying ending are the most important things for us. Mostly, we want fun, high concept, commercial projects.

More details about what we’d love to find:

  • Themes and subject matter can be heavy, or deep (We get it, life is a pile of heavy right now, so let it seep into your writing). Heavy stories told with humour and a strong voice are our jam, if handled sensitively and with empathy.
Two white men and a white woman. One of the men says to the woman "If that's a joke, I love it. If not, I can't wait to unpack that with you."
  • We like fluffy lighthearted escapism reading as well.
  • To us, the story needs to be somewhat realistic about the actual world we live in. No unlimited Louboutin budgets on an intern’s salary. No scenes in New York without diversity.
  • We will take #MeToo and abuse stories. BUT- if there is any sexual abuse or assault in the story, it should not be between the main romantic pairing.
  • We will consider books about abortion, divorce, drug addiction, poverty, mental illness, and racism. But we’re not looking for super depressing, painful narratives. These topics are not particularly triggering for us, but we’re unlikely to want to work on a project for months unless it’s empowering for the characters. If you can weave humour with those topics with sensitivity, please send it to us. We are not looking for characters who are continually tortured by the events in their lives.
  • All types of consensual relationships are welcome. M/M, F/F, M/F, genderqueer, etc. So long as it’s consensual adults, we’re happy.
White man trying to embrace a white woman. She says" Seriously, I have a lot of work to do. So if you're gonna be here, you need to sit quietly on the couch and read your book, yeah?"
  • We love Epistolary novels! Send them our way, so long as they fall into romance or women’s fiction.
  • Authors of colour writing main characters sharing the same identity are encouraged! We know how hard it is to break into publishing as a racialized author, and we want to help in any way we can.
  • Single or dual POV is fine. Past or present tense is fine.
  • Historical or contemporary is fine, as long as it meets our other requirements. 
  • Tropes? Yes! We love tropey stuff. Favorites are: forced confinement, enemies to lovers, friends to lovers, second chance.
Smiling Hispanic man saying "Mucho, Mucho joy."
  • Any heat level is okay, but it needs to fit the book. Rom-Com tends to not be as high heat as other romance, and WF tends to be closed door.
  • We’re going to say it again, because it’s super important to us. CONSENT is everything. Safe, healthy, sexual activity only. Enthusiastic consent during sexy times is hot. No dubious consent… even if they are already in a relationship. This is a hard line for us. Watch for power dynamics that can impact the ability to consent such as teacher/student, boss/employee, slave owner/slave, Nazi/Anyone, etc.
  • Diversity! (have we mentioned that enough, yet?) All types of diversity are encouraged: racialized characters, any disability status, mental illness, LGBTQ+ characters, religious minorities, neuro-diversity, etc.
Black man saying to a white woman "You're so lovely, you must get romantic invitations all the time." She responds "That's nice", smiling.
  • Interracial couples encouraged!
  • Resistance! Bring us your stories about fighting back against the evil isms– fascism, racism, sexism, ableism, classism, etc. 
  • We are serious foodies! Food themes are very, very welcome!
White woman eating a cookie and saying "Fuck me!"
  • The term “women’s fiction” is not limited to those assigned as female at birth. Own-voices trans women, and non-binary stories are welcome.
  • We love the geeky stuff! Bring your nerds finding love! STEM characters! Music nerds! Gamers! Cosplay! Even obscure nerdy pastimes! Pens! Barbecue! Tabletop miniature games! knitting! Needle-felting Star Wars characters!
  • We love ensembles! Found families! Big friend groups!

What we’re NOT looking for

  • No genres or sub-genres not listed above. That includes, dark romance, high-fantasy, thrillers, horror, domestic suspense, literary fiction, romantic suspense, paranormal, or memoir.
  • No billionaires.We like to be grounded in reality. Rich characters are okay, just not unrealistic stinking-rich characters.
  • No romances with reformed white supremacists or liberal/conservative pairings. We can’t stomach this kind of dynamic. 
  • Not overly detailed with regards to politics. Farah is Canadian. American political stories will probably go over her head. 
  • Please no books about serious illness, parenting challenges or motherhood, childhood illness, childhood death, infertility, cancer, death of spouse or parent, or childbirth, pedophilia, and animal abuse. These elements can be present in the story, but not what the story is about.
  • No unreliable narrators or intentionally unlikable main characters. They can be strong willed. They can swear, drink, sleep around, etc. They just can’t be selfish, or a down-right mean person. 
  • No inspirational or religious-themed manuscripts. We don’t mind religious characters, but no overall inspirational themes.
  • Prefer no cops, law enforcement, or military characters, but we might budge on that for a great story. No war stories please. 
  • No assholes. We’re not a huge fan of Alpha heroes, but sometimes they work for us. But Alphas don’t necessarily have to be dickheads. We’ll take Alphas. We won’t take dickheads. 
  • Also, no cheating (by the main character) on significant others, please!
  • No redeemed racists, Islamophobes, homophobes, etc. We’re not the mentors for a story about a main character who sees a marginalized person as undeserving of human rights, even if that character is redeemed during the course of the story. (If a side character is a bigot who is redeemed, fine. Great, even.)
  • No cliffhangers. We need a full story– beginning, middle and satisfying end. (We will read your synopsis and ask clarifying questions if we have any.)
  • No twisty, unstructured, literary works. We’re more focused on commercial pacing.
  • No series books. Standalone only. Standalone with series potential is fine.
  • Nothing that’s already been published. A self-published book is published. Agents won’t take these books, which means they’re not right for this program (But good luck, because self-publishing is hard work, and we really respect self-published authors).
  • If Farah or Namrata has critiqued/read your entire manuscript before, you’re better off getting a new set of eyes and choosing other mentors. If we’ve looked at a chapter, a partial or query of yours, by all means, submit. we will give no special consideration to works we’ve seen before.
  • If we’re good friends (regular DMs or coffee dates), please don’t submit to us. It would be inappropriate for us to select you, so why waste a submission slot!

Our Critique Style:

  • We won’t mince words. We will tell you everything that is working about your manuscript, as well as everything that is not working. Please understand we wouldn’t have picked your manuscript if we didn’t LOVE it, though.

White man saying "smells like potential."
  • Farah’s strengths are characterization, complex relationships, pacing, and dialogue. She will help you increase the emotional impact of your characters, and help make their reactions believable. She’s great at banter, and at adding nuance to relationships.
  • Namrata’s strengths are sense of place/setting, character arcs/motivations, and emotional beats. 
  • We plan to do two passes of the entire manuscript with you, so be willing to do a lot of work in a short time frame.
  • This process will not just be copy-editing, or polishing up some grammar and word choice. It will be closer to a full developmental review. We may ask you to practically re-write the book. We might gain or lose scenes, POVs, and even entire subplots. We trust our instincts, and sincerely want to make your book the best it can be, but you should be willing to do major work on your manuscript before submitting.
  • Be prepared to hate our edit letter at first. If you want a cheerleader, or someone to tell you that your special baby is nothing but perfection, ask your grandmother for a critique. If you’re looking for someone who will be tough and won’t mince words, ask Farah’s grandmother or Namrata’s mother. Or better yet, submit to us.
Hispanic man saying 'Tough, but fair'
  • We will communicate as much as you are comfortable with. We will probably schedule a Zoom session to go over the first edit letter. We will be there for you via email or twitter DM. BUT– like many writers, we have deadlines. We may not be overly chatty, or respond immediately, but we’re still here for you. We have busy lives outside of PitchWars, but we’re confident our mentee and us will find a balance that works.
  • We plan to ask for full manuscripts from any of my submissions if we want to see more, instead of asking for partials. We may not read all of every full manuscript we request. You’ll get an email from us requesting the manuscript, and asking a few questions about you and the work if we want to see it. Feedback is not possible at this time because we have limited time and again, pending deadlines.

Some extra information

  • Self-edited, polished manuscripts only. We’ll probably make requests fast, so your manuscript needs to be ready to go.
Brown man unfolding a piece of paper saying "you know what. it's not even that good. It's probably bad. It's embarrassing even..."
  • Appropriate word counts please! If your manuscript is under 60,000 words or over 100,000, seriously consider doing another editing pass before the submission period starts. Our sweet spot (because of genre guidelines) would be anywhere between 70k and 90k.
  • We’re looking for people who are easy to work with, professional, and who are positive, upbeat and genuinely want help improving. There’s a lot to love and hate about publishing, and it can be challenging for marginalized writers, but we’re looking for optimists who are willing to keep an open mind about the progress within the industry. We will be your biggest cheerleader, and will be there for you if anxiety about this business creeps in.

If you have questions about whether something falls into our wishlist, please feel free to reach out. Our preferred communication with regards to this wishlist is Twitter DMs or ask up openly on Twitter.

Please keep your questions vague– no pre-pitching. For example, asking us if we’re open to women’s fiction with a 80+ year old protagonist is okay, asking if we want a story about an 80 year old woman who takes up nude sky-diving after her husband dies wrestling a bear is too specific, and is pre-pitching. 

A huge good luck to everyone entering, whether or not you are submitting to us! Getting this far in your writing career is a massive accomplishment in itself, and we are rooting for you! You got this!

Good luck with your submissions! We can’t wait to see them! 

Pitch Wars 2021 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Anna Kaling (Accepts NA)
  2. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  3. Jackson Ford
  4. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  5. Jesse Q. Sutanto and Grace Shim
  6. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  7. Saara El-Arifi (Accepts NA)
  8. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  9. Carolyne Topdjian
  10. Falon Ballard and Brooke Abrams
  11. Mary Keliikoa (Accepts NA)
  12. E.A. Aymar
  13. Amanda Elliot (Accepts NA)
  14. Kelly Siskind
  15. Vaishnavi Patel and Sarah Mughal (Accepts NA)
  16. Mary Ann Marlowe and Laura Elizabeth (Accepts NA)
  17. Mia P. Manansala (Accepts NA)
  18. Peggy Rothschild (Accepts NA)
  19. Natalka Burian
  20. Courtney Kae and Jenny L. Howe (Accepts NA)
  21. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  22. Swati Hegde (Accepts NA)
  23. Nanci Schwartz and LL Montez
  24. Paris Wynters
  25. Hudson Lin
  26. Sarah Remy (Accepts NA)
  27. AM Kvita (Accepts NA)
  28. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  29. Melissa Colasanti (Accepts NA)
  30. J.A. Crawford (Accepts NA)
  31. Michella S. Domenici
  32. Yvette Yun and Marith Zoli (Accepts NA)
  33. Sari Coritz and Rosalie M Lin (Accepts NA)
  34. Stephenie Magister and Noreen (Accepts NA)
  35. Regina Black and Nikki Payne (Accepts NA)
  36. Farah Heron and Namrata Patel
  37. Alicia Thompson and Amy Lea (Accepts NA)
  38. Lyn Liao Butler
  39. Preslaysa Williams (Accepts NA)
  40. Keena Roberts and Molly Steen (Accepts NA)
  41. Alexandria Bellefleur (Accepts NA)
  42. Samantha Rajaram
  43. Ashley Winstead
  44. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  45. Rob Hart
  46. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  47. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  48. Katherine Lim
  49. Alexia Gordon
  50. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2021 Mentors’ Wish Lists. To view the wish lists by genre, visit this link.

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