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Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alexandria Bellefleur

Today we’re welcoming another Persister, 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alexandria Bellefleur, whose manuscript WELL-PLAYED is nominated for Best Contemporary Romance!

Alexandria grew up in the Pacific Northwest and still considers it home, despite now living on the opposite side of the country. When she’s not writing or reading, she can be found shipping fictional characters with a black cat curled up on her lap, and a strong cup of coffee or a glass of pinot noir in hand.

Here’s a blurb for WELL-PLAYED:

Never in his wildest dreams did MFA theatre student Oliver Matthews imagine he would wind up with his high school crush, Jason Edwards, as his roommate. Awkward, definitely, but it’s Jason’s glaring brows and clipped sentences that make sharing an apartment hell.

Oliver has no business agonizing over Jason’s animosity, let alone rekindling an unrequited crush. Not when he has a thesis to write, papers to grade, and an interview for an adjunct professorship to prepare for, all while struggling to atone for past mistakes. But when lecturing to a group of uninterested undergrads becomes a daily exercise in pain and an advisor recommends he audition for a professional theatre company, Oliver is tempted by a different future than the one he’d resigned himself to.

He also finds himself tempted by Jason’s emerging softer side, and before long his roommate’s heated stares take on a surprisingly sexier meaning. No longer able to deny the chemistry between them, Oliver proposes they be friends with benefits—the perfect way to have Jason without any distracting strings attached.

Feelings were never supposed to be part of their deal, but when the lines between friendship, sex, and love blur, Jason proves to be everything Oliver never knew he wanted. In over his head and unsure whether his feelings are returned, let alone what it means for his future if they are, Oliver realizes that what was meant to be casual is complicated.

Oh, yummy!! And when you see who Alexandria’s celebrity crush is, you can just imagine him as Jason! (Though I looked on Alexandria’s blog and saw Henry Cavill as Jason instead. I AM NOT COMPLAINING EITHER WAY. Henry Cavill…swoon!!)

Alexandria and I are sitting down to chat today, backstage at the local theater. Please pull up a stool and join us—we’ve got a big urn of really strong coffee and some awesome pastries the prop guys brought from the bakery down the block.

*********************************

So great to have you here, Alexandria! This is your first Golden Heart final, I believe, so it must be a pretty fun time! What was it like when you got the phone call telling you you were a finalist?

Honestly, that whole week leading up to the call was an amazing whirlwind. I signed with my agent (Sarah E. Younger of the Nancy Yost Literary Agency) on Monday, announced it on Twitter on Tuesday, and got the Golden Heart call on Wednesday. I’m an early riser, but Wednesday I decided to stay in a bed a little later than usual after celebrating with friends the night before. I remember lying in bed, my phone ringing, and thinking I don’t know this number. I let it ring, but I got another call a little over an hour later. The whole thing took me completely by surprise in the best way. I think I spilled coffee on myself, but that’s nothing unusual.

 Every part of being a finalist has been fantastic (okay, maybe not having my headshot taken) but my favorite has been connecting with the rest of the Persisters. Everyone is so talented, not to mention wonderfully supportive of one another. Making new friends has been the greatest perk of all.

Those Golden Heart sisterhoods are a fine, fine thing! Really takes the edge off the lonely writer experience. Speaking of which…tell us a little about your writing journey. Did you always write? Has Romance always been a part of it?

Growing up I had a larger than life imagination, probably thanks in part to being an only child. I spun a lot of fantastical tales my mom still likes to laugh about. Apparently, when I was five I had a really tumultuous marriage to a stuffed dragon named Rodger, so storytelling and romance are clearly nothing new for me.

Like a lot of romance writers, I have to credit Twilight for sparking the desire in me to actually put pen to paper (or you know, fingers to keys) and write. I started writing Twilight fanfic that I’ve since deleted because eek, it was really bad. But I enjoyed it and I learned so much about taking feedback and criticism because anonymous commenters don’t mess around.

A few years passed where I didn’t write anything beyond essays and lab reports. I picked up a bunch of romance novels to decompress from my upper division science classes the summer after I graduated from college, and my desire to write was renewed. It took a few fumbling attempts and a lot of trial and error to find my voice, but I can’t imagine not writing now.

I think Romance has saved many an upper division science student from madness! As has writing fan fiction. So, between your Twilight period and your early dragon marriage (LOL!), it sounds like you have a pretty strong fantasy / paranormal streak for a Contemporary Romance writer. What other stories catch your fancy?—not just novels, but TV and movies, too.

Any romance, all romance, sign me up. I’m partial to contemporary and paranormal, but I’ve been reading a good deal of historical romance lately. Occasionally I’ll pick up a solid thriller, but I’m more likely to go for romance. I love the guarantee of a happy ending, an escape from real life stress.

I don’t watch a ton of TV, at least not until shows wind up on Netflix in which case I’m a big binge watcher. Some of my recent favorites are The 100 (Bellarke or bust), Good Girls, Arrow, and Supergirl. All time favorites? Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hands down. I’ve watched every episode *cough*ten times*cough*…at least. I have yet to write a loveable—in my opinion—jerk like Spike, but I definitely think the quirky, slightly off-beat humor of the show has shaped my writing.

Ah! I was right about that paranormal streak! And you must have learned lots from all those shows in terms of creating story. What’s your writing process like?

I’m a serious plotter. Before I begin drafting I need to have a plot outline, a perfectly curated playlist of songs, and at least one aesthetic so I know the general mood I’m trying to achieve. Once I have this, I draft pretty quickly, a first draft taking me roughly 4-6 weeks. I like to get it all out as quickly as possible so that I don’t second-guess myself. If I slow down, imposter syndrome creeps in so I draft quickly to outrun the feeling.

My schedule is fortunately flexible and I can squeeze in writing time around my day job projects. I prefer to write early in the morning with a cup of coffee, but I don’t mind writing midday, or in the evening with a glass of wine. As long as I reach my daily word count goal, I’m happy.

Revision for me involves annotated edit letters, neon gel pens, plenty of coffee, and the occasional embarrassing pep talk in the mirror. It’s taken me time, but I actually love revising. Instead of thinking of it as fixing problems, I try to reframe revisions as a way of taking everything to the next level. How much better can I make this manuscript? How can I take the tension up a notch? If I keep it positive, I’m way less intimidated by changes that I need to make, no matter how big they are.

Oh, I love that: revisions as a way to kick the tension up a notch!! Very empowering!! So…day job and ambitious writing schedule. Anything else you manage to squeeze in to your day?

When I don’t have my nose buried in a book, I like to knit. Something about the repetition of stitches and patterns puts me in a great headspace to brainstorm, so I get a lot of plotting done while knitting. Two birds, one stone, I figure. I also enjoy rock climbing and hiking, so I’m not totally a twenty-something grandma despite how my friends joke that I am.

 Knitting and rock climbing sound like a great stress-busting combo to me…just not at the same time. Okay, here’s a question from left field: Biggest celebrity crush?

 Just one? Tough, but I’d have to say Tyler Hoechlin. I mean, have you seen his smile? Swoon.

Oh, yes! He’s so pretty. I’ve never even watched a show he’s in, but I know that smile from Tumblr. (I’ve said too much.) Ahem. *pours more coffee* One last question: are you going to Nationals?

 I am going to Nationals! It’ll be my first time attending and I’m thrilled to meet so many of my online friends in person. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, and I’m a little shy, but my excitement far outweighs my nerves!

You’re going to have a fabulous time!!!! Going to Nationals as a Golden Heart Finalist is a blast. Okay, we’re about out of time for our part of the conversation. What question would you like to ask our readers to get the conversation going today?

 What do you wish you knew before you attended your first Nationals? You know, something no one mentions, but you think is a must-know. I’m dying to absorb all the insider tips and secrets before July rolls around!

*********************

Connect with Alexandria Bellefleur on social media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ambellefleur

Website: https://www.alexandriabellefleur.com/

 

 

37 responses to “Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Alexandria Bellefleur”

  1. Heather McCollum says:

    Thanks so much for coming on the blog, Alexandria! Huge congrats! And I loved Buffy and Angel!

    Hmmm…advice for Nationals…Always stay positive in public. If you’re exhausted and grumpy, run to your room for a nap, so you can always shine where people can see/meet you.

    Best of luck!!!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Heather! That’s great advice. I’ll definitely plan on leaving room in my schedule for downtime so I can recuperate!

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  2. First off, huge congrats on your final! My first conference was also the year I finaled in the GH – but you’re already a step ahead of where I was since you have an agent already!

    My best advice is to just enjoy it – chat with as many writers as possible and enjoy getting to know your Golden Heart class because those connections can be an incredible support through the years of your writing career. I always try to catch a few workshops – and I always learn something new – but I really go to conference for those writer connections. To me, that’s what’s invaluable.

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Vivi! Such great advice! Meeting and getting to know everyone from the GH class is high on my list of conference priorities for sure! Between GH and other writer friends from online, I have a feeling I could easily fill my whole schedule with catching up in person.

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  3. Elisa Beatty says:

    Welcome, Alexandria!

    I’m another one whose first conference was during my first final.

    It can all be a bit overwhelming. I think my best advice is to be choosy about what events/presentations to go to, and give yourself permission to take some down-time and just chill by the pool or in your hotel room. No need to get exhausted.

    It’s really fun, though!!!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks for having me, Elisa!

      The schedule is definitely a bit overwhelming–so much to see and do and so little time! I’ll have to sit down with the schedule again and be super choosy with what I absolutely want to attend and what I’m willing to miss or supplement with a recording.

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  4. C.R. Grissom says:

    Alexandria,

    I loved reading about your process. And your book sounds yummy—the type that once you start, you wouldn’t be able to put it down!

    My one piece of advice is to know in advance Nationals can overwhelm. It’s okay to miss a workshop you were looking forward to, and give yourself the flexibility of listening on the conference recordings instead. Sometimes catching up with that new friend might give you the boost you need when the weight of wanting to do it all presses in on you. Enjoy your first conference and your finalist status!

    Can’t wait to meet you —Christine

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Christine! That sounds like the prevailing advice! I’m definitely going to take advantage of the recordings so I can cut myself some slack.

      Looking forward to meeting you in Denver!

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  5. Tracy Brody says:

    First, Tyler is quite swoon-worthy. Thanks for sharing. Congratulations on being a finalist and signing with the delightful Sarah Younger.

    Tips for National – don’t be afraid to meet new people, many are experiencing same feelings you are and might appreciate a smile or invite to sit next to you. It’s okay to leave a workshop that isn’t doing it for you. Pack some Melatonin to help calm your overloaded brain and get sleep. 😉

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Tracy! Ooh, melatonin! I’ve poured over so many conference must-have packing lists, but that completely slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      That’s such an important insight: most writers tend to be on the introverted side, so don’t assume that “everybody else” is more comfortable in crowds than you are.

      When you sit down at the luncheons (are they having luncheons this year??), go ahead and join a couple strangers and introduce yourself. They’ll probably be relieved to have someone else start the conversation.

      And you’ve got a built-in conversation starter: “So, what do you write?”

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  6. Suzanne Turner says:

    I think I triple fell in love with you the moment you said stuffed dragon named Rodger. You were destined to be a writer! Don’t forget to thank Roger in your credits, right?

    I find Nationals can be very overwhelming, b/c there are a lot of people. So on the one hand, do take time for yourself — a nap, a walk around Denver, a massage (hmmm). On the other hand, do connect. People will automatically start talking to the person next to them, and you’re usually standing next to someone. So chat, exchange business cards, steal a hug or two.

    See you in Denver.

    P.S. Is Rodger coming?

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Lol! I’m certain I could find room for Rodger in my acknowledgments! Maybe not my suitcase to Denver, got to save room for books, you know? 🙂

      And a massage sounds wonderful! I’ll have to check if the hotel has a spa.

      Looking forward to seeing you in Denver!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      “To my first love, Rodger”

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  7. Meredith says:

    I love your blurb! So full of angst and conflict and possibility … just my thing 🙂 If I could one-click it now, I totally would.

    I wish I had advice for Nationals, but it will be my first as well. I did go to a big west coast conference a few years back, and found that a strategic escape to my room now and again for a moment alone helped me decompress so I could stay productive.

    Oh and wine, of course. Definitely wine.

    Can’t wait to meet you in Denver!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Meredith!

      It sounds like Nationals will a first for many of us, so at least we won’t be alone in that!

      And yes! Wine, for sure!

      Looking forward to meeting you!

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  8. It’s great to learn more about you before meeting in Denver this summer, Alexandria. Congratulations on being a finalist, and on your agent!

    As for Nationals, don’t be afraid to go to your room for a short break here and there. You’ll feel like you want to experience everything and get your money’s worth, but pace yourself. On your way home you’ll be soaring with enthusiasm/motivation and sinking with exhaustion. There’s nothing quite like it.

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thank you, Leslie! I appreciate the advice! Looking forward to meeting you in Denver!

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  9. Hi Alexandria!
    Congratulations on your final and landing an agent! I must say, your blurb sounds so lovely and angsty and juicy 🙂 I wish I had tips to offer for nationals, but we’re in the same boat with first final/first conference. Sounds like we’ll need lots of time to decompress in between events, but I’m really looking forward to meeting you and everyone else in the Persister crew!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Katherine!

      Blurb writing is definitely not my strong suit, so I’m extra glad people have found it interesting!

      At least we won’t be the only newbies. It sounds like there will be quite a few of us. Definitely looking forward to seeing you there!

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  10. ROFL! I love this interview, and I’d love to hear more about your tumultuous marriage to a stuffed dragon. Hahaha.

    When I finaled, I was really surprised at all the attention that little ribbon gets. It was quite the conversation starter. Everyone wanted to know the details and it was super fun.

    Super big congrats on the agent and the final, Alexandria! And thank you for being with us today!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Darynda!

      Lol! My mom probably remembers the details better than I do, but I’m sure there are a few scandalous tidbits I could share.

      It’s good to know that the ribbon can serve as a nice icebreaker!

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    • Elisa Beatty says:

      Yes! Those finalist ribbons get a surprising amount of attention!!

      Even Big Famous Writers will say congrats in elevators!! Squee!!

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  11. Child Bride of the Deagon! I want to read that book. And I love the sound of your Contemporary.

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  12. Jacie Floyd says:

    Congratulations on your 2018 GH final! Enjoy every moment of the conference, talk to everybody, learn as much as you can, and give yourself a break. You can’t do everything no matter how much you want to. FYI, you’ll have the opportunity to get as many free books as you want. Either take an extra bag to take them home with you (problematic if you’re flying), or make time to visit the hotel shipping office to get them home that way.
    Above all, enjoy!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Jacie!

      Ooh, shipping books home is a wonderful idea. I’ve been thinking about my suitcase situation and worrying about the extras I’ll be bringing home, so this is a great solution to avoid that pesky weight limit on luggage.

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  13. Congratulations on both signing with an agent and the GH final!

    I’m in the same boat as you with my first final/first National. From attending other conferences, I suggest wearing comfortable shoes, carrying a tote for books etc., and making new friends where you can. I’m looking forward to meeting you!

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    • Alexandria Bellefleur says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth!

      Oh yes, I definitely think comfortable shoes will be a must!

      Looking forward to seeing you in Denver!

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  14. I wish I knew before my first Nationals wearing that pink ribbon that I needed to overcome my introversion (as much as humanly possible.) I think I spent so much time freaking out in the room that I missed the opportunity to really connect with my Firebird sisters. Luckily, we have our loop, so I have been able to forge those relationships post-Conference.

    By the second final, I was much more relaxed and willing to find a comfy seat in some lobby somewhere so I could chat with friends and strangers, alike. Yes, it was exhausting to put out that sort of energy (my fellow introverts will understand that), but it was worth it. I strengthened so many relationships and made new ones that have lived on ever since.

    I can’t wait to meet more Persisters, hug my Firebird and Mermaid families, and do my damnedest to REPRESENT for the Golden Heart. This year, I will go forth and convince other attendees that a contest for unpubbed writers is *essential* to bringing in new writers that will be the future of RWA as a whole.

    SAVE THE GOLDEN HEART!

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  15. Tamara Hogan says:

    Congratulations on your GH final, Alexandria!
    A couple of things I’d suggest about surviving RWA National:

    – WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES. Seriously, leave the cute high-heeled sandals at home. After a day walking a huge conference hotel, too many feet will be blistered, bloody messes, and sore for the remainder of the week. IMO, this is not worth it.

    – Don’t feel you have to go to every workshop. As others have said, most workshops are recorded and available for purchase. (I listen to RWA National workshops when I mow my lawn.) Writers spend a lot of time alone, so when at RWA National, connecting with friends is a priority. These folks are my lifeline.

    – Related to the item above, build some downtime into your schedule, especially if you’re an introvert. Decompress and recharge as needed! I’m a massive introvert who has sound sensitivities, so springing for a hotel room of my own is my most effective RWA National coping mechanism.

    Have a great time at the conference, and please give my regards to Rodger. 🙂

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  16. I’m glad your marriage to Roger provided you with some great experience 😉 I love the paranormal streak in you! So happy to be one of your Persisters!!

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  17. Gabrielle says:

    Oh my, all the angst–I can’t wait to read this book!

    My tip for National is to check out what you *really* want to attend that won’t be taped (though most are) and go to that and other mandatory events, but be flexible with the rest of your schedule. You can always listen to the recordings, but you won’t get back that impromptu opportunity to spend time with the people who keep you going as a writer. A good poolside pitch practice session can do wonders!

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  18. Janet Raye Stevens says:

    Great interview, Alexandria and your MS sounds terrific! I’m another one whose first National was the first time I was a GH finalist. It was exhausting, but amazing. Just remember to pace yourself. Looking forward to meeting you in Denver!

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