I am so grateful to be mentoring again this year after the fabulous experience I had in 2017. So, if you're interested in potentially subb'ing to me, you're in the right place.
But FIRST, what is this blog hop business? Below my post, you'll find links to all the YA mentors' and co-mentors' sites where you can easily hop from blog-to-blog and read everyone's wish lists. We want the process of choosing who you'll sub to as easy as possible. Just be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to find them.
Below you will find the top 11 reasons —updated for 2018.
Am I the mentor for you?
“I was so excited to have Jessica select me to be her mentee in 2017. She understood the heart of my story and help me develop the world I had created. Jessica is an expert at helping writers develop character arcs and clarify character motivations. When I began to receive interest from agents, Jessica was essential in helping me navigate those new waters. I can’t imagine what my journey into publishing would have been like without Jessica in my corner.”
2. I’m walking the wire and dancing through the fire. In other words, I know exactly what it feels like to be in your shoes because I’m literally in your shoes. As writers, we sometimes think we’ll reach this point where we’re finally there (does anyone even know what there is?), but the fact of the matter is, this is one long experience. Sure, there are milestones, but regardless of whether we have been in this industry for a short time or a long time, we're all dealing with the same things. We’re all subbing our work and hoping for yes’s. We’re all dealing with rejection and difficult feedback and just waiting for that next bit of good news or next step along our path. Now, that may sound discouraging, but it’s not. In fact, it’s liberating because it means that we never need to judge ourselves on where we are. And, if we keep the right mindset, we can enjoy every step. That’s why I LOVE the metaphors of walking the wire and dancing through the fire (and yes, I got those from two different songs—bonus points if you can guess which ones).
This writing thing is full of challenges, and it’s up to us to decide if it’s going to be a terrible ride or a party.
I choose to party. Want to join me?
3. I love YA, and I’ve written almost nothing but YA in the last few years. My first novel-length book, BROKEN CHORDS, a YA horror came out in 2017, and my official debut novel, TEN AFTER CLOSING, a YA thriller comes out (eep!) in LESS THAN A MONTH. I’ve also been included in a YA anthology for which I wrote a sweet romantic piece.
4. No one wants a crabby mentor. If you know me, you know I strive to inspire and motivate writers. I do it with my blog, I do it with my memes, I do it with the free chapter critiques I give away each month to people on my newsletter list. My Number 1 Motto is: You can’t fail if you don’t give up. I believe 100% that if you want to be a published author you will, as long as you keep at it. That’s the spirit I’ll bring to this competition.
5. Because I’m a psychologist, one of my strengths is in creating authentic, realistic characters that drive the action of the story. Being either a character-driven or plot-driven author is so last year; I want to help you be both.
6. This is my dog. As anticipated, he was no help last year, but he is so darned cute ...
7. But seriously, I’ve written 14 books and 9 short stories, and I’ve been published in four anthologies. My Number 2 Motto is: Finish what you start. Revise what you finish. Then revise it again. And send it out there into the world.
I also serve as an editor for Allegory Magazine, which is now in its 20th year! Since last year when I mentored in Pitch Wars, I received a promotion to Senior Editor, and I’m so proud to serve writers in this role, helping them to have their yes-moment.
8. Pizza and donuts. Pizza goes without saying, but I figured I needed to update my comfort food for 2018, so I give you donuts.
9. I’m looking to develop a real relationship with my mentee. Our friendship won’t end when the competition is over. Once I work with you, I’m going to be so excited to hear about all your doings and happenings. I hope to be a resource for the long-haul. (And don’t be surprised if, down the line, I bug you to be a resource for me. It’s all about writers helping writers.)
10. I still love to eat. Pizza (as above), ice cream, donuts, cheese. All the cheese. And coffee. I make a MEAN pumpkin chocolate chip cookie. But, most of the time, I’m into eating healthy. I’ve tried at least half the recipes on Skinnytaste.com, and I’m huge into working out. It’s my foundation. I’m a grunge rock girl at heart, but I love modern dance music and current rock groups. I can’t seem to get enough of Panic at the Disco, Imagine Dragons, or Fallout Boy. I’m also a bluegrass fan (especially “New Grass.” Crooked Still is one of my all time favorites. And Nickel Creek.) I love SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, PROJECT RUNWAY, TOP CHEF, DEADLIEST CATCH, FAMILY GUY, SILICON VALLEY, BUFFY, WEST WORLD, PORTLANDIA, MONTY PYTHON.
11. I did not start out as a writer. I don’t have an MFA. I didn’t study writing in college or grad school. But writing a book was something I always wanted to do, and one day, I said: Let me see if I can do it. And that started me off. I’ve been writing for only eight years, so I know what it’s like to be a constant learner. I’m still learning. So, unless you’re Shakespeare, I totally expect that you’re still learning too.
I’m a practicing, licensed clinical psychologist. I work with people every day on figuring out their strengths, understanding their barriers & things that limit them reaching their potential, and setting the kind of goals that work. On the education front, I’ve been teaching and mentoring students at all levels (from college to post-grad) for over ten years. My Number 3 Motto is: It’s not about being good. It’s about getting better.
What you can expect from me:
- When I read your book, I’ll be looking to understand the book as you envision it, then work with you to further hone the things that are already working well and identify places where you can bring out the heart of your vision even more.
- Once I’ve read the whole thing, I’ll send you an edit letter with all my thoughts. I’ll give you some time to read through it, then we can communicate about it (video chat, phone, email—whatever) and come up with a solid revision plan.
- Once you complete your revisions, I’ll read through the book again and give you comments in the margins.
- We’ll pay extra attention to your first chapter and your query; I’ll also do a line/copy edit of your first 30 pages, and then you can take those suggestions and carry them through the rest of the book.
- I’ll be here to cheer you on the whole way, including providing support during the hardest part of the competition—the waiting phase. We’ll get through it together with pizza, donuts, wine, and all the cheese.
My perfect mentee ...
- flexible and open-minded about revisions? Listen, when you sign with your agent (and you will, I know it), you’re going to continue to get tons of feedback on your work. Then you’ll sell your book (totally, it will happen), and your editor is going to have a ton of changes for you to make too. So, revisions are a normal and natural part of the writing process. (Personally, my favorite parts of all my books are born in revisions.) So, if you’re open-minded and willing to do an overhaul if it’s in the service of your vision, I really want to work with you.
- not afraid to work hard? There’s a timeline in Pitch Wars, and you will likely be eating, sleeping, and breathing your book. Are you reading this saying, Bring it on!--good!
- serious about your writing career? I can’t promise that if you work with me you’ll get an agent and a book deal. I can promise you’ll learn from this experience, and your book will be better than when you started. So, if you don’t sign, are you still going to be as motivated to keep trying as you were the day you entered this competition? Will you keep querying that book until you find your dream agent? Will you write a new one and query that if this one doesn’t get you there? Yes? Then send me your book, my friend.
Let’s get to work.
So, what kind of books am I looking to mentor this year?
- I’m definitely looking for genre books, but within that context, I’m excited to read stories with diversity of any type, including #ownvoices books.
- I will accept YA and NA
- My biggest request will be thrillers. I’ll take action-based thrillers, psychological, techno thrillers, and a tiny bit of sci-fi (sci-fi isn’t my favorite, but it can be amazing,so the right book could do it for me). Books like THE ACCIDENTAL BAD GIRL (Maxine Kaplan), PEOPLE LIKE US (Dana Mele), THE BAKERSVILLE DOZEN (Kristina McBride), or mysteries like DIVESMACK (Demetra Brodsky) and SEE ALL THE STARS (Kit Frick).
- I’m also open to paranormal YA and full-on horror. Books like DREAD NATION (Justina Ireland), THE DARK BENEATH THE ICE (Amelinda Berube), THE CALL (Paedar O’Guillin), THE DEVIL AND WINNIE FLYNN (Micol Ostow), and books by Kim Liggett.
- I love combining humor with more serious stories, so if you have something along the lines of SCREAM ALL NIGHT (Derek Milman) or THEIVING WEASELS (Billy Taylor), especially if there’s a thriller element, send it to me.
- I’m also open to magical realism or light fantasy as long as it’s at least mostly rooted in the present time and a contemporary world: THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST (Holly Black) or THE HAZEL WOOD (Melissa Albert).
- These books are just examples; there's no need to know them to sub to me if your book fits my overall categories.
- Anything that’s NOT YA.
- Quiet books. I’m a genre girl, so I’m looking for books with thrills and scares.
- Pure contemporary. I love these books (think SOMEDAY, SOMEWHERE by Lindsey Champion), but I’m not looking for that this time around.
- High fantasy.
- No vampires or werewolves (UNLESS it’s a silly take on the trope. Think FAT VAMPIRE for or something like Molly Harper’s books for YA.)
- No space stories.
- No dystopians, please.
There's nothing wrong with these types of books, and my preferences have nothing to do with the chances of these kinds of books getting you an agent or book deal, they're just not my favorites and therefore you're better off using one of your submissions on a mentor who'd be a better fit.