write mentor

I’m excited to be mentoring with the Write Mentor program this summer. Write Mentor is a free program that matches agented and/or published kidlit writers with people looking for, well, mentoring.

The application window is April 15th and 16th, with selections announced on April 30th. The mentoring period is May-August, with an agent showcase to cap off the program in September. You can get full details on the program and how to apply HERE.

I’ll be mentoring middle grade, and I’m looking for something magical, speculative, or wondrous. Whether it’s fairies or ghosts or nightmares come to life or aliens, if it veers away from strict realism, I would love to see it.

What I’m Offering as a Mentor:

  • An edit letter (probably 3-6 pages) covering overarching things about your characters, stakes, pacing, plot issues, world-building, magic system, any prose issues I notice, and so on.
  • In-line notes in your manuscript with things I notice as I read
  • poking and nagging to show me revisions
  • rereads of target areas with more feedback

(What I’m not offering is any kind of phone or video call – anxiety makes this a no-go for me, so if that’s hugely important to you, I wouldn’t be a good fit!)

Some specifics of what I want: 

  • Anything and everything with magic.  High fantasy.  Low fantasy.  Portal fantasy.  Historical fantasy. Fairies.  Angels.  Vampires.  Ghosts.  Werewolves.  Mermaids.  Elves.  Horrifying monsters. Things that go bump in the night!
  • Folklore!  All the folklore!! (As in ‘stories passed down orally and changed over time’ not as is ‘popular music album’)
  • Fairy tale, Arthurian, and mythology reimaginings
  • Science fiction!  These ARE the droids I’m looking for!
  • Lyrical, evocative prose
  • Unique or experimental story structure
  • A voice that makes me gasp because it’s SO strong
  • If you can comp a Studio Ghibli film, PLEASE send your MS to me
  • Small towns and rural life
  • Things set on the coast

I am not the best choice for:

  • Anything with sexual abuse (including any kind of sexual abuse that happened in the past before the story begins)
  • Anything with pet suffering or death
  • Graphic novels (I wouldn’t know where to begin to help you)
  • Novels-in-verse


Examples of Books I have Adored:

Some books I have adored include:

  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill
  • The Forest of Stars, by Heather Kassner
  • The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater
  • In an Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire
  • Dragons in a Bag, by Zetta Elliott
  • The Bone Houses, by Emily Lloyd-Jones
  • While I was Away, by Waka T. Brown
  • A Properly Unhaunted Place, by William Alexander
  • Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon
  • Many Points of Me, by Caroline Gertler

If you have specific questions, I’m on Twitter too much and you can reach me there.

Now that we’re well into the revision period for Author Mentor Match Round 8, I wanted to share some very quick statistics.

I requested any type of manuscript that had some element of magic or unreality to it. Fantasy, science-fiction, horror. Didn’t matter. The only thing I didn’t want was contemporary. And every one of the 51 submissions I received met the criteria I had asked for, so that was great.

Ten writers submitting to me clearly identified themselves as writing #OwnVoices stories, three were somewhat confusing (queries are hard), and the rest didn’t self-identify.

genre breakdown of AMM submissions

I requested three full manuscripts: two fantasy and one science fiction. Two of those landed with a mentor, and I sent a short edit letter with all my reading notes to the one who did not.

After mentees were announced, I offered on Twitter to do a few lines of feedback for anyone who asked, and 20 people took me up on that.

Two things that really struck me as I went through my submission were the first pages and queries. A lot of queries were very rough, and while this had no bearing on reading for me, it’s worth taking the time to go through the Query Shark archives and swap with friends to make sure that you are at least hitting the standard format.

I know everyone says first pages are important, and before I looked at 51 MS I would have said, oh, yes, first pages are important. But they are so much more so than I realized. Everything I requested, I loved by the end of the first page. I kept reading, but if that first page didn’t grab me, I never ended up grabbed. Swap your first pages with people!

If you submitted, please take a moment to feel really proud of yourself, whether you got a request or not. It takes tremendous skill and commitment to write a novel and more to revise it. And then it takes courage to send it out, knowing that most people won’t connect to it for idiosyncratic reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the book but which can still hurt.

Keep writing. Keep revising. You’ve got this.

I’m very excited that I’ve been selected to be a mentor in the eighth round of Author Mentor Match, which is a program that pairs aspiring writers with more experienced industry professionals. I was a mentee in round 6 of AMM, and truly think this is an amazing resource, and now I get to pay it forward and do for another writer what my mentor did for me.

Selected mentees in AMM get a skilled person to critique their manuscript, which is amazing and helped me level up my writing, but they also get access to a whole community to answer questions about this very opaque industry.

I’m specifically mentoring middle-grade books, and you can find my wishlist on the AMM website HERE. The submission window is January 11-14, and instructions on how enter are on the AMM site.


So… I’m not going to reach my 100 rejections goal in 2020.  I’m quitting at 71 because I signed with a literary agent.  I’m thrilled to announce I am now represented by Quressa Robinson of Nelson Literary. Having such a brilliant agent help me bring my stubborn, brave heroine to the world is a dream come true.

This still does not feel quite real, but all the paperwork is signed and filed so I think it must be.   THE SEA WITCH’S DAUGHTER is one step closer to having a home.

Thank you to everyone who has been so, so supportive as I walk along this very rocky trad publishing path which, frankly, has way too many prickle bushes and not nearly enough cake vendors.