Amelia Diane Coombs is a proud Slytherin (despite also being known as empathetic to a fault), has her MFA in Creative Writing, and failed high school geometry because she was too busy writing in her notebook. As a lifelong native of the San Francisco Bay Area—the land of Redwoods, hot air balloons, and endless stretches of wineries—Amelia resides in Sonoma County with her partner-in-crime boyfriend, thirteen-pound Siberian cat, and collection of carnivorous plants. When she isn’t writing, Amelia’s beekeeping, playing Magic the Gathering, binging Netflix, or drowning beneath her TBR pile of books.
I’ve always been “a writer” but after graduating my MFA program in 2015, I began actively pursuing publication and sent my very first query letter in January of 2016. I made every query mistake in the book first starting out—name it and I’ve done it. But oh, I learned quickly from my mistakes. In August of 2016, after eight months of on-and-off querying with varied results, I submitted to Pitch Wars. And I got in! I signed with my first agent in November of 2016 with my Pitch Wars manuscript, which was on sub for six months. Sadly, that manuscript didn’t sell. *whomp whomp* For a multitude of reasons, I decided to leave that agent and venture out into the great unknown with my work in progress. Funnily enough, I submitted to Pitch Wars again—and got in a second time with my new manuscript. But unlike my first experience, the agent round wasn’t a fast track to an agent. I queried for four months with a fantastic request rate, and as of late-February 2018, signed with my new agent. I’ve received rejection at every level and had more “What is this author nonsense? I want to quit! Quick, help me light a fire so I can throw my manuscript into the flames” moments than I care to count. Bookish Twitter is wonderful because it connects so many authors and writers at every stage of their career, but it also mainly highlights the submission success stories, the fast sales, and multi-book deals with movie rights. Publishing is equal parts luck and talent, but perseverance plays a huge role!
I majored in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis, and received my MFA in Creative Writing Fiction from St. Mary’s College of California. Even though AMM will be my first mentoring experience, I’ve been on the other end twice as a Pitch Wars mentee. I also intern at a literary agency, where I’m fortunate enough to glimpse at what agents are requesting and how those manuscripts stand out. However, my greatest revision/mentor weapon is what I’ve learned first-hand during my times in the query trenches. When it comes to revision, I’m ruthless. Revision is my favorite part of the writing process, and nothing gives me as much glee as working on big picture issues and combing through a manuscript for line edits. I’m also skilled at assessing what concepts might be marketable (very important in all age groups and genres, but especially YA contemporary) and crafting a query letter that will rise above the slush.
When I sent out my first query letter, I had no idea what I was doing and I felt so alone. The loneliness morphed into depression once the rejections started rolling in. Luckily, I connected with some amazing mentors who helped guide me from revisions, query letters, and what agents to query. I’m eternally indebted to them (most are still close friends!) and I’d love to give back in any way possible to the writing community.
I write, read, and adore Young Adult contemporary. For me, the ideal contemporary manuscript will deliver a demanding-to-be-read voice, swoons, buckets of banter, and whisk me away on a truly remarkable journey. Since contemporary (with some romance of course) is my bread and butter, I’m mentoring the genre I know best. However, I’m open to contemporary manuscripts with mystery or thriller subplots.
Writing—and querying—can be so terribly isolating when you’re first starting out, especially if you haven’t found your writing community. Having a mentor, someone solidly in your corner who gets your book, can help you weather the publishing storm. As a fellow writer who has benefited greatly from mentoring programs, it’s been my goal to give back to the fantastic community that supported me.
My greatest strength is contemporary, as I read, write, and critique it more than any other genre. I’m only looking for romance if it’s a subplot, as I personally need *more* in a manuscript. I’m tagging #ownvoices for mental illness only; there are other mentors out there more equipped to make other #ownvoices manuscripts shine.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
If we end up working together, you’ll let me gush about your manuscript, and then we’ll dive in! How I approach your manuscript will vary on why I picked your manuscript and what work I think it needs, but generally, big picture edits will come first, along with an edit letter. I’ll also want to go over the manuscript with you and hear what *you* think needs work or what you’re having trouble with. After the big picture edits, if we’re both happy with the result (if not, we can work together and brainstorm a way to resolve any remaining plot issues) I’ll do line edits and go through your manuscript with tracking comments. I’m also here to help you with querying, and we can tackle your query letter and synopsis. If you’re ready to query at the end, I’m more than happy to help you research and vet agents!
As a mentor, I’ll be very open and honest with you about what works and what doesn’t work, and I’ll try my hardest to make your manuscript shine. A mentor-mentee relationship is a two-way street and as a former mentee myself, I can attest that you get as much as you give from the relationship. Sure, it’ll be hard work, but we’ll have fun along the way!
As a writer once dubbed “The Patron Saint of Hustle” I’m looking for a mentee with a similar work ethic. I want someone who works hard, doesn’t give up, and ideally, has thick skin. We’re all allowed our wallowing moments, but in order to survive in this industry, you need to persevere when the going gets rough. Bonus points for a mentee who is well-read in YA and their genre, can appropriately use comp titles, and has some publishing knowledge.
Voice! I love voice-y YA.
I find it difficult to fall in love with a YA Contemporary if there aren’t any swoons, so bring me enemies to lovers, slow burn romance, and sex positivity.
I’m your gal for quirky or weird stories, a manuscript with some thriller undertones, and what some might call, unlikable female protagonists. Humor in YA is underappreciated, and I’d love something that’s just smart and witty that will make me smile.
Other things I love: ensemble casts, settings so rich and developed they become their own character, protagonists with weird obsessions or passions, and banter.
Recent Reads I Loved:
PEOPLE LIKE US by Dana Mele
YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE by Rachel Lynn Solomon
STARRY EYES by Jenn Bennett (releases in April 2018, but I love all of Jenn’s YA!)
FOOLISH HEARTS by Emma Mills
LITTLE MONSTERS by Kara Thomas
ELIZA AND HER MONSTERS by Francesca Zappia
DO NOT SEND ME:
On the flipside, insta-love is an insta-nope. Other things that I’ll probably shy away from are: good girl/bad guy trope, MPDGs, heavy “issue” books dealing with mental illness, eating disorders, or domestic abuse of any kind. However, if you have an #ownvoices manuscript with a mental health subplot, I’d be willing to take a look.
Movies: What We Do in the Shadows, Heathers, 10 Things I Hate About You, Lady Bird, Wristcutters: A Love Story, Garden State, Blue Velvet, Interstellar, The Wedding Singer
Books: THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU, A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES, LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD, TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN, THIS ADVENTURE ENDS, ONE OF US IS LYING, GIRL IN PIECES, JELLICOE ROAD, and everything Jenn Bennett, Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Dessen, and Morgan Matson
TV Shows: Arrested Development, Archer, Psych, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Chuck, Rick & Morty, Bob’s Burgers, Parks and Rec, Fargo, Veronica Mars, Happy Endings, Gilmore Girls, Mr. Robot, iZombie, The O.C., Buffy, Scrubs, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Big Brother, etc.