Aminah Mae Safi is a writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. Her short story, “Be Cool for Once,” will be featured in WNDB Young Adult Anthology LIFT OFF, after winning the 2016 We Need Diverse Books Short Story Contest. She lives in Oakland, CA with her partner and a cat bent on world domination. Find her on Instagram @aminahmae.
As a mentor, I have experience working with an agent through submission and two different editors on two different projects for divisions of big five publishers. Film was my first love, so I’ll reference story arcs and genre from film a lot. Art history was my second love, so if you like nerding out about the nature of art, I’m here for you.
I have an eye for tropes and a good understanding of character and character development. I have a good sense of pacing, and when pieces of information do and do not need to be mysteries to the reader.
I’m honest but I don’t use that as a weapon. I believe in coming from a place of kindness with feedback.
I’m aware of the difference between how a writer sees their work, how a reader sees a book, and how an editor sees a manuscript. Sometimes those hats align, but often times they have slightly different perspectives. I think there is value in thinking like each in different stages of the process.
I know how to write a quick, tweet-long pitch. I know how to grab eyeballs and attention in an ever changing feed. I understand how to drive engagement in that environment.
Also, I think queries can be fun, when approached the right way. I remember how stressful they are, but I do think there’s an interesting challenge in the format. And I have some good writing exercises for flexing that muscle.
I’m super open. I write contemporary, but I’d also say I read a ton of fantasy, fairy tales, magic realism, and historical. I love adventure stories and detective fiction, especially lady detectives. Those are definitely my bread and butter as a reader. If you’ve written pure sci-fi, you might not want me as a mentor. I don’t think I have the breadth of knowledge to provide the best possible feedback.
But, honestly? I’m pretty voice driven and my favorite stories are the ones with memorable characters. If you’ve got great characters and a compelling voice, I’d love to work with you.
Also, I love kissing books.
I’m a pusher, Cady. I push people. Though, I don’t hold back on praise. I want to help other writers learn to work best in their own idiom. I believe I can be the kind of mentor that helps you get to the best place you can be, as your own writer, rather than in someone else’s style. One writer’s aim, style, and voice is so different from another’s that I’d hate to be giving my solution to your novel.
I was trained in academia, so I’m sure there are moments where I get a little bit exacting, too.
I ask a lot of questions. I write many of my immediate reactions. I provide a big picture summary of my notes at the end. Full disclosure: there’s a lot of red on the page. I’m less apt to think I have the exact right answer and more likely to think I can spot a problem and point you towards several solutions that you may or may not take, depending on your ultimate aim.
I like to provide resources. Other books to read, movies to watch, other writer’s whose styles I might notice match up with yours. Reading critically is one of the best teachers, because that’s how you develop your own solid voice. Watching critically gives a fantastic sense of plotting and tropes.
Low-key cat lady seeks driven mentee willing to communicate clearly and honestly. Sense of humor and willingness to learn a must. Love of teen film references optional.
Favorite author: Tie. Jane Austen and Melina Marchetta
Favorite Shakespearean heroine: Beatrice, with Katharina squeaking in at a close second
Favorite writing snack: Literally anything crunchy
Coffee or tea: Both. Coffee in the morning, tea during the afternoon.
Most underrated movie of the 80s: Some Kind of Wonderful
Favorite tropes: Enemies to lover road trips. Cyrano epistolaries are also my personal catnip.
Favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Murder She Wrote, Brooklyn Nine Nine, New Girl
Favorite Sofia Coppola Film: Marie Antoinette 😎
Favorite Nora Ephron Film: You’ve Got Mail
Top emojis: ✨💕💯💁🏻
Favorite Mean Girl: Karen, duh 👈🏽
If I were going to run away to a museum, E.L. Konigsburg Style: The Getty
I love character driven work, rich worlds, and messy girls who have to solve their own problems. I love diverse tales and wild women. I have zero problems with profanity, sex, or other mature themes in young adult fiction. I’d say my only trigger is addiction stories, which I tend to avoid, but I’ve had my exceptions to that as well.