Melissa Edwards

YA contemporary/YA thriller/Adult thriller

WHERE I LIVE (February 27, 2018)

BRENDA RUFENER spent her childhood stomping through the woods of Oregon in search of bat-filled caves and Bigfoot. She successfully located one of the two and spent the rest of her time penciling short stories. A double major in English and biology, Brenda graduated from Whitman College. She lives in North Carolina with her family and is an advocate for homeless youth.

My pub journey moved fairly quickly, although I’d been a writer most of my life. A technical writer turned novelist. I’d written and shelved one YA before my debut. Landed my agent after a month of querying to a handful of agents, then revised and prepared the manuscript for submission. The book sold in one week with more than one offer.

Have worked as a technical writer for fifteen years before seriously writing a novel. Since HarperTeen picked up my debut, I’ve successfully made it through the editing process, copyedits, and submitted the draft for what will possibly be my YA book two. I guess you can say I have successfully navigated the editorial process with an amazing editor from a Big House. Since then I’ve helped writer friends tackle their queries and successfully acquire agents. I love writing pitches!

I feel strongly about giving back to the writing community, which was so generous to me when I first started out. If not for the encouragement I received, I may have given up–so I look forward to helping someone else achieve their dreams.

Since I tend to write character-driven books, I am often drawn to character and voice. Sharp and realistic dialogue, voicey characters, and rich atmosphere. I’m looking for a story where the characters inhabit the world they live in and create the events that happen to them.

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Romance

What I’d Love to See:

Character driven stories that make me feel like I’m living in the mix. I want to be friends with your characters–or maybe enemies.

Take me on an emotional journey like Nicola Yoon, Kathleen Glasgow, or Jeff Zentner does. Make me laugh and cry, preferably at the same time.

Pacing is as important to me in contemporary and romance as it is in mystery/thriller. I love unexpected twists and gasp-worthy moments.

Give me all the strong (but sometimes flawed) female characters.

I love a strong friendship book and am a sucker for the friends to lovers trope.

Specifically for mystery/thrillers: I tend to prefer psychological thrillers, but am open to most everything in this category if it’s character-driven, quick-paced, and atmospheric.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)

I enjoy line editing as I read the manuscript and providing a big picture developmental approach in the form of a letter. I’ll leave notes throughout on what I think is working and tackle development and improvement in the edit letter. I love to encourage and am never harsh. I believe in positive reinforcement! We are all hard enough on ourselves.

Sincere and humble with a drive to improve their work and achieve their writerly dreams. Someone willing to put in the hard work, persist, and never give up. Publishing is hard, filled with ups and downs and in-betweens. I’d love to work with someone mentally prepared to push forward no matter what.

Voicey contemporary (for me it’s all about the voice).

An atmospheric YA thriller/mystery, and if it features a pumpkin patch or forest, I’m all ears! Anything set in a private/boarding school.

A book that makes me laugh and cry (preferably at the same time).

Strong female characters with flaws. Would love to find something in the vein of WE WERE LIARS or a YA GONE GIRL.

Friendship books where the friendships are put through hell. If the friendship survives the pressure–even better.

I’m a pass on love triangles, unless a unique spin (something new). Probably not the best fit for horror. And please don’t send works featuring an antagonist with mental illness.

I adore books by Rainbow Rowell, Jennifer Niven, Nicola Yoon, Kerry Kletter, Kathleen Glasgow, Amber Smith, and Jeff Zentner. I’m also a huge GoT fan(atic), lover of Stranger Things, seeker of bats, and believer in hope over adversity.