I’m a linguist, a trivia nerd, a theater fan, a mom, and a debut YA author. In the past I’ve been a one-day Jeopardy! contestant, a confessional blogger, and an ESL teacher.
I’m quiet but not shy. I love traveling and getting vaguely lost in new places. I get easily obsessed with things, and I never, ever forget names, dates, or song lyrics.
My family and I live in Atlanta, in an old house with creaky floors and an underground greenhouse.
I started writing novel-length fiction when I was 10, and continued attempting to write one novel draft a year through middle school and high school. I gotta say, I was pretty good at sticking to my (friend-imposed) deadlines back then. I wrote for the pure love of spending time with my characters; revision wasn’t even on my radar at that point.
After years of this, and a couple of NaNoWriMos, I started looking into how to get published. The moment of when I would finally Send My First Query hung heavily in my mind. Too heavily. For a long time, I was “almost ready to query” — at least, that’s what I told other people, and myself. I rewrote the same novel over and over, all the while gathering information about publishing. Perhaps I knew this obsessive, perfectionistic rewriting process was going to fail me eventually. When the inevitable crash happened, I very nearly quit writing. But I found the energy to trash that old manuscript and start a new one, again for the love of spending time with characters I’d created when I was a teenager. This new manuscript grew into a novel I was proud of.
When, at last, I was brave enough to send out queries, I submitted for only a few weeks before signing with my agent. I revised with her for several months, and then we went on submission. The manuscript found a publishing home pretty quickly, too. Basically, struggling with myself (my process, my perfectionism, and impostor syndrome) has been the toughest part of my publishing journey.
I’ve been in one critique group or another for about eight years, and I love helping other writers with their work. Several of my crit buddies are published, contracted, or agented.
Through my day job in the linguistics field, I’m a cross-cultural editor. My two colleagues and I mentor a team of 200+ linguists who write and review language tests and training materials in their native languages. As you might imagine, this requires constant cultural research and sensitivity, flexibility, and willingness to listen. I’ve been in this role for over 10 years, and I love it.
Are you a writer who’s been “almost ready to query” for a long time? Maybe even years? I ask because that’s exactly who I was a few years ago. I let my chronic re-drafting hold me back, but I’ve known other writers who were plot-tinkerers or sentence-tinkerers or whatever. Maybe you need someone to get you over that last hill. Someone to help you fix your ending. Someone to help you know when you’re ready to get your draft out there. Someone to polish that query with you one final time. That someone could be — wait for it — me!
I’ve been in the online writing community for years, but I’m a pretty quiet person there. I work best with other writers in a small group or one-on-one context. AMM is an awesome community that provides mentors and writers a way to get to know fellow writers and their work on a deeper level. I love supporting the AMM community and giving my time and expertise through it!
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
I will always read a good friends-to-lovers story, a story of a road trip or other epic travel experience, anything set in the theater or music worlds, and anything that other people call “plotless” but that is actually a fabulous character study packed with beautiful, quotable lines (okay, this is an “I know it when I see it” type of thing). I also totally want to see your go-for-broke, super weird, “I dunno what this is but I’m going to write it anyway” stories.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I’m flexible! I’m a fan of the long e-mail — that is, an “edit letter” filled with my impressions of the work: themes, character arcs, plot arcs, what’s working and what’s not. I tend to read manuscripts twice: once for my initial reaction as a reader, and again for a deeper dive into arcs, pacing, and style. When I critique chapter-by-chapter with my CPs, I tend to add in-line comments as I read, and then write a page or so of my overall impressions at the end. But if you’d rather talk it out via Gchat, text, or Skype / Facetime, we can make that happen, too.
My ideal mentee is someone who wants to create a work of art, first and foremost. Whether it gets published or not, you’d be happy to have a completed work that fits your vision of what it was meant to be, as closely as possible. You’re someone who works hard on craft, reads a lot, takes inspiration from all sorts of places and people, and isn’t afraid to get daring during the revision process.
I’d love to see a literary mystery or modern Southern gothic. A queer girl romance, whether it’s funny and fluffy, dark and serious, or a mix of both. An #ownvoices exploration of mental or physical disability. A character who’s obsessed with something unexpected. An activist character. A story with a significant animal character (think THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN or ME AND MARVIN GARDENS). MG or YA for all of the above!
DO NOT SEND ME:
I’m pretty tired of YA contemp that revolves around dealing with a dead parent or sibling, especially when the plot involves fulfilling the loved one’s final request. Please no white savior or straight savior stories (basically, anything that involves exploiting the pain of a marginalized group for the sake of the main character learning a lesson).
I love Broadway musicals and can nerd out all day about them. When writing craft books have been too overwhelming for me, I’ve used musicals to help me learn about plot, pacing, and song-worthy moments in a story. My favorites are Company, Hamilton, Follies, West Side Story, Fun Home, and Next to Normal.
I don’t watch a ton of TV, but when I do get into a show, I’ll comb the internet reading everything ever written about it. I love Mad Men, Bojack Horseman, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and Simpsons seasons 2 – 8 in this way.
The YA books I come back to again and again are THE WALLS AROUND US, HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS, HOW TO MAKE A WISH, SPEAK, and JELLICOE ROAD. My fave 2017 reads thus far have been GRAY WOLF ISLAND and LITTLE & LION.