Sarah is a writer of middle-grade fiction. She holds a PhD in History and geeks out on all things historical, especially topics related to her interests in the history of women, gender, and medicine. During working hours, Sarah is a freelance content marketing writer. She lives in Santa Barbara, California with her husband and goofy cat. When she’s not writing, she can be found knitting, watching baseball on TV, and drinking too much coffee.
I’m one of those people who alway dreamed of being a writer when I was young, but as I got older I started to believe I wasn’t creative enough to actually write fiction. I stuck firmly to academic prose. After I didn’t get an academic job in my field, I started writing fiction as a way to escape the dreariness that is the academic job market. My first book was a hopelessly flawed historical fantasy—but I learned that I could actually finish a novel. For my second book, I started writing middle-grade, and that book got me into AMM Round 2. Through AMM, I got connected with an awesome mentor and community. My mentor helped me revise that book to make it worlds better. I queried that book lightly lightly, but at the same time I was working on the project of my heart—an MG contemporary about sports, family, and disability acceptance. With my mentor’s encouragement, I entered the new book into Pitch Wars 2017. I got into Pitch Wars, revised the book with another wonderful mentor, and started sending out queries after the agent round. In January of 2018, I signed with my agent.
I’ve taught college courses in History and Gender Studies, where I terrorized students with my tough grading. (Kidding. Well, mostly.) When I was a teacher, I worked extensively with students on improving their skills as writers and researchers. I’ve also worked as a freelance editor for several nonfiction projects that are now published or under contract. In fiction, I’ve worked with several critique partners. Having been a mentee in both Author Mentor Match and Pitch Wars, I’ve gotten the opportunity to observe how great mentors work.
Getting into AMM Round 2 changed my writing life. For the first time, I had someone on my side who believed in me as a writer, who went through my work with care and thought. That experience taught me how to revise deeply and think about my work more critically. Now I want to pay it forward and provide another writer with that same kind of support.
I am a MG writer who benefitted immensely from being part of AMM. Now I want to pay it forward and mentor another MG writer.
I’m open to most genres within MG—heartfelt contemporaries, historicals, fantasy, sci-fi that’s accessible for young readers, etc. (Not an exhaustive list by any means!) Regardless of genre, what makes me really fall in love with a book is character and voice. I want to work on a manuscript that kids will love—the kind of book that will have a kid staying up past their bedtime just to read one more chapter. If a book isn’t quite there yet I’d like to help take it to that level.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Within these genres, I’m open to a wide variety of stories. Mostly, I want great characters and a middle-grade voice that feels authentic. I prefer MG that is written to entertain kids and make them feel things, not to teach a lesson. It’s okay if your book explores serious issues, but it can’t be didactic.
I’m okay with most tropes, but will pass on the disabled friend/sibling who exists only to prop up the main non-disabled character.
While I enjoy novels in verse, I am not the best mentor for them.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
If you work with me, I’ll start by sending you an edit letter that covers big-picture things related to characterization, plot, and world-building. I tend to mix in lots of compliments into my critiques. After you’ve gotten my letter, we can talk it out with email and/or Google chat. If you don’t love one of my ideas that’s okay—I want you to write a story that’s true to your vision. We can brainstorm alternatives together. I’ll be available to answer any questions that come up during the revision process. Then, I’ll take a look at your new draft and when you’re ready we’ll do line edits. Finally, I’ll help you get your query letter in shape and figure out which agents to query. I can adjust my process to better meet my mentee’s needs. I want to keep the lines of communication open and help my mentee get what they need out of the relationship.
I want to work with a writer who is serious about their craft, willing to think critically about their own work, and prepared to make heavy-duty revisions if necessary. This writer should be open to suggestions, but confident enough in their vision to advocate for it when necessary. It’s also important that they understand the current middle grade market and be an avid MG reader.
- Books of any genre that prominently feature disabled characters, including neurodivergant characters. It doesn’t necessarily have to be #ownvoices, but it is important that you’re willing to work for accurate and respectful representation.
- Complex sibling relationships
- Stories that capture the messiness of middle school friendship
- An interesting take on the mother/daughter relationship
- Epistolary format—letters, diary entries, all other in-world documents
- Stories that feature a good mystery, even if that’s not the primary genre
- Sports stories that aren’t just about sports
- Time travel!
- Historical fantasy, especially with settings and characters that are less represented in fiction -Protagonists who can be characterized as difficult, unlikeable, or otherwise imperfect
- Unique fantasy settings, especially if they incorporate worldbuilding elements outside of the usual Western European mythology
- Anything in outer space
- Quirky boarding schools
- Protagonists with unusual passions (i.e. ALL FOUR STARS, I AM DRUMS, or THE SOMEDAY BIRDS)
- Stories that incorporate reality TV or some other kind of kooky competition
- Whimsical historical stories along the lines of THE SCANDALOUS SISTERHOOD OF PRICKWILLOW PLACE. More serious historicals also welcome, like THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE
DO NOT SEND ME:
- World War II settings (Note: I am absolutely open to historical books—just not WW II/Holocaust stories.)
- Superhero stories
- Greek/Roman mythology.
- Excessive reliance on bathroom humor. A few poop jokes are okay, but if that’s your whole book I’m probably not the mentor for you.
MG: SHUG, THE SCANDALOUS SISTERHOOD OF PRICKWILLOW PLACE, THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE, MS. BIXBY’S LAST DAY, ALL FOUR STARS, MY DIARY FROM THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, THE EVIL WIZARD SMALLBONE, UNIDENTIFIED SUBURBAN OBJECTS, ALAN COLE IS NOT A COWARD, anything by Erin Entrada Kelly, Jason Reynolds’ TRACK series, Megan Morrisons’s TYME series, Caleb Krisp’s IVY POCKET series. And of course the classics of my childhood: ANIMORPHS, HARRY POTTER, and A WRINKLE IN TIME
YA and adult: TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, THE GENTLEMAN’ GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, SIX OF CROWS, RED RISING, WILD BEAUTY, THE FIRST FIFTEEN LIVES OF HARRY AUGUST, anything Becky Albertalli, N.K. Jemisin, Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series, Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers
TV: The Good Place, Parks & Recreation, Gilmore Girls, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel