Tricia Skinner

Adult Science Fiction

Spring 2021

J.S. Dewes is an author, cinematographer, and video editor with a degree in film production from Columbia College Chicago. She cut her narrative teeth writing scripts for award-winning feature films and shorts which have screened at festivals and conventions all across the United States. A creative a heart, she enjoys video games, drawing, photography, graphic design, Pinterest, and all things visual.

A few years ago I started writing fan fiction and fell madly in love, and that experience encouraged me to try original work. I shelved that first book (as one does), but I’d learned a ton, and the second turned out much better! I started querying agents with it in mid-2017, signed with my agent in early 2018, and sold that book and its (unwritten) sequel in late 2018.

Most of my writing experience comes from screenwriting and collaborative storytelling via filmmaking, both in college and my own personal projects, and as a freelance film and video professional. I’ve been an active member of an online writing community since I started writing, and I currently work with critique partners in all stages: many are querying, two have signed with agents, and one has sold.

I want to be a mentor because I want to give back to a community that I think can be so important for writers in the early stages of their careers. I’m very much an introvert, so the thought of having to attend a local writers’ group to meet people in the industry terrified me. I was thrilled to discover there was such a vast and supportive community online! Though I’ve never been a mentee, I learned so much the last couple years from the mentors and other industry professionals on Twitter, and by participating in the community events surrounding pitch and mentor contests. I’m thrilled to be given the chance to help someone else in their publishing journey.

I’m looking for adult science fiction and select fantasy that’s character-focused and full of heart—either of the uplifting or soul-crushing varieties (or both)—with high stakes and tons of adventure.
The best part of my publishing journey has been connecting with a group of supportive and talented writers. I started my own journey without a community, and if I could go back in time, I would have reached out to other writers sooner. I hope that I can make my mentee feel that they are not alone in this!

This year in AMM, I am considering both YA and Adult SFF manuscripts.

As a mentor and a critique partner, I am very detail focused. I would love to find an original, compelling manuscript that hooks me with its premise, but that maybe has a few rough edges that need sanding down. I have a collaborative work style and like to chat with my mentees on skype and hangouts to find solutions together.


  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • LitRPG

SCIENCE FICTION: space, adventure, military, accessible hard sci-fi, heists, cyberpunk, biopunk, space western, non-Earth settings
FANTASY: military, sword and sorcery, science fantasy if it’s military-focused (e.g. Warhammer 40k)


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

The mentoring process:
I’d love to start with a quick chat (via email or Discord) to get to know one another, ask any preliminary questions, and talk about our goals for the mentorship. We’d also talk about our respective schedules and set some deadlines that work for both of us.

After that, I’d send a developmental edit letter, and schedule a follow-up chat a few days after to discuss any questions you have about my notes before you get started.

Once those are done, I’d do a final read-through including any inline edit suggestions. Depending on the needs of the manuscript, I may also include additional edit notes to clean up any fallout from the first round of edits.

I’d be happy to hop on a chat or email throughout if you’re struggling with a specific part. My favorite activity with critique partners is brainstorming fixes for plot holes, character issues, stakes, etc.

As a final step, I weirdly love working on queries? So I’d be happy to help you prepare any submission materials, including workshopping your query letter and synopsis, and talking out any questions you have about the querying process.

My mentoring style/strengths:
When it comes to technical strengths, dialogue is my strongest ability. (Writing it. Not saying it out loud to real humans.) I’m also good with character motivation, structural issues, identifying (and solving!) plot holes or weak narrative threads/logic, strengthening conflict/stakes, and making fake science sound real.

I’m organized, critical without being harsh, and my experience in film has honed my ability to collaborate creatively, so I thrive in these kinds of partnerships!

My ideal mentee is someone who’s open to change, but confident in the story they’re trying to tell. They understand the value of great critique partners and beta readers, and have already workshopped the manuscript into something they’re proud of. They’re able to take criticism, and are hungry to improve their story and take the next steps on their publication journey.

  • Character-focused with tons of voice
  • Casual inclusion
  • Strong plutonic friendships (especially M/F)
  • Siblings who are BFFs
  • Characters older than 40
  • Ride-or-die squad/crew/friendship dynamics
  • Military or militaristic organizations
  • Soul-crushingly sympathetic villains
  • Villains who are actually right tho?
  • Unhappy endings
  • Extinct alien races lurking in the worldbuilding
  • Ancient alien tech
  • Archeology
  • Exploration
  • Cartography/maps of any kind
  • Generation ships
  • Mysteriously abandoned facilities
  • Mercenaries
  • Rogues/assassins/spies with secret hearts of gold
  • Gruff old soldiers with secret hearts of gold
    • P L E A S E send if any of the following could be comps:

      • Mass Effect
      • Battlestar Galactica
      • Killjoys
      • Rendezvous with Rama
      • Warhammer 40k
      • Murderbot

      Any of the following with “in space” added to the end:

    • Dragon Age
    • Fallout
    • The Last Kingdom
    • Peaky Blinders
    • A disaster movie
    • (anything at all, honestly)


    • Near-future, Earth-bound sci-fi (far future with Earth origins is totally fine)
    • Romance as the main plot (subplots 1000% okay)
    • Horror
    • Paranormal (a misc. sci-fi ghost or something is fine, I’m talking no werewolves, vamps, occult, etc.)
    • More than two POVs (more are okay if they’re not main characters, their word count is short, and/or their POVs only exist for stylistic purposes)
– Rendezvous with Rama
– Codex Alera Series
– Mistborn Trilogy
– The Giver
– Path of Destruction
– The Stolen Throne
– The Murderbot Diaries

– Battlestar Galactica
– Killjoys
– Peaky Blinders
– The 100
– The Last Kingdom
– Star Trek: The Next Generation
– Buffy
– Firefly

Video Games:
– Mass Effect
– Dragon Age
– Fallout
– Elder Scrolls
– Diablo
– Age of Empires
– World of Warcraft

– Muse
– The Eagles
– Johnny Cash
– Musical Soundtracks
– My Chemical Romance
– The Glitch Mob

– Video Games
– Reading
– Photography
– Drawing
– Volleyball

Ranks & Classifications:
– Biotic Adept
– Two-Handed Warrior
– Solarian
– Blood Elf Hunter
– Dual-Axe Ranger
– Imperial Dragonknight
– Demon Hunter
– Rifleman + Mysterious Stranger
– Powertech Bounty Hunter