Melissa See writes #ownvoices young adult contemporary romance novels starring disabled leads. She currently lives in the New York countryside where she’s working towards a career in children’s publishing. When not writing, she can be found reading, baking cookies, or curled up with her cat, most likely watching anime or 90 Day Fiancé. Her work has previously appeared in ANIME IMPACT: THE MOVIES & SHOWS THAT CHANGED THE WORLD OF JAPANESE ANIMATION.
I’ve been writing since I was seven years old. I queried my first YA contemporary romance in 2013, then another in 2019. When the querying process was winding down for me in 2019, I decided I need to start a new book, so I called up my critique partner and said, “I have this idea.”
That idea was an #ownvoices YA contemporary romance set in the world of high school orchestra where a violinist with cerebral palsy and a prodigy cellist hiding his undiagnosed anxiety disorder fall in love, just as their duet goes viral for all the wrong reasons. That book explored life in Manhattan, bodily autonomy, mental health, the Catholic church, going viral, and romance, all centered around the theme of inspiration porn (where disabled people are portrayed as inspirational purely because they are disabled). It was the most honest portrayal of my cerebral palsy I’d ever written.
After revising and querying it in 2020, I signed with my incredible agent, Emily Forney at BookEnds Literary Agency, and I am endlessly grateful for our partnership. It took me seven years and three queried books to get my agent. I learned a lot during that time, and I am so excited to help someone through that process!
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Studies with a concentration in Literature. (And in my program, I made sure to focus on both children’s and young adult.) I’ll also be attending graduate school for Book Publishing starting this coming year. I love helping friends with every step of the publishing process, from critiquing to querying. Additionally, I have interned with Ladderbird Literary Agency (where I evaluated manuscripts and queries) and am working towards establishing a career in the children’s publishing industry.
I want to be a mentor because I know firsthand how hard it is to be disabled author publishing, let alone for the disabled community to find proper, authentic #ownvoices representation. And as I’m doing my best to help get proper disability rep out there, I also know how hard the querying process is, having been through it three separate times before signing with my agent. I want to help a writer navigate these treacherous waters with a mentor at their side, so they’ll feel less overwhelmed and more encouraged to tell their story.
I’m looking for a mentee who is as excited to improve upon their book as they are to enter the query trenches when we’re all done. Community as a writer is invaluable, as it helps build connections and friendships, so you aren’t going through this process alone. I cannot wait to see who I’ll have the pleasure of working with!
As for what I’m looking for, please send me all of your YA contemporary romances! I want fluffy stories that feel like warm hugs, with a great voice and wonderful characters. Whether your story takes place onstage, on the subway, at an anime convention, and beyond. I adore love stories of all kinds, but I have a huge soft spot for both #ownvoices and diversity overall, as representation is paramount, especially in YA. If your story involves disabled teens finding love, queer teens getting kissed, etc., I want to see it. (To clarify: I’m disabled, asexual, and have anxiety and depression.)
Above all, I’m looking for a wonderful YA contemporary romance with a strong voice and characters I fall in love with. As a marginalized author, I’m also very much interested in #ownvoices stories.
Tropes I love:
- Cinnamon rolls
- Friends to lovers
- Meet cutes
- Rivals to lovers
Tropes I don’t like:
- Alpha males/”bad boys”
- Fake dating
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
Before we dive into revisions, I’d love to have a video conversation with my chosen mentee so that we can get to know each other, and I can get to know more about their book. I want to know why they love it so much, and what it means to them to be a part of Author Mentor Match.
After our conversation, I’ll edit the full manuscript via Word or Google Docs (whichever is more accessible). Once I’m done reading and marking it up, I’ll give the manuscript back to them and we’ll set up a time to have another conversation, where I’ll have questions prepared for them. We’ll dive into characters, development, emotional arcs, first kisses, plot, etc., continuing
the process of revisions with more line edits and more conversations.
I’ll be completely open to questions my mentee has for me, in whichever way they’re comfortable communicating. (Additionally, I’ll also be there to give encouragement and virtual hugs. I’m definitely someone who loves to give compliments to other writers and my mentee will be no exception.)
My ideal mentee is excited, and loves their book with their whole heart, but also understands that revisions ultimately serve to make their book better. As my mentee, you’ll dig deep into your characters’ story as we work together to improve upon it. And, as we go through Author Mentor Match together, I hope we’ll form a friendship so that you’ll have another person in the writing community that you can both turn to and celebrate with.
- Above all: YA contemporary romances! Especially rom-coms! Do you have one? Then you immediately have my attention.
- Anxiety representation
- Books that revolve around food. If your book can simultaneously make my heart happy and my stomach growl like A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA & TOMORROW, I’d love to see it!
- Can you compare your book to Yuri!!! ON ICE? I want to see it!
- Does your book take place in the world of performing arts (ei: orchestra, drama club, or musical theater)? I was a violinist and a theater kid! Send it to me!
- Queer teens coming into their own and falling in love.
- If your book reminds you of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW, or WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU, please send it to me!
- Is your protagonist a nerd (Do they go to a convention, cosplay, play video games, etc.)? I already love them.
- I love a good ensemble cast.
- I have an immense soft spot for books that are set in New York City.
- #ownvoices stories (I’m particularly interested in #ownvoices disability stories, but all #ownvoices are welcome!)
DO NOT SEND ME:
- Abuse storylines
- Alpha male/“bad boy” love interests
- COVID storylines
- Depression/drug/suicide storylines (I wouldn’t be the best mentor for them.)
- Disabled characters being used as plot devices or inspiration porn; being portrayed as burdens; or stories about how a non-disabled sibling has it hard because their sibling is disabled, etc. (If you are a non-disabled author, please do not send me books with disabled protagonists.)
- Fake dating storylines
- Love triangles
- Unreliable/unlikeable narrators
- Parents getting divorced
- Plots that center around a character falling in love with someone who’s going to die from illness or vice-versa during or by the end of the book.
- Relationships with inappropriate age gaps
- Any of the following genres: Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller, mystery, or paranormal (I’m not the right mentor for any of them.)
- Ouran High School Host Club
- Snow White with the Red Hair
- Yuri!!! ON ICE
- The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
- My Hero Academia
- Demon Slayer
- ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS
- TODAY TONIGHT TOMORROW
- A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA & TOMORROW
- FELIX EVER AFTER
- WELL MET
- YOU’D BE MINE
- YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN
- Fiddler on the Roof
- Sweeney Todd
- The Color Purple
- Beauty & the Beast