Jason June is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create young adult contemporary queer rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks. The more romance tropes but LGBTQIA+ he can include, the better! When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas with his Pomeranian, Pom Brokaw. He loves dinosaurs, miniature versions of everything, pretending he’s a mermaid, and Laura Dern. He is actively looking for an Andalite friend.
JJ’s books include the pun-filled picture book who-who-dunnit, WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL-DETECTIVE; the queer-inclusive Valentine’s story, PORCUPINE CUPID; the whimsical Scholastic chapter book series, MERMICORN ISLAND; and his gay YA rom-com, JAY’S GAY AGENDA, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen.
I actually started in the book industry as a literary agent’s assistant. Over time, I realized that I wanted to be on the creative side of things instead of the business side, and made the leap to writing. So I totally get that sometimes we get to writing in the roundabout way, and I believe there’s no “one true way” to be or become a writer. When I initially started writing full-time, things happened pretty fast. I signed with an agent, sold my first picture books that went on submission, and I thought everything was going to be gravy. But then I had an almost four year gap between selling book two and book three, I had four novel manuscripts that went nowhere, and enough rejections to wallpaper a house. But throughout this whole time I kept writing, which eventually paid off and led to my debut YA. I think that’s where my biggest strength will lie: cheerleading the heck out of you in the low points that you’ll question whether or not we’re actually living inside Bring It On.
When I was a literary agency assistant, I would read and give editorial feedback on client’s YA work, from big picture “I think we could flesh out this character/plot point/steps leading up to this epic surprise ending” notes, to small “I’m not sure so-and-so would wear that blouse what about a studded leather jacket instead?” observations. I’ve also mentored in the picture book space, and taught classes through the Writing Barn in Austin, TX. I’m a total open door kind of teacher/mentor, where you can ask questions or bounce ideas off of me any time.
While writing is my absolute favorite thing to do, it can get depressingly solitary for so many of us (me included). I miss interacting with people, but most of all, I crave boosting people up, cheering them on when they reach a low, and helping them work through blocks that are slowing their roll. I love reading other people’s work, so I can geek out with them over their brilliance and gush about how their words made me swoon and clutch my heart and sappily cheer while reaching for a Kleenex to wipe my happy tears. I want to be a mentor to bring the connection back to writing, and hopefully to be able to boost up another queer writer looking to make their mark.
I am looking for queer love, queer joy, queer lust, all kinds of magically delicious rainbow queerness. Give me that story that reminds me of what it’s like to have a crush for the first time, to fall in love for the first time, to want to figure out how wonderfully beautiful it is to connect with another person through our bodies for the first time, and showcases how empowering and affirming it is to define our bodies, our gender, our love how we want to and not how society has historically said we should.
Bring me all the queer love! It can include any trope, from enemies-to-lovers to school dance distress, and have any sort of voice, from the more sarcastic/blunt vibe of Mean Girls to the wholesome, ohmigoodness feel of a Disney Channel Original Movie. But just make me squeal about the love interest(s), and make it so queer I can’t stop seeing rainbows!
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- We will have open communication. We’ll set up meetings for specific and big picture things, but any time you’ve got a burning question or need a boost, you can always text me!
After I get your manuscript, we’ll have a chat about what you’re hoping for in terms of feedback from my first read. These can be specific questions or big picture things; anything you need more insight on, let me know. Then I’ll do a read and get back to you with big picture thoughts, and some line editing as well. Then we’ll have another chat to make sure everything is clear, and as you revise you can check in with me any time about anything, again whether it’s specific or if you suddenly had a brilliant idea for an overarching change you want to run by me. After you edit, I’ll do another read, addressing any overarching thing that still seems like it could use some fine-tuning, but mostly line edits at this point to make sure your voice and characters all feel like they’re staying true to themselves and helping get your vision across clearly.
My ideal mentee is somebody who’s also looking to make a connection here and celebrate that we’re bringing queer stories to the world together. Somebody who knows we’re equals on this journey together and that it doesn’t have to be too stiff or formal. Someone who can clearly say what they’re trying to accomplish in their work and can solidly let me know if any of my suggestions don’t vibe with them, not in like, a confrontational way, but in a “oh, what I’m actually going for is this” way so I know how I can be most helpful and not accidentally steer you in a direction that doesn’t feel quite right to you. At the same time, I’d love a mentee who’s open to things they hadn’t thought of before and to putting in the work of revising if they have that ringing bell of clarity moment when getting a suggestion that resonates with them.
Honestly, anything that centers queer love, relationships, and characters. I love a Happily Ever After, but I also love stories that showcase how loving yourself is just as monumental (if not more so). So I’m all about stories where somebody comes into their own instead of relationship. I’m also open to stories that challenge traditional ideas of what a relationship should look like. Basically, give me anything that explores queer people finding happiness and joy in their life, no matter how they define said happiness, whether that’s an HEA, or giving us a whole new vision of what an HEA can look like, or whether it’s centering themselves and loving themselves for it!
DO NOT SEND ME:
I’d say I’m mostly looking for work that has an overall happy vibe. Of course there will be and should be some challenges for your protagonist along the way, but if your work ends with a feeling of sorrow, or like I’ve been punched in the gut instead of hugged in the heart, I don’t think it’d be right for me at this time.
Ohmigawd I love so many things, but here’s a vibe of the kinds of manuscripts I’d love to read!
Books: The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding, You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson, Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant, Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender, K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee, Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli.
Movies: Never Been Kissed, Monster-In-Law, Crazy Rich Asians, French Kiss, Last Holiday, Two Weeks Notice.
Things I Happen to Love that Don’t Necessarily Pertain to Book Tastes but I Want to Geek Out with You about Them If You Love Them Too: Pomeranians, Laura Dern, Real Housewives, Pokémon, Cheesy Holiday Movies, America’s Next Top Model, Moira Rose, Shoes, Dreaming About Becoming a Mermaid