Lauren Kay is a writer and YA enthusiast. She grew up in northern NJ and studied Love and Relationships at Brown University. She is the founder of SmartSitting and Dating Ring, the subject of Season 2 of Gimlet’s “StartUp” podcast. She now lives in Brooklyn with her two cats and fiancé. When not reading or writing YA, she can be found tutoring, matching writers into critique groups through The Write Cohort, petting her cats, watching Gilmore Girls reruns, running marathons, or consuming an unhealthy volume of Coke Zero.
After leaving the startup world, I decided I would finally have time to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. It took many years of staring at a blank page before I began writing regularly. I started my first book officially in 2018 and finally finished it in early 2020, which is when I applied to AMM. I was devastated when I wasn’t chosen for AMM—it was my first big rejection as a writer—but applying was absolutely one of the best things I have done as a writer. I connected with such a fantastic community (you can still make so many AMM friends, even if you don’t find a mentor!), which eventually led a few writers and me to create the Write Cohort, a free organization that helps writers find critique groups.
When I applied to AMM, it was the first time I was brave enough to reach out and connect with other writers. Although I was rejected, I met some of my closest writing friends (former AMM mentees and mentors) through replying to the different AMM prompts. Those friends helped me edit my query, which landed me my agent 3 months after my AMM rejection. (If you want the TL;DR, I wrote all about my ups and downs and my querying journey here.) While querying, I followed the best querying advice I ever got—to start writing my next book. I then ended up falling in love with book number two, which I decided to focus on with my agent.
My agent and I are currently preparing to go on submission, and I am equally excited and nervous!
I have been mentoring others and working as a writing tutor since I was eighteen. I did a *lot* of research (way too much) on the querying process and would love to pass on the knowledge I gained to my mentee and other querying writers. I was lucky enough to receive 8 offers of rep a little over a month after I began querying, and I love to help other writers find success in their querying journeys. I have also written edit letters for many different manuscripts that I have read over the last year.
I started crying when I found out I was chosen to be an AMM mentor. This world can feel so terrifying and lonely, and it was the AMM community that made me feel welcomed—even despite rejecting me as a mentee earlier this year (can’t believe February 2020 was…this year). So I was absolutely thrilled to receive an official invitation to be an AMM mentor, knowing that would give me the chance to make others feel as welcomed as I did.
I have always been driven by mentor-mentee relationships. I love helping others to feel less alone and preventing them from making the same mistakes as I did. I have gone through a LOT of failure (and have much left to come, hooray!) and I think writers often need the emotional support just as much as, if not more than, the technical writing support. This is a HARD yet fulfilling life path that we’ve chosen, and rejections can feel so terrible and personal. One person telling you they went through the same thing in the past—especially if that person ‘seems’ successful on the outside—can completely lift your mood and help you to keep going.
As a writer who spent far too many years too scared to reach out to other writers, I have made it my mission to connect with and help out other writers. I am thrilled to be an AMM mentor and to join such an open, supportive, and helpful writing community.
Please send me your silly and heart-warming YA contemporaries, your imperfect and lovable characters, and your stories that you have poured your hearts into. I cannot wait to fall in love with your characters, to chat about the ups and downs of writing, and to help you fulfill your writer dreams.
PS I became friends with many of the mentors I subbed to during AMM, even though they didn’t choose me as a mentee. Mentors can only choose one story, but we can love many! I really look forward to connecting with AMM hopefuls and cheering on your stories.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I’ll take any and every trope, as long as you make it unique and put your own spin on it!
I don’t read as much SFF, so I’m probably a better fit for contemporary writers, or SFF with a strong contemporary feel.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I will aim to return a full edit letter within 2 weeks. I love chatting on Twitter and cheerleading as I read. I always find it helpful to hop on Zoom after sending out a letter, to go through the details and brainstorm together. My strengths are in dialogue, brainstorming and plot structure. I love working with writers who are open to brainstorming together and figuring out the best ways to totally screw things up for their protagonists.
My ideal mentee is someone open to working hard and editing—aka rewriting. Someone who knows that a great story takes months—or years—and many drafts to write. Someone who loves the act of writing but also hates it, because it’s hard! Someone who is a good student, who loves reading craft books and making sure they hit their story’s plot points. I’m also biased toward cat people but … I’ll make exceptions for a really great story.
Things I love, but are not required:
- Romance! Give me some kissing scenes!! At least one!
- Stories that tell an important message, without being Message Books
- MCs who are *not* conventionally attractive
- Humor (duh)
- Anything that requires a box of Kleenex
DO NOT SEND ME:
- SFF with a ton of world-building (it’s great, I’m just too dumb to know how to edit this!)
- Anything offensive
- Stories with only white characters
- Gilmore Girls
- Sally Rooney / Normal People (book AND show)
- John Green (duh)
- Angie Thomas (also duh)
- Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda (triple duh)
- Kissing in America (so underrated!)
- The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
- Never Have I Ever
- Aaron Sorkin