Jen Rofe at ABLA
MAKING A DIFFERENCE out with American Girl (Aug. 24, 2020) and currently in revision on a middle grade fantasy
Melissa Seymour majored in English and Justice and Peace Studies. In college, she won a National scholarship to study literature in Northern Ireland and later received a Scholars Research grant to work on a middle grade novel while analyzing how women and girls are represented in children’s literature. After that, she went on to write and edit at American Girl and her first book about activism for kids (MAKING A DIFFERENCE) was released in August 2020.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and dog Belfast.
I started seriously writing in 2010 and created a lot of plotless stories until I became involved with SCBWI. After attending conferences and devouring craft books, I wrote a few manuscripts that took shape of an actual book-like thing. I polished those like crazy, shelved them after querying with no luck, and then wrote an even stronger story.
In 2019, I actually applied to AMM with that MG fantasy and wasn’t selected by a mentor. But the time I spent polishing my novel for AMM paid off because I queried that very manuscript and had a very high request rate. I ended up receiving a multiple offers and landed my dream agent! This is my little shout out for those who aren’t picked. Putting some serious elbow grease into your manuscript is always a good thing. You never know where it might lead! And thank you to AMM for helping me get there without even being involved in the program–I’m so excited to be here now. 🙂
Working as an editor provided me with lots of experience in terms of providing feedback to writers. I am also incredibly lucky to have CPs that I trust with my whole heart, and know they trust my feedback too. Many have gone on to sign with their dream agents and sell their books.
I touched on this a bit above, but community is really important to me. I couldn’t have gotten to this point without having incredible CPs and readers that I trust. I’d love to be that sounding board for someone else and help them polish a manuscript they’re really proud of. My CPs have taught me so much and I’d love to pass on their knowledge and wisdom. I am very editorial and I look forward to providing constructive feedback. I can’t wait to work with my mentee!
I’m really hoping to work with a mentee that is open to feedback and wants to learn and grow. In terms of story, I’m on the hunt for a voice that pulls me in and won’t let go. I love a fast-paced plot but a gripping voice is crucial.
I tend to gravitate toward accessible MG fantasy and quirky contemporary voices like Coyote in THE REMARKABLE JOURNEY OF COYOTE SUNRISE. Though when I love something, I love it. It doesn’t necessarily have to fall under these two categories. I’ll list some of my favorites in the MSWL.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I’m a sucker for an underdog story, ALWAYS. Same for friendship and family stories and fighting for the things and people you love.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
I’m direct and friendly when it comes to giving feedback. I think it’s important to highlight things that aren’t working (hey, that’s why you’re here, right?!), but I always do so in a respectful, kind way.
I’ll start with an edit letter explaining any big issues/things that aren’t quite there, and then we can chat via text or have a call to brainstorm and dig a little deeper. I’ll make notes within the document along the way but most of my feedback will be in the edit letter.
My ideal mentee has an open mind and wants to revise. It sounds silly but not everyone wants feedback, ha! I’d love to work with someone who truly wants to polish their manuscript and make it stronger together.
- Gripping MG voice is very important to me no matter the genre (COYOTE SUNRISE, NEVERMOOR, STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG!)
- Animal/creature relationship stories (I tend to lean more toward BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE or THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON rather than narrating animals though)
- Friendships that feel authentic and raw like in LINE TENDER or family stories like THE LIST OF THINGS THAT WILL NOT CHANGE
- Fast paced plot or mystery
- I love an underdog story (EVA EVERGREEN)
DO NOT SEND ME:
- I love spooky stories but tend to shy away from anything too bloody. The book FINAL GIRLS kept me up for like a week.
- Anything animal-related that will rip my heart out (I refuse to watch Marley and Me. Turned it off after the first half hour.)
- Religious stories are not the best fit for me
All over the place recently, but off the top of my head…
TV: Queen’s Gambit, Flea Bag, The Mandalorian, Gilmore Girls, Schitt’s Creek, The Crown, GOT (seasons 1-6, ha), Breaking Bad
Movies: Good Will Hunting, Baby Driver, Eighth Grade, Knives Out, Parent Trap, Lady Bird, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Mad Max