Shana Targosz is a MG/YA/PB author who writes about magical girls, budding friendships, ghosts who may or may not be friendly, and fiercely-held hope. She holds an MFA in Drama/Costume Design and is an award-winning designer of stage and film. In addition to costume work she also designs custom goods for comics creators, and both indie and mainstream gaming companies. She’s an active member of SCBWI and received an award for best manuscript at the 2017 Oregon Regional Conference. An alumni of Author Mentor Match (R6), Shana was a 2020 Pitch Wars MG mentor and was a guest host on Grace Lin’s #kidlitwomen podcast. When not writing or reading through a stack of books, she spends her time playing Zelda, building LEGO creations with her son, and dreaming up different worlds. She is represented by Andrea Morrison of Writers House.
My publishing journey started during NaNoWriMo in 2013. I’d always held the spark of a dream to maybe write a book one day, but I didn’t know how to start, or how to continue, or how to finish. In my head I thought that writing a book meant sitting down and typing out a perfect draft—essentially the published version of the novel. This was incredibly daunting (and wow was I completely wrong).
When I heard of NaNoWriMo and discovered that the 50,000 word count goal did NOT need to be perfect, I figured I’d give it a try. What did I have to lose? If I managed to write 50k of a book, maybe that was a sign that I could write a novel after all. That November I wrote 68K toward my first MG manuscript. It wasn’t perfect, but it showed me that I could start and continue AND finish writing a book.
I kept writing, learning craft, meeting people in the Writing Community. The first NaNo book I wrote was torn apart and put back together and re-shaped into a better book. While querying that book, I wrote another. I entered writing mentorship contests (including AMM and PW) and, while that ms wasn’t picked, I received fabulous feedback from mentors that helped me look more critically at my work and spot ways to make it stronger. After somewhat-successfully querying that book (it had a great request rate, but no Yeses), I set it aside and wrote a new one. That manuscript got me into AMM Round 6 as a mentee, and eventually caught the attention of my agent. I’m now on submission and am working on a new MG fantasy (the bulk of which was written during NaNoWriMo 2020).
I hold an MFA in Drama and my profession is in theatre and film. Spending a good portion of my life studying plays and character motivations gave me a great foundation for pacing, structure, plot, and character arcs in crafting fiction. I took several creative writing courses in undergrad and graduate school, and set aside the dream of writing while I pursued a career in television design.
In the writing world, I’ve edited comic books for press for Toonhound Studios and was the editor on fan-submitted short stories featured on TableTitans.com for several years. In 2019 I had the massive honor of being selected as a Round 6 Author Mentor Match mentee. The experience was and continues to be a highlight on my writing journey. Being mentored by someone further along in their writing career made such a positive impact on how I approach writing and revising, and I hope to provide the same experience for one of you.
One of the reasons I enjoy being a mentor is because I love supporting writers on their publishing journey. This is a hard profession to embrace and willingly throw yourself into whole-heartedly. With the amount of rejection we face at every level, having allies and a writing support network is so vital in reminding us why we’re chasing this dream in the first place. My own mentor was a huge part of my writing journey, and I want to provide that same level of support (and cheerleading!) to my AMM mentee.
I’m hoping to find a manuscript that is full of heart, emotions that spark from the page, an immersive atmosphere, a voice that grips tight and won’t let go, and a story that completely enchants the reader. My tastes in books are very broad, but please do look at my anti-MSWL before submitting to me! I adore fantasy in all shapes and shades (from high-fantasy to low-fantasy, and from very light to very dark), sci-fi, speculative fiction, contemporary, mystery, adventure, S.T.E.A.M., steampunk, and graphic novels. If your story features a new twist on a magic system, secrets, treasure, monsters, riddles/puzzles, humor with heart, diverse characters, nature, ghosts/hauntings, complex relationships, unusual locations, lush atmospheres, or all-round spookiness, I hope you send your work to me!
I love helping writers find ways to make their books shine. One of my favorite things is to brainstorm with others to work out plot threads, bump up stakes, increase tension, and throw the characters into new and surprising situations. As a mentor I’m very editorial and will point out places your manuscript can be clarified and made stronger. I’ll ask lots of questions to get the ideas flowing so you dig deeper into every aspect of your novel. We will focus on character development, stakes, pacing/tension, structure, and world-building . I’ve learned so much from my mentor and from my CPs (who have all become close friends) and want to share the tools I’ve learned to build a better story. Becoming a AMM mentor is a way I can give back to the community and boost another writer on their writing journey!
Putting your work into the world and sharing it with others takes a lot of bravery, and I admire everyone who takes the leap to apply to a mentorship program. It isn’t easy to do (and neither is writing a whole novel)! I will read each submission carefully, knowing how much heart and sweat it takes to craft a book. It took me seven tries to get into a mentorship program, so I know how much it means to take the chance and submit to mentors. I’m grateful to be a part of AMM both as alumni and a mentor and can’t wait to bring a new mentee into AMM Family.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
- Graphic Novels
Genres I love:
- Fantasy (all genres, particularly whimsical, light, or dark fantasy)
- Speculative Fiction
- Contemporary (no issues books dealing with eating disorders, self-harm, drug addiction/alcoholism, suicide, or death of a family member, please)
- Mystery (twisty, or cozy, or bonkers-fun—I love it all!)
- Historical (both realistic and historical fantasy)
- Sci Fi (no ‘aliens attacking our home’ please)
- Graphic Novels
I love friendship stories, enemies-to-friends, anti-chosen one tropes (where the chosen one doesn’t want to be chosen, or the wrong person is chosen for the quest), villain stories, heroes who may or may not be heroic, fish-out-of-water stories, treasure hunts, ghost hunts, complex family/friend relationships, stories where the MC is thrown into a strange new situation, stories featuring diversity, LGBTQIA themes, tales featuring monsters, unusual lore, and MAGIC. Anything that can be comped to a Studio Ghibli movie will win my heart!
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
Know that if I choose you as my mentee, it means that I LOVE your story and believe you have what it takes to make your book as strong as possible for the querying trenches. My feedback will be very honest about what needs the most work, but will also include lots of gushing about what made me fall in love with your story in the first place.
My mentee will receive one big-picture edit letter broken down into sections identifying the areas that need work, and I’ll ask lots of questions that will help you tie up loose threads or find answers that ultimately make your story stronger. I will also give you homework and share craft resources that will help you dig deeper into the story and identify ways to make effective changes. Once the edits are done I’ll read your manuscript again and provide feedback as needed.
I will not do the work for you. Instead, I will be here to guide you and equip you to do the work for yourself. My goal is to help you assemble a toolbox of revision skills you can apply to future projects. I will be available via email/DMs to talk through the edit letter and go through any questions you may have. Together we’ll make a plan and craft a timeline with deadlines as we move forward. I’ll be here to cheer you on during revisions and through the querying trenches.
My ideal mentee will be excited about diving back into revisions, will be open to feedback and brainstorming, and will dig deeper into their characters’ journeys to craft a stronger, unputdownable book. I’ll be asking my mentee to do homework (including beat sheets, outlining the MC’s emotional journey, and world-building Q&As). My mentee will be willing to ask questions and be open to big structural changes. If sweeping changes are needed in order to make the plot/story work, my mentee must be open to hearing those changes and brainstorming ways to fix the issues, and then implementing those edits (and possible rewrites). My mentee must be willing to find critique partners if they don’t already have them—CPs are absolutely worth their weight in gold!
I love fresh, fun concepts with a dash of whimsy and a spark of magic. Voice is oh-so-important to me. Give me a character to root for and you’ll win me over! I adore lyrical storytelling, richly imagined worlds, unusual structures/formats, and am always on the lookout for manuscripts from marginalized authors and underrepresented voices. I’m hoping to find stories that grab hold and won’t let me go, along with characters I’d follow to the ends of the earth.
Other elements I gravitate toward:
- Stories with a dash of whimsy and a MC who messes up (and works hard to fix it), such as the Tiffany Aching series by Terry Pratchett, or Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe
- Spooky, atmospheric tales with lurking danger and creeping darkness, such as The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, or The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner
- Anything that can be comped to the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud. I love ghosts and ghost-hunters!
- Contemporary or fantasy settings with lore woven through it, such as When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin, or The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson
- Historical fantasy with a magical thread, such as Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster by Jonathan Auxier, Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty, or The Blackthorn Key series by Kevin Sands
- Adventures! Give me an Indiana Jones-type character or a plucky kid on a mission, a la Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard, or The Explorer by Katherine Rundell
- Stories that feel like fairy tales from another world entirely (perhaps featuring MCs that may or may not be heroic), such as The Dark Lord Clementine by Sarah Jean Horwitz, The Dragon With a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis, or Iron-Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
- LGBTQIA themes, such as Ana on the Edge by A.J.Sass, Cattywampus by Ash Otterloo, and the Nate series by Tim Federle
- Mystery! I adore mysteries in all shapes and forms. If you can comp the A Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stevens, or anything akin to a MG Agatha Christie, then please send to me!
- Graphic novels—either contemporary, or stories with a hint of the speculative, or all-out fantasy, such as This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews, Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker/Wendy Xu, The Witch Boy series by Molly Ostertag, Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson, or the Lumberjanes series (Please note I’d prefer to work with an author-illustrator for graphic novels!)
- Magic systems that are fresh and fabulous
- Settings that are atmospheric and enchanting, and a character on their own
- Retellings that are unique and riveting
- Hybrid novels (using both illustration and prose, such as Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo/K. G. Campbell , or Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai) or novels told through unconventional methods (texts, journal entries, etc)
- Sister stories, enemy stories, friendship stories, villain stories, or any compelling story with family/friendship at its heart
- S.T.E.A.M books, such as Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido,
- Sci-fi (that isn’t aliens attacking our home)
- Addams family-esque stories
- Unconventional families and found families
- Anything that can be comped to a Studio Ghibli movie!
DO NOT SEND ME:
- Stories that feature a sibling/parent/best friend’s death.
- Gratuitous bullying
- Mean girls used as a trope (Enemies to friends is fine, or where the mean girl goes through a positive change. I’d rather celebrate female friendships.)
- Eyeball/Body horror
- Gross-out humor
- Animal death
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic abuse
- Drunk driving
- Didactic stories
- Pandemic stories
- Quarantine stories
- Stories where religion is the main focus
- Cockroaches. Please don’t send cockroach stories.
Favorite movies/TV: Clue, The Fifth Element, Atomic Blonde, Amelie, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Princess Bride, Spirited Away, Your Name, Avatar: the Last Airbender (animated), The Mandalorian
Favorite authors: Laini Taylor, Natalie Lloyd, Jonathan Stroud, Grace Lin, Angie Thomas, Jonathan Auxier, Megan Whalen Turner, Jacqueline Woodson, Robin Stevens, Elizabeth Acevedo, Elizabeth E. Wein, Raina Telgemeier, Jason Reynolds, and Terry Pratchett.
Favorite Books (other than the ones mentioned in my MSWL): Nooks & Crannies by Jessica Lawson, The Boy, the Bird, & the Coffin Maker by Matilda Woods, Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga, Strange the Dreamer/Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, Greenglass House by Kate Milford, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, A Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson