Catherine: Jordan Hamessley, New Leaf Literary
Trisha: Claire Draper and Zoë Plant, The Bent Agency
Catherine: YA and MG Fantasy with a dash of history
Trisha: MG and YA Contemporary Fantasy
Catherine: WE ARE THE SONG (Spring 2022), Holiday House
Trisha: PRUE LATHAM AND THE WOLVES OF HALLOWSTOWN (Fall 2021), Arena/Germany
Catherine Bakewell is a writer, artist, freelance editor, and an opera enthusiast. She has lived in Spain and in France, where she romped through gardens, ate pastries, and worked on her novels.
Trisha Kelly is a writer and freelance editor who feeds her imagination by crafting stories for kids and adults alike. If she’s not writing, she’s probably in the kitchen trying out a new recipe. She is represented by Claire Draper and Zoë Plant of The Bent Agency.
Catherine: After about two years of querying, I signed with New Leaf Literary agency in 2019. My first agent there left the industry, and I started working with the wonderful Jordan Hamessley. My middle grade fantasy novel, WE ARE THE SONG, sold to Holiday House, and I’m in the process of editing that book and writing my next MG.
Trisha: I wrote seriously for a decade (lots of bad novels!) before gathering the courage to query in late 2018, ultimately signing with Claire Draper and Zoë Plant of The Bent Agency in May 2019. They sold my MG Fantasy, PRUE LATHAM AND THE WOLVES OF HALLOWSTOWN, to Arena, a German publisher, in late 2019. It’s coming out next fall in the German language under the title HALLOWSTONE: DER ZAUBER DER MITTERNACHTSSTADT. Besides that, I’m gearing up for submission again, this time with a MG graphic novel, and working on several other projects.
Catherine: I graduated with a degree in Spanish and a French minor. I’ve worked as a freelance editor for a couple of years now. I especially like to check novels for character inconsistencies, logical errors, and structural issues. In 2018, I started the Llama Squad and the Quokka Crew, two query support groups where writers could swap pages, encourage one another, and find solidarity for the trials and tribulations of querying. I have also applied to be a mentee in several contests before, so I have been in your shoes!
Trisha: I studied Film and English in college (AKA between creative writing and screenplay classes, a lot of critique sessions), and like Catherine, I’ve worked as a freelance editor for awhile now. I especially love the process of bringing out a book’s strengths and reworking queries until the wording is perfect. Catherine and I met through the Llama Squad, actually, and since then I’ve been lucky enough to be able to help many writing friends make their books and queries stronger–and a lot of them have gone on to sign with agents and sell books, which is so exciting! I’ve also applied to be a mentee in many of these contests, so I get how nerve-wracking it can be.
Writing can feel like a lonely endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be that way! We love seeing an author flourish, reading books full of unbridled enthusiasm, and being cheerleaders for books and authors we adore. Most of all, we want to help an author step into the query trenches confident in their story and feeling that they are not alone. We want to be that support and that advocate for an author, just like the mentors we’ve had have been for us.
Above all, we’re hoping to find a book with characters that we’d follow through any story–characters who are passionate about something, be it big or small, and will do whatever it takes to protect that something. We love stories with magic, particularly if it’s unique, fearsome, or whimsical. We also love fairytales, especially when they’re inspired by diverse sources. We love stories that blend the realities of the MG age range with something fantastical. Give us a book that can be described as “heartfelt” and you’ve got our attention. Whether the vibe of the book is lighthearted or moody, we want stories that deal with serious themes. We want to read and know that you, the author, are passionate about sharing your story, sharing your truth, with the world—and with young people specifically.
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Contemporary: We’re open to considering the right MG contemporary, but please no stories (and this includes all genres) that depict child abuse, animal abuse, eating disorders, or romanticized suicide or self-harm. We’d love to see a contemporary that’s high-concept and relatable to the middle school experience, whether that means friendship problems, first crushes, etc.
Fantasy/Contemporary Fantasy: This is our sweet spot, and we love fantasy settings, especially if they’re historical with a strong hook and/or inspired by non-Western folklore/storytelling traditions/fairytales. We love monsters and ghosts (although no werewolves or dragons, please) and would be interested in a story that tackles Anxiety/Depression thoughtfully.
#ownvoices/LGBTQIA: We firmly believe that children (and everyone!) should access to a diverse range of stories that reflects how the world actually is, and regardless of genre, we’d love to work with an author committed to bringing their diverse perspective to the page.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
We love dissecting and strengthening character arcs and motivations; developmental edits are our sweet spot and the main bulk of what we’ll provide for our mentee. We like to figure out the theme of the story/its strengths and draw them out, even if it means helping a writer re-write from the ground up. We’re good at calling out an author’s strengths and enjoy being cheerleaders. We also enjoy doing line edits and would like to help in this regard, but big picture feedback will be the focus. We both work as freelance editors and have a lot of experience with strengthening queries, so we’re excited to help our mentee with their submission package and offer support when it’s time to head into the query trenches. We’ve also participated in several Twitter pitch contests and have great insight on that front. As for the type of communication (chatting, Skype, etc.) we’re comfortable with whatever our mentee is comfortable with and look forward to establishing a work flow that fits all of us.
Our ideal mentee wants their book to be the best it can be – even if that means working from the ground up. We will choose our mentee based on the concept of their story and if we have a creative vision for making it even stronger. Our mentee should be able to take criticism well, to be able to reflect on the changes we suggest, and to be comfortable enough to come to us with concerns. If you disagree with an edit we suggest, we want you to tell us why, to be willing to compromise, and to be willing to hold tight to the core of your book: the theme or idea that makes it so important to you. Future mentee, you are passionate but patient, and most of all, willing to learn. You are ready to revise, easy to work with, and are willing to laugh when you (or we) make mistakes.
- Books that can comp to: Ghost Squad, Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, Cattywampus, Hurricane Child, In the Role of Brie Hutchens, The Girl Who Drank the Moon, or any of Rick Riordan Presents
- Books with strong hooks
- Books with a strong voice (bonus points if the narrator is funny)
- Monsters/ghost stories
- Unique fantasy settings and/or historical settings that feel relevant to kids
- Unique magic systems
- A prose version of The Deep and Dark Blue, Sanity and Talluah, The Witch Boy, or New Kid (all excellent MG graphic novels!)
- Protagonists who are small and shy
- Loving families
- Stories that carefully deal with themes of depression or anxiety or loss
- Books with humor and wit
- Best friend stories
- First crush stories (bonus points if it’s queer!)
- Positive LGBTQIA rep
- Protagonists with a passion or hobby
- Stories with hopeful hearts
DO NOT SEND US:
- Music magic
- Fire magic
- Baking magic
- Books with more than 2 POVs
- Books with animal protagonists (but an animal/fantasy creature sidekick would be rad)
- Werewolves or dragons (other monsters are cool)
- Epic fantasy like LORD OF THE RINGS (second world fantasy is welcome)
- Magic schools
- Romanticized suicide or self-harm
- Unhappy LGBTQIA stories–there is a place for them, of course, but we’re not the best fit
Books: Midsummer’s Mayhem, Coraline, Hurricane Child, Inkheart, The Witch Boy, The Circus of Stolen Dreams, The Chronicles of Narnia, Fake Blood, Ghost Squad, The Deep and Dark Blue, New Kid, Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch, The Dragon Pearl, Cattywampus, Just South of Home, One Year at Ellsmere, To Night Owl from Dogfish, The Prophet Calls, Amal Unbound, Love Sugar Magic, Aru Shah and the End of Time
Movies and TV: Anything Disney (especially Frozen 2), Howl’s Moving Castle, Pan’s Labyrinth, Les Choristes (The Chorus), The Wizard of Oz, Steven Universe, Anne with an E, anything John Mulaney, The Worst Witch, Masterchef Junior/cooking reality television, Enola Holmes
Settings: Versailles, France in general, the 17th century, the 18th century, Boston/New England, Spain (especially Seville), meadows, foggy fields at night, a creepy old mansion with a personality, a magical library, magic societies
Misc: Pastries! Art and art history. French history in general. Anything to do with languages. The humor of the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me, and the heart of the podcast The Adventure Zone. Music, Hollywood, queer history, quests, baseball and football.