Hi, I’m Stef! I’m a Filipino-Vietnamese writer who grew up in the Philippines; I have a BFA in Creative Writing, and am about to get my M.Phil in Creative Writing (with honors!). I’ve worked as a video game writer and online community manager, a poetry editor, and a high school English and creative writing teacher. My YA contemporary novel about depression, art, and K-pop fandom is currently on submission to editors—so while I wait, I’ve been working on my second manuscript (and, since I’m being completely honest here, a lot of fanfiction on the side), cleaning my overflowing bookshelves, and practicing my hand lettering in my Hobonichi.
It was my dream to write a novel ever since I was a little kid, but as an undergrad in college I wound up putting my fiction-writing aside for poetry. It wasn’t until I went to grad school in 2017 that I rediscovered my drive to write fiction—but even then, actually getting published felt so far away and impossible that I wasn’t really thinking about it. I kept writing the beginnings of novels, but I was never able to follow through and continue any of them, and often I wondered if it meant I was just a failure who was doomed to never finish what I started.
That all changed one week in April 2018, when I somehow sat down and churned out a 25,000-word novella in seven days. After about three rounds of revision, I eventually turned that into a full-length novel, which I started seriously querying in June. But though I was getting a lot of positive comments from my CPs and beta readers, and a lot of full requests and personalized feedback from agents, it seemed like no agent believed in my story enough to want to champion it. On top of that, in October I got rejected from Pitch Wars, which was incredibly disheartening at the time! But one #MSWL tweet led me to finding my amazing agent, Josh, who immediately Got my book and saw the potential in me and what the book could be—and after a series of long, enthusiastic email exchanges, I officially signed with him at the start of December. With the help of his feedback, I revised my manuscript once more over Christmas, and have been on sub since January this year!
I have over ten years of experience when it comes to talking about writing and working with other writers. Having participated in countless workshops ever since I was in high school, both within the academe and outside of it, and having gone through rigorous creative writing programs both at the undergraduate and graduate level—I’ve gotten pretty good at tailoring my feedback to the writer and the specific story they want to tell, and I always find things to get excited about in every project.
Apart from being a freelance editor, I’m currently a proud critique partner and beta reader for some really amazing authors, and I’ve been told I’m great at really collaborating with writers rather than just prescribing fixes. So if you’re thinking of submitting to me and if I select you, know that I’ll be thinking of the two of us as a team working toward the same goal, with your vision for your book at the heart of it all. I’ll never ask you to turn your book into something you don’t want it to be—I’ll always ask what you want first, and then proceed to help you and give you suggestions until you have an idea of how to best achieve what it is that you want.
I’ve been lucky enough to have been mentored by some amazing writers and teachers over the years, and I love to be able to give back to the community whenever I can. I’m in this for the long run—so more than just a mentee, I hope you’ll become a friend. ☺
This is my first time mentoring for AMM, and I’m looking for something heartfelt and voicey, that balances complex emotions or heavy topics with humor and lightness. To me, characters and feelings that resonate are more important than huge exciting plot events. If you’re writing a book about emotions and experiences that can’t be sorted neatly into boxes, if you’re writing a book that you’re worried is too niche to ever find a home, or a book that you wish you’d had to comfort you when you were growing up —I’d love to read it and to work with you.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Specifics in my MSWL!
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
I’ll ask you what form of communication you’re most comfortable with, but generally I like to give both in-document comments via Google Docs, and a longer edit letter with my general feelings and overall suggestions; I’m also more than willing to have a back-and-forth via chat if the writer needs more immediate clarification about specific things. I always try to offer suggestions when it comes to making changes, so you can get an idea of what possibilities exist for you, but in no way do I expect you to take all my suggestions just for the sake of it. (I also do a lot of yelling in my comments when I’m particularly excited or moved by something, and will probably spam you with heart emojis!)
Someone who’s willing to learn and listen, who likes the idea of bouncing ideas back and forth, and who’s willing to possibly make big changes even if it’s hard (I know, it’s hard!) if it means the book will turn out even better and closer to their vision for it in the end.
- Stories that would be largely considered quiet, or slow burn. Basically, if you feel really strongly that your story has to be written this way, and it’s the book of your heart but you’re worried that it’s too internal or “boring” for the current market—I’m here for you, and I’ll do my best to help you defeat that worry!
- Fanfic tropes in your original fiction. Got a book set in a coffee shop? Is one of your MCs a baker and the other one a tattoo artist? Or were they roommates, OMG THEY WERE ROOMMATES? Do they wind up being forced to share a bed or huddle for warmth??? Give me that good stuff!
- Stories about large friend groups, and all the joy and heartbreak and wackiness and drama and love that goes on in them. Especially here for stories about complicated girl friendships!
- Family stories, especially sibling stories, ESPECIALLY sister stories.
- Found family stories—whether they’re adventurers in a fantasy world, or superheroes like the Batfamily, or space pilots or magical girls, or regular twenty-somethings sharing an apartment and just trying to make rent.
- Friends-to-lovers stories, especially between childhood friends or best friends.
- Stories about fandom! Is your MC a fanfic author, or a giffer, or a fanartist who sells their own merch? Does your story take place at a con? If it’s anything like that, I’d love to see it!
- Stories that have to do with poetry or creative writing, music, theater, or visual art!
- Any #ownvoices stories about depression, anxiety, and mental illness—not about curing them with a romantic relationship, or with Thinking More Positively, but about dealing with them realistically and living full lives with them.
- Any #ownvoices queer rep, but especially ace-spectrum rep! If your MC is asexual, aromantic, demisexual, demiromantic, grey-ace—big yes please!
- Any #ownvoices Asian stories, especially Southeast Asian ones, whether they’re contemporary or fantasy or magical realism. I’m particularly interested in stories about some of the problems Asian kids can face because of their culture and upbringing—growing up sheltered among peers who don’t understand your situation, that strange tug-of-war between feeling hemmed in by your obligations and feeling like you want to do what your family wants because you love them, etc. And I’ll always be down for some Asian mythological references or retellings!
- Younger YA—if you feel like your book is in the middle of being MG and YA, and your protagonist is around the age of 13-14? Yes!
- Also, older YA / new adult stories that are not all about romanticizing abusive relationships! If your book is about someone in their late teens or early twenties just trying to figure stuff out? Yes!
- Lastly, even if your book doesn’t fit any of these things exactly, but there’s something about anything I’ve said that makes you think we’ll be a good fit—please do consider submitting to me! I like to be pleasantly surprised. “
DO NOT SEND ME:
- Please no non-#ownvoices POV characters who are POC or who have a mental illness.
- No stories about a white person traveling to an Asian country and overcoming their biases and prejudices about the Asian culture or people in question when they finally discover how ~unique and ~wonderful they are. And just no white savior narratives, of any kind.
- No stories where an antagonist’s bad behavior is explained as being solely a result of their mental illness.
- For the moment, please no stories about parents or parental figures who are straight up villainous or abusive.
- Like I mentioned earlier, no new adult stories that present abusive relationships as good or romantic, and NA erotica is also probably just not for me.
- EMERGENCY CONTACT by Mary HK Choi
- GRACE AND THE FEVER by Zan Romanoff
- FOOLISH HEARTS and THIS ADVENTURE ENDS by Emma Mills
- INVINCIBLE SUMMER by Hannah Moskowitz, and GENA/FINN by Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson
- FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell
- WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson
- Any of Tamora Pierce’s books, but especially her PROTECTOR OF THE SMALL, THE IMMORTALS, and CIRCLE OF MAGIC series
- FIRE AND HEMLOCK by Diana Wynne-Jones
- I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith
- CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS by Sally Rooney
- The Bo Burnham film EIGHTH GRADE
- The TV show NEW GIRL
- Podcasts like THE ADVENTURE ZONE and WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE
- Team Starkid musicals