Jennifer Johnson-Blalock

YA Contemporary


Rebecca Barrow writes stories about girls and all the wonders they can be. A lipstick obsessive with the ability to quote the entirety of Mean Girls, she lives in England, where it rains a considerable amount more than in the fictional worlds of her characters. She collects tattoos, cats, and more books than she could ever possibly read.

I started writing seriously in 2008. I’ve written and rewritten many manuscripts, and queried four of them. The last one stuck and I’ve been with my agent since June 2015. I went on submission for the first time in October 2015 and sold in November. My debut recently released from HarperTeen, so I’ve been through the entire book-making cycle: multiple rounds of edits, first pass pages, ARCs, cover reveal, launch, and the after. It took me four books to learn how to revise and nine to get my agent and deal. I’ve been rejected at all levels, I’ve been the writer wondering if it’s time to give up, I’ve been the person frustrated because I just couldn’t seem to get to the next level. But I did. My next book will be out in 2018!

This is my third round of AMM and I have gotten so much joy watching my first two mentees work on their books and grow as writers. I’ve been writing towards publication since 2008, and have learned so much about writing and publishing that I’d love to share with others! I’ve been successful in contests and Twitter pitch events, and in the slush pile, too. I’ve critiqued manuscripts and queries, and I actually really enjoy writing queries (I know, but it’s true). I want to help others with their writing, and with the publication process, as tough/wonderful/scary as it can be! Revision is where my strength lies, and I can help you figure out both big picture issues and smaller, more fine-tuning fixes. Some stories need that big overhaul to get them to their shiniest, and some don’t–I’m good at figuring out which a story needs, and helping people get through that to find the best story they can create. And I’m willing to take on both kinds–my first round mentee just finished an extensive rewrite, while my second mentee is now querying. Whether you’re close to ready or still a few steps away, I’m ready to help.

The publishing world can be overwhelming and slightly terrifying. I want to help others learn how to better their writing, share the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, and ultimately help get more amazing books out into the world. I also want to welcome people to my writing world–I know it can be hard to meet and connect with other writers, or get the answers to tricky questions, and I have a whole heap of people behind me who are always ready to welcome another great writer. I love to connect with writers who I not only feel like I can help, but feel like I can become friends with. In this industry, you need people who you can share both good and bad news with, to celebrate and commiserate with.

I’m looking for smart, fresh contemporary YA stories. I like all my books with a feminist bent. I like psychological thrillers and things with twists/a little bit of mystery. I’d really like to find something in a fun format–epistolary, incorporating social media, told backwards…something interesting. Stories featuring queer girls, mental health, friendship. Work from marginalised authors, both serious and fun–and everything in between, too, actually.

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices

Not a huge fan of love triangles. I’m open to #ownvoices stories but not exclusively–so if you’re marginalised and haven’t written an OV book, that’s totally cool, too. Especially interested in f/f stories and bi characters.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Freestyle in chat

If we work together, I’m going to tell you what I loved about your book, and everything I think needs work–not in a soul crushing way, though. My editing style will depend on what your book needs, but it will probably look like this: I’ll send you a big picture edit letter with my overarching thoughts first. The length and depth will depend on where your book’s at (we might need to go through a full rewrite, in which case the letter will be long and full of ideas, or we might only need to tweak the ending, in which case the letter will be not so long…but still full of ideas!). I might also send you a doc of your MS with my comments, depending on how we’re proceeding. Depending on what you prefer, we can email back and forth about the edits, or chat on google hangouts/DMs. (If you really want we can video chat but I find email better for edit talk–it allows us both to take time to process notes, come up with ideas, and feedback to each other.) I’ll help you figure out a revision plan if you need it, or you can work by yourself, whichever is better for you. I’m always on the other end of an email for questions or ideas! Once you’re done revising, we’ll repeat the process as needed until you’re ready to query or take whatever next step you feel is best. I’ll help you with querying too, looking at your agent list and query. (That’s the fun part for me!) I consider myself more of a guide when it comes to edits–I’m not going to tell you exactly what to do and that you MUST do things my way. I like to discuss problem areas and weak spots, discuss what it is you’re hoping to do with the story, and figure out the best way to go about getting from A to B with you. AND THEN there is the fun side of things where I will send you gifs and talk about our fave tv shows etc. etc. We will work and we will have fun!

Someone willing to work hard, not looking for any quick fixes, not looking for any shortcuts. Sadly this is publishing and the amount of shortcuts available are, like, pretty close to zero. If you’re ready to work, I am too. I like to bounce ideas around, and have fun, and cheer you on, and talk about non-writing things, too! Preferably somebody who knows their genre and has an awareness of the current publishing climate.

I love mean girls (think actual Mean Girls, HOW TO BREAK A BOY, every Courtney Summers protagonist) and anyone who doesn’t fit in the box of Niceness.

I would love to see a good story that includes mental health (doesn’t have to be a central theme, but seeing characters who deal with mental illness is vital in YA). I loved WHEN WE COLLIDED.

I love dance stories, cheerleading, gymnastics. Musicians and artists (give me something fresh! I loved GIRLS IN THE MOON). I really want to see a friendship-based road trip story, or one with a queer romance. And stories with a mystery or thriller bent, a la WE WERE LIARS, DANGEROUS GIRLS, or any of Kara Thomas’ books.

I’m open to stories that explore rape culture (like ALL THE RAGE or AFTER THE FALL).

I’m interested in magical realism/fabulism. I do also love witches and vampires and I can be swayed for a ghost story–but I usually like them all with a heavy dose of realism and/or gothic tone. (I adore A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT by Laura Whitcomb.) I’m especially interested in POC paranormal stories! They claim these genres are dead, but they haven’t seen us rise up yet.

I want stories that don’t necessarily centre around the challenges of being marginalised, but allow marginalised characters to thrive and experience the same kind of stories that so many white characters are given. Stories about friendship, love, family struggles, hopes and dreams, stories where they get to just be and experience everything.

I am a sucker for rich girls. Anything that includes the words prep/private/boarding school, Upper East Side, Hamptons, anything that could be comped to Gossip Girl (the books!) or the Au Pairs series.

I love anything along the lines of “perfect family/life/small town but nothing is as it seems”.

#BlackGirlMagic all day!

I hate “I’m not like other girls”–your characters can be unlikeable without invoking superiority over femininity or the perceived weakness of other girls.

I’m not a good fit for capital-R romance–I prefer stories that include romance arcs among other things rather than romance as the driving force.

I’m not here for any white saviour stories (i.e. white person learns about racism/issues, then uses their newfound knowledge to enlighten and help marginalised characters, which ultimately centres the white character’s narrative).

Not interested in trans stories from cis writers. (Especially not told from the perspective of a trans character’s sibling or best friend etc.)

No SFF, please (if it has spaceships or medieval castles or is the kind of story that would necessitate a map in the front, it’s probably not for me).

Not interested in Native stories by non-Native writers. (There are many other lanes for you to choose!)

Stories that feature the bleaker realities of life as a marginalised person can be hit and miss. I don’t love reading about hate crimes. That’s not to say those stories aren’t real and needed, but personally, not for me right now. (If your black or gay or disabled character meets with violence as a result of them being black/gay/disabled, I probably don’t want to read it right now.)

No rape as a plot device or backstory to make your female character “strong”, please.

Books: Cracked Up to Be, OCD Love Story, Pointe, Complicit, Finding Cassie Crazy, Gingerbread, When We Collided, Open Road Summer, The Walls Around Us, We Are Okay, Everything Leads to You, All the Rage, Dreamland, Cut, Far From You

TV: Pretty Little Liars, Friday Night Lights, The Killing, Six Feet Under, Community, Brooklyn 99, Happy Endings, Twin Peaks, Orphan Black, The OC, My Mad Fat Diary, New Girl, Grey’s Anatomy

Movies: Mean Girls, Cruel Intentions, Legally Blonde, Speed, Arrival, Inception, Save the Last Dance, Center Stage, Bring It On, Heathers, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Other things: I love A Chorus Line. Ava Gardner is my obsession and I like Old Hollywood. I’m into fashion and beauty (would die without eyeliner).