Elana Roth Parker


PEOPLE LIKE US (February 27, 2018)

Dana Mele is a Pushcart-nominated writer and bookseller. She prefers tea to coffee, snow to sand, and stars to sunshine, and she lives in the Catskills with her family. People Like Us is her first novel.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I was convinced for a very long time that I wasn’t good enough. I wrote a few manuscripts before my debut over the course of ten+ years before I was ready to query, had the right manuscript, and the stars aligned properly. I’ve been on submission three times with three different books and it never gets easier, whether it’s long or short. But you know, goonies never say die.

I’ve been doing editorial work of one kind or another (law, academia, journalism, literary) for over a decade now. Many of my formerly unagented CPs have literary and/or film agents now and a couple have gotten major book or film deals (yay!)

This is my fourth round mentoring and I love helping guide people along the publication journey!

I also believe strongly in paying it forward. I didn’t have a mentor in the early stages of my literary journey and I stumbled around and even gave up a few times. I wish I’d had some kind of guidance and I want to help newbies out- it’ll be your turn to do the same soon enough!

As a mentor and critique partner, I tend to be more of a big-picture sort of thinker, helping identify plot holes or missing pieces of character arcs, and brainstorming ways to work through them. If something isn’t working, I’m going to let you know (while also leaving lots of positive comments on sentences that I love). I love reading character-driven stories with strong voice, but am probably not the right mentor if you’re still trying to figure out the whole voice thing.

  • Contemporary
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • #ownvoices
  • Horror
  • Retellings

Within sci-fi: I prefer near future sci-fi and sci-fi in settings similar to contemporary with advanced technology. I love stories centered around futuristic technology grounded in current tech (think Black Mirror).

Within mystery/thriller: I most prefer psychological thrillers, but really will read everything in this category.

Horror: No slashers, please. I prefer psychological horror and suspense. Think Hitchcock minus Psycho and Frenzy. Paranormal is fine, as long as it’s horror and not romance.

Within retellings: In any category. I’m super into retellings and excited to read them in all categories. I’m particularly into retellings of classics (Shakespeare in particular) and fairy tales, and if I may bend the rules, I’ll add original fairy tales with dark and fresh takes on familiar tropes. Think The Hazel Wood, Fables, and Wicked.

Within contemporary: I love voicey humor and stories that balance comedy and drama. Romance is not my favorite. Once again, retellings. Shakespeare? Dickens? Anything in the public domain? I’m interested.


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

I can provide feedback in whatever manner you’re most comfortable with. I’m very communicative and will go back and forth answering questions and making further suggestions to work with you collaboratively after the initial edit letter. I’m also happy to help strategize re: querying, researching agents, resume building, etc.

My ideal mentee is collaborative, is comfortable receiving feedback, isn’t afraid to make changes, and is ready to take the next steps toward publication.

I like dark stories, unreliable narrators, flawed protagonists, and kinda sorta sympathetic villains. I love multidimensial characters, stories that explore philosophical questions about morality, AI sentience, and philosophy of the mind. Twists and turns are most welcome.

If your manuscript features an “unlikeable girl” I am definitely interested. I would love, love, love to get a YA Gone Girl or The Secret History, a contemporary with a speculative twist like Before I Fall, or anything that uses Black Mirror or The Good Place as a comp. (I’m totally cool with TV comps). On the complete flipside, if it’s funny, especially bitingly funny, please sub it!

I don’t like stories that utilize violence against any member of a marginalized group in order for a non-marginalized person to learn a lesson (this includes a disabled person dying by suicide so that an abled person can learn the value of life). No exceptions.

Books: The Secret History, Gone Girl, We Have Always Lived in the Castle

YA Books: Monday’s Not Coming, The Hazel Wood, Feed, American Panda

TV: The Haunting of Hill House, The Good Place, LOST, Battlestar Gallactica, Game of Thrones, Black Mirror, The Twilight Zone.