Jennifer Grimaldi from Chalburg Sussman


BEST LAID PLAIDS (8/20) Carina Press
CLASH OF THE TARTANS (winter/21) Carina Press

Ella Stainton teaches history’s scandals to teenagers near Richmond, Virginia. She’s lived in most Mid-Atlantic states where you can catch blue crabs, as well as four years in Sweden, and a year in Scotland (where she visited lots of haunted castles with her scientist father). She doesn’t mind eating Ramen all year if it means she can hop on a plane during summer break, and has visited around 30 countries. Which equals a lot of Ramen. Ella has five fur babies and four without fur (or children, as she likes to call them). She particularly likes ’80’s Euro synth music, glitter eyeshadow, and men in kilts. Even better if they are all three together.

I got into RevPit 2017 with my first written novel and found success with the next three in RWA contests, including being the overall winner of the RWA Toronto Catherine in 2018. That was the fifth novel I’d written and what was the one I signed my agent with (we still haven’t sent it on sub!). I entered a pitch for a queer historical romance (book 7 I’d written) and got lots of bites, which–seven months later–turned into a 3-book contract. That book debuted in August 2020, and the follow-up comes out in March, 2021 with #3 sometime thereafter in 2021.

I got involved in a romance writing group/chat circle on Twitter that started with about fifteen people and nearly everyone has been agented/published at this point–lots of gold in there! I have a very close relationships/critique partner status with authors who’ve been published by most of the big names in romance and I am not too humble to admit that I have helped mentor a few authors who went on to find agents. My main CP and I have helped craft pitches and queries that have led to agents and publishing deals (for ourselves and others!). In my real life, I am a high school history teacher and a research fiend. I’ve traveled to around 30 countries and have spent five years living overseas.


There are so many amazing writers out there who are one teeny step away from living out their writing dreams, and I feel like I’ve run the gamut of experience in publishing: desperate for an agent and getting that sub package on point, coping with rejection on multiple novels that were close but “not quite there”, winning contests and working with editors, signing with an agent, securing a contract, writing under a timeline…you name it. I love to help other writers find their footing and get their manuscripts and sub packages from “pretty good” to extraordinary–it gives me more fun stuff to read!

Above all, I love to laugh and happy sigh over a creative construct (sentence, plot, etc). I read across the board but *prefer* something with a setting outside of present-day–though that can be thrown out the window if other elements I love are there! History is my passion, but regardless of the time and place, I’m above all interested in characters who feel deeply real and whose flaws are not holding them back from living. I’d love to mentor a writer who has really figured out how to take something familiar (be it a trope/time period/genre) and put a really fresh spin on it–and I love intersectionality and welcome characters whose life experiences don’t mirror my own. I’m not the best for tech-y SFF or anything that has a really depressing ending. I’m good at figuring out where the book ought to begin, and pacing, as well as deep POV, setting, and oh la la–all the sexy times if they are appropriate for the story. I will absolutely give positive feedback, but I will be very honest about what I think isn’t working, so you don’t want to work with me if you’re just looking for sunshine! However, my honesty has gotten quite a few authors up to the next level, so if you’re really hungry, I might be just the one for you!

  • Romance
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Historical,
  • #ownvoices

-Always love characters in situations they don’t mean because they have some other purpose (could be marriage of convenience or the like, could be pretending to be someone else, etc)
-Forced proximity is always a treat
-Found families
-Very Good Friends who feel like 3D people
-Characters who defy stereotypes (ie: nice stepmother)
-Retellings (esp off-the-beaten-path stories)

Not so much:
-Overcoming physical abuse/rape (you can ask if you’re not sure)
-Anything harmful to animals
-Secret baby/kids



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


I am up for whatever you are comfortable with re: chat/skype/phone/emails.

I will read your full pretty quickly and get it back with an edit letter and some line edits (I will more likely point out a habitual issue once or twice in the MS and then touch on it in the edit letter). I will be happy to explain further in a live chat of your choosing (if you want one!). I’d like to set a realistic turnaround time that you are comfortable with so I can do a second read (and even a third if it’s needed/wanted/we have time). I’d like to also work on sub package (yes, even the dreaded synopsis) so you are perfectly situated to find your agent. *And yes–you will be able to text or DM when you need to! I’d love to add a new writer to my group!

A writer who is ravenously hungry for this dream to come true. I want someone willing to listen to my ideas and trust that I have their best interests at heart. I’m not interested in ripping a book to shreds, but assume there will be cutting and re-writing and I know that can hurt. I don’t expect someone to blindly follow my suggestions when inside their gut says I am wrong, but I also don’t want someone who’s going to argue about everything.


  • Characters handling neurodiversity (or any adversity they can’t change) WITHOUT it being the focus of the story
  • Historical fiction set in a new/exciting/fresh locale.
  • Romance is always +++ but I don’t need it to be completely happy
  • LGBTQ+ is my preference.
  • I’d love #ownvoices!
  • If your book is contemporary, I’d like some sort of twist–like PNR or mystery.
  • I like retellings and settings which are like their own character.
  • I LOVE stories which tell “”the other side”” of something I might already be familiar with
  • Anti-heroes and flawed characters who don’t always make good choices.
  • Characters who feel like they don’t quite fit in without being either smug or super insecure about it


  • SFF unless it is sort of background noise
  • Bleak alternate universes (or anything terribly gloomy)
  • Not the best fit for sports stuff but if everything else aligns, I’m open


PANSIES Alexis Hall (or really, anything by him)
A CHARM OF MAGPIES series KJ Charles (and all the rest!)
UPROOTED Naomi Novick
THE WOLF AT THE DOOR series Charlie Adhara


I’ve a special fondness for: post-punk (or any sort of “”backlash”” time period), Scotland, the south of France, ghosts, “”parlor table”” occult things like tarot cards and seances, Very Good Dogs, gothic settings, cleverness and witty banter in any form