Mentor Amanda Helander

www.amandahelander.com
@helander_amanda

AGENT
Laura Rennert, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

WRITES
Fantasy

ON SUBMISSION

BIO
Amanda Helander is a speculative fiction author and paralegal from Seattle, Washington. When she’s not writing, Amanda can be found watching horror movies, learning to crochet, or eating entire blocks of parmesan in one sitting.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I queried two books before I landed an agent, over the course of about two years. The second book was picked for Pitch Wars in 2019, where I met an amazing group of writers I’m still close with today. I signed with my agent in April 2020 and went on submission that July. My current WIP is a queer, gender-swapped take on The Prince and the Pauper with a healthy dose of climate anxiety.

EXPERIENCE
I was a Pitch Wars mentee, so I learned a lot from my wonderful mentors and their mentoring style. I’m also a founding member of the Write Team Mentorship Program and a critique partner to many stellar SFF authors, both published and unpublished.

OVERVIEW
As a former mentee, I know how valuable it can be to have access to resources and advice from someone with more industry experience. I want to help writers feel confident & comfortable with drafting, revising, querying, researching agents and imprints, self-promotion, reviewing contracts, and all the esoterica of publishing. There should be a manual for this!

If it takes a village to raise a child, then writing a book calls for at least a small nation state. Personally, I could never do it alone. That’s why I love mentoring! If you’re feeling inexperienced or anxious about publishing, know two things: 1) you’re not alone, and 2) you won’t always feel this way! There is no part of writing and publishing that can’t be taught. Throw all your notions of “natural talent” into the garbage right now. (I’m only half joking.)

What I’m looking for in a mentee: someone who ADORES their work! Not 100% free from doubts or insecurities (because we all have those), but someone who’s their own biggest fan–the kind of enthusiasm that shines on the page and makes for an unforgettable reading experience. I am mentoring in adult SFF, but I lean more F than SF. If your beta readers have said, “There’s nothing quite like your book out there,” I want to see it. Let’s expand the definition of what fantasy can be. Gimme something weird!

As a mentor, it’s my job to ask the right questions and get you thinking about your answers. I will never tell you what to do or how to write; I’m more like an overly opinionated cheerleader. My editorial style is high-level and developmental, focusing on character, voice, plot escalation, and pacing. I view books as entertainment above all else, so I will push you to not be boring! I’ll also DM you every single time I laugh at one of your jokes.

MENTORING GENRES
Adult

  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi

My trope/genre preferences:

Yes:
-High/second world fantasy
-Wizards!!!
-Messy protagonists (the hotter the mess, the better)
-New adult/YA crossover
-Royal intrigue
-B A N T E R
-Sentient objects & buildings
-Talking cats
-Androids & robots
-Original mythologies/pantheons
-Disaster bi’s
-Enemies-to-lovers/hate-to-love
-Fake dating (bonus points for “let’s make out as a DISTRACTION”)
-Neurodivergent characters
-Queernorm settings
-Juicy stakes 🥩

No:
-Epic fantasy (3 or fewer POV characters, please)
-Flat/distant third-person writing
-Assassins or pirates (unless they’re charmingly self-deprecating)
-Dense world building
-Psychiatric hospitalizations/”insane asylums”/mental institutions
-If you could describe your book as “dark and gritty,” it’s probably not for me

Maybe:
-“Soft” sci-fi and science fantasy
-Forbidden romance (I have Thoughts about power imbalances)
-May-December relationships (see above)
-Word counts over ~120k
-Alcohol/substance abuse
-Violence & gore

 

I WILL PROVIDE:

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

WORKING STYLE
I’m the type of mentor who, when asked for advice, will say something obnoxious like, “What do YOU think you should do?” Nothing is more important than your vision! I’ll pick your brain, offer guidance, and provide all the necessary information to help you make the right decisions for yourself. I love chatting online and I will talk into the wee hours of the morning about your revision plan, your plot woes, or your querying strategy (or your dating life, or your job, or your cat, I’m not picky). I will also do at least one developmental edit letter, guide you through 1-2 rounds of revisions as needed, and critique your query letter & synopsis. Of course, I’m hoping we’ll forge a lifelong friendship that transcends the bounds of this program and we will both be inviting each other to book launches and weddings and family reunions for years to come–but I’ll settle for promising to be there for you, now and in the future, at any stage of your career. (P.S. I also welcome the shy, introverted, & curmudgeonly mentees to apply–I swear I don’t talk THAT much.)

IDEAL MENTEE
Do you love your books? Do you believe you have a unique viewpoint, something original to say–even if that something is “i think it’s cool when 2 wizards make out”? Do you use humor to mask your numerous insecurities & shortcomings? Then we’re gonna get along just fine! In particular, I’m looking for character-driven romantic fantasy and books that straddle the line between adult and YA. Please consider subbing to me if you are BIPOC, queer, neurodivergent, disabled, chronically ill, or another marginalized identity that has been underrepresented in traditional publishing.

SEND ME:
I’m hungry for fantasy novels with lots of heart–books that feel like a big, warm hug from your BFF who also teases you mercilessly for needing a hug in the first place. I like to be *entertained*, so please bring the high drama and plot twists! Happy endings are nice, but a good bittersweet ending can’t be topped. I am a fan of wizards.

To give you some ideas:

  • Books starring iconic, one-of-a-kind protagonists who will live rent free in my head forever (THE TRAITOR BARU CORMORANT, GIDEON THE NINTH, SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN, TRAIL OF LIGHTNING)
  • Intense romantic fantasy with pining for days (THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN, THE JASMINE THRONE, MASTER OF CROWS, FOR THE WOLF)
  • Hot wizard boyfriends, need I say more? (UPROOTED, BRIGHTLY WOVEN, AIR AWAKENS, HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE)
  • For that matter, anything that comps to Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Also hot wizard girlfriends–give me your hot wizards of all genders
  • An unforgettable cast of well-developed, idiosyncratic side characters (RING SHOUT, SIX OF CROWS, THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET)
  • World building that’s seamless to the point of becoming invisible (THE LAST UNICORN, FORGOTTEN BEASTS OF ELD, AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS), or, on the other hand, so mind-blowingly original I can’t help but be sucked in (JADE CITY, THE DEEP, TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING)
  • If you’ve written a melodrama/soap opera/Lifetime movie set in a fantasy world, please send it to me now
  • The fantasy version of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR

DO NOT SEND ME:

  • Anything gritty, grimdark, or dystopian
  • Epic fantasy doorstops like GAME OF THRONES or WHEEL OF TIME
  • Military SFF
  • Greek myth retellings
  • Soul-crushing endings
  • An abundance of character deaths
  • In-depth depictions of sexual violence or incest
  • Love triangles (with limited exceptions)

FAVES

Authors – Patricia McKillip, Diana Wynne Jones, Sofia Samatar, Naomi Novik

TV – Russian Doll, Fleabag, Gravity Falls, The X-Files, Bob’s Burgers, Star Trek TNG, Bojack Horseman

Movies – Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Edward Scissorhands, Jurassic Park, every horror movie & mob movie ever made

Comics – Saga, Chew, The Wicked + The Divine, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl

Video Games – Mass Effect, Stardew Valley, KOTOR, Skyrim (heavily modded of course)