Mentor CJ Connor

cjconnorwrites.com
@cjconnorwrites

AGENT
Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary Agency

WRITES
Mystery & Romance

ON SUBMISSION

BIO
CJ Connor writes queer romance and cozy mysteries. They are a Book Riot contributor and EBSCO NoveList ADEPT advisor, both of which fill them with joy and an endless TBR list. They are represented by Jessica Faust at BookEnds Literary Agency.

When they are not writing, they can generally be found perusing art museums, listening to angsty folk music, or stress knitting. Their main goal as a writer is to make their dog proud. This one’s for you, Yoda!

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND
I wrote my first manuscript, a murder-mystery that in my mind made up what it lacked in plot with enthusiasm, for NaNoWriMo in 2012 as a high school student. Was it good? No, but it sparked my interest in writing novels. Several manuscripts later and after graduating college, I wrote a queer romantic comedy which I entered in Pitch Wars and was chosen as a 2019 mentee. Following the Pitch Wars showcase, I wrote a cozy mystery series starter because I was frustrated with how few queer cozies there were. I signed with my agent Jessica Faust in 2021 and am currently on submission, as well as working on a culinary cozy mystery set in a Utah ski village.

EXPERIENCE
I am a Pitch Wars alumnus, where I was mentored by romance author Mary Ann Marlowe. I’ve also been a critique partner for fellow Pitch Wars alumni as well as a sensitivity reader for manuscripts with transgender representation. Something I especially enjoy (which I know is unusual) is helping writers with their queries and synopses, as my day job is in marketing and I find that many skills related to this career come in handy when creating submission packages.

OVERVIEW
I would be nothing without the mentors who gave me guidance and support throughout my life—both my Pitch Wars mentor and my high school English teacher Ms. Shelley. Additionally, the connections I made with fellow Pitch Wars mentees changed my life and years later, I consider many of them close friends.

Ultimately, I would like to provide these things to a mentee—edits and advice to make their manuscript as strong as possible and help networking with their fellow AMM mentees. Preparing a manuscript for submission and querying is a long and often confusing road, and I’d also love to help you put together a solid query letter and synopsis/agent list and offer support along the way.

I am looking for mysteries and romance novels that are quirky, witty, or queer (bonus points for all three).

MENTORING GENRES
Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Historical

Mystery/Thriller: I’m open to most subgenres but especially cozy mysteries or novels with a strong comedic element.

Romance: I’m looking for contemporary or paranormal romance, though I will consider historical romance. My favorite tropes are enemies to lovers and grumpy one/sunshine one.

When it comes to LGBTQIA representation, I will not make an author out themselves to prove they are #OwnVoices if they are not comfortable doing so. There were times in my life when I needed to stay closeted, and I empathize with those who are in similar situations.

 

I WILL PROVIDE:

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

WORKING STYLE
As a mentor, I will adapt to your communication preferences—whether that’s Zoom meetings, phone calls, or messaging. Shortly after you are selected as a mentee, I will send you an edit letter with overall feedback and developmental suggestions. After that first round of edits, my plan is to offer a line edit and help you put together your query letter and synopsis as well as an agent submission list. This plan is subject to adjustments once I get a sense of your manuscript and needs as a writer.

IDEAL MENTEE
I’d love to find a mentee who is open to suggestions but also sticks to their gut and will let me know if any feedback doesn’t sit right with them. They’ll be comfortable working through line and developmental edits and able to read a critique without internalizing it as an indicator of their self-worth (which it is not).

SEND ME:

  • Trans or non-binary leads
  • Humor
  • Heists, especially art heists
  • Anything to do with art history, really
  • Nerdy characters and plots. Send me your geeks!
  • Sports romance (bonus points for hockey)
  • Books with vibes that could be comped to Lord Huron’s music
  • Unusual or inventive cozy mystery settings
  • Fictional footnotes (I just think they’re neat)
  • Paranormal cozies or romance. If your book could be comped to What We Do in the Shadows, send it in!

DO NOT SEND ME:

  • Excessive gore
  • Regency romance
  • Sexual assault on the page

FAVES

Some of my favorites are from genres I’m not a good fit for (secondary world fantasy, for example), but they will give you an idea of elements that draw me to a story. For me, that’s usually lovable characters and humorous moments.

Mysteries — The Postscript Murders (Elly Griffiths), Finlay Donovan is Killing It (Elle Cosimano), Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie), Hither Page (Cat Sebastian), Noodle Shop Mysteries (Vivien Chien), Sherlock Holmes Bookshop Mysteries (Vicki Delaney), Evenfall Witches B&B (Auralee Wallace), Gethsemane Brown Mysteries (Alexia Gordon)

Romance books — Check Please! (Ngozi Ukazu), Royal Holiday (Jasmine Guillory), The Charm Offensive (Alison Cochrun), Boyfriend Material (Alexis Hall), Battle Royal (Lucy Parker), Get a Life, Chloe Brown (Talia Hibbert), Game Changer (Rachel Reid), Well Met (Jen DeLuca)

Books in general — Anxious People (Fredrik Backman), The Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien), Good Omens (Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman), The King of Infinite Space (Lyndsay Faye), Daisy Jones and the Six (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

Movies — Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Knives Out, Labyrinth, The Road to El Dorado, What We Do in the Shadows, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Loving Vincent

Video games — Stardew Valley, Kingdom Hearts, Detroit: Become Human, Hades, and Later Alligator

TV shows — Midnight Diner, Good Omens, Psych, Lupin, Gravity Falls, ITV’s Poirot, The Mandalorian, Community, The Witcher, Star Trek, Outlander, Yuri On Ice!!!, The Great British Bake-Off, The Way of the Househusband