Claire Friedman, InkWell Management
YA Sci-Fi, YA Contemporary
MADE OF STARS (2023) Viking Childrens/PRH
Born and raised in the Midwest, Jenna now calls Washington D.C. home. She’s an Author Mentor Match alum and currently works in academic publishing where she’s gotten really good at pretending to understand biochemistry. When not writing, she can be found convincing her friends to go on spontaneous road trips, perfecting her Spotify playlists, and desperately trying not to kill her houseplants. MADE OF STARS is her debut novel.
I’ve always loved writing (aka: in high school I wrote a lot of very dramatic, self-insert fanfiction) but I didn’t start pursuing publication seriously until after college. The summer after graduation, I finished a (very bad!!) draft of my first book, and it took another year of intense revisions before I felt ready to query. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about agents or publishing. I definitely made a lot of mistakes and those first rejections were heartbreaking but during that time, I ended up connecting with so many people in the writing community who are still my friends and critique partners to this day. When I shelved that first book, they encouraged me to write another. In early 2020, I had a first draft of MADE OF STARS. I submitted it to AMM R7 and by some miracle, considering the state of that early draft, Mary E. Roach selected me as their mentee. Together we rewrote a good chunk of the book and I started querying again in July of 2020. In August, I signed with my incredible agent, Claire Friedman at Inkwell Management. We revised again and before going on submission in the fall where we ended up selling at auction to Viking/PRH. MADE OF STARS comes out Spring 2023!
I have a Journalism degree from Butler University and a Publishing masters from George Washington University. Before pursuing my masters, I worked in sales at a trade publishing house, where I worked on campaigns for new and established authors of all genres. Now, I work in marketing for scientific publications. As a previous AMM mentee, I understand how nerve-wracking it is to put your work out there. I learned things from my mentor and fellow mentees that I never would have realized on my own and having them to lean on through revisions, querying, and everything that came after was such an integral part of my personal writing journey.
I want to be an AMM mentor because this program gave me direction and a community. I’m a stronger writer now than I ever could have imagined and so much of that is due to the guidance of my mentor and fellow mentees. Before AMM, I never had a place I could go with publishing questions. I made a lot of mistakes when I queried my first book because I didn’t know how the process worked. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT – I’m pretty sure I sent my first book out to like, 150 agents, some of which definitely didn’t even accept YA. Being able to mentor and guide someone else through the same process and let them learn from my mistakes is so rewarding.
Mentorship contests are great opportunities, yes, but they are not the be all end all of publishing. I didn’t get into AMM the first time I applied and I was never chosen for Pitch Wars either. And every time, the hardest part of the process was literally just pressing the button to submit my application. Just know that applying takes guts and I’m so excited for each and every writer who pushes through the fear and doubt to take this step. Don’t count yourself out before you begin and don’t be afraid to take a risk!
I’m looking for smart YA stories that go beyond surface level and have something to say and I’m particularly looking for sci-fi, contemporary fantasy, and romcoms to fall in love with. I also love retellings and subversive twists on classic stories. Send me your books with messy, chaotic protagonists, villains who feel terrifyingly real, and settings that surprise me. I’m always excited to read about vicious, hungry characters who know what they want, soft characters who manage to stay kind in a cruel word, sweeping epic romances, and unbreakable, steadfast friendships.
Overall, I can’t wait to find my new favorite book and support you on your journey. I will make you aesthetics and Spotify playlists! It is my one true passion!
Get in losers, we’re bringing back YA sci-fi! Please send me all your space operas, galaxy-wide adventures, and planet hopping road trips. If you can comp Star Wars or Rebecca Coffindaffer’s Crownchasers, I want to see it. Extra points if it’s gay. Extra extra points if you have a character I can fancast as Oscar Isaac. I love space, but I’m also open to all sub-genres of sci-fi, especially if it falls in the vein of Gearbreakers or Iron Widow.
I love contemporary, but I’m looking for something with a compelling, solid hook, or a fresh spin on classic tropes. Big, voice-y protagonists and romantic subplots are always welcome. I’m also open to contemporary fantasy, or contemporary books that lean into their darker, speculative elements, but I’m not the best mentor for high or gothic fantasy.
Across all genres, I’m looking for ambitious characters who make questionable choices, characters who learn to grow past the confines of their upbringing, and anyone who would literally burn the world down for the people they love. I love retellings of myths, fairytales and folklore as long as there’s something new – a speculative element, a surprise romance, an unconventional setting.
And please give me a romantic subplot to yearn for, I’m SO not picky, especially if you can add “but make it gay” at the end of your trope. Submit your enemies to lovers, friends to enemies to lovers, rivals to lovers, and forbidden star-crossed love. I want it all.
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I’m usually quick about responding with any notes, edit letters, or questions, partially because I love communication and partially because I have never been relaxed ever in my life. I think revisions are collaborative and I want to work together so you can end up with a book that matches your vision and truly says what you want it to say. I am also the opposite of cool and will literally be unable to stop myself from telling you how much I love your book. Spoiler alert: if I pick your book, I really do love it and your writing. Expect all the validation and memes you need.
That being said, I’m also going to be honest about what revisions I think we should make. First, I like to talk about your personal goals for your book and career – what do you want out of this program? This can be done over the phone, FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Google hangouts, or email if you prefer/need text communication. This will help me tailor my developmental edits to align with your vision (although I’ll definitely have ideas to run by you before we chat). Then, I’ll send an edit letter with bigger developmental notes and give you time to process/make a plan. I’ll encourage you to have a written revision plan or outline before jumping into any edits and we’ll repeat developmental edits as many times as we need to. Then I’ll move on to line edits, where I’ll go through the manuscript and point out any line-level things I think could be polished up.
I’m also a fan of deadlines. I’ll want you to set a specific date for each stage of the revision process so that we can both stay on top of things and so you can get used to working under deadlines. Everything will be according to your schedule and we can obviously adjust if anything comes up, but I would love to nail down a general timeline at the beginning of the process so we can both stay on track.
I’m always down for texting/DMing or talking on the phone to brainstorm or check in during the revision process. Please never be afraid to reach out, I promise I am just three raccoons in a trench coat, masquerading as a competent adult. If something isn’t working for you, or you don’t vibe with an edit, we can always discuss, but at the end of the day it’s YOUR book and I trust your judgement.
I’m looking for someone who isn’t afraid of doing the work. This industry is hard! Writing is hard! Revising is hard! You don’t need to know everything about publishing, but you should have a clear vision for your book and what you want it to say, even if you don’t know how to get there. My ideal mentee is eager to learn and willing to listen to critiques and understand why those notes are being applied in the first place. If an edit note doesn’t work with you, that’s okay, but you need to be able to tell me why and what you want to do instead. If I’m picking you, it’s because I love your writing style and want to see everything you write! There are SO many ups and downs in this industry, but I’d love to be there to help with the entire journey, not just this specific manuscript.
This is not a definitive list! Please surprise me with your wonderful stories, even if they have elements that aren’t listed here.
- Morally gray characters. Give me power-hungry, questionable leads driven by revenge or anger
- Villain origin stories
- Anything set in space! Space road trips! Space heists! Space politics!
- Characters actively working to dismantle systems of oppression
- Found families
- Eat the rich (figuratively and literally)
- LGBT+ stories of any kind. They don’t have to be coming out stories either – just give me unapologetically gay protagonists, side characters, or villains whose sexuality isn’t a plot point, or reason for discrimination
- Strong romantic subplots
- Anything that could comp to a Taylor Swift song
- Strong female friendships
- Bisexual rep, with or without romance
- Characters who are the literal embodiment of chaos
- Characters who are just Trying Their Best
- Retellings of classic stories/myths (but make it gay)
- Star Wars (but make it gay, because Disney is a coward)
- Enemies to lovers or rivals to lovers (but make it gay)
- There’s only one bed
- Complicated, messy mother/daughter dynamics
- Also, if you wrote something inspired by or based off of a Broadway musical, I don’t care what genre it is, I want to see it.
DO NOT SEND ME:
I don’t want to limit too much, but I’m probably not the best fit for:
- High Fantasy
- Pirates, mermaids, or anything nautical
- Historical settings
And I’m absolutely not the right mentor for:
- Slut shaming/”not like other girls” books (unless it’s a purposeful critique)
- Body shaming/fatphobia
- Cop books
- Romanticized suicide or self harm
- Toxic love interests/relationships that don’t go unexamined (normalize killing your abusive husband, taking his money, and fleeing the country)
Books: Six of Crows, Percy Jackson, Ninth House, Ace of Spades, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Burn Our Bodies Down, Red White & Royal Blue, Gearbreakers, A Far Wilder Magic, Bad Witch Burning, The Ones We’re Meant to Find, the Charlotte Holmes series
Movies/TV: Parks and Recreation, The Good Place, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Legends of Korra, Schitt’s Creek, She-ra, Knives Out, Holes, Legally Blonde, Little Women, Rogue One, Thor Ragnarok, She’s the Man