Mentors Rochele Smit & Livia Barb

rochelesmit.wixsite.com
@RocheleSmit

www.liviabarb.com
@Babsy07

AGENT
Rochele:
Christina Miller, Nancy Yost Literary Agency
Barb: Barbara Collins Rosenberg, The Rosenberg Group

WRITES
Rochele:
Adult Historical Romance
Barb: Adult Contemporary Romance

ON SUBMISSION (Rochele)

BOOKS (Barb)
NOW RECORDING (2022) Entangled

BIO

Rochele: Hello potential mentees! I’m a flight attendant that lives on a historic ranch in the beautiful Rocky Mountain foothills. It’s a great place to raise our three kiddos! I love the wide open space and being far away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Born and raised in Michigan, my husband and I moved to Colorado 11yrs ago after we graduated college. (My degree is Aviation Science and Administration, and I also did three years in the piloting program!) When I’m not writing or chasing after kids, you may find me outside in our huge garden, testing out new recipes in the kitchen, traveling to a new destination, or binge watching Great British Bake Off! My love for romance began when I was 12 years old and discovered my mom’s box of Johanna Lindsey books hidden in her closet. I used to sneak them, one at a time and read them under my bed with a flashlight at night. Those bold heroines and dashing heroes carved a little space out in my heart.

Barb: Hello new friends! I’m a teacher who specializes in dyslexia intervention in K-12 schools. I have two children, too many Funko Pops, and a husband who’s workin’ on the railroad—literally. I enjoys long walks on the concrete and people-watching at malls so big they have their own zip codes. 90’s and 00’s movies and shows made me, I’m basically Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girl references in a trench coat. My love of reading started when I discovered Babysitter’s Club, and my love of writing began when I discovered those fuzzy diaries with locks to keep nosy siblings at bay.

PUBLISHING BACKGROUND

Rochele: In high school, I struggled with most subjects, but excelled in my English and Writing classes. I’ll never forget my 11th grade Creative Writing teacher commenting I would one day be an author. It became a dream of mine and I would research literary agents in my free time. (This took HOURS per agent on our prehistoric internet back then!) Between college and having kids though, I could never seem to find the time to write and the prospect of fulfilling that dream slowly began to fade. Fast forward to 2016 and I was involved in a tragic accident where I lost a dear friend. While deep in grief, I made the choice to start making time to do something I wanted, and started writing again.

I wrote a YA Fantasy and when I finished, I discovered book Twitter and gained a much deeper understanding about publishing. I got beta readers, found some amazing CPs, read craft books, and joined an incredible writing/querying group. Even though I loved my YA, I gave into my soft spot for Historical Romance and wrote my second book, an Adult Romance set in 1871 America between Chicago and the Colorado frontier. This is the book that connected me with my super awesome agent, Christina Miller, during March 2020 #PitMad—just in time to usher in the pandemic. After sending my query, she requested my full, then offered an R&R. We stayed in touch through my revisions and when I finished, she offered representation. But there was a plot twist! Right after I accepted her offer, she switched agencies. I then had to choose again, between another agent at her original agency, or to follow her to Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Christina had such passion for my project, I honestly couldn’t picture myself with anyone else!

Two months after my original offer, I was able to announce! (A good lesson to be careful about vague tweeting writing news! Publishing is notorious for moving SLOW.) We are still on Sub with that Western Historical Romance right now. (Again, publishing is SLOW!) In the meantime, I’ve finished my next MS, a pirate romance set in 1804 Savannah when piracy enjoyed a brief resurgence. I’m also about midway through my WIP, a historical regency that can best be described as a gender swapped Bridgerton!

Barb: I was a textbook Harriet the Spy writer— secretive. I hid in my closet or any little nook and wrote the hours away. The idea of sharing my work was terrifying, it was always just an escape. Then in high school, an English teacher said something to me that was so meaningful I sometimes debate getting her words tattooed on my arm. It was the first time I wasn’t embarrassed to share that piece of myself.

I wrote YA for eight years (in secret!), finished two books, and got the wild hair idea to write an adult romance in 2020. That romance won me a spot in AMM last year, and after six months led me to my agent Barbara Collins Rosenberg and the publishing house Entangled. I connected with an editor at Entangled through a Twitter pitch competition, who we sold the book to in October. My book NOW RECORDING debuts in spring 2022!

The road to publication is winding, congested, and scenic. You may get stuck at certain spots and see beautiful things happening all around you—but maybe it feels like never *to* you. Or maybe it’s a lot of stops and starts, or you coast the whole way. No two journeys are the same. I look forward to discussing the whole process with our future mentee!

EXPERIENCE

Rochele: I’ve enjoyed writing since I can remember. In addition to being an avid consumer of craft books, I have a sharp editorial eye. I’m great at catching filtering, crutch words, passive voice and too much telling. When I write, I use beat sheets and outlines so I can help mold a story into the right structure and make sure character arcs progress smoothly. I love CP’ing and editing other authors works. I’m a member of the online writing group the LLAMASQUAD. Being part of this group completely changed how I write and I’m constantly in awe of the talent among members. We do a lot of critiquing and sharing of resources between each other. Through participating in so many of my friends paths to becoming agented, I’ve become a very good pitcher, whether it’s a query letter or Twitter pitch, I’ll make it shine!

Barb: I am a reformed pantser who will sing the praises of a beat sheet. My strengths are character deep dives (why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how can you show someone’s inner psychology without telling), brainstorming ideas (you are going to get a lot of spaghetti thrown at your wall, giving ‘what-ifs’ is my love language), upping the drama/stakes, and pulling out the voice that’s naturally present in your writing through line edits. I’m a teacher, so I love getting red-pen happy in line edits (but make it Google docs). I am part of three wonderful critique groups who have taught me how to be a better CP.

OVERVIEW

Rochele: R8 was my first time mentoring, and I had such a blast. I have learned SO much from others in the writing community and I realize how valuable that can be to writers just starting their journey. I know it sounds cliche, but I love being able to give back and pay it forward by helping to guide another author in their journey. I’m looking forward to gaining another friendship and cannot wait to cheer on our mentee and their book through every step of the process. I’m a very loyal friend, so my mentee is very likely going to be stuck with me for life!

Barb: Rochele taught me so much in R8 and I’m eager to pass on that knowledge! We’re going to be your biggest fans. Stage five clingers!

Both: We are SO excited to dive into all the Adult ROMANCE!!! Bring on the KISSING books!

Since we’re looking for Romance, your book needs to follow a romance arc and MUST have a HEA (Happily Ever After) or HFN (Happily For Now). No if, ands, or buts!

We are accepting all genres of romance and all heat levels other than Erotica, but our focusing my MSWL But seriously, if you read through our wish list and you have a romance of any type that fits, we’ll probably going to be on board to take a peek! If in doubt, reach out and ask!

Above all, the number one thing we’ll be looking for is VOICE! Voice that sweeps us away into another time or world, voice that makes us unable to put the pages down, voice that makes us close our eyes and sigh.

We both LOVE tension through the pages and good cliffhangers at the ends of chapters. Make us want to keep reading and we will request more!

Give us deep POV. We’re good with first or third and are fine with multi-POV. (Although, more than two and there’s a good chance we will ask you to reconsider unless it’s a very well done love triangle)

While we will look at NA, if chosen as our mentee, we will age up to adult for the purpose of querying.

Also, to everyone reading this, WELL DONE! You finished and edited a book. Not many people can say that! We are so proud of all of you for taking the even bigger step and putting your words out there. It’s one thing to write a book, another thing to have it critiqued and then reshape it into an even better version! The AMM writing community is AWESOME, and we encourage you to be active and reach out to your fellow mentee hopefuls. You’re bound to make lasting friendships, find betas and CP’s, and gain a whole crew of folks to cheer you on in your journey! Good luck to each and every one of you, we mean it!

MENTORING GENRES
Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Historical

Favorite Tropes: 
Spoiler alert… We love tropes! So. Many. Tropes.  Let’s see, if you have ANY of the following, please please please send us your MS!!!

⁃ ONE BED. (This is how Rochele met her husband. Seriously).
⁃ Enemies to Lovers
⁃ Friends to Lovers.
⁃ Interesting professions (And this is how Barb met hers).
⁃ Stuck Together/Stranded.
⁃ Witty Banter. If you can make us laugh, We will love you!
⁃ Independent Women.
⁃ Sensitive Men.
⁃ Men Who Treat Women With Respect.
⁃ SLOW BURN!!!
⁃ Fake Dating.
⁃ Disguises.
⁃ Beards
⁃ Non-“Common” Time Periods. I love learning something new about history!
⁃ Spies (please, we are begging)
⁃ Forbidden Love.
⁃ Matchmaker.
⁃ Mistaken Identity.
⁃ Second Chance
⁃ Mountains. Oceans. And everything between. We love vivid scenery and especially outdoor locations.
⁃ Flawed, REAL characters. (This includes the antagonist!)
⁃ FOOD. All the food!!!
⁃ Gender Flipped Retellings.

Ok. Guess we could have just said we’re suckers for romance in all forms, but it’s so much more fun listing all these out! (And gets us really amped up to read all your amazing words!)

As always, We’ll be over the moon to receive #ownvoices/diverse rep in any form! We LOVE underrepresented cultures and heritages and think it is SO important to have those stories told.

 

WE 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
We’re not going to lie, if you are chosen as our mentee, you’ll have your work cut out for you. In a good way!

We’re both very thorough editors and ask lots and lots of questions along the way to make you think.

First, you’ll be getting a full edit letter. This includes big picture/plot suggestions and if you haven’t outlined, we’ll have you reverse outline your MS. We’ll also have some homework to help you flesh out your characters even more.

After all that, you’ll get another edit letter. This time with smaller picture edits, side plots, side characters, etc.

When the revision is complete, time to dive into line level edits. We will be looking at sentence structure, punctuation, word choices.

And when you’re ready to query, We’ll be there to look at and help tweak your submission package!

Through all of this, both of us will be available by email/text/DMs/Zoom.

IDEAL MENTEE
We are here to help polish your book into the best version of itself so we’re looking for someone not afraid to work hard and put a lot of effort into “leveling up” their craft. We’ll also need you to be open to lots of different suggestions. When given feedback, we’d like you to be able to work it into your own style and voice! We’re not going to sit here and dictate what needs to be changed, instead, will look for an organic implementation of advice and suggested edits. Please be willing and eager to jump into these revisions head first. You’re here to get your novel in shape and that’s exactly what we are going to do. We’ll work with you in the beginning to figure out a timeline that works with your schedule and we are going to do our best to stick to it.

We would like to point out that getting into a mentorship program is not a magic button to representation and publication. Many, many people who are accepted into a mentorship don’t get an agent right away. We cannot guarantee any of that. However, we’ll be helping you polish your manuscript and submission materials to the best of our ability, and will be rooting you on the whole way, no matter what your publishing path looks like.

Finally, we are both looking most forward to a new and lasting friendship with someone we can cheer on and keep in touch with LONG after the mentorship is over. Someone we can laugh with over the crazy aspects of publishing, commiserate with during the lows, and all and all, just plain enjoy each others company (and words).

SEND US:

HISTORICALS! We here for all time periods.

  • Ancient world? Mmhmm!
  • Vikings? Swoon!
  • Medieval? Send it.
  • Scottish? Yes, please.
  • Colonial/Revolutionary? Give it over.
  • Regency/Victorian? Be still my heart!
  • Western? Bring on the cowboys!
  • Roaring Twenties? Affirmative.
  • Give us everything up until WWII.

CONTEMPORARIES! Send us those contemporary romances that will make us swoon! We adore romcoms of any kind, small town vibes, nature settings, anything southern or gothic, and irreverent twists on old favorites (did you write Superbad or Bridesmaids but it’s an adult romance somehow? We’re listening). We’re always ready for enemies to lovers so send us ANYTHING with Unhoneymooners vibes! Got a country girl stuck in the big city story? Send it! Feminist romp? We want it.

Strangely specific bucket list:

  • A gender-swapped Viking story. A Viking warrioress bringing the Saxon man to his knees would make us so happy.
  • If you can comp to Rip from Yellowstone, your MS better be in our inbox.
  • Modern day Lumberjacks or gold miners.

We are also interested in Romantic Suspense, Fantasy Romance, and Paranormal Romance (no angels/demons as lovers)

And we’re open to all heat levels!

  • Clean? Yes!
  • Sweet? Yep!
  • Steamy? Oh yeah!
  • High heat? Wooo Baby!

We’re all about strong characters. Not bench-pressing 200lbs strong, but characters that have emotional depth, that make us feel a connection to them. We want to care DEEPLY about your characters. If you have multi/duel POV, make sure each voice is distinct and separate.

Also, we adore friendships between the characters that don’t involve their lover. We love seeing unbreakable female friendships and tight “brotherly” bonds between men.

    DO NOT SEND US:

    • Non-Consent. It is never, EVER, sexy.
    • Nazi Romances. Can’t believe we have to say that.
    • At the risk of sounding like a broken record, let’s say this again. If it doesn’t have a HEA/HFN, or you are not willing to change it into a HEA, it’s going to be a pass. No matter how good the writing. Think of the HEA/HFN as the foundation of the Romance industry. Without it, everything else crumbles. Romance readers are some of the toughest critics out there and if you don’t give them the ending they are expecting, they will throw you to the wolves!
    • No Epic Fantasy Romance.
    • We’re not the best fit for Sci-Fi unless it’s super low tech.
    • Reverse Harem is probably going to be a no.
    • We’re also not the right mentors for erotica.

    FAVES

    TV:
    ⁃ Great British Bake Off (Rochele and Barb)
    ⁃ Every random reality TV show you can think of, no really, Barb loves them all
    ⁃ New Girl (Can you comp Winnie the Bish? WE WANT)
    ⁃ Marvelous Mrs. Maisel!!!! We would LOVE something like this.

    Books:
    We LOVE reading. Here are a few of our favorite authors, and if you can comp to any of them, you will make our hearts sing!
    ⁃ Tessa Dare
    ⁃ Christina Lauren
    ⁃ Sarah MacLean
    ⁃ Kate Clayborn
    ⁃ Beverly Jenkins
    ⁃ Evie Dunmore
    ⁃ Jen DeLuca
    ⁃ Lisa Kleypas
    ⁃ Olivia Wade