How to Revise Like a Mentor: Part One

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

As some of you may know, I was recently a mentor in Author Mentor Match, a program where agented authors can pass along their knowledge to other writers. My friend, Katie Wilson, came up with a great idea: she wanted me and some of my mentor friends to share our wisdom when it comes to revising like a mentor.

I reached out to a few of my mentor friends, and the response was overwhelming. They were so helpful and so giving of their time–so much so that I’m splitting this into a two-part series! 4 mentors will be sharing their thoughts this week, and 5 mentors (including myself) will answer these questions next week.

Again, a huge shout-out to Katie for coming up with these ideas and these questions. Your perspective is so valuable. And oh, check out Katie’s AuthorTube channel over here!

Now, on with the interview! This week, we’ll be hearing words of wisdom from authors who’ve been mentors and mentees through programs like Pitch Wars and Author Mentor Match: Mary Averling, J.Elle, Brittany Kelley, and Jessica Lewis.

What is your mentoring process like?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: Hugs and punches!! From an editorial standpoint, I like to start with big developmental edits and gradually get into the smaller nitty-gritty, and that includes plenty of emails and phone calls in between. It’s important for me to understand my mentee’s vision for the book so everything we do lines up with their vision; I also love brainstorming and chatting about characters or plot snarls or worldbuilding! 

J elle

J.Elle: I’m a very hands on mentor. I like to get into the weeds of the worldbuilding, plot and character and work with the writer to take a sober look at all the facets of the story that aren’t working. If the story needs to be broken down to the bones and be rebuilt, I’m right there with my mentee, helping with their outline, brainstorming fixes, fleshing out characters. I prefer phone calls, but I can do emails, too. I like to check in frequently and create little benchmarks for my mentees, so that while they’re in the weeds of things they can still feel successful. 

Exactly how hands-on I am, however, is a bit more responsive to the mentee’s preference / comfort. I like to start with a ‘Get To Know You Call’ so that I can see how much and what style of support the writer wants/needs. I tailor my approach from that usually, but I do tend to be very hands on. I like to have revisions start with a new beat sheet, character outlining, sometimes I’ll do villain mapping with them, external writing exercises, etc. Really whatever the story needs I’m down for. When I sign on to mentor, I’m taking this writer and story and giving it the care and attention I give my own work. I take it very seriously. And I stick with my mentees for their entire career. This is why I weigh the decision so heavily… it’s a lot of work. A big commitment. So I’ve gotta be 100% sure and passionate about what the story needs.

BK

Brittany Kelley: First, I lull my mentee into a warm fuzzy state, with a welcome letter gushing about everything I adore about their writing. It’s really important to me that anyone I work with knows how much I believe in them, that I enjoy their book and their art, and that this is a partnership, not a dictatorship. It also gives me a chance to let them get a sense for how my brain works. 

Next, I pop that golden balloon of happiness with an edit letter detailing big picture issues that need to be addressed. My last edit letter was around seven pages, I think? After that, we hopped on the phone and I outlined areas that slowed the plot or didn’t make sense. I love talking on the phone, as my poor mentee and CPs can attest to, because it’s so important to me to make sure they know I’m cheering them on and that we hash out any disagreements or misunderstandings.

From then on, it really depends on the mentee! If they want me to look at new outlines, new first pages, I’m here for it. If not, I’m happy to hold off until line edits too, which is the next big step. Once developmental edits are done, I fine-comb their manuscript for inconsistencies, awkward wording, anything that can make it shine more. When we’re both happy, it’s query time!

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: I’m very methodical in my approach. I have a multi-step plan: 1) major edits to theme/structure, character, and plot 2) second edits for setting, atmosphere, refining theme, etc. 3) line edits/focus on continuity errors/examining paragraphs for sentence flow and 4) copyedits/typos/awkward wording. It’s long and thorough, but after it’s over, I know we’ll have a fantastic book!! After edits, we’ll move on to querying/pitching, but that’s a whole other beast! 

What notes do you take while reading?
Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: I usually make note of places where an overarching problem has cropped up, so it’s easier to find examples for my edit letter. I also find it useful to jot down any questions I have, in case they answer themselves later on.

J elle

J.Elle: It depends. I only take extensive notes while reading the first time if I’m falling head over heels in love right off. This is pretty rare but it does happen. Usually I need to get into the story a bit more before I know I’m hooked. Once I’m hooked though, I take notes on my Kindle. When I’m reading that first time, I’m passively noting what hooked me into the read and is making me want to continue. Any time that intrigue is broken and I want to stop, I analyze why and make a note. Those usually translate into feedback for writers whose stories get me through at least the first 100 pages. If I’ve read that much, I’m definitely intrigued. 

Once I’ve zero’d in on a story I’d strongly like to work with (I usually know this about half way through), I actually stop taking notes and just let myself take it all in. After I finish, I let it marinate for a few days. If I’m serious about taking it on, I never write full edit notes right after finishing. Ever. I need the time to really sit with my thoughts and examine the layers of the story and brainstorm fixes. I also need to decide if I’m passionate enough about it to want to read it again and again and again. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: I look for problems while I’m reading. If I’ve gotten as far as requesting a full, it means I’m in love. So now I am thinking: how can I help this writer improve? Is this a manuscript that my particular skills can add to? What’s the value I bring to the table for this writer?

Obviously, plot and character arcs are at the forefront of my mind. Does the plot meander? Do the character arcs feel logical and satisfying? Is there tension that keeps me flipping the page? And then I take notes on where these things fall apart and potential fixes. 

The other thing I look for are sort of  in the weeds writerly issues, and can be anything that crops up throughout. Is there a ton of passive voice? Are filter words keeping me from deep POV?  Are there inconsistencies with the tense? Headhopping? That sort of thing. I’ll address that in my first edit letter too, with the hopes that major issues of that nature can be cleaned up in revisions.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: On my first read-through, I’m always paying attention to the character. Is the main character well developed? What’s their wound and how does it impact the story? Does the plot support the character’s journey or work against it? What’s the theme and is it well expressed in the text? I truly believe the book must revolve around the leading character, so that’s the most important piece to nail!

Do you leave notes in the doc itself?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: Only during later stages. My developmental edit letters tend to be heaped into a separate document, but once all the pieces are in place, I leave (a lot!) of in-line comments and track changes directly in the doc. 

J elle

J.Elle: It depends on where we are in the editing process. If it needs large scale developmental revisions, no. If we are doing more fine tuning, yes I am a huge commenter lol. Like, HUUUUUGE. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: Nope. Not for developmental edits.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: For the first round of reading, no! I take notes on my phone, or on scraps of paper, then write an edit letter. In line notes are for round two or three of editing, at least for me!

How do you go about your edit letter?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: I tend to organize my letters into subheadings, because it helps me organize my thoughts & hopefully is easier to digest for the mentee! My editorial style involves a lot of questioning, so my letter includes a mixture of whys and how comes with potential solutions/strategies the author might use to patch up those holes.

J elle

J.Elle: At the start of the letter is a bunch of enthusiasm and mentions of what I enjoyed about the story. The edit notes part of the letter is structured into sections: 1) Bigger Issues: broader areas that need fixing. Things like character arc, big pacing lulls, sizable plot issues, etc would fall here; 2) Overall Things I Noticed: This is where I try to comment on Writing Style, Conflict, Setting, Backstory, Dialogue, Pacing, Tension, Voice, Plot, Characterization, Marketability, and Worldbuilding if I hadn’t mentioned those in #1; and 3) Final Thoughts: This is where I reiterate what they did well and, of everything aforementioned, which areas I’d suggest focusing on for the next pass revisions. 

I also usually include a Where To Start. Some of my mentees have more writing experience than others, some stories need more work than others. I try to tailor the process of mentoring and make it more in depth based on what the story needs. For example, sometimes I”ll often include a task list of things to do before edits even start such as, read a section of *this* book, create 1-sentence chapter summaries, map out character arc using this worksheet, explore the villain on using this worksheet, etc. I do almost always ask to see chapter summaries and a beat sheet before my mentees start revising. And if they’ve never done those before, I show them how. I believe the greatest benefit of mentoring is not improving a particular story, but adding tools to your writer tool kit.  

BK

Brittany Kelley: I’m a firm believer in the compliment sandwich. If the writer doesn’t trust that I *get* their vision, why would they implement any changes I suggest? So I start out by reminding them that I think they’re amazing, because, duh, they are. Then I cut to the chase and lay out what needs to happen to make the book marketable, as far as developmental edits. I tackle each piece separately and provide rationale for all suggested changes. 

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: I split my edit letters into three main pieces: Character, Plot, and Structure. Theme is important too, but I usually talk about it in all three sections. In each section, I talk about what is working, what needs more work, and what can be added to improve the book overall. 

 

What helps you determine how the story can be better? Do you look for specific things?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: If the author has specific concerns, I’ll watch out for those, but otherwise, I like to just read until I trip up on something. Sometimes that’s a logic hole, or a scene where I can’t wrap my head around the setting, or a missed opportunity for atmosphere. Understanding the author’s vision beforehand is super helpful for spotting these missed opportunities; it’s easy to forget that readers don’t know a story as intimately as the writer, so we want to make sure there aren’t discrepancies between intent and reality. 

J elle

J.Elle: I examine specific parts of a story: Writing style, conflict, setting, backstory, dialogue, pacing, tension, voice, plot, characterization, marketability, and worldbuilding. 

How do you break down the MC, antag, side characters, etc, to better the story?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: Usually by asking tried-and-true questions like, what do they want? and what happens if they don’t get it? what happens if they do? etc. Just … so many questions! From my own revisions, I know it’s often useful to reread the MS with a specific focus on each character to make sure everyone important has a proper arc; even though it’s totally fine for some characters to remain unchanged, they should still feel real, and the more we understand about them–no matter if that information makes it onto the page–the better!

J elle
J.Elle: I like to look at the misbelief the character has at the beginning and how it changes over the course of the story. I also want to look at how the plot furthers the development of that character; and how the story relates to the worldbuilding in a meaningful way. I use a similar process with the side characters. For the villain I like to look at their past, how they got to where they are. In the past, I have asked my mentees to draft a page or two separate story about something the villain experienced in their past to demonstrate how they’ve become who they are now and have been able to persist in their endeavors. One other fun thing to do is: examine how the protagonist and antagonist relate to one another. What do they have in common? It’s always neat to see how giving characters texture elevates a story. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: I look at character arcs, as well as how much space each take up on the page. Does each character have a purpose? A unique reason for being in the scene? Do they feel flat and like props for the MC or do they add to the story? It’s a sort of checklist, and there’s no reason not to be honest about what’s working character wise or not.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: My favorite thing to do is ask these four questions:

  1. What do you want to say with this story?
  2. What is your MC’s wound?
  3. What does your MC want?
  4. What stands in their way of getting it?

These are useful questions for queries too, but they’re essential for a book! Once you have a clear understanding of these answers, you can build your entire book around it. If you know what your MC wants, you can build an antagonist to stand in their way. If you know your MC’s wound, you can build side characters to either hurt or help them. These questions are the foundation, and everything will fall into place after you have these!

How do you break down worldbuilding to better the story?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: Questions! Questions! Questions! I’m one of those irritating people who picks at potential logic holes in worldbuilding until they unravel–all the better for building everything back up again! I tend to work with fantasy, and defining magic systems has been a major hurdle for me to overcome in my personal writings, but I think worldbuilding & internal logic are massively important parts of any story. We need to understand the everyday in order to understand the unusual. 

J elle

J.Elle: I like to examine the ways the world influences the character and vice versa. Finding ways to ensure worldbuilding is plot relevant and not just densely packed in for the sake of is always a good place to start. I try to break things into: where this world came from, how it’s persisted, it’s societal structure, and how those have shaped it’s values, beliefs, and ecosystem. From there, we can look at the character closely and figure out the ways the world has shaped who they are, from the way they talk to the ways they dress. I think it’s key to not build out all the details, but let the reader fill in some.  

BK

Brittany Kelley: Consistency, consistency, consistency. Wardrobe, textures, tactile and scent imagery are all things I look for when I’m critiquing any genre. Scent can be one of the most powerful images, and is so often underutilized. And no, I’m not just talking about what the LI smells like, but also yes, ok, sandalwood? Evergreens? I’m into it. 

See also: slang. I think this is sooooo important for any writing, but SFF world building in particular. Speech patterns vary so wildly regionally; why would it be any different in a SFF world? I like to brainstorm ways we can inject a sense of seamless ‘otherness’ to the world that can help make it unique and bring it to life. 

Do you give comments on pacing, description, interiority, etc?

Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: Yup! These tend to be things I address in-line, with specific examples.

J elle

J.Elle: Interiority is my speciality ha ha. I definitely comment on scene level pacing, description and interiority but those are usually at the line edit level once we’ve gotten the developmental stuff in order. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: Yes. Pacing is key, as is interiority, for romance. MCs need to have an explicit internal wound, or a lie they believe about themselves, as well as external pressure (ie the plot) for the book to move forward. Ideally, the external pressure will aggravate the internal wound and be resolved by the end for the HEA. For both MCs. The pace at which this happens creates the magic! If I get bored, I know readers are too.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: Yes, but not right away! Pacing would be addressed in the first round of edits, but it’s not a big deal if it’s a little off in the first big edit. Interiority is a second-round edit, and description would be toward the end. 

Do you worry much about line edits when you’re working on a mentee’s book?Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: It depends on where we are in the process. If there are still developmental issues to fix, then I won’t harp on about commas, but once we’re further along, I like to go through line-by-line with prose-level suggestions. 

J elle

J.Elle: I do offer line edit comments for my mentees, time permitting. But that is the very last editing task we do together. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: Nope. Not for first round. And this goes against my nature, because I… *cringe* edit as I write.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: Yes. Line edits are an important part of it! They take a good book to a great book, and that final push for correcting details and examining sentence level issues will show an agent/editor you care. We want the book to be the best it can be!

 

How do you go about strengthening the theme and the story itself?

Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: Questions! Questions! Questions! Honestly, I’m starting to realize that I probably sound like a very curious toddler. But I love questions for triggering trains of thought that might not otherwise have occured to the author, especially with more nebulous areas like theme. During our first mentee/mentor call, I remember asking what the ‘heart’ of the book was, and we’ve worked to drag out these underlying feelings that might’ve gotten overlooked. Another great question I snatched from our mentor groupchat is How do you want readers to feel after finishing your book? 

J elle

J.Elle: This is very much a personal thing for the writer. I think sometimes writers don’t have a clear sense of what they want the theme to be. If they do, that makes it easy. Simply line up each 1-sentence chapter summaries and consider how each ties to the theme. Is there a gradual, clear progression? It gets trickier if the writer isn’t sure what the theme is or if the theme is a bit more vague. That might seem like a red flag, but I think it’s more of a blank canvas. I like to share what I see in the story thematically with my mentee and check that with their intentions / wishes. From there we can play with changes to the story to better illuminate and execute the theme.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: I like to talk to the author first! I ask “what do you want to say?” Then once we have a good idea of the theme, we can build a character/story around that!

 

What helps you come up with brainstorm ideas to share with the writer?

Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: Really, the same strategies I use when coming up with new ideas for my own work. Showers. Long walks. Trying to go to sleep. Sitting in gardens. Rabbit cuddles. Trying to do homework. Staring out of rainy windows. Procrastinating making my bed. As with most writers, my mind wanders very easily, and I tend to just let it go. Reading comp titles can also be helpful! 

J elle

J.Elle: I don’t know. My brain just doesn’t stop. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember lol. The ideas just come. Not on demand, unfortunately. But they always come. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: Once we get on the phone, that’s usually what triggers any huge ideas for fixing. It gives me a chance to see where they want the story to go, and then I can piggyback off their ideas. This is one of my favorite things to do.

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: I usually do a phone call and we’ll spitball ideas together. I’m a firm believer that the author likely has the perfect solution to any book problem, and I’m here to help pull that solution out. I’ll make suggestions, but it’s up to the author to really know who their character is and what they want to say. 

 

What’s helped you learn to think/critique like an agent (your own mentor experience, reading agent edit letters, self-taught/practice, etc)?

Mary Averling 1

Mary Averling: Definitely revising with my own mentor and agent! They both have very different styles, and I’ve learned so much from both of them. My agent in particular is extremely editorial, so I’ve seen firsthand how manuscripts can be pushed to shiny new heights! I’ve also been in plenty of workshops through university, as well as a CP/beta and freelance editor, and all of those situations have helped me think critically about revisions. 

J elle

J.Elle: All of the above. I like to spend a lot of my spare time reading stories to really look closely at what keeps me in a book and what allows us to put it down. I like analyzing the best ways to puppet master the reader’s experience–pulling those tension strings so tight they want to stay up reading… or giving them waves and crests to rest, so they can process scenes with lots of layers. I love reading literary and commercial things, and finding ways to blend both styles subtly. All of those things–reading to analyze, reading widely, etc–help me be a better critiquer, I think. I hope. 

Interning at agencies also really taught me how to identify what works in hooking a reader in those opening pages. Doing developmental edits with mentees, formally and informally, has really sharpened my editorial eye, as well. And of course, working with editors has taught me a lot about bringing out the best possible version of a story. I’ve been very blessed to work with two fantastic editors, Denene Millner at Simon & Schuster and Claire Stetzer at Bloomsbury, and my writing will never be the same because of them. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: Reading everything. I truly believe that reading as widely and as much as possible is key for internalizing what makes story work. I like to binge read in my genre between drafts, I find that it really hones my brain and helps me fine tune my own pacing and arc issues. I legit read 16 books in the past two weeks and then came up for air and was ready to revise. Also, reading craft books. Learning how other authors process story and their different tips and tricks are all so important for my own toolbox. 

I once listened to a presentation from the absolutely amazing Sherry Thomas on plot and pacing, and it really opened my eyes. It felt like I finally had permission to create in a way that worked for me, and that it was ok if I didn’t fall into pantsing or plotting or if I had nothing like a process at all. Because I don’t. My process changes from page to page, draft to draft, book to book. I’m constantly learning and constantly trying new things. 

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: I was a mentee in Pitch Wars, and I’ve also interned at a publishing company. These two, combined with my edit letters for my debut, have really helped me understand how editing works and what makes a book shine.

 

How can you tell when the age category needs to change (MG to YA for example)?

Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: There are some pretty murky grey areas, but in general, I find comp titles are the easiest gage of whether or not a book is in the proper category. If you’re appealing to readers of Rick Riordan, then you’re probably not adult, just as SJM  shouldn’t be comp’d for middle grade. Voice is a less concrete element that can give away YA masking as MG, but sometimes, it’s as simple as content/character age—though even that can be more complicated than you think (stares in 14yo.) I think the best trick is to read widely, know your audience, and make an informed decision. Even though a book can have crossover potential, it still needs to be categorized for marketing purposes. 

J elle

J.Elle: This is usually a thematic choice. I find books on immediate family and/or friendship more often in MG. And in YA, I see more coming of age stories, heavier emphasis on romance, etc. I examine what the story is about at its core, what challenges the main character faces and whether that is more relatable to a teen or preteen. 

BK

Brittany Kelley: Oh, good question. I think upper MG and lower YA can be sticky, but when it needs to switch from YA to Adult or Adult to MG, it’s obvious. Sometimes it’s that the subject matter would play better to a different audience, sometimes it’s the voice, sometimes the characters. It really depends. 

 

Any other tips on thinking like a mentor/agent?

Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: My agent always tells me to wait at least 24 hours before responding to suggested changes. This stops knee-jerk defensiveness and helps you think more critically about what you do/don’t agree with; it’s also helped me process criticism on a less personal level, so I don’t want to crawl into a hole and never come out. As a mentor, I’m always thinking about how we can make the strongest parts of a manuscript shine, and I think that’s useful to keep in mind as a writer, too: What do you love most about this book? If there are parts you don’t love, are they really necessary? 

J elle

J.Elle: Never stop being a student yourself. In my opinion, you never “arrive” as a critiquer. And there’s peace in that for me. There’s a pressure in “having it all figured out” and I don’t want any of that lol. Storytelling is also always evolving. The books written ten years ago are much different structure and pacing wise than the ones we see now. So, keep reading and learning and enjoy that process. Forget about trying to “arrive.” Take pleasure in doing what you can with the tools you have at the time. That goes for your own writing and anyone else’s you’re mentoring.

BK

Brittany Kelley: I’m going to say something controversial, so don’t @ me. Or do, whatever. I think writers need to be brutally honest.

Not with each other, but with themselves. If you’ve received 100 rejections, something isn’t working. THAT DOES NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO SHELVE YOUR PROJECT. Or maybe it does. But it probably means your pages fall apart, that your pacing or tension dies, or that you’ve got some inconsistencies. It means you need to be real with yourself and cut the fat.

Do I write what I want? Absolutely. Do I also have to think about what has the best chance of selling and writing to market? Yes. Does that make me less artistic? Maybe? Do I care? No. My goal is to write books -and help my mentee write books- that people can’t put down. That people want to buy. And that means thinking about what is selling and why.

 

With this mentor critique knowledge, how long did it take to be instinctual or do you still have to think about it as you’re reading and critiquing your own work?

Mary Averling 1Mary Averling: Gah, I don’t really know! I’m extremely critical of my own work, and my knowledge has just gradually piled up over many, many years of pulling manuscripts apart. I’ve reached a point where I can distance myself critically from a MS, whether it’s my own or a mentee’s, and I do think instinct plays a pretty big part. But then, most of my writing/editing process comes down to wild, vague flailing. Where do you get your ideas? What is your book about? Why doesn’t this scene make sense? WHO KNOWS?

J elle

J.Elle: My writer brain and my editor brain are two different people. And they are not friends. LOL. I write like a writer and sure my instincts help me from making some of the mistakes I made before. But, I still make new ones.  That’s just part of the process of growing as a writer. When I put on my editor hat and read my stuff, I go through and comment, chop it,  burn it down, approaching it soberly as I would anyone’s work. Then I put back on my writer hat, cry a little, and dig in. And with the next book, I repeat the process. I don’t believe in a perfect first (or second or third or fourth, et al) draft. But, I mean, I don’t believe in perfection, period. I just do the best I can at that moment, in that season. 

And honestly, it’s quite freeing.  
BK

Brittany Kelley: I laughed out loud at this question. I am constantly questioning myself, my skills, and always thinking about it. I think it might have become a bit more natural with each book I finish, but I literally have a massive checklist I wring my manuscripts through as I draft and revise. 

Jessica Lewis

Jessica Lewis: I still have to think about it with my own work!! It’s SO much harder to be objective about your own books, so usually I’ll get a CP to go through this process with me! I’m always looking for new methods/tips/tricks, and if I find any, I add it to my mentoring process. But I like to try it out first to see if it works on me haha! 

 

To the mentors who participated, thank you SO much!

If you’re reading this, please make sure to follow these amazing authors on social media and to add their books on Goodreads!

A special shout-out to Katie for this idea and her questions:

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Katie Wilson is a writer, reader, authortuber, wife, and mom. She has contemporary and fantasy ideas for ages middle grade to adult. She’s currently revising and querying two young adult contemporary novels, and was an Author Mentor Match Round 7 mentee. She loves coffee, brownies, binge-watching shows, and music she can dance to.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KWilsonAuthor

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQAO_Ds-QqcAGxguir44VVw

Other links: http://www.katiewilsonauthor.com/links

Mentor_Mary-Averling Mary Averling is a middle grade fantasy writer, Author Mentor Match R7 mentor, and a children’s literature MPhil student at the University of Cambridge. She grew up across England and Canada, never far from the woods. 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/maryaverling

 

Resized_HeadshotBookCoverHIGHRES-1J. Elle is a prolific Black author and advocate for marginalized voices in both publishing and her community. Her debut novel, Wings of Ebony, which sold in a six-figure pre-empt is part of a YA fantasy duology about a Black girl from a poor neighborhood who learns she’s magical. Wings of Ebony is a lead title in Simon & Schuster’s Spring 2021 lineup. Six months later, Elle also sold Park Row Magic Academy, a middle-grade series about an inner-city magic school in the back of a beauty shop, to Bloomsbury and is also a lead title in their 2022 lineup.

From growing up poor to being a first-generation college student, Jess’ tenacity and passion for empowering others dates back to her first career in education, teaching tweens and teens from traditionally underserved areas to fight for their dreams. More recently, as the founder of the Your Story Is Your Power, a creative writing workshop, she mentors high schoolers on the craft of writing and the importance of sharing stories from their perspective.

Elle has worked as an Editorial Intern at P.S. Literary Agency and is currently an intern at Gelfman / ICM Partners. She’s also served as a mentor for both Pitchwars and Author Mentor Match. Elle is the founder and co-host of #MondayMixer, a Twitter chat to engage writers on the platform with networking opportunities, writing questions, and encouragement. In her spare time, you’ll find her cooking up some dish true to her Texas and Louisiana roots, loving on her three littles, and traveling the country with her nomadic spouse. Add Elle’s forthcoming titles on Goodreads: Wings of Ebony and Park Row Magic Academy.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorJ_Elle

Brittany KellyBrittany Kelley writes romantic comedy. She’ll read anything, but is a sucker for enemies to lovers, sudden snowstorms, and the horror of only one bed. In her spare time, she enjoys wrangling her three children, drinking her sometimes still-hot coffee, playing board games with her husband (and winning), and drinking wine with friends. Oh, and books. All the books. Brittany is represented by Marlo Berliner at JDLit.

Site: www.brittanykelleywrites.com 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WhattheKell6

Me__400x400Jessica Lewis is a black author from Alabama. She loves writing YA and adult SFF with mixes of horror. Her books always have a dog in them and she spends most of her free time sleeping or watching HGTV-type shows (they’re really relaxing!).

Add her book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50028605-untitled 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JLew100