Who Am I?
I’m Spider Man . . .
Okay, really though. I’m Adalyn, and this year I’m a YA mentor!!
A little bit about me:
I’m a YA author represented by Hillary Jacobson at ICM Partners. My debut novel, ALL THE STARS AND TEETH, will be published by Macmillan early 2020. It’s a brutal and magical young adult fantasy, about a vicious princess who must team up with a pirate in order to save her island kingdom from a dark magic. I’m very excited to share it with everyone! You can read more about it and see the full summary here, to get a better sense of what I write.
I’m a former literary agent intern at the Bent Agency. I earned my BA in English Literature, and studied storytelling as an intern on a little show you’ve probably never heard of over at Nickelodeon Animation: The Legend of Korra. It’s the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Another super small show that, again, you’ve probably never heard of.
I worked as the managing editor for a nonprofit newspaper, have reviewed YA ARCs for Little, Brown. Last year I started freelance editing, and have worked on 48 projects in less than 12 months. Several of my former clients have gone on to get agents, which I am VERY PROUD OF ❤ (you all are the best, seriously.)
I’m also just a huge nerd! I grew up on Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and Cardcaptors. My first job was as a techie at a live theater. In college, I took a Lord of The Rings course, a Harry Potter course where I got to have heated debates about the influence of Harry Potter in modern society and dress up as Bellatrix, and wrote numerous essays about Peter Pan and its spinoff stories, like Hook. I sometimes stream on Twitch, playing Starcraft 2, but also play Overwatch! Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite things in the entire world, but I also love Final Fantasy, Zelda, Fire Emblem, and Harvest Moon/Rune Factory games. Anime is also one of the greatest mediums of storytelling, and you can fight me on that.
This is my second year mentoring. Last year, I co-mentored with Tomi Adeyemi, and our mentee (Ciannon Smart) has since signed with an amazing agent, Taylor Haggerty. Here’s a quick note from Ciannon about her experience working with me, that’s totally not meant to bias you at allllll:
“Adalyn was half of my mentor team during last year’s Pitch Wars, and I’d frequently tell her that I think she’s a wizard.
From the beginning, Adalyn got my book. Her insights helped me reshape my entire ms, and not only the plot, but also in expanding my world building, improving my characters, and helping me to clarify a complicated magic system. She’s ambitious, and passionate about projects she loves – must haves for a mentor when embarking on a full ms edit.
When it comes to line edits, her notes were wizardry. Super detailed, she doesn’t shy away from grammatical and formatting notes. It’s important to note that no matter how microscopic her comments are, she’s always sensitive with her feedback. I always felt informed and guided by her suggestions; my knowledge about craft is better because of her.
She’s also incredibly supportive! A trait you’ll appreciate/need during the crazy, and exhilarating, ride that is Pitch Wars! While the competition window didn’t end the way we hoped it would, over the course of the year Adalyn’s constantly been in touch to express her faith in my story, and in me as a writer. She’s taught me a lot about passion and perseverance. Without her, I wouldn’t have received my 7 full manuscript requests out of 8 submissions, and signed with a kick-ass agent all within two weeks of sending my first query letter.
I wouldn’t hesitate to choose her as a mentor again.”
Mentorship Style + Why You Should Choose Me:
I’m incredibly open and honest with my feedback, because I want your story to be as strong as we’re able to make it.
Last year, I asked my mentee for a complete rewrite. Because she agreed with the notes, she changed the tense, added a POV, and completely altered the structure of her plot. But I didn’t ask her to do this alone. My co-mentor and I spent 4.5 hours on our first Skype call with her (yes, really), discussing scene-by-scene changes, and helping her form a new outline. If she wasn’t feeling something or didn’t agree with a change, we took the time to mutually discuss the underlying issue with the plot, and talked it out until we found a solution we were all comfortable with. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.
Ultimately, this is your story, and only you can know what’s best for it. But for whoever I choose as my mentee, I’m going to push you. I’m going to be there every step of the way to provide raw and honest feedback, industry experience, and a critical eye. I’ll totally be a cheerleader, but I’m also going to be a bit tough on you, because I want you to succeed and want to help my mentee get their work into the best possible shape we can get it prior to the agent round and querying.
I’m going to be critically analyzing your characters, world building, plot, pacing, writing, setting, etc etc. For the first edits, we’ll be focusing on big picture developmental changes.( Does the character need more of an arc? Does the magic make sense? How are the mc’s motivations? Is the story gripping and fast-paced? Why not? Would it be stronger if we cut this POV or changed the tense? Would it be stronger if you completely overhauled the second act?) Then, depending on the time it takes the author to edit, we’ll either do another developmental round, or straight into line edits! I . . . am very thorough with line edits. I won’t lie.
There’s a chance I’ll ask my mentee for quite a bit of work, but I’ll be there to offer feedback and advice every step of the way. Phone calls, Skye calls, email, whatever works. For communication, I do prefer email, but I try my best to make myself available for my mentee, and am open to other forms of communication as needed!
I’ve also been part of this contest. Back in 2016, I was a mentee myself (thanks, Brian!). So I know what this contest is like. I understand the pressure and how big it can all feel, because I’ve been there and can relate.
Some of my Favorites:
Books: Anything Leigh Bardugo, Children of Blood and Bone, THUG, Ember in the Ashes, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Starfish, The Name of the Wind, The Scorpio Races, Cinder, The Cruel Prince, Wicked Saints (I know it’s not out yet, but some people have read it, and if you’ve read and can comp this, SUB TO ME. You can also read its Goodreads summary to get an idea of what it’s about).
TV: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Jane the Virgin, The 100, Riverdale, Once Upon a Time, Sailor Moon, Angel, Haikyuu!!, Attack on Titan, and obviously Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.
Shows: Phantom of The Opera, Footloose, Sweeney Todd, Next to Normal, Wicked, Les Mis.
Movies: Anything Miyazaki. Anything Disney, but especially Moana, Aladdin, Mulan, and Lion King. Hook. Avatar, Get Out.
Games: Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy, Starcraft 2, Overwatch, Fire Emblem, Legend of Zelda, Pokemon, Harvest Moon
Now about that wishlist…
What I’m Mentoring:
- YA Fantasy of all types (including contemporary fantasy)
- Unique fairytale retellings (preferably retellings for fairytales that don’t already have a ton of adaptations, or have a unique twist)
- Vampire books
Some stuff I’d love to see (in no order):
- Russian (or Russian inspired) fantasy
- Asian (or Asian inspired) fantasy
- Any fantasy in a non-western setting
- Fantasy in a western setting
- Stories that empower women (gimme your feminist fantasy)
- A whimsical fantasy that reads like a fairytale
- A whimsical fantasy that reads like Howl’s Moving Castle (specifically the film)
- Stories that feel like a Miyazaki movie
- Unique magic systems
- A damn good vampire book
- Elements of mystery
- A story that reads like Full Metal Alchemist (specifically the sibling bonds, unique magic/science, and action scenes)
- A world reminiscent of Baccano! or Amanda Foody’s ACE OF SHADES.
- Something dark and wicked and strange
- Something light, whimsical, and magical
- Gimme your dragon books, with a unique twist
- Strong and engaging characters
- A unique take on witch stories
- Stories that push boundaries
- Unique settings that feel like they’re their own character. Atmospheric
- Empowering female characters. (Note: This does NOT mean that they have to be a bad ass with a sword. They can be squeamish around blood and rather play with lipstick than a sword, and be just as empowering.)
- Complex, morally gray female characters. Give me an Azula. Give me the “unlikable” girls.
- Powerful and diverse girl gangs!
What I’m not looking for:
- Anything other than YA fantasy, retellings, or vampire books.
- Contemporary. Seriously, I only want YA Fantasy or Fairytale retellings. I will not even read the submissions of anything else, so please don’t waste your mentor pick on me!
- Pirate stories. My debut is a high-seas adventure that features pirates, vicious mermaids, and brutal magic. Because it’s what I write, I’m not comfortable working on a story like this with someone else.
- Horror. Weirdness is fine. But I don’t want to have to sleep with my lights on at night.
- Anything over 110k.
- Body shaming
- Stories with toxic relationships that are presented as romantic or sexy
- Stories that pit female characters against each other
- Stories with unchecked sexism
- Books about race or oppressions from the perspective of the oppressor (even if they magically learn their thinking is flawed at the end).
- NA. (New Adult is a category that’s pretty much died in traditional publishing. I would highly suggest making your manuscript either adult or young adult, specifically if you’re interested in traditional publishing.)
Answers to Questions you Might Have:
- Personally, I’m not asking for any trigger warnings to be noted, but thank you for asking.
- Please don’t feel required to note #ownvoices on your work. If you’re not comfortable doing so, don’t.
- Fantasy with light sci-fi elements is fine! I’ll totally read those subs.
- I am definitely open to #OwnVoices stories, of course. I think every single one of us mentors are absolutely open to these stories.
- I feel great about dual POVs, so long as each one has a purpose in the story. And if they’re a POV character throughout basically the whole book, I’d like to see a full character arc. If the story could be told just as well without their perspective, then dual POV is probably unnecessary. But yes, I will take dual POV manuscripts!
- Yes, I feel fine about violence in YA, thank you for asking. And characters who are 18. And more mature language. My debut is upper YA, with an mc who is 18, and there’s . . . uh . . . quite a bit of violence. Also, that thing Kaz does in Six of Crows? I literally laughed out loud with gross delight when he did it. I’m not squeamish!
- That said, I’m also open to fantasy that’s light. Something magical and whimsical just sounds so nice and refreshing. If you comp Howl’s Moving Castle, I want it.
- Yes, I am considering portal fantasy!
- Yes, I will also consider (insert type of fantasy here). All of it, seriously. Any kind of fantasy. Portal, dark, high, a unicorn’s quest to find the kelpie romance of her dreams . . . All of it.
- Yes, I will consider stories told in unique formats.
- Totally open to books with LGBTQ rep
- Yes, I’m open to stories about fairies! SJM and Holly Black shouldn’t be the only ones who get to write them. Send your unique fairy stories my way.
** Special note: **
I am accepting entries from past clients whose full manuscript I have not worked on. If I’ve worked with you on a query, synopsis, outline, partial, or literally anything other than the full manuscript, I will happily consider your entry! That said, those who were past clients will not receive any special treatment. You all are great, but the competition is going to be stiff this year, and I’m only able to take on the one manuscript that resonates with me the most.
Thank you for reading and considering me! I can’t wait to meet you, future mentee!
If you have any questions about my wishlist, please tweet me or keep an eye open for my occasional answer sessions on Instagram stories. I’m @AdalynGrace_ on twitter, and authoradalyngrace on insta, for anyone who has trouble with the links. I’d prefer you asking me questions publicly, so that others can see the answers. But my DMs are also open.