Young Adult Mentor – Fantasy and Paranormal
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, is set to be released February 4, 2020. It’s a brutal and magical young adult fantasy, about a fierce vicious princess who must team up with a mysterious pirate in order to save her island kingdom from a vicious new threat. I’m very excited to share it with everyone! You can read more about it and get a small (very small) sense of my writing style here.
I’m a former literary agent intern at an established NY 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. Two years ago I started freelance editing, and have worked on over 100 manuscripts since then. 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 like to pretend I’m really good at Overwatch (I’m not) and Kingdom Hearts is one of my favorite things in the entire world. 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 third year mentoring in Pitch Wars. My first year, I co-mentored YA fantasy with Tomi Adeyemi, and for my second I went solo! I’ve also mentored with AMM and independently for freelance work. Several of my mentees have gone on to not only get agents, but book deals. One of those past mentees is a mentor this year, too! Hi, Ciannon!
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.
Ultimately though, this is your story, and only you can know what’s truly best for it. But for whoever I choose as my mentee, know that I’m going to push you. I’m going 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. Working under deadline for PW is also a great way to get a taste of what it’s like to work on deadline under a book contract.
I’m going to be critically analyzing your characters, world building, plot, pacing, writing, setting, etc etc. We’ll really 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?) When I read for a second time, hopefully this will be more finessing and editing on a micro level.
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 by way of texts, 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! Because my novel will also be coming out in February, I’m looking for a mentee who is confident in their writing and their ability to dive in and really get their hands dirty with work if it comes down to it. If you feel that you’re a writer who might need a bit more guidance and hand holding to ease into things more slowly, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! But there will be other mentors whose approach is more fitting for that style 🙂 My style tends to be, “here’s a 10-15 page edit letter, let’s discuss, do you have questions? Feel good? Okay cool let me know if you get stuck or end up with more questions, here’s the deadline and I’ll check in on you in a few days!”
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. But I push because I know it can be done and that mentees can crush their manuscripts.
Some of my Favorites:
Books: Leigh Bardugo, Children of Blood and Bone, Ember in the Ashes (those chapter ends, though! So good), Howl’s Moving Castle, Legendary, Red White and Royal Blue, Uprooted, Legendary
TV: Goblin (the K Drama. If you can comp this PLEASEEEEE send to ME.) Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Jane the Virgin, The 100, Sailor Moon, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, She-ra, 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.
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
- Unique fairytale retellings (preferably retellings for fairytales that don’t already have a ton of adaptations, or have a unique twist!)
- Vampire or unique paranormal stories
Some stuff I’d love to see (in no order):
- Asian (or Asian inspired) fantasy (though I’m not the right mentor for Asian stories written by white authors and would prefer ownvoices)
- Any fantasy in a non-western setting
- Fantasy in a western setting
- Stories that empower women (give me your feminist fantasy)
- BROOOOMANCE. I would die for some bromance on par with the one between Goblin and Grim (in the show Goblin)
- A whimsical fantasy with beautiful prose but a plot that bites
- Stories that feel like a Miyazaki movie
- Unique magic systems
- A damn good vampire book (for me to pick a vamp book, the plot has to be truly unique. I’d also love for a non-white vamp book)
- Elements of mystery
- Dark witches
- Tightly structured high fantasy
- Ensemble casts
- 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. Give me those fantasy mobster stories.
- Something dark and wicked and strange
- Something light, whimsical, and magical
- Strong and engaging characters
- 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.
- Boarding School
- Powerful and diverse girl gangs!
- Lovers to enemies
- Something that makes me cry. Note that II would absolutely die for a story that can comp Goblin (whether in theme, characters, romance, bromance, etc. It doesn’t have to be a perfect match). Also would love a fantasy gang/mob story with magic.
What I’m not looking for:
- Anything other than YA fantasy, retellings, or unique paranormal 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.
- Mermaid stories
- Horror. Weirdness and darkness is fine. But I don’t want to have to sleep with my lights on at night.
- Anything over 120k.
- 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).
- I’m not the right mentor for lower YA; I gravitate toward the upper end of YA.
- How your characters are represented is super important to me. I’m not the right mentor for “I’m not like other girls,” girls whose entire role is to antagonize another girl, or problematic leading male characters whose actions remained unchecked throughout the story.
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 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/multiple 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/multi 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 sounds so nice and refreshing.
- 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. BUT I personally would prefer fae stories that are very dark and mature, and skew on the upper end of YA. I’m not the right mentor for lower YA.
** 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 or writing friends I’m familiar with will not receive any special treatment. You all are great, but the competition is fierce 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.
Pitch Wars 2019 Young Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists