From Mentee To Mentor!
Updated: May 11
It's official! I'll be mentoring middle-grade for Author Mentor Match Round 9!
Here's the official list of mentors for this round:
...and here's the schedule:
Aaaaaaaand we're live 🙌🏻
My profile can be found at:
AGENT Emily Forney, BookEnds Literary
WRITES Middle Grade Fantasy
BIO Jenna Yun was born in South Korea, immigrated to the US at 5, and grew up in Washington State. After completing undergrad at UW, graduate studies took her to NY where she earned her Master’s in Clinical Psychology at the New School for Social Research. She then returned home to Washington where she earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Seattle Pacific University. Her training and early experience was in the treatment and assessment of children and adolescents; however, she currently works predominantly with teens and adults. When she’s not working or spending time with her family, Jenna loves writing middle grade and young adult fantasy stories and studying writing craft (she really likes studying, if that wasn’t already clear!). This is her first time mentoring in AMM!
PUBLISHING BACKGROUND I began writing a YA fantasy with the goal of traditional publication in late 2016. That was when I dove into all things writing. I joined SCBWI, drowned myself in both YA novels and craft books, and learned everything I could about publishing. In 2019, I dipped my toes into the querying trenches with my second YA novel—a fantasy re-telling. I’ll admit I didn’t know much about querying back then and I had only just started when I received a couple of full requests and a subsequent offer, which I accepted. However, I parted ways with that agent in 2020 before I was able to go on submission with the book. Afterwards, I tried querying again but found that my heart wasn’t into that novel anymore. So after a bout of writer’s block, I wrote my middle grade novel just in time to submit it to AMM Round 8 in early 2021. By some miracle, Shana Targosz (also mentoring this year!!!) selected my manuscript to mentor and she helped me get my book into shape over the course of about four months. I began querying that book in June 2021 and signed with my agent in October 2021. I’m currently taking revisions slowly due to the upcoming holidays but plan to go on submission in January 2022 (eek!).
EXPERIENCE As an avid student of both writing craft and the art of revisions, I’ve learned so much from brilliant mentors, CPs, and workshops/conferences led by experts in the field. My plan while on sub is to pass along all of that amassed knowledge to my future mentee! While this will be my first time in an official mentor role, I’ve worked with CPs through every stage of their writing journeys all the way to agent signing. I’ve also been in the position of a mentee, so I understand what it’s like on the other side. I get the rollercoaster of emotions, the pressure, the expectations (!!!) that come with being a mentee because I’ve been there! Beyond that, I’ve been through the query trenches twice with very different approaches and experiences. If we work together, I believe you’ll benefit from all that I’ve learned—the wins and losses both.
OVERVIEW The reason I chose to mentor is two-fold and simple. Firstly, I want to give back to the writing community that has given SO much to me—truly. Secondly, I believe a big part of why and how I’m here is because of the BIPOC writers who came before me. They opened doors, made space, lifted others up…they existed. I want to be a part of that in any and every way I can.
I love reading and writing speculative fiction, so I’d love to see stories that fall into that broad category! Contemporary is great as long as there’s at least a touch of magic or the supernatural. I’m a sucker for horror, ghosts, monsters, and (above all) witches, so if your book has any of those elements, I’d love to see it! But above all, I’m eager for stories featuring BIPOC characters written by BIPOC authors. These stories do not need to be based in non-Western settings or focused on cultural themes of any kind (although that sounds great too!). In fact, I’m hoping to see some stories about Asian American kids doing what Asian American kids do. Which is to say, I want to see them as the main character of a fantastic story—any fantastic story.
Also, if you have mental health rep in your book and could benefit from a mental health professional’s input, I could help with that!
I love tropes! Found family, misfits, enemies to friends, underdogs—all of it! I don’t think I’ve met a trope I didn’t like as long as it was done well.
I 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 I have a day job and 3 kids (this includes my mini-Goldendoodle who is very much the baby of the family) that keep me super busy during the day. But it turns out that being busy makes me super productive! I’m very responsive to emails and texts during the day (PST) and have greater availability to voice or video chat in the evenings or weekends. I’m willing to adapt to my mentee’s communication preferences and needs as long as these are communicated.
In terms of editing style, I prefer honesty above all else—about what needs work as well as what is already working well. I like asking questions and love talking things out! Also, I should probably note that I’m more Planner than Pantser, but I’m not rigid on this.
We’ll probably kick off the mentorship with a zoom call followed by an extensive edit letter. After the first round of revisions, I’ll ask my mentee to run the manuscript by CPs/beta readers before returning it to me. Then I’ll give the manuscript another read and provide another round of feedback, most likely in the form of line edits. After that, I’d love to provide support pre-, during, and post-querying. I really hope that my mentee and I can continue on as supportive writing friends long after the mentorship!
My ideal mentee knows their story inside and out but is also able to step back and consider feedback as objectively as possible. They understand that revision is a challenging process and aren’t afraid to make changes, but has the confidence to speak up if they have strong feelings about a suggestion. Overall, honest communication is very important to me and necessary for a beneficial/rewarding mentorship experience, so my ideal mentee won’t shy away from talking things out.
Dark and creepy atmospheres
Chosen one stories with POC protagonists
Quirky stories that don’t fit a well-defined mold
Aunties with strong personalities
Underdog stories where the MC is an underdog but NOT BECAUSE of their ethnicity or gender identity
Thriving BIPOC characters
Thriving LGBTQIA characters
Mental health rep
Commercial stories with a literary bent
DO NOT SEND ME:
Books written in verse.
Strong romance/crush subplot.
Terminal illness on the page.
Studio Ghibli movies (My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kitty’s Delivery Service), Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Hilda, The Babysitter’s Club (which I realize isn’t fantasy but I love it so).
Eva Evergreen Semi-Magical Witch, A Wolf for a Spell, The Verdigris Pawn, The Jumbies, Ghost Squad, Maya and the Rising Dark, The Last Fallen Star, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, The Bone Garden, The Forest of Stars, A Wrinkle in Time, The Giver. I realize this is a very eclectic mix, but I do enjoy the entire range of fantasy from sweet and whimsical to dark and creepy.