Welcome! I’m so excited to be a YA mentor for the WriteMentor 2022 summer program, and I’m thrilled you’re considering me as a potential mentor! After having an amazing experience last year as a mentee, I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and pass it on to another incredible writer who’s looking to take their manuscript and writing craft to the next level.
You can learn more about WriteMentor here, as well as read up on all mentors and their wishlists. Applications open April 7-8, and mentees will be announced April 28.
Ready to learn more about Team Starlight? Read on for more details on why we might be a great fit!
I’m Valerie (Val for casual days, Valerie for fancy days). I left the glories of sunny Southern California in search of adventure in Manhattan, where I’m a public relations director in the video games industry. I graduated magna cum laude from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in ’13, and my time there fueled an endless passion for all forms of storytelling. I was a mentee for the WriteMentor ‘21 program, and a few months later, I signed with my literary agent, Bethany Fulk at Holloway Literary. We’ll be going on submission later this spring!
I lean heavily toward writing YA adventure novels with fantasy elements and morally gray girls who will either kiss you or kill you. Maybe both.
When I’m not writing, you can find me playing video games, baking up new recipes, crying over a book (these characters DESERVE to be HAPPY!), or exploring a new city in search of adventure. You can catch me most on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, or my bookstagram.
Working together on Team Starlight
I’m a big believer in building up writers and helping them build their craft and learn more about the ins and outs of the ever-evolving publishing industry. I’ll always be honest about my feedback, and I tend to have a lot of feedback, but it will always be your story. I want to build you up, not tear you down.
I’m looking for a mentee who’s looking to level up their writing craft and is both collaborative and open to ideas, but also doesn’t say “yes” to every change I recommend. I don’t want my vision of your work — I want your vision of your work to be the best it can be!
While we team up, I’d provide:
- A full developmental edit report and in-line notes
- Help you brainstorm revisions
- Provide edits to your query and synopsis
- Help you set deadlines and next steps
- Honest feedback that helps push you to make your best work
- Advice about the query journey and beyond
- ALL THE CHEERLEADING AND EMOJIS!
For communicating, I prefer email, Slack, Twitter DMs, Instagram, and Google Meet. I personally think calls for initial brainstorming or deeper questions can be best, but I’m open to whatever works best for you.
First, what I’m not looking for….
- Any super archaeological stories in the vein of Indiana Jones, Uncharted, The Mummy or Tomb Raider. I normally LOVE these stories, but they’re too similar to the book I’m subbing with my agent.
- Stories featuring incest, rape, or significant sexual abuse
- Anything with unchecked racist, sexist, fatphobic, homophobic, or transphobic content. If your story is about a character who overcomes these transgressions, that may be a fit, but please considering messaging me first.
- I’m currently not really looking for vampire or werewolf stories. Sorry!
- Manuscripts over 105k words
What I’m looking for/things I love
- YA novels that are primarily either fantasy, adventure, or romance
- Fantasy or adventure stories featuring diverse casts
- Heists. Gimme those heists!
- High-stakes adventures
- Morally gray heroes or anti-heroes
- Girls with swords
- “Unlikable” girls who are ruthless and ambitious
- Stories featuring characters with disabilities
- Stories featuring characters with mental health disorders
- Lots of travel, whether based in the real world or fictional locations
- Romance as a subplot, such as enemies-to-lovers, friends-to-lovers, rivals-to-lovers, or any romance where I NEED to know what’s next
- Villains we secretly love
- Stories with strange magic
- Stories with horror elements, or spooky elements
- Books set in the real world or second-world/fantasy realms. Can be either set in the past or contemporary
- Single POV, dual POV or multi-POV stories
- Stories featuring LBGTQIA+ characters
- Stories at least with some type of happy/happy-ish ending. I love stories that can be dark or light, but I personally love having a little hope at the end, even if it’s a “happy for now” ending
Some of my favorites
Books: Six of Crows, The Wicked King, One of Us is Lying, Queen of Shadows, A Court of Mist and Fury, The Kingdom, The Shadows Between Us, Empire of Storms, Siege & Storm, Crescent City, The Love Hypothesis, People We Meet On Vacation, Cemetery Boys
Video games: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Animal Crossing, Halo 3, Fallout 4, Uncharted 4, Final Fantasy VII Remake, DEVICE 6, Horizon Zero Dawn
Television: Stranger Things, Doctor Who (Tennant & Smith forever), Dark, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Great British Bake Off, WandaVision, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Parks & Recreation, All of Us Are Dead, Yellowjackets
Movies: The Mummy, Jumanji, Ever After, Pride & Prejudice, The Matrix, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Lord of The Rings, John Wick, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Spider-Man: No Way Home
Have questions? Feel free to contact me here or on Twitter (DMs are also open)! As mentioned above, you can learn more about WriteMentor here, as well as read up on all mentors and their wishlists. Applications open April 7-8, and mentees will be announced April 28.