Dreaming in Character

Gwynne Jackson


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Did you know I also love astrology?

I’ve been studying astrology since I was a child, so that makes it a lot of years. While I will never call myself an astrologer, I do have an understanding of the basics. They’ve helped me so much during many parts of my life. All that time, I’ve felt the most direct link to astrology by studying the moon, which sign it’s in, and how that affects us all.

The moon transits (stays in) each sign for two to two and a half days each month. I’ve got some simple explanations of my understanding of the moon in different signs, and how that’s affected me. Read on to learn more!

Moon in Aries

Aries, the ram, is ruled by Mars, the god of war. Think bellicose. Think head-butting. Think extremely impulsive. Think rash and reckless and impatient. Think infantile, because Aries as the first sign is the infant of the zodiac. People are going around being very egocentric! It’s by the force and example of the moon. Warriors, warrior maidens. Headaches, head injuries, these things abound under an Aries moon because Aries rules the head.

Emotionally we are revved up and stark naked under an Aries moon. We have no patience with others or with ourselves. We want to get things done for the sake of getting them done. We will deal with the consequences of our actions another time but today, we act before we think. And that’s okay because we know we’re right. We are headstrong. We butt heads over concepts, ideas, actions, inactions. But we can also accomplish great and miraculous things with all that Mars energy! We just have to focus it.

Moon in Aries will not make us diplomats. It will lead us into battles. It also makes us courageous and decisive. It makes us want to take the bull by the horns and rattle sabers. It favors being athletic and it favors brainstorming, but it will sap our patience and thoughtfulness. It’s explosive. Sometimes literally.

Aries rules the first house of the zodiac–the house of self. Of ego. Of me. It also rules the head, and being headstrong.

Moon in Taurus

When the moon moves from Aries into the sign of Taurus, the bull, it brings with it a whole new set of challenges and delights. The forceful energy of the past few days will mellow and it’s a good time to nest and nestle. Patience will return, and the ability to proceed with diligence. Think of Taurus the bull moving steadily forward on feet that look anything but light.

Taurus is ruled by Venus; that brings with it a greater degree of harmony and a sense of beauty. It’s a good time to rest and regenerate, to get cozy. It’s also a time when you might just notice yourself being stubborn. That’s the famed Taurean reticence at work. No one gets to push you around during this transit unless you feel like being pushed around!

Taurus rules the second house. That’s possessions, self-esteem, property. Taurus also rules the neck and shoulders.

Moon in Gemini

MOON IS IN GEMINI! EVERYBODY TALK AND WRITE!

Seriously if you can’t stop communicating you know why–oh, look, over there, something really really shiny! I’m sorry, you were saying something? Gotta run.

But really, folks, this is Gemini we’re talking about. The third house, the house of communication, of sociability. Gemini is communication but it’s also distraction, so if you have someplace to be and you head out only to find yourself suddenly going somewhere else that seemed that much more attractive, you can blame it on the moon.

It’s a great two and a half days for brainstorming, for bouncing ideas off one another, for WRITING, for talking, for catching up. But expect the distractions; Gemini = twins and during this transit you will always find yourself wanting to do more than one thing at a time. Go with the flow. It’s an air sign. It’s easy. It tumbles here and there, back and forth. It’s too much caffeine on an empty stomach, it’s light and fluffy like a breeze, it’s not going to be particularly deep but that doesn’t mean interactions won’t and can’t be meaningful.

Gemini rules the lungs. The throat. Your breath. As the sign associated with the third house of communication and intellect, it practically begs us to speak our truth.

Moon in Cancer

Have you been feeling a little touchy? A little emotional? Craving the comforts of home and family and friends? Or maybe you’ve been on the flip side of the Cancerian moon: giggling uncontrollably? Finding things a little loony? Have you been craving seclusion? Safety and safety nets? Think of that little crab curling up into its shell and you’ll get it about the moon transiting Cancer.

But mom, you say, although you know deep in your bosom that I am not your internet mama, my tummy hurts. Well, that’s a part of the body ruled by the sign of Cancer. We get a little needy, a little crabby. Okay, maybe a lot crabby. Maybe we all need a shot of moon in Leo, but that transit always follows in a couple of days. Hang on and you’ll feel like venturing out into the spotlight again.

Moon transiting Cancer brings us a need to nest, to be at home. It’s the sign of the fourth house of the zodiac, which rules home and family. We get sentimental and sensitive and please don’t try to get me out of bed too early or I will snap at you with my claws. Let me stay close to home, or close to my friends. Don’t make me go out and be good with strangers. Let me bask in the concept of being a total homebody, and I will be so happy during this transit. If I can’t be at home, put me by the ocean (Cancer is a water sign).

Cancer is in charge of the body’s midsection (chest to belly). It rules the fourth house of home, hearth, and family.

Moon in Leo

Hello. I am the moon. I’ve just moved into the sign of Leo, and aren’t you glad about that?

Point me to the stage. Let me go wild. Get me out there, let the sun shine on me, I fear nothing!

I am: expressive, creative, dynamic, self-centered, fantastic, fun to be around, in the spotlight, on. Adventurous, flirtatious, dynamic. Let’s play!

Leo lords it over the fifth house, which is the house of creativity, passion, and pleasure. For this moon’s transit, you might feel like you’re in charge (and if you’re not, you might feel that you damn well ought to be!). You’ll be more confident, more dramatic, and maybe just a little bit louder than usual! Have fun with it.

Leo rules the heart. You probably already figured that part out!

Moon in Virgo

Got your medicine cabinet stocked up? Got your first-aid supplies with you at all times? Feeling a little picky, a little judgmental, a little irritable? Maybe your stomach’s bothering you a little bit, and maybe you have a need to have things stacked up neatly or put away just so. Finding fault with things wherever you look? Seeing a job that could have been done better? Annoyed about things in general?

Don’t sweat it, it’s just the moon transiting the sign of Virgo. It’s a time for editing and fault-finding, for undertaking things that seem routine, for cleaning and cleansing, for detoxing and neatening, for gardening, de-cluttering, and analysis, for work and seeing effort from that work.

Virgo’s an Earth sign and rules the sixth house, which represents work and employment, but it also rules the quality of our health and our physical well-being. So now you know why work and diet go hand-in-hand, I guess! Since it’s a good transit to be cleaning up and straightening up. And hopefully not too stressed!

Astrologically speaking, Virgo rules the abdomen and digestive system. Work and diet, friends!

Moon in Libra

My back hurts. Then again, maybe it doesn’t. On the other hand…

The Moon in Virgo transit is over and we’re on to the beautiful airiness of Libra. Where the past few days were all about detail and precision, crankiness and irritability, the next few should be about… well… wait, maybe I… did I start the right way? What is it about Moon transiting Libra again? Oh, right, are you sure? Yeah? Positive? Okay. Indecision.

Libra’s symbol is the scales, and you know what happens when you try to weigh something on a scale, right? It dips one way, then another, then the first, then the second, until finally it evens out. Like a seesaw, we go back and forth, weighing all our options, until we finally make a decision. Phew! It’s a good thing I didn’t go for a pedicure today, or I’d still be deciding what color to paint my toenails! All this is a long-winded way of saying that what Libra’s really about, besides indecision, is balance. They’re flip sides of the same coin, right? I’m unsure about that metaphor… just kidding.

With Moon transiting Libra, we flock to partnerships and friends like flies to honey (or is that like moths to flames?). We’ll be more sociable, feel better around other people, reach out where we didn’t the past few days.

For those counting the twelve houses of the zodiac, Libra rules the seventh house, which is the house of partnership (and for all you romantics out there, it’s also the house of marriage). So if you feel a pull toward that kind of thing, don’t worry, it’s just the moon doing its thing. Libra is also the sign in charge of our kidneys and lower back.

Moon in Scorpio

I don’t know why all the astrology sites talk about how the moon transiting Scorpio means an emotionally difficult time. We Scorpios are not that difficult. Just secretive. So what does it really mean for the moon to be in Scorpio? It means you get to be a little bit of a detective. You’ll be focused and intense. Devoted to a cause. Passionate about everything, from the color of your shoes to politics to world hunger. It’s just the way it goes!

Scorpio rules the eighth house, which is the house of secrets. Of death, which is merely the flip side of transformation and change. It makes me wonder why people are so afraid to really delve and get to the bottom of whatever’s going on. Of course, there’s that famous Scorpio intensity, which can be intimidating. Hmm, looks like the eighth house should be the house of I. But not like the first, which is me me me: the eighth house imbues a sense of self that encompasses more than just ego. All the mysteries of the world get incorporated into it, in some way or another, and it’s fun to explore.

So the moon’s in Scorpio: get out and do something detailed, something you love that takes concentration and focus, something that takes odd twists and turns. It’s an emotionally creative time! Don’t let the whole Scorpio thing frighten you: push yourself and you’ll realize you have a lot more inner strength and drive than you thought. Behind all that intensity, you might find buried treasure. (Now I sound like an astrologer, so it’s time to stop!)

As ruler of the eighth house, Scorpio is in charge of regeneration. Death, taxes, sex…all those minor things in life. Really, it’s a house of change and how you’ll deal with change. This sign also rules the reproductive system and the hips.

Moon in Sagittarius

No, no, no, I got it, let me get it for you. Want a cup of coffee? I’ll buy: the moon’s in Sagittarius.

I used to have a Sagittarius friend who was about the single friendliest person I’ve ever met. Wide open like a book, honest to a fault, generous, kind, adorable. He had the uncanny ability to call or show up just when I needed a call or a shoulder, and he always did everything with a smile on his face and never expected to be compensated for it. In so many ways, he’s the ultimate Sagittarius. I like to call them the BFFs of the zodiac, the ones everyone automatically adores.

So the moon is transiting the sign of Sagittarius: what does that mean? It means we’re prone to generosity and kindness ourselves, to wanting to be helpful. We’re confident and happy and travel suddenly sounds really really good to us. Looking at it from another perspective, we’ll be prone to clumsiness of the I-stepped-on-the-rake-and-the-pole-hit-me-in-the-forehead variety. Open a drawer to find something and pull it out all the way, and everything ends up on the floor. That kind of clumsiness: pick up a bag of groceries and the handle pops off and there go your groceries rolling down the street.

Fortunately, the sense of openness and generosity always outweigh the clumsiness factor, in my humble opinion. It’s an active transit where we’re going to want to get out and do things, so enjoy it while it lasts. The next moon transit’s bound to bring us back down to earth.

Sagittarius rules the ninth house of the zodiac, the house of philosophy, religion, learning and understanding. In the body, it corresponds to the thighs.

Moon in Capricorn

When the moon’s in Capricorn we’ll tend to be analytical and picky, but we’ll also be persevering. If we start feeling a little rules-based and formal, a little strict, a little remote and reserved, that’s just the Capricorn moon transit at work.

Capricorn is honestly one of the most practical signs of the zodiac, one of the hardest-working. This moon transit is a great time for business, for long-term planning, to put to practical application all the things you’ve been thinking about doing but were too busy to get around to. Let’s think about Capricorn, the goat: what do goats do? They climb. They push aside all obstacles in their paths and get to the top of the hill, where they can stand silhouetted against the sunlight and look down on all the rest of us who got too distracted to do the hard work it took to get there. If you get the sudden urge to get up and get things done, that’s the moon talking to you.

Astrologically speaking, Capricorn rules the tenth house, and that’s the house of hard work, of career, of wisdom, of rulership or of being ruled, and primarily of ambition and authority. We want things to be right. We’ll be precise like we were when the moon transited the sixth house, but not just because we want to be precise. It’s because we have to be. When the moon transits this house, we need to be correct, looked up to, and respected. It’s also where we’ll feel (and accept) the consequences of our actions, so in some sense it’s a house of karma. It’s a great place to be productive, and it’s also a place of palpable change.

Capricorn’s spot on the body is the knees.

Moon in Aquarius

The moon transiting Aquarius makes me look forward to going to sleep at night because it usually gives me the most amazing dreams! Global dreams, dreams on a huge scale, dreams of entire universes or giant groups of people. That’s because Aquarius is such a global sign that already forces people to look beyond themselves and their own personal good to the fortune of society as a whole. Couple that with the emotional pull of the moon, and voila. Crazy dreams.

This transit also makes us want to branch out, to learn, to collaborate on a large scale. We want to be out and about and doing things because at heart even though it’s a sign that loves to investigate and dissect things, Aquarius is a lot more sociable than its neighbors Capricorn and Pisces. But… we’ll want to do everything our own way.

“Don’t tell me what I can’t do” is kind of a hallmark here. Moon transiting Aquarius gives us an increased desire for independence, independent thought, freedom. But it kicks subordination’s ass. It’s great for reading, for learning, for pursuits of all things scientific and all things that could possibly have a beneficial impact on the world as a whole. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the greatest breakthroughs in scientific research took place with the moon in Aquarius. But I’d also venture to guess that none of those things were done under the gun or to please a boss or because some deadline said they had to be done. Moon in Aquarius demands a lot more freedom and individuality than that.

On the other hand (I know! Classic AIR SIGN saying, revisit Libra if you need proof), Aquarius is an air sign so our emotions will tend to be less… volatile and more curious. Less personal and more distanced. One thing about Aquarius is that emotions and Aquarius are like oil and water: they don’t mix. It doesn’t mean Aquarians don’t have emotions; that’d be ridiculous. But it means that they tend to hold them back a step, an inch, with just enough detachment so that the things that might bother someone else wouldn’t even make the Aquarius flinch. They’d be able to look at it and go… “huh, interesting!” where others might look at it and scream and claw for what they thought they wanted.

When the moon transits Aquarius, we have the chance to step back a little from the serious depth of emotion and take things a little less critically. A little more analytically. It’s a blessing, because the next transit, Moon in Pisces, is going to bring emoting back in a big way.

Rounding out that big old Zodiac chart, Aquarius rules the eleventh house, and that’s the Big Funhouse of Friends, of Social Climate, of Original Living, of Fortune (if the eleventh house was a tarot card, it’d be the Wheel of Fortune). So what’s it mean, what’s it mean? Well, the eleventh house rules doing things in groups. On a societal level. On a global societal level. My favorite description of the eleventh house is “the playground where we meet the world.” Isn’t that beautiful? It’s creative collaboration rather than individual shine.

Look to the shins and ankles when you look for Aquarius’s effect on the body.

Moon in Pisces

You ever known you know something, but you don’t know how you know it? It’s just gut, just intuition? That’s the moon transiting Pisces. You ever feel emotions running under your feet like a fast-moving stream? That’s moon in Pisces. You ever feel psychic? That’s moon in Pisces. You ever feel in tune with deep dark mystical things? That’s moon in Pisces, starting to get the picture?

This is a time when we really have to pay attention to our feelings and to those of others. We’ll actually be a lot more open to other peoples’ feelings and want to help. We might be feeling magnanimous, generous to a fault, self-sacrificing. Emotional much more than logical, and very imaginative! There’s an enhanced sensitivity to drugs and alcohol during this transit. We might go out of our way to be near the water, or to meditate, or to be involved in creative pursuits like theater or film. Anything spiritually-based will catch our attention during this transit.

Pisces rules the twelfth house, which is the house of the subconscious and of the spiritual. Of dreams and intuition. So pay attention to dreams and to gut feel during this transit. It also rules the feet.

And now you know. There are many resources out there for learning which sign is transiting the moon at any given time, and many more detailed versions of this little guide to moon transits. If you have a favorite, please share it in the comments.


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Writing is an Endless Staircase

When I first started writing, I did it for enjoyment. I was a kid, and my sisters and I wrote plays we’d act out for our parents. The ones I can remember either had to do with Broadway musicals (our parents were great fans), Star Trek, or The Man From U.N.C.L.E. As time went on I veered away from writing as an expression of my own creativity. I played music, took guitar lessons, tried my best to excel at visual arts. As the middle child, I was very quiet. I spent a lot of time up in my own imagination. My dreams and desires were every bit as vital as those of my sisters, but got less attention.

That’s a mixed blessing. On the one hand, pay attention to me! On the other, I always was and continue to be a highly private person. Sharing my hopes and dreams isn’t something I shout about.

Of course, I eventually circled back around to writing. I’ve got more completed manuscripts under my belt than I want to count in public, and just the other night had a ridiculously fun romcom-esque dream featuring one of my characters (hi, JB!). My brain is a busy place!

For the past couple of years, writing has not been easy. I’ve had some good ideas and some bad ideas, and I’ve written most of a couple of books, but haven’t felt like finishing them. Some of my reasons for doing this are personal and look up! I’m a private person, I’m not going to talk about those! But I can feel the writing energy slowly sinking back in. I will get to that point where I can’t not write a story.

This brings me to the point of this post: for me, writing is an endless stairway with many, many landings. We reach one plateau, and then we have to stop for a while. Finished a manuscript: one landing. Got it edited: another. Started querying! Got requests! Got rejections. Signed with an agent. Went on submission. Sold short stories! Got spoiled for short stories by writing in too much depth! I’m certainly not the only person who sees this ladder we climb to writing success as always reaching for but never quite grabbing that brass ring.

I’ve said before that writing for traditional publication is one career we can pick that doesn’t have a clear trajectory to success. We can write the best book in the world, but it may not be what the world wants to read. Or to put in print. In most careers there are definite rungs on that ladder–you put in your time, you do the work in a specific way, and you get that coveted promotion. I don’t know a single author who feels they are on top of the world, or that the world is their writing oyster. But I’m not here to talk about anyone else’s hopes, dreams, or goals.

How do you define success as a writer? My version, at least at the moment, is markedly different from that of many of my fellow writers. Right now, my goal is to keep climbing that writing staircase, reach the next landing, then sit down and rest on it until the next one beckons. And the one after that, and the one after that. But always, always, I go back to my roots: I do this for the sheer love of writing. There are stories I need to tell, and only I can write them.

I leave you with my writing mantra: there are stories for every reader, and readers for every story. Keep climbing that staircase. Even if it’s endless, who knows what we might discover along the way?


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Not This Year

I am not mentoring Pitch Wars this year. I’m not burned out on it; I didn’t apply and get rejected. I still owe the entire Pitch Wars experience a huge debt of gratitude going all the way back to 2015. For the record, I love mentoring! It’s one of my favorite things to do! But this year, I’ve got some health issues to deal with and was expecting to be scheduled for surgery right in the middle of the submission period. So I opted not to apply.

This week, I learned that due to COVID’s reemergence, all such surgeries are on hold. Which is fine, because I’d much rather not be exposed to any virus at all in the hospital (and yes, I’m fully vaccinated and have been since the moment I was eligible). They’re assessing the situation week by week and will let me know once it’s safe again.

So I’m not having surgery right now and I’m not mentoring right now. What am I doing? WRITING. If you don’t follow my other social media, you may not be aware that this summer, I signed with Jemiscoe Chambers-Black at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. I’m delighted to be working with her. Her revision notes for my manuscript were stellar, and I’m looking forward to a long and fruitful working relationship.

I realize that this blog has been sorely neglected. Most days, I believe that blogging is a lost art form and definitely a thing of the past. But while my 2020 Pitch Wars wishlist has been getting steady attention, I haven’t added much in the way of new content. Time to remedy that!

This might be of interest to those of you writing romance and women’s fiction: All The Kissing was dissolved last month. But never fear! Due to the love for our #FridayKiss weekly twitter event, a subset of the admin group is still active. We’ve got a lovely group over on Facebook imaginatively called Friday Kiss. Come on over and join us! Our charter is to focus on the craft of writing romance and women’s fiction. There are plenty of other groups available for those interested in different aspects of writing as a career. We share tips and tricks, help with pitches / query letters / synopses / chapters, help people find beta readers and critique partners, and in general believe that paying it forward is the best thing we can do. If that sounds like your cup of tea or coffee, come join us. Our goal is to be a positive and helpful place for those at all stages of their romance/wf-writing careers.


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My 2020 Pitch Wars Wish List, GIF-style

I am a 2020 Adult Pitch Wars Mentor

I am so excited to be back mentoring in the Adult category for Pitch Wars this year! Welcome to my 2020 wish list.

In case you don’t know, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program for unagented writers. Agented/published authors or industry interns spend three months working with one author to get their manuscript in the best shape they can, ahead of an agent showcase. All the information you need can be found right here.

Click here if you prefer a text-only version of this wishlist.

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Tom Petty singing "The Waiting is the Hardest Part"

Tom Petty: “The waiting is the hardest part”

You’ve been following along on the hashtag, checked out the forums, communed with other writers. Maybe you’ve even started your own list of potential mentors. Waiting is hard, y’all! But wait no longer: the mentor blog hop is finally here, so you can see what we’re all looking for. Read along with me from top to bottom, bottom up, sideways, or whichever way suits your fancy. You can always follow The Ramones to the links that’ll lead you right to whichever part rocks your socks. You’ll be able to navigate to all the 2020 adult mentor wishlists at the bottom of this post.

Hey Ho, Let's Go!

Line art of The Ramones: “Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!”

About MeI Want…I Don’t Want…My Ideal MenteeHow I WorkGot Questions?

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Please allow me to introduce myself…

I’m a man of wealth and…oh, wait, that’s Mick Jagger. I’m Gwynne.

Mick Jagger & Keith Richards asking Homer Simpson if he'd like to join them on stage

From The Simpsons. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to Homer: “How would you like to join us onstage?”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creating worlds and characters to inhabit them. If you’ve run across All The Kissing (ATK), a community by and for romance writers, you’ve probably seen me there ( I’m one of the co-founders). I’m also the one to thank, blame, or cheer for the #FridayKiss prompts on Twitter.

After failing to make the cut in 2015, I was chosen as a Pitch Wars mentee in 2016 (I might have danced in celebration).  In 2018 I was a Golden Heart® finalist in contemporary romance. Last year was my first year mentoring Pitch Wars. I loved it so much, I’m back for Round Two.

I’m a USA west coast person, in case you’re concerned about time zones. If you want to know even more about me, feel free to check out last year’s wish list or my Pitch Wars mentor page. Or just nose around my blog. There’s a fairly eclectic assortment of things to read. And if you’re curious about what I mentored last year, here it is!

You can also find me on Pitch Wars Live on YouTube on September 18, and on the #askmentor Twitter chats on September 12 and September 16. You can find the full schedule right here.

In case you haven’t yet figured it out…

 I want YOU to want ME!

Robin Zander from Cheap Trick: I Want You to Want Me

Robin Zander (Cheap Trick): “I want you to want me.”

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Bring it on home to me

What do I want? World peace, harmony, an end to hunger and disease, a better environment, to start with. For Pitch Wars, though, you should understand that first and foremost, I believe that love is love is love. I’m LGBTQ+, #ownvoices, and diversity-friendly.

I am only accepting manuscripts in the Adult category. Like last year, I am open to a lot! I adore ghosts. If you have one in your story and it fits one of my requested genres, send it to me! I also really love magical realism and elements of the fantastic, in any genre.

Sam Cooke onstage

Sam Cooke onstage

Because I’m a rebel (nothing less would make sense with a name like #TeamRebelCats), the genres I’m accepting this year are listed in reverse alphabetical order: Please know that I am equally open to all of these genres.

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WOMEN’S FICTION

Heads up, women’s fic writers! Do you have a story that doesn’t read like an autobiography and that overflows with an undercurrent of strong emotion? Please send it to me. I love women’s fiction that’s cathartic, strong, with a defined plot and character arc. If I can understand your main character and her motivation—if you make me want to root for her success, no matter how flawed she might be—that’s the book for me. My favorite main characters in this genre can be anything from insecure to strong, quirky to traditional, but there has to be a viable emotional character arc. I need to see your characters grow. My preference is for deep single POV, and while the ending doesn’t have to be party-all-the-time, I’d like something on the more optimistic side. I am less likely to go for family saga WF than a story focused more on the individual or on a featured relationship, whether it’s friendship, siblings, or romantic entanglement.

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URBAN FANTASY

You know what I love best about urban fantasy? When it blends the commonplace with the magical in a seamless way. My favorites are books where the worlds are provided as-is, without apology and often without much explanation. I’m good with sprites, fae, dream characters, elves, spectres, shifters, warlocks and witches, mages—you name it. As long as the world-building and magic are rock solid, I’ll happily read it. As with all my other requests, I definitely want to see emotional growth for your character(s).

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SCIENCE FICTION

I’m only interested in soft science fiction. I want to be more (or at least equally) swept away by the story than by the science in it. I don’t necessarily need to know the whys and hows, only that the technology works and makes sense within the scope of the story. I’m a big Star Trek fan and have been all my life, so things on that level, where the focus is less on the precise temperature required to sustain the warp core and more on “seek out new life, new civilizations, boldly go”  will appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong–I love it when people geek out about science! I do it myself all the time. But when it gets too technical, I lose interest. I’m also a big fan of fun and light-hearted science fiction where the reader can go along for a fast-paced ride. So…less doom-and-gloom apocalypse, more “Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!”

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ROMANCE

There are rules to romance novels. I know because I’ve tried and failed to break them. If you’re writing romance, your story needs to follow the romance arc, and the romance must be the central plotline of the book. If it doesn’t end in either a HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happy for now), it’s not a romance. Please don’t break my heart by misrepresenting the genre.

In general with romance novels, I do not love the alpha male archetype. You would be better served bringing your Navy SEALs, motorcycle club leaders, and all those other bad boys to a different mentor. However, I do want all your strong, opinionated, flawed, sassy female characters! I love almost all the tropes, but am especially fond of enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers. I’m good with any heat level from sweet to steamy, but I’m not the right mentor for inspirational romance or erotica.

I’m only accepting these romance sub-genres:

  • Contemporary Romance. I love contemporary romance. It’s my comfort food. As long as your characters are believable within their tropes (I know, how is a sexy single lonely kind-hearted non-cutthroat billionaire believable?), there isn’t much I want to exclude from this category. However, I’m a former stage manager and roadie so if you’re writing about rock musicians or the music industry, you’d better know what you’re talking about and your storyline needs to be extremely unique. I do adore contemporaries set in unusual places. If you’ve got a rarely-used highly atmospheric setting, I am all for it. Haunted houses, anyone?
  • SciFi Romance. Send me your space pirates, your post-apocalyptic frenemies, your androids, your unusual scientists. As long as the romance is the main crux of the story, I like just about any near-future or futuristic setting. I prefer soft science in my science fiction. I don’t need to know the quark count or a detailed explanation of why transporting matter works. I only need to be able to accept that it does.
  • Fantasy Romance. The same world-building rules apply for me here as they do for SciFi romance. If the romantic arc is highlighted against a backdrop of a unique world, and I don’t need a glossary to understand your fantasy terminology or a family tree to follow the lineage, send it on!
  • Historical Romance. I love a good historical, and am a stickler for details in this sub-genre. Unless it’s steampunk, I prefer that my historicals aren’t filled with anachronisms. Historical romance goes beyond Regency for me, although I love a good ballroom- and intrigue-filled tale. Witty banter is a must! I am not accepting Highlander or Viking romance, or historicals written in dialect.
  • Western Romance. Bring on the cowboys and cowgirls. Cowdogs, cowcats, modern-day quirky western characters, especially the ones stuck somehow in or on the past. My favorite western romances have settings as important as the characters—I want to feel immersed in the wide-open western space.
  • New Adult. In this sub-genre, I prefer characters with high stakes and a lot to learn—and a plot and arc that shows their growth. Lots of sex is fine as long as that’s not all there is, and that it furthers the plot. I may ask that you age the characters up to adult, if that makes sense given the plot.

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RETELLINGS

Got a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that takes place at an American Idol-like singing competition? A version of Beauty and the Beast where Belle is the beast? Or maybe one where Cinderella is an actress and the stepsisters are rivals from another studio? My favorite thing about a retelling is when it’s so well disguised that I don’t recognize its source story right away. Like Romeo & Juliet in a zombie apocalypse, I adore smart and unexpected retellings and reimaginings of classic tales. Not just Western, but from all over the world. 

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LITERARY

I love, love, love literary fiction, especially the kind that tackles life’s bigger questions: who am I, why are we here, what is the meaning of life, of love, of death? Beautiful writing is my catnip in literary fiction, along with characters I either love to love or love to hate. The plot definitely needs to have a defined arc since I’m not a fan of literary novels where mostly only internalization happens (unless you’re James Joyce in which case HELLO), and the characters need to draw me in so much that I can’t stop thinking about them.

🎶

GOTHIC

In gothic I’m looking for a story on the emotional/scare level of the Coven season of American Horror Story. Something on the edge, something campy, something not without humor (although there was plenty not to laugh about in AHS Coven). I prefer gothic that’s over the top and isn’t afraid to flaunt it, with a cast of characters that’s both quirky and relatable. P.S. Ghosts.

🎶

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

This year, I’m only looking for light-hearted or amusing contemporary fiction. Your story doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I’ll be tickled if it is! With this type of novel, voice is key. I’d love something that’s engaging, hard to put down, and with well-rounded characters. While I’m not sure I’m ready for pandemic stories…if you’ve got one that’s suitably forward-looking, has a sense of humor, and doesn’t end in tragedy, I’m game.

🎶🎶🎶

 

I know you’ll be a star in somebody else’s sky

Eddie Vedder hanging from the rafters at a Pearl Jam concert

Eddie Vedder swinging on the rafters at a Pearl Jam concert

I try to keep my “do not want” list small, but there are a few things I respectfully request you don’t send me:

  • Please don’t send me stories with rape, abuse, incest, torture, gratuitous sexism, or nonconsensual or violent acts, even if those things happen off-screen. Likewise, don’t send me stories that are racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-anybody.
  • No 9/11 stories, tragic pandemic stories, or stories that are politically-based.
  • Stories written in second person POV are almost never my preference.
  • In general, my interest in stories about bakeries, vineyards, chefs, and cruise ships is low—unless they’re in a spectacularly new setting or set of circumstances. For example: struggling bakery? No. Struggling haunted bakery in a dilapidated mansion? Yes. A chef who yells at contestants on reality TV? No. But a passionate chef possessed by the spirit of Julia Child? You get the picture.
  • I’m not the right mentor for stories about religion, traditional angels or demons, or Biblical retellings.
  • If I’ve worked with you on your Pitch Wars manuscript before and you haven’t drastically revised it since, please submit to a different mentor.
  • If your genre isn’t specifically listed on my wish list, that means I’m not the right mentor for it. When in doubt, ask!

🎶🎶🎶

You know how to use what you got

Are you my ideal mentee? 

Joan Jett smiling

Joan Jett smiling — ’nuff said.

You’ve written your book. Worked hard at making it as polished as it can be. You’ve had a critique partner and beta readers look it over, but you know it needs something more. Now you’re entering this manuscript into Pitch Wars to get that final shine and polish. That’s more than half the battle–congratulations! What you’re applying for are a few frantic months of rework, editing, rewriting, learning writing tips and tricks (some of which you’ll undoubtedly hate, but others that might give you that “aha!” moment), lack of sleep, laser focus on revision revision revision, and lots of support. Be prepared to jump feet first into the fire!

If you’re willing to put in all the work required, are open to feedback, want to learn, laugh, and grow together, and won’t get tired of being cheered on, you’re the kind of person I want to work with. A keen sense of humor is a must, and will serve you well not just during Pitch Wars but throughout your publishing career.

🎶🎶🎶

 

Hello, I’ve waited here for you

Do you know what a Pitch Wars mentor really is? Someone who loves your story and has ideas on how to make it even better. We’re all volunteers who love to help other writers and have a strong desire to pay it forward. 

If you’re looking for a mentor who can teach you how to make your words and story glow, look no further! You’ve found me. Welcome to #TeamRebelCats. 

Dave Grohl waving

Dave Grohl waving hello

If we work together, you’ll get to take advantage of my years of experience as a professional copy editor, technical editor, and proofreader. Together, we’ll polish your grammar to a shine, pay attention to story flow and internal and external arcs, and to your pacing. My biggest strength is in helping you to hone your author voice, your characters, and your characterization. We might have differences of opinion, and that’s okay. From start to end, this is your story, not mine. I don’t need you to love all of my suggestions. I only ask that you give them due consideration.

I’ll provide my mentee with an edit letter up front and a thorough read of your manuscript at least twice during the course of Pitch Wars. If we decide to work together, we’ll figure out the best communication method, whether it be email, video chat, phone calls, or something else. I’ll give you a schedule with major milestones so you can stay on track. I’m good at brainstorming plot points and characterization suggestions, if that’s something you need. 

I will never slam your work outright. My concrit always comes with suggestions on how to fix the problem. Warning: there will be homework! By the time we’re finished, we’ll have done our best to start the story at the right point, made sure the pacing stays on track, and turned your characters from words on the page into people who seem real. I’m a non-stop cheerleader, so you can expect an abundance of manuscript love coming your way. We’ll also work on your query and showcase pitch, along with your synopsis if time allows.

If you’re looking for a low-drama-high-compliment mentor who can help you kick ass and get sh*t done, here I am. Let’s work together.

🎶🎶🎶

 

But what I really want to know is

Lenny Kravitz onstage

Lenny Kravitz wailing away on a Flying V guitar

If you have any questions about what I’m looking for or whether your story is right to submit to me, please ask.. You can hit me up on Twitter at @gwynnejackson (my DMs are open there until the submission window ends) or at my AMA on the Pitch Wars forum. Please don’t email me directly with Pitch Wars questions unless you can’t use either of the other contact methods. Thanks!

The Beatles, bowing in unison

The Beatles, bowing in unison

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
  2. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  3. Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
  4. Mary Ann Marlowe
  5. Rachel Lynn Solomon
  6. Anna Kaling
  7. Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
  8. Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
  9. Rachel Howzell Hall
  10. Lyn Liao Butler
  11. Michael Mammay and AR Lucas
  12. Paris Wynters (Accepts NA)
  13. K A Black (Accepts NA)
  14. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  15. Hudson Lin (Accepts NA)
  16. Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie (Accepts NA)
  17. Taj McCoy (Accepts NA)
  18. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  19. Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
  20. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  21. Elizabeth Little
  22. Anne Raven and Janet Walden-West (Accepts NA)
  23. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  24. Kalyn Josephson and Kat Enright (Accepts NA)
  25. Gladys Qin (Accepts NA)
  26. Tanen Jones (Accepts NA)
  27. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  28. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  29. Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
  30. Denny S. Bryce and L. Penelope
  31. Roselle Lim and Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
  32. Morgan Rogers (Accepts NA)
  33. Samantha Rajaram
  34. Rob Hart
  35. Damyanti Biswas (Accepts NA)
  36. Maria Heater
  37. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)
  38. Gia de Cadenet
  39. Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
  40. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  41. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  42. Carly Bloom and Sam Tschida
  43. P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
  44. Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
  45. Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)
  46. Alex Segura and M. J. Soni
  47. Roma Panganiban (Accepts NA)
  48. Tricia Lynne (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists


1 Comment

My 2020 Pitch Wars Wishlist

I am a 2020 Adult Pitch Wars Mentor

I am so excited to be back mentoring in the Adult category for Pitch Wars this year! Welcome to my 2020 wish list.

In case you don’t know, Pitch Wars is a mentoring program for unagented writers. Agented/published authors or industry interns spend three months working with one author to get their manuscript in the best shape they can, ahead of an agent showcase. All the information you need can be found right here.

Click here if you prefer a text-only version of this wishlist.

And here’s a version with gifs.

Tom Petty - The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Tom Petty – The Waiting is the Hardest Part

You’ve been following along on the hashtag, checked out the forums, communed with other writers. Maybe you’ve even started your own list of potential mentors. Waiting is hard, y’all! But wait no longer: the mentor blog hop is finally here, so you can see what we’re all looking for. Read along with me from top to bottom, bottom up, sideways, or whichever way suits your fancy. You can always follow The Ramones to the links that’ll lead you right to whichever part rocks your socks. You’ll be able to navigate to all the 2020 adult mentor wishlists at the bottom of this post.

The Ramones

The Ramones lined up against a brick wall

About MeI Want…I Don’t Want…My Ideal MenteeHow I WorkGot Questions?

🎶🎶🎶

 

Please allow me to introduce myself…

I’m a man of wealth and…oh, wait, that’s Mick Jagger. I’m Gwynne.

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger from The Simpsons

Keith Richards and Mick Jagger onstage, from The Simpsons

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creating worlds and characters to inhabit them. If you’ve run across All The Kissing (ATK), a community by and for romance writers, you’ve probably seen me there ( I’m one of the co-founders). I’m also the one to thank, blame, or cheer for the #FridayKiss prompts on Twitter.

After failing to make the cut in 2015, I was chosen as a Pitch Wars mentee in 2016 (I might have danced in celebration).  In 2018 I was a Golden Heart® finalist in contemporary romance. Last year was my first year mentoring Pitch Wars. I loved it so much, I’m back for Round Two.

I’m a USA west coast person, in case you’re concerned about time zones. If you want to know even more about me, feel free to check out last year’s wish list or my Pitch Wars mentor page. Or just nose around my blog. There’s a fairly eclectic assortment of things to read. And if you’re curious about what I mentored last year, here it is!

You can also find me on Pitch Wars Live on YouTube on September 18, and on the #askmentor Twitter chats on September 12 and September 16. You can find the full schedule right here.

In case you haven’t yet figured it out…

 I want YOU to want ME!

Robin Zander from Cheap Trick

Robin Zander from Cheap Trick

🎶🎶🎶

 

Bring it on home to me

What do I want? World peace, harmony, an end to hunger and disease, a better environment, to start with. For Pitch Wars, though, you should understand that first and foremost, I believe that love is love is love. I’m LGBTQ+, #ownvoices, and diversity-friendly.

I am only accepting manuscripts in the Adult category. Like last year, I am open to a lot! I adore ghosts. If you have one in your story and it fits one of my requested genres, send it to me! I also really love magical realism and elements of the fantastic, in any genre.

Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke onstage

Because I’m a rebel (nothing less would make sense with a name like #TeamRebelCats), the genres I’m accepting this year are listed in reverse alphabetical order: Please know that I am equally open to all of these genres.

🎶

WOMEN’S FICTION

Heads up, women’s fic writers! Do you have a story that doesn’t read like an autobiography and that overflows with an undercurrent of strong emotion? Please send it to me. I love women’s fiction that’s cathartic, strong, with a defined plot and character arc. If I can understand your main character and her motivation—if you make me want to root for her success, no matter how flawed she might be—that’s the book for me. My favorite main characters in this genre can be anything from insecure to strong, quirky to traditional, but there has to be a viable emotional character arc. I need to see your characters grow. My preference is for deep single POV, and while the ending doesn’t have to be party-all-the-time, I’d like something on the more optimistic side. I am less likely to go for family saga WF than a story focused more on the individual or on a featured relationship, whether it’s friendship, siblings, or romantic entanglement.

🎶

URBAN FANTASY

You know what I love best about urban fantasy? When it blends the commonplace with the magical in a seamless way. My favorites are books where the worlds are provided as-is, without apology and often without much explanation. I’m good with sprites, fae, dream characters, elves, spectres, shifters, warlocks and witches, mages—you name it. As long as the world-building and magic are rock solid, I’ll happily read it. As with all my other requests, I definitely want to see emotional growth for your character(s).

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SCIENCE FICTION

I’m only interested in soft science fiction. I want to be more (or at least equally) swept away by the story than by the science in it. I don’t necessarily need to know the whys and hows, only that the technology works and makes sense within the scope of the story. I’m a big Star Trek fan and have been all my life, so things on that level, where the focus is less on the precise temperature required to sustain the warp core and more on “seek out new life, new civilizations, boldly go”  will appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong–I love it when people geek out about science! I do it myself all the time. But when it gets too technical, I lose interest. I’m also a big fan of fun and light-hearted science fiction where the reader can go along for a fast-paced ride. So…less doom-and-gloom apocalypse, more “Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!”

🎶

ROMANCE

There are rules to romance novels. I know because I’ve tried and failed to break them. If you’re writing romance, your story needs to follow the romance arc, and the romance must be the central plotline of the book. If it doesn’t end in either a HEA (happily ever after) or HFN (happy for now), it’s not a romance. Please don’t break my heart by misrepresenting the genre.

In general with romance novels, I do not love the alpha male archetype. You would be better served bringing your Navy SEALs, motorcycle club leaders, and all those other bad boys to a different mentor. However, I do want all your strong, opinionated, flawed, sassy female characters! I love almost all the tropes, but am especially fond of enemies-to-lovers and friends-to-lovers. I’m good with any heat level from sweet to steamy, but I’m not the right mentor for inspirational romance or erotica.

I’m only accepting these romance sub-genres:

  • Contemporary Romance. I love contemporary romance. It’s my comfort food. As long as your characters are believable within their tropes (I know, how is a sexy single lonely kind-hearted non-cutthroat billionaire believable?), there isn’t much I want to exclude from this category. However, I’m a former stage manager and roadie so if you’re writing about rock musicians or the music industry, you’d better know what you’re talking about and your storyline needs to be extremely unique. I do adore contemporaries set in unusual places. If you’ve got a rarely-used highly atmospheric setting, I am all for it. Haunted houses, anyone?
  • SciFi Romance. Send me your space pirates, your post-apocalyptic frenemies, your androids, your unusual scientists. As long as the romance is the main crux of the story, I like just about any near-future or futuristic setting. I prefer soft science in my science fiction. I don’t need to know the quark count or a detailed explanation of why transporting matter works. I only need to be able to accept that it does.
  • Fantasy Romance. The same world-building rules apply for me here as they do for SciFi romance. If the romantic arc is highlighted against a backdrop of a unique world, and I don’t need a glossary to understand your fantasy terminology or a family tree to follow the lineage, send it on!
  • Historical Romance. I love a good historical, and am a stickler for details in this sub-genre. Unless it’s steampunk, I prefer that my historicals aren’t filled with anachronisms. Historical romance goes beyond Regency for me, although I love a good ballroom- and intrigue-filled tale. Witty banter is a must! I am not accepting Highlander or Viking romance, or historicals written in dialect.
  • Western Romance. Bring on the cowboys and cowgirls. Cowdogs, cowcats, modern-day quirky western characters, especially the ones stuck somehow in or on the past. My favorite western romances have settings as important as the characters—I want to feel immersed in the wide-open western space.
  • New Adult. In this sub-genre, I prefer characters with high stakes and a lot to learn—and a plot and arc that shows their growth. Lots of sex is fine as long as that’s not all there is, and that it furthers the plot. I may ask that you age the characters up to adult, if that makes sense given the plot.

🎶

RETELLINGS

Got a version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that takes place at an American Idol-like singing competition? A version of Beauty and the Beast where Belle is the beast? Or maybe one where Cinderella is an actress and the stepsisters are rivals from another studio? My favorite thing about a retelling is when it’s so well disguised that I don’t recognize its source story right away. Like Romeo & Juliet in a zombie apocalypse, I adore smart and unexpected retellings and reimaginings of classic tales. Not just Western, but from all over the world. 

🎶

LITERARY

I love, love, love literary fiction, especially the kind that tackles life’s bigger questions: who am I, why are we here, what is the meaning of life, of love, of death? Beautiful writing is my catnip in literary fiction, along with characters I either love to love or love to hate. The plot definitely needs to have a defined arc since I’m not a fan of literary novels where mostly only internalization happens (unless you’re James Joyce in which case HELLO), and the characters need to draw me in so much that I can’t stop thinking about them.

🎶

GOTHIC

In gothic I’m looking for a story on the emotional/scare level of the Coven season of American Horror Story. Something on the edge, something campy, something not without humor (although there was plenty not to laugh about in AHS Coven). I prefer gothic that’s over the top and isn’t afraid to flaunt it, with a cast of characters that’s both quirky and relatable. P.S. Ghosts.

🎶

CONTEMPORARY FICTION

This year, I’m only looking for light-hearted or amusing contemporary fiction. Your story doesn’t have to be laugh-out-loud hilarious, but I’ll be tickled if it is! With this type of novel, voice is key. I’d love something that’s engaging, hard to put down, and with well-rounded characters. While I’m not sure I’m ready for pandemic stories…if you’ve got one that’s suitably forward-looking, has a sense of humor, and doesn’t end in tragedy, I’m game.

🎶🎶🎶

 

Eddie Vedder stage diving

Eddie Vedder mid-air

I try to keep my “do not want” list small, but there are a few things I respectfully request you don’t send me:

  • Please don’t send me stories with rape, abuse, incest, torture, gratuitous sexism, or nonconsensual or violent acts, even if those things happen off-screen. Likewise, don’t send me stories that are racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-anybody.
  • No 9/11 stories, tragic pandemic stories, or stories that are politically-based.
  • Stories written in second person POV are almost never my preference.
  • In general, my interest in stories about bakeries, vineyards, chefs, and cruise ships is low—unless they’re in a spectacularly new setting or set of circumstances. For example: struggling bakery? No. Struggling haunted bakery in a dilapidated mansion? Yes. A chef who yells at contestants on reality TV? No. But a passionate chef possessed by the spirit of Julia Child? You get the picture.
  • I’m not the right mentor for stories about religion, traditional angels or demons, or Biblical retellings.
  • If I’ve worked with you on your Pitch Wars manuscript before and you haven’t drastically revised it since, please submit to a different mentor.
  • If your genre isn’t specifically listed on my wish list, that means I’m not the right mentor for it. When in doubt, ask!

🎶🎶🎶

You know how to use what you got

Are you my ideal mentee? 

Joan Jett, Original Badass

Joan Jett, Original Badass

You’ve written your book. Worked hard at making it as polished as it can be. You’ve had a critique partner and beta readers look it over, but you know it needs something more. Now you’re entering this manuscript into Pitch Wars to get that final shine and polish. That’s more than half the battle–congratulations! What you’re applying for are a few frantic months of rework, editing, rewriting, learning writing tips and tricks (some of which you’ll undoubtedly hate, but others that might give you that “aha!” moment), lack of sleep, laser focus on revision revision revision, and lots of support. Be prepared to jump feet first into the fire!

If you’re willing to put in all the work required, are open to feedback, want to learn, laugh, and grow together, and won’t get tired of being cheered on, you’re the kind of person I want to work with. A keen sense of humor is a must, and will serve you well not just during Pitch Wars but throughout your publishing career.

🎶🎶🎶

 

Hello, I’ve waited here for you

Do you know what a Pitch Wars mentor really is? Someone who loves your story and has ideas on how to make it even better. We’re all volunteers who love to help other writers and have a strong desire to pay it forward. 

If you’re looking for a mentor who can teach you how to make your words and story glow, look no further! You’ve found me. Welcome to #TeamRebelCats. 

Dave Grohl waving hello

Dave Grohl waving hello

If we work together, you’ll get to take advantage of my years of experience as a professional copy editor, technical editor, and proofreader. Together, we’ll polish your grammar to a shine, pay attention to story flow and internal and external arcs, and to your pacing. My biggest strength is in helping you to hone your author voice, your characters, and your characterization. We might have differences of opinion, and that’s okay. From start to end, this is your story, not mine. I don’t need you to love all of my suggestions. I only ask that you give them due consideration.

I’ll provide my mentee with an edit letter up front and a thorough read of your manuscript at least twice during the course of Pitch Wars. If we decide to work together, we’ll figure out the best communication method, whether it be email, video chat, phone calls, or something else. I’ll give you a schedule with major milestones so you can stay on track. I’m good at brainstorming plot points and characterization suggestions, if that’s something you need. 

I will never slam your work outright. My concrit always comes with suggestions on how to fix the problem. Warning: there will be homework! By the time we’re finished, we’ll have done our best to start the story at the right point, made sure the pacing stays on track, and turned your characters from words on the page into people who seem real. I’m a non-stop cheerleader, so you can expect an abundance of manuscript love coming your way. We’ll also work on your query and showcase pitch, along with your synopsis if time allows.

If you’re looking for a low-drama-high-compliment mentor who can help you kick ass and get sh*t done, here I am. Let’s work together.

🎶🎶🎶

 

But what I really want to know is

Lenny Kravitz onstage

Lenny Kravitz playing guitar

If you have any questions about what I’m looking for or whether your story is right to submit to me, please ask.. You can hit me up on Twitter at @gwynnejackson (my DMs are open there until the submission window ends) or at my AMA on the Pitch Wars forum. Please don’t email me directly with Pitch Wars questions unless you can’t use either of the other contact methods. Thanks!

The Beatles bowing in unison

The Beatles, bowing in unison

Pitch Wars 2020 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists

  1. Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
  2. Rochelle Karina (Accepts NA)
  3. Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
  4. Mary Ann Marlowe
  5. Rachel Lynn Solomon
  6. Anna Kaling
  7. Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
  8. Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
  9. Rachel Howzell Hall
  10. Lyn Liao Butler
  11. Michael Mammay and AR Lucas
  12. Paris Wynters (Accepts NA)
  13. K A Black (Accepts NA)
  14. Heather Van Fleet and Jessica Calla (Accepts NA)
  15. Hudson Lin (Accepts NA)
  16. Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie (Accepts NA)
  17. Taj McCoy (Accepts NA)
  18. Ian Barnes (Accepts NA)
  19. Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
  20. N.E. Davenport (Accepts NA)
  21. Elizabeth Little
  22. Anne Raven and Janet Walden-West (Accepts NA)
  23. Charish Reid and Denise Williams
  24. Kalyn Josephson and Kat Enright (Accepts NA)
  25. Gladys Qin (Accepts NA)
  26. Tanen Jones (Accepts NA)
  27. Clay Harmon (Accepts NA)
  28. Jake Nicholls (Accepts NA)
  29. Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
  30. Denny S. Bryce and L. Penelope
  31. Roselle Lim and Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
  32. Morgan Rogers (Accepts NA)
  33. Samantha Rajaram
  34. Rob Hart
  35. Damyanti Biswas (Accepts NA)
  36. Maria Heater
  37. Cynthia Pelayo (Accepts NA)
  38. Gia de Cadenet
  39. Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
  40. Rosie Danan and Ruby Barrett (Accepts NA)
  41. Cole Nagamatsu and Sequoia Nagamatsu
  42. Carly Bloom and Sam Tschida
  43. P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
  44. Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
  45. Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)
  46. Alex Segura and M. J. Soni
  47. Roma Panganiban (Accepts NA)
  48. Tricia Lynne (Accepts NA)

Click here to view all Pitch Wars 2020 Mentors’ Wish Lists


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Love Now More Than Ever

The world is a frightening place these days. I’ve been alternately watching the news and occupying my time focusing on other things. Creativity hasn’t been a problem; I can find plenty of creative things to do. Most of them haven’t been writing this winter. Like a lot of people, my motivation has been low. Mine was pegged on a couple of hopeful things that didn’t pan out, but between being caregiver for my injured partner and the sole driver in this house, keeping everything going, making sure we’ve had enough supplies, taking care of the cats, and watching the eternal Seattle winterscape change slowly from gray to blue, my days have been pretty full. I’ve had a regular weekly Zoom writing date with a fellow writer, and during my burrowing in have finally finished a revision pass on an older book.

It’s a romance. Reworking it makes me happy right now. Rereading it makes me happy right now. Thinking about people being happy makes me happy right now. In these contentious times, it’s my firm belief that we need love more than ever.

I write more than romance. The last romance novel I finished was a year ago in December. I’m sure I have more of them in me, but I also have other genres I’m having fun exploring. Everything I write has love in it, though. Why? Because it’s a fundamental part of the human condition, something we recognize. Whether it’s love for a parent or a child or a partner or a pet, we’ve all experienced it to some degree, and we’ve also experienced its loss. Love is relatable. Maybe fairytale romance love less so, but we can all appreciate the pattern of it.

So I will keep on writing, and keep pouring romance into my work. Every time we send love out into the world these days, that’s a good thing. We could all stand to have more of it.


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Attention Romance Writers!

2019 Pitch Wars managing director Sarah Nicolas has organized a fairly massive romance writing critique giveaway for queries and/or pages over on Twitter. I’m signal boosting here, not just because I’m offering critiques but because giving back to the romance writing community is one of my favorite things to do.

You can find all the info on Sarah’s Twitter. Be sure to read the whole thread. Lots of Pitch Wars mentors are offering critiques. Best of luck if you decide to enter!


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Review: Kind of Famous by Mary Ann Marlowe

What would you do if you had the opportunity to meet the rock stars of your dream but for very good reasons decided they could never know you ran a huge online fansite for them? That’s the dilemma met by midwesterner Layla Beckett when she moves to New York City to work for the industry darling Rock Paper. Starting on day one she comes face to face with fame, and must decide how to deal with it.

Layla’s journey is both exhilarating and one she has to think about every step of the way, especially after she meets–and falls for–drummer Shane. He’s not with the band for which she’s a superfan, but he’s close enough, sexy enough, witty enough, and kind-hearted enough. The two fall for each other hard, and things move a little too quickly for Layla’s comfort. When Shane’s jealousy and lack of faith in himself kick in, the fragile web they’ve started to build fractures.

Deeper than it seems on the surface, Kind of Famous explores the treacherous natures of fandom, friendship, and love–and the explosions that can result when those three things collide. Author Mary Ann Marlowe‘s book is a sweet coda of a love song to the rocker universe she created in Some Kind of Magic and developed further in A Crazy Kind of Love. If you loved those books, you’ll cherish this one as well.

Note: I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.


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Writing Romance & the RWA (my thoughts on it all)

RWA (Romance Writers of America) is a mess right now. It’s hard to take a turn without hearing more about what a shambles the organization is in. So naturally, I’ve been thinking about it a lot.

I’m not here to rehash the scandal. You can Google it, or read any syndicated newsletter, or check out Twitter. But there are a few things, personally, I want to say.

  • The RWA needs transparency. So much of its operation is carried out behind closed doors. No, I don’t want to watch a live stream of board meetings, but I do think it’s important that members are kept informed about what happens. As a voting member, I don’t want the redacted version. I don’t want the recap.
  • The RWA needs accountability. The “explanations” they’ve sent out have largely pointed fingers at other members, accusing them of acting inappropriately. Excuse the fuck out of me, but why should any organization that won’t take responsibility for their own actions be listened to when they chastise their members?
  • The RWA needs a total overhaul at the top. There’s a lot being said about current president Damon Suede. I only met him once and he might be a really nice guy or he might not. What I do know is that he’s the one at the top. That means he’s the one who needs to speak on behalf of all RWA and he needs to do it well and eloquently. So far, he’s done neither. Dude, you’re a writer. Take a note from Hamilton and write your way out if you must. But please note that we are also writers, and we’re onto all the tricks. Sometimes, for the greater good, a person has to let go of their own power position. Yes, I did sign the recall petition.
  • Romance writers don’t need to belong to RWA to write, read, or become published. RWA is a professional organization currently acting in a wholly unprofessional manner. As a result, I’ve decided that I don’t need them. I don’t need their annual conference. I don’t need to renew my membership to keep writing my stories. I don’t need their half-assed attempts at explaining their poor behavior. I don’t need their promises to work on stopping the long-standing racist nature of the organization. I don’t need to stand behind them any longer. What I do need is for them to effect change immediately. A new charter, a new board, a new openness.

I realize that not everyone will agree with me here, and that’s fine. But when those accused of harmful behavior decide it’s better to do some tone policing than to admit their faults or complicity, I say the time is up. Would I love to see RWA reinvent itself? You bet your ass I would. But I can no longer support or be part of an organization whose leadership tells us one thing and does the opposite.