This is my first year as a Pitch Wars mentor, although I’m not new to mentoring. I’m so happy to be here. Pleased to meet you, and you, and you.
If you’re not familiar with Pitch Wars, it’s a writing mentoring program. 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.
Hello, My Name Is…
- Gwynne, or G.L. professionally. I’m a co-founder of All The Kissing (ATK), a community by and for romance writers. I help moderate the ATK Facebook group and am mostly to blame for the #FridayKiss twitter prompt party.
- I was a Pitch Wars mentee in 2016, and a 2018 Golden Heart® finalist, both in contemporary romance.
- I write primarily contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and mainstream fiction. Regardless of genre, all my characters are bound by love. I prefer writing complex, imperfect people who manage to find peace with themselves despite their shortcomings and obstacles. I’m definitely a character-oriented writer. But don’t let that fool you. I can work a mean plot and hit the necessary beats.
- I live off the coast of Seattle and there really are brazen local sea otters that hang around our yard (you can see videos of them on my Instagram feed). I lived in the Bay Area for four years before moving here, and in Oregon for a long time before that. I run on US west coast time.
- I’m an energy worker and was a licensed massage therapist for a dozen years. Breathe, breathe, breathe.
- I love astrology (Scorpio, Gemini ascendant, Pisces moon), tarot (Queen of Swords), Enneagram (2w3), Meyers-Briggs (ENFP), Hogwarts sorting (Gryffindor), numerology (6), piña coladas (blended), and getting caught in the rain (Seattle).
- I’m represented by Michelle Richter of Fuse Literary, and am currently on submission.
- I could tell you stories about getting caught on a river in a torrential downpour in Belize or being offered a handful of cash for my baby’s NY Knicks sweatshirt in China or waking up in the middle of the night in the Bahamas staring at the barrel of a machine gun. Life is a carnival. But enough about me. Let’s talk Pitch Wars!
What I’m Looking For
It should go without saying right up front that I’m LGBTQ+, #ownvoices, and diversity-friendly, but I’m saying it anyway. Love is love is love.
I am only accepting manuscripts in the Adult category.
If you have a ghost in your story and it fits one of my requested genres, send it to me!
Here are the genres I’m accepting, spooky or not:
I love romance. I love the craft of it, the skill of taking that arc and making it new and special. I love the characters who fall in love and fight for their happiness. Romance must be the central crux of the story, and it needs to follow the romance arc. If you’re questioning whether that breakup at the end doesn’t count because the book is 99% romance and that’s enough, you’re wrong. The book must end on a satisfyingly optimistic note—with the love interests together either happily ever after or happily for now—or it’s not romance.
- I am not a fan of alpha males, although I love reading about alpha females. Bring me your betas, your gammas, your cinnamon roll heroes.
- I’m not the right mentor for sports romance, inspirational romance, or erotica.
- For heat level I’ll take anything from sweet to steamy.
These are the only romance sub-genres I’m looking for:
- Contemporary Romance. Any trope (friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, and found family are favorites), as long as it has a central romance and ends happily. Beautiful, thoughtful writing and an engaging voice are a must for me with contemporary. PSA: I also love a good rom-com!
- Scifi Romance. I prefer soft scifi, where the focus is on the romance more than on the science. However, I need enough scifi elements to make your world stand out and be noticeably different from ours, even in near-future novels. Think Vivien Jackson’s Wanted and Wired series. And yes, superhero romance counts here!
- Fantasy Romance. Fantastical worlds are wonderful, but the world-building needs to be seamless and believable for me. If you’ve got a magic system where things happen “just because,” I’m not your best mentoring choice. Likewise, if you have to set the scene with a thousand years’ worth of history and name all the names, I’m not your best mentoring choice. I’m looking for stories where the romance is the focus, and the fantasy elements are more delicious gravy than main course.
- Historical Romance. I don’t just mean Regency, although if you can get my panties in a twist over a duke, earl, or duchess, I’ll take it. I love historical romances that take place in all eras and countries (like Jeannie Lin’s The Lotus Palace). But I’m definitely not the right mentor for Viking or Highlander romances. Ach, sorry, lads and lasses. 😦
- Western Romance. Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys 🎶 unless you’re going to send me their stories. I’m a sucker for cowboys who are loners, who have something to prove, or better still, something to hide. If your western setting doubles as a character on its own, I will love you forever.
- New Adult. I am accepting New Adult, especially if there’s more plot than sex, but I might ask you to consider aging your characters up to adult.
I’m looking for powerful, intimate stories that follow the main character’s emotional growth through the course of the novel. With women’s fiction, attention to characterization is something I need to see amped way up. I love strong women, I love quirky women, and I also love reading about a female main character who is broken but at least begins to heal as the story progresses. A central romance is not required (though it will make me happy). Emotion is key for me in women’s fic—I want to be able to crawl into your character’s heart and understand why it beats the way it does. I want to feel your main character’s pain, her joy, and her tears (Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune). I prefer deep single POV and more optimistic endings in women’s fiction.
For contemporary I like everything from light yet compelling (The Descendants) to issues-driven to dark. But I don’t want to dwell on gruesome details about murder or sexual violence or satanic rituals, and I don’t want psychological thrillers masquerading as contemporary fiction. In this genre I’m a fan of multiple POVs (A Brief History of Seven Killings), stories that hop back and forth in time (The Time Traveler’s Wife), and old mysteries that have new light shed on them in later times (The Historian). Bottom line: intrigue me with your plot and premise, then give me a character I can root for with a voice that wows me. Did I mention I love ghosts?
My preferred flavor of urban fantasy is a story where the fantasy element is so much a part of everyday life that we simply accept it and get lost in the storytelling. There are reasons Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks and Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere are two of my most re-read books. I like urban fantasy from light to gritty (Mishell Baker’s Borderline). Make me believe all these worlds exist side by side with ours. Bonus points if your urban fantasy contains some light-hearted elements, or at least well-thought-out characters of all stripes.
Oh, I love a good retelling! I don’t just mean “I named him Cinderfella and gave him evil stepbrothers,” though. My favorite retellings are the ones that retain the basic elements of the original story, but twist them on their sides so that the story takes on a life of its own (Cinder or Warm Bodies). Even if we can’t tell what work it’s based on until the end, I find these stories remarkably lovely and will gobble them up (no zombie pun intended).
I’m on the lookout for character-driven literary fiction with an imaginative plot and a fascinating, unusual narrative voice. Single POV, multiple POV, any era, doesn’t matter as long as the characters are compelling. Make it heartfelt, make it beautiful, make it so I can’t put it down. Give me a happy ending or a sad ending. Make me care so much about your characters that it hurts. Make me care so much about your characters that I can’t stop thinking about them for weeks. Months. Years. Favorites include Patrick Suskind’s Perfume and almost anything by Louise Erdrich.
Please note right up front: for hard sci-fi, I am not your best mentor choice. My preference in science fiction is for soft sci-fi stories with romantic subplots, even if the romance isn’t the central theme of the story. Bring me your near-future, your superhero worlds, your outlying other colonies. Or okay, bring me a character like Mark Watney and convince me he could survive, or even a total nihilist like Spike Spiegel and show me what drives him (we all know it’s love). Again: soft on the hard science, big on the human emotion side.
Please Don’t Send Me:
- Stories where the central action revolves around abuse, rape, incest, torture, or other nonconsensual or violent acts
- Stories that are racist, anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-anybody
- Thinly-veiled diatribes about politics
- Biblical retellings
- Stories about angels or demons
If I’ve worked with you on your Pitch Wars manuscript before and you haven’t drastically revised it since, I respectfully request that you submit to a different mentor.
My Ideal Mentee
- is willing to put in the hard work Pitch Wars demands to make their manuscript better
- can take feedback, absorb it, not get hurt receiving it, and work with it in their own way
- has a healthy desire to learn
- has a healthy sense of humor
- has a healthy sense of self
- will not get sick of being cheered on
Bottom line, I’m not looking to work with someone who thinks they have to do everything I say just because it’s Pitch Wars and I’m their mentor. It’s a partnership, a give and take. At my core, I’m just another writer who happens to love your story.
My Mentoring Style
I believe in mentoring as a partnership rather than me telling you what you must do (unless that relates to schedules, where I might pull rank). I’m a former professional copyeditor, technical editor, and proofreader, so we’ll polish your words to a shine. We’ll pay attention to story flow and arc, and in hitting the beats at the right time. Most of all, we’ll pay attention to voice, characters, and characterization. By the time we’re through, your characters will be so distinct and realistic they’ll be ready to jump off the page.
If you’re my mentee, you’ll get an edit letter up front, with a thorough read of your manuscript at least twice during the course of Pitch Wars. I’m happy to read anything you need along the way as well. I can think up a dozen story scenarios at any moment off the top of my head if brainstorming together is something you’d like.
I won’t rewrite your book. I won’t put words in your characters’ mouths. But I will give you the tools you need to revise your book your own way and in your own words, so that your story and characters and settings sparkle in the sunlight. (See what I did there, Twilight fans?)
I believe in constructive criticism and outright I LOVE THIS SO MUCH squeeing. Remember, if I pick your story, it’s because I already love it, see untapped potential in it, and want to help you make it the best it can be. I will never give you the full-on Simon Cowell treatment (unless it’s a standing ovation). There will probably be homework. I will help you pull your plot together, find the right starting place, see to it that the pacing is good, that you don’t let your story sag in the middle. I’m also fluent in queries, pitches, and synopses.
I work best using email, DMs, and other written communication. I’m not phone-phobic so if you’re into phone or video chats that’s cool and I’ll do it, but most of my communication will be via email or DMs. I’m really good about responding ASAP and happy to hear from you by text message as well.
Also, I’m pretty nice and chill. Easy-going, and low drama. That doesn’t mean I won’t be all excited about your work, running around with my hair on fire. I will. I’ll just do it quietly.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s work together.
If you have any questions about what I’m looking for or whether your story is appropriate to submit to me, please ask. I’m always happy to answer. You can hit me up on Twitter at @gwynnejackson and at my AMA on the Pitch Wars forum.
Pitch Wars 2019 Adult Mentors’ Wish Lists
- Paris Wynters
- Kathleen Barber (Accepts NA)
- Ian Barnes
- Mary Ann Marlowe (Accepts NA)
- Elizabeth Little
- Hayley Stone and Erin A. Tidwell
- Gwynne Jackson (Accepts NA)
- Maxym M. Martineau (Accepts NA)
- Katie Golding (Accepts NA)
- Ava Reid and Rachel Morris (Accepts NA)
- Carolyne Topdjian
- Natalka Burian
- Tim Akers
- Alex Segura
- Michelle Hauck and Carrie Callaghan (Accepts NA)
- Laura Brown (Accepts NA)
- Mia P. Manansala and Kellye Garrett (Accepts NA)
- Kerbie Addis and Ren Hutchings (Accepts NA)
- Susan Bishop Crispell (Accepts NA)
- Kelly Siskind and Heather Van Fleet (Accepts NA)
- Janet Walden-West and Anne Raven (Accepts NA)
- Kate Lansing (Accepts NA)
- Kristen Lepionka and Ernie Chiara
- Alexa Martin and Suzanne Park (Accepts NA)
- Gia de Cadenet (Accepts NA)
- Rob Hart
- Layne Fargo and Halley Sutton
- Michael Chorost (Accepts NA)
- Sarah Remy (Accepts NA)
- Nicole Glover (Accepts NA)
- Farah Heron (Accepts NA)
- Samantha Rajaram
- Keena Roberts (Accepts NA)
- Rebecca Enzor (Accepts NA)
- Matthew Quinn Martin (Accepts NA)
- Denny S. Bryce (Accepts NA)
- Meryl Wilsner and Rosie Danan (Accepts NA)
- P.J. Vernon and Kelly J. Ford (Accepts NA)
- Gladys Quinn (Accepts NA)
- Diana A. Hicks (Accepts NA)
- Damyanti Biswas
- Stephen Morgan (Accepts NA)