Popping in for a bonus post on here to share some exciting news: I’m going Rogue…Mentor, that is! I’ve been selected as a Rogue Mentor for the Spring/Summer 2022 session and I can’t wait to get started.
You can view an image-light version of my wish list on the Rogue Mentor site as well as the profiles and MSWLs of all the other fantastic mentors! There’s not much here that isn’t also over there, but naturally I wanted to post one with extra commentary (and gifs).
What is the Rogue Mentor Program?
Rogue Mentor is a peer-to-peer mentorship program for authors, by authors. It’s a new program which started last year with a tweet by accidental program founder Nat Lockett. Natalie “went rogue” to offer flexible mentorship opportunities by mentors with diverse publishing experience, including self-publishing and indie publishing.
The draw of Rogue Mentor, and the reason for its name, is the flexibility it offers mentors to set their own rules (how they can help, when they can help, etc.) within a structure provided by our board and mentee liaisons. It opens up opportunities for authors on deadline, disabled and chronically ill authors, and those otherwise unable to mentor at certain times of year to give back to the community on their terms.Rogue Mentor Website
How can prospective mentees apply?
I will be selecting one (just one😭) mentee’s adult fantasy, science fiction, or urban fantasy manuscript to work with during this mentorship program. I’m accepting submissions during the first application window, which opens April 22 and runs through April 25, with mentee selections announced April 26.
A second application window with a new slate of mentors opens May 27 through May 30. If you apply during the first window and don’t get selected, it’s fine to apply again! But if you want to apply for mentorship with me, you want that first April 22-25 window.
Why did I become a Rogue Mentor?
I had planned to apply to mentor with Pitch Wars this year. I wanted to give back to the writing community that has given me so much and pass on what I’ve learned from my publishing experience so far, from my amazing mentor Ren Hutchings, and from my fellow authors. When Pitch Wars ended, I realized that this goal felt more important than ever, so I started looking around for other programs with which to volunteer.
I’m especially excited to be a part of this program because it seeks to make mentorship more accessible to both mentees and mentors. I was impressed by the way the Rogue team has learned and adapted other programs’ models. Also, it means a lot to me that RM was founded by a neurodivergent author and has self-published authors on its board.
Recent events in the book industry have underlined for me how important it is to open the publishing gates wider and reaffirm the value of diverse creative work. As a queer, small-press published author living with chronic illness, I have skin in the game, but I also have a lot of privilege, support, resources, and opportunities. I want to turn around and use what I have to help lift up others.
Since I’m new to the mentoring side, the flexibility of the program also gives me an opportunity to learn the ropes and shape that relationship with my future mentee. All of which is to say I’m extremely excited and honored to be selected!
What am I offering as a mentor?
Since Rogue Mentor is flexible, a lot of this depends on the mentee’s wishes and needs! Potential models of mentorship include:
- Submission package critique (Query, Synopsis, 50 page sample)
- Partial manuscript critique (50 pages)
- Full manuscript critique
- Multiple manuscript passes and query support
- Line notes/edits
- Help/advice creating marketing graphics and videos, blogging, and social media
If I end up working on a full manuscript critique, the time period is open ended, but I’m envisioning a 4-6 month working period with 1-2 revision passes. Ideally, my mentee and I would work together to figure out what the mentorship would look like and what the best timeline would be. A great mentee for me would communicate their needs and preferences directly and explicitly, respect the boundaries I communicate, be willing to put in the work into revisions, and be emotionally prepared to receive critique as well as support.
When it comes to mentorship style, I’m a direct communicator but I don’t believe in the doctrine of tough love. When giving feedback, I think it’s just as important to talk about what is working as it is to pinpoint what isn’t working. I also try my best to recognize that I don’t know all the answers and wouldn’t expect a mentee to always do things my way or make my suggested corrections.
My goal would be to assist my mentee in elevating their craft as well as providing guidance in the publishing world. I think my biggest strengths are helping hone prose with line edits, identifying ways to strengthen character arcs and deepen emotion, and helping pantsers or plantsers refine their story structure (from experience!) Since I haven’t mentored or done professional developmental editing before, I will be learning the role as well, so I’m very open to feedback and welcome direct communication from my mentee.
What’s on my MSWL (Manuscript Wish List)?
First off, because I am a first-time mentor, I’ll probably select a manuscript that is closer to query-ready than not. This isn’t because I don’t want to help authors get to that point, but because I want to make sure I have the chops to help the mentee I select. That doesn’t mean the manuscript needs to be perfect, but it should be complete and should probably have gone through at least one revision already. With that said, if I come upon a less polished manuscript but have a strong vision for how I can help bring out its potential, I would definitely consider it.
I am seeking an adult science fiction or fantasy novel to work with during this mentorship period.
In science fiction, my tastes run the gamut from “hard” science fiction (far-future Earth or set in space), near future dystopian/utopian, cli-fi, post-apocalyptic, space opera, and speculative fiction that plays with time and space like the multiverse in SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS. I’m fascinated by stories that delve into transhumanism, the implications of technology for human experience, and artificial intelligence, like those explored in BLACK MIRROR or the MURDERBOT CHRONICLES. Scrappy underdog crews facing down big, evil corporations (think SPACE SWEEPERS) will quickly capture my heart. I also love stories in which humans must learn to communicate and coexist with aliens or non-human sentients who are very different from us, as in ARRIVAL.
Hopepunk and solarpunk are very much my jam, so if you are comping to Becky Chambers’ WAYFARERS series, I want it. I have also particularly enjoyed recent science fantasy like A.K. Larkwood’s THE UNSPOKEN NAME and Tamsyn Muir’s GIDEON THE NINTH, so I would love to work on a manuscript with unusual worldbuilding in which technology and magic intertwine.
Similarly, I’m a huge fan of urban and contemporary fantasy where supernatural entities and modern life coexist, so please consider me for your UF/CF subgenre manuscripts provided the supernatural adventure is the A plot and any romance is secondary. (I’m not anti-romance! I just like seeing the magic come first.) I also enjoy a good portal fantasy or sojourn with the Fair Folk.
I am choosier about high fantasy and second world fantasy—to really hook me, I have to see strong personal stakes and characters who are reluctant heroes or regular folk swept up in epic events, especially if they’re out to overturn existing power structures. “Burn it down” energy is always welcome! Or, if you’re writing tongue in cheek and taking inspiration from Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld novels, I’m 100% down for humor that flips tropes with affectionate irreverence. If you can describe your manuscript as “high fantasy, low stakes” like Travis Baldree’s LEGENDS AND LATTES, I’m definitely interested.
Generally, a strong narrative voice, well-defined conflict, and innovative worldbuilding will grab me first and foremost. I particularly love a good detective story or mystery in the SFF space. Themes of surviving trauma, breaking cultural/generational patterns, and coming to terms with complex identities speak to me personally. And, although I’m not the right mentor for most SFF romance proper, I do appreciate (but don’t require) a strong love story running secondary to the main plot. I’d be delighted if some non-traditional relationships crossed my path in this context, whether polyamorous, aromantic/asexual, kinky, or adopted/found family bonds (think the diverse relationship models in THE EXPANSE, and honestly if you’re comping THE EXPANSE, I want it).
In all of the above, I love to see flawed and complex characters with underrepresented identities taking the lead. Send me your queer ND protagonists saving societies they don’t quite fit into, disabled characters in accessible worlds, BIPOC, women, trans, and nonbinary people in leadership roles, and bi panic B-plots. I am very much here for queer joy and manuscripts that envision a better, more accepting, more egalitarian world, though I also love to read about characters fighting the good fight for equality and justice. If there’s a lot of darkness in a story, I definitely need a thread of hope to pull me through.
What am I not looking for (my anti-MSWL)?
Please do not send me stories featuring on-page sexual assault, extremely graphic gore/violence, or animal harm/death on the page, please. I’m not the right person to mentor manuscripts with excessively dark or gritty settings, for court intrigue or political dramas, for historical fantasy, for military science fiction or fantasy that primarily takes place on the battlefield, or for paranormal/fantasy romance.
Abusive/chauvinist POV characters or characters actively working to uphold an oppressive power structure (such as a hereditary monarch fighting to keep their throne) aren’t really for me, even if there’s a redemption arc in store for them. I also may not be the right person for a story that primarily involves deities or has strong religious overtones, though it may depend on the angle for this one.
I can’t wait to read your stories!
Let me know if you have questions about the program or what I’m looking for/offering. You can comment here or use the #AskARogue tag on Twitter if you want to put your question out to the community!