I’ve spent some days sort of staring at this page, wanting to get it right, filtering in the correct amount of cleverness and professionalism for my first mentor wishlist. The result is a pre-coffee rambling littered with Bob’s Burgers gifs.
Hello. I’m LeKesha. You can call me L. I’m mentoring in the Adult category and I’m primarily looking for sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction.
I’m 32, formerly a paramedic, currently a data analyst. In 2016, I was a founding creator of FIYAH Literary Magazine for Black Speculative Fiction. We’re now a World Fantasy Award finalist! Last year, I signed with my lovely agent Jennifer Azantian and published a novelette, CHESIRAH with FIYAH (reprinted with PodCastle 2018). This year, I was awarded a grant by the Speculative Literature Foundation. I also published my first novella A RUIN OF SHADOWS with Dancing Star Press. It has been gloriously well-received and I could not be happier!
What I’m into:
I use the umbrella term “speculative fiction” for SFF because I’m also into the works that are not exactly sci-fi and not exactly fantasy. I find the more warping or blending of spec fic’s subgenres, the less likely the work is to be derivative. Most of what I write is STEM-fantasy or science-fantasy anyway. So if you’re not exactly sure where your story fits, chances are I’ll not only like it, but I’ll know what to do with it.
I am absolutely here for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) authors and characters. I will not solely be considering stories by that demographic because a good story is a good story. But the desire to help get more representation out there is what brought me to Pitch Wars in the first place.
I like third-person narrative structure. First-person is okay, but the voice has to be entertaining. I’m not a good fit for second-person. Similarly, multi-POV is great! Each character is a different window into the world you’ve created and I love lush world-building. Multi-POV has to be neat, though, or else it’s a nightmare. I can help with that.
Romance… I like my romance minimal or somewhat tortured. Unrequited or impossible (circumstances as obstacles) love are my favorite. Sweet, fluffy romance can be present but should not overwhelm or be central the central arc of the story. Similarly sex scenes are fine, but I’m not your best bet for erotica.
I love, LOVE compelling villainy and complex anti-heroes. If they’re the MC, even better.
Give me your queer-for-no-reason characters that I may love on them excessively. Extra points if you give them a world that loves them. This is SFF and there’s no reason to keep homophobia in our newly imagined worlds.
Profanity… it’d be weird if you didn’t have it. I am also unreasonably entertained by tame expletives (ie “fluffernutter” rather than “ah, fuck”) so not everyone has to curse like a sailor, but I don’t mind if they do.
8/23 add: Comp titles: I could not possibly care less. Truly, don’t stress about it as far as pitching me is concerned. The only time I’ve used them personally was in a DVpit pitch and neither of the titles were books. Didn’t even use them in my queries. There are so many other things I’d rather you stress about.
IF YOU HAVE AN SFF AIDA RETELLING, (or other opera, really) SEND IT TO ME AND ONLY ME OMG. I mean… maybe not only me. But mostly me. Please.
I wish I was more into werewolves, vampires, and zombies but I am not. I’m also not into fae and folkloric beings in the traditional European sense. I’m also averse to the High Fantasy™ style of naming things (too many consecutive u’s, violent, gratuitous use of apostrophes, q’s in weird places). This is not to be confused with Indigenous language naming traditions, which are glorious. If you do pitch those other things, though, just understand that the story has to be doing something special with them for my consideration in the long run.
8/23 add: Anything over 150k is going to be hard for me. 90k-120k is my preferred length, really. We simply do not have all the time in the world to work through the story, so if it’s a George R. R. Martin-esque 290K monster, it needs to be so close to perfect already.
- Sexual assault. There is nothing so special or different you can do with sexual assault that will make it palatable or —honestly— necessary.
- Narratives which rely on the genocide/evisceration of marginalized cultures for character growth. Seriously. Come on.
- Romeo and Juliet retellings
Life experiences dictate that I’m able to provide authentic feedback for the following additional content: bipolar disorder, queerness (cisgender bisexual woman), hoh/use of ASL, paramedic/mass casualty events. But I encourage everyone not to use this as your sensitivity read opportunity. That should be done already.
What to Expect:
I can be blunt, but it comes from a place of not wanting to waste our time and not because I hate you. I’m mission-oriented, I pay attention to details, I’ll probably have a thousand questions for you. All of that is intended to understand your voice and the core of your story so we can develop it without sacrificing what’s important to you. I have also been known to send support gift bundles of cookies, make playlists, and aesthetic collages for additional inspiration. I want you to win! I want you to have fun! And I want to fall in love with your creation.