Jessika Fleck is a writer, unapologetic coffee drinker, and knitter — she sincerely hopes to one day discover a way to do all three at once. Until then, she continues collecting vintage typewriters and hourglasses, dreaming of an Ireland getaway, and convincing her husband they NEED more kittens.
Jessika has lived all over the U.S. from Hawaii to Vermont, but currently calls Illinois home. She resides there with her sociology professor husband and two daughters where she’s learning to appreciate the beauty in cornfields and terrifyingly large cicadas.
Jessika writes both young adult and middle grade fiction and her work verges on fantastical and dark with a touch of realism. Her YA fantasy, THE CASTAWAYS (Entangled Teen) is currently available. BEWARE THE NIGHT (Swoon Reads/Macmillan) releases early 2019.
Grab your fave beverage and settle in friends… I completely stumbled into writing. When my daughters were babies and I was in great need of a creative outlet that didn’t involve crayons or Cheerios, I found writing. Enter: my first book. It was a whopping 160k words. Yes, you read that correctly. And it will never see the light of day. BUT, that utter-word-explosion™ taught me 1. I could write a book. 2. That I ADORE writing and must do it always. And 3. Gave me the motivation to try to get published.
Fast forward a couple of years and another two stories later and my publishing journey began. I landed my first agent. :confetti: Two and a half years and three projects on submission came and went, but nothing sold. 🙁 Agent #1 and I amicably parted ways. Real talk: That was an extremely difficult time for me–mountains of doubt and dwindling self confidence and lots of what am I even doing? But I did the whole ‘lift yourself up from your bootstraps’ and hopped back on that publishing horse.
Through Brenda Drake’s #PitMad, I got my debut deal with Entangled TEEN. Then, on a magical whim, I submitted a manuscript to Swoon Reads and the publishing gods smiled down upon me once again because they chose my book, Beware the Night! Intermission: Between my debut publishing and signing my contract with Swoon Reads, I started writing MG and signed with another agent. A great agent. A wow!-what?-I-cannot-believe-I’m-signing-with-this-agent agent. :confetti: Alas, ’twas not meant to be. Agent #2 had to let me go soon after due to her own personal circumstances. We parted ways amicably. 🙁 Real talk: Publishing is not for the faint of heart.
But! Third time truly is a charm because I found amazing, wonderful, dream-agent #3 whose experience and industry knowledge is unparalleled. Had I not gone through the many ups and downs and weird, winding detours, I would never have signed with my current agent who truly is a wonderful fit. We’re currently getting ready to go on submission with my MG debut as I work on a not-yet-announced YA project. *All* of this to say, there’s no right or perfect way to get published.
As mentioned in my publishing journey, I have a plethora of trial and error experience (it’s a good thing, I promise). I’ve done lots of querying, buckets worth of blood/sweat/tears of editing (for agents and editors), and have pretty much mastered the elusive 1-page synopsis. I work with a close knit group of writers, betas, and critique partners and am consistently reading or giving feedback on one project or another. I’ve worked with two publishers, three agents, and meet deadlines like a champ. I’ve also had the pleasure of mentoring and judging for various online writing contests: Sun vs. Snow, Query Kombat, & Nestpitch, to name a few. And I’ve been on the other end of many writing contests as a mentee/pitchee, so I understand that side as well. Also, my degree is in social studies so if your book has vague hints of sociology, history, and anthropology, I’m your gal (please read sarcasm here)!
I cannot express how honored I am to be a part of the AMM program. Truly. There is absolutely no way I could ever have persisted this long and through so many ups and downs if it wasn’t for the amazing writing community. I’ve met so many wonderful, generous, and supportive authors along the way. Writing–actually putting words on paper–is a solitary profession, but publishing, all of the in-betweens, is full of the loveliest of people. My hope in mentoring is to continue in this same spirit.
I’m looking for MG magical realism and/or fantasy with quirky, fantastically weird concepts and themes. I want stories set in immersive, wonderfully strange, well-developed settings. I need characters who have voice, heart, and flaws. Adorable, witty, wise animal sidekicks welcomed. Friendships are a must. Strong family ties and unique family dynamics also refreshingly welcomed. I don’t mind tropes or retellings or exploring issues as long as they’re well done and not too heavy handed or on the nose. I love hints of high action and mystery and *light* sci fi! I’ll happily look at creepy/dark themes appropriate to MG. And ghosts. I’d love a well-told ghost story.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
No high fantasy, please. I’m always on the lookout for LGBTQIA rep within the genres selected–simply because I’m not the best match for contemporary, there are other mentors better suited. Mystery/thriller with a magical/fantasy bend or the other way around. Light sci-fi, preferably edging more toward fantasy. I’m not looking for romance in MG. Innocent, sweet crushes are okay but by no means does any romance need to be present. Magical realism/fabulism of all sorts welcomed!
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Freestyle in chat
First off, I’m going to be very honest which can be discouraging, I know. BUT I’ll do that in a constructive, gentle way and will equally squee over how amazing your story is. Promise. I’ll start with big picture notes and an edit letter that covers ideas and suggestions. Depending, I might give you my thoughts chapter by chapter. After this, we will explore the notes together because, at the end of the day, this is YOUR book. After big picture edits I’ll do a line by line with comments in the manuscript. And then we’ll do a chat/brainstorming session on final thoughts. My line of communication is always open–I will respond to emails within 24 hrs. We will also work on the mentee’s query letter and synopsis. My goal is to help my mentee shape their manuscript into something that’s ready to fall right into an agent’s hands.
I’m looking for someone who is open to criticism and willing to do the work. I need a mentee with a clear and open communication style. I’m hoping to work with someone who isn’t afraid to ask questions and, at the same time, isn’t afraid to hear real, honest answers to said questions. Deadlines are a big deal for me because I have my own deadlines to keep and we’re in this together! I’m so very excited for this process and, at the end of the day, I want this to be an enjoyable, fun, and rewarding experience for both of us.
New forms of magic | Strong friendships | New twists on classic tales | Inventive mythology | A Goonies-esque adventure | Dark stories ala Coraline | Strong family bonds | Ghosts ala ParaNorman | Strange mysteries ala A Series of Unfortunate Events | Books with unique/unreliable narration | Anything weird and quirky in all the good ways ala The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland
DO NOT SEND ME:
I’m *NOT* the best fit for: Romance | High fantasy | Books with a cast made up of *only* animals | Religious-based books | Deep issues books | Heavy sci fi | Stories where parents have died in a car crash | Contemporary | Gory horror
Keeping this more toward the MG side of things, but… Savvy | Coraline | Skellig | His Dark Materials | The Book Thief | Ella Enchanted | Chaos Walking | The Sisters Grimm | Practical Magic | Spirited Away | My Neighbor Totoro | ParaNorman | Kubo and the Two Strings | The Princess Bride | Gilmore Girls | Steven Universe | Gravity Falls | Parks & Rec | New Girl | Sabrina the Teenage Witch | Once Upon a Time | A Series of Unfortunate Events | Harry Potter