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  • Writer's pictureP.J. Powell

#AMMConnect 2020

Author Mentor Match (AMM) pairs aspiring writers with completed manuscripts with experienced authors for mentorship.” #AMMConnect 2020 posts are one of the ways AMM welcomes mentee hopefuls into its community.

About me

Hi! Here are some important things I like people to know about me:

P.J. Powell is both one of the youngest Gen-Xers and one of the oldest Millennials, which means she used to record songs off the radio, she felt seen when she read The 4-Hour Workweek, and she is unimpressed by most reboots. She is a Gryffindor but people always guess Slytherin. Growing up on the Space Coast in Florida, her early creative influences came from space shuttle launches and the Orlando theme parks. She is a staunch defender of the productivity-boosting benefits of short naps, long walks, and dance breaks. Has rhythm. Will sing in public.

What I write and why…

I write fiction to see what happens and what characters will do. The ideas I love most so far have been mostly SFF and I like to blend the two because I studied science in college, but I have the imagination of a flock of 13-year-olds who read Stephen King and believe in unicorns.

I also write flash fiction due to peer pressure from my beloved weekly writer’s group, aptly named “Girls Write Out.” We write flash to prompts and see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

And writing is my day job, except there I tell the truth. I work freelance in corporate communications for pharma, which means lots of business writing that touches health and science (see, college wasn’t for nothin’). I like writing in the health care sector because it fascinates me, and I also like seeing the different mechanics of a complex business that helps people.

My current project: Jade Maxim

JADE MAXIM is a contemporary upper-YA fantasy story about two friends on the brink of adulthood and what they’ll risk to become who they want to be. The book blends the magic-and-tech mashup of All the Birds in the Sky (Charlie Jane Anders) with the type of supernaturally-afflicted friendship portrayed in My Best Friend’s Exorcism (Grady Hendrix). That said, any help with comps is most appreciated! From a TV/film perspective, I would say it’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” meets “Jem and the Holograms” and the Black Mirror episode, “Rachel, Jack, and Ashley Too.”

Jade Maxim (18) is an augmented reality programmer who wants to break into the music industry, but she’s also the daughter of the Angel of Death, and she’s pretty much stuck reaping souls for her dad.

She lives in the cyberpunk playground of Holland City, where Manhattan’s supernatural runoff pools around a gate to Hell, but everyone is too busy with their augmented reality glasses to notice.

Jade’s big break comes when a pop princess named “M” hires her to do augmented reality effects for shows. But balancing reaping and programming is harder than Jade thought it would be. And the singer has her own problems: a deal with the Devil that isn’t delivering, and a stalker who wants to see her dethroned.

As Jade and M try to finish M’s next album, M implodes publicly, TMZ-style, and the Devil expects his due. Jade isn’t sure she can save the singer from going to Hell, but she’ll put her own soul on the line to try.

Ultimately, Jade will see that reaping has its benefits, fame has its pitfalls, and some friendships might be better off broken.

Why I’d make a great mentee…

I’m SO GRATEFUL to be writing in 2020. It’s so amazing that there’s such a supportive writing community, and we are finding each other, and we are in this together.

I am happy to be anywhere in that crazy roller-skating line, switching places as needed. Except at the front, at least for now. I need a roller-skating Yoda to guide me for a little while. I want to learn from someone who is further along, who can help me steer my efforts to make this story shine.

I’m at a point where I’ve put in a lot of hours and learned a ton, but I still have a ways to go, so I think that’s an especially good time to be mentored. I can pull my weight, but it really helps to have someone helping me not roll into the wall.

Here are some things about this WIP that I’m hoping a mentor can help me sort:

  1. This story is absolutely genre-blended to the point that you can’t have one without the other. Am I getting the balance right? (Metaphysics and fantasy still exist alongside technology in our own future world.)

  2. My cinnamon roll. Who is also a badass. Has feelings for MC but the arc is not arcing. HALP!

  3. My MC’s sidekick – she’s only in a few scenes, and would be easy to cut (especially since cinnamon roll becomes sidekick later in the story), but I feel like my MC needs her – what am I missing?

  4. Is there anything here that should just go? I love complex plots and that’s what my brain does, and it’s not always a good thing.

  5. What do I not know that I don’t know?

When anyone is willing to invest this degree of energy in teaching me something, I show up, work hard, and learn fast. Then I share. And I definitely want to stay active in the writing community and give back as I go.

I have an excellent writing support system – thanks to my critique partners Natalie Lockett, Wendy Stone, Ron Delaney Jr., and the aforementioned “Girls Write Out” group.

Whoever mentors me will also be indirectly mentoring all of them, because I’ll be sharing what I learn with them and applying my mentor’s advice when I read my writing partners’ pages. And they will keep me happily on track.

Two final notes –

Here’s Natalie, on working together:

“Working with P.J. has been one of the best experiences I’ve had with the writing community. I hit the jackpot when I snagged her as a CP. She has killer ideas and an enviable imagination. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience (seriously, this lady has done everything) to the table from improv classes to table top games with Brandon Sanderson. Whatever she does, she puts her whole heart into it–and that stellar brain of hers too.”

And here are my dogs. They kissie you.

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