Jeni Chappelle is a freelance novel editor with ten years’ experience, cofounding editor and board member for Revise & Resub (#RevPit), and EFA and SCBWI member. Jeni loves working with authors of all levels to shape their stories and bring their books out into the world. She considers herself a hobbit (minus the big, hairy feet) and lives in a tiny town near Charlotte, NC with her family and way too many pets.
What I’m really looking for is impeccable voice, characters I immediately connect to, and a fresh premise.
All genres for Upper MG, YA, NA, and Adult, with a few conditions:
- I only want stories with elements of magic, history, or mystery.
- I love retellings and re-imaginings, especially for stories that haven’t been used as much (side eye to Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast)
- I am not accepting Adult Romance, Mystery, Thriller, or Suspense without fantasy, historical, or sci-fi elements.
- I am not accepting military-based plots, space opera, stories where book characters come to life or characters go into books (I need a break from this trope), straight-up contemporary stories, Christian fiction, love triangles or princesses (unless there’s a fresh take, but it better be good!) or slasher-style horror for any age group.
- I have a hard cut-off of 100k words. Even if I love the story, I won’t consider anything longer for this contest because of time constraints.
I get really excited by underrepresented cultures, including ownvoices; premises that mix unusual elements (ex: fantasy and science); stories that work real-world concerns into fictional settings; characters with psychologically-sound motivations and reactions; realistic non-romantic relationships, although I love a good romance too!; and new twists on old favorites—whether that’s character, plot, concept, or tropes.
*If you have a prologue, don’t send it to me. Send me the first 5 pages of Chapter 1 instead.
How can a manuscript’s first five pages make you sit up and take notice?
I want to be excited about your plot and main character. In your query, I mostly want a strong idea of your overall plot, character arc, and stakes, stakes, stakes! In the pages, I’m looking for five elements to be handled well in a sub: voice (I know y’all hate reading that, but it’s true), starting with a scene already in progress, emotional connection to the main character, conflict, and orientation to the MC’s world and story (including characters introductions, world building, backstory, exposition, etc). I need to see that the author knows how to craft a scene and has a good grasp of the basics of storytelling.
What can writers expect from working with you during #RevPit, including communication?
What’s most important to me is that we work together to create your best manuscript possible and maintain your vision for your book. My main focus for this contest will be big-picture storytelling—plot, characterization, pacing, structure, etc. So first I’ll provide comprehensive feedback on the big picture. We’ll plan at least one phone call to address any questions or concerns so you’ll have a clear direction on how to approach revisions. I’m all about collaboration, so I’ll touch base frequently and be available via email for brainstorming and troubleshooting throughout the process.
What do you expect from writers during the #RevPit revision process, including communication?
Musts: availability for frequent communication, commitment to hard work, and willingness to make difficult changes. Plan at least 40 hours for revisions over the course of the editing round. I am open to more than one round of edits if we have time and the author works hard on revisions. I’ll bring a lot of energy to this process, and I want an author who will do the same.
What hobbies do you have outside of writing and editing?
I love to spend time with my family and my pets. I also like video games like Skyrim, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda series, and every LEGO game ever. I’m a big fan of live entertainment: theater, dance, music, comedy, burlesque…you name it. And I could never get enough of Disney World. Recently, I started playing D & D. I’m in way over my head, but I’m having so much fun!
What published book did you love in 2018, and what did you love about it?
A Room Away from the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma. Two words: Dark. Twists! I can’t recommend this book enough!