Tara Gonzalez, EMLA
Hetal is a first generation Indian American (and the oldest of four girls), who had the privilege of being her immigrant parent’s experiment child. All rules first tested on her were subsequently thrown out for Sisters 2, 3, and 4. She's not mad, though, because those experiences make great story fodder! With BAs in English Literature and Communications from The Ohio State University, she works as an IT Analyst during the daylight hours. But after dark, when the kiddos are tucked into bed, she likes to spin stories where Desi kids are traveling to fantastic places, meeting creatures from Indian myth, and becoming their own champions.
What does mentorship mean to you, and why do you want to be a mentor?
I was a two time mentee with PitchWars and it changed my perspective on my writing. Because of my experiences, I know exactly what I want to do for my mentee.
I will help you make your story as strong as possible. There are so many things I didn't understand about pacing and structure, plot and world-building when I first started, and I don't want you to struggle to learn like I did. Whatever I know, whatever resources I've found, I'm happy to share them with you. I want to share in your dreams and goals because this writing thing can be so solitary at times. You aren't alone, though, and I hope to help you see that.
What is your mentorship style? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
I love my spreadsheets and beat sheets, but I won't force them upon you unless you're curious to learn about them. That said, I will be looking for those beats in the right places of your story. I like to read and make in line comments in the manuscript as I go (first reactions) followed by an edit letter to talk overall plot, pace, and structure.
I encourage questions and conversations and will brainstorm possible solutions with you, but ultimately, this is your manuscript and if there's a suggestion that doesn't feel right, I leave it to you to take or leave the change. I'm here to cheer you on, provide advice, or just listen to you vent. Safe space here.
What makes a great mentee? Describe your ideal mentee/mentor relationship.
Someone who is open to revising and even gutting characters or sub-plots if it makes the manuscript better. If you're seeking developmental help with your manuscript (pacing, plot, character arc, or overall structure) then this is the best kind of partnership.
I want a mentee who will consider my suggestions and then run with them. I'll shine a light on things that need revising, whether that’s adding an inner journey, an outer journey, a plot element, solidifying the emotional aspects (or whatever the fix is) and hope you they daunted by them. I won't tell them what to write, but I will tell them why something isn’t working, whether it’s internal plot inconsistencies or character/emotional arc authenticity, and hope they can absorb my notes without taking offense.
I'm here to help them, not attack their writing, so if a suggestion doesn't feel right I hope they feel comfortable talking it out with me. And because I'm leaving the timeline to them, I hope this friendship doesn't end with the end of the mentorship.
How would you describe your normal working speed?
What kind of communication can your mentee(s) expect from you?
I am quickest to respond to DMs and texts; emails follow closely after but I'll usually respond within 24 hours. I'm open to video or phone calls; whatever my mentee is most comfortable with.
What kinds of communication are you able to accommodate?
Email, Zoom/Skype/Video, Text/Whatsapp, Social Media DMs, Phone calls
Are you able to make accommodations for mentees that request them?
Indefinite/As long as the mentee needs to complete our work together
Check all that apply: What do you plan to offer as a mentor?
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
How polished should your submissions be?
Magic Mirror, Funhouse Mirror
Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism
First and foremost, I'm looking to mentor a marginalized creator. As a diverse creator, the world needs our voices!
I write both MG and YA and am open to both in the speculative arena. Give me a contemporary with fantastical or paranormal elements at the heart of the story. Give me stories about families, friendships, first crushes, and kids passionate about their interests. Give me heartfelt, coming of age, messy internal and external relationships. I love retellings with new twists, especially where the girls are slaying dragons and saving the prince or princess.
This relationship is a give and take, so my ideal mentee will have as many suggestions as I have questions about their manuscript. I hope my mentee has a polished manuscript but is open to revising or even gutting sub-plots if it makes the manuscript better, faster, stronger. I won't tell you want to write, but I will point out inconsistencies or why something isn't working and brainstorm solutions with you.
Please do not send me:
My reading is pretty varied, but there are a few topics I'd rather not receive in either MG or YA: a novel-in-verse, animal cruelty, animal MCs, vampires, POC story written by a non-POC, graphic novels, high fantasy, and hard science fiction.
What are some of your favorite books?
A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat, The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste, Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi, The Serpant's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta, Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, Tristan Strong Punches A Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
What are some books, movies, shows, games, etc. that you've recently enjoyed?
Tristan Strong Punches A Hole in the Sky, Encanto, Shang Chi, A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, Bridgerton, Never Have I Ever, The Adam Project, Shadow and Bone
Is there anything else you want potential mentees to know?