Mandy Hubbard and D. Ann Williams at ECLA
Sheeda Jamsheed is an author of fantasy books for children and teens. And because why not, she’s also a screenwriter for TV and film. She’s a San Francisco Bay Area native and first-generation Iranian–American with a fierce reading and binge-watching habit. By day she’s a content strategist in tech, and by night she dodges invitations to the outside world so she can stay home to read and write.
What does mentorship mean to you, and why do you want to be a mentor?
Mentorship is growth. For the mentee and the mentor. I was lucky enough to be chosen by Naz Katub as a mentee for AMM R7, and while I didn't ultimately find rep with the manuscript I workshopped, it was a vital experience for me as a writer. I grew and evolved from having that mentorship of a professional who had recently gone through the same writer rollercoaster of drafting, querying, getting rejected, repeat until they found rep. Not only didn't it sharpen my revision and querying skills, but it gave me a sense of hope, connection, and solidarity that I hope to pay forward with someone else in the same position I was in just a few years ago.
What is your mentorship style? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
First off, I'm pretty much always available. I'm one of ~those~ people who basically reply 2.5 seconds after getting a text or DM. I'm happy to accommodate whatever style the mentee prefers and feels comfortable with: email, phone, zoom, text, DM, Slack, carrier pigeon, etc. I lead with kindness and positivity...ALWAYS. And with any feedback, I deliver it in a meaningful and respectful way. I'm very used to offering and receiving feedback -- both for my day job and with my author-ly passions. I'm great at dialogue, character backstories, and motivations, overall plot. I'm comfortable with scene by scene analysis and big picture. My weakness is probably that I'm best suited to mentor stories in the genres I love reading: fantasy (contemporary and second-world), urban fantasy, magical realism, and historical fantasy in YA and MG. (Yes, I love fantasy.) I love sci-fi too, but I don't feel confident enough to be able to help out with world building in space and advanced AI.
What makes a great mentee? Describe your ideal mentee/mentor relationship.
Someone excited to learn and grow and to want to make their unique story the best it can be. An ideal relationship is someone I can champion, squeal with, share memes with, and for them to be open to ways in which they can push themselves and try different story angles -- ultimately I'd love to help someone take their story to a place that THEY are excited and passionate about. And hey, who doesn't want another writer fren??
How would you describe your normal working speed?
What kind of communication can your mentee(s) expect from you?
My communication style is pretty open and can be tailored to the preference of my mentee. Text, DM, Slack, email, and video calls all work for me.
I’m usually very quick to respond -- especially through text and DM. If my day job or other life demands are particularly high, I may be a little delayed, but usually no more than 48 hours. If I anticipate a delay I will communicate this as soon as I can with a quick acknowledgement. I’m most available during normal working hours and may be a little slow during evenings and weekends. I’d prefer to do any video calls on weekdays, but if that’s not possible, I can certainly accommodate with a little planning.
I also want my mentee to feel comfortable letting me know about their preferences. No matter what, my goal is to create a safe space for you. It's incredibly brave to put yourself and your work out there, so any way I help make our communication work for you, I want to know about it.
I want you to have fun and walk away feeling even more proud of yourself for this accomplishment.
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?
I have personal limitations that may conflict with mentee accommodations
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, Line notes/edits, I'd be open to doing 2 manuscript passes, but I mostly likely wouldn't have time for several passes.
How polished should your submissions be?
To be specific, manuscripts can be antique mirror and above. Essentially, it needs to be a complete draft and preferably with at least one revision -- even if it's light.
Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism
Fantasy: High/Epic, Portal, Urban/Contemporary, Magical Realism, Paranormal, Historical
Science Fiction: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Horror: Fantastical, Gothic
Historical and Alternate History (with magic of some kind)
Retellings (mythology, popular stories/shows/movies)
I'm intentionally keeping my MSWL fairly broad strokes. What I've outlined below is key, but I want to be wowed and don't want to close myself off to your beautiful stories that are wholly unique. So with that lil disclaimer, what I'd love and be honored to see in my inbox is:
Above all, I want fantasy. Fantasy, fantasy, and more fantasy. Did I mention I love fantasy?? Give me your beautiful second world, contemporary, high fantasy, or low fantasy tales — I’m not picky. I like it all. Middle Eastern and European mythology-inspired are a huge plus. And if you’re BIPOC writing familiar tropes that showcase a love for your culture?
Same goes for LGBTQ+ and stories exploring mental health. Our communities matter and we need more of our stories on shelves. It would be a privilege to see yours <3
I want to see MAGIC. I live for it and pretty much everything I read, write, and watch is full of it. Whether it's familiar magic systems with your own flair or completely new and unchartered, I'm pretty much guaranteed to squeal.
I want your flawed heroes with good intentions. I want your messy villains. I want your cast of lovable, awkward, hilarious, and even morose supporting cast of characters. Is your MC kind of hopeless and still trying to figure it out? Wow, same. I'd love to read about them.
Give me ALL the supernatural creatures. You’ve got vampires, fae, witches, demons, werewolves, or mermaids? Perfect. Another supernatural creature that I may or may not have heard of? Even better. Send them my way. Does your story feature a really hot supernatural villian with Klaus Mikaelson vibes? That is my ultimate jam. Always and forever.
I lean towards darker themes (blame my Scorpio moon), but that doesn’t mean I don’t love a gooey HEA, friendship love, found family, and romantic, epic love. Enemies to lovers? Check. Friends to lovers? Complicated lovers? Check check. A cinnamon roll with Harry Styles vibes? Yes please.
Please do not send me:
No insta-love, please. Insta-lust and attraction? Sure thing. But if your MC is madly in love and upending their entire life and identity for someone they met four days ago, it’s not for me.
Purely contemporary without any magic or fantastical elements.
(TW) graphic on-page SA/abuse is a hard no, but violence and warfare is okay.
What are some of your favorite books?
PERCY JACKSON series/spinoffs, THE GILDED WOLVES, SIX OF CROWS, THE COLDEST GIRL IN COLDTOWN, CARAVAL, AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS, CRUEL PRINCE, MAGNUS CHASE series, CIRCE, THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, AN EMBER IN THE ASHES series
What are some books, movies, shows, games, etc. that you've recently enjoyed?
TV SHOWS: My absolute obsession is The Vampire Diaries. It's literally always on repeat. Other fave shows are The Originals, The Magicians, The 100, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Witcher, Avatar: The Last Airbender
MOVIES: the LOTR trilogy, MCU films, especially those featuring Loki, the 90s Little Women, Death Becomes Her, The Mummy, Edward Scissorhands, Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Twilight series (it's so good/bad it gives me life)
Is there anything else you want potential mentees to know?
Congrats on writing a story!! You did it bestie and I'm proud. I want to help you take your story to next level. I'll be honest and direct, but ALWAYS ALWAYS respectful and nice. At times, this process may feel a little hard, but I'll be on your side every time. You got this. :)