Daniel Lazar, Writers House


INK IN THE BLOOD (Fall 2019)

Kim Smejkal lives with her family on muse-satiating Vancouver Island, which means she’s often lost in the woods or wandering a beach. She writes dark fantasy for young adults and not-so-young adults, always with a touch of magic. Her debut novel, INK IN THE BLOOD, will release from HMH in 2019, with a sequel to follow in 2020. She is represented by Daniel Lazar of Writers House.

I’ve been writing seriously for about seven years now, and my path to publication has been long and winding. I’ve written five books: one got me an offer from a small press (which I turned down for various reasons), one landed me my first agent and we went on submission (but I had to pull it from consideration when that agent left the business), one I barely queried because I knew it would never be ready, another I queried heavily (and still love) but the premise wasn’t marketable enough to garner agent interest, and now, PHEW, my fifth got me a fabulous mentor in Pitch Wars (2016), and then I signed with my new agent shortly afterwards. After heavy revisions with him, we went on submission in fall of last year, and sold a dark fantasy duology to HMH. The first book, INK IN THE BLOOD, will be out in fall 2019.

I’ve been deep in the writing, critique, revision, and querying world for a solid seven years now, and have accumulated a lot of different experience along the way. Read my publishing background and you’ll see what I mean: dealing with a small publisher, multiple stints in the query trenches, being on submission, a not-great agent experience, and now a second, better agent experience. A lot has happened to me on this roller coaster.

I’ve helped critique partners with their stories and queries (a few who are now published authors!) and have received a lot of feedback on my own work. Being mentored in Pitch Wars 2016 was wonderful for showing me how mentorship works and how valuable it can be.

And during these past few years, I’ve also networked with many other writers. I can’t claim their experience, but these additional stories help with my perspective and add to my knowledge about the industry.

This is my third time mentoring with Author Mentor Match, and I love being able to give back to the writing community!

When I first began working towards publication, I was idealistic, naive, and, quite frankly, I didn’t know what I was doing. The up and down rollercoaster was so disheartening that I almost gave up. More than once.

Then…I had a fabulous experience with Pitch Wars. My mentor was incredible and taught me so much about the revision process, and, more importantly, it was fantastic to have someone firmly rooting for me and my little book to succeed. With all the rejection in this business, it’s invaluable to have someone believe in you.

This is my third time mentoring with AMM. I love to help authors avoid some of the mistakes I made, cheer them on with their successes and commiserate with them about setbacks, and basically be the person I needed years ago.

Send me your incredible YA fantasy–high or low, whimsical or serious–with unique and memorable characters. My biggest criteria is emotional resonance: if you can make me cry or laugh or get really pissed off, you win forever. 🙂

I love the weird and fantastical. And give me grey areas: good guys who act like bad guys, bad guys that make you doubt whose side you’re on, and stories that reflect the complexity of the world.

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • Own Voices
  • Romance
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

My first and strongest love will always be fantasy. Whether it’s a complex high fantasy with incredible world-building or a contemporary story with a fantasy hook, I love books with speculative elements.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
  • Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
  • Freestyle in chat

I’m willing to commit for the long term and adapt our relationship along the way. I’m relatively accessible and tend to respond quickly.

In terms of my mentoring style, I tend to go through books first as a reader: I look at the pacing, the romance, the characters, and the emotional feel of the story. Then I’ll reread with a more critical eye, making big picture suggestions for plot and character development, or pointing out any stylistic issues in the writing (hey, we all have our foibles).

I’m willing to help on as many revisions as needed to make the story as strong as possible: from multiple edit letters down to line editing. I’m also open to helping with brainstorming on a more casual level. Really, whatever the mentee and the book needs!

My ideal mentee will be open to suggestions, ready to brainstorm, and willing to put the work in. Revisions can be heavy and intense–much more than moving commas around–and I’d like someone who is ready to butcher a few darlings for the greater good.

Send me girl main characters, feminist themes, and boy characters who subvert toxic masculine stereotypes (anything that pushes back on traditional gender stereotypes, really).

I love darker stories, morally grey characters, and books that push boundaries in style, theme, or tone. To me, dark fantasy doesn’t necessarily mean blood, skulls, and gore (thought I’m more than okay with all those things!), but something that’s atmospheric, risky(!) and tonally grim.

Great world-building and unique hooks are an added bonus, and as always I’m on the lookout for good LGBTQIA+ rep.

If you can fit a delicious romance in there, all the better! I love a strong romantic subplot.

No time travel (I love to read it, can’t mentor it because it breaks my brain), no stereotypical “mean girls,” and no aggressive alpha males as the love interest, please!

And I can appreciate a good sword fight, murder, or escape scene, but if your book is VERY action-sequence heavy, I might not be the best mentor for you. I tend to like my conflict more subtle, manipulative, and underhanded.

Auto-buy authors: Ryan Graudin, Laini Taylor, Kristin Cashore, Patrick Ness, A.S. King, Leigh Bardugo, and V.E. Schwab.

Other fav authors (new and old): Octavia Butler, Rachel Hartman, Margaret Atwood, Julie C. Dao, Melissa Albert, David Arnold, Libba Bray, Renèe Ahdieh, Kenneth Oppel, Scott Westerfeld… etc. etc. so many my tbr pile is infinite

Fav shows: The 100, Orange is the New Black, Peaky Blinders, Glow, Stranger Things, Bob’s Burgers, Schitt’s Creek, Brooklyn 99, and I’ll watch anything Marvel and almost anything DC.

I love camping, hiking, and looking for beach treasures, and I have an unhealthy obsession with the band Alt-J ∆. My kids are pretty cool, too. <3