Alyssa Henkin

YA/MG contemporary with a magical twist

On Submission

Erin King hails from the deserts of Las Vegas, where she was a serious high school choir nerd (no, really, they won a Grammy), turned songwriter, turned novelist. These days, she lives in Manhattan with her designer husband, where they pretend “creatives” can afford the city. She writes Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction while her three native New Yorkers attend school, and takes her life in her hands every time she goes for a run in Central Park. (She has anaphylactic allergic reactions to exercise, on occasion. Yes, it’s a thing.) However, she hopes to survive to write many more fantastical tales about children and teenagers living in our world, with just a twist of magic.

I have always loved stories of any kind—books, music, TV, movies—but it never occurred to me that I could become an author until the year I graduated from college. I was finishing up my bachelor’s degree in Social Work, but was spending every free minute I had writing songs in empty classrooms and sitting in the aisles of the BYU bookstore reading everything I could get my hands on. I loved social work (I’m an INFP, I have a very strong social conscience, ha) but I was realizing more and more that I was desperate to write stories. And then I had an AHA moment (a story for another time) and I realized it was time to start.

Fast forward summary: my husband and I moved to NYC in 2005 for his job (graphic designer/creative director), we had three kids in five years, and all the while I wrote on the side and studied whatever I could find about craft. I wrote during naptimes and at night when I was often so tired I would fall asleep on my laptop. It took me years, taking time off for newborns and just life sometimes, but I finished two YA novels. I instinctively knew the first wasn’t good enough, and after querying about ten agents, I shelved it. I knew the second one had promise, and the premise got a lot of attention, even if the writing wasn’t quite there. I would normally advice against reworking the same idea over and over, it’s usually better to move on and start fresh, but I knew if I could mold it into the vision in my head, it could be killer.

I rewrote the book several times, and then began querying. I got a good amount of full requests but no bites, and then in 2017 entered QueryKombat on a whim. My query and first page ended up winning the competition (what?!), and I got close to twenty full requests for the book. I signed with Alyssa Henkin at Trident Media, even though the manuscript still needed revisions. Currently, Paper Seeds (YA) and Shards (MG, whose title will probably change) are on submission/in revisions. Fingers crossed!

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to pursue a degree in writing or publishing, so over the years I’ve tried to create that for myself by studying all I can about craft and working with some really amazing mentors. Stories are my passion, and I have learned SO MUCH through years of entering contests, revising my own work, critiquing/working with CPs and my agent/agency. I also know what it feels like to be in your shoes because I was an AMM Round 1 Mentee, and I would love to be there to help you on your journey.

I would love to mentor another author on their publishing journey because honestly, the journey can be long and sometimes lonely. The more fellow writers we can have in our tribe to cheer each other on, the better. I’d love to pass on some of what I’ve learned, and help someone along the way because we’re all in this together. (*fist bump* or *break into HSM dance number*)

I hate to use an over-used phrase, but if I had to sum up what I’m really looking for, it would be a book that gives me ALL THE FEELS. (Raise your hand if you’re a fellow feelings-junky…) I want to feel moved. I want to laugh. I want to cry. I want to put down a book and feel like I’ve been through something with voice-y characters I will miss, and a setting I’ll wish I could exist in a little longer. That doesn’t mean it has to be an epic, plot-driven journey book. It can be (think Cassandra Clare), or it can be a quiet story about someone’s internal journey (think Rainbow Rowell’s non-fantasy books). Genres, tropes, subject matter aside, I’m on board for any story that moves me.

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices*, LGBTQIA*
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Light Fantasy/Sci-fi (think Cinder series)

There are no must-haves for me, but some tropes/elements I enjoy that came to mind:

  • Antiheroes
  • Enemies to friends/lovers
  • Love triangles (DONE WELL…think Clockwork Angel)
  • Lovable rogues
  • Band of misfits
  • Heists/secret missions
  • Banter/funny dialogue
  • A fun twist on vampires, werewolves, other paranormal
  • Locations I’m always drawn to: small towns, NYC, New England, the South, islands
  • Ultimately, anything with a good emotional pull where I care about the characters is something I’d love to delve into!


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

I would love to start our working relationship with a phone call or video chat where we can get to know each other a little better, and I can hear about your writing journey thus far, as well as your vision for your book. This includes lots of gushing and commiserating. We’ll also discuss the initial edit letter and big picture feedback, and then make a revision plan going forward. After the first pass of edits, I’ll do at least one more pass focusing more on details/line edits.

I’m open to whatever communication works best for us both and while I can’t promise endless read-throughs or constant communication, I’d like to be there for you as you’re preparing to query and going through the querying process, whether that’s help with your query, a quick question about a specific plot hole, or a brainstorming session to unlock something about your plot or character. And when you get your first query rejection, I’ll venmo you $5 to go buy a pint of ice cream.

My ideal mentee would be someone who feels fiercely passionate about the story they are trying to tell and is willing to work like crazy to mold it into the vision they have in their head. That being said—they will be open to feedback, not too precious about their work, and understand that although revision can be hard and even painful (kill those darlings!) it’s ultimately what makes a book the best version of the story.

Also, my ideal mentee will have revised their book several times already, and is just looking for an outside eye to help them get it to the next level. I would love to collaborate with a mentee who will geek out over craft and storytelling with me, who is truly seeking to become a better writer with every pass on their manuscript. Ultimately, I’d love to develop a lasting working relationship and become friends and CPs for life! (Kidding, but not?) Oh—and the most important bit: high maintenance, demanding mentees need not apply. I’m looking for eagerness, positivity, and gratitude (not to me, ha. Like as a life principle).


  • Humor! Make me laugh and I’ll love your book.
  • Immersive settings
  • Writing that lands somewhere between commercial and literary (not a must-have, but a plus)
  • Strong romance subplot (not required, but a plus)
  • Contemporary stories with a twist of magic or speculative elements (I love all kinds of stories, but this is my sweet spot)
  • High concept plots
  • Would love a religious #ownvoices book where the religion is not the central plot. (think Midge Maisel’s Jewish family/traditions/culture on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.)
  • A good mystery being solved or mystery society
  • Big families and sibling stories
  • M/M best friends stories or brother stories
  • Villains who have a clear motivation for their villainy
  • Superheroes or characters with magic abilities
  • Bittersweet endings
  • Anything that surprises me!
  • I’m really open to anything!


  • I’m okay with profanity, sex, and violence, but if your book is gratuitous, it’s probably not for me. I’m not looking for books trying to shock.
  • The world is stressing me out right now. I enjoy dystopian books, dark books, issue books, etc., but if your book is super heavy about larger topics, I don’t think I’m in the right headspace for that. (The Fault in Our Stars = okay. Plots about terrorism, war, politics, etc. = I support you, but not right for me.)
  • I love to read fantasy and sci-fi of all kinds, but I’m probably not the best mentor for high fantasy just because I don’t have experience writing it.
  • No magic pixie dream girls, please. (Unless you’re subverting it in some way a la Paper Towns.)
  • No horror (suspense, some frightening elements are fine).


BOOKS (a few favorites):
The Raven Boys series
Eleanor & Park
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series
When Dimple Met Rishi
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
The Sun is Also a Star
Clockwork Angel series
As You Wish
Paper Towns
The Hate U Give
The Hazel Wood
Classic Lit (Jane Austen, Sherlock Holmes, I Capture the Castle, Little Women, etc)
Six of Crows
Twilight series (Don’t @ me)
Strange the Dreamer
Daughter of Smoke & Bone series
The Beginning of Everything
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

This is hard to narrow down, so we’ll go with a few categories:

Light and fun (Gilmore Girls, Community, Parks & Rec, The Office)
Drama (LOST, Friday Night Lights, Poldark, The Crown, Sherlock, This Is Us)
YA Drama (Stranger Things, Pretty Little Liars, Freaks & Geeks, Veronica Mars.)

Again, too many to name!

RomComs (Crazy Rich Asians, My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sweet Home Alabama, To All the Boys)
Drama (About Time, Dan in Real Life, Inception, A Quiet Place, The Truman Show, Jojo Rabbit, Yesterday, Bohemian Rhapsody)
Pixar (all of it + non-Pixar: Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, Tangled, etc)
Brain Candy (Marvel, esp. Black Panther, Guardians, Thor: Ragnarok, Star Wars, Greatest Showman + any musical, Mission Impossibles, Ocean’s movies, etc)