Jim McCarthy


SWEET & BITTER MAGIC (March 9, 2021)
S&S/Margaret K. McElderry Books

Adrienne Tooley grew up in Southern California, majored in musical theater in Pittsburgh, and now lives in Brooklyn with her wife, eight guitars, and a banjo. In addition to writing novels, she is a singer/songwriter who has currently released three indie-folk EPs. Her debut novel, SWEET & BITTER MAGIC, will publish March 9, 2021 from S&S/McElderry. Her second novel, SOFI AND THE BONE SONG, will release in 2022.

I’ve always been a writer—my childhood was filled with short stories and compulsive journaling—but I was always afraid to commit to writing a novel. That changed in 2016 when I wrote my first book about a queer girl trying to escape her cult. After revising and inundating myself with all the publishing information I could find (QueryShark, google, twitter) and chatting with a kind literary agent who was the sister of a college friend, I entered the query trenches. A #PitMad tweet connected me with my first agent, and together we revised and the book went on sub while I worked on new projects. After an unsuccessful first round, my agent… ghosted me. Emails, phone calls, all communication stopped. I was devastated.

During NaNoWriMo 2017, I got the inkling of a new idea—the first once since my agent. I ended up writing a weird, quirky fantasy about grief. I fell head over heels in love with this project, and after feedback from CPs and the realization I had actually written a MG, not a YA, I revised, and began the nerve wracking process of querying. Again. This process was quick, I ended up with multiple offers for my weird little book, and signed with Jim McCarthy. After revising together, we took that book on sub, and while it ultimately didn’t sell, it was during that first round that I started work on an entirely different project which would become my debut, SWEET & BITTER MAGIC, coming from S&S/McElderry in March 2021.

Early 2020, we sold my second book, a standalone fantasy about a musician, entitled SOFI AND THE BONE SONG, to my editor at McElderry. SOFI is currently slated for release in 2022.

I was a Pitch Wars 2019 mentor, and our mentee ended up with multiple requests and signed with a wonderful agent post-showcase. I also work closely with multiple CPs at all stages of publishing, offering a keen eye for revisions and query materials specifically. My theater background makes me a great choice for assisting with character motivations and development as well as line-level prose. I’m meticulous, but will cheerlead you all the way.


When I finished my first manuscript I had absolutely no idea where to start. I wasn’t on Twitter, I didn’t have any real-life writing friends. I felt so wildly alone and overwhelmed with everything I did not know. As I started to learn more about the industry, I was still overwhelmed by the vastness of the community, and wondered how I’d ever find my way. Years later, armed with knowledge and community, I want to be a resource for those who may be feeling the same way—certain in their words and their story—but overwhelmed by the rest. As a mentor, I will help you cut to the heart of your words and your work, but I will also invest in *you*. Because writing can be a solitary, lonely space. But it doesn’t have to be.

I am looking for queer (especially sapphic and bisexual) fantasy and speculative fiction (even contemporary, if it’s the right pitch). Specifically the quiet, heart books. Give me girls who love girls, give me messy families, give me darkness, give me grief, give me anger, give me sadness, give me monsters, give me hope. Give me fairytales, give me revolutions (even if they’re internal, or revolutions of the heart), give me yearning.

I’m looking for a mentee who isn’t afraid to take risks, to try, try again. A mentee with a captivating world and intriguing characters. With a story I will dream about even once I’ve reached ‘the end.’ Someone open to feedback and collaboration.


Give me speculative in the vein of WATCH OVER ME, BONE GAP, BURN OUR BODIES DOWN.

If your contemporary can be comp’d to WE ARE OKAY, SADIE, JELLICOE ROAD or THE LAST TRUE POETS OF THE SEA, please send it to me!


  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I’m a sucker for hate-to-love and rivals-to-lovers relationship dynamics in all genres, as well as found families. I also am looking for queer characters and #ownvoices stories by POC.

I’m looking for character-driven stories in all genres. In fantasy I’d love to see more slice-of-life stories a la TESS OF THE ROAD. Give me intricate world-building & surprising magic systems and characters that forge their own path.

In fabulism I’m looking for dark, weird, almost horror-esque stories a la Rory Power. Give me strange family trees and whispered stories about witches and healers.

In contemporary, I’m looking for quiet books, a la Nina LaCour, especially your stories about grief.


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


I’m looking for an open, collaborative process. I want to get to know my mentee as both a writer and (hopefully) a friend, and I’m hoping this relationship will last far beyond AMM.

I always like to start with a big picture edit letter (focused on structural issues, character arcs, world-building, etc), and I’m happy to set up a Zoom/FaceTime call to chat about ideas and revision plans before the work begins. After that first round, we’ll dive into line-level edits (prose, cadence, dialogue, etc). Throughout the process I’ll always be available via email (or your preferred contact method) for questions, input, etc as you work through revisions. We can schedule additional chats if you get stuck or have a new idea strike.

Once we both feel good about the book, I’ll be available to assist with querying materials as well. If you’re my mentee I’m invested in you, not just your book!

My ideal mentee is someone who is driven and excited, yet realistic about the process. Someone willing to put in the effort necessary for a large-scale revision, who knows that good things take time. I want this to be a collaborative process, someone who finds excitement in the changing of things, but doesn’t accept all notes without full consideration. As a mentor, I want to work to keep *your* vision alive, to keep the heart of your book intact, and I want a mentee who is willing to fight for that, to take my notes and build upon them further.


  • Sapphic! Characters! (F/f is my lifeblood)
  • Stories that will make me sad but end with a glimmer of hope
  • MCs who are also artists (painters, musicians, actors, etc)
  • Stories that take place in specific, mostly-contained settings (creepy, haunted manors/houses, traveling circuses, boarding schools, etc)
  • Non-linear timelines
  • If your book has a cult SEND IT TO ME
  • Morally gray MCs, but also morally gray parents and dubious authority figures
  • Witches, ghosts, forests (oh my!)
  • Elements of horror are Good
  • Snarky, snappy, banter-y just-kiss-already characters a la Gideon and Harrow


  • I’m not the best mentor for SciFi/anything set in space
  • Anything with fae, werewolves, vampires, mermaids, etc

While it’s impossible to choose favorite books, here are a few not mentioned earlier that are imprinted on my heart: THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR, UPROOTED, GIDEON THE NINTH, WATCH OVER ME, IN THE DREAM HOUSE. I’m a songwriter so I’m big on folk music (Laura Marling, Angie McMahon, Hozier, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Tallest Man on Earth), I love musicals, true crime documentaries and podcasts, baking, color-coding projects, and weird, funky wine.