Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary

YA Contemporary



Isaac Fitzsimons (he/him/his) grew up in the DC suburbs but spent his summers in England and France. When not writing young adult fiction, he enjoys supporting his soccer team, Manchester City, and butchering songs on the banjo, piano, and ukulele.


I began writing with the intent to publish in 2014. In 2017 I became a Pitch Wars mentee. While I received a few requests in the agent round, none resulted in offers and I began querying traditionally. After several months in the query trenches I revised my manuscript based on the consistent feedback I’d received. The revised manuscript caught the interest of three agents, and I signed with one of them. I did two rounds of revisions with my agent before going on submission. The submission process was very quick and within a month I had three offers and went to auction. I did several rounds of developmental edits with my editor where I basically broke my book and put it back together again. This led to the publication date being pushed back by a year, but resulted in a much stronger book. It is currently scheduled to be released in June 2021.


I have provided critiques on queries, synopses, excerpts, and full manuscripts in an encouraging manner that puts the writer firmly in the driver’s seat. In terms of career guidance, I can share practical advice for querying, going on submission, choosing between offers, and general debut experience. Through the internship program at my day job, I have mentored two interns, which has helped me hone skills such as providing professional guidance and emotional support, cultivating trusting relationships, sharing feedback in a constructive way, and building enough scaffolding to help them succeed while ensuring they keep full agency over their projects. Finally, as someone who has been through an intensive revision process multiple times, with positive results, I understand the challenges and have the necessary empathy and understanding to encourage others.


Ever since I participated in Pitch Wars as a mentee, I’ve wanted to pay it forward and be a mentor myself in some capacity. I’m especially interested in working with mentees from backgrounds underrepresented in traditional publishing, and help guide them through the publishing landscape. I feel like I’m in the perfect position to be a mentor now because I have enough experience under my belt to be able to impart knowledge, but I’m not so far removed from my own experience of starting out, so I can relate to writers earlier in their publishing journey. Also, I just love reading a good book!

I am beyond excited to be an Author Mentor Match round 8 mentor! I’m looking for YA contemporary and historical with intriguing premises and memorable characters. Humor is a plus, especially when juxtaposed with more serious issues. I will provide a safe space for authors and characters across the LGBTQIAP+ spectrum, and would be honored to play a part in your writing journey.

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • #ownvoices
  • Historical

I’m looking YA contemporary and historical, with a preference for manuscripts that feature characters underrepresented in traditionally published young adult fiction. Bonus points if it has romantic and/or mystery and thriller elements. I’ll also consider manuscripts with speculative elements embedded into the world (in the vein of Stranger Things) if it meets other requirements on my MSWL.


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


My goal as a mentor will be to help you identify the bones of your story, strengthen that framework, prune the excess, and make the manuscript shine. I’ll start by gathering information about your goals. I’ll then assign “homework” while I work on an edit letter that addresses big picture revisions. Once you’ve had time to process my feedback (i.e., curse me and my children and my children’s children) we can go over plans for revision and brainstorm ideas via a call, chat, or email—whatever you prefer. After you’ve finished those revisions, I’ll give it another read and we’ll either continue strengthening the structure or go straight into line edits. I’ll be available to provide guidance throughout this process and will aim to respond to emails within 48 hours.

A little about my working style: I’m pretty laid back and have a calm, reassuring presence. On the other hand, I’m the type of person who uses Excel to plan Thanksgiving dinner, so expect me to be ordered and logical. For those interested: Myers-Briggs: INTJ. Enneagram: Type Five.


My ideal mentee has written an unpolished gem and is willing to put in the work to make it shine. You demonstrate a basic understanding of character, plot, dialogue, and setting, but not necessarily mastery. You’re open to receiving and asking for help, and know that we’re in this together. You’re reflective. Ultimately, I hope that this experience will benefit you not just for this one book, but throughout your career. Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, or somewhere in between, I want to help find a writing process that works for you.


  • LGBTQIAP+ characters in all genres
  • Characters of color in all genres
  • Messy, complicated families
  • Secrets and plot twists
  • Teens who are passionate about something, be it sports, music, dance, or anything else!
  • Queer rom-coms with a great hook
  • Unexpected retellings
  • Stories with a strong sense of place and time
  • Insular and isolated communities with their own rules and traditions like communes or even boarding schools and summer camps
  • Disaster stories
  • Gothic mysteries. Give me all the old country houses!
  • Psychological thrillers
  • Unique story structure like multiple timelines or non-linear
  • Bittersweet but hopeful endings


  • Animal violence and death
  • Heavy handed moral tales
  • Stories where the main character has amnesia
  • Stories where the plot twist is that it’s all in the character’s head
  • A straight character in love with a gay character or vice versa UNLESS they get a happy ending


TV: Bob’s Burgers, Shameless, Lost in Space, PBS Masterpiece (Endeavor, Downton Abbey, Grantchester, The Durrells in Corfu)

Favorite YA books I’ve read this year: Ghost Wood Song by Erica Waters, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas, The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Favorite Movies: Newsies, Billy Elliot, Shelter (2007), Inception, Black Panther