Melissa Danaczko at SK Literary Agency, Inc.

Historical fiction



I was born and raised behind the Iron Curtain, in the Soviet Republic of Lithuania. I spent most of my childhood reading books and sketching short stories since there was no cable TV, no radio and no video games. I graduated from a local university with a Master’s degree in Library Science, but a short stint in a Soviet library changed my mind about being a librarian. Eleven years after the Berlin Wall fell, I immigrated to the Utah desert. I speak Russian and Lithuanian fluently in addition to English.


I started writing my first novel in October 2015. I didn’t know much about writing. All right, let’s be honest, I knew nothing. It took me two years to finish my final draft. Two years! In 2017, I entered it into PitchWars. I didn’t get a single request. Not even a partial. I revised it yet again. In 2018, still hopeful and naïve, I entered it into Pitchwars. And once more, not even a partial request. I finally shelved it and started working on my second book. This time around, I knew what I was doing. I drafted my second novel in nine months. I finished revising it in early 2020, applied for AMM, and the rest is history. My fabulous mentor, Rose de Guzman, helped me polish my MS. I started querying in the beginning of summer and signed with my brilliant agent in August. We’re currently revising with the goal to go on submission in early 2021.


I was a mentee in Round 7. I have first-hand experience of all the pains and joys and challenges of being a mentee. Under the guidance of my AMM mentor, my manuscript transformed into a query-ready novel. It was a lot of hard work. But it was so worth it. Now, I’m deep in revisions with my agent. And trust me, there is always so much more to learn! Thanks to my wonderful and brilliant CP, my critique and writing style evolved over the years. Her historical fiction novel is being published in Norway in 2021.


I owe so much to this program! Now that I’ve been through the AMM experience, I want to share with others what I learned about the craft of revision and help someone else get on the path to publication. I know the struggles – rejections on full requests, never-ending self-doubt and hopelessness. Imposter syndrome is real! I lived it. I can’t guarantee that my work with a mentee will result in an agent offer, but I can promise that I will do my best to get my mentee’s book into the best shape possible. And no matter the result, I’ll continue to be my mentee’s biggest supporter for years to come. We will revise, rewrite and we will persevere together.

I’m hoping to find a voicey and plot-driven historical or a historical thriller that will keep me on the edge of my seat. Anything gothic, haunted houses and unreliable narrators will make me extremely happy. I love badass female characters in historical settings. Send me fairy tale retellings with a deep sense of place. I’d love to read a historical fantasy or alternate history grounded in a thorough research.

  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • Historical
  • Horror

Definitely send me love triangles, murder mysteries, atmospheric gothic tales with haunted houses and unreliable narrators. Send me a diverse set of characters. I love morally gray characters who make mistakes and break hearts. Yes, please, send me serial killers in historical settings (think The Alienist.) Witches and warlocks based on folklore (Uprooted and Spinning Silver) always fascinate me. I would love to see some good witches turning bad.

Do not send me vampires, werewolves, time travel of any kind. I don’t read nor do I like sci-fi. Don’t send me gore (unless it is The Alienist.) No historical romance.


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


I’m personable, nice and supportive. But I’m also very direct/honest. I will read your full manuscript and drop notes into a document. We will start with a big picture discussion and follow with an edit letter. We will do a deep dive into the structure, plot and characters.

I will be fully dedicated to my mentee! I love this program, and I’ll make sure you have a positive, enriching experience. Just like I had! If we have different visions for your book, you must follow your vision. Not mine. It is your story, after all. But I do want you to keep an open mind about any revisions I may suggest. I will give you the insights. I will provide tools. The rest is up to you.


Your novel is almost ready but has some rough edges.
My ideal mentee is open-minded, accepting of constructive criticism, and ready for a lot of hard work.


  • Historical fiction—especially in settings we don’t often read about.
  • WWII stories from a surprising and unexplored angle.
  • A well-researched historical fantasy or alternate history.
  • Historical mysteries.
  • Historical thrillers.
  • Anything gothic.
  • Horror based on folklore or a fairy tale.
  • Serial killers in historical settings
  • Fairy tale retellings with a deep sense of place.
  • Witches and warlocks based on folklore
  • Badass female characters in historical settings
  • Morally gray characters in historical settings


  • No first drafts, please.
  • No sci-fi.
  • No fae.
  • No dragons.
  • No vampires.
  • No mermaids.
  • No historical romance or any kind of romance.
  • No American Revolution.
  • No gore (unless it is The Alienist)


Books (in no particular order): The Outsider, Mr. Mercedes, The Broken Girls, The Alienist, Doctor Zhivago, The Master and Margarita, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Child 44, Anna Karenina, The Sundown Motel, Mexican Gothic, Winter People, Between Shades of Gray, Spinning Silver, Uprooted, The Fountains of Silence, Code Name Verity, Traitor.

TV Shows (recent favorites): The Man in the High Castle, Undoing, Cursed, Black Narcissus, The Haunting of Bly Manor, The Night Of, To the Lake, Peaky Blinders, The Queen’s Gambit, Boys in the Band, Ratched.