JL Stermer at New Leaf Literary

YA Fantasy & Contemporary

(May 4, 2021)

Tashie Bhuiyan is a Bangladeshi American writer based in New York City. She recently graduated from St. John’s University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations, and hopes to change the world, one book at a time. She loves writing stories about girls with wild hearts, boys who wear rings, and gaining agency through growth. When she’s not doing that, she can be found in a Chipotle or bookstore, insisting 2010 is the best year in cinematic history. (Read: Tangled and Inception.) Her debut novel COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU (Inkyard/HarperCollins) releases on May 4th, 2021.

Writing has been a passion of mine since I was young. I used to be an ESL student in elementary school, and books are what allowed me to learn English in my formative years. I started off writing fanfiction in middle school which is no surprise to anyone who talks to me for more than five minutes. Upon starting university, I decided to take writing seriously, and I wrote multiple full-length original novels prior to my debut novel. I’m currently drafting my sixth manuscript! Throughout college, despite being a PR major, I took several workshopping courses and began reading up on craft to improve my skills as a writer. In Spring 2019, I was lucky enough to be chosen as a mentee in Round 6 of AMM, where I learned incredible amounts from both my mentor and my fellow R6 mentees. In late May 2019, I queried for the first time with their support. In June, I landed my incredible agent JL Stermer from New Leaf Literary and we revised my manuscript together before going on submission in July. Within a month, we sold COUNTING DOWN WITH YOU in a two-book deal to Inkyard Press at HarperCollins. It releases in a few months, coming out on May 4th, 2021. I also recently turned in my second book to my editor, and continue to gain more knowledge about writing every single day, all of which I hope to impart on my mentee.

Last December, I graduated from university with a degree in Public Relations. Through my final year of college, I was fortunate enough to land an internship at 4 of the Big 5 publishing houses. Given my major, I chose to intern in both children’s marketing and publicity. I had the chance to work on campaigns for a lot of prolific bestsellers as well up-and-coming debut novels, learning how to best promote and market them. I also had the chance to read manuscripts as they were being acquired and sit in during acquisitions meetings, which gave me insight into what agents and editors are looking for in the children’s marketplace. This knowledge allowed me to round out my skills as a writer and develop an understanding for what sells and why. And as I said before, as a previous mentee of AMM, I was able to learn a significant amount from my mentor. Having the support of someone who was a stage above me was an essential part of my journey and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Last but not least, I’ve also previously mentored in AMM Round 7 and in Pitch Wars 2020, which allowed me to hone my skills as a mentor. I’d love to be able to share all of these experiences with my future mentee and help them get their foot in the door of publishing!


The reason I wanted to be a mentor in AMM is because this program completely changed my life. It gave me access to such a wonderful community, including my lovely mentor who helped me become a better writer. Before AMM, I never had someone I could go to and ask questions about writing/publishing, but suddenly I could and that was so important to me. I view this program as a crucial part of what allowed me to land an agent and a book deal. I want to be able to provide something similar for someone else, who could also use someone in their corner. Having the chance to guide someone through this confusing and lonely process is a gift and one I look forward to with my whole heart. I can’t wait to help my mentee make their book the best it can be while also providing them with emotional support (and memes!) and love.

Publishing is daunting. It’s hard to imagine that one day you could be on the shelves alongside your favorite authors. But applying to AMM is one of the first steps to making it happen, whether or not you’re chosen. Putting yourself out there is one of the bravest things you can ever do. Every day, I’m grateful I applied and I feel so lucky to be a part of this community. I’ve gained so much and hopefully you will, too. From beautiful friendships to long-lasting critique partnerships, this experience is beyond life-changing. Being a mentor in the last round was so rewarding, and I hope to give that experience to someone else once again. I want to be your community! I want to cheer you on! I’m so excited to meet you—or rather, meet your writing and then you—and hopefully, form a relationship beyond working on this manuscript together. (I’m a GREAT albeit CHAOTIC friend to have, I will text you at 3am crying because I heard a song that reminded me of your characters and proceed to have an entire breakdown for the next forty-five minutes.)

I can’t wait to read the contemporary, romance, and fantasy books all of you send my way. I can’t wait to scream and sob and make playlists and pinterest boards and memes and the whole shebang. I can’t wait to (hopefully) read about fierce girls and vicious boys who encourage the darkness in them as well as soft girls and goofy boys who make them smile. I can’t wait to read character-driven narratives with strong protagonists and slowburn romances and unbreakable bonds.

Overall, I can’t wait to find my new favorite book hidden in one of your stories, and I can’t wait to join you on this journey to make your book stronger and ready to query!

  • Contemporary
  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

As a writer of fantasy, contemporary, and romance, that’s mainly what I’m looking for as well. However, if your manuscript seems to fit my MSWL really well, I’m not opposed to other genres!

For romance, I will take ALL the slowburn, please and thank you. I don’t care if it’s a fantasy romance, or a contemporary romance, or whatever. Set it in any world you want. As long as they fall in love, I’m happy!

For contemporary, I would love to see all kinds of stories. Coming-of-age stories, romcoms, fresh retellings. Whatever it is, send it my way!

  • Give me subverted high school tropes, give me spring break adventures, give me college application stress!
  • Give me characters that are struggling with their place in the world and trying to make a path for themselves. Especially if they’re POC or LGBTQ+.
  • Narratives focused on healing and recovery. Narratives focused on gaining agency. Narratives focused on surviving abuse. (For all genres, tbh!)
  • Romcoms, PLEASE! I want to laugh and cry as I watch two people fall helplessly in love.
  • Stories centering social media. Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.
  • Celebrities! Internet sensations, foreign royalty, movie stars, etc. I’d love a famous/non-famous pairing.
  • Anything involving competitions! A baking competition? A cooking competition? A singing competition? Whether it’s in school or nationally broadcasted, I want it! And even better if you throw in some rivals-to-lovers…
  • Books with a prominent setting outside high school. Coffee shops, bakeries, bookstores, ice skating rinks, movie theaters, libraries, etc.

For fantasy, I will take ANY kind. High fantasy? Low fantasy? Contemporary fantasy? Urban fantasy? I’ll take it ALL. I want to see all your cool magic systems, your intricate world-building, your princesses and mages and creatures.

  • I love political intrigue. Give me court politics! Give me scheming! Give me usurping the throne! I love power struggles. Especially if it’s a fantasy book without magic. On the other hand, I’d also love to see all kinds of magic. I love interesting magic systems and seeing how having magic (or lack thereof) affects the characters.
  • Magical beings are a YES from me. Witches? Vampires? Werewolves? Faeries? Yes. Gods, mages, monsters, immortal beings? PLEASE.
  • The more morally grey, the better! Give me ambitious protagonists, give me terribly seductive villains, give me characters unsure of their allegiance to good or evil, give me characters that GROW past the rigidity of what they were taught.
  • If they fall in love with a morally grey love interest, I want it. Even better, if they fall in love with a villain, PLEASE SIGN ME UP.
  • I love retellings of myths and fairytales. Especially if they’re marginalized retellings!
  • Heist plots are a FAVE. Anything along the lines of Ocean’s Eleven, Now You See Me, Six of Crows, etc. I love how clever these are! On that note, give me characters that are thieves, murderers, criminals, hackers, whatever it is. I want to see it all!
  • If it’s a contemporary or urban fantasy, I’d love to see how magic affects the modern world through technology, the economy, politics, etc.
  • I’d also love to see a contemporary fantasy where magic isn’t the main focus, but rather a part of everyday life!

Honestly, as long as it’s not on my Anti-MSWL list… send it to me.

Also, if you’re an underwriter and you fit any of the above, PLEASE submit to me. I would love to help you flesh out your story.


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

I’m entirely flexible depending on the type of feedback works for you. In general, I am a gusher, so you will definitely hear the things I love about your manuscript. I will scream with you about the characters, the ships, the plot late into the night. I’ll probably make a playlist and a pinterest board and ridiculous memes. But after that, it’s business! I’m going to be honest about what I think we need to change/alter because I want this to be the best story possible. I’ll start with an edit letter that gives my big picture thoughts on what we need to improve on and we can create a revision plan together. We’ll talk through all of these before you start revising because it’s your story at the end of the day, and I want you to feel comfortable with the changes you’re making. Afterward, I’ll do line edits with you and we’ll go back and forth until we both feel good about the manuscript. After that, on to querying!

Personally, I love texting/DMing and talking on the phone, so I’m more than happy to hop on a call and hash things out with you to find a perfect solution. Brainstorming is one of my favorite parts of writing, so it’s no problem at all if you’re stuck at any point in the process. If you prefer to communicate solely through email, we can find a way to make that work too! I’m here for any questions or concerns before, throughout, and after. Shoot me a text or an email and I’ll always try to reply within the day. I think firm deadlines are the key to success, so I’d love to set up a timeline based on my mentee’s schedule to make sure we keep things on track. I’m also happy to do multiple rounds if that’s what the story needs. I am at your disposal!

My ideal mentee is someone who is goal-oriented and hardworking. Someone who is optimistic and eager to improve their story. Someone who is willing to listen to my critique and understand why I’m giving it. Someone who knows their story well enough to tell me no when it’s necessary and is able justify their decisions. Someone who comes to me when there’s a problem and works with me to solve it. I’m here to mentor you, but you have to be willing to put in the work and dedicate yourself to creating the best version of your story. I would love to have open communication and be able to both talk seriously and joke around depending on the situation. There are going to be ups and downs, but I will be at your side the whole time and we’ll keep moving forward!


  • Found family
  • Yearning!!!
  • Sunshine/grump
  • Casanova finds The One
  • Villain love interest (and villain origin stories)
  • Enemies to lovers (where they’d genuinely destroy each other at first) or lovers to enemies or any other variation of this trope
  • Strangers to lovers
  • Forbidden love/star-crossed lovers
  • Soulmate bonds/reincarnation
  • Strong female friendships
  • Angry, headstrong girls (+ soft, compassionate girls)
  • Smirky, overconfident boys (+ grumpy, intelligent boys)
  • Sweet himbos
  • Revenge-driven narratives
  • Boarding school books
  • Character raised to be a weapon
  • “I love you” screamed in the middle of the argument
  • “I know you’re in there somewhere” speech
  • Asshole with a heart of gold
  • This is so random but… blond characters!
  • ALL THE POC. Especially if they’re Muslim or South Asian!
  • ALL THE GAYS. Especially f/f romances! (Also f/m romances where either character is queer!)


  • Rapunzel retellings or anything directly inspired by Inception (due to similarities with own works)
  • Romance where the characters have fallen for each other in the first few chapters
  • Anything with unchecked racist, homophobic, transphobic, acephobic, ableist, Islamophobic, zionist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, or fatphobic content
  • Unchecked slutshaming or bodyshaming
  • Unchecked abuse
  • Oppressor/oppressed romances in which love is the thing that solves all oppression
  • Pro-police propaganda
  • Romanticized incest or gratuitous rape/sexual abuse, though survivor stories are welcome
  • Casts that are entirely allocishet and white (unless you are willing to add in diversity)
  • White savior stories/white feminism
  • Stories primarily featuring cultures from POC that are not your own — diverse worldbuilding is appreciated but appropriation of stories is not

Authors: Tahereh Mafi, Nora Sakavic, Madeline Miller, C.S. Pacat, Anne Zoelle, Roshani Chokshi, Marie Rutkoski, Renee Ahdieh, Angie Thomas, Sally Thorne, Helen Hoang, Mariana Zapata, Holly Black, Leigh Bardugo, Naomi Novik, R.F. Kuang, Sabaa Tahir, Adam Silvera, Alexandra Christo, Jenny Han, etc.

Movies/TV: Inception, Tangled, Moonlight, The Untamed, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Love, Simon, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Suits, Promare, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Set It Up, Ocean’s 11, Now You See Me, Goblin, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, One Day at a Time, BBC Merlin, Sense8, Hotel Del Luna, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Miraculous Ladybug, Boku No Hero Academia, She-Ra and the Princess of Power, Schitt’s Creek, ELITE, Queer Eye, Everything Sucks!, Game of Thrones, etc.

Music: One Direction, Blackpink, Years & Years, Florence and the Machine, TWICE, Hozier, Sarah Close, Sleeping at Last, Mitski, Sabrina Carpenter, ITZY, Dua Lipa, Hayley Kiyoko, Chungha, Shawn Mendes, WayV, Banks, Halsey, and Troye Sivan.