Sarah Landis at Sterling Lord Literistic

Young Adult Dark Fantasy


Jessica Rubinkowski is a young adult fantasy writer who graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis on Creative Writing. Obsessed with exclamation points and the candy corn controversy (team candy corn), she lives in Illinois with her family and far too many pets to keep track of. When not writing, she can be found baking, hiking, or playing video games.

I have been pursuing publication since I was eighteen. After six years in the query trenches and five books under my belt, I received my first offer of representation. After working with that agent for two years, we decided to part ways. I dove back into the query trenches once more. Just a month later, I found myself agented again with the book that would become my debut. We went on submission in December and I received my first offer from an editor two weeks later. She quickly took my book to acquisitions and my debut found its home at HarperTeen!

I majored in Creative Writing and Adolescent Psychology at the University of Illinois. As part of my major, I helped edit a publication of poems from teens around the state. I was selected as a winning entry in Brenda Drake’s Writer’s Voice contest, where I was mentored and learned many useful skills in terms of revising and finding the true heart of a story. I was a mentor in FicFest, a contest in which I helped ready a mentee’s manuscript and query for agent eyes. I was lucky enough to be a mentor in Round Three of Author Mentor Match and I teach a writing class for my local community twice a month. I am thrilled to be back!

Writing is often a solitary journey and it makes it hard to know when your manuscript is ready for an agent. I want to be a mentor to help mentees with this struggle and to aid them in become stronger writers who feel confident in their abilities. It is always nice to have someone in your corner, cheering you on, who believes in you 100%. I want to be this person for one of you!

“Hello and welcome to my mentor page! I’m thrilled to participate in Author Mentor Match again and can’t wait to jump into the all the great slush we will be receiving. Send me all your fantasy, anything from dark and atmospheric to an adventurous romp through a magical kingdom. I love mysteries full of red herrings and books that can keep me from guessing “who-done-it” to the very end. I’m also a huge fan of horror. Anything that can make me dive for the nightlight and sleep with my head under the covers will win you a fan for life. Sci-fi that explores where humanity will be in 1000 years has always been intensely interesting to me, especially if it deals with new species. I love stories where the main character grows internally as they journey through their tales, especially if they shape their world as they do it. Give me worlds I don’t want to leave and characters I’ll follow to the ends of the earth. I don’t shy away from multi-POV stories, especially if the novel delves into how the characters relate to each other and their world. I’ve also got a major soft spot for tales about siblings, especially sisters. So send me all your wonderful, inventive, and unique works! Even if you think it might be too odd or ‘out-there’. There will never be anything too weird for me. I can’t wait to meet my future mentee and help them through the process of querying, and hopefully, finding an agent!

I’ve always been really passionate about giving back, especially in the writing world where personal advice and mentorship seems daunting to find. I was very lucky and thankful to have friends I met via conferences and online message boards to help get me through all the hard stages where I felt like a suffocating fish. I want to be there to help someone else through those stages. I’ll cheer them on when they feel like they can’t get that next rejection and celebrate when they get their first full request. I’ve found my home with my agent and now I am hoping I can help someone achieve their dream by finding theirs.”

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Historical
  • Own Voices
  • Horror

I absolutely love second-world fantasy. It was the genre that made me fall in love with reading and writing, so I’m always on the lookout for something fabulous there. My second love is horror. I want something so scary I’m afraid to turn my light off at night. Does your book blend fantasy and horror? Sci-fi and mystery? I’m your girl! Blended genres that seamlessly pull off world-building of fantasy and the beats of horror and thrillers will always get my attention.

I’m particularly drawn to friends to lovers tropes. Think Inej and Kaz in Six of Crows or Anne and Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables. I also wouldn’t stay no to enemy to lovers a la the Cruel Prince. I’d KILL for a fantasy that is a villain origin story where the main character isn’t afraid to get evil. I’m also not necessarily against fantastical races in fantasy, but I would make sure that you have a fresh take on this trope.


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

In terms of my critiques, I will leave comments throughout the manuscript that are my first impressions. This will include what I think is funny and well written as well as questions I have and things we might want to think about changing. After I’ve done this, I compose an edit letter that addresses the larger picture things such as pacing, plot, world-building, and characters.

After my mentee receives my critiques, I want to communicate however my mentee is comfortable. I enjoy any sort of communication and I want to make sure my mentee is able to get in touch with me when they need me. Previously, I have opened a private slack channel and used google hangouts. I am open to skype calls, phone calls, or regular old email.

My ideal mentee would be one who is ready to work and who understands that my critique is only there to make the book stronger. I want someone who understands the core of their story and who is ready and willing to talk about it. They also need to be willing to listen to critique and do true revision on their work

Lush, fully realized fantasy that puts me in an amazing new world

Non-European settings (preferably by ownvoices writers)

Historical/historical fantasy that deals with places other than England/France/Italy. Would LOVE to see something in America or other non-European settings

Sci-fi that deals with deep space exploration and aliens (think Mass Effect)

Mysteries that really have me guessing who the bad guy is until the very end

Horror that deals with ghosts (its a weakness!)

Fantasy that deals with folklore or myths

Boarding School settings (especially with ghosts or murder!)

Fantasy that deals with the “normal” people of the world

Mages. I would LOVE a book about mages.

On that note, WITCHES. Just…any sort of witch


preferably no vampires, fae, or demons unless you’ve really done your research and have turned the trope on its head or are writing about non-white vampires, fae, and demons.

No court fantasy that deals with princes/princesses as the main character

please no self-harm as a plot device

I am not a good match for urban fantasy (unless it has witches)


Lord of the Rings
Harry Potter
Pan’s Labyrinth
Any Studio Ghibi Film
The Secret Garden


Avatar: Last Airbender
House Hunters (Yes i’m that person)
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
American Horror Story

Video Games:

Dragon Age (ALL OF THEM, I will defend #2 until my dying breath)
Stardew Valley
Banner Saga
Guild Wars 2
Bioshock Infinite
The Last of Us