Brooks Sherman, Janklow & Nesbit Associates

Middle grade fantasy


Alyssa Colman double majored in English and Theatre at Wake Forest University. As a playwright, she was a winner of the 2013 ESPA new play competition at Primary Stages in New York and was a semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference. She now lives in Los Angeles where she studied novel writing at UCLA Extension. When she’s not writing, Alyssa loves reading every book she can get her hands on, trying new recipes, and hiking with her husband and mini-Aussie mix pup, Daisy.

I began writing novels in mid-2015 after several years of writing plays. I entered my first manuscript, a YA sci-fi into PitchWars in 2016, but wasn’t selected. Fortunately, a kind PW mentor gave me some feedback that helped me revise. I scrapped everything but the main characters and did a complete rewrite that got me into AMM in 2017. Sadly, I ended up shelving that book after two long rounds of querying and a handful of requests. Around that time, I attended the Big Sur Writer’s Workshop with several other AMM mentees. One of the agents there helped me realize that my voice and story ideas were a better fit for middle grade. I started reading recent middle grade books and discovered it was also a better fit for my heart! I wrote my first middle grade in early 2018 and queried it in the fall. This time, I had a fast and high request rate, ended up with multiple offers, and signed with my awesome agent. I’m currently revising with the goal of going on submission soon.

I honed my kind and constructive critique style through years of playwriting workshops, in college writing classes, and at UCLA. I work with CPs at all stages in their publishing journey. Several of my CP’s have signed with agents and sold books during the time we’ve worked together.

AMM gave me three things that I couldn’t have gotten to this point without: courage, craft, and community. I’ve learned so much not only from my mentor but from my fellow mentees, many of whom have become close friends as well as CPs. I view this as a chance to give back to the writing community and pass on what I have learned. I love helping others with their stories and will happily spend hours talking through plot holes and snowballing ideas. I can’t wait to fall in love with my future mentee’s book!

I feel so fortunate to have found AMM as a newbie writer. My mentor was an incredible source of information and comfort while I was revising and querying. I want to give back the program and community that have helped me so much, and be that source of help for an aspiring writer.

As a mentor and critique partner, I’m very editorial. We will dive into character, plot, and world-building to not only figure out what will best help your book, but also why. My critique style involves asking you lots of questions to force you to go deeper into every element of your story. I am open to middle grade in any genre except horror. What I’m looking for above all else is a strong voice and a desire to grow and improve.

  • Contemporary
  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Historical
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • #ownvoices
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I am open to middle grade in all genres except horror. I’m not the best mentor for familiar magical creatures (vampires, werewolves, mermaids, etc.) unless you have a very unique take on them.


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

I’d describe my mentoring style as a warm hug and a kick in the pants. Kidding…mostly. We’ll likely start with an edit letter and any big picture feedback. I’ll send that to you and then we’ll set up a call/online chat (your preference) to brainstorm ideas and talk through your questions. I will ask you tons of questions to force you to dig deeper into your characters, plot, and world. From there, we’ll set a revision plan determined by the needs of your book.

I prefer to read full manuscripts rather than chapter by chapter, but will make myself available for questions during the editing process. If you want me there, I am happy to be by your side during the querying process to help you in your agent research and submission material prep.

My ideal mentee understands that the revision process is an essential step on the path to publication and is entering AMM in order to grow and learn. As my mentee, you’ll be self reflective about your work and open to feedback. You probably already have a general idea of how to interpret notes and apply them, even if you need help putting together a revision plan. Overall, I’d like to develop a lasting working relationship and friendship with my mentee and be there to celebrate with you throughout your career.

Above all, I’m looking for a strong MG voice. My favorite middle grades have been in a wide variety of genres, but I gravitate towards books with heart and humor.

Here are some ideas of things I’d like to see in my inbox:

  • Historical books that speak to the current time. With magic or without.
  • Stories with animals or strong pet relationships that have a “classic” feel. If you’re writing something akin to ENDLING, REDWALL, or BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE, I want to read it.
  • I love quirky kids and complex friendships in any genre.
  • Funny books. Can you make me laugh out loud like NEVERMOOR or THE DREADFUL TALE OF PROSPER REDDING did? Or have a book with humor like my childhood favorite, THE ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES? If yes, I want to read it.
  • Books that explore science and/or play with form like THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS and SEE YOU IN THE COSMOS.

Please don’t feel limited by what I’ve written above. I’m open to surprises. Above all, if you’ve got good craft and a great voice, I want to read it!”


  • Scary or horror stories. I’m a wimp. Please don’t give me nightmares.
  • Books you’d pitch as “dark.” While I do enjoy reading these books, I’m not the right mentor for them.
  • Vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal creatures. Again, just not the right mentor.”

TV – The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, How I Met Your Mother, Patriot Act, The West Wing, The Good Place, Anne with an E, BBC Period dramas

Movies – The Emperor’s New Groove, Ever After, Mulan, The King’s Speech. I always have trouble naming favorites in this category, so this is just what Netflix is recommending I might want to re-watch right now — and they’re right.

Plays/Musicals – The Drowsy Chaperone (musical), Hamilton (duh), Next to Normal (musical), Proof (David Auburn), Antigone (Sarah Ruhl), Circle Mirror Transformation (Annie Baker)

National Parks – Zion, Acadia, and Sequoia. I really want to go to Glacier and Olympic.