Leira K. Lewis is a Northern California based YA fantasy writer and member of SCBWI. Diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age, she struggled to read and write, but fantasy books inspired her to start storytelling. She learned to write by reading audiobooks and has spent the last ten years studying the craft. Now, she is represented by Kristy Hunter at the Knight Agency and is currently in revision. When she isn’t writing, she can be found playing with her four cats or finishing her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology.
I wrote four books before getting my agent but only queried two of them. I queried for a little over a year. The first book I queried got a couple of full requests. I also submitted this book to both Pitch Wars and Author Mentor Match and was not selected. Sadly, after sending fifty queries, I shelved it and moved on. I submitted my next book to AMM as well but again was not selected. After a quick revision, I queried the book and signed with my agent a month later. It was a very fast and very different experience. My agent is heavily editorial, so my fourth book (which is the one that got me my agent) is still in revisions. I hope to go on submission next year!
The majority of my editorial experience comes from beta reading and working with my critique partners. A few of whom have received offers and signed with agents. I’ve also done submission package critique giveaways. In doing so, I’ve critiqued over fifteen packages. Recently, two of which were selected for Pitch Wars.
One of the primary reasons I applied to AMM twice, and now I am mentoring is because AMM is more than just a contest, it is a community. It is a place where you can make close friends and potentially find CPs. It is a place to learn and grow together with your fellow mentees and mentors. I am excited to be a part of this community, and I am so ready to fall in love with my mentee’s book!
I never thought I would be a writer. I grew up dyslexic and was teased about my reading and writing delays so much that I grew to hate both. But when I was seventeen, I fell in love with Twilight and started loving books. I taught myself to write by reading. I learned about plot, characters, and world-building from the current writing greats. I apply these techniques to my writing. Now, I read more than a hundred books a year, but I prefer audiobooks because, with dyslexia, reading and writing are hard— even now.
I know how hard it is to struggle with writing and to navigate querying without someone there to guide you. I also know what it feels like to desperately want a mentor to help me grow and get my book publishing-ready. My agent is exceptionally editorial, and she’s helped me see my story from different perspectives and caused me to level up my writing. I want to do the same for someone else.
I primarily love, write, and read fantasy romance. The more romance elements, the better! My tastes tend to be upper YA, meaning that I prefer characters 16+. I am a big fan of Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thrones and Roses, Shelby Mahurin’s Serpent and Dove, Stephanie Garber’s Caraval, Adrienne Young’s Fable, and Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I also love paranormal, urban fantasy, and fantasy with heavy mystery elements (fantasy murder mysteries), think Kerri Maniscalco’s Kingdom of the Wicked.
The number one thing I look for in a story that I read or mentor is a strong romance element. Your book doesn’t have to center on romance, but I want at least a romance subplot.
I love atmospheric settings and lush prose! I love darker gothic settings like the movie Crimson Peak or Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican gothic. I also love rich and mysterious settings where the magic comes to life and is a part of the world (think Caraval, Where Dreams Descend, and The Night Circus). I also love beautiful glittering backdrops like royal palaces and glamorous clubs (think Moulin Rouge and All that Glitters/ Enchantee).
I love “unlikeable” female and grey characters. I am talking about characters like Jude and Lou. Please give me your grey female characters (I also like grey male characters).
Beyond all else, I love redemption stories and enemies to lovers! Please give me your Cardans, Kylo Rens, Wraths, Jacks, and Darklings! I love them!!!! I want them! I would also really love to see the girl as the villain with the redemption arc!!! And I would especially love to see it with LGBTQIA leads. Give me Cardan and Darkling together! Or Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn!!!
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
Genre Preferences: Fantasy romance, Paranormal (vampires, & witches), Urban fantasy, Fantasy mysteries
Tropes I love:
Hate to love (enemies to lovers)
Friends to lovers
Slow burn romance
Love Triangles (where I don’t know who will be the final pick)
Stuck together/ Fake relationship
Former antagonist turned ally
Alternating timelines that connect at the end
Stories with twins or sisters
Tropes I don’t like:
The powerful artifact
The damsel in distress
I WILL PROVIDE:
- Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)
- Line edit (dropping notes into a Word Document)
- Skype or phone call
- Freestyle in chat
I would describe my editing style as truth and love. I will tell you the truth (and sometimes it might be a bit blunt), but I will also tell you everything that I love about your story (and I will scream it from the rooftops). If I have chosen your book, it means that I am absolutely in love with it! I would love to start our mentorship with a zoom call to get to know my mentee and their expectations. Then, I will provide my mentee with an edit letter addressing any structural, character, romance, world-building, or plot issues. Finally, I will dive into (briefly) line edits. I will also commit to being with my mentee through the querying process (and possibly beyond because I know you will be awesome, and I love writer friends)!
My ideal mentee knows that in order to make a manuscript great, you must revise, and then revise, and then revise some more. Revision is key. Sometimes this means line edits, sometimes it means cutting an entire chapter, or sometimes it means (if you’re anything like me) fixing an entire plotline or cutting a character.
I want my mentee to be open to feedback and changes but also be willing to say no when it is important to you. My feedback will be suggestions, and sometimes I might see that something is not working, but not know how to fix it.
Overall, I want to develop a long-lasting working relationship built on trust and friendship. A relationship where I can celebrate with you when you get your agent and publishing deal, but I can also be there during the rocky times as a shoulder to cry on or ear to complain to.
Above all, I am looking for tightly paced plots, swoon-worthy romance, and interesting, unique magic systems. I prefer fantasy, but I am open to other genres as long as it has tension-filled romance.
- Morally grey characters (“unlikeable” female characters)
- Enemies to lovers romance
- Swoon-worthy love interests (also banter and humor)
- Villains turned allies (please give me an epic redemption story) this can be friends or love interests.
- Magic systems that incorporate craft, arts, books, or sports
- I LOVE WITCHES (I’d love a fresh version or Charmed or Sabrina the Teenage Witch or even bad witches like Hocus Pocus or The Wicked Deep. I’d to see witches based on non-western cultures and #ownvoices)
- I love mermaids and pirates and fairies (Fae)!
- Atmospheric worlds (like Caraval, Enchantment of Ravens, & Enchentee) worlds that are a character in itself!
- Creepy forests
- Immortal characters
- Twins (brothers or sisters or both)
- Historical settings or historical romance
- Twists on tropes or twist endings
- Unique story formats (unreliable narrators, alternating timelines, epistolary formats)
- #Ownvoice and LGBTQIA+, but please do not feel like you are required to label your work as #ownvoices if you’re not comfortable sharing that information.
- I would love to see demisexual and grey ace relationships
- I would love to see neurodiverse characters
DO NOT SEND ME:
- Sexual assault or rape (on the page)
These are preferences but not dealbreakers:
- Elemental magic (unless it’s a fresh take on it)
- The chosen-one (unless subverted)
- The powerful artifacts (where it is the key/ main plot… meaning like a fetch quest)
All except SA are preferences I will overlook if you have a swoon-worthy romance!!!
- Caraval & Legendary by Stephanie Graber
- A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
- The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
- Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
- Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
- The Magnolia Sword: a Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas
- The Wicked King by Holly Black
- Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
- Sky in the Deep and Fable by Adrienne Young
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer
- The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
- The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
- A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore
- Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
- Six of Crows and Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
- The Dark Knight
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Any marvel movie
- Pride and Prejudice
- A Knights Tale
- The Notebook
- The Mummy and The Mummy Returns
- Mean Girls
- How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
- Legally Blonde
Favorite TV shows:
- Game of Thrones
- The Vampire Diaries
- Downton Abby
- Pushing Daisies
- The Tudors
- Big Little Lies
- Killing Eve