Mentor Ivelisse Housman

Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Agency



Ivelisse Housman is a biracial Latinx author, illustrator, and graphic designer. At all seven schools she attended throughout her childhood, she was infamously “that kid who gets in trouble for reading during class, but refuses to stop.” She was diagnosed with autism when she was 15, which made everything before and after that make a lot more sense. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making soup, tending to her houseplants, and generally cultivating a very cottagecore vibe. She lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains with her high school sweetheart/archnemesis and their two beloved rescue dogs.

I wrote my first novel, a Middle Grade Contemporary Fantasy, as a very confused junior in college. Once I realized that I had no idea how to revise or query, I applied for Round 4 of AMM and was selected as a mentee by Sarah Kapit. With her help and hours and hours of work, I completely rebuilt the book from the ground up. It took months, but Sarah helped me through the several rounds of revisions that the book needed. I started querying it in early 2019, and, in the meantime, started working on a YA idea that had been simmering in the back of my mind. Even though my MG manuscript got full requests, all the agents ended up passing, and after one particularly difficult rejection on a R&R, I ended up shelving the book.

My YA book was finally ready to query in spring 2020. So, that went badly. Friends and acquaintances and published authors reviewed my query letter and sample pages to see why I wasn’t getting any bites, but they couldn’t find anything glaringly wrong to explain it. I entered pitch contests and barely made a splash— no agent likes, and only a few editors who accepted unagented submissions.

Then, a week after I decided to shelve that book too, one of the editors from the pitch contests responded to my full manuscript. They wanted to make an offer on it. It was mid-November 2020, and I was still unagented, but SOMEONE WANTED TO BUY MY BOOK! The next six weeks was a whirlwind of last-minute queries and calls with agents, and I ended up signing with the wonderful Victoria Marini at Irene Goodman Literary Agency. She wanted to turn the smaller publisher down, because she thought that with one more intense round of revisions, I could possibly sell it to someone at a Big 5. I spent the next six months revising that YA book before going on sub.

As mentioned, I was an AMM mentee in Round 4, and I learned a lot about how to revise and work with other authors through that experience. I’ve also developed skills through my friendships with other authors, watching their books and query letters evolve.

My experience with AMM honestly changed my life, and I want to make that difference for the next author. I’m especially interested in providing perspective to other disabled/neurodivergent authors navigating the difficult ups and downs of writing and publishing.

I love fantasy stories set in a world that you want to disappear into! I’m looking for books that are voice-y and don’t take themselves too seriously, delving into dark topics without losing their sense of light, with characters that you can’t help but root for. Swoony romance is a plus, and ace-spectrum characters are more than welcome! And, of course, I’d LOVE to see #OwnVoices disabled/neurodivergent characters taking center stage in stories about magic and adventure.

Age Category

  • Fantasy
  • Sci-Fi
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
  • Horror

Second-world fantasy and soft sci-fi tend to be my sweet spot, but if you have a contemporary fantasy or horror that meets the other items on my MSWL, I’d love to see it! The current trend of super dark, edgy fantasy isn’t really for me, but I can’t think of any tropes that I couldn’t enjoy if they were explored from a fresh perspective.



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

First off, I plan to be there for a future mentee for as long as they feel they could use my help. I’m in this for the long haul!

The way that I approach a revision will depend on what the book needs, but I tend to be very enthusiastic! You will know everything I love about the book, I will be screaming about the characters, I will probably send you incredibly specific niche memes about your book.

In terms of actual work, it tends to be easier for me to process information out loud, so I will probably send you a bullet-point edit letter with all the big picture stuff, and we’ll talk this over so that we’re both on the same page. It is your book, after all, and I don’t want to recommend anything that goes against your vision! During this call, we’ll set up some deadlines based on both of our schedules, but these will, of course, be flexible. While you’re revising, I will also be available if you have any questions or run into any walls. Once you finish that big-picture revision, I’ll provide more detailed line edits, and we’ll do some fine-tuning until you feel ready to query! At the querying stage, I’ll help you with your query letter and answer any questions you have about the process.

I think writing should be fun, so if you’re looking for a mentor who is 100% business, 100% of the time, I’m probably not the best fit for you. I love casual communication, so I’d like to be able to DM with you and have scheduled calls, but I am of course willing to work with you depending on your boundaries for communication.

My ideal mentee will be ready to do the hard work of revisions, and able to stick up for their creative decisions and vision without being unable to accept criticism. Someone who actively wants to improve their writing, within and beyond this book, and enjoys reading current YA. Someone who appreciates open, honest communication. Writing and publishing is painful, and you can laugh about it or cry about it— actually, no, do both. Both is good.


  • Fantasy with a strong narrative voice
  • Main characters that are disabled, Latinx, and/or mixed-race
  • Autistic protagonists
  • Close, healthy sibling relationships and/or friendships
  • Stories that blur the lines between genres
  • Something with twists that make me gasp and/or laugh out loud
  • Romance that’s more “you’re weird, let’s hang out” and less “you kiss good, I will die for you”
  • Anything cozy/cottagecore. If it can be compared to Studio Ghibli, I want it!
  • *whispers* Vampires
  • Fun, unexpected worldbuilding
  • Lush, descriptive prose (bonus points if it plays around with language in unexpected ways!)
  • Books that are funny, snarky, silly, or just plain chaotic. If it can be compared to your D&D campaign, I’ll probably like it.


  • Novels in verse
  • Books where every relationship is super toxic and all the characters hate each other
  • Books that focus on non-disabled characters’ experiences of someone else’s disability
  • Dark, gritty, edgy, bloody magic systems
  • Bigotry of any kind (this should go without saying, but just in case)


My favorite book is AN ENCHANTMENT OF RAVENS by Margaret Rogerson, but I also love anything she writes. Ditto for LITTLE THIEVES and anything by Margaret Owen. I’m also a big fan of THE FOLK OF THE AIR series by Holly Black and the SHADOW OF THE FOX series by Julie Kagawa. In other age categories: I grew up on Gail Carson Levine’s books, and first found a love of adult books through Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED.

Some of my favorite movies include The Princess Bride, Crimson Peak, Howl’s Moving Castle, What We Do In The Shadows, Star Wars, and of course the absolute fever dream that is Stardust.

In the video games category, Breath of the Wild and Tales from the Borderlands have my heart.