Mentor Kimberly Wisnewski

Alyssa Jennette, Stonesong

Contemporary YA


The first “real” thing I remember writing was Berenstain Bears fanfiction, when I was 7 or 8, though I like to think my skill has improved since then. I graduated from Georgia College & State University with a BA in English, concentration in creative writing in 2010, and then again in 2011 with a MA in Teaching secondary English. I now teach 9th grade Literature at a STEM Magnet school, where I am also the Book Club, Reading Bowl, and GSA sponsor. My students are the very weirdest in all the best ways, and I have twice been made the unwitting sponsor of an unofficial student-led cult (one cat-themed, one duck-themed). I live near Atlanta, GA, with my husband, cat, and dog, and I never shut up about them. I take a lot of naps, spend way too much money online, and I absolutely love a good spreadsheet.

Besides the aforementioned Berenstain Bears fanfiction, I wrote four “novels” in middle/high school. Maybe I’ll dig them out and revise them one day, but they’re kind of a hot mess. My first real novel idea came about after a superhero-themed birthday party in college, and the story lived for a while as a webcomic I made with a friend. After the comic had run its course, I wrote the story over again as a novel. Three years, two freelance editors, and one mentoring program later, I queried the book–with minimal success. Letting go of that book and writing my next was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a writer, but I’m so glad I did.

The next book was a contemporary YA in two perspectives about codependent best friends, the year they spend apart, and the ongoing obstacles of growing up and living with mental illness. This book got me into AMM, where I met my mentor, my writer family, and ultimately found my incredible agent!

I am currently on submission while revising a YA psych thriller. Writing is rewriting, is rewriting, is rewriting…

I majored in English with concentration in creative writing, so I’m no stranger to the pain of workshopping a story. I served on my college literary magazine’s editorial staff, and later earned a MA in teaching secondary English. I have 9 years experience teaching at the high school level, which has helped me hone my feedback to help a writer/student strengthen whatever is at the core of their work.

Stories have power. Power to change, to inspire, to heal. I’ve been deeply affected by so many stories, and I dream that my own writing will one day have that same impact on readers. Being a mentor means I get to be part of that process for somebody else. It means I can help another writer find their way, help them hone their voice and their craft. Writing is often such a solitary experience, and the process can seem daunting at times. As a mentor, I can guide another writer through all the highs and lows of publication, so they can bring their life-changing stories into the world.

I’m looking for a story that makes me think, one that stays with me long after I’ve finished reading it. Show me a character-driven, voicey story that centers a deeply human experience around something quirky or unusual, and I’m sold. I love dual-POV, dual/asyncronous-timeline, unconventional narration–anything that plays with form. I’m fine with most subjects as long as they’re handled carefully and not done for shock value. Basically, I want to laugh, cry, think, and love, all over the course of your story.

Young Adult

  • Contemporary
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Magical Realism/Fabulism
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

I love all things contemporary, especially if you manage to tug at my heartstrings and combine humor with sorrow in a meaningful way! I love smart girls, angry girls, soft boys, tough boys, friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers, and everything in between.

In particular, I just love a story that makes me think, that stays with me long after I’ve finished it.



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

I will read your full MS and leave in-line comments (small-scale questions, comments, or reactions in this round–lots of praising!). Then, I will compile all my big-picture observations, notes, and ideas into an organized editor letter (usually around 8-10 pgs, illustrated with bitmojis!). I’ll give you some time to process the edit letter and get your thoughts in order, then we can schedule a zoom/skype/phone call (whichever works best for you) to discuss your questions and ideas for revision. After that, you’ll do a round of revisions and send the MS back. This time, I will usually have much fewer notes, probably focusing on honing one or two specific places or maybe ironing out timing or something. I’ll leave in-line comments again, focusing more on grammar/line level feedback. If you need me to look at certain parts again as you revise, I’m happy to do so! if you need another full read-through (depending on what edits you’ve had to do), I’m happy to provide this as well. As you get closer to querying, I will read your query/synopsis and give you feedback and suggestions, as well as guidance with forming an agent submission list.

I’m in this for the long haul, so if we end up working together, you can *always* reach out with any questions, writing-related or otherwise!

My ideal mentee has taken their story as far as they can on their own/with critique partners and is ready for that next step. Ideally, I’d like someone who hasn’t queried widely (50 agents or more), but if I really fall in love with a story and/or have a vision for a major revision, a widely-queried book is not a deal breaker. I’d love you to have a solid handle on the story you’re telling, know what you’re trying to do with it, and be willing to listen to advice and suggestions. You don’t have to do everything I say (it’s your book, after all!), but at least be open to different possibilities.

You’ll work hard, but I’ll be right here the whole time!


  • Show me a unique little pocket of humanity and a story only you can tell. Look at my favorites for a sense of the kinds of stories I like (hint: character-driven and offbeat).
  • Contemporary is my lifeblood, and I love anything voicey.
  • Contemporary with romantic, humorous, tragic, mysterious, or magical elements are all fine–it just has to be rooted in our world.


  • I’m not the best mentor for heavy sci-fi or fantasy, anything involving time travel (just can’t wrap my head around it), or a heist story that needs a lot of work (I LOVE them, but I don’t think I could write/help with one).
  • I won’t buy into a cheater/abuser redemption arc or trauma used solely as a plot device.
  • No teacher/student or therapist/patient relationship, or gratuitous pet death, please.
  • I wouldn’t be the best mentor for a novel-in-verse, though if you thread some poetry throughout, I could be into that!


Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, Jennifer Niven, Laurie Halse Anderson, Jandy Nelson, Angie Thomas, Nic Stone, Tiffany D. Jackson

Movies: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Breakfast Club (I know they’re both problematic but the viiiibes), Lion King, Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Fight Club, Memento, the Prestige

Shows: The Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, New Girl, Gilmore Girls, Good Girls, The Good Place, Supernatural, Schitt’s Creek, Shameless, Succession

Plays/musicals: Les Miserables, Dear Evan Hansen, Hamilton, Phantom of the Opera, Chicago