Mentor Leslie Adame

Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary & Media

Middle Grade Fantasy


Leslie Adame is a graduate of UCLA with a degree in Political Science and a minor in Film, Television, and Digital Media. Along with writing books, she invests most of her time mentoring historically marginalized students and preparing them for a higher education. She strongly believes in the importance of representation in books, and has volunteered in events like the Latinx Kidlit Book Festival to put a spotlight on Latinx/e authors. Leslie grew up in the Inland Empire, specifically Ontario, California. She hopes to one day publish a middle grade fantasy centered around a first-generation protagonist and her undocumented parents.

After writing fanfiction for 8 years, I wrote my first book in 2018, and it did not see the light of day. It was an adult novel with a YA essence and a MG spirit, and if that doesn’t make sense, then you can probably imagine what the book was like. I shelved that book and didn’t bother querying it to agents because, first of all, it didn’t make sense, and second of all, I felt like it wasn’t me. I figured that as a 19 year old fresh out of teenage hood with few adult experiences, middle grade would be more up my alley.

That same year, after shelving the dumpster fire that was my adult novel, I started drafting my middle grade. At first, I was doing it for fun, and I didn’t start taking it seriously until early 2020. I used all the time we were in quarantine researching the publishing industry and drafting/revising my book… only to shelve it in August. I loved my premise, but the plot wasn’t doing it justice. Shelving it was one of the most painful but best things I could have done for myself, and I started over. From scratch. New characters. New settings. New plot. I finished it in a month and spent another eight revising it, sending it to betas, and revising it again. In that time, I also applied to mentorships like Las Musas and Pitch Wars but did not get in despite getting a few requests.

I started querying in July 2021 and received multiple requests and offers. I accepted my agent’s offer in October and I’m currently revising to get it ready for submission!

I credit a lot of my experience in storytelling to my film and television classes at UCLA, where I read scripts and was required to draft coverage for them and identify important beats. I also took creative writing courses and have reviewed a lot of manuscripts for my friends and CPs, who have gone on to obtain representation from different agencies.

When I started taking my writing seriously and did my research, I quickly found that the road to getting published was, in many areas, very inaccessible to authors from low income backgrounds. I come from a family that has always suffered generational poverty in Mexico. My parents came to the United States to give us a better life. They grew up with nothing– my dad’s roof was literally a stack of cardboard boxes to put things into perspective. I mention this because I knew early on that if I wanted to get published, I was going to have to put in the extra work to find free resources that could help me get there. I really appreciate people like Alexa Donne, whose Youtube videos helped me IMMENSESLY when researching the publishing industry. Accessibility is an issue in publishing, and it’s programs like Author Mentor Match, #LatinxPitch, #DVPit, etc that will produce more diverse books from authors of those communities in the industry.

Being a mentor for Author Mentor Match is a way for me lift another author who may not afford programs like SCBWI or other valuable resources that require payment. Stories from those who come from low income backgrounds tend to be the ones that don’t get told due to financial barriers, and that’s unfortunate because those stories are very important. It took me months to research everything that I’ve learned, and I want to be a helping hand for a mentee who wants to learn more about the industry in general but also needs someone to give them the extra push they need to get their book where it needs to be.

Right now in a time where a traumatic pandemic affected the lives of everyone, our stories are needed. As writers, the journey to get published is very lonely, and it takes a lot of courage to push yourself to find a community of writers that will genuinely support you and your writing journey. My job as a mentor is to make the process a little less lonely. I want to lift another writer and build a bridge for them to reach one step of publishing to another.

I’m primarily looking for stories centered around characters we don’t read often about. I am particularly seeking all genres of fantasy. Make me laugh, make me cry; send me on a rollercoaster of emotions with your beautiful words. I promise to be with you every step of the way as you venture into the scary abyss that is querying. My hope is that my mentee and I form a strong bond that leads to friendship.

And if you aren’t selected, PLEASE don’t give up. I didn’t get into any of the mentorships I applied to and that didn’t mean I was less than those who got in. I personally think it’s harder to get into a mentorship than it is to get an agent. There are many paths to getting published and mine was cold-querying. You’ve got this! ┬íSi Se Puede!

Middle Grade

  • Romance
  • Fantasy
  • Urban/Contemporary Fantasy

Tropes I Love:
– Enemies-to-Friends
– Enemies-to-Lovers
– Unexpected traitors
– The Chosen One
– Love Triangle
– Anti-Heroes
– Found Family


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

Along with sending you an edit letter touching on big picture feedback like character development, setting, plot, pacing, etc, I also like to make comments and line edits as I’m reading your story. Comments will include screaming if I get excited about something and constructive feedback. After that, if the mentee prefers, I love to hash things out via video call where I will help you brainstorm plot points or areas that feel sticky. After that, as the mentee is revising, I will be available for DM’s, emails, and scheduled phone calls if the mentee is stuck and can’t put it into words. When my mentee is finished, I will go through one more pass and then help them compile a query package.

Along with helping you with your manuscript, my hope is that we form a professional relationship/friendship that extends far beyond Author Mentor Match. I want to be there for you as emotional support while querying as well because I understand how daunting it could get. Even if this isn’t the one, my hope is that this experience provides you with the tools you need to work on any project at all stages of the publishing process.

My ideal mentee is someone with a completed manuscript who has gone through at least one pass of revisions, or someone who has revised it so much they don’t know how to fix it anymore and need the extra support. However, if you feel like your book is well-revised and your gut is telling you to go straight to querying, I suggest you listen to it! I may pass if I feel like a manuscript is query-ready and I don’t think I could help it, and I wouldn’t want you to feel discouraged or that you aren’t good enough (it may just be that your book is TOO good).

My ideal mentee is open to good communication. If you feel overwhelmed, let me know! If you need clarification, let me know! I will provide the same in return. We’re a team, and effective communication breeds good teamwork.

My ideal mentee is open to revising A LOT. This includes maybe even rewriting your whole book if we as a team feel like that needs to happen. You’d be surprised how much better a book can get when you’re open to change, even though it’s really scary at first.


  • Any and ALL kinds of fantasies. I particularly have a soft spot for contemporary fantasies (magic within our world), but I read and enjoy all types
  • LATINX/E STORIES! Bonus points if your characters are immigrants (documented or undocumented), first-generation, working manual labor or restaurant jobs (if one of your characters owns a stand with fruta picada or aguas frescas, or is a PALETERO, GIMME)
  • PLEASE also send me your BIPOC stories, especially fantasies inspired by non-European cultures
  • Would love to read stories with strong and cool LGBTQ+ characters like The Owl House by Dana Terrace on Disney Channel
  • I personally believe there’s nothing wrong with middle grade novels having romance (kids have crushes too ya know), and I tend to be attracted to books who have romance as a sub-plot. So if this is you, send it over! P.S.: If you use the enemies-to-friends/enemies-to-lovers trope, I promise you I will GOBBLE your book.
  • If your book is a standalone with series potential, send it over!
  • Any and all kinds of banter, especially if it’s between two character foils
  • Characters you feel we haven’t read enough about
  • Stories with voice!


I am not the best fit for:

  • Stories that condone or center around xenophobia, homophobia, ableism, antisemitism, racism, etc. (Even if the story is about a protagonist that is one or more of these things but then realizes it’s bad, I am not the best fit.)
  • Epic or high fantasy worlds inspired by Western or Eastern Europe
  • I am not the best fit for graphic novels or novels-in-verse. Although I love reading them, I don’t think I could mentor them


Books: Amari and the Night Brothers, The School for Good and Evil, Efren Divided, Love Sugar Magic, The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez, Percy Jackson, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond

TV: You’ll see a lot of cartoons from the 90’s and early 2000s which reveals my age but no shame. Hey Arnold, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Owl House (currently obsessed with this), Amphibia, Arthur, Recess, Charlie Brown

Musicals: Wicked, Hamilton, In the Heights, Mean Girls

Movies: Under the Same Moon (this movie do have me balling though), Flipped, Home Alone, the Avengers films, all Disney Pixar movies but especially Coco, anything Disney actually