My name is Lorelei Savaryn, author of THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS (out now), THE EDGE OF IN BETWEEN (April 19, 2022), and THE NIGHT TRAIN (2023). My stories usually focus on the atmospheric and creepy, but always, always, have a strong pulse of hope. I am represented by Chloe Seager at Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency in London.
My husband and I reside in northern Illinois with our four children, aged 10, 7, 5, and 2. We added a fluffy puppy to the mix last winter and that’s been an adventure! We enjoy game nights, going on walks when the weather is amenable, watching AFV, and pretty much anything where we can spend time together.
I have a B.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Education, and I used to be a classroom teacher. I most recently worked instructional coach, supporting teachers’ professional learning before resigning to focus on writing and to homeschool our kids. I also am the owner of the only children’s bookstore in my community, The Butterfly Bookshop, which is currently operating as a pop-up.
I’m an INFJ and have a not-so-secret past in improvisational comedy, which means I’m pretty good on my feet in awkward situations!
Besides writing, I enjoy playing piano, reading, doing escape rooms, puzzles, wine, chocolate, singing, and finding new funny or suspenseful shows to watch with my husband after the kids have gone to bed.
My journey technically starts back when I was a kid with an affinity for writing short stories and fractured fairy tales. But, more concisely it starts over 10 years ago when I majored in Creative Writing in college. From that point on, I knew with vague certainty that I wanted to write a novel, but it took me eight more solid years before I developed both the stamina and endurance to finish a manuscript. And that manuscript (a YA) was a hot mess. A hot mess that I entered into Pitch Wars in 2017. I didn’t get chosen that round, but I got some great feedback and set to work (after a good cry) improving my craft.
Over the following year I entered several more mentoring programs (including AMM!) and got a request here and there, and some more helpful feedback, but no mentor. I queried that novel lightly and continued my pattern of getting a few requests but no offer of rep. In July 2018 a new idea came at me fast and furious. It was middle grade, which made perfect sense because I had always loved middle grade books. It was about a circus built of dreams, and a missing brother, and a girl who desperately needed to heal. I entered that manuscript into Pitch Wars 2018 and got selected as a mentee. Cue four months of multiple, intense rounds of revisions, and it was time to query.
This time, my request rate was significantly higher, and about six weeks after the agent showcase I found myself feeling incredibly stunned and grateful and with five offers of representation. I signed with Chloe Seager at Madeleine Millburn and we did one more small round of revision before going on sub in May 2019. After a whirlwind of a few days, less than a week going on sub, we accepted a pre-empt with Penguin Random House for a two-book deal. That book became my debut, THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS (Penguin/Philomel), and my upcoming magical Secret Garden retelling, THE EDGE OF IN BETWEEN (Penguin/Viking). I’ve since sold another book, THE NIGHT TRAIN (Penguin/Viking), and am revising that now.
Starting in my creative writing workshop-style classes in college, through my day job as an instructional coach, and now as a CP to several talented writers (many now agented or with book deals), I’ve had the chance to hone in on my ability to provide meaningful feedback. My experience as a mentee as well as my work with my editor have also given me the chance to learn how to analyze a manuscript and break down the work that needs to be done. I was also a mentor for AMM R7 and R8 for middle grade. That experience was so wonderful and rewarding, I just had to return again!
I love mentoring as a way to give back to the community that has given so freely to me. I can say with 100% certainty being chosen as a mentee in Pitch Wars 2018 made a difference in my publishing timeline. I learned so much so quickly because my mentors believed in my potential and chose to support my growth. I am so excited to be that support for another writer who dreams of one day seeing their book on the shelves.
I know what it meant to me to have people in my corner who were invested in helping me grow, and knew how to teach me to become a better writer. I also know what it means to find community through a mentoring program. As an AMM mentor, I love giving back to the writing community and supporting another writer’s growth.
As a mentor and critique partner, I am very structured and organized with my feedback. I look at stories through the lens of theme and build outward from there, always with theme at the core, as we delve into character arcs, plot and pacing, magic system, etc. My mentee and I will have an open dialogue during revisions and I’ll be available to work through things that come up as we go. My goal as a mentor will be to equip my mentee with the tools they’ll need to not only improve their current manuscript, but to also apply what they’ve learned to every manuscript they write from this point on.
I’m looking for someone ready to dig in and do the work, who has a heart for reaching young readers with tales of magic and hope, and who has a story with potential that I know I can help and that captures my heart.
- Magical Realism/Fabulism
- Urban/Contemporary Fantasy
I am opening up to more genres this year, as I’m ready to be surprised and delighted!
In my own reading life, I tend to gravitate towards books with a smidgen of magic in them all the way up to full on fantasy, as well as creepy stories with magic/paranormal/horror elements. These stories can be set in modern, historical, or fantastical worlds. Last year I fell in love with a contemporary story, and am also very open to seeing contemporary submissions with lots of heart.
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 will certainly push you to grow in your craft, but you can also count on the fact that if I choose you as my mentee, it means that I LOVE your story and its potential, and that I believe you have what it takes to do the work I’ll be asking you to do. My feedback will be very honest about what needs work, but will also include plenty of positives and a lot of questions to help get you thinking as well. If I pick you, you can also be sure that I see a clear path forward for your story and am prepared to walk the road with you the whole way.
One of the best parts of my mentee experience was the fact that my mentors didn’t do the work for me. Rather, they equipped me to do the work for myself, so I could not only improve the manuscript I was working on with them, but would have the tools to be a more effective writer for all my future stories. This is the type of mentorship I also provide for my mentees.
I tend to think linearly and enjoy organization and structure, so my mentee will first receive a big picture edit letter from me, broken down into areas like theme, plot/pacing, character arcs, magic system, etc. There may also be some homework in the way of craft resources created either by me or by others that will help equip you to make effective choices in your revisions. Once you’re ready, we’ll set up a Skype or chat or email, whatever works best for you, to talk through it and go through any questions you may have. We’ll make a plan forward from there, and I’ll work with you on a timeline that best fits your story and your life as we move forward as a team.
*Though I may offer suggestions meant to get your mind turning on some of the possible paths forward, you will always be at the helm of decision making for your story, and I will never tell you exactly how you need to fix an issue.*
When that first round of revision is done, I’ll do another pass for layering if needed, and then am happy to provide line edits and support your submission preparations if you think that would be helpful (query/synopsis/agent research).
My ideal mentee will be going into this process hoping to come out of it a better writer above all. It will also be someone who understands that much of the writing process is the process of revision, and that learning to revise well is, in fact, learning to write well. Someone who is open to feedback and dialogue, and who is ready to roll up their sleeves, take apart their manuscript if needed, dig in deep to improve it, and then put it back together.
I work best with people who are open and honest in their communications, manage time well, are flexible yet driven, optimistic and resilient, and who are willing to put in the effort it takes to grow.
In the best case scenario, me and my AMM mentee would develop a lasting relationship as well. If you are my mentee, you can bet I’ll be supporting you and cheering you on for the long haul.
My tastes vary in genre, but I find myself consistently drawn to books that feel like they could be classics, that have a strong narrative voice and a ton of heart. I also LOVE a good, creepy story, as long as it’s got heart and hope woven in with all that’s scary.
I’m also very open to being surprised, so if you don’t find a specific connection to this list, but think from what you’ve read that we might be a good fit, please feel free to submit! (as long as your story doesn’t contain any of the Not For Me elements below)
Fantasy (all subgenres): Any of these things, or combination of these things, might be a good fit for me!
- A story based in our current world, but also with magic, or a story in a completely different, imagined land
- Portal fantasy with a unique angle (something other than the MC discovers they’re royalty in a magical kingdom, etc.)
- Stories where the setting is pretty much a character itself
- Twisty, mysterious stories with surprise endings
- Lyrical prose
Contemporary/Historical: I generally am drawn to tales with a super strong emotional pulse that navigates some of the trickier areas of life in a way that kids will relate to and can find hope through.
- I would be very interested in seeing a straight up contemporary or contemporary fantasy story that features a Catholic family at it’s core. Not one where religion is the focus of the plot, necessarily, but one where faith is integrated as part of the normal family practice and culture.
In any genre, the components listed below tend to draw me in!
- Family, found family, sibling stories, parent/child stories
- Stories that thoughtfully address addiction
- A retelling of a classic tale
- Stories where both parents are an active part of the MC’s life
- Stories that deal sensitively with anxiety
- Stories that address the challenges and pressures of ‘fitting in’
DO NOT SEND ME:
- Anything with a lot of potty humor
- Fairies/fae or mermaids
- Anything where romance or first crush is the primary plot/conflict (as a secondary storyline crushes are totally fine, though! I don’t read a lot of primarily crush-driven MG, and wouldn’t be the best mentor for it.)
- Anything that romanticizes suicide or suicidal ideation or even jokes about it.
- I’m not usually a great fit for elemental magic, but would be open to something along the lines of Quintessence by Jess Redman, which wove that type of magic in with a strong emotional core.
- A story revolving heavily around the worlds of gaming or anime: I just don’t know enough about those areas to be a good mentor for it.
- Stories in the superhero realm. This is another area I’m not super familiar with and wouldn’t be the best mentor for.
Middle Grade Books:
Historical: A Place to Hang the Moon, Echo Mountain
Historical Fantasy: Sweep, The Gilded Girl, The Verdigris Pawn, The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams
Horror: Small Spaces trilogy, Lockwood & Co, Hide and Seeker, The Night Gardener, Nightbooks,
Ghost Stories: Scritch Scratch, City of Ghosts/Tunnel of Bones, Long Lost, The Graveyard Book, Doll Bones
Fantasy: The Forest of Stars, Furthermore/Whichwood
Contemporary Fantasy: Quintessence, The Magic of Melwick Orchard, Midsummer’s Mayhem
Contemporary: A Soft Place to Land, Because of Winn Dixie, Stand Up, Yumi Chung!, Land of the Cranes, Glitter Gets Everywhere
YA Books: Caraval, House of Salt and Sorrows
Adult Books: The Ten Thousand Doors of January, All the Missing Girls, The Night Circus, Pride and Prejudice, The Time Traveler’s Wife, All the Light We Cannot See
TV Shows: Maid, Sherlock, Lost, Survivor, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Amazing Race, Gilmore Girls, 24, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Friday Night Lights, Downton Abbey, This is Us, Once Upon a Time
Movies: The Quiet Place, Bourne Trilogy, Inception, Limitless, The Book of Eli, Interstellar, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, The Holiday, You’ve Got Mail
Music: Josh Groban, Maroon 5, Imagine Dragons, Needtobreathe, Foo Fighters, Sia, Goo Goo Dolls, Rob Thomas, Lifehouse, Shinedown, Five for Fighting, Soul Asylum, X Ambassadors, OneRepublic, The Script, O.A.R.
Musicals: Hamilton, Les Miserables, Aida, The Music Man, Dear Evan Hansen, Finding Neverland, Matilda