#WriteMentor 2020

Hey, authors!

Are you ready to join the dream team of A.J. Sass and Hannah Kates?

We’re back for our SECOND year of a full mentor package (Queries and synopses and full drafts—oh my!), and we can’t wait to see your young adult and middle grade entries. In addition to co-mentoring, Hannah will be taking on a second full mentor package as a solo mentor (and A.J. has promised himself he won’t be, but tell that to the mentee who wrote a beautiful speculative manuscript he couldn’t not solo mentor last year 😅).

The #WriteMentor program means a great deal to us since we were both mentees back in 2018. We are excited about the opportunity to give back for the second year in a row and can’t wait to read your submissions!

Whether it’s horror or contemporary, mystery or fantasy, we are open to ALL GENRES as long as they’re full of heart. We’re looking for strong voice, creative takes, and stories that make middle schoolers and teens feel seen. Please—nothing hateful or marginalizing. We love seeing #ownvoices! Give us a book that makes a difference.

Who We Are


After graduating from the world’s premier naval academy, Hannah Kates got out of war games and into the world of children’s literature. Aside from being an author, she also considers herself a professional adventurer and has chalked up misadventures everywhere from the streets of Mumbai to the ranks of the French Foreign Legion. If she’s not being all “entrepreneurial” about the writing gig, you can find her running for ridiculous distances, training her pet rats, or playing honky-tonk piano. You can follow her on Twitter here.

Hannah Kates is represented by Lynnette Novak of The Seymour Agency.


A.J. Sass is a fiction-writing figure skater, inclined toward adventures of a traveling nature. He is autistic, non-binary, and keen on exploring how gender identity and neurodiversity impact character narratives.

A.J. grew up in the Midwestern US, came of age in the South, and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his boyfriend and two cats who act like dogs. You can follow him on Twitter here.

He is represented by Jordan Hamessley at New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc., and his middle grade debut, ANA ON THE EDGE, will be published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on October 20, 2020. You can preorder it here and add it on Goodreads here.

What We Want


As a middle grade author of dark and twisted tales, Hannah loves creepies and crawlies. If you’ve got tomes of mystery that alternate between shrieks and giggles, she’s your gal. DEATH AND DOUGLAS and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK are a few of her favorites, along with SPLENDORS AND GLOOMS, CORALINE, and THE ABSENSE OF SPARROWS. But horror needs to have a purpose. That means no senseless slashers, humdrum ghouls, or sparkly vampires.

Despite her cadaverous pallor, Hannah also enjoys a good laugh (Think Georgia Nicholson, SPUD, HTTYD, and any other quirky coming-of age stores.) and standout tales full of heart like THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN and NIMONA. She’d give anything for an archetype-defying MC. If your adventurer is a sentient spork, a crime-fighting grandma, or a class hamster with a vendetta, please send your manuscript.


A.J.’s less fussed about genre than he is about getting invested in a character. He has a particular soft spot for stories that weave in marginalized identities, from queer characters coming into their own (think: HURRICANE SEASON or STAR-CROSSED on the MG side of things to I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST, THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END, and THE DISASTERS for YA) to disabled or neurodivergent characters kicking ass (or tush if you’re writing MG). A.J. loves learning about different religions and cultures, as well. Stories about POC and religions underrepresented in children’s and YA literature are totally his jam (e.g., THE HATE U GIVE, DEAR MARTIN, TIGHT, THE NIGHT DIARY, and AMAL UNBOUND).

He also adores snarky narrators (here’s looking at you, NICE TRY, JANE SINNER–bonus points for its fantastic mental health rep) and stories with completely platonic friendships that break your heart into pieces, then mend it together again by the end (this isn’t quite out yet but he just read THE EDGE OF ANYTHING and it did just that). He also loves swoony romances that have humorous components (WHAT IF IT’S US; THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE; someone please submit the YA version of RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE!). Hit him with your best shot.

#Ownvoices writers are especially encouraged to submit, although please don’t feel the need to self-identify if you’re not comfortable doing so ❤️

In sum

We are super open to a variety of different genres in both young adult and middle grade, so please don’t self-reject! Sometimes it’s impossible to know what you’re looking for until you see (and fall in love with) it.

Our Mentoring Style

Since Hannah and A.J. co-mentored last year, we’ve already established a solid mentoring process. Both of us are constantly on the move, working on our own stories, traveling, and juggling various deadlines. That’s what makes a co-mentor situation so ideal. When one of us is on deadline or otherwise busy, the other can take the helm. Our editorial strengths also compliment one another’s, so you’re likely to get thorough feedback on all aspects of your manuscript, from plot to character development, emotional arcs to line-level notes on punctuation and grammar.

Communication-wise, we’re open to group email exchanges, Twitter DMs, or any other means of communication that works for all three of us. You can ping us as often as you need during the revision process, to clarify feedback we’ve given, ask general questions, or even vent about how intense revisions can get (we absolutely understand and can commiserate).

We’ll support you throughout the mentorship period and beyond as you begin querying and working on other projects. We’re in it for the long haul 💪

Questions or comments? The best place to reach us is our respective Twitter accounts, and the best time is during the scheduled #WriteMentor Twitter chats (TBD: We’ll update this post when we have a date for that sorted–stay tuned!).