Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Lauren E. E. PersonsLacewing & Coal DustAndrew Sass and Hannah Kates MGFantasy Adventure67000

Jazzy has a plan for everything, but even she couldn’t anticipate her grandpa’s clarinet being stolen by a man with a lightbulb for a head. If she’s ever going to play in her middle school band again, shell need to learn to improvise—and that means chasing the thief through a magical antique shop and into another world to get her instrument back. 

When her clarinet is sent to be sold at a black market in the clouds, Jazzy barters her way onto an airship, where she encounters an captured jinni who promises he can help—assuming he doesn’t get distracted by his own quest for buried treasure, first. Jazzy breaks him out, and his sky-pirate captors come chasing after. But when the lightbulb-headed man offers her a deal—her clarinet for the jinni—she’ll have to decide if betraying her friend is worth her prize and a sure way home.

LACEWING AND COAL DUST (67,000 words) is an upper middle grade fantasy featuring a diverse (PoC, non-binary, gay, lesbian,) cast. Fans of The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend and The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta will enjoy a similarly determined girl navigating a strange world full of even stranger people. 

I am a queer woman in the Denver area who, like Jazzy, plays a variety of musical instruments in my spare time. Lacewing & Coal Dust would be my debut novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours respectfully,

Lauren E. E. Persons


Midtown was a small city in middle-something America that prided itself on not knowing exactly where it was. It was too far from the Atlantic to be coastal, too far east to be Midwest, and depending on who you talked to, their ancestors had fought for the North or the South. The locals liked to say they lived in the middle of everywhere. 

On a decrepit street just off Midtown’s downtown sat a little storefront called Lacewing and Coal Dust, which might explain why it escaped most people’s notice. Passersby rarely spared it a glance, and those who did only stopped at the insistence of their children, who pressed their noses up against the glass in awe. Behind the floor-to-ceiling window was a jungle of metal: ornate clocks and bicycle parts, compasses and telescopes, lanterns and hubcaps. Oddities filled the storefront to the brim, but if one were curious enough and found just the right angle, they could catch a glimpse of the creations stored deeper in the emporium. In those dusky shadows loomed weird shapes full of brass spools and giant gears. Forms that hinted at wings and silhouettes that might have belonged to automatons. Never did two looks into that shop turn up the same scene of ancient clutter. It was just as strange, then, that no one was ever seen inside tending to their wares. The paint on the door read, “Lacewing and Coal Dust: Forgotten Treasures for Lost Travelers,” but an OPEN sign never hung in the window, nor was the door ever found unlocked when tried.

To the few kids who noticed the shop, it was full of wonder and mystery. To their parents, it was nothing more than a building full of abandoned junk. 

And abandoned it might have been, for the shop had rested there, untouched, for many years. Decades, the adults would say. 

But the children—the ones that stopped to look in the windows of Lacewing and Coal Dust, the ones whose imaginations were swept up by its copper contraptions like cobwebs in a hiss of steam—could feel a hint of the truth. 

The store was old. Older than them and their parents and even their great-grandparents combined. This place was something else. Something still and sleeping. 

Until one evening, somewhere in the darkest depths of the shop, a light flickered on.