Mentee NameTitle of ManuscriptMentor NameAge CategoryGenre(s)Total word count (approx.)
Jeff de LeónPrincess of a Fading StarSabrina Prestes & George JreijeYAScience-Fantasy120000

Seventeen-year-old Prince Aleczander always dreamed of his wedding day, the day he would finally leave his abusive mother and cruel northern kingdom behind. But when his betrothed, Princess Alessia, runs away days before their wedding, Zander must cover for her, or else the fragile alliance between their kingdoms could shatter. To buy time and to prove himself, Zander accepts a suicidal mission to hunt down the last of the Machine-Gods that once ruled the world. 

Meanwhile, hidden beneath the Earth, Celene wakes in the ruins of a ship once meant to sail the stars. Though human, she was designed by artificial intellects to be perfect and powerful—a weapon to manipulate and destroy humanity. But when the runaway princess Alessia discovers Celene, their mysterious connection puts them at the heart of a secret war between immortal kings and ancient machines.

As Zander leads an army against her home, Celene must decide whether she is on the side of Alessia and humanity or on the side of artificial perfection—a decision that will plunge the surviving remnants of civilization into chaos.

PRINCESS OF A FADING STAR is a young adult science-fantasy novel set in a future world that echoes CWTV’s The 100. Told in multiple points of view that include #ownvoices queer and latinx representation, this story of wondrous kingdoms competing for ancient technology will appeal to fans of Six of Crows and Skyward.

I hold a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Literacy from Touro University. As a teacher, I understand how intensely young readers crave complex stories filled with mystery and wonder. I set out to write a myth that fills that need as well as a greater need for diverse characters and empowering heroes.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Jeff de León


CHAPTER 1: Zander’s Dream

You know us as machines bound to resurrect, guide, and protect humanity, but the blue storm at the heart of the Moon changed everything.

―Composer-013-042

Breathless, Zander strides through the courtyard toward the palace, his heart picking up speed with every step closer to the girl he has been sworn to marry since he was born. Heat rises in a rippling haze from every golden tile, urging him onward toward the towers casting precious shade ahead. 

Earth’s two ivory rings curve along the bright blue sky, shimmering white over the city’s colossal stone walls. The smell of salt lingers, though the sound of ocean waves below has faded. A seagull squawks every now and again, circling overhead. 

Zander’s heart blazes when Alessia rushes down the steps to greet him, bronze skin radiant against her white dress. They will be married whether they want to or not, but one thing remains within their control: how they will spend their lives together.

At the base of the steps, Alessia’s green eyes scour him for only a second before she rests her hand on the hilt of her sword, blocking his way into the palace. He muffles a sigh; he’d hurried here for a reassurance of love or even friendship—not swordplay. 

“Shall we begin?” Alessia raises her silver blade into the light between them. “It’s been so long since I’ve had a worthy sparring partner.”

Zander forces a nervous smile. “Whenever you’re ready.”

She shuts her eyes and takes a breath. A golden necklace shines against her dark skin as the breeze runs waves through her hair. Hesitantly, Zander lifts Meteora, the gray blade that had belonged to his brother, and waits. 

The duel begins when Alessia’s black lashes flutter open like a moth’s expanding wings. 

Zander parries her first slash, but she presses him backward, her longsword shining like a weightless extension of her very soul. Desperate footsteps, dodges and leaps are the only thing keeping him from defeat—until he splashes into a nearby fountain. 

Rhythm interrupted, Alessia’s merciless slash rends his black tunic. As Zander steps out of the water, the blood dripping down his abdomen washes off in the fountain’s spray, and his skin knits itself back together.

He laughs at the tickling sensation of the minor wound, but stops when he sees Alessia’s face. Lips pressed together, her eyes are focused but unconcerned. The cut that was funny a second ago begins to sting. Alessia had been reserved in the past, but Zander thought it was because she was afraid to hope for something more from life. 

He’s afraid too, but the long-awaited day is nearly here. 

“Do you blame me for…” Zander pauses, “the betrothal? The wedding? I was born into this life, same as you.” 

Alessia blinks, confused. “No, of course not. That was an accident.”

Liar.

Zander shoves a fallen lock of black hair away from his eyes. “Do you wish to continue?” 

Alessia inches closer, sword held in a reverse grip behind her. “Yes.”