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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Middle Grade Novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 118
1. Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner for MMGM



Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner (Sept 2013, Walker Childrens, for ages 10 to 14)

Source: purchased from B&N

Synopsis (from the publisher):

Four kids . . . 

Two weeks in the Florida Everglades . . . 

One top-secret science experiment that could change them and the world as they know it . . . 

Meet Quentin, a middle-school football star from Chicago; Sarah, a hockey player from Upstate New York; Ben, a horse lover from the Pacific Northwest; and Cat, an artistic bird watcher from California.

The four have little in common except the head injuries that landed them in an elite brain-science center in the wild swamps of Florida. It’s known as the best clinic in the world and promises to return their lives to normal, but as days pass, the kids begin to notice strange side effects and unexplained changes


Why I recommend it: Wake Up Missing is a fascinating combination of futuristic science and old-fashioned adventure and mystery in the Florida swamps. The way the author managed to stir in traumatic brain injuries, a one-eyed alligator, a man who collects butterflies, and four kids from diverse backgrounds (and then season it all with a dash of political intrigue) makes for one remarkable dish. As an adult reader, I found the doctor's experiments a little far-fetched, but I could see my ten-year-old self eating this up. 

You might recognize Kate Messner as the author of the Marty McGuire series of younger chapter books (yay! I love Marty McGuire!), and from Capture the Flag and other novels.

Have you read Wake Up Missing? What did you think? And if you haven't read it, what recent mystery/adventure would you recommend?


Kate Messner's website

Follow Kate on Twitter


For other MMGM posts, see Shannon's links.

(Speaking of missing... I'll be missing from the blogging world for the next few weeks. I'll be back on Monday, August 18th. Hoping to finish a much-needed revision on my latest novel.)

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2. CURIOSITY by Gary Blackwood for MMGM





Curiosity by Gary Blackwood (April 2014, Dial, for ages 9 to 13)

Source: library

Synopsis (from the publisher): Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufus’s job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them? 

Why I recommend it: The Philadelphia connection drew me in (I was born in Philadelphia, as was my father and, in fact, both of his parents), but then I kept reading because, hey, it's Gary Blackwood (The Shakespeare Stealer) and he's a master of historical fiction filled with intrigue and atmosphere. What the synopsis doesn't tell you: first, Rufus is handicapped (but never makes a big deal out of it), and second, this novel is loosely based on true events. Johann Nepomuk Maelzel was a real person, the Turk was an actual invention in the age of steam, and Edgar Allan Poe (who plays a cameo here) really did write an essay about Maelzel's chess-playing automaton.

For links to other MMGM posts, visit Shannon's blog.


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3. The New Vision Award – Get Published

AiWS final

Another great illustration from the Artist Showcase at the NJSCBWI Conference. It was created by Lynnor Bontigao and is titled, “Alice’s Adventure in WonderShore”. You can visit Lynoor at: www.lynnorbontigao.com

Tu Books is accepting submissions for their second New Visions Second Annual New Vision Awards. The New Visions Award, established in 2012 by the Tu Books imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, is given to a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. It’s a fantastic chance for new authors of color to break into the world of publishing for young readers.

Eligibility and Contest Submission

The New Visions contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a middle grade or young adult novel published.

The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and our standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash prize of $500.

Manuscripts will be accepted through October 31st, 2014. See the full submissions guidelines here.

Spread the Word

Did you know that last year, books written by authors of color made up less than seven percent of the total number of books published (see these CCBC stats)?

Change requires more than just goodwill; it requires concrete action. We were heartened by First Book’s recent commitment to purchasing 10,000 copies of select books from “new and underrepresented voices” and the success of the passionate #weneeddiversebooks movement.

Likewise, the New Visions Award is a concrete step toward evening the playing field by seeking out talented new authors of color who might otherwise remain under the radar of mainstream publishing.

We hope you’ll help us spread the word by forwarding on this email; sharing the contest on Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr; and of course, letting people know through good old word-of-mouth.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, awards, Competition, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: New Vision Award, Tor Books

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4. Falcon in the Glass for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday


(Please note that I'm scheduling this post ahead of time, but I'll be flying back from a vacation, and probably won't be able to respond to comments or visit your blogs until Tuesday or Wednesday. Bear with me!)




Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher (July 2013, Margaret K. McElderry Books for Young Readers, for ages 10 to 14)

Source: library

Synopsis (from the publisher): In Venice in 1487, the secrets of glassblowing are guarded jealously. Renzo, a twelve-year-old laborer in a glassworks, has just a few months to prepare for a test of his abilities, and no one to teach him. If he passes, he will qualify as a skilled glassblower. If he fails, he will be expelled from the glassworks. Becoming a glassblower is his murdered father’s dying wish for him, and the means of supporting his mother and sister. But Renzo desperately needs another pair of hands to help him turn the glass as he practices at night.

One night he is disturbed by a bird—a small falcon—that seems to belong to a girl hiding in the glassworks. Soon Renzo learns about her and others like her—the bird people, who can communicate with birds and are condemned as witches. He tries to get her to help him and discovers that she comes with baggage: ten hungry bird-kenning children who desperately need his aid. Caught between devotion to his family and his art and protecting a group of outcast children, Renzo struggles for a solution that will keep everyone safe in this atmospheric adventure. 


Why I recommend it: It's historical fiction that reads like a thrilling adventure story. If you like Karen Cushman, Gary Blackwood, or Linda Sue Park's A Single Shard, you'll love this book. The writing is gorgeous, and rich in sensory images. I've been a fan of Susan Fletcher since I read Shadow Spinner many years ago and her writing is masterful. Read this one to study how she handles third person.

Author's website

For other MMGM posts, see Shannon's links.


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5. State of the Children’s Publishing Market

The New Jersey SCBWI Conference was this past weekend and it was a roaring success. I open up Sunday with a State of the Market Report and as promised, here is the first installment.  I included the top six publishers from June 2013 – June 2014 vs. June 2012 – June 2013, with their industry ranking and amount of contracts comparisons in YA – MG – PB. The most interesting thing to me was the fact that Sky Pony Press was ranked number 6 in the list of Top Publishers. I think this is quite a feat, considering they opened their door less than 3 years ago. I’m impressed.

top15pubs

Check back tomorrow to see the next three slides. If you attended the conference, I hope we had time to say “Hello.” It really was a great conference and it was wonderful to see all my old friends and meet new friends who I hope to see again next year.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Middle Grade Novels, picture books, publishers, Publishing Industry, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Contracts cateogries broken down, last year vs. June 2012-2013, State of the Market Report, Top 15 Children's Publishers, Who's Growing Who's Not

16 Comments on State of the Children’s Publishing Market, last added: 6/30/2014
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6. The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King - and a Giveaway!





The Big Book of Superheroes by Bart King, illustrated by Greg Paprocki (April 2014, Gibbs Smith, for ages 9 to 12)

Source: hardcover review copy from the publisher

Synopsis (from the publisher): If you're wondering if you have what it takes to be a superhero--of course you do! All you need is a burning desire to fight evildoers. Oh, and also a secret identity, the perfect name, a cool costume, some terrific superpowers, and an archenemy. Actually, you know what? You better get this book. 


From The Big Book of Superheros by Bart King. Illustration by Greg Paprocki. Used by permission.


Why I recommend it: It's super fun! This book is chock-full of info, along with quizzes, crafts, and comics. It's tongue-in-cheek and even downright silly (and liberally sprinkled with exclamation points!) but always entertaining. Kids will lap this up, while you'll enjoy dipping into it. Think of it as Everything You Wanted to Know About Superheroes and How to Become One (But Never Thought To Ask). Did you know the first hero was a girl? Did you know going offline will help you develop a superpower? Did you know the greatest superhero saying wasn't said by a superhero?

When Bart King contacted me in May, I remembered all his previous books from the bookstore where I used to work. The Big Books of Boy Stuff, Girl Stuff, Spy Stuff, and Gross Stuff were always brisk sellers. 

Bart kindly agreed to answer three questions:

Bart working in his home office


1) Bart, if you could have only one superpower, what would it be, and why?

There was a time when I thought being “Dishwasher Safe” might be exciting. But now, I wish I had the power to travel 30 seconds into the future. This would set up delightful scenarios like...
—“How did Bart get in the front seat so fast? I was going to call shotgun!”
—“What the what?! Bart ate the last slice of pizza AGAIN?”
—”Bart, can you get the mower out and—hmm, he was here a second ago...”

Also, I should mention that kids who don’t read are my kryptonite. So I’d love to be able to shoot a beam (or write a book) that could persuade them to change their ways! :P



2) I think you may have done that with this book, Bart. So...who's your favorite villain?

Doctor Doom. 

Maybe Doctor Doom’s my favorite because he uses an entire country as his hideout, and the capital is called Doomstadt. Maybe it’s because the airport there is Doomsport, and the biggest local holiday is Doom’s Day.

Or most likely, Doctor Doom is my favorite villain because I wish that I could get away with wearing body armor and a green cape. :P



3) You started your writing career with a book for adults (An Architectural Guidebook to Portland). What made you switch to writing for children?


As a longtime middle school teacher, I tried to model the behavior I wanted from my students. So when I assigned an ambitious research paper to my 8th graders in 1997, I decided to do one myself. 

At that time, I was a newcomer to Portland (Oregon), and was curious about the civic history of the city. So I started researching specific buildings downtown, looking for common threads in terms of timelines, social events, architects, building styles, etc. 

While this may sound as dry as brick dust, I found myself looking at our “built environment” in a completely new way. And my classroom research paper eventually led to An Architectural Guidebook to Portland (Oregon State University Press). That book became a terrific prop for me to pull out when students said things like “Why do we have to do this?” about their writing assignments.

After the Architectural Guidebook, I pivoted to writing for kids. Like any teacher, I had reluctant readers...and I wanted to try to write books that appealed directly to them. (Also, I have a useful superpower: I’m incredibly immature!) 


Bart with a friend, from the official website

Thanks so much, Bart. Readers, what superpower would YOU choose? I would choose super speed-reading so I could get through my TBR list. 


From The Big Book of Superheros by Bart King. Illustration by Greg Paprocki. Used by permission.

Visit Bart King's website

Follow Bart on Twitter

Here's a great review from This Kid Reviews Books

And now for the giveaway! Gibbs Smith has generously offered a hardcover copy to one lucky winner. Sorry, but the publisher is limiting this one to continental US addresses only (hey, it's a heavy book).

Entering is simple: you must be a follower and you must leave a comment on this post. For extra fun, in your comment tell us what superpower you would choose (but only one!).

This giveaway ends at 10 pm EDT on Sun July 13. I'll let randomizer pick a winner, who will be announced on Monday July 14. Good luck!

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7. State of the Market Part Two

DiLorenzo_SummerPainting

Every year there is an art exhibit with a theme during the NJSCBWI Conference. This year it was Summer. I planned to collect them and post all of them together, but I changed my mind and decided to use with posts as they come in. This wonderful illustration was painted by Barbara DiLorenzo. You can visit Barbar’s website at: www.barbaradilornezo.com.  

This is the continuation of yesterday’s post.smrslide7a
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Check back tomorrow for Part three. If you had something in the art show, please send me a .jpg so I can show it off.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Conferences and Workshops, Middle Grade Novels, picture books, publishers, Publishing Industry, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Analysis of Children's Book Publishers, Number of Contracts Signed, Publisher Books Who and What is Growing, State of the Market Report

2 Comments on State of the Market Part Two, last added: 7/1/2014
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8. State of the Market – Part 3

artshow20140701DCuneoSummerNight72

Here is another illustration from the NJSCBWI Conference. This fun illustration done by Deborah Cuneo helps us think out of the box when we roast our marshmallows this summer. Deborah won Honorable Mention in the Published Category for this illustration. Website:  www.deborahcuneoillustration.com  Blog:  http://deborahcuneo.blogspot.com

This is the third post about the State of the Children’s Market I presented at the NJSCBWI Conference this past weekend. Please view the post on Monday for the details about the slides.
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I think you can see that the State of the Market is very good and editors and agents thought this would continue for the next year.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Book Contracts, Conferences and Workshops, Middle Grade Novels, picture books, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: contracts compared, Deborah Cuneo winning illustration, State of the Children's Publishing Market, Top 15 Publishers for three categories

7 Comments on State of the Market – Part 3, last added: 7/2/2014
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9. Book Give-a-Way & Interview With Shannon Wiersbitzky: What Flowers Remember

Shannon_Wiersbitzky_Author_Photo_2012Shannon Wiersbitzky is a middle-grade author, a hopeless optimist, and a lover of the outdoors. The Summer of Hammers and Angels, nominated for the William Allen White award, was her first novel.

Born in North Dakota, Shannon has called West Virginia, Florida, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Michigan “home” at some point in her life.She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, one rather dull fish and her always entertaining dog Benson.

I interviewed Shannon about her new book WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER, and asked her if she would do a give-a-way of the book for anyone who leaves a comment. If you tweet or post something about the book on facebook or your blog, you will receive an extra entry to increase your chances to win.

Book Notes: What Flowers Remember

shannonflowersMost folks probably think gardens only get tended when they’re blooming. But most folks would be wrong. According to the almanac, a proper gardener does something every single month. Old Red Clancy was definitely a proper gardener. That’s why I enrolled myself in the Clancy School of Gardening. If I was going to learn about flowers, I wanted to learn from the best.

Delia and Old Red Clancy make quite a pair. He has the know-how and she has the get-up-and-go. When they dream up a seed- and flower-selling business, well, look out, Tucker’s Ferry, because here they come.

But something is happening to Old Red. And the doctors say he
can’t be cured. He’s forgetting places and names and getting cranky for
no reason. As his condition worsens, Delia takes it upon herself to save
as many memories as she can. Her mission is to gather Old Red’s stories so that no one will forget, and she corrals everybody in town to help her.

What Flowers Remember is a story of love and loss, of a young girl coming to understand that even when people die, they live on in our minds, our hearts, and our stories.

*Note: A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In addition to win and read a good book, I think you will find Shannon’s answers to my interview questions below interesting.

I see you have published two middle grade books with namelos. Did you sign a two book deal when you sold  THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS?

No. My initial contract with Namelos only included my first book. I didn’t even know there would be a sequel!

Can you tell us the story behind how you sold your first book and the journey you took to get there?

Writing IS a journey isn’t it! I’ll say that it was a ten year path of discovering my voice and what kind of narrative suits me best. When I began writing books for children, I focused first on picture books. Then I began to dabble in novels. I met my editor, Stephen Roxburgh, at a picture book workshop at Highlights in 2009. He had just started Namelos earlier that year. We hit it off and after the workshop I sent him the manuscript for THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS. We’ve been working together ever since.

Was that your debut book?

Yes. While I’ve had a variety of picture books garner significant interest over the years, HAMMERS was the first book I had published. It was a real thrill to see it in print. I’ve got a copy hanging on the wall in my writing studio. My husband had it framed.

How well did the book sell?

The book has sold well. I don’t know an exact number of copies. It always helps when a novel gets noticed by organizations and award committees, and THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS did. It was nominated for the William Allen White award, and was a recommended title by the Kansas NEA Reading Circle. Scholastic bought copies for its book club too. Anytime a story is recognized, it’s an honor.

Has the publishing of WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER, increased the sales of THE SUMMER OF HAMMERS AND ANGELS?

Yes, I think the benefit of having multiple books out is that people naturally see or seek out your other titles. At least they do if they like what they read!

Had you written WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER when you sold the first book?

No, I hadn’t. In fact, after HAMMERS came out, when asked if there might be a sequel, I confidently said that Delia’s story was finished. Ha! That just shows you that characters are really in charge, not the writers.

How did the idea of the book come to you?

In terms of the actual time and place when I realized Delia had another story to tell, I was literally on a flight from PA to CA. I’d written a novel dealing with Alzheimer’s several years earlier (it was terrible and I never tried to publish it) and all of a sudden, I realized that I’d given the story to the wrong character. It was Delia’s story to tell. I plotted out the entire novel on the back of a single sheet of paper and about six months later I started writing it.

The inspiration to write about Alzheimer’s came from my own life. My grandfather had the disease and ultimately he forgot me. He and I were very close and it broke my heart to realize I had been erased. I wanted to capture the truth of that in a story.

Sadly, dementia is so common, and we have a real lack of stories that deal with it in an honest way. For some reason, we don’t talk about Alzheimer’s as openly as we do other diseases. Kids (and adults) need to be able to have everyday conversations about what they might be experiencing with their own grandparents or others in their life. My hope is that books like FLOWERS can help.

Do you have an agent? If so, who? If not, would you like to find one?

I don’t have an agent. I’ve worked directly with Stephen and his Namelos team for both books. I would like to find an agent, but it hasn’t been my focus lately. It’s so difficult to find someone that exactly fits your personality and writing style!

I have some picture book and early reader manuscripts I’d love to see published, and down the road, there may be other novels that aren’t right for Namelos, but are right for another publisher. Reviewers have compared my writing to Chicken Soup for the Soul and Patricia MacLachlan. If you know of any agents that might lean that way, let me know!

What type of things have you been doing to promote your books?

I have a full-time job that is fairly demanding, so I try to pick and choose things I can tackle in odd hours or that don’t require a full day. I regularly do web interviews with bloggers or write guest posts. I’ve visited local schools and done Skype visits with classrooms. There have been radio interviews. I’ve done a few book signings too.

Did namelos help market your book and get reviews?

Absolutely! They work the official reviewers and send copies out to various awards committees and all that usual stuff that publishers do. Stephen Roxburgh is highly regarded in the industry, so books he publishes typically do get picked up for review by folks like Kirkus. That’s a big plus.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a few things. I’m editing a new novel which is totally different from my first two. High action, high comedy, high levels of exaggeration. I think I needed a break from the realistic fiction. I’m working on a few picture books as well. I’d love for them to find a good home. And I’m jotting notes for a novel that I haven’t started yet, but that I’ve been thinking about for two years. As soon as I can get the action manuscript out the door, this one is next in line. I like to have a host of projects in the hopper. My brain seems to work best that way. 

Review Excerpts

“There are echoes of Patricia MacLachlan in the book’s period flavor (the story seems to be set thirty years or so in the past), the tenderness, and the deft writing that keeps a heart-tugging plot lovely as well as brimming with sentiment. Delia’s move from grief for what she’s losing to a deeper understanding of her old friend is smoothly depicted…. The story will bring new perspective for readers struggling with their own beloved elders, and the liquid joy of a serious tearjerker to anybody who likes a poignant human drama.”

–The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Recommended

“Wiersbitzky organizes the book gracefully by naming the chapters after months of the year. …The ebb and flow of life is shown, grief is addressed, and the power of what one person can do is celebrated. Teachers may wish to consider this book for reading lists in middle school.”

–Children’s Literature

“What do flowers remember? The stories of the people who cared for them, of course, as Wiersbitzky’s sensitive novel compassionately conveys.” – Kirkus Reviews

“Fans of wholesome, uplifting stories similar to Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul collections, will best enjoy this gentle reminder of the goodness of life and people.” — Voice of Youth Advocates

Shannon Wiersbitzky Links:

Website: www.shannonwiersbitzky.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ShannonWiersbitzky

Twitter: @SWiersbitzky

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ShannonWiersbitzky

Shannon thank you for sharing your journey with us and introducing us to your book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Author, awards, Book, children writing, Contest, inspiration, Kudos, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity Tagged: book give-a-way, Leave Comment, Shannon Wiersbitzky

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10. Agent Looking to Build List

agent-caitlen-rubino-bradwayCaitlen Rubino Bradway of LKG Agency is making an open call for new submissions from writers. So check her out and see if she could be the right agent for you. If so, send her a query.

Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

I joined the LKG Agency in 2008, thereby disproving the theory that no English major ever does anything with their degree.  Before that I worked at another literary agency, Don Congdon Associates, where I had the behind-the-scenes thrill of seeing Kathryn Stockett’s The Help first come in (and getting one of the first reads). And before that I was getting my Masters in English and Publishing from Rosemont College. I have enjoyed my apprenticeship under Lauren very much, and I am now actively looking to build my own list, which includes (after a surprisingly minimal amount of begging and pleading on my part), securing Lauren’s agreement to open the agency to considering middle grade and young adult fiction.

In my spare time, I am an author in my own right (or is that write?).  My first book, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, which I co-wrote with my mother, was released by Crown in 2009.  We also contributed to Jane Austen Made Me Do It, published by Ballantine in 2011.  My first middle grade novel, Ordinary Magic, was published by Bloomsbury Children’s in 2012.

She is seeking: “I personally am looking for middle grade and young adult fiction. In teen novels, Sci-fi/fantasy is my sweet spot, but I’m open to anything as long as it doesn’t have zombies.

First, I’m just looking for middle grade and young adult now.  Please, no picture books or early chapter books.  And please, no dystopian futures (it’s not really my thing), a lot of violence (also not my thing), or books written in the present tense.  (Wow, I just described The Hunger Games, didn’t I?)  Please, no zombies.  Vampires, werewolves, witches and wizards, angels and demons, the Greek Pantheon, Thor and Loki and Fenrir, superheroes, aliens, super-powered aliens — all good.  But zombies give me nightmares.

Please do send fantasy, whether it be like Harry Potter and Sarah Prineas’ Winterling trilogy (contemporary fantasy about modern kids!); or Stephanie Burgis’ Kat, Incorrigible series, and Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia (historic fantasy re-writes with both humor and heart!); or Kristen Cashore’s Graceling, Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Midnight Ball, and Erin Bow’s devastating Plain Kate (traditional fantasy!  With horses!).  And, why, yes, I am listing some of my favorite books on purpose, on the chance that you have read these and your book compares favorably to one of them.

On a related note, please do send sci-fi, which I also love, having grown up on Star Trek: TNG.  Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7 will forever hold a place in my heart because it is a futuristic sci-fi with spaceships and lasers, but it also has a boarding school!  (I love books with boarding schools.)  Ah, that reminds me: please do send things with boarding schools.

Please, please, please send fairy tale re-tellings.  Please.

So if you have a sci-fi retelling of The Hedgehog Prince that takes place at an orbital boarding school that circles Saturn, or a story about a girl who discovers she’s descended from the Norse gods and has to earn her place as a Valkyrie to stop Fenrir from breaking free and starting Ragnarok, please do send it along.

But, seriously, no zombies.

“Also, the LKG Agency is always on the lookout for nonfiction, both practical and narrative. We specialize in women’s focused how-to, such as parenting, lifestyle, health & nutrition, and beauty, but we are open to a lot of nonfiction genres. (For a full list you can check out the submission guidelines on our website.)”

How to contact: “We are looking for email queries only. Nonfiction queries should be sent to lkgquery [at] lkgagency.com; we ask that you please mention any publicity you have at your disposal in your query letter. For middle grade and YA queries, email crubinobradway [at] lkgagency.com.”

The LKG Agency | 465 West End Avenue 2A New York, NY 10024 | query@LKGAgency.com

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Caitlen Rubino Bradway, LKG Agency, Looking for Authors, Sci-Fi and Fantasy

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11. By the Grace of Todd by Louise Galveston for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!

For other MMGM posts, see the links at Shannon's blog.




By the Grace of Todd by Louise Galveston (for ages 8 to 12, Penguin, February 2014)

Synopsis (from the publisher):

Twelve-year-old Todd has created life through sheer grossness.
How did he become an accidental god? 


Ingredient A: A worn athletic sock
Ingredient B: Dirt from the Great and Powerful Todd himself

Instructions: Leave under bed for months. Do not clean room.

Yields: 50 ant-sized Toddlians

BUT WATCH OUT! When school bully Max Loving puts the future of the tiny Toddlians in jeopardy, Todd will have to do everything in his power to save the race his very negligence created.



Why I recommend it:

Take a cup of The Indian in the Cupboard, a tablespoon or two of Toy Story, a few teaspoons of The Borrowers, add a generous dash of Dan Gutman and a pinch of Andrew Clements, stir in some highly original humorous situations, and shake well.

Even if this book wasn't about the timely topic of learning to deal with bullies, it would still be worth reading for the Toddlians alone. This is hilarious! I'm always happy when a book lives up to its premise. Best moment for me: the Toddlians learn how to speak English by watching TV all night and then they spout advertising slogans that will have you laughing out loud.

Note that the POV changes from Todd to an occasional chapter by one of the Toddlians (Lewis), and even a couple of chapters from each of two other Toddlians (Persephone and Herman). So the switching POVs might confuse some readers. But for sheer fun, this is definitely worth a read.

*   *   *

I'm taking a blogging break for the next few weeks. Between my birthday, my younger son's birthday and the Easter holiday, I'll be busy with family get-togethers, plus I'm trying to finish revising my third MG novel so I can start querying this summer. I'll be back in May. Happy reading!


0 Comments on By the Grace of Todd by Louise Galveston for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! as of 4/7/2014 9:21:00 AM
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12. Falkenstern & Heller Kudos Plus Book Signing

When Lisa Falkenstern emailed me letting me know about her new book and book signing (it hit the book shelves on Tax Day), I asked if she would tell me how it came about. She said, “This book started a few years ago, when I was showing my editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish (now Two Lions), an idea for a picture book done in steampunk style.

lisafalkensternsteamcover

Steampunk, often described as Victorian science fiction, is a genre I love. I had been collecting gears and clock parts for years with plans to use the pieces as still life props. The imagery of steampunk gears, metal machinery and steam engines is so rich and interesting to look at, I thought that the progression from still life to picture book would work well.

lisafalkensternsteam

 

“Margery liked my idea, however she suggested an alphabet book. I did a rough dummy, and after the idea was approved, I started work on how I would present a steampunk alphabet. I decided that the individual letters should also be illustrated as though built with steampunk parts. That way they would be part of the workshop setting I was playing with.

lisafalkensternC

Then my husband and I spent a large part of our vacation in the Outerbanks going through the dictionary, selecting which words to use. We had a long list and Margery helped make the final selections. Since the text of the book only featured a single sentence for each letter of the alphabet, I decided to illustrate a background plot in which the two mice are building something in their workshop. Each letter propels the story along until the mice reveal their masterpiece, with the letter ‘Z’, of course.

lisafalkensternD

Once I had the whole concept, I started all the illustrations. I draw and paint from reference materials. First, I collected an immense amount of photographs as well as buying parts of lamps and other objects that worked as steampunk. Then I made models of the mice characters and a model of the steam engine.  My husband posed for the mice, which is funny, considering he is six feet, four inches!

lisafalkensternF

I did the roughs of the letters first, and when finished, I added the mice and had them interact with the letters.  Then I did final drawings, and finished the book using oil paints.

lisaFalkensternendpapers

And that was it!

SAVE APRIL 26TH AND 27TH – LISA’S HAVING A BOOK SIGNING AND EVERYONE IS INVITED!

falkensternHetzel poster.2.lores

Ginger HellerThe Huffington Post featured an interview yesterday on Ginger Heller and her new book, The Kid Who Beat Wall Street and Saved Africa.

Here is the link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-hummel/an-interview-with-ginger-heller_b_5070333.html

After I read the interview, I emailed Ginger to ask why she was calling her book a YA Novel. Here is her answer:

“I use the YA label only when it’s all that’s available. My book is really a “tween book” for ages 10-14. I have had some success with reluctant readers in 9th grade, (ages 14/15) if it’s presented right.”

gingerheller2014-04-07-KidWhoBeatWallStreetandSavedAfricaMy story, trading stocks and commodities on the internet, is a sophisticated one as are the issues with which I deal.

The fact that there is a “dictionary,” in the back of the book (I refer to it as my appendix A, 100 Words of Interest ) helps the reader easily look up some difficult words. The interesting part is that the definition of these words appear in the same grammatical form as they do in the book.

As for how did I get the interview, the writer knew of my book and thought it would be of interest.

Click here to take a look on Amazon. If you have a Kindle you can buy the book for $3.99 or if you are a Prime Member you can read the book for free.

Congratulations! Lisa and Ginger.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Kudos, Middle Grade Novels, Picture Book, success Tagged: book signing, Chance to win signed book, Ginger Heller, Lisa Falkenstern, Steampunk ABC, The Huffington Post

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13. Nelson Agency Looking For…

Both Kristin Nelson and Sara Megibow are accepting submissions for representation. We do not look at submissions for nonfiction, screenplays, short-story collections, poetry, children’s picture books or chapter books, or material for the Christian/inspirational market.

Currently Seeking…

kristin_sized_160x240Kristin is looking for a good story well told. How you tell that story doesn’t need to fit in a neat little category. For those looking for more specifics, the below might be helpful:

  • Young-adult and upper-level middle-grade novels in all subgenres
  • Big crossover novels with one foot squarely in genre
    (Wool, The Night Circus, Gone Girl)
  • Literary commercial novels
    (Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, The Art of Racing in the Rain)
  • Upmarket women’s fiction
    (Keepsake, My Sister’s Keeper, Still Alice)
  • Single-title romance (historicals especially)
    (Ravishing The Heiress, The Ugly Duchess, The Heir)
  • Lead title or hardcover science fiction and fantasy
    (Soulless, Game of Thrones, Old Man’s War)

For a list of Kristin’s recent sales, please visit her page at Publishers Marketplace.

sara_sized_160x240Sara is currently looking for superior writing and a great concept. Whether a book has vampires or butterflies, spaceships or school buses, it doesn’t matter. Sara wants to be carried away by the story. If your book is fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, steampunk, contemporary, historical, short, long or a mashup of all the above, send it along! Boiled down to a list, here it is:

  • Young-adult and middle-grade novels in all subgenres
  • Super sexy romance with a solid dose of humor
  • Complex fantasy of all types: epic fantasy, urban fantasy, quirky fantasy, historical fantasy
  • All science fiction from very science-y to action-packed and commercial
  • New Adult manuscripts that feature early 20-something protagonists and conflicts about identity and independence

Sara has posted submission notes, recent sales, and client information at Publishers Marketplace.

How to Send to Us

We only accept queries and sample pages electronically. We do not accept queries by snail mail, phone, in person, via Twitter, or through our Facebook pages.

The body of your email should contain a one-page query letter about your project, addressed to either Kristin or Sara. Write QUERY and the title of your project in the subject field of your email. Send your email to query@nelsonagency.com. We receive a lot of spam, and following these simple directions will ensure that your query isn’t accidentally deleted. No email attachments please. Attachments will not be opened, and emails containing attachments will be deleted unread.

If the email query captures our interest and we would like to request sample pages, we will send you a reply email with explicit directions for uploading your sample pages to our submission database.

Response Time

We here at NLA read and respond by email to each and every query sent to us. Expect a quick response to queries (5 to 10 days). Occasionally, it may take longer.

If you have not received a response after three weeks, then something might have gone astray in the cyber world. Is your email account still active? Are emails to you being spam-filtered? Our reply to you might have bounced or been deleted. You might want to resend your email query.

If you have submitted sample pages to our submission database per our request, please remember that a response can take up to two months. As with queries, we will email our response to sample pages electronically, so keep an eye on your spam folder.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Agency, Sara Megibow

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14. Hope is a Ferris Wheel for MMGM

(Originally I'd scheduled this for next week, but May 5 through 11 is Screen-Free Week, so my post next Monday will be about that. Come back on May 12 to see how I fared!)




Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera (Amulet Books, March 2014, for ages 8 to 12)

Find Robin on her website

Follow Robin on Twitter

Synopsis (from the publisher): Ten-year-old Star Mackie lives in a trailer park with her flaky mom and her melancholy older sister, Winter, whom Star idolizes. Moving to a new town has made it difficult for Star to make friends, when her classmates tease her because of where she lives and because of her layered blue hair. But when Star starts a poetry club, she develops a love of Emily Dickinson and, through Dickinson's poetry, learns some important lessons about herself and comes to terms with her hopes for the future.

Why MG readers would love it:  Star is a terrific character, brave and honest and funny. Her vocab sentences for her teacher are both hilarious and heartbreaking. This book is perfect for fans of Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal because the main character in that book has a similar home situation and also finds solace in poetry. 

Why writers would love it: The voice! I struggle with voice all the time and I know a lot of writers do. Study this one to see how Robin brought Star to life with such authenticity. I read this more than a month ago and I'm still thinking about her, as if Star is a real kid.

What MG characters continue to live in your mind long after you've read the book?

For other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts, see Shannon's blog.


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15. Kudos – Wow!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHOT OF THE PRESSES:

Laurie Wallmark’s book ADA, about a smart little girl who likes science and math was sold to Marissa Moss at Creston Books, by Liza Fleissig at Liza Royce Agency.

Laurie had a critique with Ginger Harris of the Liza Royce Agency at the last NJ SCBWI annual conference. She and Liza Fleissig expressed interest in Ada.

After six revisions based on their and Marissa Moss’s feedback, Creston books made an offer.

marina191

Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook has bought world rights to INN BETWEEN by Marina Cohen, in a two-book deal.

The story follows 12-year-old Quinn, who is driving across country with her best friend’s family when a stopover at a creepy Victorian hotel in middle of the Nevada desert turns terrifying.

Publication is set for winter 2016;

John M. Cusick of Greenhouse Literary was the agent.

Nanciturnerstevesonpic191Nanci Stockton Turner-Steveson has signed a contract for Swing Sideways, AND another as-yet-unwritten book with Rosemary Brosnan, Executive Director at HarperCollins.

When I asked Nanci to describe the book this is what she wrote: My editor (wow, did you read that?) referred to Swing Sideways as a “timeless and heartfelt” middle grade novel.

It is the story of two girls from opposite sides of the country who meet one summer and form an unlikely friendship while struggling with their own challenges, and the discovery of a secret that links them together in a surprising and heart wrenching way.

nancy-cote-and-tori-corn

Illustrator Nancy Cote ( featured on Illustrator Saturday) illustrated Tori Corn’s new picture book Dixie Wants and Allergy published by Sky Pony Press. Both Nancy and Tori are represented by the Lisa Royce Agency.

Dixie Wants an Allergy provides a comical and engaging approach for children who are beginning to learn about and who are coping with allergies—and who also have trouble finding what makes them unique. Corn’s playful text and Cote’s inviting illustrations encourage children to accept those with differences while learning that wanting what others have is not always a good idea. For ages 3 to 6, and a good addition to any preschool or Kindergarten classroom for read-aloud time. This book not only introduces children to the realities of allergies, which many of their peers will have, but also teaches the important lesson of being careful what you wish for.

*****

nancyarmo

Nancy Armo, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday has signed a contract with Peachtree Press for her first written and illustrated picture book titled, A FRIEND FOR MOLE.

Here is the Publisher Market announcement: Nancy Armo’s A FRIEND FOR MOLE, about an accidental encounter between Mole and Wolf, one afraid of the light, the other afraid of the dark, who together learn that friends are all they need to conquer their fears, to Kathy Landwehr at Peachtree, in a nice deal, for publication in Fall 2015, by Anna Olswanger at Liza Dawson Associates (World).

*****

doll bones

I just learned that Eliza Wheeler, who was featured on Illustrator Saturday did the artwork for Holly Black’s DOLL BONES. I have had that book on my wish list since it came out. Had I realized the illustrations inside and out were by Eliza, I would already have it on my bookshelf.

*****

What I don’t get is, out of the seven people in this post, only the first two let me know about their success. Are people just shy about doing something worth shouting from the rooftops? I tell every illustrator that I feature to please let me know when something good happens and I really do mean it. I am very happy to hear about good things when they happen. Please don’t rely on me to find them.

Congratulations to everyone!

 

Remember this weekend there are two great book signings in the North Jersey area:

S is for SEA Glass

Doris Ettlinger

Fair Haven NJ – May 16, 3:30-4:30 pm 

River Road Books

Clinton NJ - May 17, 1-3 pm 

Clinton Book Shop

Pandemic Book Launch Party 

Yvonne Ventresca

Sunday, May 18th, 2 pm 

WORDS Bookstore

179 Maplewood Avenue, Maplewood, NJ 07040

 

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

 


Filed under: Kudos, Middle Grade Novels, picture books, Publishing Industry, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Eliza Wheeler, John Cusick, Laurie Wallmark, Marina Cohen, Nancy Armo, Nancy Cote, Tori Corn

7 Comments on Kudos – Wow!, last added: 5/15/2014
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16. WANDERVILLE by Wendy McClure for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I've been a fan of Wendy McClure since I realized she was the genius behind @HalfPintIngalls on Twitter (example of her wit: "When you live in a sod house EVERY DAY is 'Earth Day'."). So I was excited to learn she'd written a book for middle grade readers:




Wanderville by Wendy McClure (January 2014, Penguin Razorbill, for ages 8 to 12)

Synopsis (from the publisher): Jack, Frances, and Frances’s younger brother Harold have been ripped from the world they knew in New York and sent to Kansas on an orphan train at the turn of the century. As the train chugs closer and closer to its destination, the children begin to hear terrible rumors about the lives that await them. And so they decide to change their fate the only way they know how. . . .

They jump off the train.

There, in the middle of the woods, they meet a boy who will transform their lives forever. His name is Alexander, and he tells them they’ve come to a place nobody knows about—especially not adults—and “where all children in need of freedom are accepted.” It’s a place called Wanderville, Alexander says, and now Jack, Frances, and Harold are its very first citizens.


Why I recommend it: It's a quick read and an exciting adventure story. I always loved The Boxcar Children and Little House on the Prairie, and more recently May B. by Caroline Starr Rose, so it's no wonder I enjoyed this too. Jack, Frances, and even young Harold are strong and resourceful children. This will be also a series. (Be forewarned: scary situations abound. Life was hard back then!)

(This is minor but I have to admit I was a little upset that on my copy the blurb on the back flap from Caroline Starr Rose got her name wrong. @HalfPintIngalls would probably say: "Mistakes will happen". Anyway, they seem to have fixed it since then and moved it to the front cover. Thank goodness!) 

Find Wendy at her website

Follow her on Twitter

Other reviews of the book: 
Erik at This Kid Reviews Books

Find other MMGM links at Shannon's blog.


0 Comments on WANDERVILLE by Wendy McClure for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday as of 5/19/2014 9:42:00 AM
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17. Backstory Basics

Businesswoman lifting heavy elephantBackstory can be essential to understanding a character and his/her journey. It can deepen conflict, reveal motivation and elicit sympathy for a hero or secondary character.

But…

Nothing can kill pacing faster than an info-dump of backstory, especially in the first half of a novel.  So when and how best to include it?

Here are 5 tips on how to artfully weave backstory into a middle grade or YA novel:

  1. Hint at your character’s backstory early on, but hold off on revealing it until the information is crucial for readers – or characters – to know.
  2. Reveal it piecemeal. Instead of an extended flashback, pick 2 or 3 key moments you can drop in here and there in small chunks – a sentence or two at a time, rather than paragraphs. This allows your reader to play detective and piece the clues together to form the whole picture.
  3. Have it be activated by something sensory – a sight, smell, sound, taste or feeling. These are powerful memory triggers, and can connect a present experience to a past one, making the details of the backstory feel more germane.
  4. Put it in a moment of interiority. (This only works if you are writing in 1st or close 3rd person, of course.)
  5. Reveal it in as few words as possible, artfully chosen. How many of those lyrical details do you really need? Let go of the writerly padding, no matter how much you love the imagery, and focus on the details that move the story forward. Young readers are less interested in backstory than they are in forward moving action.

For more writing and revision tips and tools such as this, take one of my home-study writing courses – Just Write for Kids, Just Write for Middle Grade or Just Write for Young Adults.

Visit: http://justwritechildrensbooks.com for details.

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18. Catching up on middle grade -- Part 2

Back in March, I wrote about catching up on some worthy middle grade gems from 2012 and 2013.

Well, there are plenty more books on my TBR list clamoring for my attention. Like toddlers. And this is what they're shouting:

       "Pick me up."

       "No, no, me! Pick me up instead."

       "Don't listen to them. Over here. Me me me!"

Which one do you listen to? How do you decide to read Book A before Book B or Book C? Sometimes, of course, it's a question of finding them in the library. Or if you're lucky, you win a copy. :)

Sometimes, you just have to buy the book that's pestering you. But unless you've won the lottery, you can't afford to buy them all. Times like this I miss working in a bookstore, where I had thousands of ARCs vying for my attention. I still couldn't read them all, though I certainly tried. Back then, I read quickly, and I read as a bookseller.

Now, I go to the library and I try to read as a writer.

Here are three more worthy novels from 2013 you should add to your TBR list (yes, I'm evil that way!). Bonus: they're all historical fiction, about different time periods in American history.

Synopses: from the publishers (edited slightly for brevity).


Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine (for ages 9 to 12, Scholastic, Sept 2013)

It's 1972 and life will never be the same for Red Porter. He's growing up around black car grease, white fence paint, and the backward attitudes of the folks who live in his hometown, Stony Gap, Virginia. 

Red's daddy, his idol, has just died, leaving Red and Mama with some hard decisions and a whole lot of doubt. Should they sell the Porter family business, a gas station, repair shop, and convenience store rolled into one? 

When Red discovers the injustices that have been happening in Stony Gap since before he was born, he's faced with unsettling questions about his family's legacy.

Why I recommend it: I loved Red; he's a realistic, flawed and yet likable character. Writers, read this one to learn about character growth.




Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper (ages 10 and up, Margaret K. McElderry Books, August 2013)

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can only take a bow and arrows, his tomahawk and the metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is ten when his father dies, but he knows the friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren't as accepting. John's friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

Why I recommend it: Ghost Hawk is a unique look at our nation's early history. Writers, read this one for her mastery of description! (Note: Because this is the real history you don't often hear about, there is some shocking violence.)





Every Day After by Laura Golden (for ages 9 to 12, Delacorte Books for Young Readers, June 2013)

It's been two months since Lizzie's daddy disappeared due to the awful Depression. Lizzie's praying he'll return to Bittersweet, Alabama for her birthday. It won't feel special without him, what with Lizzie's Mama being so sad she won't even talk and the bank nipping at their heels for the mortgage payment.

As time passes, Lizzie can only picture her daddy's face by opening her locket. If others can get by, why did her daddy leave? If he doesn't return, how can she overcome the same obstacles that drove him away?

Why I recommend it: For some reason, I can't get enough of books about the Depression (Moon Over Manifest being a favorite). Writers, read this touching and inspiring novel for the voice.


How do you handle your TBR list?


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19. Agent Looking for New Clients

ReneeHeadshotvivid-sq-300x300kt literary is a full-service literary agency operating out of Highlands Ranch, in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where every major publishing house is merely an email or phone call away. We believe in the power of new technology to connect writers to readers, and authors to editors. We bring over a decade of experience in the New York publishing scene, an extensive list of contacts, and a lifetime love of reading to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Renee Nyen: Several years in the editorial department at Random House’s Colorado division provided Renee with the opportunity to work with bestselling and debut authors alike. After leaving Random House, she came to KT Literary in early 2013. Drawing on her editorial experience, she loves digging into manuscripts and helping the author shape the best story possible. Though this is great for her profession, it tends to frustrate people watching movies with her. You can follow her on twitter @Renee_Nyen.

She is interested in: Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction. “I’m always interested in YA historical fiction, mystery, sci-fi, and thrillers, but genre is not as important to me as strong prose and compelling characters.”

Submission Guidelines: Please submit a query letter with the first three pages of your manuscript pasted in the email to queries (at) ktliterary.com.

With a penchant for depressing hipster music and an abiding love for a good adventure story, Renee is always looking for book recommendations. Even if that means creeping on people reading in public. Which she does frequently.

She makes her home in Colorado with her husband, their young daughter, and their hygienically-challenged basset hound.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Renee Nyen, kt literary, Middle grade Books, Young Adult Books

5 Comments on Agent Looking for New Clients, last added: 6/4/2014
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20. blog hop tour hops to frog on dime

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Blog Hop is a blog tour showcasing authors and their writing process. I was honored to be tagged by Kristin Lenz, writer of YA and New Adult novels, and all around super fly, groovy chick. (Thank you, Kristin for inviting me!) I tagged another YA writer extraordinaire, Ann Finkelstein, for the next leg of the Blog Hop. You can learn more about Ann at the close of this post.

So, here we go with the Q & A portion of our program.
I hope you are grading on a curve. (And remember, I was promised there would be NO math problems.)

What am I working on now?
I just finished my second contemporary middle grade novel, SHORT CHANGED, at the end of May. Thankfully, as I was wrapping up novel two, ideas for middle grade number three began to percolate. Did I mention Ray, the main character of this novel, is forcing me to learn to knit because he likes to knit? He takes his protagonist role very seriously. I don’t want to disappoint him.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
It has my voice. What would be the point of imitating anyone else? We already have a Jerry Spinelli and Sharon Creech. I like to blend humor with tenderness (tempered with enough references to boogers or puke to make it believable and boy-friendly).

Why do I write what I do?
Writing middle grade is a sweet spot for me–readers are still young enough to appreciate my dorky sense of humor, but sophisticated enough to handle more complex plot lines, language and themes. But I don’t have to write any “content.” (blushing) I know. I know. I’m such a ninny.

How does my writing process work?
First off, you should know, I never ever intended to write a novel, much less two, going on three. I remember showing my grandpa one of my published magazine stories. He said, “That’s good, Vick. Now, where’s your novel?” I told him flat-out, “I’m not a novelist. There’s no novel in me.” (See? Such a ninny I am.) It wasn’t until a friend asked me to collaborate on a novel with him that I ever thought to attempt such a crazy thing. I mean, novel writing was for, sheesh, I don’t know–novelists. But I reasoned that before I co-wrote a novel, maybe I’d better see if I’m capable of creating a one on my own. And so it began.

My first middle grade novel, SHRINK, germinated from a short scene based on a childhood memory. The story took on a life of its own as I began to ask why–why did the main character say that? Why does he feel this way? Why did he make that decision? To whom is he telling his story? And why? Because I was neon green at novel hatching, I pretty much let the characters run the show, which meant I had a lot of clean up to do on the back side. (Kids are not known for their logic or consistency you know.) I still love the characters in that first novel and even miss them when I see a real-world kid who looks like one of them. I must have done something right.

My second novel was inspired by a stupid idea. I thought it would be clever and ironic to write a novel with the title SHORT STORY. But that, I was wisely advised, would get way too confusing. So, I changed the title to SHORT CHANGED, but kept the basic story. I tried writing this novel on my own, like the first one, while trying to avoid the rookie pitfalls. But eventually, I opted to enroll in a novel-writing course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. The individualized instruction and the built-in deadlines helped me progress. I’d recommend taking an ICL class. If you want to know more, just let me know via my contact page and I’ll get right back to you.

My third novel is unfolding very differently. I want to plot and plan and outline before fully immersing myself in this novel. I am gathering articles and ideas too. And, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve got to take those knitting lessons. I’m also going to “interview” each of my characters in order to create character sketches. I treat characters like they are already fully-formed people. It’s my job to get to know them and create a world for them to live in and circumstances to respond to. (And how “simple” is that?)

Based on what I’ve experienced so far, I love the entire novel-writing process–the first niggling from a new idea, meeting my characters, creating that first draft, revising (ad nauseam), receiving critiques, revising again . . . I love it all. Except when I don’t.

(I hope I got the answers right.)

The next stop on the Blog Hop tour will be hosted by my talented friend and Sock Sister Ann Finkelstein. Ann writes young adult novels in Michigan. She enjoys biking, hiking, cross-country skiing and photographing the great outdoors. Read more about her. You can read Ann’s brilliant answers about her writing process on Friday, June 20. Don’t miss it!

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. ~ James Joyce


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21. Sheldon Fogelman Agency

Sean McCarthy left the Sheldon Fogelman Agency at the end of last year to start his own agency. There are two opportunities to get your foot in the door with an agent. You should consider querying one of them.

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Janie Hauber 2013small

Janine Le joined the agency after graduating from Bucknell Unversity with honors in English (Creative Writing) and completing NYU’s program at its Summer Publishing Institute. She enjoys working with the agency’s clients as an assistant agent and as the agency’s foreign rights manager. Janine has licensed translation rights in over 20 languages and has represented the agency and its clients annually at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. Janine is building her list of clients and is open to picture books through YA. She is most drawn to stories with a strong emotional core that influence the way readers view the world, themselves, and the people around them. She is also fond of complex characters and relationships, unique cultural perspectives, and stories with a touch of humor, romance, or both.

sternpiccroppedWithout realizing it, Amy Stern spent most of her life preparing to be a literary agent. After receiving degrees in creative writing and English at Bryn Mawr College, she earned masters degrees in children’s literature and library science at Simmons College, while working as a librarian and a bookseller. In addition to her job as Assistant Agent at the agency, Amy has mentored writing students at Simmons’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, and taught a graduate course there on science fiction and fantasy in children’s and young adult lit. Her favorite novel topics include summer camp, giftedness, mental health issues, queerness, and reality television, but more than anything, she likes sympathetic characters in a good story. She often stays up all night reading the newest YA novels while claiming it’s “for work.”

SUBMISSIONS POLICY

Sheldon Fogelman Agency, Inc. specializes in children’s books of all genres, from picture books through young adult literature. The agency represents both authors and illustrators.

We always welcome submissions, and look forward to adding new people to our client list each year. However, we receive thousands of submissions each year, and are very selective in offering representation. We consider each submission carefully, and do our best to respond quickly; however, please be aware that it takes time to read and consider each manuscript. It may take us up to six weeks to consider an initial query, and if we request more work, the process can take even longer. Please note that we do not charge a reading fee.

If you are interested in submitting, please adhere to the following guidelines:

    • Send a single page cover letter that includes a brief synopsis of your work, your publication history, and how you were referred to us, if at all. (If you are querying electronically, please paste the body of this cover letter into the email.) If you are querying several other agencies simultaneously, we ask that you mention this in your query letter.
    • If you are a novelist, you may include the first three (3) chapters of the work and a synopsis. Please do not submit the entire work or include chapters from more than one work unless specifically requested.
    • If you are a picture book writer, you may include two (2) manuscripts. Please do not submit any additional manuscripts unless specifically requested. If you are not an illustrator, it is not necessary to include images in your submission.
    • If you are an illustrator, please include information regarding website portfolio links, if applicable. Otherwise, send a limited sampling of copies of your work. Please do not send original artwork under any circumstance. We do not take responsibility for damage or loss of any original artwork that may be erroneously sent to us.
    • If you would like to send your work to a specific agent, address your query to that agent. Otherwise, simply put your work to the attention of the submissions coordinator. Please note, however, that a submission to one agent in our office is considered a submission to all.
    • If you are submitting by mail, please include a self-addressed stamped envelope with all submissions. Please be sure to include an envelope of sufficient size with proper postage to accommodate any work you would like returned; mail submissions without an appropriate SASE may not be replied to, and due to space constraints, your work may be disposed of. All hard copy submissions should be sent to the following address:
       

Sheldon Fogelman Agency
10 East 40th Street, Suite 3205
New York, NY 10016

  • If you are submitting electronically, make sure that all text attachments are accessible via Microsoft Word (.rtf and .doc preferred). We prefer illustrations in .jpg or .pdf format, and all files sent should not total more than 5 MB combined. All electronic submissions should be sent to submissions@sheldonfogelmanagency.com. While every submission will be read and considered, please understand that due to time constraints, we can only reply if we are interested in seeing more of your work.
    • If additional work is requested following the cover letter, we prefer exclusive consideration of the requested work for at least one (1) month.

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Sean McCarthy, Sheldon Fogelman Agency

    4 Comments on Sheldon Fogelman Agency, last added: 6/20/2014
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    22. If at first you don't like to read, try, try again!

    Four years ago, I tried to read The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place... and I couldn't get into it. I read a chapter or two, said "meh" and put aside the ARC.

    The other day I picked it up again. Yes, that's a long time to hold onto an ARC, but I'm a bit of a pack rat. Hey, don't judge. (But believe me, you don't want to see my basement.)

    And this time? I was utterly captivated and laughing out loud. Why couldn't I read it the first time? Who knows. Maybe I was tired of Lemony Snicket. Maybe the times have changed. Maybe I've changed.




    The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (February 23, 2010 Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, for ages 8 to 12)

    Source: advanced reading copy from publisher (um, a long time ago)

    Synopsis (From the publisher): Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

    Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a recent graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these three wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the vast forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners and socially useful phrases in time for Lady Constance's holiday ball?  


    Why I recommend it: It's downright hilarious. Yes, I realize much of the humor will go right over kids' heads (for instance, the narrator calls a couple  of royals Hoover and Maytag), and there's definitely a sarcastic, Lemony Snicket tone to all of this. But it's fun. I had to keep reading to find out what happens. Which of course means I now have to read all the other volumes, because most of the questions are still unanswered (one thing that bugs me about series). 

    Do you like reading series books that leave questions unanswered? And have you ever gone back and finished a book after putting it aside the first time?



    I hunted down some other MMGM reviews of this very same book:

    Middle Grade Mafioso
    Gina Carey
    Kim Aippersbach

    And if I missed anyone, please let me know! For other middle grade reviews, check out Shannon's blog.

    0 Comments on If at first you don't like to read, try, try again! as of 3/24/2014 9:13:00 AM
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    23. Free Fall Friday – Results

    susan-dobinickSusan Dobinick, Assistant Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux is our Guest Critiquer  for March. Read the four winners and read Susan critique below:

    Susan assists two children’s trade imprints. She works with fiction and nonfiction, ranging from picture to young adult books. Her specialties include children’s trade publishing, picture books, chapter books, middle-grade books, young adult books, educational publishing, textbooks, and teacher editions. She holds a B.A. in English from Chicago Goucher College.

    Susan is Edith Cohn’s editor for Spirits Key, which is coming out in September. Edith has a nice interview with Susan on her blog. Here is the link:

    http://edithcohn.wordpress.com/interviews/interview-with-my-editor/

     

    ELLIE AND THE KING by Anita Nolan MG Novel

    “I’m adopted. It’s the only possible explanation.”

    The Piercing Pagoda kiosk at the mall provides excellent cover for my friend Lindsey and me while a group of kids from school—the popular ones—stroll past, but I duck lower anyway. I don’t know why I worry. I’m one of the more invisible people at school. But if anyone connects me with the man dressed as Elvis standing across the way, my name will be texted to every student in Cranford Middle School, and possible the entire state of Pennsylvania.

    Lindsey glances at the older ladies—it’s always older ladies—lined up to meet my dad, and shakes her head. “There’s only one problem with the adoption theory, Ellie. How do you explain your eyes?”

    That is the problem. I’ve tried to convince myself that I look nothing like my father—and I don’t—except for my dark green eyes, complete with little blue flecks. I guess the adoption theory can’t be right, but as Dad bursts into song, I wish it were.

    The kids from school hang at the edge of the crowd, pointing at Dad and laughing. My faces flushes. I have a hard time swallowing. I wish he would keep the Elvis stuff out of the mall and away from anyone I know.

    Gram says I shouldn’t be embarrassed. Everyone has a few skeletons in their closets. Unfortunately, my skeleton is the one dressed in gold lame singing Love Me Tender in front of the Cinnabon.

    All Lindsey and I wanted to do was buy a few yards of silky white polyester. It wasn’t our idea to turn a trip to the mall into a media event. But apparently Dad decided to promote the upcoming Philly Salutes Elvis Tribute, so here he stands, dressed like Elvis, talking like Elvis, and acting like Elvis. Dad’s best friend, Norm, who is also Lindsey’s father, pretends to be Dad’s bodyguard—as if he needs one. But Elvis always had a bodyguard, so Dad does too.

    HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

    Ellie and the King

    I like the voice in this—the writing feels very authentically middle grade girl to me. I am not sure the author is choosing the right place to focus this energy, though, especially at the beginning of the book. Ellie is the one who I am interested in, but her dad is stealing the show (as, of course, an Elvis impersonator is apt to do). I think it is common for kids to be embarrassed by parents and there is certainly room for books that talk about navigating these relationships, but I want the child protagonist to be at the forefront here. More Ellie and Lindsey, please! What are they going to do with that fabric? Then, once we know and love Ellie, we can see more about the relationship with her father and relate more to her embarrassment. I also would caution against leaning too heavily on Elvis as a joke throughout the whole book—I am not sure that kids would love that joke as much as adults—so be sure to keep the ways in which Dad embarrasses Ellie relatable to people who don’t know much about Elvis.

    *******

     

    HALF-TRUTHS by Carol Baldwin                    Young Adult/Historical Fiction

    Women can’t be scientists. At least that’s what Daddy always tells me.

    But now I have proof he’s wrong.

    I pick at the frayed edges of The Story-Lives of Great Scientists and stare out the kitchen window. If Marie Curie could make exciting scientific discoveries, why can’t I?

    But I know better. Only a few colored kids make it to college. And if they do, it’s just to colored schools to become teachers. Not to big universities where important scientists get their start.

    Science has always been my favorite subject. My best friend Darla rolls her eyes when I say the PTA should buy more microscopes for chemistry and biology. She thinks the money should go towards a gym. We can’t ever agree on that one.

    I look at the clock above the kitchen sink. It’s four already. Any minute my big brother Sam will push through the screen door wondering what’s for supper. Momma, Daddy, and Big Momma will come in talking about work and expecting to smell dinner cooking.

    “Gloria!” I yell out the window to my younger sister. “Get yourself in here and wash up the breakfast dishes!”

    She looks up from the tea party she’s having with her Shirley Temple doll. “Let me finish pouring tea. I’ll be in soon!” She waves away a chicken that’s wandered over.

    I doubt that’s going to happen. It’ll be me, not Gloria, catching heck if Big Momma comes home to a sink full of dishes. Sometimes I feel like everyone’s maid—something I swear I’ll never be. I wish I could spread a pair of wings and fly away.

    HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

    Half-Truths

    Well, this has a lot of interesting premises that drew me in right away. I’m a sucker for a strong female protagonist. I especially love books with characters who overcome societal expectations to succeed—and you just know that this character is going to find a way to succeed. I do think the author is putting all of her cards on the table right away, and I would like to see some of this develop more slowly—so, for example, she thinks that she can prove her father wrong that women can’t be scientists, but then shoots herself down quickly because people of color can’t even go to college. What would it be like to see her keep with the Marie Curie excitement a little longer, and then feel her disappointment when she comes to this second realization?

    My caution with YA historical fiction is that it can be a bit of a tricky sell—when I am looking at these submissions, I am looking for historical plus a big hook; day to day life is a bit harder to reach a wide audience.

    *******

     

    MRS. HENNESSEY’S HENS     by Susan E. Harris     Picture Book

    Mrs. Hennessey had six speckled Sussex hens. They were cheerful and chubby. Curious and cuddly. Feathery and friendly. So friendly they were more like dogs than hens.

    When Mrs. Hennessey ate breakfast on the patio, the hens ran to greet her.

    When she enjoyed a cup of tea under the stars, they nestled at her feet.

    And when Mrs. Hennessey took her daily walk, they always wanted to walk with her.

    But Mrs. Hennessey worried. “You may think you’re dogs but you’re not. You are hens! And it isn’t safe for hens to take a walk.”

    One day, Mrs. Hennessey left for her walk. “My, what a windy day,” she said and headed down town. <Gate stays open and hens follow>

    At the post office the wind blew hard. “Goodness,” said Mrs. Hennessey, “there goes all the mail! I must go help the mailman. Never mind. Those little dogs fetched his mail. But I’m glad my girls are home. I’m sure those dogs would’ve chased them.” She started her walk once more.

    At the library Mrs. Hennessey stopped. The librarians were hanging a banner. The wind blew harder still and pulled the banner from their hands.

    “My, how I wish I could help them,” said Mrs. Hennessey. “Never mind. Those little dogs caught the banner! And look how they’re hanging it on the library. But I’m glad my girls are home. I wouldn’t want them flying so high.”

    She bought an apple-tart from the bakery and went to sit in the park.

    In the park some children were flying a kite. The wind blew it’s hardest yet and sent the kite into a tree.

    “I’m sure those little dogs will help the children. After all, they can fly.” Mrs. Hennessey thought about what she’d said. “Wait a minute! Dogs can’t fly!”

    HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

    Mrs. Hennessey’s Hens

    You know, it’s funny—my colleagues and I were just talking about liking chicken books the other day. I think the sentence length here is really spot on for picture books, and the author has a good sense of how to move the story along. I am having a logic problem, though—is Mrs. Henessey actually mistaking her hens for dogs? I just don’t know that a pet owner, especially one who clearly loves her pets so much, would make that mistake, even if she is absent-minded—and though picture books are fun places for fantastical adventures, I am a stickler for logic, so I would rather see a story that really embraces hens being hens. (Of course, I suppose the hens could dress in dog costumes—but I still am not sure that the costumes would be that believable to hide that the dogs were really hens…)

    *******

     

    THE THREE WIGGLY WORMS BLUFF by Wendy Greenley     383 word Picture Book

    “Melting snow is swamping the soil! Time to head to higher ground,” said Papa Worm.

    Papa, Mama and Baby Worm squirmed to the surface and wiggled up the grassy slope to face—the dreaded sidewalk.

    “Ow! It’s rough,” said Baby.

    “Go as fast as you can.” Mama gave him a pat. “And keep a lookout for birds.”

    Baby wiggled as fast as he could.

    But he was only halfway across when a robin swooped down.

    “I’m going to slurp you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.

    “I’m a baby myself. Barely a bite, and not worth your flight. Mama is coming, she’s more than a morsel. Why don’t you wait for her?” said Baby.

    The robin thanked Baby and sent him on his way.

    When the coast looked clear, Mama wiggled as fast as she could.

    But she was barely halfway across when the robin hopped out from a bush.

    “I’m going to slurp you up and take you to my babies!” the robin squawked.

    “I’d make an adequate dinner, but if you want to treat your babies to a feast you might want to wait for Papa worm. He’s coming next,” said Mama.

    The robin thanked Mama and sent her on her way.

    Papa did calisthenics, warming up his wiggle. Between the birds and the pavement heating up, He needed to be fast!

    Papa wasn’t halfway across when the robin landed in his path.

    HERE’S SUSAN DOBINICK:

    The Three Wiggly Worms Bluff

    I like that this has a good seasonal hook—I could imagine a class of kids reading it right at the end of winter or the beginning of spring. I also think it builds in a satisfying way—it’s an old and simple trick, but using patterns of threes (three characters, three problems, etc.) tends to work well, especially in picture books. I am not sure why the family keeps throwing each other to the mercy of the bird, though—the baby can’t actually want the mama to be eaten, or the mama for the papa to be eaten, right? I think you could get rid of the worms suggesting the bird eats the others and still have each worm outsmart the bird in a different way.

    *******

    I want to thank Susan for sharing her time and expertise with us. These type of critiques can help all of us improve our writing skills. We really appreciate you helping take us to the next level. Thanks again!

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy

     


    Filed under: Advice, Editors, inspiration, Middle Grade Novels, picture books, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Farrar Straus and Giroux, Free Fall Friday, March First Page Critiques, Susan Dobinick

    2 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Results, last added: 3/31/2014
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    24. Catching up on middle grade books for MMGM

    There are so many cool middle grade novels pubbing in 2014, that I'm tempted to read only what's new. After all, I have to keep up, right?

    But then there's my TBR list... So this last month, I've been playing catch-up at my local library. I thoroughly enjoyed these gems from 2012 and 2013, some of which I first heard about on other MMGM posts. Added bonus: they're all multicultural!



    Flying the Dragon by Natalie Dias Lorenzi (Charlesbridge, 2012, for ages 9 to 12)

    Synopsis (from the publisher): American-born Skye and her Japanese cousin, Hiroshi, are thrown together when Hiroshi's family, with his grandfather (who is also his best friend), suddenly moves to the U.S. Now Skye doesn't know who she is anymore: at school she's suddenly too Japanese, but at home she's not Japanese enough. Hiroshi has a hard time adjusting to life in a new culture, and resents Skye's intrusions on his time with Grandfather. Through all of this is woven Hiroshi's expertise, and Skye's growing interest in, kite making and competitive rokkaku kite flying.


    Why I recommend it: This is one of those quiet books I adore so much (and I don't think there are enough of them). Skye and Hiroshi seemed like real kids to me, with real concerns. Loved the kite flying, the alternating points of view, and the little bit of Japanese I picked up from reading this.






    P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/Harper, 2013, for ages 8 to 12)

    Synopsis (from the publisher): Eleven-year-old Brooklyn girl Delphine feels overwhelmed with worries and responsibilities. She's just started sixth grade and is self-conscious about being the tallest girl in the class, and nervous about her first school dance. She's supposed to be watching her sisters, but Fern and Vonetta are hard to control. Her uncle Darnell is home from Vietnam and seems different. And her pa has a girlfriend. At least Delphine can write to her mother in Oakland, California, for advice. But why does her mother tell her to "be eleven"?

    Why I recommend it: A glorious sequel to the award-winning One Crazy Summer, this made me feel I was right there in 1960s Brooklyn. What I love most, though, are the relationships: especially among the three sisters, plus the sometimes-prickly relationship between Delphine and her distant mother. (Have to admit, I have a soft spot for the name Delphine, because I had a great-grandmother with that name.)





    Written in Stone by Rosanne Parry (Random House, 2013, for ages 9 to 12)

    Synopsis (from the publisher): Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life to the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl's father was lost on the last hunt, and now the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl's people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.


    Why I recommend it: In a word: Pearl. The thirteen-year-old is headstrong, loving, and realistic. But the setting also deserves special mention. I could feel myself transported to the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s, with the ocean, beaches, rocks, and mist. Parry includes a glossary, historical notes, cultural notes, and other back matter, so this is perfect for schools.


    For other Marvelous Middle Grade posts, see Shannon Messenger's blog.

    What books are you catching up on?


    0 Comments on Catching up on middle grade books for MMGM as of 3/31/2014 8:43:00 AM
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    25. Educational Publisher Looking for Submissions

    schoolwide
    Huge opportunity for writers and Illustrators – published, unpublished, self-published.

    Susan Tierney, longtime Editor in Chief of Children’s Writer and the Institute of Children’s Literature’s Writer’s Guide and the market directories, has now become Acquisitions Editor at Schoolwide, Inc. 

    This educational publisher of reading, writing, and grammar curriculum products, and professional development resources, is looking for submissions of books, stories, and articles that support reading and writing for children from kindergarten to grade eight for a digital classroom library.

    Of interest are fiction and nonfiction picture books, concept books, early readers, chapter books, middle-grade and early YA books, articles, essays, short stories, poetry, poetry collections, and plays.

    Fiction may be contemporary, realistic, historical, multicultural, science fiction, fantasy, mystery, adventure, fairy or folk tales, verse novels, or rhyming books.

    Nonfiction sought includes informational/expository, biography/profile, narrative procedure (how-to), creative nonfiction, personal narratives or memoir, essays, opinion pieces, primary sources/reference books.

    Subject categories include: Science, history, social studies, language and literature—and any subject that is age-appropriate and would encourage independent reading.

    Not interested in preK or older YA.

    Email only to submissions@schoolwide.com, with:

    1. AUTHOR CONTACT INFORMATION
    2. WEBSITE ADDRESS (if any)
    3. TITLE OF WORK
    4. WORD OR PAGE COUNT
    5. TARGETED AGE/GRADE LEVEL
    6. A BRIEF SYNOPSIS OR OUTLINE IN THE BODY OF THE MESSAGE.
    7. ATTACH (Microsoft Word only) THE COMPLETED WORK AND A RESUME OR LIST OF WRITING CREDITS. 
    8. INDICATE IF SUBMISSION IS UNPUBLISHED, SELF-PUBLISHED, OR PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED and if so, by WHOM. 
    9. PLACE “MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSION, SCBWI” IN THE SUBJECT LINE.

    Schoolwide will accept:

    (1) previously published materials for which the author holds rights. For these book, story, or article submissions, please also indicate the publisher, date of publication, and if applicable, whether an illustrator holds rights to the artwork (illustrators would receive the same royalty arrangements, if interested).

    (2) completed manuscripts of original, unpublished work.

    Royalty. Responds in six months, if interested.

    Schoolwide, Inc.
    4250 Veterans Memorial Highway, Suite 2000W,
    Holbrook, NY 11741
    www.schoolwide.com

    Don’t miss this opportunity!

    Talk tomorrow,

    Kathy


    Filed under: Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to sumit, poetry, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Call for Submissions, Educational Publisher, Schoolwide Inc., Susan Tierney

    7 Comments on Educational Publisher Looking for Submissions, last added: 4/4/2014
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