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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Middle Grade Novels, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 117
26. Free Fall Friday – Editor Announced

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Only one illustrator sent in something for March. Surely you have something to show off, so please look to see if you have an illustration that would go well with the month or any illustration that might go with a writing or illustrating post. Same as always: At least 500 pixels wide, sent to kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com, and include a blurb about you. Thanks!

I am pleased to announce that Susan Dobinick, Assistant Editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux has agreed to be our Guest Critiquer for March.


Susan wants to work on everything. Right now she is especially looking for funny middle grade girl novels. In the young adult realm, I’d like to see books that tackle big social issues but aren’t preachy. With picture books, I like short and funny; I prefer quirky stories over cuddly. Across all formats, I’m a fan of books that have depth but are accessible—so that both kids and critics will love them.

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:


Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in March: Please attach your double spaced, 12 point font, 23 line first page to an e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. Also cut and paste it into the body of the e-mail.

DEADLINE: March 21st.

RESULTS: March 28th.

Put “March First Page Critique” or “March First Page Picture Prompt Critique” in the subject line. Make sure you have your name on the submission, a title, and indicate the genre.

You can only send in one first page each month. It can be the same first page each month or a different one, but if you sent it to me last month and it didn’t get chosen, you need to send it again using the March directions. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the same submission. It can be a first page from a work in process or you can use the picture prompt above.

Please include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

BELOW IS THE MARCH FIRST PAGE PICTURE PROMPT for anyone who would like a little inspiration to spark their first page.


Always thought there was a story with this picture illustrated by Mark Meyers. Mark spends his days drawing and painting pictures filled with kids, escaping circus monkeys, and everything in between. He was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/05/illustrator-saturday-mark-meyers/

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Chicago Goucher College., Farrar Straus Giroux, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday, Susan Dobinick

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Editor Announced as of 3/14/2014 2:27:00 AM
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27. New Imprint At Capstone

Back in February I reported about how Capstone was expanding their new Young Readers trade imprint. This week they announced they were launching Switch Press their new YA Imprint, so now there is something for most all of  you out there to consider, even historical fiction, graphic novels.  Scroll down to read.

capstone2Capstone Publishing Group, which has been aggressively expanding beyond the school and library markets with the launch six months ago of its Capstone Young Readers trade imprint, is adding picture books to the list this spring. Thirteen picture books in print format will be released initially under the CYR imprint; after the first list, the imprint will release four to six picture books each year.

Capstone Publishing Group has previously published picture books for the educational and trade markets under its Picture Window imprint and will continue to do so; this is the first time the company is publishing picture books under the CYR imprint. Thus far, board books, chapter books, and hobbies and crafts books have been published under the CYR imprint, which is overseen by senior product manager John Rahm and editorial directors Michael Dahl and Nick Healy.

In May Capstone will launch a Web site to promote its new CYR line, www.capstoneyoungreaders.com. CYR titles will be available in digital formats as well as in print. While only select Capstone Publishing titles for the educational market are available in digital formats, all of Capstone’s trade titles will be available in both print and e-book formats.

Capstone Young Readers Launches YA Imprint: Offers Wide Range of Nonfiction and Fiction Titles

Capstone Young Readers, a leading publisher of children’s books and digital products and services, announced the launch of Switch Press, a new imprint dedicated to titles that appeal to the wide range of interests of the young adult audience today. Switch Press will include a broad selection of contemporary nonfiction and fiction book titles such as graphic novels, cookbooks, craft/how-to, narrative non-fiction, historical fiction, poetry, fantasy and other speculative fiction.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, poetry, publishers, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Capstone Young Readers Trade Imprint, Fiction and Non-fiction, Graphic Novels, Historical Fiction, Switch Press YA Imprint

3 Comments on New Imprint At Capstone, last added: 3/14/2014
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28. Agent Looking to Build List

cate-hart-literary-agentCate Hart is all about guilty pleasures. She loves salted caramel mochas, Justin Timberlake, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, and Steampunk. As a native Nashvillian, Cate’s biggest guilty pleasure is watching Nashville.

When she’s reading, Cate looks for character-driven stories, a distinguished voice, and intriguing plots. She loves characters that surprise her, like the pirate with a heart of gold, and plots that keep her guessing until the very last page.

When she’s not reading queries, Cate works with clients to build their platform, works on PR projects to help promote clients’ books, and reads manuscripts with an editorial eye.            


Cate seeks unique stories with well-crafted plots and unforgettable characters with a strong voice. Her favorite genre is historical, whether it’s Middle Grade or YA, Adult Romance or something even spicier. The time periods she loves most are Elizabethan England, the American and French Revolutions, the Victorian Era and the Gilded Age. She loves Scottish and French History. If it’s steampunk, clockpunk, or candlepunk she wants it.

Her first love will always be YA. She will consider any genre, but is looking especially for Fantasy and Magical Realism.

For Middle Grade, she is looking for Fantasy, Adventure and Mystery with a humorous or heart-warming voice and a unique concept.

For Adult, she is only accepting Historical Romance. Cate will also consider select LGBTQ and Erotica.

For Non-Fiction, Cate will consider select histories and biographies. She is looking for secret histories and little known facts and events. She enjoys reading about the everyday heroes of the American and French Revolutions, something more beyond the tactics of war.

To Submit your work:

Cate prefers you attach your 1-2 page synopsis and the first five pages of your manuscript as a separate Word .doc. to query [at] corvisieroagency [dot] com, Put “Query Cate” and your title in the subject line. You can place the text in the body of the e-mail or include as an attachment.

The Corvisiero Literary Agency accepts electronic queries only.

  • Please only submit one project at a time. If your query is rejected, you may then submit a query for another project. 
  • Do not e-mail queries to any of our Agents directly unless the work has been solicited.
  • A rejection from one agent is a rejection from all. Please do not query another agent unless expressly invited. 

Cate will respond to every query. You can check her website www.catehart.com for “current through” dates as well as updated wishlists. Plus at: Twitter, FacebookPinterest

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Cate Hart, Agent Looking to Build List, Corvisiero Literary Agency

3 Comments on Agent Looking to Build List, last added: 3/14/2014
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29. YA & MG Novel Agent


emilyagencypicEmily Gref is an Agent at Lowenstein Associates, as well as our contracts and royalties manager. She also handles foreign and subrights. Her interests are wide and varied. In Young Adult and Middle Grade she is looking for all genres, but has a weak spot for fairy tale, folklore, and mythology retellings. Emily is also interested in fantasy and science fiction, as well as literary and commercial women’s fiction.

In non-fiction she is looking for strong narratives and books by recognized experts with a wide-reaching platform, especially books that lend themselves well to digital mediums. Subjects of interest include popular science, linguistics, anthropology, and history. She is not looking for memoirs or biographies at this time.

To Submit

By e-mail:

For fiction, please send us a one-page query letter, along with the first ten pages pasted in the body of the message by email to assistant@bookhaven.com. If nonfiction, please send a one-page query letter, a table of contents, and, if available, a proposal pasted into the body of the email to assistant@bookhaven.com.

Please put the word QUERY and the title of your project in the subject field of your email and address it to the agent of your choice. Please do not send an attachment as the message will be deleted without being read and no reply will be sent. We reply to all queries and generally send a response within 4-6 weeks.

By mail:

For Fiction: Mail a query letter, short synopsis, first chapter and a S.A.S.E (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope).

For Nonfiction: Mail a query letter, table of contents and, if available, a proposal (if not, please send a project overview) and a S.A.S.E (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope).
Lowenstein Associates
121 West 27th Street Suite 501
New York, NY 10001

Please note, if you do not include a S.A.S.E., we will not be able to respond to your submission. Please allow 4-6 weeks for our response.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishing Industry, submissions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: All Genres, Emily Gref, Lowenstein Associates

1 Comments on YA & MG Novel Agent, last added: 6/3/2013
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30. Breaking News – Agent Louise Fury – Kudos

louise Furytwitter_pic_205163742_stdLouise Fury has left L.Perkins Agency to join The Bent Agency this past week. A select group of advanced and published writers will be getting full critiques with Louise at the end of this month. I will give you feedback on that in October.

Louise is interested in:

Picture books
Literary Middle Grade
Young adult
New adult
Graphic Novels
Commercial fiction, especially all sub-genres of romance
Erotica/Erotic romance
Pop Culture

Louise is currently closed to unsolicited materials. To send Louise requested materials, please review our submissions guidelines Then email furyqueries@thebentagency.com

Louise Fury represents young adult, middle grade, new adult, commercial fiction including romance, and select nonfiction.  

A native South African, I now live in New York City and travel to Cape Town every year, where I spend time educating South African writers, meeting with international publishers and distributing books. Before agenting, I worked in marketing and advertising for both the consumer markets and publishing. Prior to joining The Bent Agency, I worked as a literary agent at the L. Perkins Agency. I represent numerous New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors. I encourage my authors to have one foot in traditional print publishing and the other in the digital-first arena and am a huge advocate of utilizing secondary rights—I have sold film/TV, audio and foreign rights for my clients. I believe in staying ahead of the pack by embracing change, not just adapting to it. 

I’m looking for writers with a unique voice and an unforgettable story. I’m particularly drawn to stories with a strong protagonist. In young adult, I look for manuscripts that are written with an unforgettable voice—this can be deep, dark and gritty or literary, lyrical and emotional. I’d love to find a young adult novel that has a bone-deep sense of danger that haunts me from page 1 and doesn’t let go of me for days. I want delicious adult romances with creative plots, sexy liaisons and unique characters who sweep me up in their love story. I want to feel something unforgettable when I read your pages. I want manuscripts that I can’t stop thinking about.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Conferences and Workshops, Editor & Agent Info, Kudos, Middle Grade Novels, News, Young Adult Novel Tagged: L Perkins Agency, Louise Fury, The Bent Agency

0 Comments on Breaking News – Agent Louise Fury – Kudos as of 1/1/1900
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31. MMGM Loki's Wolves -- and a Giveaway!

I've been wanting to read this book ever since I first heard about it in Publishers Weekly. Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong, two popular YA novelists, have collaborated on their first MG series, The Blackwell Pages. I finally bought a copy of the first book and yes, I will be giving it away. Details at the end of the post.

Loki's Wolves by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr (May 2013, Little, Brown, for ages 9 to 13)

Source: Hardcover purchased from Books-A-Million

Synopsis (from Indiebound):  "The runes have spoken. We have our champion...Matthew Thorsen."

Matt hears the words, but he can't believe them. He's Thor's representative? Destined to fight trolls, monstrous wolves and giant serpents...or the world ends? He's only thirteen.

While Matt knew he was a modern-day descendent of Thor, he's always lived a normal kid's life. In fact, most people in the small town of Blackwell, South Dakota, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt's classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. No big deal.

But now Ragnarok is coming, and it's up to the champions to fight in the place of the long-dead gods. Matt, Laurie, and Fen's lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team, find Thor's hammer and shield, and prevent the end of the world.

Why I liked it: It's a fast-paced, thrilling adventure for kids and young teens. The authors waste no time in sending Matt, Fen, and Laurie on a dangerous journey to find the other descendants. There are trolls, giant wolves, and police officers trying to stop them. In addition, the authors do an excellent job of filling us in on Norse mythology without hitting us over the head with it. Boys and girls will enjoy this, since Laurie certainly holds her own against the guys. Give this to fans of The Lightning Thief.

For other MMGM links, visit Shannon's blog.


Now for the giveaway! I will be giving away one hardcover of Loki's Wolves to one lucky follower of this blog. International entries welcome. You MUST be a follower and you MUST leave a comment on this post. I'll give you an extra entry if you mention on Twitter (I'm @JoanneRFritz) and another entry if you mention on your own blog. Please let me know in the comments. This giveaway ends at 10 pm EDT on Saturday Sept 21, 2013 and the winner will be announced on Sunday Sept 22.

19 Comments on MMGM Loki's Wolves -- and a Giveaway!, last added: 9/11/2013
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32. Airships, Aliens, and Artwork!

Today is the publication date of my friend Caroline Carlson’s, debut middle-grade novel The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: X Marks the Spot! Not only is this a fabulous read (yes, I got a sneak peek at an advance copy), but it also turns out that I did some artwork for Caroline’s website!

Caroline approached me with my dream illustration job! She asked for bright colors, adventure, books, and (my favorite) monsters! It was a blast creating these images. Not only do they look great on the site, but now I fantasize all about having my own polka-doted alien pets (who also love to read!).

In honor of Caroline’s big debut, here are the illustrations I did for her website!

Opening home page:

Caroline Carlson Website1

Spot illustrations on top left and bottom right:

Caroline Carlson Website

And of course, check out Caroline’s new book! It’s in bookstores today!

The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: X Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson

About the Book: Hilary Westfield has always dreamed of being a pirate. She can tread water for thirty-seven minutes. She can tie a knot faster than a fleet of sailors, and she already owns a rather pointy sword. There’s only one problem: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates refuses to let any girl join their ranks of scourges and scallywags.

But Hilary is not the kind of girl to take no for answer. To escape a life of petticoats and politeness at her stuffy finishing school, Hilary sets out in search of her own seaworthy adventure, where she gets swept up in a madcap quest involving a map without an X, a magical treasure that likely doesn’t exist, a talking gargoyle, a crew of misfit scallywags, and the most treacherous—and unexpected—villain on the High Seas.

MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT is the first installment in the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates trilogy. Books 2 and 3 are forthcoming in 2014 and 2015.

1 Comments on Airships, Aliens, and Artwork!, last added: 9/10/2013
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33. Example of Excellent Middle Grade Discussion Guide

This is an excellent discussion guide for Kate Applegate’s Newbery winning book, THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN. With this one piece Kate is showing not only helping teachers know how to use her book with their classes, but she is also, generating interest in her book, encouraging teachers to share it with her readers, and get invited to their school. Bottom Line: Increasing sales.

Are you putting out something this high end? Next, I will share a picture book Discussion Guide. I hope these will get you thinking about what you can do for your book.


If your publisher is not planning on creating something like this for you, don’t let that stop you from doing all the things you can to look professional and grab more sales.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, authors and illustrators, Marketing a book, Middle Grade Novels, Process Tagged: HarperCollins Childrens, Increase your sales, Newbery Winner, School Discussion Guide, The One and Only Ivan

2 Comments on Example of Excellent Middle Grade Discussion Guide, last added: 10/1/2013
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34. Agent Jenny Bent Wish List

jenny_bentJenny Bent is the founder of The Bent Agency. There is no reason why you shouldn’t try to snag an agent who has been in the industry for over 20 years. Just make sure that what you want to submit needs to be revised and polished and you feel the writing is at the top of your game, before sending a query letter.  I thought you might like to read about her and what she is looking for. The Bent Agency has seven other agents working with Jenny. You should check them out, too. 

To send Jenny requested materials, please review our submissions guidelines Then email queries@thebentagency.com

Jenny Bent represents literary and commercial adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. She also represents nonfiction in the areas of memoir, humor and select narrative nonfiction.

I was born in New York City but grew up in Harrisonburg, Virginia in a house full of books where I spent many lazy afternoons reading in a sunny window seat. I went on to England to get a BA/MA with first class honors from Cambridge University, but I began my career in publishing as an undergraduate, with jobs at Rolling Stone and Ladies Home Journal. I then worked with prominent agent Raphael Sagalyn and with Michael Cader, the force behind the website Publishers Marketplace, before establishing a successful career at several boutique agencies. In 2003 I joined Trident Media Group, where I was promoted to Vice President before leaving to found the Bent Agency in 2009. I now live in Brooklyn in an apartment full of books and while there are not quite so many lazy reading afternoons, I manage to fit one in now and then.

My list is varied and includes commercial and literary fiction as well as memoir and select humor titles.  In adult fiction, I particularly enjoy women’s fiction and crime/suspense.   I also love novels—for grown-ups or children—that have an element of magic or fantasy to them or that take me into a strange and new world, whether real or imaginary.   All of the books that I represent speak to the heart in some: they are linked by genuine emotion, inspiration and great writing and story telling. I love books that make me laugh, make me cry, or ideally do both.

Please send me:

  • Literary fiction
  • Women’s fiction
  • Commercial fiction, including romance
  • Young adult and middle grade fiction
  • Memoir
  • Humor
  • Suspense/crime

I’m not currently considering queries in the following genres:

  • Science fiction
  • Poetry
  • Picture books
  • Serious nonfiction
  • Reference
  • Sports
  • Self-help/how-to


1. A classic YA fantasy with at least one female lead, like the upcoming LARK RISING by @sandrajwaugh

2. In general, I love strong, feisty female characters with a purpose

3. Non-genre fiction with a paranormal, fantasy or otherworldly element to it, like DISCOVERY OF WITCHES or NIGHT CIRCUS or GHOST BRIDE

4. Historical fiction based on a famous real life person

5. Women’s fiction or YA with a strong gothic feel.

6. Here’s some of what I am looking for: stylish psychological crime/suspense with at least one female lead (not cozy mystery, thanks).

7. Women’s fiction with a strong hook or premise and lots of plot and emotion.

8. Definitely would love some YA horror.

Follow on Twitter: @jennybent

Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, list, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Wish List, Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency

3 Comments on Agent Jenny Bent Wish List, last added: 3/6/2014
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35. Dead End in Norvelt

Every winter I eagerly await the ALA Youth Media Awards. Recently it occurred to me that I'd never read Dead End in Norvelt, last year's Newbery winner. So I set aside a few days for that -- and then read it in one day.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, September 2011)

Source: advance reading copy from publisher (yes, I still have old arcs!)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews blood at every little shock he gets.

But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder.

Why I like it: This is hilarious, weird, and wise. It's historical fiction, but also a fast-paced murder mystery. And since it takes place in 1962, when I was a child, I got a kick out of reading about bomb shelters, drive-in movies, and typewriters (anyone remember typewriters?). But it's the characters who draw you in and offer immense entertainment here, especially old Miss Volker, with her obituaries, and old Mr. Spizz with his tricycle. The most fun, of course, is watching Jack get into predicaments and wondering how he'll get out of them. Even reluctant readers would enjoy this.

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. See her blog for the links, or check out my sidebar.

Have you read Dead End in Norvelt? And what do you hope wins this year's Newbery award?

24 Comments on Dead End in Norvelt, last added: 1/29/2013
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36. Four Agents Seeking Children’s Authors at D4EO Literary Agency

Bob Diforio launched D4EO Literary Agency in 1989 after a long career at New American Library. Today D4EO is a full-service, six-agent literary agency representing authors of a very broad range of commercial fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, and adults. Books represented by the agency have topped the The New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists and agency authors have received awards that include the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and the Nero Award.

With over 1,000 published books under contract, the agency has launched the writing careers of more than two hundred authors.

Samantha Deighton173Samantha Dighton joined D4EO in September 2012. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with degrees in Writing & Rhetoric and Dance Theory & Performance Studies.

Prior to joining D4EO, she worked at The Sagalyn Agency and as a reader for Curtis Brown.  She is based in Washington, D.C.

Sam is looking for character-driven stories with strong voice. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, vibrant settings that take on a life of their own, and a story that lasts well beyond the final page, generally falling within the categories below:

-Literary Fiction -Historical Fiction -Mystery/suspense -Magical Realism -Psychological thrillers -Young Adult (Realistic) -Narrative nonfiction

Please no science fiction, paranormal/urban fantasy, or bodice-ripping romances (though romantic subplots are always welcome!)

Email Submissions only.

-Send to samantha@d4eo.com .

mandy hubbardMandy Hubbard joined D4EO Literary Agency in February 2010 as a Young Adult and Middle Grade specialist, and has since expanded to include genre romance. Before agenting, she worked with Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency and is also a multi-published YA author. Her books include PRADA & PREJUDICE (Razorbill), YOU WISH (Razorbill), DRIVEN (Harlequin), BUT I LOVE HIM (Flux) RIPPLE (Razorbill), and others forthcoming.

Her leading clients include Lee Bross, author of  TANGLED WEBS (Disney-Hyperion, 2014), Emily Murdoch, author of IF YOU FIND ME (St. Martin’s, 2013)Imogen Howson, author of  LINKED (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013), and Jessica Martinez, author of VIRTUOSITY (Simon Pulse, 2011).

email: mandy@d4eo.com [No Queries at this address] twitter website

Seeking: A broad range of middle grade and young adult.
  • Email submissions only
  • Put “Query: Book Title” in the subject line of the email
  • Paste the first five pages of your novel below your query
  • No attachments
  • Email Queries to: Mandy.Hubbard.queries@gmail.com

Current Wishlist: You are welcome to query anything that falls within the MG/YA realm, as well as select genre romance but in particular, Mandy is looking for:

  • Contemporary genre (Read: adult) romance, the steamier the better
  • Regency Romance
  • “New Adult” romance (characters in their early 20s!)
  • YA Horror and/or thriller, preferably with a body count
  • A YA novel in verse
  • MG with a fun girly angle and series potential
  • YA Romance, whether historical or contemporary
  • Historical YA novels based within real tragedies, a la BETWEEN SHADES OF GREY by Ruta Septys, REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnely, etc.
  • YA with a hook, a la HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter or THIRTEEN REASONS WHY by Jay Asher

Do NOT query anything meant for adult audiences (unless it would be published in the romance section), or non-fiction of any kind.

Paste the first 10 pages in the body of the email, below your query -Please include “Query: Title” in the subject line.

breeIMG_0385Bree Ogden joined D4EO in November 2011, after having been an associate literary agent at Martin Literary Management for nearly 2 years representing children’s, YA, and graphic novels.

Bree graduated with her BA in Philosophy from Southern Virginia University where she served as editor-in-chief of the University’s newsmagazine. She was awarded Most Valuable Player and Editor of the Year, as well as SVU’s Pioneer Award, an honor the University awards to two students each year. She then received her MA in Journalism with an emphasis in editing and expository writing at Northeastern University where she worked on both the New England Press Association Bulletin, and also served as the features editor of the premier campus music magazine, Tastemakers Magazine.

Bree has spent many years working as a freelance journalist and currently co-operates the macabre children’s magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree where she serves as Editorial Director. Bree is an instructor and columnist for the Web site LitReactor.com where she teaches Intro to Graphic Novel Writing. Bree is also the newest judge for the Ghastly Awards–Honoring Excellence in Horror Comics.

Email: bree@d4eo.com  Twitter  Blog Bree’s LitReactor Content  Bree’s Comic Book Reviews

• Email submissions only
• Paste the first five pages of your novel below your query
• No attachments

*NOTE: I am actively seeking children’s/YA nonfiction. NO memoir unless you have a gigantic platform (i.e., The Pregnancy Project). I would love something in the vein of The Letter Q, Dare to Dream!: 25 Extraordinary Lives, The Forbidden Schoolhouse, or a Starvation Heights type historical fiction.

  • Highly artistic picture books (high brow art, think Varmints)
  • Middle grade
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Graphic Novels
  • Nonfiction
  • Humor
  • Pop Culture
  • Art books

Genre-specific (Both in Adult and YA):

Transgressive fiction ~Genre horror ~Genre noir ~Genre romance

Bree’s wish list: (don’t limit your queries to these!)

• Dark (not angst-ridden)
• Realistic
• Psychological horror (with no paranormal elements)
• Hard sci fi. Meaning no fantasy, or magical realism at all
• A Dexter-ish type YA black comedy (COMEDY being the operative word)
• A Roaring Twenties historical for YA
• A manuscript written in the era of Mad Men with panache and style
• A unique and theme-driven art book • Any book dealing with Anne Boleyn or Marie Antoinette (historical fiction, not nonfiction)
• Historical fiction (love crime-driven historical fiction, i.e. Black Dahlia)

kristin miller vincentKristin Miller-Vincent was promoted to associate agent in February of 2011, after interning with Mandy Hubbard at D4EO Literary Agency. She graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in English Lit, Women’s Studies and Secondary Education. She publishes magazine and website articles and young adult novels under a pen name, teaches writing and works editorially with clients and other writers.

email: kristin@d4eo.com  (no queries here, please) twitter

middle grade, young adult and picture book (author/illustrators only, please)

Picture Books: Unique, groundbreaking, inventive art; playful, character-driven stories; humor. Nonfiction on topics and people that are interesting and unique, but not very well known as yet, told in a lively way that young child would enjoy. Manuscripts that are less than 750 words. NO morals, NO lessons, NO instructive stories. When querying, please paste the entire story below your query and include a link to an online resource that showcases examples of your art. Please don’t attach art to the query.

Middle Grade: Authentic voice is most important. On the one hand, I love fun, adventure, mystery and big, big characters on a unique journey. On the other,  timeless middle grade with siblings learning about themselves, each other and the world with lovely, literary prose. Something classic, the next The Penderwicks or Anne of Green Gables. Multicultural stories across the spectrum.

Young Adult: Talented writing, first and foremost. I’d like to see writing that shows care for one’s craft. I’m very open to good experimental writing, too. More specifically:

  • Sweeping historical fiction, especially with a heavy romance and/or mystery element. I’d love something decadent and lush, set perhaps during Tsarist Russia or the Golden Ages of Vienna or Budapest. British settings work, too. No stilted dialogue, please.
  • Contemporary with feminist and social issues themes, characters, concerns. Heavy focus on great voice and crafting. Literary contemporary.
  • Horror, but I’d prefer it to be psychological rather than gory, subtle rather than in-your-face.

email submissions only to Kristin.D4EO@gmail.com

  • put “Query, genre, title” in the subject line of your email
  • paste the first 10 pages below your query in the body of the email
  • no attachments

Hope this helps on your search for an agent.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Publishers and Agencies, submissions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Bree Ogden, D4EO Literary Agency, Kristin Miller-Vincent, Mandy Hubbard, Samantha Dighton

8 Comments on Four Agents Seeking Children’s Authors at D4EO Literary Agency, last added: 1/24/2013
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37. The Storm in the Barn for MMGM

I'm writing and posting this before the Caldecott and Newbery awards are announced, so I can't talk about them, darn it all. Guess that's what Twitter is for...

Instead, I want to talk about another kind of award-winner. And it's something I rarely read: a graphic novel.

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan (Candlewick Press, 2009, for ages 10 and up; Winner of the Scott O'Dell award for historical fiction)

Source: paperback purchased last summer from local bookstore (which, sadly, is now closed)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): In Kansas in the year 1937, eleven-year-old Jack Clark faces his share of ordinary challenges: local bullies, his father’s failed expectations, a little sister with an eye for trouble. But he also has to deal with the effects of the Dust Bowl, including rising tensions in his small town and the spread of a shadowy illness. Certainly a case of "dust dementia" would explain who (or what) Jack has glimpsed in the Talbot’s abandoned barn — a sinister figure with a face like rain. In a land where it never rains, it’s hard to trust what you see with your own eyes — and harder still to take heart and be a hero when the time comes. 

Why I liked it: Well, it's certainly not just because Matt Phelan autographed it last summer when he visited the bookstore, and drew me a little picture of Jack in his cap! I normally shy away from graphic novels, but this one is compelling. It's a fascinating combination of historical fiction and fantasy. That sinister figure in the barn turns out to be something otherworldly. Phelan's imagination soars in this beautifully-illustrated book.

Do you like graphic novels?  Which ones have you (or your kids) read?

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger.  Check her blog for the links, or see my sidebar.

17 Comments on The Storm in the Barn for MMGM, last added: 2/22/2013
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38. Three Opportunities

stephenfraserONE SPOT available for Weekend Writers Retreat with Stephen Frazer, agent from Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

March 22nd – 24th at DOOLAN’S SHORE CLUB ON HIGHWAY 71 IN SPRING LAKE, NJ. http://www.doolansshoreclub.com/

Friday: Arrive afternoon – Leave Sunday at lunch.

One Hour Full Manuscript Critique for each writer with Stephen Frazer (Yes, you heard right. This is a fabulous opportunity to get your whole manuscript read, get to ask the nagging questions in the back of your mind and receive a lot of feedback).

One Hour Group Critiques

Time to talk with Stephen about the state of the publishing industry, your career, and the best road to take.

Pitch critiques on Sunday morning.

Includes single room both nights, dinner with Stephen on Friday and Saturday night, Saturday lunch with Stephen and continental breakfast Saturday and Sunday.
Cost $495 

Contact me ASAP! Spot could go fast. I will send you the address on where to send you money. Kathy.temean(at)gmail.com

 Author Illustrator Timothy Young is having a book Launch Party for his new book I HATE PICTURE BOOKS at Books of Wonder on March 2nd in NYC.  He invites you to stop by.


Monday, February 11th - 6:30pm – 8:30pm

They always say acting helps you with writing your actors, so I thought you might be interested in joining New Jersey SCBWI Member Kelly Calabrese’s ‘Acting Bootcamp’. It is for the beginning actor that needs a little guidance from an instructor who has been around the scene for a while.  This one night class will cover the basics of getting started the RIGHT way in order to help you gain more success in booking real acting work. The class is focused on the Business aspects of show business. Click Date at top for more info.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Events, Middle Grade Novels, need to know, opportunity, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Stephen Fraser, Weekend Writer's Retreat, Whole Novel Critique

0 Comments on Three Opportunities as of 2/3/2013 12:26:00 AM
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39. A winner... and a mystery!

First, I need to announce the winner of the prize package of a paperback of Hattie Big Sky and an arc of Hattie Ever After!  According to random.org, the winner is:

(aka Janet)

Congratulations, Janet! Expect an email from me, asking for your mailing address.

Now to today's MMGMM. Yes, there's an extra M in there, for mystery.

I've been writing a middle grade mystery, so I thought it wise to read more mysteries over the past few months. And I really liked this one:

The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd (Yearling/Random House paperback published 2009, for ages 8 to 12).

paperback purchased from local bookstore

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim board the London Eye, but after half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off—except Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air? Ted and his older sister, Kat, become sleuthing partners, since the police are having no luck. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery. 

Why I liked it: Oh, without a doubt the character of Ted! He wants to be a meteorologist when he grows up, so he's obsessed with weather forecasts. His autism is never defined, but he nonetheless works out puzzles in his head, counts his breakfast cereal Shreddies as he eats them, and doesn't like to be hugged. Dowd, who sadly died of cancer in 2007 at the age of 47, makes Ted both likable and memorable. Ted tells the story in first person and London comes to life through his eyes. The mystery kept me guessing, and I also liked the way Ted and his sister grow closer together while they try to figure out what happened to Salim.

What middle grade mysteries have you read lately?

For more MMGM posts, see Shannon Messenger's links or my sidebar.

20 Comments on A winner... and a mystery!, last added: 2/28/2013
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40. Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman -- and a giveaway!

First, I want to thank everyone who participated in the lively discussion on my last post. Even discounting my replies, that post generated more comments than any other post in my four years of blogging. Now for this week's recommendation:

Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin, November 2012, for ages 10 and up)

Synopsis (from the book jacket): Will Sparrow, liar and thief, is running away -- from the father who sold him for beer, the innkeeper who threatened to sell him as a chimney sweep, from his whole sorry life. Barefoot and penniless, without family, friends, or boots, Will is determined to avoid capture and, of course, to find something to eat.

Some of the travelers he meets on the road have a kind word for him and a promise of better things to come, such as coins and juicy beef ribs. Eager to go along, Will repeatedly finds himself tricked by older and wiser tricksters.

Why I liked it: Will's a remarkable character, who at first cares for "no one but myself and nothing but my belly!" Writers who struggle with character growth should study this because Will grows and changes more than any protagonist I've come across recently. And if you're a fan of historical fiction, you'll love the story. The inimitable Karen Cushman infuses the novel with colorful personalities and plenty of Elizabethan flavor as Will travels from one market fair to another, along with an assortment of "Oddities" in search of a place to call home.

(My only trouble with this book was every time I read the name "Will Sparrow" I kept picturing Will Turner and Jack Sparrow. Guess I've watched "Pirates of the Caribbean" too many times!)

Now for the giveaway. Since I didn't receive an arc, I purchased a hardcover copy. And I'm eager to share it with one of you. To enter the giveaway you must be a follower and leave a comment on this post. International entries welcome. This giveaway will end at 10 pm EDT on Saturday, March 23, 2013. Winner will be chosen by random.org and announced Monday, March 25. Good luck!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. See her blog for the links, or check out my sidebar.

25 Comments on Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman -- and a giveaway!, last added: 4/7/2013
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41. Agent Building List – Laura Biagi

Kathleen Rupff was the winner of Susan Dietwiler’s Big Cat, Little Kitty book give-a-way.


Jean Naggar opened her agency over 30 years ago and expanded in 2004, when she decided to partner with Jennifer Weltz, who had joined the agency in 1994. They incorporated as The Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc., or JVNLA, Inc. They are located right in the heart of the Publishing Industry – NYC.

The team of seven agents each represents an independent list of authors that reflects her individual styles, tastes, and strengths, with all collaborating as a team to orchestrate the agency’s contracts, subsidiary rights, publicity, and editorial development.

Laura Biagi joined the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency Inc. (JVNLA) in 2009. She is actively building her own client list, seeking young readers’ books (including picture books, young adult, and middle grade) as well as adult literary fiction.

She is particularly interested in young readers’ books that have magical tinges to them, cultural themes, strong voices, and vivid writing.  She loves books that incorporate high concept, dark/edgy, and quirky elements, and especially titles that challenge the way we typically view the world.

Laura also handles the sale of Australian and New Zealand rights for the agency, and she coordinates the submission of JVNLA’s titles internationally.  Laura studied creative writing and anthropology at Northwestern University, and she is the recipient of a Kentucky Emerging Artist Award in fiction writing. She grew up in a small town in Kentucky and maintains a fondness for Southern biscuits and unobstructed views of the stars.


You can meet Laura at the Niagara Falls Writers Illustrators Retreat. May 3-5.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Building List, Jean V. Naffar Literary Agency, Jennifer Weltz, seeking middle grade and Young adult books, Seeking picture books

1 Comments on Agent Building List – Laura Biagi, last added: 3/25/2013
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42. What is a Story Architect?

lexa hillyer lowresheadshot260I was going over my New Jersey SCBWI Conference Registration and noticed Lexa Hillyer co-founder of Paper Lantern on the faculty. I was not familiar with Lexa, so I read her bio. Here it is:

Lexa Hillyer received her BA in English from Vassar College and her MFA in Poetry from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. She has received various poetry awards, including the 2011 Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize for her first book of poems, Acquainted with the Cold. She was named one of the Best New Poets of 2012 by Matthew Dickman. Lexa worked as an editor at both Harper Collins and Penguin, and is co-founder of boutique literary incubator Paper Lantern Lit.

This still didn’t tell me enough, so I visited Paper Lantern Lit to see what additional information I could discover. I found out Paper Lantern Lit is a “book incubator” that creates hits for publishers–and careers for undiscovered writers. Lexa Hillyer and co-founder Lauren Oliver are story architects. I still needed more information so Lexa and I talked and she answered my questions in this interview. I think you will find what they are doing, very interesting.

What is Paper Lantern Lit?

We come up with story ideas, we plot them using our knowledge and experience with narrative structure, and we coach authors through the writing process. Like architects, we envision, design and layout all the basics of a book, but it’s our writers who inhabit them and bring them to life.

lauren oliversm260How did you and Lauren Oliver decide to start Paper Lantern Lit?

We met when we both worked as editors at Penguin, before Lauren decided to pursue a career in writing. After a few years, we had stayed friends, and realized we both had pieces missing from our lives. She missed editing, and often found she had more ideas than she could possibly write herself. I longed for more creative flexibility for my ideas, and the freedom to make stronger connections with writers. We discovered that we both possess creativity and passion for storytelling alongside a pretty unusual obsession with structure and form. We know that a great novel has both, and while the elusive power of an original, emotive voice may not be teachable, the a-to-z of plotting a book is. So why not build incredibly fun book concepts, offer to help new writers, and get the thrill of discovering them ourselves?

Once we had that all figured out, we just started having meetings. We took it one step at a time and taught ourselves what it would mean to really own a business. We made sure we had a lot of different projects we felt confident pursuing, so that our company would have longevity. Then we reached out to Stephen Barbara of Foundry Media, to ensure that we would have strong representation. Finally, we hired the most amazing interns ever, two of whom now work for the company full time!

Was this before she wrote the Delirium Series?

Yes, though I believe she was already working on it. It was right after her first book, BEFORE I FALL, came out. 

How does Paper Lantern Lit differ from a traditional Publisher?

We are not a publisher or an agency, though our company does have certain similarities to an agency: we seek out excellent writers, work with them on a project, and then typically sell the project to a publisher. However, at Paper Lantern Lit, we develop many of our book ideas in-house. So while a traditional agency looks for finished manuscripts, we are far more focused on finding the best new writers out there and fostering their voices. We pride ourselves on cultivating emergent authors, and providing them a context in which to further learn their craft.

So you could say you are a book packager?

Our business model is certainly similar, but we feel our approach is unique in that we put a major emphasis on the author and on our relationships within the industry. We’re not about making a product, package or sale. We’re about creating an experience that is hopefully lasting and has universal appeal. We attach writers and projects together much the way a matchmaker might: it’s all about finding the perfect pairing.

Since Paper Lantern gets the advance for the books they sell, how does the writer get paid?

We pay the writer directly per project. You can consider it as doing Freelance or Work-for-Hire. Some of our deals offer sub rights and other financial participation—we want our authors to enjoy success as the book’s audience grows, and for them to feel invested in its future and their own!

Does the writer get their name on the books they write?
Sometimes yes, though many times we mutually agree to move forward under a pseudonym. Often that feels like the best way to give both parties the most freedom and most protection at the same time. We understand that many of our writers may be concurrently pursuing other work, and this allows for greater flexibility to do so.

Do you accept full manuscripts?

We are looking for writers, typically, not manuscripts, because our focus is on building story from the ground up. We are the story architects, after all! You might say we prefer to work on new designs rather than renovations: this way we can always vouch for the end result—we can guarantee a sound structure. However, there’s an exception to every rule. If you love what we do, we encourage you to reach out. You never know what opportunities will arise, especially as we turn our focus with more and more interest toward the digital publishing sphere.

How long have you been in business?

We officially launched PLL in May of 2010, so we’re at the three year mark.

How many books have you gotten published?

We have 25 domestic titles (this includes multiple book deals for each author). We’ve also sold our books in dozens of foreign countries. Of these, we have 9 that have hit shelves so far, and our 10th, TRUTH OR DARE by Jacqueline Green, comes out May 14, 2013!

Do you run your book ideas past editors before you look for an author?

Not often, but we certainly have many editor friends and are always discussing what they’re excited about and where we all feel the market may be headed. Further, we do ALWAYS share our ideas with our agent, Stephen Barbara, before taking on a writer. We consider him the third partner and take his objective reactions very seriously—it’s important to have some checks and balances!

So I would image that you work closely with the author to develop the book. Is that right?

Oh absolutely. It’s a very hands-on process. We check in with our authors weekly and provide very consistent notes and feedback. They constantly work to adapt the story so that it is truly theirs—in the end, sometimes they depart wildly from the original concept, but we communicate and work together the whole way through to be sure at all times that the structure is solid and that their voice is being heard.

I see you have a group of teens called Trendsetters who read pre-published YA books from you. Have you changed books due to this feedback?
Definitely! It’s fascinating to get a peek into what teens are really thinking, what their experiences are like, what they most care about. We take their input very seriously and we just love all of the awesome ways they get involved in our projects, from coming up with soundtracks to the books to creating character collages and inspiration boards. These teens are very savvy, very articulate, and love books—so of course, we love THEM!

Do you feel that an unknown author benefits from working with you, other than the freelance money they receive?

I very much believe and hope so, yes. Some of our authors have gone so far as to refer to us as a “paid MFA in writing.” Others call it novel-writing boot camp.  We offer a lot of insight and structure regarding the craft and the writing process, in addition to offering serious access to new contacts in the industry and help them reach their fans directly.

If the authors get school visits from librarian who come to you, do they get the full amount of money for the visit?

I read that Paper Lantern has a Fellowship Program for a MFA student enrolled at Queens College’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation. What do they get if they are chosen?

The recipient receives full tuition remission for the spring semester in addition to a $1,000 internship stipend.

What do authors do to get you interested in working with them?

Send us your resume, a brief bio, and a ten-page sample of your best writing (preferably fiction.) Please submit all of the above in the body of your email (no attachments), and include your name and sample title in the subject heading. Also please let us know where you heard about us!

Show off their voice. Knowing your own individual strengths, rather than trying to prove you can be malleable, is key. Also show us that you are savvy with the interwebs and not afraid to have a presence there. If you fear your own audience or seem like a ghost when we google you, that can be concerning. Writing for young people these days means having confidence in your voice, what you have to say, AND your ability to interact with your audience.

You can still register for the New Jersey SCBWI Conference in June and get a critique with Lexa. Don’t miss this opportunity. Here is the link: www.regonline.com/njscbwi2013conference

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Stephen Barbara, Book Packager, Fellowship Program at Queens College MFA Program, Lauren Oliver, Lexa Hillyer, Paper Lantern Lit

2 Comments on What is a Story Architect?, last added: 4/30/2013
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43. Pumped Up in the Poconos

Mary Zisk attended the Highlights Novel Writing Workshop at the end of last year, so I asked her if she would share her experience with us. I think you will enjoy hearing about it and what she learn.


Pumped Up in the Poconos By Mary Zisk (back row with yellow scarf)

“Work on voice—like a girl talking to her best friend.”
“Focus on characterization—your characters feel a bit stock. Bottom line: it’s your job to entertain.”
“Is this a historical novel or a novel that takes place in a historic time? There’s a difference.”
“Make your novel shorter and characters younger. Forget boyfriends. Add touches of fantasy.” (Whaaa?)
“I lived through the sixties. Why would I want to read about it?”

That’s what I heard at last year’s NJSCBWI Conference in June. After critiques from an author, an editor, a consultant, a publisher, and an agent pitch for my middle grade novel, my head was spinning like a boardwalk Tilt-a-Whirl.
But there was a hopeful note. At the end of each critique, I said “I’m thinking of illustrating my novel.”

60s280“Hmm, that could work,” they all said.

So I literally went back to the drawing board to approach my novel illustratively. I kept drawing and writing and revising and characterizing and revising and plotting and revising. By winter, I had written my novel to the end, with illustrations for the first three chapters.

The 2013 NJSCBWI Conference was still five, long months away, which would be the next opportunity to meet with the pros to discuss my novel. Suspended in limbo, waiting for June, I cleaned the subterranean hoard known as my basement.

But the Universe pulled me out of limbo (and my basement) and led to me the Highlights Foundation Whole Novel Workshop: Middle Grade. I had heard writing friends reminisce about the Highlights Writing Workshop in Chautauqua, NY. Their eyes would glaze over with a combination of reverence and rapture. “Instructive. Inspiring. Life-changing,” they sighed.

“Huh, I need that,” I thought. “Now!”

No one had ever read my entire novel past the usual 15 or 30 pages. Hot-cha-cha, this workshop would be perfect! I’d return either pumped up or deflated.

The Highlights Foundation www.highlightsfoundation.org no longer has an annual workshop in Chautauqua, but instead, has more than thirty, short (three to seven days), theme-focused workshops throughout the year at their conference center outside of Honesdale, Pennsylvania, home of the Highlights office. The Whole Novel Workshop promised three author faculty members, one of whom would be my personal “reader.” Plus (GET THIS!), I’d have my own private, “rustic” cabin for writing and contemplation.


Author Alan Gratz www.alangratz.com was assigned as my reader. I immediately googled him and found that Alan had written sports novels and murder mysteries. I fretted. Could he relate to my female, coming-of-age 12-year-old, aspiring-artist, main character? Absolutely! Before the workshop, Alan sent me a six-page, single-spaced letter thoroughly critiquing my novel, and his insights were spot on. We had a strong starting point for renovating my novel at the workshop.

I drove (and antiqued) my way through the Pocono Mountains to the The Barn at Boyds Mills while the other participants arrived from all over the country. Our faculty members were authors Tami Lewis Brown www.tamilewisbrown.com, Alexandria LaFaye www.alafaye.com, and Alan, with help from authors Helen Hemphill www.helenhemphill.com and Sue Ford www.susanuhlig.com.

The week started with a face-to-face with our reader, which I wanted to be honest and blunt—no pain, no gain. Alan hit me with the difficulties of selling a book set in the sixties (no agent will touch it). Why did I choose that time period? Should it be contemporary instead? I stuck with the sixties. Look at The Wednesday Wars or Dead End in Norvelt.

We dug into the meat-and-potatoes of my novel (although Alan only eats pizza). Alan thought the novel started with a strong goal and then dropped away for 25 pages. My novel’s chronology had always been a struggle, especially finding my beginning. I could wallpaper a bathroom with all the “first pages” I’ve written over the years (a master-suite bathroom, not just a powder room). I retreated to my cabin to wrestle with the chronology, conferred with Alan again, then back to the cabin to move chapters around and write a new first chapter. Hot dog! The beginning pieces of my plot snapped together. On to the rest.

Alan felt my novel continued at a nice pace, with conflicts, ups and downs, good humor, and heart. He questioned some of my decisions: Are the seventh graders too savvy about art? Is the lightning strike and resulting fire an unrealistic act of God? Is the reference to Vietnam intrusive, not instructive? Would today’s tween really know who Pepe Le Pew is?
Again, back to the cabin.

Later in the week, Alan made a masterful plot presentation to all of the participants using the hero’s journey and Star Wars. The other faculty members also made presentations: Tami showed us the advantages of storyboarding both actions and emotions, from first epiphany, through attempts and failures, recommitment, the depths of despair, victory, and resolution. Alex took us into a deep analysis of text, like the Double Duty Detail that puts details to work in many ways, flashbacks that are triggered by an object (I used this), and that chapter names, not numbers, generate a cognitive response in the reader.

Throughout the week, talking during meals at a large communal table, gathering in the sitting room, or working alone in our cabins, we were immersed in the craft of writing and nothing else (although I did sneak in a couple of posts to Facebook). On our final night, each participant read a few pages aloud from their novel. I discovered I had a gift for voices (maybe I should only do an audio book). Then we shared what our plan would be when we got home.

My plan was to:

1. Work on voice;

2. Illustrate my novel’s most compelling events as seen through my MC’s eyes

3. Attend the NJSCBWI Conference in June to improve my novel through more critiques (I’ll pitch it as “Ellie McDoodle meets The Wednesday Wars”)

Not only did that week in the woods solidify my novel, it gave me confidence in my skills. I arrived at Boyds Mills a participant and I went home a writer.

Next step: I plan to make merry with the New Jersey Tribe at the Conference!
See you there!


Mary Zisk is the author/illustrator of The Best Single Mom in the World: How I Was Adopted (A. Whitman & Co.). During the day, she is a magazine art director trying to hold on to the use of illustration in print. The rest of the time, she writes and illustrates picture books and middle grade novels. www.maryzisk.com

Thank you Mary for sharing this very well written, interesting, and informative article with us. I love your idea of illustrating your middle grade novel and I love the humor in your illustrations. I can see how much your style has grown since I featured you on Illustrator Saturday in July of 2010. http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2010/07/03/illustrator-saturday-mary-zisk/

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: children writing, Conferences and Workshops, inspiration, Middle Grade Novels, writing Tagged: author/illustrator Mary Zisk, Highlight Foundation Workshop, Improving your novel, Pumped up in the Poconos

7 Comments on Pumped Up in the Poconos, last added: 5/21/2013
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44. In Your Face Research

Freefalling by Children’s Author Debbie Dadey

“I didn’t think you would do it,” my son Nathan told me when I fell out of an skydive3airplane at fourteen thousand feet.  But I was determined since I was writing a story about someone who skydived.  I learned that freefalling at one hundred miles an hour is very terrifying!  The sad thing is that I have never been able to sell that story.  But as a former librarian, I love doing research for my writing even if I don’t make a sale.  Each new story is an opportunity for learning. Sometimes that involves doing something just a bit crazy.

Mermaid Tales _4_NEW“I didn’t think you would do it,” my husband said to me when I climbed up the hundreds of steps to the sixty foot drop into a pool of sharks.  I didn’t tell him, but I almost chickened out at the top.  Still, it was a chance to get close to sharks and I was determined to do the research.  So, I took a deep breath and plummeted to what I feared was certain death.  Luckily, I lived to write Danger in the Deep Blue Sea, which is book four in the Mermaid Tales series from Simon and Schuster.

I’ve done some other things that were slightly less crazy for research, like the multi-axis trainer at Space Camp for Mrs. Jeepers in Outer Space, a trip to Hawaii for Werewolves Don’t Go To Summer Camp (who says research has to be hard?), and a trip to the dentist for Hercules Doesn’t Pull Teeth (I took notes the whole time).

MermaidTales_5_cvr (2)Another kind of research on Ancestry.com told me that my seventy-seventh grandmother was Cleopatra of Egypt.  That led to the fun of writing my newest book, The Lost Princess (Mermaid Tales #5)

I think doing research with books or websites is fine.  But whenever I get the chance to do something hands-on, I try to take that scary leap.  What better way to be able to write about it than to actually experience it myself?  Who knows what’s just around the corner for me to learn?  Who will say to me, “I didn’t think you would do it”?  I just hope it doesn’t involve freefalling at one hundred miles an hour!

You can check out Debbie’s skydiving screams at http://www.debbiedadey.com/Video/skydive.php  

Debbie Dadey is the author and co-author of 158 books, including The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series and the new series, Mermaid Tales.       http://www.debbiedadey.com/    LinkedIn   Twitter    Facebook

Do you have any in your face research you want to share?

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: article, authors and illustrators, chapter books, inspiration, Middle Grade Novels, Tips Tagged: Debbie Dadey, Free Falling into Research, Hercules Doesn’t Pull Teeth, Nermaid Tales, Werewolves Don’t Go To Summer Camp

3 Comments on In Your Face Research, last added: 5/16/2013
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45. Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing

What is the Katherine Paterson Prize for YA and Children’s Writing?

An annual prize for Young Adult and Children’s Literature. A chance for your YA and Children’s Lit to be read by Hunger Mountain editors and guest judges!

What will the winner receive?

One overall first place winner receives $1,000 and publication! Three category winners receive $100 each and publication. The categories are

  • Young Adult (YA)
  • Middle Grade (MG)
  • Picture Book or Writing for Young Children

Who can enter the contest?

Anyone! Everyone!

Is there a fee to enter?

Yes, the fee is $20.

Do you have a word limit on what you submit?

Yes, it is 10,000 words. Your entry may be a short story or a novel excerpt, but if it’s a novel excerpt it should really stand alone.

Who is this year’s judge?

The 2013 judge is Rebecca Stead, author of Liar and Spy and When You Reach Me, which won the Newbery Medal in 2010.

When is the deadline?

The postmark deadline is June 30th

Where is last year’s winning entry?

The 2012 first place winner, “Crabcake Charlie,” a Middle Grade story by Sally Derby was published in Hunger Mountain 17: Labyrinths. (Order a copy here).

Other winners:

  • In Your Head by ZP Heller, selected by Kathi Appelt, winner of YA category, 2012
  • The Flood, by Kathleen Forrester, winner of MG category, 2012
  • Sybilla Under the Bones by Barbara Lowell, winner of PB/writing for younger children category, 2012
  • Him by Heather Smith Meloche, selected by Kimberly Willis Holt, overall winner, 2011
  • Forty Thieves and a Green-Eyed Girl by Christy Lenzi, winner of MG category, 2011
  • Cesar by Betty Yee, winner of the Picture Book/Writing for Young Children category, 2011
  • Steve by Jaramy Conners, overall winner 2010, chosen by Holly Black.
  • Chasing Shadows by S.E. Sinkhorn, winner of YA category, 2010
  • The Ugliest Dog in the World by Marcia Popp, winner of the MG category, 2010
  •  Something at the Hill by Jane Kohuth, winner of the Picture Book/Writing for Young Children category, 2010
  • Crazy Cat by Liz Cook, overall winner2009, chosen by Katherine Paterson
  • Tornado by Susan Hill Long, winner of the MG category, 2009
  • No Mistake by Tricia Springstubb,winner of the Picture Book/Writing for Young Children category, 2009

Does Hunger Mountain accept electronic entries?

Yes! Please enter your original, unpublished piece under 10,000 words. Your entry may be a short story or a novel excerpt, but if it’s a novel excerpt it should really stand alone. Feel free to include a brief synopsis if your entry is a novel excerpt. Your name and address should not appear on the story; we read contest entries blind. Click the link below to access our online submission system. Once in the submission manager, you’ll need to choose “Katherine Paterson Prize” (scroll all the way to the bottom to find it!) Pay the $20.00 entry fee and upload your entry. Please include a cover letter in the comments section, letting us know what age group your piece is intended for: Enter the Katherine Paterson Prize

Does Hunger Mountain still accept Snail Mail entries?

Yes! Please send one original, unpublished piece under 10,000 words. Your entry may be a short story or a novel excerpt, but if it’s a novel excerpt it should stand on its own. Feel free to include a brief synopsis along with your novel excerpt. Include a $20 entry fee. Make checks payable to “Vermont College of Fine Arts.” Entries should be postmarked by June 30th. Your name or address should not appear anywhere on the story itself (we read entries blind.) Instead, enclose an index card with story title, intended age group (YA? MG?), your name, address, phone number, and email address. You may also enclose an SASE (self addressed stamped envelope)  for notification of winners. Entries should be typed, and on one side of the paper only. No staples please! Send entries to:

KPP Hunger Mountain Vermont College of Fine Arts 36 College Street Montpelier, VT 05602

May I include illustrations with my Picture Book manuscript?

Yes. This year for the first time, we’re allowing illustrations along with picture book manuscripts. These should be copies/pdfs only. PLEASE DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL ART! We’ll consider illustrated and unillustrated text for picture book entries.

If you submit by mail, send copies of art only. If you submit through Submittable, your entry should be a pdf.

Will my entry be considered for general publication as  as well as for the Katherine Paterson Prize?

Yes, it will. Several stories we publish have come from the Katherine Paterson Prize entries.

May I enter more than one story in this prize?

Yes. Enter as many as you like! But each entry needs its own entry fee.

Are simultaneous submissions okay?

Yes,  but please let us know right away if your work is accepted elsewhere. And unfortunately we can’t refund entry fees if the work is accepted somewhere else.

I’m a child or a teenager. May I enter this prize?

You may. But your work will be evaluated alongside adult work. If you’re a serious writer, it’s okay with us if you enter the prize, just know this prize isn’t intended for teenagers or for children.

What if I have questions that aren’t answered here?

Email us at hungermtn@vcfa.edu

Enter the Katherine Paterson Prize by clicking here

Maybe this is the year your manuscript will be ready to enter. If so, Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: children writing, Competition, Contests, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Places to sumit, Young Adult Novel Tagged: $1000 prize and publication, Hunger Mountain, Katherine Paterson Prize

2 Comments on Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, last added: 5/21/2013
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46. Agent Looking to Build Client List

emma-patterson-agent-brandt-hochmanChuck Sambuchino over at Writer’s Digest reported last week that agent Emma Patterson was looking to build her client list at Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents.

1501 Broadway New York, New York 10036
Phone: (212) 840-5760

Emma grew up in New Jersey, the daughter of a literary agent, so she has been around books, manuscripts, and query letters, all her life. After graduating from Kenyon College with a degree in history, she joined The Wendy Weil Agency as an assistant, later became a rights associate, and eventually an agent. After Wendy’s sudden and tragic death last fall, Emma and her colleague Emily Forland joined Brandt & Hochman in the beginning of 2013. She sold her first manuscript in March. She now lives in Brooklyn.

She is seeking: “I am on the lookout for literary and commercial fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, historical fiction, narrative nonfiction, pop culture, memoir, food writing, and YA and MG fiction and nonfiction. I’m open to mostly any project with strong writing, an original premise, and a story that immediately grabs me – and I still think about weeks after I’ve finished reading it. I’m especially drawn to stories that make me cry, laugh, or transport me to a world that’s new to me. So long as the writing is strong, I don’t shy away from dark or quiet stories. I don’t tend to like category or genre fiction.”

How to submit: “The best way to contact me is via email at epatterson [at] bromasite.com with a basic query letter (a bit about the project, the author, and the author’s past publishing or writing history). A few pages of the work can also be pasted into the body of the email, but I won’t open attachments unless I’ve specially asked for one. Due to the high volume of emails I receive, I generally only respond to queries that sound up my alley.”

I could not find a website for this agency, but they have reported 15 signed contract in the last twelve months.

Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Buidling List, Brandt & Hochman, Chuck Sambuchino, Emma Patterson, Open to Query Letters

1 Comments on Agent Looking to Build Client List, last added: 5/28/2013
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47. What I've Read So Far -- And a January challenge

Drum roll, please! Here is a list of all the books I've read in 2012 (divided up by months and not counting picture books. And please note that most of these were arcs, unless otherwise noted):

1. Cinder - Marissa Meyer
2. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
3. A Diamond in the Dust - Kathryn Fitzmaurice
4. Chomp - Carl Hiaasen
5. Because of Winn Dixie - Kate DiCamillo
6. Looking for Alaska - John Green
7. Gil Marsh - A.C.E. Bauer
8. Never Fall Down - Patricia McCormick
9. Jake & Lily - Jerry Spinelli

10. What the Dog Said - Randi Reisfield
11. So Close to You - Rachel Carter
12. Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
13. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
14. Curveball: How I Lost My Grip - Jordan Sonnenblick

15. Breath of Eyre - Eve Marie Mont
16. critique partner's MG novel
17. Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator - Josh Berk
18. Embrace - Jessica Shirvington
19. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
20. Kaspar the Titanic Cat - Michael Morpurgo
21. Small Damages - Beth Kephart
22. The Year of the Book - Andrea Chang
23. Remarkable - Lizzie K. Foley

24. The Wicked and the Just - J. Anderson Coats
25. Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker
26. Drowned Cities - Paolo Bacigalupi
27. Starters - Lissa Price
28. The False Prince - Jennifer Nielson
29. Chains - Laurie Halse Anderson
30. My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

31. Devine Intervention - Martha Brockenbrough
32. The Patron Saint of Beans (now called If You Find Me) - Emily Murdoch
33. Keeping the Castle - Patrice Kindl
34. Don't Turn Around - Michelle Gagnon
35. Gilt - Katherine Longshore
36. Lucid - Adrienne Stolz and Ron Bass
37. The Mapmaker & the Ghost - Sarvenaz Tash
38. A World Away - Nancy Grossman
39. Keeping Safe the Stars - Sheila O'Connor
40. Gold Medal Summer - Donna Freitas
41. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy - Nikki Loftin
42. This is Not a Drill - Beck McDowell
43. Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson

44. Jump Into the Sky - Shelley Pearsall
45. Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
46. What Came From the Stars - Gary D. Schmidt
47. Forge - Laurie Halse Anderson
48. Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers
49. Son - Lois Lowry
50. Ungifted - Gordon Korman
51. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
52. Capture the Flag - Kate Messner
53. Edge of Nowhere - Elizabeth George

54. Nerve - Jeanne Ryan
55. Burning Blue - Paul Griffin
56. The Great Unexpected - Sharon Creech
57. Malcolm at Midnight - W. H. Beck
58. Ten - Gretchen McNeil
59. Lindsey Lost - Suzanne Phillips
60. The Diviners - Libba Bray
61. Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

62. What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang
63. critique partner's YA novel
64. Third Grade Angels - Jerry Spinelli
65. Beholding Bee - Kimberly Newton Fusco
66. Space Station Seventh Grade - Jerry Spinelli
67. The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
68. Every Day - David Levithan

69. Empty - K.M. Walton
70. If I Lie - Corrine Jackson
71. True Colors - Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
72. Popular - Alissa Grosso (paperback I purchased at PAYA)
73. Pretty Crooked -- Elisa Ludwig (hardcover I purchased at PAYA)
74. Dying to Know You - Aidan Chambers
75. Seven Tales of Trinket -- Shelley Moore Thomas (hardcover purchased from indie bookstore)
76. Glass Heart -- Amy Garvey
77. Unspoken -- Sarah Rees Brennan
78. Liar & Spy -- Rebecca Stead

79. The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons - Barbara Mariconda
80. Lovely, Dark and Deep -- Amy McNamara (hardcover from S&S)
81. Breathe - Sarah Crossan
82. A Dog Called Homeless -- Sarah Lean
83. Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities -- Mike Jung (hardcover purchased from indie bookstore)
84. Touching the Surface - Kim Sabatini (hardcover from S&S)
85. Ask the Passengers - A.S. King
86. The Secret Underground - Natalie Bahm (paperback purchased to help Baby Jayden)
87. The Brides of Rollrock Island

88. Double Vision - F.T. Bradley
89. The Tide-Changers -- Sandy Green (paperback purchased from Amazon)
90. Through to You - Emily Hainsworth
91. The Flight - C.F. Runyan (old paperback I've read before)
92. Circle of Secrets - Kimberley Griffiths Little (hardcover won from Deb Marshall)
93. A Tale of Time City - Diana Wynne Jones (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
94. A Thunderous Whisper - Christina Diaz Gonzalez (hardcover won from Medeia Sharif)
95. Recipe for Trouble - Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk (paperback won from Jennifer Rumberger)
96. Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli

97. Hattie Ever After - Kirby Larson
98. When We Wake - Karen Healy
99. Dead End in Norvelt - Jack Gantos
100. A String in the Harp - Nancy Bond (paperback lent by a friend)
101. Storm in the Barn - Matt Phelan

So I've read more than 100 books and December isn't over yet. If you have questions about any of these books, feel free to ask!  Which one's my favorite?  Oh gosh, I couldn't possibly pick ONE favorite. For YA, I'd have to say The Fault in Our Stars, but Small Damages and Devine Intervention both hold a special place in my heart. For MG, I love Wonder, but also What Came From the Stars, and Malcolm at Midnight. Of course, I also loved The One and Only Ivan (but I read it last year!). One of those books had better win a Newbery.

For the next few weeks I'll be taking a blogging break to spend time with my family and to work on my third novel. In January,  I hope to be querying my second novel, but I'm also joining Katia Raina's 31-Minute a Day Challenge.  If you've never checked out Katia's blog, you should hop right over there. She's a lovely young writer I met at the New Jersey SCBWI conference last year, and her first novel is coming from namelos in 2013! Join the challenge! All it takes is a commitment to work on your project (whatever it is) for 31 minutes a day, every day, throughout the month of January. And there's a prize for a random winner at the end! Sign up on Katia's blog.
See you in a few weeks. Enjoy your holidays!

24 Comments on What I've Read So Far -- And a January challenge, last added: 12/23/2012
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48. Books I Liked and Loved in 2012

2012allbooks3I was going through the books that I read in 2012 and thought perhaps someone out there was looking for a book to buy as a gift or line up to read in 2013.  I received a bookstore gift card for Christmas and bought The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, because Natalie Zaman said it was great and Executive Editorial Director at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.  I was not disappointed, except for the fact that I had to wait until the end of the year to read book two, The Days of Blood and Starlight.

So, I spent the rest of the money on buying Delirium and Divergent, because they both started with D and I couldn’t remember which of the two was recommended.  I bet the reason I couldn’t remember was because both were recommended, because there I was again wanting more and the next books were not as of yet written – Pandemonium and Insurgent.

Debut author Veronica Roth burst onto the literary scene with Divergent, the first book in her dystopian thriller series filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I love the way Lauren Oliver writes.  The way she forms her sentences.  How she describes things. Marry that talent with a great story and you really have something memorable.  I didn’t know who she was until I picked up delirium and now I am a big fan.  Can’t wait to read the third book, Requiem and her first book, Before I Fall, which is sitting on my piano calling to me.

Many times the first book of a series is the best, but I think pandemonium was even better than the first. When I reached the final paragraph of the book, I closed it and said, “Perfect.”

You will notice that each of these books does not capitalize the first letter of their title.  Can anyone tell me whether you do the same when you are writing about the book.  You will find it both ways in this post, because I do not know which is correct.  Any help out there?

If you decide to read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, which I loved, I would pick up both books and read them one right after the other, since I had a hard time remembering the names of the characters and who was who after leaving a year between books. I should have gotten up and read a few chapters of the first one before I started reading, but I was too lazy to get up and familiarize myself the first book again.  Not because there was anything wrong with the writing, but I had read so many other books during that in between time that I was mixing all the characters up.

The same thing happened with Divergent and Insurgent.  The author is so intimate with their books and characters that they probably never think about all those books in-between. This did not happen with Delirium and Pandemonium.

So now you won’t have that problem when you read the first book, you will be able to run out and get the second one to read.  They are wonderful books.

Then came Matched - About Cassia who has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when her best friend, Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, she knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees another boys Ky’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

I gobbled it up and will not have to wait to read the next two books - Crossed, which is waiting for me and Reached, which come out last month. Love the covers of these books, too.

Since I enjoyed so many dystopian books, I picked up Legend.

Once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths–until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

This book is full of action, suspense, and romance. I loved this book and can’t wait to get my hands on the next book, Prodigy, which comes out at the end of January.

Continuing on my search for more books along these lines of fantasy and dystopian novels, I found The Girl of Fire and Thorns and another debut author who nailed her first book.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

He’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young, like most of the chosen do.

A 2012 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist

One thing that I really liked about this story was how Rae Carson managed to write a story about a princess that was fat without calling her fat and how the situation she puts the princess in caused her to lose weight without the princess being put down and struggling to lose the weight to be accepted.  You just see her end up being slim and how it pays off for her.  Her weight was not the main story.  I just thought she wove that layer into the story with such finesse.

Then Glenn Beck came out with a book titled, Agenda 21, which is written by Harriet Parke.  I thought she did a good job writing the story of after the worldwide implementation of a UN-led program called Agenda 21.  When America is simply known as “the Republic.” There is no president. No Congress. No Supreme Court. No freedom. There are only the Authorities.

Citizens have two primary goals in the new Republic: to create clean energy and to create new human life. Those who cannot do either are of no use to society. This bleak and barren existence is all that eighteen-year-old Emmeline has ever known. She dutifully walks her energy board daily and accepts all male pairings assigned to her by the Authorities. Like most citizens, she keeps her head down and her eyes closed. Until the day they come for her mother.

I enjoyed the book, but it left me feeling like the full story was not told. After all other dystopian type novels I read this year, I felt like I had read half of a story, like it was just going to take off.  Perhaps there is going to be a sequel, but there should have been more story to this one.  Still worth reading and certainly it was a huge opportunity for Harriet Parke to have Glenn Beck put his name on the book - her first novel.  After the end of the story Glenn writes about the real Agenda 21 and how it came about and what it is all about.

After having heard about Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reason Why for years, I decided to read it.  I knew it was about teenage suicide, which was the reason I hadn’t picked it up sooner. It is an excellent book, well written, creatively written, and though it was sad in parts, it was also a page turner and did not leave you on a downer.  I kicked myself for not reading it sooner.

I did the same thing with Jerry’s Spinelli’s MilkweedI had read all of Jerry’s books, except for Milkweed, because it was about the Holocaust.  I guess by now you can tell I don’t like to be depressed by a book.  When I finally read Milkweed and closed the book, I said, “What was I thinking?  It was written by Jerry Spinelli.  You should have known it would be good.  In the middle of something so horrific, he wove in humor and showed how even in the worst of times, people try to live, love, and find happiness.”  If you haven’t read these books because you thought they would depress you, run, don’t walk to add them to your list of books to read.

I am a big Laurie Halse Anderson fan.  I have read all her books and this year re-read Twisted.  I love this book.  Everyone talks about Speak (which I agree is good), but in my opinion this one is better.  The protagonist is a teenage boy and she really has that voice nailed down.  The first time I read it, I kept closing the book and looking at the name Laurie and wondering if possibly I was mistaken  that Laurie was a woman and really was a man.  Though I am still upset about reading Chains without knowing that is was part of a series.  I ran out to get Forged without knowing that it was a series of three.  If you haven’t read these books, please wait until 2014, because that is when the third book comes out and you won’t be tormented by having to wait to read the whole thing.

Now how did I end up buying four of Libba Bray’s books?  Libba was speaking at an SCBWI event.  I hadn’t read any of her books, but she is a very interesting speaker, so I decided I would buy a couple of her books and get them signed.  I didn’t have time to really to browse the books, so I picked up  Rebel Angel (I liked the cover) Going Bovine and got her to sign both.  They sat in my pile of books to read, until this year.  When I read the flap of Going Bovine, I decided I wasn’t up to reading about a dying boy, so I read Rebel Angels first and really enjoyed the book.  There were some references to backstory in the book, so I did some further investigating and found out that I had picked up the second book, , of a three book series.  But you know, that book really was able to stand alone.  I totally enjoyed the book, so I had to go out and buy the first, A Great and Terrible Beauty and the third A Sweet Far Thing, which I will get to in 2013.

Libba is a good writer and I did read Going Bovine and enjoyed it, but it is very different and I worried about his parents at the end, even though we see him go off to a better place.  It did not leave me feeling bad, so that was a good thing.

The this past June, editor Leila Sales was part of the faculty and picked up her two books at the bookfair – Mostly Good Girls and Past Perfect.  And because she is an editor and I am a writer, I was looking for things I could say she should have done better.  Mostly Good Girls was Leila’s first book and it had a sexy legs cover, so I started with that expecting to get a book where the girls were edgy.  First let me emphasize I did enjoy the book, but I didn’t get edgy and I found some spots where I could be nit-picky and say she could have done more here or there.

But when I started reading Past Perfect, I was sucked right in and wanted to keep reading until I was done.  The setting was perfect -  set in Williamsburg, so I guess the title is a perfect fit.  I was thinking it was going to have something to do with language (too much writing on this end).  Reminded me of the time I taught art in high school.  I told the kids the first day that we would get into graphics and I had a half of dozen kids drop the class.  I later found out that the thought I was going to do math in the art class – graphics – graphs – see the connection?

Every year I try to read a few if the Newbery books – the new ones and some that are sitting in my pile of books too read.  This year I read Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool which was the 2011 Medal Winner, Turtle in Paradise, which won the 2011 Honor award, and The Graveyard Book, which won the Newbery Medal for 2009.

Newbery Medal Winner: Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos book is still waiting for me (I ran out of time).  You can not go wrong when you pick up a Newbery winning book, so if you are a writer, or a well published author, you should read these books.

At the end of 2011 I picked up Okay for Now, because Editor Daniel Nayeri had talked about it in one of his workshops and said how good it was.  He was right.  I would say it is a perfect middle grade novel. I thought it should have gotten a Newbery for it.  Gary D. Schmidt won a Newbery Honor for Wednesday Wars, so I went out and bought that book.  I really enjoyed that book, too and I like the way some of the characters were tied into Okay for Now.  If you are writing Middle grade book, especially for boys, I would read both of these books.

You might wonder why I read Cirque Du Freak. A few years ago editor Connie Hsu at Little, Brown BFYR mentioned the series, so I picked up the first one and read it.  There are 12 to this series that Darren Shan wrote.  They are excellent, scary, and well written.  J.K. Rowling’s said: “Fast-paced and compelling, full of satisfying macabre touches.” There is a movie, too.

This book is the second of the series.  You might ask, why did you wait to read more when you say they are excellent?  Well, we are back to my little quirk of not wanting to feel bad after reading a book.  I loved the first book, but the premise of the story is to save his friend’s life the boy must go with the Vampire and be his apprentice, but in order to do that he has to become part vampire.  The Vampire fakes the boy’s death and you see the parents morning his death.  I am still bothered by that and worry about his parents.  This year I did some research and it looks like he makes it back to his parents in the end, so I decided I was going to read the rest of the series.  I would say, if you are thinking of getting these book for a young middle grade child, it might be too scary for them, but the story telling is exciting.

Kate DiCamillo was the keynote speaker at the 2012 NJSCBWI Conference, so I bought Because of Winn-Dixie and Tale of the Despereaux, which own the Newbery Award on 2004 Because of Winn-Dixie was given a Newbery Honor Award in 2001.  So like I said you can’t go wrong reading these books.  Both are short, so it isn’t going to take you long to read.  I actually wasn’t ready to read Tale of Despereaux, but it was sitting on my table and I picked it up and opened it in the middle of the book and read a few sentences.  Little did I know I would want to keep reading.  It is the only book where I read the second half and then the first half.

Play, Louise, Play was sent to me by author Muriel Harris Weinstein when I started working on her website.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed the book.  It is non-fiction and I didn’t expect such lovely writing, plus she had an extremely interesting story to tell – Good writing – good story = good book.  It won THE 2012 PATERSON PRIZE FOR  BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE for Grades 4 -6.  It also was one of 11 books that won the Texas Blue Bonnet Award, which means an automatic purchase of over 20,000 books.

Ame Dyckman and Leeza Hernandez both had picture book come out this year and both are friends.  I have seen both of them and their careers grow and I am so happy for them.

Ame sent me her manuscript before she was going to send it out and as soon as I read it, I knew she and (it) was getting published.  Steve Meltzer (Dial) met her and read her manuscript.  He went up to Scott Treimel  and told him he should think about representing Ame and that is exactly what he did.  The rest is history.  Boy+ Bot is Ame’s first book published, but she already a number of additional picture books in the cue with publishers. I don’t remember when the second one hits, but if you read this blog regularly, you will know.

Leeza Hernandez started out as an illustrator and was inspired to write her own picture book after coming up with an adorable illustration of a dog.  Penguin saw the dog and immediately contracted the book.  Here book Dog Gone came out in June.  Both of these books are adorable – great artwork and great story. Leeza has a ton of things going on more picture books that she is illustrating for big name people and more books written and illustrated by her.  Both of these people are  writers to watch.  They are going to be big names in the industry.  Leeza was featured on Illustrator Saturday Click Here to see.

As most of you know I do Jerry and Eileen Spinelli’s websites, so I read all their books.  Of course that is not a problem, because the two of them write wonderful books.  It seems like Eileen is good for five or six book every year.  She always ends up with a fantastic illustrator, so all her books are special.  I do have a favorite and I bring it out and many times to show other writers, friends and children.  That book is When You are Happy.  That book is so beautiful – so much soul.  The perfect book for a parent or grandparent to give their child.  Every time I read it, I remember how much my parents loved me and that they sent this book to me to remind me of their love.  I see this book as a treasure that children will want to hold on to and remember that same feeling when they are adults.

Cold Snap is a gorgeous book.  The snow sparkles on the cover and pages.  It really has the WOW factor and would be a great present for someone this time of year.

Together at Christmas combines Eileen’s perfect rhyme and caring soul with beautiful illustrations from a wonderful new illustrator from China.  Bin Lee captures the true spirit of Christmas with his illustrations.  Take a look when you are in the book store.

Eileen you can catch a glimpse of the funny side of Eileen in Miss Fox’s Class Gets It Wrong. Ann Kennedy created the illustration for the perfect fit to this book.

Dianne Ochiltree sent me her picture book, Molly by Golly: The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter. I featured Kathleen Kemly the illustrator this year on Illustrator Saturday and showed you a lot of the artwork before the book came out.  It is really a great picture book that perfectly combines story with art.  Click here to view Kathleen Kemly Illustrator Saturday post.

Then I featured author/illustrator Roger Roth on Illustrator Saturday and he was kind enough to send me two books that I admired – The Roller Coaster and a book that his wife wrote and he illustrated titled, Star of the Week.  They adopted an Asian baby girl (she is no longer a baby), but they wrote this book for her and you can just feel the love they have for her oozing from the pages. BEAUTIFUL!  Click here to see Roger’s feature.  Most of the artwork is there for your pleasure.

Another talented featured author/illustrator, Carlyn Beccia sent me one of her picture books, probably because she knew I loved her artwork, so when I found a copy of Who Put the B in the Ballyhoo?  I snatch it up. The artwork in this book  is awesome.  I’m a big fan. Click here to see Carlyn’s Illustrator Saturday post.

Then Kathi Ember sent me a copy of one of her picture books, Mother’s Day Surprize, after she was featured on Illustrator Saturday.  It is about a snake named Violet who watches the other animals make Mother’s Day gift for their mom’s and tires to think of something nice that she can make for her mother.  I love Kathie’s illustrations.  You can see her work by clicking here.

Ame Dyckman sent me I Want My Hat Back written and illustrated by Jon Klassen when I was getting my knee replaced.  I hadn’t read any of his books, but it is another perfect picture book.  Thanks Ame for introducing him to me.

On Black Friday, Amazon had a great deal on a Kindle Fire, so I bought myself a Christmas present.  My first purchase for the Kindle was Stephen King’s book ON WRITING.  Who would think a “how to” book could be so interesting and such a good read.  I love the way he talks about problems and solutions with his own books and ties in the events in his life that influenced his books and how he give you such straight talk about how to approach writing a novel. I am so glad I listened to the writers around me telling me to buy the book.  Love it!  Stephen King’s On Writing Book is the first “How to” book that I have read from cover to cover.

Everyone one says you have to read to be a good writer.  Stephen reads about 80 a year and  he says that is low.

I won Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K. L. Going at the June NJSCBWI conference and like her advice in this book.  She is an author and used to be a literary agent.  I use it mostly as reference and pull it out and read sections, when I need some guidance.

If you have any suggestions on what I should add to this year’s book list, please let me know.  Right now I have the following:

Before I Fall – Lauren Oliver

Everyday – David Levithan

Crossed – Allyson Condie

Reached – Allyson Condie

Prodigy – Marie Lu

Crown of Embers – Rae Carson

Requiem – Lauren Oliver

Dead End at  Norvelt – Gantos

A Sweet and Far Thing – Libba Bray

Cirque Du Freak – Book 3

Killing Kennedy Bill O’Reilly

Can you help me fill my list?

Talk tomorrow,


101-Websites-225x300IT IS TIME TO NOMINATE WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING www.kathytemean.wordpress.com for the WRITER’S DIGEST’S 101 BEST WEBSITES FOR WRITERS!

If you have enjoyed the articles and information you received everyday this year, please help by dominating my blog. Submit an email to writersdigest@fwmedia.com to nominate my blog www.kathytemean.wordpress.com

I would greatly appreciate your help.


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, Middle Grade Novels, picture books, Publishing Industry, Young Adult Novel Tagged: favorite books, Lauren Oliver, Newbery winning books, On Writing, Recommendations

10 Comments on Books I Liked and Loved in 2012, last added: 12/20/2012
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49. Opportunity! Jerry Spinelli’s Northeast Hokey Pokey Book Tour

I know so many people love Jerry and Eileen Spinelli, especially if they have met them. Below is Jerry’s schedule for his HOKEY POKEY Book Tour. You will notice Jerry and Eileen are going to be together in PA and then Jerry goes off to DC, PA, MA, and NY. If you live in any of those areas, you might even want to let the teachers you know of the opportunity. They are always e-mailing me to see if I can get Jerry to visit their school. They might like the chance to ask him in person.


Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Book Stores, Book Tour, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity Tagged: Book Tour, Eileen Spinelli, Hokey Pokey, Jake & Lily, Jerry Spinelli

4 Comments on Opportunity! Jerry Spinelli’s Northeast Hokey Pokey Book Tour, last added: 1/2/2013
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50. SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant

WIP bannerThe SCBWI Work-In-Progress Grants are designed to assist children’s book writers and illustrators in the completion of a specific project, and are made possible by a generous grant from Amazon.com. Grants for first place ($2000) and runner up ($500) are awarded in each one of seven different categories:

  • General Work-In-Progress grant
  • Grant for a contemporary novel for young people
  • Nonfiction research grant including Anna Cross Giblin Award
  • Grant for work by an unpublished author
  • Grant for work from a multi-cultural/minority perspective
  • Barbara Karlin Grant for unpublished picture book writers.
  • Don Freeman Grant for unpublished picture book illustrators.

In any given year, an applicant may apply for ONE Work in Progress Grant. The Grant for an Unpublished Author may not be applied for — it will be chosen by the judges from all the entries in the other Work-In-Progress categories. If you check “unpublished” on the application form, and your status as such is verified, you will be automatically entered for this additional grant. Please note: All grants must now be submitted electronically.  Please read the new guidelines carefully before applying. Submissions: The Work-in-Progress grants are going electronic! Only PDFs will be accepted!

 Eligibility: The Grants are available all current SCBWI members.  Your membership must be current through the date the award is given (September 2013). The grants are not available for projects on which there are already contracts. Grant Amounts: Seven Grants of $2,000 will be awarded annually, one in each category. Seven Runner-Up Grants of $500 will also be awarded, one in each category. Authors of other projects cited by the judges as noteworthy will receive a Letter of Merit. In any given year, the SCBWI Grant Committee reserves the right to withhold the grant for that year.
Deadline: Completed application and accompanying materials must be received between February 15th and March 15th. The recipients of the grants will be announced in September.
Application materials and full guidelines:

If you are a member of the SCBWI, you should take advantage of these contest.  There is plenty of time to get something put together.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Competition, Contest, earn money, Middle Grade Novels, opportunity, picture books, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Amazon Grant, Grant Money for Writers, SCBWI

1 Comments on SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant, last added: 1/21/2013
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