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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: sarah lapolla, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 13 of 13
1. Literary vs. Commerical Fiction

Don’t be afraid of the difference between literary and commercial fiction like these Scaredy Scouts illustrated by B.L. Bachmann below. B.L. is a writer and illustrator living in Los Angeles. Her mission is to make people smile, and even giggle :) See more at http://www.blbachmann.com

scardeyscoutsI spent last week running two writer’s retreats in Avalon, NJ. The agents at the first retreat were Sarah LaPolla from Bradford Literary and Carly Watters from P.S. Literary. The agents at the second retreat were Ammi-Joan Paguette from Erin Murphy Agency and Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties. 

It was a gorgeous week. Everyone received a full manuscript critique with an agent and a full manuscript critique from everyone in their group. I have to say, I think both of the sessions were the best retreats I have put together. The agents were top notched and each writer  in each group took extreme care with their critiques, so we walked away with lots of ideas for revisions and with many doors open with the agents. On top of that, everyone meshed well and we had a tons of fun. Can’t think of anything that was missing. 

Sarah-Bradford-Lit-photoDuring the week the question came up about the difference between Literary Fiction and Commercial Fiction. Lucky for us, Sarah LaPolla had written an explanation  on her blog and gave me permission to post it on Writing and Illustrating.

Here is Sarah:

I don’t think writers should get too hung up on labels, but it’s important to know what genre you’re writing. You’re expected to give an agent an immediate sense of where they can sell your book, but even more than that you should be able to know who you’ll be next to on a bookshelf so that you can read your comparison titles accordingly.

Figuring out thriller vs. mystery vs. suspense or paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy vs. supernatural horror can be difficult, I know. In these cases, it’s best to just choose the closest and let a professional decide the best way they can sell it. But the line between literary and commercial isn’t as vague. You shouldn’t claim your book is literary fiction if it isn’t. For one, it’s rare you’ll find an agent who looks for literary fiction and genre fiction with the same fervor, if they take on both at all. You don’t want to get a rejection based on a mislabel. Secondly, literary fiction is quite different than genre fiction, and not learning the difference can reflect a lack of research on your part.

The common argument, however, is that all books are technically literary. Right? Well, yes and no. Saying all books are literary is like saying all Young Adult novels are about characters under 25. The genre labels can be misleading, which is why it’s important to know what they mean.

If you’re unsure about which you’ve written, here’s a quick definition of each:

Literary fiction: The focus is on character arc, themes (often existential), and the use of language. I like to compare literary fiction authors to runway designers. The general public isn’t mean to wear the clothes models display on the runway. They exist to impress the other designers and show the fashion industry what they can do. Literary writing is a lot like that, but on a more accessible level. Many dismiss literary fiction as “too artsy” and “books without a plot,” but this isn’t true. At least not most of the time. The plot is there; it’s just incidental. Literary fiction is meant to make the reader reflect, and the author will almost always prefer a clever turn of phrase over plot development.

Commercial fiction: For the purposes of this blog post, I’ve been using this interchangeably with genre fiction. Basically, all genre fiction is commercial, but not all commercial fiction is genre. There is also “upmarket” commercial fiction, which I’ll get to later. Unlike literary fiction, genre fiction is written with a wide audience in mind (aka “commercial”) and always focuses on plot. There is still character development in genre fiction, but it is not as necessary. Characters get idiosyncratic quirks, clever dialogue, and often learn something new about life or themselves by the end. The difference is that their traits are only skin deep. The reader stays with them in the present. Rarely do we see a character’s past unless there is something pertinent to the plot back there. Genre fiction has a Point A and a Point B, and very little stands in the way of telling that story.

Keep in mind that an agent or editor will rarely prefer you to play with these formats, especially if you’re a debut author trying to find (and build) your audience. If you’re writing a plot-driven genre novel that adheres to a sci-fi, romance, or thriller structure, don’t try to load it with literary devices and huge character back-stories that aren’t relevant to the plot. It won’t impress an agent if you have a super literary genre novel. It will more likely confuse us and make your book harder to sell.

“Upmarket” fiction is where things get tricky. Books like The Help, Water for Elephants, Eat, Pray, Love, and authors like Nick Hornby, Ann Patchet, and Tom Perrotta are considered “upmarket.” Their concept and use of language appeal to a wider audience, but they have a slightly more sophisticated style than genre fiction and touch on themes and emotions that go deeper than the plot.

With debut authors, I think the main source of uncertainty tends to come from what they set out to write vs. what they actually write. Genre fiction is written with a clear purpose. The author has an idea and writes a story to accomplish their goal. Literary fiction can be more accidental. A writer may start with an idea, and then discover along the way that they don’t want to write about that anymore. They’ve fallen for their character’s personal tale or the images they want to evoke within the reader. If the writing ends up falling somewhere in the middle, then it might be considered “upmarket.” Or, it could mean it needs more focus one way or the other.

What’s important to remember is that none of these types of fiction is better than the other. It’s all about personal preference, based on what you like to read and how you write. If an agent doesn’t represent a certain genre, it doesn’t mean he or she think it’s bad. It just means you’re better off with someone else. Be aware that a genre label can influence an agent, but be honest about what your genre is. It wastes everyone’s time – most importantly, yours – if you try to guess what you think agents want. We want books we can fall in love with that fall under in genres and styles we represent, whether they’re young adult, adult genre fiction, or literary to a Proustian degree. That’s all.

You should drop by and take a look at Sarah’s blog: http://glasscasesblog.blogspot.com/ Sarah has agreed to be a Guest Blogger in the near future on a different subject, but another enjoyable post that will broaden your knowledge.

Thanks Sarah for sharing.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, demystify, need to know, reference Tagged: Bradford Literary, Commercial Fiction definition, Literary Fiction definition, Sarah LaPolla

2 Comments on Literary vs. Commerical Fiction, last added: 9/30/2014
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2. Free Fall Friday – Sarah LaPolla

sharonJune illokathy temean art

This fun illustration was sent in from illustrator Sharon Lane Holm. Sharon is an illustrator/author who has over 20 years of experience in children’s book publishing. She has also written and illustrated 2  apps. available on Itunes, “Kids Counting Kitties 1-10, and Kids Counting Kitties 10-1″; available in English and Spanish.

Carolyn Chambers Clark, SECRETS, YA Coming of Age

Logan Spenser roars his convertible across the school parking lot and idles alongside my half-open window. His black leather jacket shines in the morning sun, setting off his chiseled jaw and the beauty of his mocha skin. I’ve seen him in the halls without the reflective sunglasses he’s wearing now. Something buried deep in his eyes tells me he’s been through some rough stuff himself.

He points his finger at me. “Raz Rinaldi! Thief.”

Chelsea gawks at me from the driver’s seat as if to say answer him, Her yellow sunglasses make her pale face look even more like vanilla pudding, while her blonde hair lies in perfect order against the shoulders of her expensive sweater.
“Thief? You’re calling me a thief?” My words tumble out and I want to duck my head, but force myself to pull back my shoulders and glare at him.

He doesn’t answer me, just laughs and zooms off.

My face gets hotter while I tick through my actions of the last week and find the worst thing I’ve done is “forget” to do the dishes my stepmother left in the sink. “What’s he talking about?”
Chelsea, AKA Speed Demon of Ash City High, and the closest thing I have to a friend, shrugs and laughs. “It’s destiny. The hottest guy in school knows your name.”

I love Chelsea, but she gets everything wrong. “I’m not looking for a hot guy. I have to keep my grades up. You know that.”
Chelsea laughs. “You are one boring chick. I can’t think of one reason why I like you.”

HERE’S SARAH:

Carolyn Chambers Clark, SECRETS:

A clear strength to the writing here is the dialogue, which feels realistic and not forced. We don’t yet know these characters, but I felt like I had a good sense of who they are on the page. However, I felt the writing was expository at times. For instance, “Something buried deep in his eyes tells me he’s been through some rough stuff himself” felt like leading the reader in a very specific direction. I’d much rather get to know Logan as the story progressed before I saw the narrator jump to this conclusion. Similarly, the description of Logan in the first paragraph didn’t feel authentic to a teen voice, which surprised me given the way the teens actually speak in dialogue. Shining leather jackets, chiseled jaw, and roaring convertibles gave the impression of the 1950s and, to me, the adjectives used in this paragraph felt dated, or at least from an older perspective, as well. I appreciated how quickly the love interest – and possible conflict – was introduced right on page 1, and I’m interested in Raz’s friendship with Chelsea. Though, when Logan calls Raz a “thief” I expected more context. Is this a joke they share? Why is Chelsea so shocked he knows Raz’s name if they seem to have a natural banter with each other? We move on to Chelsea and Raz driving away before we get a chance to learn more about Logan, even though the novel opens with him.

____________________________________________________

MARK OF THE SIFTER by Laura Rueckert - YA Contemporary Fantasy

Deep in my chest, I could feel it: the girl was asleep. The itch to jump into her dream almost overpowered me, but I lingered in the arched entrance hall of Rainthorpe Manor, the mansion we’d used as home base on Earth the last twenty years. A new recruit had died this morning, and Beatrice would bring her by any moment to meet me. Not even the peaceful glisten of snow through the leaded windows could curb my urge to depart, and I leaned around the corner to check the grandfather clock again.

Beatrice and an older woman with brown, wind-toughened skin materialized in front of me. I nodded to both of them.

“This is the Head Sifter, Seth,” Bee said, gesturing in my direction.

The new Sifter’s eyes flicked to Bee and back to me.

“Welcome.” I didn’t ask her name. The details of her former life had been included in her contract.

Her voice wavered as she asked, “Are you the one shielding it?”

I gave a short nod, and her hard face looked like it might crack. “Thank you. It was horrible.”

Bee caught my eye and raised a finger to show she understood my impatience. “I’ll introduce you to your partner,” she said, drawing the woman from the hall. “And we’ll go over some of your duties.”

“Thank you!” the woman called over her shoulder, but I was already fading out, diving into the dream world of the destroyer.

It was time to find the problem. Stealing, cheating, taunting—despite our normal methods, none under my command were having any luck with the girl who was supposed to annihilate my team of Sifters.

HERE’S SARAH:

Laura Rueckert, MARK OF THE SIFTER

I really liked the voice here. It’s calm without being passive, and I feel like Seth is a narrator I can trust. I wondered, though, about the genre, which is labeled as “contemporary fantasy.” To me this read much more like sci-fi, in both tone and in what was being said. The mention of “home base on Earth” and being part of a mysterious group of “recruits” that jump into dreams have an Inception-like science fiction concept. The idea of dream-jumping is an interesting premise, and I like how this opens with Seth’s desire to jump into this sleeping girl’s mind. It tells me a lot about him as a character with very few details. Though, overall, I was left with more questions about this concept than intrigue. Who is the sleeping girl and why is she not mentioned when Beatrice enters the scene? Is Seth no longer with her at that point? I also wanted the phrase “dream world of the destroyer” explained a bit more. Is “the destroyer” a person? A threat? Why is Seth involved? Without context, it’s hard to get immersed in the world, and in sci-fi – and fantasy – that is the key element in attracting a reader on the first page. I needed to know what a Sifter was in order to know who our main character was, and also know enough about his world to want to learn more.

____________________________________________________

JUST GO AHEAD by Valerie McCammon, Picture Book

My annoying big brother, Patrick Robert, doesn’t think I can do anything right.
I’ll show him.

I tell him I’m going to swing as high as the sun.

“You just go ahead and do that, Nick.”

I pump and I push, flying higher and higher. I’m Astronaut Nick zooming across the Milky Way.

“Fire the rocket boosters.”

I gain speed as I dodge whizzing asteroids.

Clunk! One hits me in the head. [Illo note: acorn falls]

Patrick laughs and walks away.

I tell him I am going to sail across the ocean to rescue the tribal princess.

“You just go ahead and do that.”

I ready my ship. I hoist anchor, and Captain Nick shoves off.

“To the Skeleton Coast.”

The sail billows in the wind as I shout orders to the crew. [Illo note: Swab that deck, sailor. Batten down the hatches, mates. Report to the brig, cadet.]

Uh-oh. Pirates are boarding. [Illo note: dogs jump in]

As the hull fills with water, one last command: “Abandon ship.”

I lunge for shore as Patrick moors the sinking vessel. He sighs as he also rescues the crew.

I remain confident. I tell Patrick I am sure I can find hidden treasure.

“You just go ahead and do that.”

I don my pith helmet and claw through the attic jungle. Patrick trails me from a safe distance.

Hiss! An anaconda, poised to strike. [Illo note: coiled up garden hose]

HERE’S SARAH:

Valerie McCammon, JUST GO AHEAD

As a picture book concept, I thought this was really fun. I love the idea of a younger brother trying to get the attention of his older brother, and the escalations of each attempt. Though, the illustrator notes left little interpretation for the scene. It’s important to use descriptive language in picture books, but the illustrator should be able to add to that vision with their own. Another thing I liked about this book was that Nick’s first attempt at “swinging as high as the sun” was a realistic thing he’d be doing at a playground, and that in his mind it went to a completely fantastical place. But, the next declaration is to “sale across the ocean to rescue the tribal princess.” This, to me, was the fantastical thing in his head, but didn’t fit the pattern you set up of “real thing vs. imagination.” What also confused me a little bit was the opening line, “… doesn’t think I can do anything right.” None of the scenes that follow really demonstrated him trying to do anything “right” so much as trying to prove he can do something amazing. The phrasing there didn’t really set up what the story was going to be about. That said, I think this is a strong concept overall and can be very fun with a few tweaks for consistency.

_______________________________________________________

The Outlands, a middle grade novel by Julie Artz

The first rule the village elders teach us in Graz? Curiosity kills. It’s the first lesson, the last lesson, and just about every lesson in between from what I can tell. They only let up for a sprinkling of history and a dash of survival. I should know. I’m in year seven of this, the final year before apprenticeships start.

So I’m not surprised to see Curiosity Kills written in tidy script on the whiteboard when I walk into class. I slide my bag under my desk and power on the tablet that’s bolted to the desktop. My fingers trace the graffiti on the wooden surface before swiping at the screen and picking up where yesterday’s notes left off.

Paper is scarce so we type everything. It’s a good thing, too, because my chicken-scratches wouldn’t pass muster with my teacher, Ms. Imma. She’s standing at the front of the class now in a dress as neat and precise as her handwriting on the board. The wooden shutters of our tiny schoolroom are opened wide, hoping to capture enough breeze to keep us from roasting. Or falling asleep.

I tap some of her words with a few added “blah, blah, blahs” into my tablet and glance over at Lisbeth, who types like a bird skimming the surface of the creek at a mayfly hatch. Zip. Zip. Zip. She notes every single word, and probably studies them every night before her bedtime prayers. It makes sense, really, because Ms. Imma is her mother.

Lisbeth is the only one of the year sevens who seems happy with the plan the elders have for her. My best friend, Nico, fidgeting at the desk in front of mine, will dig wells with his father, Aitor. Pablo will tend goats. Both jobs involve hard work and a strict master. Lisbeth will become a teacher. She’ll be perfect after years of practice nagging the three of us.

Then there’s me. Unlike the others, I can’t follow in my father’s footsteps. He’s already got an apprentice. My brother Rim. I feel my ears getting hot just picturing the glee on Rim’s face.

HERE’S SARAH:

Julie Artz, THE OUTLANDS

I loved the opening line of this, and the opening paragraph overall is strong as well. It sets up an interesting premise and I was curious to read further to find out just why curiosity kills and what, exactly, this apprenticeship was all about. I liked the voice, but did have a few concerns about word choice. For example, “chicken scratch” felt like an old-fashioned phrase that a MG-aged character wouldn’t refer to himself. I also didn’t know whether a “bird skimming the surface of the creek at a mayfly hatch” was supposed to mean very quick or very carefully. This, of course, might be regional, but the phrasing of it also felt like the voice of someone much older. I couldn’t picture a young person speaking that way, particularly with the use of simile and metaphor. It didn’t feel true to the voice we opened with. I also wasn’t sure if this was a futuristic world. Paper is scarce, but they don’t seem to be typing on anything that doesn’t already exist. The jobs that are described for the other Year Sevens feel very rural, but without any futuristic advancements that may exist. It made me wonder if it isn’t futuristic, why is paper scarce and why does curiosity kill? I think the world could be better developed here. I also didn’t see the narrator very much after that opening paragraph. I was curious why the story itself begins here and where the plot of the novel is set into motion.

_____________________________________________________

Thank you Sarah for sharing your time and expertise with us. We can all learn a lot from reading and first page and hearing what an editor or agent thinks.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Process, Writing Tips Tagged: Bradford Literary Agency, First Page Critiques, Free Fall Friday - Results, Kids Counting Kitties, Sarah LaPolla, Sharon Lane Holm

0 Comments on Free Fall Friday – Sarah LaPolla as of 6/27/2014 12:25:00 AM
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3. Avalon Full Manuscript Writer’s Retreat

Each fall I put on a Writer’s Retreat in Avalon, NJ. The nice thing about this retreat is that it consists of a small group of advanced children’s writers with two children’s publishing agents, plus everyone receives:

1. A full manuscript critique from one of the agents

2. A full manuscript group critique

3. A 30-50 page critique with the other agent

4. A first page session with agents,

5. Additional fun group activities, plus lots of time with the agents.

I have two available spots, if you are interested.

There are Two Retreat Sessions – Each with two groups of five -  All agents are interested in MG and YA. Here are the main details.

Place: An upscale house with 8 bedrooms, 7.5 baths, heated pool, and elevator in Avalon, NJ

Cost: $795 – $910 according to room. Cost includes room, food, and critiques.

First Session Dates: Arriving noon on September 21st – departing by 10 am on September 24th.

carly-watters-p-s-literary-agencyAgent Carly Watters from PS Literary

Carly is actively looking for new Middle Grade and Young Adult clients. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career.

Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial fiction, literary thrillers, upmarket non fiction, and all genres of YA. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

She has sold 5 books 2-YA(both two book deals), 1-MG(two book deal), and 2-nonfiction in the past year. They were all very nice deals. Visit http://www.carlywatters.com for a more extensive list of books sold.

Sarah-Bradford-Lit-photoAgent Sarah LaPolla from Bradford Literary

Sarah represents YA and adult fiction. On the adult side, she is looking for literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, and upmarket commercial and/or women’s fiction. For YA, she is interested in contemporary/realistic fiction that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of adolescence. YA sci-fi, horror, mystery, and magical realism are also welcome; and she would love to find a modern Judy Blume for the MG market. No matter what genre, Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters, engaging narrators, and a story that’s impossible to put down.

Sarah has sold 4 books in the last six month 3 YA and 1 MG, which was a two book deal

Second Session Dates: Arriving noon on September 25th – departing by September 28th by 10 am.

ammi-joan-paquette-150Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette from Erin Murphy Literary

Amy specializes in children’s publishing. She has sold 12 MG’s and 4 YA’s and numerous picture books in the last year.

She also is a published author and her new book, PETEY AND PRU AND THE HULLABALOO was on the Kirkus Review 2014 Nominated books.

Heather AlexanderAgent Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties

Heather who was an editor at Dial just started with Holly McGhee at Pippin Properties and of course is looking for clients.

Heather is looking for new talent from a broad range of children’s book authors and illustrators, from picture books through young adult, including graphic novels. She’s most interested in unique characters, strong voices, and quirky humor.

Each year I open a few spots to new writers. If you are interested in joining us, please email me if you want one of the open spots. I will need to know what you will submit – MG, YA, NA, genre such as sci-fi, fantasy, contemporary, romance, thrillers, mystery, etc. The first five pages and a synopsis (if you have not written a synopsis, then just write something up about the story).

Please email me with a little blurb about you, two pages and a synopsis, plus what you are writing. Example: MG Contemporary Time travel book – 40,000 words – 160 pages. If you are interested in joining the group. Click here to see pictures from last year: http://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/recap-of-avalon-writers-retreat/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, Events, opportunity, revisions, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Carly Watters, Heather Alexander, Sarah LaPolla

4 Comments on Avalon Full Manuscript Writer’s Retreat, last added: 6/19/2014
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4. Band-Aid Editing Tips Before Querying an Agent

In a blog post, Curtis Brown literary agent Sarah LaPolla (pictured, via) recommended five “band-aid editing” tips for fixing a manuscript before sending it to an agent.

LaPolla first advised that authors avoid sentences that begin with a conjunction. Here is an excerpt from the post: “Sometimes standalone sentences that begin with ‘And’ can be used for emphasis. And that’s OK. Other sentences, however, can end up sounding like a mere continuation of the previous sentence, making them sound weaker in comparison.”

LaPolla’s other tips elaborate on how to steer clear of weak sentences, redundant points, and the passive voice. Can you think of other “band-aids” that would be helpful? (via Elizabeth S. Craig)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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5. Interesting posts about writing – w/e May 13th 2011


  
 
Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:
 
Is the second novel really easier? (Douglas W. Jacobson)
 
Launching a Book (Elizabeth Spann Craig)
 
The Case for Putting a Manuscript in the Drawer (Nathan Bransford)
 
10 Signs of a Typical Writing Day (Elspeth Antonelli)
 
Asking a Published Author to Read Your Work (Rachelle Gardner)
 
Do You Really Need an Author Blog if You’re on Facebook or Twitter? (Judy Dunn)
 
My Inevitable Prologue Post (Sarah LaPolla)
 
Reader Impact: Why you should preorder (Mike Kabongo aka [info]onyxhawke)
 
Penguin’s Book Country (Jim C. Hines aka [info]jimhines)

 

(Read more ...)

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6. Interesting posts about writing – w/e September 23rd 2011

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

(Read more ...)

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7. Top Ten Reasons DFWcon 2012 Rocked Like Grohl

I belong to a great writers’ workshop, and we put on a writers’ conference every year. And this year, DFWcon melted my face off like Dave Grohl rocking during a Foo Fighters’ encore set.

Lemme give you 10 reasons why:

1. I met my agent, Sara Crowe, in person, for the first time ever!!! She’s so phenomenal in eleventy-billion ways, and hanging out with her all weekend just confirmed them all. I had so much fun gabbing and getting into shenanigans. (In-N-Out Burgers! Panel Discussions! Bull-Riding at Billy Bob’s!)

2. I met many other publishing professionals, and it turns out that PR genius Mer Barnes, and super agents Sarah LaPolla and Jennie Goloboy are just as crazy cool as you’d expect. (Psst…they aren’t bad at Texas two-stepping either.) And editor Stacey Barney? When she talks about YA, drop your fork and take notes. Her taste in good books (and dessert) is impeccable.

3. Alec Shane is at Writers’ House. He’s also a former Hollywood STUNTMAN. Dude. Fo Realz. He might not have an official action figure, but hey, google his IMDB page. Then award 1,000,001 street cred points for appearing in a flick called MAXIMUM CAGE FIGHTER. And award another 1,000,001 points for championing boy YA books. (Note to self: Write heartbreaking, edgy YA about a seventeen-year-old mixed martial arts master. Who cage fights. In Post-Apocalyptic Detroit.)

4. There’s a coffee shop in Hurst called ROOTS. They make blackberry green tea Chai lattes. That taste like warm blackberry cobbler. Don’t tell me how many calories are in a Venti. I don’t want to know.

5. Author Rosemary Clement-Moore is a perfect hotel roommate. She doesn’t snore, she doesn’t hog all the hot water, and you can totally pick her brain at 1:00 a.m.

6. Kate Cornell is the world’s best agent wrangler. She gets your agent coffee, packs a mean conference survival kit, tells perfect anecdotes, and absolutely, positively doesn’t hold it against you when you have to drive back to Abuelo’s and kidnap her because you couldn’t figure out the right exit to get to the airport.

7. DFWcon attendees are charming and sweet and 100% inspiring. When you teach a session, they don’t heckle you and they ask great questions. When they practice pitch you, they blow you away with high concept premises (Hey, Sally Hamiltinez!) and well-developed ideas. (Hello, MR. SECULAR APOCALYPSE, I’m talking to YOU.)

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8. Homework Help Tip – Additional First Page Critiquer for April

NJSCBWI_2014_Banner_regonline

This month everyone who submits a First Page for critique will have double the opportunity to get their page critiqued, since we have two Guest Critiquers for April.

I announced Agent SAMANTHA BREMEKAMP from the Corvisiero Literary Agency on Free Fall Friday’s post and today I want everyone to know that JENNA POCIUS from Bloomsbury has agreed to read four first pages, too.

Jenna’s information is below. Also, I have listed the Guest for May and June and a number of agents and editors who have been Guest Critiquers in the past. Why am I doing this? Well, here’s my tip:

All these editors and agents will be attending this years New Jersey SCBWI Conference at the end of June. I have provided the link to their critiques next to their name, so you can read about them and go over how they think. It might help you decide on whether you should register for the conference and it definitely will help you decide if you would like a critique with one of them if you go.

If you have already signed up for the conference, it will help you decide who you would like to make sure you meet while you are there.

Even if you can’t attend, this post will give you good information on whether any of the editor/agents are a good fit for your manuscript. Hope you find it helpful.

Jenna PociusJENNA POCIUS, Assistant Editor, Bloomsbury – GUEST CRITIQUER APRIL 2014

Jenna Pocius is an Assistant Editor at Bloomsbury who works on everything from picture books to YA. Before joining Bloomsbury, she worked for Abrams BFYR. She has edited numerous books including Dragon’s Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori, A Soldier’s Secret by Marissa Moss, and the upcoming Mad Scientist Academy series by Matthew McElligott. She’s most interested in YA with strong voice and emotional depth, and she is particularly interested in contemporary realistic fiction, magic realism, and well-crafted fantasy and science fiction with a contemporary voice. She’s interested in middle grade that is quirky and character-driven, particularly girl-centered stories. And she loves picture books that are poignant and sweet or humorously clever. She is also a sucker for dog stories.

samanthafor litagency bioSAMANTHA BREMEKAMP, Junior Agent, Corvisiero Literary Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER APRIL 2014

Samantha Bremekamp started her career in publishing in 2008, and quickly realized that she preferred working directly with authors from the other side of the industry. She runs critique groups and writing groups for fun, as she also loves to write and help others to fulfill their writing ambitions. She is fully aware of how hard of an industry it really is in this day and age. Her favorite writing is children’s, middle grade, young adult, and new adult. There is something so pure about each building block of life these book groups represent. Although there may be a difference between a three year old and a 33 year old, maybe, Samantha finds that all of life’s challenges in these age groups really show the potential for amazing growth in a character. Samantha’s background is in English literature, communications, and Spanish. She really thinks that if a writer is confident and believes in their work, their work will show that without having to showboat to prove it via a pitch. Samantha loves reading Children’s, MG, YA, and NA fiction. She is open to any genre within those age groups, but prefers speculative fiction, mystery, and quirky romance.

quinlanQUINLAN LEE, Agent, Adams LiteraryGUEST CRITIQUER MAY 2014

Quinlan Lee is an agent and a published author of numerous books that help young readers learn to read and love reading. She has been a part of the Adams Literary team since 2008, representing clients in all genres from picture books to YA. She enjoys meeting others who share her love of children’s literature and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and a founding board member of the Charlotte Chapter of the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). Quinlan graduated from Tulane University and has lived all over the United States—from the mountains of Western Colorado to the Garden District of New Orleans to downtown Chicago—and for the past 14 years she’s been happily settled in North Carolina.

Sarah-Bradford-Lit-photoSARAH LaPOLLA, Literary Agent, Bradford Literary GUEST CRITIQUER JUNE 2014

Sarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency in May 2013. Prior to joining the team, Sarah worked for five years in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., and became an associate agent there in 2010. She received her MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008 and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College. Sarah represents YA and adult fiction. On the adult side, she is looking for literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, and upmarket commercial and/or women’s fiction. For YA, she is interested in contemporary/realistic fiction that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of adolescence. YA sci-fi, horror, mystery, and magical realism are also welcome; and she would love to find a modern Judy Blume for the MG market. No matter what genre,
Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters, engaging narrators, and a story that’s impossible to put down.

susan-dobinickSUSAN DOBINICK, Assistant Editor, Farrar Straus Giroux – GUEST CRITIQUER MARCH

Susan Dobinick is an associate editor at Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers. Among other books, she has edited SPIRIT’S KEY, a middle grade magical realism novel about a girl who sees the ghost of her pet dog and solves a mystery on a small southern island, and DEAR YETI, a picture book about two little boy hikers who go searching for the mythical creature. She is looking for quirky but heartfelt picture books, design-centered picture books, heartfelt middle grade, sophisticated YA, and mysteries and ghost stories for all ages. In nonfiction, she likes books with feminist, social justice, and civil rights themes.

allisonmooreALLISON MOORE, Assistant Editor, Little, Brown & Co. – GUEST CRITIQUER FEBRUARY

Allison Moore is an assistant editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She works on a range of titles including picture books by Todd Parr, Marc Brown, Andrea and Brian Pinkney, Sujean Rim, Nancy Tafuri, Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton, and Bob Staake; leveled readers; novelty books by Sandra Magsamen and Matthew Reinhart; and novels by Jewell Parker Rhodes, Sherri Winston, and Karen Healey. Allison is particularly interested in smart picture books that can be appreciated by all ages; unique and memorable illustration styles; early readers with a strong voice; inventive novelty ideas; middle grade stories with interesting settings; and YA novels that encourage readers to consider new points of view. Before working at Little, Brown, she interned at Bloomsbury and Walker Books for Young Readers, Barefoot Books, the Kneerim & Williams literary agency, and Simon & Schuster UK; worked at a bookstore and at her hometown library; and attended the Columbia Publishing Course. Originally from Fair Lawn, NJ, Allison graduated from Boston University and now lives in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter @allisonm610.

mccarthysmall200SEAN McCARTHY, Literary Agent, Sean McCarthy Literary Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER JANUARY 2014

Sean McCarthy began his publishing career as an editorial intern at Overlook Press before moving to the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. He worked as the submissions coordinator and permissions manager before becoming a full-time literary agent. In 2013, he founded his own literary agency. He works on children’s books for all ages, and is actively looking to build his client list. His clients include Zachariah O’Hora, Hyewon Yum, Mark Fearing, Jamie Swenson, Andrea Offermann, Dasha Tolstikova, and Judith Robbins Rose. Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota. He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and boy-friendly mysteries or adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in high fantasy, message-driven stories, or query letters that pose too many questions.

meredith-mundy-headshotsmallMEREDITH MUNDY, Executive Editor, Sterling Publishing – GUEST CRITIQUER APRIL 2013

Meredith Mundy, Executive Editor at Sterling Children’s Books, is nuts about character-centered picture books (recent projects include BROWNIE GROUNDHOG AND THE WINTRY SURPRISE by Susan
Blackaby, RUFUS GOES TO SCHOOL by Kim Griswell, PUDDLE PUG by Kim Norman, and GOODNIGHT SONGS by Margaret Wise Brown), but she is also seeking everything from funny, original board books to unforgettable middle grade novels to gripping YA fiction. (No vampires, angels, werewolves, or dystopian plots, please.) While she enjoys editing lively nonfiction, she wouldn’t be the
right editor for poetry collections or a project geared primarily toward the school and library market.

rachel orr new_headshot1croppedRACHEL ORR, Literary Agent, Prospect Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER FEBRUARY 2013

RACHEL ORR is celebrating her seventh year at Prospect Agency. She previously worked for eight
rewarding years at HarperCollins Children’s Books, and now uses those editorial skills to help prepare her clients’ work for submission. Her clients include a wide-range of picture-book authors, illustrators, and middle-grade/YA novelists, including A.C.E. Bauer (GIL MARSH), Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen (DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE), Cori Doerrfeld (BARNYARD BABY) and Leeza Hernandez (NEVER PLAY MUSIC RIGHT NEXT TO THE ZOO). Rachel lives in Hoboken, New Jersey, with her husband and two young children. She has no spare time—-but, if she did, she would spend it dancing, running and reading, of course.

PAULA SADLER, Assistant Editor, Random House – GUEST CRITIQUER OCTOBER 2012

Paula Sadler is an Assistant Editor at Random House Books for Young Readers. She joined the group in 2012 after three wonderful years at Putnam Children’s. At Random House, Paula currently edits the Totally True Adventures nonfiction chapter book series and the Ballpark Mysteries, as well as the middle grade Oliver and the Seawigs by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. At the moment, Paula is looking for narrative nonfiction writers and chapter book series with a strong hook. In middle grade, humor—whether wry or madcap, nostalgic or plucky—is the key to Paula’s heart. Her wish list includes contemporary escapades with a nerdy twist (think Origami Yoda and The Wednesday Wars), mysteries with a spunky wit (like the Enola Holmes mysteries), and epic adventures with a big heart (like How to Train Your Dragon and The True Meaning of Smekday). In books and in real life, she’s a sucker for strong friendships, pesky siblings, scrappy underdogs, colorful sidekicks, a healthy serving of trouble, and a great big dollop of mischief.

SUSAN HAWK, Literary Agent, The Bent Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER JULY 2012

Susan Hawk is a Literary Agent at The Bent Agency, representing middle grade, YA, picture books, and non-fiction for kids. Projects she represents share powerful and original writing, strong story-telling and a distinctive, sometimes off-kilter voice. In middle-grade and YA, she’s looking for unforgettable characters, rich world-building, and she’s a sucker for bittersweet; bonus points for something that makes her laugh out loud. In picture books, she’s looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and indelible characters. Her favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial. Before
agenting, she spent fifteen years in children’s book marketing at Penguin, Henry Holt and North-South Books; she also worked in Editorial at Dutton Children’s Books, and as a children’s librarian and bookseller. http://www.thebentagency.com @susanhawk

LIZA FLEISSIG, Agent, Liza Royce Agency – GUEST CRITIQUER – AUGUST 2011

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a BSE in Finance, and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with a JD, Liza brings 20 years of litigation and negotiating experience to the field. On the children’s side of publishing, being a mother to a preschooler girl and a pre-teen boy, she is interested in everything from picture books to middle grade and young adult.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Conferences and Workshops, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity Tagged: Allison Moore, April First Page Critique, Jenna Pocius, Quinlan Lee, Samantha Bremekamp, Sarah LaPolla, Susan Dobinick

4 Comments on Homework Help Tip – Additional First Page Critiquer for April, last added: 4/14/2014
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9. Free Fall Friday – June’s Guest Critiquer & Book Give-A-Way Winners

CALL FOR SUMMER ILLUSTRATIONS!

This month we had three give-a-way books:

A picture book titled S IS FOR SEAGLASS written by Poet Richard Michelson and illustrator Doris Ettlinger
A Young Adult novel titled, PANDEMIC written by Yvonne Ventresca
A Young Adult thriller titled, KILLER INSTINCT written by S.E. Green

Here are the three winners:

Nancy Furstinger
Heather Ayris Burnell
Karen Lee Hallam

If you are a winner, please email me your name and address and list the three books in order of preference. Number one being your first choice. First come first serve.

Sarah LaPolla from the Bradford Literary Agency is our Guest Critiquer for June. If you are attending the NJSCBWI Conference make sure you look for her. She is on the faculty.

See Submission Guidelines at the bottom of this post.

Sarah-Bradford-Lit-photoSarah LaPolla joined Bradford Literary Agency in May 2013. Prior to joining forces with Laura and Natalie, Sarah worked for five years in the foreign rights department at Curtis Brown, Ltd., and became an associate agent there in 2010. She received her MFA in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) from The New School in 2008 and has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Ithaca College.

Sarah represents YA and adult fiction. On the adult side, she is looking for literary fiction, science fiction, magical realism, dark/psychological mystery, and upmarket commercial and/or women’s fiction. For YA, she is interested in contemporary/realistic fiction that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of adolescence. YA sci-fi, horror, mystery, and magical realism are also welcome; and she would love to find a modern Judy Blume for the MG market. No matter what genre, Sarah is drawn to layered/strong characters, engaging narrators, and a story that’s impossible to put down.

Sarah is not looking for: picture books/children’s, inspirational/spiritual novels, romance, or erotica

Blog: http://glasscasesblog.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @sarahlapolla

Grabbing Sarah’s attention:

There are two things I’ve been searching for in my submissions and am having a hard time finding lately. The first is the element of surprise. I’m not talking about a shocking plot twist, necessarily. Or at least I’m not just talking about that. I need to be surprised by what I’m reading. That could mean a plot twist I didn’t see coming, but it can also mean a number of things. Am I feeling a range of emotions I didn’t expect to experience? Has the main
character grown and changed in a way they didn’t seem capable of at the beginning of the novel? Did the writing itself surprise me in its style, quality, or form? I like knowing what type of novel I’m getting into when I request a submission, but the last thing I want that manuscript to be is predictable.

The other thing I’m not seeing as much of lately are strong male characters. We talk a lot about what makes a female character “strong.” I, for one, talk about it a lot. But, the boys in YA are being forgotten. I see too many perfect boyfriends, perfectly imperfect bad boys, “nice guy” best friends, and sassy gay friends. Maybe it’s because I read a lot of submissions with female main characters, and boys are generally cast as friend, enemy, or love interest to the main character. That’s all well and good, but that doesn’t mean they have to be one-dimensional. Whether it’s a male or female character, I need them to be strong… meaning, they should be able to stand on their own and have just as many complexities as humans in real life.

Here are the submission guidelines for submitting a First Page in June:

Please put “June First Page Critique” in the subject line. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and whether it is as picture book, middle grade, or young adult, etc. at the top.

Besides pasting it into the body of the email, please attach your first page submission in a Word doc using one inch margins and 12 point font – double spaced, no more than 23 lines and e-mail and send it to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com. So it should be cut and pasted into the body of the e-mail and then also attached as a Word document to the email.

DEADLINE: June 19th.

RESULTS: June 27th.

Use inch margins – double space your text – 12 pt. New Times Roman font – no more than 23 lines – paste into body of the email and attach.

CALL FOR ILLUSTRATIONS: Still need illustrations for summer. Would love to show off your illustrations during one of my daily posts. So please submit your illustrations: To kathy (dot) temean (at) gmail (dot) com. Illustrations must be at least 500 pixels wide and include a blurb about you that I can use. Put Summer Illustration in the subject area. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


Filed under: Agent, opportunity, Places to sumit Tagged: Bradford Literary, Call for Illustrations, Doris Ettlinger, First Page Critiques, S.E. Green, Sarah LaPolla, Yvonne Ventresca

3 Comments on Free Fall Friday – June’s Guest Critiquer & Book Give-A-Way Winners, last added: 6/7/2014
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10. YA/MG Pitch-to-Query Contest & Mentored Workshop Starts Today

We are excited to kick off our new contest with Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown, Ltd and a panel of guest authors who will help you perfect your pitch, lick your logline into shape, and rock your query letter. Over the next few weeks, you'll be paired with a mentor from among our authors, and she, along with our other contestants and our amazing followers, will help you work through the short synopsis and logline elements of your query. Then you will put it all together, and Sarah LaPolla will choose the top three finalists!

The three top finalists will receive a submission request from Sarah LaPolla. In addition, they'll receive:
  • 1st Place: Three-chapter manuscript critique from Sarah LaPolla
  • 2nd Place: Two-chapter manuscript critique from P.J. Hoover
  • 3rd Place: One-chapter manuscript critique from Michele Corriel 
Detailed timetables are here located here, but see below for how today's segment is going to work.

 
Contest opens today at noon eastern time to the first 50 entries.

To enter, post a comment including:
  • Your name or screenname
  • The title of your project
  • The genre of your project
  • Your pitch, no more than 175 words and two paragraphs that briefly synopsize your story.
  • If your online profile doesn't include an email address, either provide it or email us privately at kidlit (at) writeedge.com so we'll have a way to contact you. We will not accept anonymous entries or entries without contact info this time. (We spent WAY too much time herding contestants last month!)
8/19 to 8/26: 
  • Our panel of mentoring authors will be evaluating and formulating their ideas on your short synopsis (pitch) paragraphs. 
8/26 to 9/1:
  • Our mentoring authors will post their comments and suggestions.
  • Contestants, please plan to offer courteous, helpful comments on at least five other entries.
  • Followers and readers, please help us out and offer your suggestions, too!
9/02: You'll accept your one-sentence logline (elevator pitch) entries. Plan ahead!



JUDGE's BIO

Sarah LaPolla began at Curtis Brown in 2008, working with Dave Barbor and Peter Ginsberg. Sarah is interested in literary fiction, narrative nonfiction, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, science fiction, literary horror, and young adult fiction. She loves complex characters, coming-of-age stories, and strong narrators. Sarah graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Writing and English, and went on to receive her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She is always on the lookout for debut authors and welcomes email submissions at sl [at] cbltd.com.



CRITIQUING AUTHORS
  • P. J. Hoover grew up visiting museums and dreaming of finding Atlantis. She eventually married and had two children, shifted her dreams to reality, and began a writing career. PJ enjoys writing fantasy for middle grade and teen readers, boys and girls alike. Her middle grade fantasy novels, T

    58 Comments on YA/MG Pitch-to-Query Contest & Mentored Workshop Starts Today, last added: 8/19/2010
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11. Agent Pitch Contest - Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown LTD)

NEWSFLASH: Sarah LaPolla is doing an Agent Pitch Contest starting tomorrow morning at 9amEST! It will be an paragraph pitch of no more than 4 sentences. Winner gets a special prize (revealed tomorrow :)

So get your pitches ready and come back tomorrow for more deets!

For now, here is a little about Sarah!

Hi Sarah, tell us about yourself and how you got into agenting?

I am an associate agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. and have been with them since 2008. I started as the foreign rights assistant and a few months ago I started building my own list. Before getting my job at Curtis Brown, I received my MFA in creative nonfiction from The New School. I still vaguely consider myself a writer, but I always knew I wanted to be the one to make things happen for other writers, as opposed to getting my own work published. (Maybe, possibly, someday though…) While I was in grad school, I interned with Loretta Barrett Books and the Renee Zuckerbrot Agency, and I knew I wanted to continue down that career path. So here I am!

What is your biggest pet peeve when receiving submissions? Query fails vs query successes?

It bothers me when it is very clear the writer has done no research whatsoever before querying me. Another pet peeve is when authors compare their books, whether for better or worse, to other popular novels. I’ve been getting a lot of Twilight-meets-blank lately and then realize that the only thing remotely close to Twilight in the book is that a vampire shows up. I want writers to be able to describe their work without relying on anything else other than their own story.

As an agent, how do you plan on helping your clients promote their books?

I have my own blog, which I will use as a marketing tool when the time comes (promote books and events, hold contests, etc.) I’m also pretty active on Twitter. I would encourage my authors to do the same. Ultimately, I think the bulk of publicity still ends up falling on the publisher and the author, but the role of the agent is changing in that way. The outlets for effective marketing also change fairly often, so I plan to keep up with those trends as best I can.

What are you looking for and how can authors submit to you?

I love literary fiction, urban fantasy, magical realism, narrative nonfiction, and young adult fiction. I’m also always looking for eng

15 Comments on Agent Pitch Contest - Sarah LaPolla (Curtis Brown LTD), last added: 9/14/2010
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12. Today's Agent Pitch Contest!

It's time again for another agent pitch contest. I love doing these because not only do they get you in front of an agent but they also help the agents get some fresh queries :)

Today, the pitch is being judged by Sarah LaPolla from Curtis Brown LTD. You can read her interview with me here. And see her agent bio here.


Here are some other interviews to help you get to know her taste and style:
YA Highway
Mother, Write, Repeat
Guide to Literary Agents

Winner:
Gets a 1st chapter/query critique from Sarah!

When: Begins today, Tuesday Sept 14th at Noon EST and ends Wed Sept. 15th at midnight EST (I will close comments when it officially ends so if you get a comment in, you are counted.)

What: Leave your paragraph pitch in the comments on this post. Your pitch can be NO MORE than 4 or 5 sentences and MUST be something Sarah is looking for.

Eligibility

  • If your manuscript is still in WIP - you may enter since this is a query critique
  • Your pitch must only be 4 to 5 sentences. Your entry must follow the rules to be counted.
  • This is for unagented/unpublished book writers only. (if you've published articles or essays - you can enter!)
  • You can only enter ONCE so choose wisely!
  • You must be a follower of my blog and either twitter or my newsletter (whichever you would use more :). If I were you, I would also follow Sarah's blog and Twitter too!
In the comments you MUST leave the following information to be considered:
  • title of book
  • genre
  • your paragraph pitch
  • your email
Good luck!!


62 Comments on Today's Agent Pitch Contest!, last added: 9/15/2010
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13. Agent Pitch Winners!

Here’s Sarah choice for winner and some honorable mentions (there were so many good ones!)

Winner: High Hopes by Lisa (contemporary YA)

You win a critique of a query letter and your first chapter!
Lisa - congrads and email me at sjohannes@bilaninc.com for instructions

HIGH HOPES is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s “Northanger Abbey,” but instead of going to Bath, eighteen-year-old Katie Moreland takes a trip to Florida for Spring Break week. There, she meets Hal Tilney, who quickly wins her over with his charm and wit, and who also happens to live in one of the most haunted houses in America – the home where the events of “The Amityville Horror” took place. When Katie is invited to visit for the weekend, her horror-obsessed brain goes into overdrive and she imagines ghosts and ghouls around every corner. Hal tries to explain to her that all the sinister stories about the house are just rumors, but Katie is convinced that the Amityville home is hiding a dark secret. Katie tries to find the source of her supernatural suspicions, but doesn’t know she also runs the risk of something truly scary – losing the guy she loves.

Honorable Mentions

  • Flight by Allison Morris (literary fiction/magical realism)
  • Unraveled by Susan Bradley (YA mystery)
  • Mercy by Jess (YA magical realism)
  • The Last One by Chersti Nieveen (YA dystopia)
  • Waiting for April by Jaime Loren (paranormal romance)
  • The Ghost Writer by MarcyKate (YA ghost story)
The “honorable mentions” are in no particular order and that they were all great!

Next week, Sarah may post some critiques of these pitches so stay tuned.

I'm unplugging this week and heading out of town to be on faculty for SCBWI Carolina conference in Charlotte. I'll be back next Monday with a whole slew of fun new posts!

Have a great week! :)

19 Comments on Agent Pitch Winners!, last added: 9/21/2010
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