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1. Ask Kathy Questions Answered

Julia Rosenbaum snarl-screamApril
For all you writers and illustrators who have days where you feel like the publishing industry could make you stop, scream and pull their hair out, this cute illustration sent in by Julia Rosenbaum is for you. 

Julia has always wanted to be a children’s book writer/illustrator…and so she went to law school. A few years after that interesting episode in her life, she learned how to use Photoshop and became a graphic designer. She is now working on her original dream: writing picture book manuscripts and creating illustrations. You can find her online at juliadraws.com and on Twitter @julia_draws.

Here are a few more Answers to the Questions you sent in and the answers from the Writer’s Retreat the other weekend with Agent Sean McCarthy and Associate Publisher at Penguin Putnam, Steve Meltzer.

1. Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that makes almost imperative to send simultaneous queries. Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

The consensus was to send ten queries at a time. No one thought you should send one query at a time and wait to hear back before sending your work out to someone else. Here are my thoughts about other similar questions I get asked: You may get five agents asking to see your full manuscript from the query letters you send out. Some may ask for an exclusive submission. If they do, you will need to way their request against the other agents. That exclusive submission request might throw that agent out of the running or they might be at the top of your list of agents you would want to represent you. If they are, then make sure you find out how long they expect to have an exclusive for your manuscript.

Is this amount of time acceptable? It may be, but now you know how to proceed. I personally think six weeks would be my limit, other people may be willing to wait three months. As long as both of you are on the same page it should work.

What if you send out your full manuscript to five agents or editors and one gets saying they are interested, before you say yes to them representing you and blow off the others, you should email saying you haven’t heard back from them and another agent is interested in offering you representation. Many agents appreciate you letting them know so they can pull your manuscript out of the pile to see if they are interested in your story. No need to do this if an agent stated up front that if you haven’t heard back in three weeks they are not interested.

Say you submit to an agent who turns around and works with you, offers a lot of advice that you use when revising your manuscript, and asks to see it again, IMO, you should make sure you resubmit the manuscript to them, before offering it to another agent.

If you have submitted the manuscript to editors, you should always make sure the agent offering representation knows who has seen it right up front. You don’t want to get in the position of signing a contract with the agent and then have them say they didn’t know it had been read by numerous editors in the industry. They might be thinking they could sell it to the same people you already sent it to. Now you have someone who doesn’t want to work with you and may even cancel the contract with you. Supposed this happens after you have turned down another agent who was interested in your work. Now you have lost out on two agents at one time. Oh yes, this can happen and it doesn’t matter if the agent should have asked these questions, you are now the one who is on the losing end of this scenario.

2. What’s the best way to label a manuscript/book that falls on the borderline between middle grades and young adult? (Think ages 10 to 14. For example, I’m talking about a horsey book, and that is the age at which the most girls are the most horse-crazy, and the best time to market such a book to them.) Would agents/editors want to see it called upper middle grades? Tween?

Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer said don’t put MG or YA in the query, put the age group and let them decide where it fits. The other idea you can use is to go to the book store and peruse the shelves. Where would the store shelve your book? What are the titles of the other books on that shelf? You could include a couple in your query letter.

3. What amount of books do you need to sell to have a publisher think your book was successful?

The general number was 20,000 copies, but it could be lower. It depends on the amount of your advance and the projected amount of sales the publisher expects after all there meetings and calculations. As Steve pointed out, a publisher who expects to sell a million copies of a book and only sells 600,000 copies might consider that book a failure. While a book that they projected 10,000 sales and sells 20,000, might be considered a great success.

4. I read on your blog to only use one space between each sentence in your manuscript. I had someone tell me they have asked editors and were told it was okay. Would you double check with Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer on this?

I did and both said it would not stop them from reading your manuscript. But I will not tell you that not doing this is okay, because I am trying to get you to do things according to the standard. My goal is to tell you how to do things that will make sure no one will find fault with. If 50% or even 20% of the editors and agents could pick up your manuscript and go on to the next on sitting on their desk because of the extra space, then I say, “Let’s do it right, so you are only judged on the content of your writing.” Over the years, I know little things can make a big difference.

5. I never heard of using capital letters the first time a character is mentioned in a synopsis. Would you ask about that at your retreat?

This is another one that would not stop Sean and Steve from reading your synopsis. I had said that I didn’t think this was a deal breaker when I told you how to format  your synopsis, but again that is the standard. It makes it easier for the editor or agent to read, which shows you care about them and that you approach your writing as a professional who knows the industry.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Asking opinion, authors and illustrators, demystify, How to Tagged: Ask Kathy, Julia Rosenbaum, Publishing Industry Answers, Questions and Answers

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2. Agent Looking to Build List

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

Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But, seriously, no zombies.

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,


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

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3. Workshop for Poetry & Ask Kathy Answers

logo_highlightsDavid Harrison is conducting a Highlights Foundation workshop:

Poetry for the Delight of It

September 29 – October 2. 

David’s first book for children, The Boy with a Drum, was released in 1969 and eventually sold more than two million copies. In 1972, David won national recognition when he received the Christopher Award for The Book of Giant Stories. Since then David has published seventy-seven original titles that have sold more than fifteen million copies and earned numerous honors.

From budding poet to published veteran, if you like to think, talk, write, and share poetry, this one’s for you. Don’t wait too long to decide, this workshop sold out last year.

Here is the agenda:

Session 1:   The Study of Poetry
Session 2:   Verse
Session 3:   Are You Funny?
Session 4:   Skype Guest Kenn Nesbitt
Session 5:   Revising and Rewriting
Session 6:   Skype Guest Jane Yolen
Session 7:   Performing Your Work
Session 8:   Tips on Marketing
Session 9:   Self-Publishing
Session 10: Poetry Editor Rebecca Davis
Session 11: Becoming an Expert
Session 12: Open Forum
Session 13: The Big Performance
Session 14:  Setting Doable Goals
Wrap Up, Pictures, Goodbyes

Individual activities will include time to:

  • Practice writing what you’re learning
  • Be still with your thoughts
  • Start at least three new poems
  • Meet one-on-one with your workshop leader
  • Have your work critiqued by your workshop leader
  • Fun, impromptu gatherings by the fire to share poems
  • Chance to learn from others

Here is the link: http://www.highlightsfoundation.org/workshops/poetry-for-the-delight-of-it-2014

Below are a few of the questions and answers I received at last weekend Writer’s Retreat with Agent Sean McCarthy and Publisher Steve Meltzer.

1. When formatting a manuscript: Do you know of any rule that says you must NOT indent the first paragraph of a new chapter? What do you think?

Both Sean and Steve, thought I was crazy when I asked this and couldn’t understand why this question was being asked. I explained that when you read a book, the first paragraph of each chapter is not indented. Apparently this is something that has carried over from the old days in publishing. It is nothing that a writer needs to do when formatting their manuscript.

2. What do you think of prologues? Use them or lose them? 

Both Sean and Steve agreed that it is okay to use a prologue if it is important to telling the story. The word, “Important” is the key. Could the same story be told without the prologue? Is it something that the reader needs to know and will it tie into the end of the novel? They said editors worry about them, because many readers skip the prologue.

3. Are there any conventions for labeling manuscripts/books that mix genres? (For example, a series that is historical/science fiction/fantasy.)

The word for mixing these different genres is called, “Speculative Fiction.”

4. Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that certainly makes it acceptable, almost imperative, to send simultaneous queries (although with each obviously tailored to a particular agent/agency). Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

There was total agreement from everyone that you should not submit or query to only one agent. Ten seemed to be the standard amount to send out at one time.

5. Underlining makes it clearer to copyeditors and typesetters what needs to be italicized, but do agents have a preference whether the manuscript uses the italic or the underline function of the computer to indicate what will ultimately be italicized?

This was another one that didn’t seem to matter to Sean or Steve. Just italicize and don’t underline, since that is more standard. They weren’t worried about that detail, since they are paying the copyeditors to catch those type of things.

More Answers during the week, so check back.

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: Advice, Agent, Conferences and Workshops, demystify, Editors Tagged: Agent Sean McCarthy, Ask Kathy, David L Harrison, Hightlights Foundation, Publisher Steve Meltzer

4 Comments on Workshop for Poetry & Ask Kathy Answers, last added: 4/7/2014
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4. April 2014 Desktop Calendar and some BIG news.

Hello Spring!
I don't know about you, but  here in Ontario we are most definitely ready for Spring. We've collectively "had it" with polar vortices,  never ending snow shovelling, and the ritual morning kiddo snow-pant battle. But, even after just a few days of above zero temps the snow is quickly melting away. I think I even heard some chirping birds this morning. Yay!
So, to welcome Spring, I decided to create this month's desktop calendar from one of my all-time favorite illustrations from Skink on the Brink(Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2013). Yes, there it is up in my header- I do LOVE this illo. To download a copy please select the required screen resolution above, then right click and "save to desktop". Enjoy!

I also wanted to share some BIG news. I now am represented by Patricia Ocampo  at Transatlantic Agency. I am honoured and SUPER excited to be working with Patricia. We are already working on some of my manuscript WIPs ( yes, I am writing now too!).  We got together last week for coffee to get to know each other better. Gosh, my cheeks were sore from smiling so much, it was a fabulous first meeting!  I love the collaborative process and I truly believe that the best ideas often come from a great brainstorming session- it's where the magic happens. :)  I think we will make a great team.

0 Comments on April 2014 Desktop Calendar and some BIG news. as of 4/1/2014 11:27:00 AM
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5. Strategies for Pricing Your Illustrating Work



You may know Joann Miller over at the Directory of Illustration. Well, she asked Friend + Johnson (illustration representation agency) if she could share the best advice they had about pricing that they would give an illustrator. I thought I would share the part about how to come up with a price for a potential client. It is quite good.

Here is a list of questions to ask your potential client to help create an accurate estimate that fulfills both their expectations and your needs.


1. How did you find out about me? Is there something in your portfolio that inspired them to think of you for this project? Make sure you understand exactly what they’re referencing so you can make sure you’re comfortable executing it, and are clear on what they’re hiring you to do. This will also help you determine the level of complexity of the illustration they’re looking for.

Project Description

2. Do you have a layout? How complex are the illustrations? Are they single-spot illustrations or more complex scenarios? Are they providing any references for you to use? Are they looking for you to concept illustration ideas with the creatives, or are you working from a pre-approved layout that will not allow for much change? Is this black-and-white or a four-color piece? Are you working in layers?

3. What is the timing for the initial pencils and the final illustration? Usually, you should have three to four days for the initial pencils, and after client approval, another five to seven days to deliver the final. Two rounds of pencils are standard; anything more should have an additional charge.

Usage, Licensing and Copyright

4. Usage is very important in helping you price your project. Note that consumer advertising will be priced much higher than illustrations for a children’s book or direct mail.

Does the client want national, regional, international, web or worldwide uses? How long is the usage? What is the media use: consumer ad, trade ad, packaging, direct mail, billboards, brochures?

5. If clients say they want unlimited use, you should explore if this is really what they need and offer alternative licensing to match their budget. Often times, clients are not “educated” in this area of rights-based pricing; they will be much more understanding if you take the time to outline that they will ultimately save money by purchasing just the usage they need. For example, if they see the difference in cost for a two-, three- or five-year use, this may be more in-line with what they really need vs. unlimited use/time. 

Most clients aren’t planning on a consumer magazine campaign or any out of home use, they may just want unlimited collateral (direct mail and consumer or trade brochures and inserts) use. Find out specifically what they’ll use the artwork for and tailor your pricing to match.

6. If at all possible, never do “work for hire,” give buyouts or sell your copyright. You’re essentially giving away all of your rights as the creator of the artwork and giving ownership to your client. They in turn can reuse and resell the artwork in any way they want.

You can still retain your copyright even if it’s unlimited use, worldwide for an unlimited time and exclusive to them. If they feel they may need the artwork for other uses down the road or for a longer period of time, these extended uses can be renegotiated or factored into the original contract as well.

Remember, they want to use you and you want to work with them. This is a negotiation to give them what they need and pay you fairly for the creation and use of the work. You’re working together to create a fair contract for both parties.

7. Will this image have resale potential in stock or other markets? Does your licensing give you this option?

Keep Budgets & Other Paperwork in Mind

8. Editorial and book clients usually have a predetermined budget. Sometimes you can renegotiate if you feel it’s too low for the amount of work they’re requesting. You should always get a credit line for editorial or pro-bono work.

9. Do they have an allotted budget already in mind? If not, when do they need numbers?

10. Is there a contract? You should have your own contract in addition to anything they supply.

Hang Up

11. Never give an estimate while you’re on the phone with your client. It’s best to hang up and think about what you’re comfortable with.

12. Review your estimate before submitting it. A great source for guidelines for estimating various projects is the “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook” at www.graphicartistsguild.org/handbook/.


13. After you have submitted your estimate and it’s approved, make sure to have it signed and sent back to you.

14. After the project is confirmed, you should bill 50% of the job. This is important for cash flow since illustration projects can stretch over a number of weeks with the back-and-forth for approvals. This is also important with a new client that you don’t have a payment history with.

15. In addition to billing upon confirmation AND having a new client sign your contract, you may want to get a purchase order from you client as it is a contract to purchase your services from your buyer.

To read all the other helpful information use this link: http://joannsartadvice.blogspot.com/2014/03/take-charge-of-pricing-your.html

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, article, authors and illustrators, How to, illustrating, list, Tips Tagged: Directory of Illustration, Freelance Pricing, Friend + Johnson, Joann Miller

2 Comments on Strategies for Pricing Your Illustrating Work, last added: 4/1/2014
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6. Agents Wishlist

Brooks Sherman at The Bent Agency


Brooks Sherman represents picture books, fiction for young adult and middle-grade-readers, select literary and commercial adult fiction, and nonfiction in the areas of humor, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction.

Prior to joining The Bent Agency, he worked as a literary agent at FinePrint Literary Management and in the managing editorial department of Henry Holt and Company. He is a hands-on, editorial agent who delights in developing projects with his clients before bringing them to the attention of publishers.

Before starting his career in publishing, he spent several years working in the entertainment industry (in both New York and Hollywood), and two years with the Peace Corps in West Africa. Having bounced around all over the world, he is delighted to be back in Brooklyn—although he looks forward to his next Transylvanian backpacking expedition with great anticipation!

He is seeking projects that balance strong voice with gripping plot lines. Stories that make me laugh earn extra points! My interest in adult fiction runs the gamut from literary to speculative (particularly contemporary fantasy rooted in realistic settings, horror, and magical realism), as well as historical and crime fiction. On the children’s side, He’s looking for middle grade fiction of all genres (but particularly fantasy adventure and contemporary), humorous projects from author-illustrators, and young adult fiction of all types except paranormal romance. He would love to get his hands on a creepy and/or funny contemporary young adult project. 

Here are a few more detailed things that Brooks says he is looking to read.

On the MG side, I’m still looking for someone to send me this generation’s THE WITCHES. Are you my Dahl?

On the YA side, I’d love to find some projects with realistic settings and a speculative twist. (See: NOGGIN; GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE)

Still looking for a historical project set in or around the WWI era to sink my fangs into. Speculative elements encouraged!

I would love to work on some alternate history projects — MG, YA, or adult. A fantasy element (a la BARTIMAEUS) would be just dandy.

“I desperately want to find the next JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL—eerily beautiful crossover fantasy”

And of course, I’d love to get my hands on a dark adult psychological thriller, or historical or speculative thriller (a la THE ROOK).

I’m also keeping an eye out for MG stories that are either funny/contemporary or fantasy/sci-fi adventure!

I’m looking for contemporary YA fiction, in the vein of ELEANOR & PARK or ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE.

MG with sweetness and wit (not necessarily snarky).”

I’d love to see a twisted adult thriller like Gillian Flynn’s GONE GIRL or William Landay’s DEFENDING JACOB.


I will be talking about Query Letters this week, so you might want to read that to make sure you are doing that to the best of your ability. Brook will still be there, so their is no need to rush something out.

To query Brooks, please review The Bent Agency’s submissions guidelines
Then email brooks@thebentagency.com

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editor & Agent Info, list, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies Tagged: Agents Wishlist, Brooks Sherman, The Bent Agency

1 Comments on Agents Wishlist, last added: 3/29/2014
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7. How to Write A Query Letter


You can see from the above illustration by Evi Gstottner that she loves fairytales and folktales. She graduated in 1992 from Byam Shaw School of Art in London and in 2009 she completed her MA in Children’s Book Illustration at the Anglia Ruskin University (Cambridge School of Art). Evi was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link: http://www.kathytemean.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/illustrator-saturday-evi-gstottner/

The goal of query letter is to elicit an invitation from an agent (or editor) to send in sample chapters or the whole manuscript.

A query letter is a ONE PAGE letter with three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography.

Don’t stray, if you want to be taken seriously as a professional writer. Keep it simple. Stick to three paragraphs.

Paragraph One is called The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and reel them in.

The first paragraph is your chance (perhaps your only chance) to grab the agent, since many agents will be immediately biased—for good or for bad—within a sentence or two.

If a writer queries via a referral, he will always begin with, “I am writing to you because your client, John Smith, recommended that I do so.” Thus an agent, whether he likes it or not, must take the first sentence seriously, if for no other reason than he risks offending an existing client check or editor. Please do not say this unless it is true. Agents will check and you don’t want to be embarrassed or have someone think you are not trustworthy.

If you haven’t been referred, you could still grab the agents attention with something personal., such as: ”I am writing to you because you represented TITLE by AUTHOR, and I feel my book is similar.”

What will this show?

1. That this is not a random query letter.

2. That you’re approaching him/her for a specific reason

3. That you’ve put a great deal of time and energy into researching the market

4. That you know who the agent represents, and the types of books they have sold.

5.  It will put a positive association into the agents mind, as it will make him or her think of a book they sold.

6. It offers a comparison, allowing the agent to immediately grasp the type of book you’re writing and thus help they agent decide if they want to represent another like it.

7. It shows that you know the market, that you have an objective grasp of what your own book is about and where it fits within that market.

8. It indicates that you’ve put care into your writing.

Referencing one of his/her titles will help accomplish this. But don’t bluff. Noah says, ”If you don’t truly do the research, it will show. I’ve received many letters which referenced a book I sold, but when I read the rest of the query, I realized that their book was not at all similar; it was just a gimmick to get me to pay attention. When an agent realizes this, he will just be annoyed. So when referencing a book, make sure it is truly appropriate. But if you’ve done the research and query a truly appropriate agent and reference a truly appropriate title, then you are already off to a shining head start.”

Agent Query suggests using the when formula: “When such and such event happens, your main character—a descriptive adjective, age, professional occupation—must confront further conflict and triumph in his or her own special way. Sure, it’s a formula, but it’s a formula that works.”

Example:  Bridges of Madison County

When Robert Kincaid drives through the heat and dust of an Iowa summer and turns into Francesca Johnson’s farm lane looking for directions, the world-class photographer and the Iowa farm wife are joined in an experience that will haunt them forever.

Note: Many writers use the “when” formula, so use it as a starting point. Write your basic hook and then spice it up with the “When. Noah says to keep your opening paragraph to one sentence, so if you add a when to the personal approach, make sure it is short.

Example: Non-”formulatic” fiction hook:

The Da Vinci Code A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ.

Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where boil down your entire novel into one paragraph and expand your hook. Put in the hard work of practicing and revising, until you get that paragraph to sing the same tune as your whole book. Read the back flap of books you like to get a feel for how to create a juicy paragraph.

Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: Keep it short and related to writing. If your book revolves around a hospital and you are a nurse, then say that. If you have a published book, been published in some magazines, etc,, or won a writing contest or award, then let the agent know. if you’ve never been published, never won any awards, hold no writing degrees, and have no credentials to write your book, then don’t say it. This just gives you more space for Paragraph Two.

The Closing: Thank the agent for their time and consideration. Let the agent know you have the full manuscript available upon request. Note: Never query an agent unless you have written, revised, and finished your full manuscript.

Tomorrow: Query Tips – Examples and Links.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, How to, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Breaking down the Query Letter, How to write a query letter, Noah Lukeman, One page Query letter

8 Comments on How to Write A Query Letter, last added: 3/26/2014
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8. The Query Letter

great-query-jacketFor the last few weeks we have gone over how to format your manuscript and how to write a synopsis. Every week I have pointed you towards agents and what they are looking for, but really the first thing you need to do is hone your skills on writing a great query letter. It is wonderful that more and more agents are accepting query letters via email, but there a perils that come along with this. We are so used to quickly jotting down a few sentences to talk with friends and hitting the send button without thinking, that the same thing can happen when emailing a query letter to an agent. We all need to beware of doing this an approach the query letter with the same respect as the rest of our writing.

Agent Noah Lukeman has written a whole book on how to do this in his appropriately title book, HOW TO WRITE A GREAT QUERY LETTER.

Love the way Noah explains this: Most writers put a tremendous amount of effort into their content, spending months or years with their manuscripts, agonizing over word choice, scene order, character development. Yet when it comes time to write a query letter, they will often write something off the top of their head, sometimes with a mere hour’s effort, and let this suffice to represent their work. They rush through the letter process so that the agent can get to the book itself, which they feel will explain everything. They feel that if an agent just sees the writing, nothing else will matter, and that a poor query letter will even be forgiven. This is faulty thinking. For agents, the query letter is all. If it’s not exceptional, agents will not even request to see the writing, and writers will never even get a chance to showcase their talent. For most writers, the query letter—which they rushed through—becomes the only piece of writing they will ever be judged by, and unfortunately, the only chance they ever had. While it may seem as if a query letter is a shallow way to judge an author, I can tell you from an agent’s perspective that it is a very effective tool.

For the professional eye, a query letter is much more than just a letter:

1. It shows the agent whether you are able to exhibit word economy

2. Whether you have a grasp on the nature of your own work

3. Whether you have a realistic grasp on your own background and credentials.

4. For non-fiction: It also demonstrates whether you have a grasp on your market and your competition. A query letter can also serve to warn an agent, to act as a red flag, if for example you are too aggressive, or pitch too many projects at once. The way it physically looks speaks volumes, as does whether you’ve sent it to the right person in the right way. A layman looks at a query and sees a one page letter. An agent looks at it and scans it for 100 different criteria.

This mere page can tell an agent more about the writer and his work than you can possibly imagine.

This week we will talk about what goes into making your query letter stand out and get noticed. Remember: The query letter might be the only thing that agent ever reads of your writing. Remember: Agents have a big pile of other writer’s query letters sitting in front of them and would like to get through that pile sitting on their desk, so small things can be the difference between them saying, “Send more” and “not interested.” But also, Remember: Agents want to find the next great book or else they wouldn’t be facing that pile.

So let’s learn what to do, learn how to avoid the pitfalls that get our letter tossed and signal an amateur.

Noah Lukeman is giving away a .pdf of this book and How to Land an Agent. You can also get it for free on your Kindle at Amazon.

Here is the link for the download: http://www.landaliteraryagent.com/

Here is the layout for this week:


Wednesday: Query Letter Tips – Examples and Links

Thursday: Agent Wishlist

Friday: First Page Critique Results

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, demystify, need to know, Process, reference, Writing Tips Tagged: Agent Noah Lukeman, The goal of the Query Letter, The Query Letter, What a query letter says about you

5 Comments on The Query Letter, last added: 3/25/2014
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9. Ask Kathy

Children’s book illustrator and writer Nata Romeo sent in this stylize iguana for today’s post. She says, “Art is my passion.” I recently completed illustrations for a book titled ‘Wildlife Animals A to Z’, which she intends to self publish. Her preferred medium is a combination of watercolor and pen and ink. www.artistadonna.blogspot.com/
www.ArtistaDonna.ebsqart.com  www.facebook.com/artistadonna.nata 

This coming weekend I will be meeting with Agent Sean McCarthy and Publishing Executive Director and Managing Editor, Steve Meltzer. Some of you have sent in questions for me to ask so I can relay the answers to you. Please email me if you would like to add to the list.

Here are the questions sent to me:

1.  What do you think of prologues? Use them or lose them?

2.  When formatting a manuscript: Do you know of any rule that says you must NOT indent the first paragraph of a new chapter? What do you think?

3.  What’s the best way to label a manuscript/book that falls on the borderline between middle grades and young adult? (Think ages 10 to 14. For example, I’m talking about a horsey book, and that is the age at which the most girls are the most horse-crazy, and the best time to market such a book to them.) Would agents/editors want to see it called upper middle grades? Tween?

4.  What is the preferred word length for a book aimed at the upper middle grades/tween reader?

5.  Are there any conventions for labeling manuscripts/books that mix genres? (For example, a series that is historical/science fiction/fantasy.)

6.  Because agents now often don’t respond if they aren’t interested in a query, that certainly makes it acceptable, almost imperative, to send simultaneous queries (although with each obviously tailored to a particular agent/agency). Is ten to a dozen too many to send out at once?

7.  Underlining makes it clearer to copyeditors and typesetters what needs to be italicized, but do agents have a preference whether the manuscript uses the italic or the underline function of the computer to indicate what will ultimately be italicized?

8.  I read on your blog to only use one space between each sentence in your manuscript. I had someone tell me they have asked editors and were told it was okay. Would you double check with Sean McCarthy and Steve Meltzer on this?

9.  I never heard of using capital letters the first time a character is mentioned in a synopsis. Would you ask about that at your retreat?

10. I have been told not to use any “ing” words in my manuscript. Is there a rule about this that I have missed?

11.  What amount of books do you need to sell to have a publisher think your book was successful?

12.  How hard is it to get your rights back on a book you that has gone out of print? Do you have any words of wisdom or steps an author could take to get the rights back?  

13.  What do you think about using the real name of a media or entertainer in your book? Is that okay or should you make up a similar name?

14.  I am an illustrator and writer. Is it okay to send in a picture book dummy?

15.  What is speculative fiction?

16.  If you want to write a book from two character’s POV, using alternating chapters, is it okay to scatter in a few chapter’s from a third character’s point-of-view?

17.  If you are writing a book using two character’s POV with alternating chapters, could the main character be in first person and the second character be in third person?

18. Do you have any thoughts on when to give up on a manuscript your have completed and has gotten rejected?

Talk tomorrow,



Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Editors, list, opportunity Tagged: Agent Sean McCarthy, Ask Kathy, Publisher Steve Meltzer, Questions for Answers

10 Comments on Ask Kathy, last added: 3/24/2014
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10. 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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11. 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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12. Agent Hanna Bowman Wishlist

hannah-bowmanThought you might like to see what agent Hanna Bowman said she was looking for this past week. Just remember now is not to time to start writing a story to fit this wish list, since by the time you finish, Hanna will probably be on to wanting other things. But maybe there is someone reading this post who has a manuscript written that is a perfect fit and is looking for a home. Or maybe you are working on something that fits and this will spur you on to finishing the book. Tip: Just make sure your manuscript is revised and polished before submitting. I hope this helps someone.

Hannah Bowman joined Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency in 2011. She has a B.A. from Cornell University, summa cum laude in English and magna cum laude in  Mathematics. While a student, she spent four summers working in particle physics at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, before  eventually deciding her true interest was books. 

Hannah’s clients include:

-Pierce Brown (RED RISING trilogy, Del Rey, Feb. 2014)   -Rosamund Hodge (CRUEL BEAUTY, Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, Jan. 2014)   -Brian Staveley (THE EMPEROR’S BLADES, Tor, Jan. 2014)   -Dianna Anderson (DAMAGED GOODS: CHRISTIAN AND FEMINIST IN THE WAR ON   WOMEN, Jericho Books, Spring 2015)

In her free time, she plays the organ.

Hannah specializes in commercial fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy, young adult fiction, women’s fiction, cozy mysteries, and romance. Hannah is also interested in nonfiction, particularly in the areas of mathematics, science and religion (especially history and sociology of Christianity).

HERE IS HANNA’S WISH LIST (This past week):

1. I’d love some great narrative nonfic about the history of science, like Bill Bryson’s A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING.

2. A Crichton-esque science thriller that really knows its science.

3. I’d love a great medieval mystery like Sharon Kay Penman’s THE QUEEN’S MAN

4. And I’m always looking for funny, lighthearted YA contemporary romance, the kind with no heavy issues.

5. I would love to find some great YA fantasy with a female protagonist — think Tamora Pierce, Sabriel,

6. I’m looking for books that play with narrative form like CODE NAME VERITY

7. I would love some great historical fantasy, or other epic fantasy for adults.

8. You know what I want? Fantasy, adult or YA, as fresh and creative as SABRIEL

9. The next Thursday Next. Smart, funny, brilliant, creative, full of literary meta-references

10. A medieval mystery series like Sharon Kay Penman’s THE QUEEN’S MAN or Sharan Newman’s DEATH COMES AS EPIPHANY.

11. YA girl-power fantasy a la Tamora Pierce with some really new, unusual worldbuilding.

12. In YA: a really funny (makes me laugh out loud funny) contemporary.

13. Funny urban fantasy like Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid books.

14. More fantasy: I want the next LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA or THE PALACE JOB. Magic and heists and cons!

15. Military fantasy that tells its battles as well as THE THOUSAND NAMES — a really great magical campaign.

16. Gorgeously-written, literary historical fantasy — something as numinous as JONATHAN STRANGE AND MR. NORRELL.

Contact Hannah at queryhannah@lizadawsonassociates.com.


1. Who’s the main character, and why is he or she interesting/appealing?

2. What’s the plot, and how will it surprise me and take my breath away?

3. What’s the setting, and what interesting elements make it seem real?

4. A compelling, three-dimensional character in a well-realized setting (realistic or speculative) with a page-turning story to tell, will hook me.

Blog: http://hannahbowman.tumblr.com/


For further insight, Literary Rambles has an interview and links to other interviews with Hanna.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, demystify, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Tips Tagged: Agent Looking for..., Agent Query, Agent Wishlist, Hannah Bowman, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency

1 Comments on Agent Hanna Bowman Wishlist, last added: 3/5/2014
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13. thank you…..

….from Priscilla Burris and all the artists of the CATugeau Artist Agency!

veterans day BURRIS

1 Comments on thank you….., last added: 11/11/2013
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14. Proudly we share PW review !

AllofMeFinalPWad TugeauCallie Grant, illus. by Jeremy Tugeau. Graham Blanchard (Spring Arbor, dist.), $8.99 (24p) ISBN 978-0-9854090-4-3

PW review in Sept 16th 2013 edition, page 59!! that’s my son and artist Jeremy and his model GEORGE, a grandson!  ;)

A boy introduces the idea of spirituality in this upbeat, rhyming board book. Though his outward appearance—“two eyes, two ears,/ one mouth, one nose”—is what the boy sees in the mirror, he embraces the belief that “something else,” even more important, grows inside him. He describes his heart, mind, strength, and soul as “all these parts of me that you can’t hold or hear or touch or see,” and offers examples of how they play a part in his life. In one of several inaugural titles for young children from Grant (including Mud Puddle Hunting Day and a pair of board books in the Knowing My God series), the brief text is inspired by Mark 12:30 and serves as a jumping off point for exploration of an often difficult-to-grasp concept. Tugeau’s sunny scenes of common family and childhood activities provide a sense of realistic accessibility for readers. Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 09/13/2013 | Release date: 10/01/2013 | Details & Permalink


1 Comments on Proudly we share PW review !, last added: 9/25/2013
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15. Agent at JABberwocky Building List

literary-agent-lisa-rodgersAbout Lisa Rodgers: Lisa grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from California State University, Sacramento, in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a minor in German literature-in-translation, history, and culture (sadly, she doesn’t speak German, although it’s on her bucket list).

She moved to New York City in 2012 to attend NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute and joined the JABberwocky team a few months later. She’s previously worked at San Francisco/Sacramento Book Reviews and Barnes & Noble, interned at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, and read submissions for Lightspeed Magazine.

She is seeking: science fiction, fantasy, YA and middle grade of all genres, and romance.

Below are a few (but by no means all!) of her favorite books by non-client authors, in no particular order:

BLACK SUN RISING (C.S. Friedman), SPIN STATE (Chris Moriarty), THE COMPANY (K.J. Parker), MAGIC’S PAWN (Mercedes Lackey), INNOCENT TRAITOR (Allison Weir), THE BLACK PRISM (Brent Weeks), THE WHITE DRAGON (Anne McCaffrey),  THE DUKE AND I (Julia Quinn), THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS (Rae Carson), LOST GIRLS (Ann Kelly), ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE (Robin Hobb), HAMMERED (Elizabeth Bear), HEX HALL (Rachel Hawkins), WINTERGIRLS (Laurie Halse Anderson), THE GIVER (Lois Lowry), PERSUASION (Jane Austen), and FOREIGNER (C.J. Cherryh)

How to submit: e-mail her at querylisa [at] awfulagent [dot] com. In the body of the email, please include your query letter and the first 25 pages of your manuscript. A synopsis is also helpful, but by no means required. Please paste everything into the body of the e-mail; attachments won’t be opened.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Agent Building List, Agent Lisa Rogers, JABberwocky Literary Agency, Young Adult Books

0 Comments on Agent at JABberwocky Building List as of 9/24/2013 12:50:00 AM
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16. New Agent at The Bent Agency Looking to Build List

gemma-PMAbout Gemma Cooper: She is a new agent at The Bent Agency, run by Jenny Bent. Find Gemma on Twitter. In her own words: “Although I’m in London now, I lived in NYC for three years and regularly visit, so I’m going to be representing authors from the UK and the US. I look forward to reading your work and really appreciate you sharing it with me. I’m lucky to represent Mo O’Hara, author of MY BIG FAT ZOMBIE GOLDFISH (Macmillan UK/Feiwel and Friends 2013) and I’d love to find other fantastic chapter books (7+ fiction) with an obvious hook and a laugh on every page. One of my all time favourite books is WHEN YOU REACH Me by Rebecca Stead. I love that it blend genres, has an amazing voice and literary feel to the writing. Anything similar would make me sit up and take notice.”

She is seeking: See below…

  • I love boy voice young adult (YA) – it’s my favourite thing in YA and so hard to strike the right balance. Think John Green or Erin Jade Lange’s BUTTER.
  • In YA, I’m seeing a lot of urban fantasy and am not really looking for this or paranormal romance. However, I’d love a nice juicy contemporary or issues driven YA. Think Jenny Valentine or Sara Zarr.
  • A YA or MG crime novel or some sort of heist would be great. My favourite detectives are Poriot and Sherlock Holmes, and I’ve love to read something with the same feel written for younger audiences – red herrings, opulent settings and gathering everyone in a room for the reveal!
  • Please send me historical fiction with a realistic narrator that almost has a diary feel to it. Think the ONCE, THEN, AFTER series by Morris Gleitzman
  • I would like to see some of the paranormal elements that work so well in YA filtered down into MG or chapter books – ideally with humour.
  • I’m obsessed with HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY and the TV series RED DWARF, so I’d love to see funny sci-fi stories for a younger audience. The more off the wall the better.

How to submit: Query cooperqueries (at) thebentagency.com.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Building List, Gemma Cooper, Seeking Young Adult novels, The Bent Agency

1 Comments on New Agent at The Bent Agency Looking to Build List, last added: 9/19/2013
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17. New Book – Give-A-Way – John Cusick Agent/Author Interview


cherry money baby

Had to let you know about great agent, great author, and all around nice guy, John Cusick’s new book – CHERRY MONEY BABY.

John has agreed to let me offer a signed copy of his book as give-a-way.

Anyone that leaves a comment will get their name put in the hat one time. If you would like to collect more entries into the hat you can do the following:

1 entry everything you tweet this link (One a day).

1 entry for putting this link on facebook

1 entry for putting up this post on your blog.

2 entries if you reblog this post.

5 entries if you talk about the book on your facebook page or blog.

Please come back and leave an update on what you did by September 28th in the comment section, so I know how many times to put your name in the hat for the drawing. I will announce the winner on Sunday September 29th. Good Luck!

Here is John’s bio:

John joined The Greenhouse Literary Agency in January 2013 after several years with at The Scott Treimel NY agency, where he began as an assistant and rose to be an agent with a fast-developing client list. As well as being a YA author in his own right, John is a sought-after speaker on writing, both at writers’ conferences and via webinars. You can read his blog here: http://johnmcusick.wordpress.com/

What John is seeking: Fiction by North American authors, from Picturebooks and Middle Grade through Young Adult.  Particularly keen to see MG (and maybe YA) for boys. Fast-paced/thrilling/heart-breaking stories. Contemporary realism, historicals, speculative fiction, sci-fi and fresh fantasy, villains with vulnerabillity, bad decisions with best intentions, boldly imagined worlds, striking imagery, characters with histories, stories about siblings and about middle America.

Below is the interview I had with John:

Before we get into talking about your new book; how did your first year at Greenhouse Literary go? Anything exciting you can share with us?

It’s been absolutely amazing. Since starting with Greenhouse I’ve sold six titles and signed seven new clients, including my very first picture book author/illustrators— and the year isn’t over yet! Greenhouse provides a nurturing atmosphere for authors, very hands on, and its international reach allows us to place projects all over the world. It’s wonderful to be a part of that. I’m especially looking forward to our agency retreat in February; it’ll be a blast to spend time with clients, as well as with Sarah Davies (head of Greenhouse) and our phenomenal U.K. agent Polly Nolan. I’m told there will also be a talent show. With ukuleles.

I started writing CHERRY MONEY BABY on index cards, in Fort Green Park in Brooklyn, in August of 2010. The project changed radically from draft to draft. I started with a big baggy monster of a novel, and carved away the useless stuff until I got down to its heart: the relationship between Cherry and Ardelia. Really, this is a story about a complicated friendship. It just took me a few years to figure that out.

What was the spark that started this book?

My agent, Scott Treimel, suggested I consider a story about teen pregnancy, which set my gears turning. In the end, CHERRY isn’t about teen pregnancy really, but that was the seminal brainstorm. Then I saw A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC by Stephen Sondheim when I was in London for the London Book Fair. I was transfixed by the interweaving relationships in that show, the class interplay, and also the big move to the country halfway through. Part of CHERRY’s particular flavor owes a lot to NIGHT MUSIC.

How many revisions did you do before you were ready to submit your book?

I did three major revisions with Scott before sending the manuscript to Deb Wayshack, my fabulous editor at Candlewick with whom I worked on GIRL PARTS. Deb helped me really hone the story and find its soul. I learned so much during the editing process— about character, plot, and language— that just as we were drawing close to copyedits, I asked Deb if she’d let me try rewriting the manuscript from word one. Candlewick agreed, and ninety days later I had a new version of CHERRY that was radically different, and infinitely superior. Doing a complete rewrite was really liberating, and the result was a much stronger, deeper novel.

Did you agent Scott Treimel negotiate the contract?

He did. At the time I was an agent with Scott Treimel NY, Scott’s agency, which meant I had a unique inside glimpse into the negotiation process—which is always fascinating, but especially when it’s your book being discussed.

Do you plan on writing a sequel for this book?

I don’t think so. Cherry and Ardelia’s story feels complete to me. I don’t like to end books too neatly; I like to leave room for my characters to go on living and breathing and changing. I don’t envision a sequel to CHERRY MONEY BABY, though I do like to imagine Cherry and Ardelia getting up to…Oop, I should stop there or risk spoilers!

Have you started writing the sequel to Girl Parts?

I wrote a sequel to GIRL PARTS, actually, which is hiding somewhere on my hard drive. It’s not quite ready for public consumption yet, but maybe someday soon. I wrote it in a single month after watching an episode of DOCTOR WHO penned by Neil Gaiman. It’s a bit more sci-fi, and involves Rose’s journey back to Massachusetts. But again…spoilers…

Do you have other books in the works?

I do! I’m working on something now I’m very excited about. I won’t go into too much detail, except to say it’s BIG and, in my opinion, the best thing I’ve ever written. At least, so far.

Do you try to spend a certain amount of time writing?

I do. I try to write for at least ninety-minutes to two-hours a day, five days a week. That schedule has slackened somewhat since I first started writing in college, when it was three hours a day, every day. Real Life has a tendency to intervene, but I try to keep that writing time sacred.

Any plans to write, middle grade novels, new adult, or adult books?

I’d likely go middle grade before I wrote for adults; my brain is pretty hardwired into the m.g. and y.a. universe at the moment. In addition to writing novels, though, I do work on other literary projects. I’m in the midst of writing a comedic web series about video game developers, and also a musical or two. Lord knows when any of that will see the light of day, but I do like to experiment in different mediums.
Oh, and then there’s the super top-secret animated series idea I’ve been developing with my buddy Evan: BEAR SUB.

Do you have any tips for writers on improving their writing?

Read your stuff aloud, that’s a biggie. You’ll notice wonky sentences, run-ons, and boring bits. Reading your stuff aloud to others works even better.

Read Stephen King’s ON WRITING, read Donald Maass’s WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. Read poetry. Write poetry! Avoid the internet.

When sitting down to write a scene, consider these things in this order:
1) What does your character want?
2) What is the most horrible thing that can happen to your character, preventing her from getting what she wants?
3) What is the most interesting way to convey the horrible thing and your character’s response? If you don’t have 1 and 2 down first, it doesn’t matter how good you are at 3: the scene will fall flat.

Any words of wisdom on finding an agent?

Send your best, most compelling, most unique work. Follow submission guidelines. Don’t labor for decades revising, perfecting, submitting one project. Move on. Write new books. Come back to the same agents with something better, something fresher. Keep at it.

What direction do you see the market going in? More or less hard covers? More or less ebooks? More or less fantasy? Paranormal? Dystopian? Horror? Humor?
I think genre fiction (with sci-fi, fantastical, or paranormal elements) will always be strong, and I think these different genres will continue to blend and recombine. The industry is less trendy than it was three years ago, so trying to be “the next” HUNGER GAMES / TWILIGHT / PERCY JACKSON won’t serve you (not that it ever did). Now is a great time for contemporary realism, stories about real characters in real situations, with terrific emotional depth.

Before you go can you tell us your likes and dislikes in novels?

A pet peeve of mine is passive or reactive protagonists. In contemporary realism, these tend to be long-suffering narrators who have endured unimaginable sorrows, and we’re meant to engage with them based purely on pity, apparently. In genre fiction, this tends to be the Reluctant Hero, who just wants to blend in, or live a normal life, but is tasked with saving the kingdom. No thanks. I love proactive heroes, take-charge, take-no-prisoners, tough protagonists. I want heroes who really want something, and who go out and get it. Flawed or virtuous, give me some fire in the belly. Those are the characters (and people) I admire most and want to read about.

Don’t miss out on reading John’s new book. I can’t wait to read it, since his last book is one of my favorites. I expect no less with this one. Thanks John for sharing your time with us.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Advice, Agent, Book, Editor & Agent Info, inspiration, Interview, Kudos Tagged: Author/Agent John Cusick, Cherry Money Baby, The Greenhouse Literary

12 Comments on New Book – Give-A-Way – John Cusick Agent/Author Interview, last added: 9/19/2013
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18. Agent at Dijkstra Looking to Build List

literary-agent-roz-fosterAbout Roz: Roz Foster is an associate agent, rights assistant, and talent scout for the Dijkstra Agency. She has a B.A. in English Literature from UC San Diego, studied philosophy for a year at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and earned her M.A. in English, with an emphasis in composition & rhetoric and creative writing, from Portland State University. At PSU, she taught writing in exchange for tuition. She’s been learning French since 2009. Roz spent over five years as a qualitative researcher in high-tech consumer products marketing. In 2008, she co-founded a web design company for which she provided non-profit organizations with audience-focused market research, project planning, and digital design. She joined SDLA in 2013.

She is seeking: Roz is interested in literary and commercial fiction, women’s fiction, literary sci-fi, and literary YA. She loves novels that make her feel like the author is tuned into a rising revolution — cultural, political, literary, or whatnot — that’s about to burst on the scene. She looks for a resonant, lively voice; rich, irresistible language; complex characters with compelling development arcs; and a mastery of dramatic structure. Roz is also interested in non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, design, business, cultural anthropology/social science, politics, psychology and memoir. Here, she looks for driven, narrative storytelling and sharp concepts that have the potential to transcend their primary audience.

Please note that Roz is specifically not interested in: sports, cookbooks, screenplays, poetry, romance, and children’s middle-grade/picture books.

How to contact: E-query roz [at] dijkstraagency.com. “We read all query letters. However, because of the high volume of unsolicited submissions we receive, we are only able to respond to those queries in which we are interested. If you have not heard back from us six weeks after sending your letter, you may assume that we have passed.” Please send a query letter, a 1-page synopsis, a brief bio (including a description of your publishing history), and the first 10-15 pages of your manuscript. Please send all items in the body of the email, not as an attachment.

Talk Tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, need to know, opportunity Tagged: Contact Information, Dijkstra Agent, Literary sci-fi, Looking to build list, Roz Foster, Young Adult Novels

0 Comments on Agent at Dijkstra Looking to Build List as of 9/16/2013 1:26:00 AM
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19. Meet Editor Karl Jones and Agent Dawn Frederick

2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading Lists

Keep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg. See the Summer Lists Now!

It started innocently enough. When Scholastic editor Nick Eliolpos spoke at a local conference, he talked about his love of Spiderman. So, I dubbed him the Peter Parker of children’s literature. And now, it’s a tradition that speakers at our conference must be tagged with a popular super-hero or super-character.
Read about these figures in the children’s publishing world:

  • The Peter Parker of children’s publishing.
  • The young Bill Gates of children’s literature.
  • The M of children’s literature, as in 007′s boss
  • The Snow White of children’s literature.
  • Glinda, the Good Witch, of children’s literature.
  • Karl Jones, the He-Man of Children’s Literature

    Karl Jones, editor at GP Putnam/Penguin

    Conference sessions can get repetitive and stuffy, but Karl Jones, Assistant Editor at G.P. Putnam/Penguin, kept the 2013 Arkansas SCBWI conference attendees laughing and working at the same time.

    We had writing exercises with provoking questions: what character has traditionally been left out of children’s books and can you find a way to add that character to your WIP?

    We had group Pitch sessions: “From the great state of Arkansas, we have Darcy Pattison to regale us with a pitch specially crafted by her group.” It was a take-off on a Pitch session that Jones regularly holds at venues in NYC. Only there, the GPPutnam Editor in Chief gives the winner his business card! The funniest pitch was when Robin Burrows walked on-stage and accidentally tripped and lost a shoe–then pitched a modern version of Cinderella. Yeah, right, Robin! That wasn’t an accident!

    P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados

    Karl Jones has been with GP Putnam for three years and is now starting to acquire. They do everything from picture books through middle grade (no YAs), with many licensed properties that are done as work-for-hire. He’s interested in middle grade novels, in particular.

    One of the topics that came up was gender and how it is treated in novels today. He recommended P.K. Pinkerton and the Deadly Desperados as a recent novel that walks a fine line on this issue. Jones said he didn’t know if the main character was male or female until the very end.

    Karl Jones

    "By the Power of Gray Skull! I have the Power (of the Pen)!"

    In that vein, he talked about He-Man, Master of the Universe and She-Ra, Princess of Power. He noted the irony that He-Man called power from his castle, “By the Power of Gray Skull?” However, She-Ra didn’t get power from her own castle, but had to refer to He-Man’s castle, “For the honor of Gray Skull.” And for that reason, we’ll dub him the He-Man of children’s literature.

    Dawn Frederick, the She-Ra of Children’s Literature

    Dawn Frederick, Agent & Owner of Red Sofa Literary

    Dawn Frederick, agent and owner of Red Sofa Literary, is a roller derby ref and a social media guru. Her list of social media book-related sites was the longest, most comprehensive I have ever seen. Are you on RiffleBooks.com, yet? Are you a Pheed.com addict? Read anything lately on BookCountry.com (a Penguin company)? Will these be the next place that people will discover new books? Maybe. Personally, I am keying in on Pinterest.

    Frederick as She-Ra

    "For the honor of Gray Skull! I have the Power (of the iPad)!"

    Frederick holds a B.S. in Human Ecology, and a M.S. in Information Sciences from an ALA accredited institution; she has been department head for children’s books at a couple bookstores. And yet, she began her career representing adult nonfiction. In that genre, she’s got some quirky titles about zombie tarot cards, roller derby and Yiddish with Dick and Jane. But two years ago, a children’s book editor–astonished at the depth and breadth of her knowledge of kids’ books–insisted she should represent that genre, too. She has since acquired clients who write middle grade and YA novels. Frederick was approachable and enthusiastic, passionate about her clients. And the banter between Jones and Frederick made it an easy decision. If he was He-Man, then she is the She-Ra of children’s literature.

    Thanks to Phyllis Heman, Regional Advisor for the AR-SCBWI, for a great conference.

    Add a Comment
    20. Foundry Literary + Media Agent Rachel Hecht

    rachelLI was talking with Agent Stephen Barbara at Foundry Literary + Media (Agent of New York Times and international bestseller Lauren Oliver – Before I Fall, Delirium, etc.). If you attended the NJSCBWI Conference, you met both of them. Anyway, he told me about Children’s Agent and Foreign Right’s Director, Rachel Hecht, at his company who is looking to build her client list. I thought I would share her information with all of you.

    As a domestic agent, Rachel is seeking children’s projects of all stripes, from picture books through to young adult fiction, as well as select fiction and non-fiction projects for adults that are wonderfully written and completely absorbing. Drawing on her experience at the forefront of children’s scouting, she loves the thrill of the hunt for new talent and enjoys working closely with authors to develop and refine their projects for submission.

    “In terms of adult fiction, the strength of the voice and quality of the writing is what is most important to me.  I am seeking literary as well as upmarket/commercial projects, and would love to see projects with crossover potential as well as those that blur the boundaries between genres – especially in the thriller, fantasy, and historical categories (but a polite no thank you to straight genre writing). For nonfiction, I’m interested in memoirs, pop culture, and narrative nonfiction projects with a great hook – stories that I am unable to put down about topics I had no idea I was interested in.”

    Before joining Foundry in 2011, Rachel served as the children’s book scout for Mary Anne Thompson Associates, where she provided exclusive insight into the US publishing world for a diverse roster of foreign publishers. A graduate of Kenyon College with a degree in English, she began her career in New York at Condé Nast before moving into book publishing.

    Rachel Hecht accepts paper and email submissions. Please send all digital queries for Rachel rhsubmissions@foundrymedia.com. For more information on submitting your project, please see the Foundry Submissions page.

    Talk tomorrow,


    Filed under: Agent, children writing, Editor & Agent Info, opportunity, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, submissions Tagged: Foundry Literary + Media, Rachel Hecht, Stephen Barbara

    3 Comments on Foundry Literary + Media Agent Rachel Hecht, last added: 7/5/2013
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    21. Writer and Illustrator Opportunities

    junecalendar summerThis fun June illustration was sent in by Dow Phumiruk is a pediatrician who has found her passion in children’s book illustration.  Most of her work is digital, and she enjoys using a bright, colorful palette.  She joined SCBWI in 2011 and is looking forward to her first national conference in LA this summer.  Here is a link to see more of her art: www.artbydow.blogspot.com.

    Looking for an agent critique? You might be interested in this critique auction:

    Literary agent Anna Olswanger has donated a critique for an online auction by The Born Free Foundation (an international wildlife charity that works throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering).

    You can submit up to 10 pages of a manuscript for a 10-minute phone consultation. It’s a great chance to get feedback from a professional.

    For those of you who don’t know Anna, she has been an agent with Liza Dawson Associates in New York for eight years and has sold to Bloomsbury, Chronicle, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster, among other publishers. She is also this month’s Guest Critiquer for Free Fall Friday. Stop back tomorrow and see what Anna has to say about the first pages that were chosen this month.

    Please visit www.biddingforgood.com/auction/item/Item.action?id=198872671 and consider making a bid before the auction closes this Saturday, June 29th.

    Do you have a book coming out and would like to have it reviewed. Here is an opportunity for you:

    In the July issue of Parenting: School Years, Carol Bower Cohen reviewed nine children’s books for summer 2013.  She says, “The experience was both exhausting and exhilarating. Although exhausting, it is something I’d like to do again, so if any NJSCBWI writers have a book coming out that they would like it reviewed, they can contact me at my new blog, www.bookgirlblogger.blogspot.com.

    Even if I am not working on a freelance review for a print magazine at the time an author contacts me, I can review it on my blog.  A link to my blog was placed in my author bio that ran with the review, so my blog is getting more exposure.” You can read about it here.

    Would you like to win an new book to read? I have won a few books by entering similar contests.

    FakingNormalCover_zps84cd3151Chance to win FAKING NORMAL by Courtney C. Stevens! Published by Harper Teen. http://kristintubb.blogspot.com/

    Chance to win A ROYAL PAIN by Megan Mulry http://www.lauragerold.blogspot.com/2013/06/a-royal-pain-baby-name-game-and-giveaway.html  Winner picked on July 1st. Another give-a-way Coming July 2nd – If the Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry.

    YA and Kids Books Giveaways – Here are ten books YABC is giving away this month, June 2013.

    Do any of the following to enter. Do more and increase your chances of winning a basket of Jen Bryant’s autographed books and more:

    • Like  her Facebook  page (if you haven’t already done so).
    • Leave a comment on any of my Facebook posts, through Aug 31.
    • Leave a comment on  her blog.
    • Get a friend to sign up for my Flying Tidings Newsletter.
    • [for educators &  librarians]  Send me a photo of you and your class or reading/book group with any of my books and a description of how you used it with them.

    Are you an illustrator and use Photoshop and a Wacom Tablet? If so, You might be interested in this:

    incrediblemakeovercontest_hdlineAbout the Contest

    It’s quite a challenge bringing your creativity to reality. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible, especially when using Photoshop and a Wacom tablet to expand the creative possibilities of your work.

    Here’s your chance to share one of your incredible makeovers for an opportunity to win some cool prizes, as well as see your work featured in an upcoming issue of Photoshop User magazine.

    Simply submit a before and after image of your greatest hit and tell us how Photoshop and a Wacom tablet helped you transform your creative vision into a real-life masterpiece.

    Contest Timeline

    Contest Open: June 15, 2012

    Contest Deadline: July 31, 2012 Public Voting:

    June 15 – August 3, 2012 Winners Revealed: August 10, 2012

    Click here to see all of our Incredible Makeover Contest winners.

    People’s Choice Award

    While a panel of NAPP and Wacom officials will decide the grand prize winner, the contest will include the bestowing of a special People’s Choice Award. The general public will have a chance to view and rate all entries. Once all votes are calculated, the image with the most votes and highest rating will be crowned the People’s Choice Award winner.


    Contest Prizes

    $5,000 Grand Prize Award!

    People’s Choice Award

    Honorable Mention Award

    Tips For Getting Votes

    It’s easy to spread the word and get votes. Simply share your art with others and collect as many votes as you can.

    Email it. Your email address book should be the first place you go to find your closest friends and family. Shoot them an email with a link to the voting page and ask them to rate your artwork and help spread the word.

    Facebook it. Create an event on Facebook about your contest entry and invite all your friends. Keep the event open for anyone to attend so your friends can invite more friends to vote. And don’t forget to click the Facebook icon within the Share tab so you can remind your friends to vote from your Live News Feed.

    Tweet it. Tweet a link to your entry in our contest every single day. It will remind those who are following you on Twitter to vote for your entry. You can add a link to your entry by clicking on the Twitter icon within the Share tab.

    Blog it. Do you have your own blog? If so, be sure to post about your entry to let others know what it’s all about and what your motivations are. Share the link to make sure all your readers help you rack up the votes.

    Good luck!

    Talk tomorrow,


    Filed under: Agent, Book, Contests, opportunity Tagged: Adobe Photoshop/Wacom Contest, Anna Olswanger, Book Give-a-ways, book review opportunity, Carol Bower Cohen, Dow Phumiruk

    9 Comments on Writer and Illustrator Opportunities, last added: 6/30/2013
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    22. Free Fall Friday – June Results

    bookopenI’d like to thank Anna Olswanger from Liza Dawson Associates for sharing her time and expertise with us this month. Your first page is the first thing anyone sees of your story, so the more we can hone the beginning, the better off we will be in writing a successful book. I know we can all learn from these sessions. Even if it is not your first page, you can make note of the thoughts of an editor or agent after they have critiqued the page.

    Here are the four first pages picked this month and Anna’s thoughts:

    Hope Grietzer                    The Carousel Keeper                Middle Grade Novel

    A parade of green swells rose and sank in the murky water beneath the boat. The deck of the ferry dipped again, and for a moment Sadie felt weightless.

    “Just ten more minutes,” she thought, gripping the rail as the ferry climbed the crest of the next swell. A gusty wind tugged at her baseball cap like a passing pickpocket, and Sadie’s hand flew up to protect her cap. She squeezed her eyes shut.

    “Bit choppy today,” a voice said.

    The steward approached, the ends of his white jacket flapping in the breeze like seagull

    wings. Red hair hugged his head, and his ears stuck out like pot handles.

    “Anything I can do for you, Miss?”

    “Can you send me back to Ohio?” Sadie forced a small grin.

    “I would, except I promised your uncle I’d deliver you to the island safe and sound.” He

    glanced around the crowded ferry. “Follow me.”

    Sadie eased away from the rail. The mischievous deck sank before her sneaker could reach it, and then rose so that her foot smacked it hard.

    “Feels like I’m walking on the moon,” she thought, hobbling after the steward.

    The man paused and gestured toward a vacant seat. “The ride should be smoother here.”

    A mother with a squirmy toddler shifted to make room as Sadie sank onto the bench. Across the aisle, a wiry man in a brown suit coat gave Sadie and the child a nervous glance and tugged his briefcase closer. Sadie gave him her best smile but he scowled back, his thick eyebrows drawing together like a blackbird’s wings.

    Sadie wished her brother Jamie was here. He had a knack for making friends. But Sadie

    traveled alone, sailing toward Summer Island while her parents flew to Brazil. They broke the

    news to her last week.


    The Carousel Keeper

    I would keep reading beyond the first page to find out what life will be like for Sadie on Summer Island. (Will she find a friend? Will she see the steward again? What is her uncle like?)

    I do think some minor details are distracting: the image of red hair hugging the steward’s head, for example. What is the point of that detail, or of the detail of his ears sticking out? It feels as though the author may be trying to fill up space. The deck being “mischievous” feels like overwriting, and what is it like to walk on the moon? The reader has been experiencing the choppiness of the ride, so would walking on the moon be “choppy?”

    Is there a significance to the bird imagery? The stewards’s white jacket flaps like seagull wings. The man in the brown suit has eyebrows that draw together like a blackbird’s wings. Make it clear if an image is part of a theme. Otherwise, the details seem arbitrary.

    The hint of Jamie at the end is nice.

    Annina Luck Wildermuth

    Ned Bunting, Ghost Spotter & the Ghost with the Hooded Cloak Middle Grade (ages 8 – 12)

    Ned was two hours into his watch, crouched behind the old elm at Walnut Hollow graveyard, when he spotted his first ghost of the night.  Of course, he’d seen all kinds of ghosts the week before when he was still in training with his older brother Tom, but this was different. He was alone now.

    As his luck would have it though, he could already see that this one was a poor excuse for a ghost. All its potentially distinguishing marks were obscured by a voluminous hooded cloak.

    The horse it rode was equally undistinguished, poking its way among the graves, slow as molasses.

    How am I supposed to identify this ghost? wondered Ned, starting to worry. As Walnut Hollow’s new ghost spotter, he was supposed to identify and log in all the ghosts who came through the town and make sure that they were obeying the local haunting laws.

    He fumbled now to produce Ghosts of the Thirteen Colonies & Their Classification from inside his vest. Satisfied that the horse and rider were making slow progress at best, he thumbed the book’s worn pages, his lantern flickering beside him. Ghosts were portrayed in great detail with identifiable characteristics.  There was General Whitelsby, the angry, old red-coat in his unmistakable British uniform and Abigail, the Quaker in her fancy white neck ruff. The mad horseman from Sleepy Hollow always carried his head under his arm. Ned’s eyes darted to the graveyard, and he groaned inwardly. Nothing.

    And then the wind whipped up, blowing through the tree’s branches and whistling its way between the gravestones. It twirled around the ghost and lifted its cloak into the air to reveal a small, cross girl in the frilliest dress Ned had ever seen. She looked straight at him and wailed: “How am I ever going to accomplish my mission, now that I’ve been so rudely unmasked?”

    HERE’s ANNA:

    Ned Bunting, Ghost Spotter

    This first page ends on a nice note of suspense, so I would want to read further, but the first sentence is too long and clunky. Try to clean it up, since that is an editor’s first impression of your manuscript.

    It’s not clear why you have the detail that this ghost was a poor excuse. Tom is logging in ghosts and making sure they obey the local haunting laws, so his luck is not that this ghost is a poor excuse, but that it has no distinguishing marks.

    The use of a book implies that this is a contemporary story. Is that what you intend, or is the story set in the past? If it’s set in the past, then shouldn’t the book be manuscript pages with handwritten notes?

    When Ned’s eyes dart to the graveyard, he groans. If he’s groaning because he still  can’t identity this ghost, then make it clear that he is looking at the ghost, not at the graveyard (in general) to eliminate any confusion.

    The last paragraph is perfect.

    Liliana Erasmus - Song Of The Sentinel - paranormal middle-grade.

    What is father doing here? I told him to stay out of it. This isn’t his battle to fight. His glorious days of vigilance are over. Gone. It’s my turn now. Why doesn’t he get it? He is dead. I am not. And he knows I’m here, I can feel his light shifting closer. His presence. My lantern blows out.

    “Go. Away,” I urge him in silence.

    I don’t even turn around to look into his empty eyes, or at that ridiculous horse that carries him around, for what? To attract all the hungry creatures in the neighborhood and make my life more miserable than it already is? I have to keep position and here he comes, shimmering behind me like a lighthouse signaling, Look here! You see ‘m? Now suck his life out!

    They’re coming. I’m not sure how many this time. Three? Four?

    “Father, for God’s sake, leave! Let it be.”

    Once again, he backs off, his light dimming and I know he’s further away, but never for long, never too far from danger… from me.

    The September wind has fallen, the trees stand breathless, moonlit tombs lie in repose and I still get that paralyzing chill down my spine. The buzzing in my ears is getting louder, it’s growing until it becomes a constant whistle in my head, ticking me off. If I jump now, they’ll know what to do with me. I’m on my own. They are with one, five… eleven, damn! I have to wait for them to stick their tongues into the earth before making any sound. One of them is not sniffing the graves. It’s holding back for some reason, tilting its snout in the air, tail high and stiff, while that foul smell of decay reaches my nose, making me gag. I swallow the sourness without blinking. The furry carcass is staring right at me.


    Song of the Sentinel

    I would probably keep reading this manuscript, but this page is confusing. Here are my concerns:

    The narrator speaks in both vernacular and formal language: “stay out of it” and “doesn’t he get it” don’t work with “His glorious days of vigilance are over.”

    It also doesn’t make sense for the narrator to say, “he knows I’m here” when it’s the narrator who can feel the father’s presence.

    The phrase “my life more miserable than it already is” is vague. The reader needs a hint of what has been going on. Miserable in what way?

    Who says “Look here! You see ‘m? Now suck his life out!’ The reader can’t tell.

    Who says “They’re coming. I’m not sure how many this time. Three? Four?” Again, the reader can’t tell who is speaking.

    What does it mean for tombs to “lie in repose?” It sounds as though the author is trying too hard here to be literary.

    What does it mean that the narrator “still” gets that paralyzing chill down his or her spine? Has this happened in the past?

    “Ticking me off” sounds too slangy, and too trite.

    What does it means to swallow the sourness “without blinking?” What does sight have to do with taste in this instance?

    I like the images in the last paragraph, and I especially like the suspenseful last sentence. I would continue reading, but the author should clear up all the confusion on this first page so that an editor will feel that the author is in control of her craft.

    Meg Eastman Thompson, THE TRUTH ABOUT JUSTICE. MG/YA novel

    Restless as a yellow-jacket at a barbecue, I bounded down the sidewalk to fetch the bread and milk for supper as Mother had ordered, heading for the Piggly Wiggly. I was lonely, missing Effie more than ever. Wondering where she and her family had hidden. Not wanting to believe they’d never come back.

    When Missy and I had promised Effie we’d stand by each other no matter what, we’d taken our vows seriously. It hadn’t mattered back then that Effie was colored. We three were true friends. As I passed Liberty High and turned left toward the grocery store, there was not a friend in sight. Most everybody had been sent away, what with the coloreds asking to come to our school.

    My next-door neighbor and sometime friend, Missy Pridemoor, and nearly everyone else, was having fun at church camp. I had begged to go, but Daddy insisted I was too old to be a camper. When I’d protested, he made it clear that, three years away from college, I was too young to make my own decisions. As usual Mother stuck by him.

    When I was little, she’d always say, “Amelia Justice Queen, your Daddy knows what’s best for you.” But it was 1963 now and I was changing, along with everything else in our country. Even Mother was starting to speak up. When she told Daddy that camp was nothing but a non-stop revival meeting, it got me thinking. I didn’t need to be saved. Nor did I want to waste the end of my summer vacation listening to some preacher baying like an auctioneer. I stopped complaining. At fifteen, going on sixteen, I was smart enough to pick my battles.

    Besides, I wanted to enjoy my last days of freedom. I skipped along. Released from their impossible overprotectiveness, which had only grown worse since stopping integration was once again on the school board agenda, I was determined to make the best of my trip to the store.
    The Piggly Wiggly’s deep freeze was heavenly. I lingered by the ice cream treats.


    The Truth About Justice

    Although I think this manuscript has potential because of the voice and content, I found the first page so full of exposition (and some of it confusing), that I don’t think I’d continue reading. Look at the first sentence and how long it is—the first page feels a bit like this (stuffed with information).

    I don’t understand who the narrator is and what she wants: In the first paragraph, she is lonely for Effie; in the second paragraph, she seems to be missing her friends in general; in the third paragraph, she wants to go to camp; in the fourth paragraph, she decides she doesn’t want to go camp; and in the fifth paragraph, she seems just to want to enjoy her freedom. All of these motivations feel like too much for one page. The narrator has to have one overriding motivation that will take her (and the reader) through that first page—and on through the book.

    It’s also confusing that in the third paragraph, the mother sticks by the father, but in the next paragraph she tells the father that the camp is nothing but a non-stop revival meeting.

    And, finally, a fifteen-year-old protagonist is a bit too old for a novel that has the feel, at least in this opening page, of a middle grade novel (the narrator skips). If the author could lower the age and focus the narrator’s motivation, she should have a first page that an agent or editor would want to keep reading.

    Thank you everyone for participating. Happy revising.

    Talk tomorrow,


    Filed under: Advice, Agent, Author, revisions, Tips, writing Tagged: Anna Olswanger, First Page Critique, Free Fall Friday, Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency

    5 Comments on Free Fall Friday – June Results, last added: 7/1/2013
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    23. 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

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    24. Twelve years ago….

    ….I was happily driving into NYC from CT for a number of looked-forward-to appointments with publishers that day Sept. 11th, 2001 - several off Hudson.  The day was brilliant and clear.  I remember thinking I was having a ‘good hair day’ and had plenty of cash in my wallet, gas in my car for the drive and just felt like signing aloud.  So I turned on the radio about 8:45…..   and the world changed forever.

    I kept driving toward the city in tears….finally being stopped just as they closed the  bridge leading over to Manhattan from its north eastern tip.  The sound of all the alarms and ER vehicles still bring a chill to me remembering.  Odd how in times of great fear and disbelief we still tend to move forward….even toward danger.  Human nature to keep going, one foot in front of the other, trying to make sense, trying to help, trying to survive.

    We honor all those lost this day 12 years ago and the even more who’s lives were forever changed …which includes practically all of us.  God bless this great country….we WILL continue to move forward trying to make sense, trying to help, trying to survive…with dignity and hope.

    beach Flag Image2 (3)BURRISfrom Priscilla Burris

    1 Comments on Twelve years ago…., last added: 9/11/2013
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    25. Literary Counsel


    Literary Counsel is a boutique agency located in New York City.

    It has two agents:

    Frances Black – looking for:

    •Contemporary Romance


    •Historical Romance

    •New Adult

    Jenn MishlerJennifer Mishler looking for:

    •Young Adult Romance

    •Young Adult Contemporary

    •Young Adult Literary

    •Young Adult Historical

    •New Adult

    Jennifer is seeking Young Adult Fantasy, Young Adult Contemporary, Young Adult Literary, and Young Adult Historical.

    Twitter: @literarycounsel

    Visit her here: about.me/jennmishler

    They only accept queries on the 1st and 2nd of each month.

    Their Guidelines:

    Genres and Specialties: Romance—contemporary and historical, prior to 1930—Mystery/Crime, YA (Young Adult Novels) and New Adult. No vampires, no werewolves and no erotica.

    Please send us an EMAIL to Literarycounsel@gmail.com (this is our submission address) with a summary of your manuscript, a short biography introducing yourself, a way to contact you and ATTACH the first three chapters of your manuscript and a SYNOPSIS as a Word doc.

    Your subject line should tell us what genre your manuscript is. (Example: A Young Adult Contemporary, A Historical Romance, A Mystery)

    Please do not paste the chapters in the body of your email (it’s difficult for us to read submissions this way!)

    In your attachment, please have your title, your name and contact info in your first three chapters. Also, make sure your manuscript has page numbers.

    Please include the following information: What genre you feel your work is most like, any similar titles and who your audience is.

    Make sure everything you submit to Literary Counsel has your name included, email address and also please have page numbers.

    Some advice..

    If you submit outside the submission deadlines, your manuscript WILL NOT BE READ.

    Your manuscript needs to be double spaced.

    • Be professional and courteous in your approach to us. We form an impression based on your e-query, and you want it to be a good impression. Do not write your query in a rush. Take the time to write it well. Make sure your query and manuscripts are polished and error free.

    • It could take up to a month to respond to your initial query letter and if we want to read more of your manuscript, we will ask for it.

    The process of reading an entire manuscript can be long. We try to read as much as we can. Please be patient.

    Talk tomorrow,


    Filed under: Agent, Editor & Agent Info, Places to sumit, Publishers and Agencies, Young Adult Novel Tagged: Frances Black, Jennifer Mishler, Literary Counsel, submission guidelines

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