What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

Recently Viewed

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<December 2017>>
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 21 of 21
1. New Voice & Giveaway: Maria Gianferrari on Penny & Jelly

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Maria Gianferrari writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books from her sunny, book-lined study in northern Virginia, with her dog Becca as her muse.

Maria’s debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder (2015) led to Penny & Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars (2016)(both HMH Books). 

Maria has seven picture books forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Aladdin Books for Young Readers, GP Putnam’s Sons and Boyds Mills Press in the coming years.

Could you tell us about your writing community--your critique group or partner or other sources of emotional, craft and/or professional support?

In the spirit of my main character, Penny, an avid list maker, here are my top five answers:

1. Ammi-Joan Paquette:

I am so grateful for my amazing agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette!

Where do I begin? I owe my writing career to Joan, for taking a chance on and believing in me. She has been sage guide, a cheerleader and champion of my writing from the get go.

She’s made my writing dream come true!!

2. Crumpled Paper Critique (CP):

I would not be where I am today without my trusted writing friends and critique partners: Lisa Robinson, Lois Sepahban, Andrea Wang, Abigail Calkins Aguirre and Sheri Dillard. They have been such a wonderful source of support over the years, in good times, and in bad.

Yes—it’s kind of like a marriage—that’s how dedicated we are to each other’s work! They’re smart, thoughtful, insightful, well read, hard-working and the best critique partners one could hope for!

We have a private website where we share not only our manuscripts, but our opinions on books, ideas, writing inspiration and doubts. I treasure them and wish we lived closer to one another to be able to meet regularly in person. Hugs, CPers!

3. Emu’s Debuts:

Like many other writers, I’m quite a shy and introverted person. If you’ve seen that classic hamster ball cartoon about introverts, that’s me! Having a book debut is extremely intimidating.

I was so lucky to have joined the ranks of Emu’s Debuts, so named for clients and debut authors affiliated with Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA).

The Emu’s Debuts blog is a place for sharing thoughts on the craft of writing and illustrating, being debuts, and most importantly, helping launch our books into the world. I have since fledged, but it was so helpful, reassuring and fun to be a part of this community of very talented, kind and generous people. Check out the current flock of Emus.

4. Tara Lazar:

Picture book author extraordinaire, and founder of PiBoIdMo (picture book idea month), Tara has also been a generous supporter, not just of me, but for all the pre and published picture book authors and illustrators out there. Thousands of writers participate and are inspired by guest posts during PiBoIdMo, November’s picture book idea challenge. She shares insights on craft, the field of publishing, new books, interviews, giveaways, etc. on her popular blog, Writing for Kids (While Raising Them), throughout the year.

When the news of the Penny & Jelly sale broke, Tara kindly offered to host me of her blog. Later, she invited to be a contributor for PiBoIdMo, and last year she also participated in my blog tour for Penny & Jelly.

5. Kirsten Cappy of Curious City:

Kirsten’s a kidlit marketing guru and owner of Curious City. She was invaluable in sorting through the mire that is promotion.

Kirsten’s clever and creative and had so many wonderful ideas for promoting Penny & Jelly in ways that would be most comfortable for an introvert like me. She designed a Jelly banner with original art from illustrator Thyra Heder for use as a photo booth so kids could “be” Penny and pose with Jelly, as well as gorgeous postcards and business cards.

I especially love the talent show kit for library and classroom use that Kirsten designed. Please feel free to share and use it.

As a picture book writer, you have succeeded in a particularly tough market. What advice do you have for others, hoping to do the same?

1. Write What You Love:

Write what you’re obsessed with. This will help you not only endure the inevitable rejections along the way, but also the winding road of revision.

My debut nonfiction book, Coyote Moon, was released this July. It initially began as an article on suburban coyotes for "Highlights."

Well, "Highlights" rejected it, but I wasn’t ready to let go of my manuscript.

The coyotes kept howling in my head, so it morphed into a poetic picture book.

Several revisions later, it won a Letter of Commendation for a Barbara Karlin grant from SCBWI; many more revisions later, it was acquired by Emily Feinberg at Roaring Brook Press. And I am so in love Bagram Ibatoulline’s illustrations. They are absolutely stunning!

2. Read. Read. Read:

Then read some more. I once read that before attempting to write one picture book, we should first read 1,000. But don’t just read them, see them as teachers, as mentor texts for your own work.

One of the most helpful exercises is to hand-write or type the words of my favorite picture book texts, to feel the rhythm of the and pulse of the story in my fingers, to get under the story’s skin—see its bones or structure and the way the muscles and sinews, rhythm, refrain and repetition, are bound together. Doing this helps us find a story’s heart, its elusive soul and helps us understand our own work.

Consider joining founder Carrie Charley Brown’s ReFoReMo, where picture books are studied as mentor texts. Get ready to dig deep!

3. Don’t Give Up!

Persevere! Keep swimming! Rejection is at the heart of this journey and it’s not usually a linear journey, it’s more circuitous, with ups and downs along the way.

Take it one day, one moment at a time, and celebrate all of your successes, both big and small.

And remember, keep improving your craft, and building your connections, you will get there!

(See #1 again)

4. Play and Experiment:

To find your writing voice, play with different points of view. Change genres. Try out different structural techniques like letters, or a diary format or lists, like I did with Penny & Jelly.

Think about the shape of your story. Is it circular? Could it be a journey? Would a question and answer format enhance it? Does it have a refrain?

I’m not an illustrator, but you can do the same kinds of things to find your visual voice—switch sketching for sewing, or painting for clay. And most of all, embrace your inner kid and have fun!

5. Reach Out:

Connect with your local and online writing community—there are so many valuable resources out there. You’re reading Cynsations, so that’s a great start! If you haven’t already joined SCBWI and found a critique group, that’s a must. As I mentioned above, join Tara Lazar’s PiBoIdMo challenge in November, or Paula Yoo’s NaPiBoWriWee to write a picture book a day, which takes place in May.

There’s a plethora of writing groups on Facebook. One I highly recommend is Kidlit411, co-run by Elaine Kieley Kearns and Sylvia Liu. It’s such a wealth of information for authors and illustrators on writing/illustrating craft, on promotion, on submissions for agents and editors, revision—all kinds of things. And to borrow Jane Yolen’s title, above all, Take Joy!

Cynsational Giveaway

Enter to win an author-signed copy of Penny & Jelly: The School Show and Penny & Jelly: Slumber Under the Stars. Eligibility: U.S. only. From the promotional copy:

This young and funny picture book introduces the soon-to-be star of her school talent show: Penny. Despite her desire to knock everyone's socks off, Penny's having a tough time deciding on what talent she might have. With a little help from her dog, Jelly, Penny tries out various talents—from dancing to unicycling, fashion designing to snake charming—with disastrous results. That is, until she realizes that she and Jelly have a talent to share that's unlike any other.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Add a Comment
2. Guest Post: Parker Peevyhouse on Where Futures End

By Cynthia Leitich Smith
for Cynsations

Parker Peevyhouseis the first-time author of Where Futures End(Penguin/Kathy Dawson Books, 2016). From the promotional copy:

Five teens.

Five futures.

Two worlds.

One ending.

One year from now, Dylan develops a sixth sense that allows him to glimpse another world.

Ten years from now, Brixney must get more hits on her social media feed or risk being stuck in a debtors' colony.

Thirty years from now, Epony scrubs her entire online profile from the web and goes “High Concept.”

Sixty years from now, Reef struggles to survive in a city turned virtual gameboard.

And more than a hundred years from now, Quinn uncovers the alarming secret that links them all.

Five people, divided by time, will determine the fate of us all. These are stories of a world bent on destroying itself, and of the alternate world that might be its savior--unless it's too late.

Could you describe both your pre-and-post contract revision process? What did you learn along the way? How did you feel at each stage? What advice do you have for other writers on the subject of revision?

Parker Peevyhouse
I set myself up for a tricky revision process when I wrote Where Futures End as a series of interconnected stories. I had to make sure that the stories connected well to each other, even though each is mostly self-contained.

My agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, also pointed out that the first story in the book had to be really gripping. Of course, every novel has to have an opening that grabs the reader, but that had to be especially true of Where Futures End, since the reader would only continue to the second story if s/he loved the first.

I worked really hard to revise the opening story before we sent out the manuscript on submission. But the feedback we got was that the first story still wasn’t working. The tone was too sad and dark, since the story dealt with a boy (Dylan) wrestling with the death of his brother; and Dylan was confusing, since he kept going back and forth on whether he had the ability to visit another world. I was pretty bummed about this feedback because I loved Dylan and his story, but I could see that the manuscript wouldn’t sell as-is.

I scrapped that first story and started over. I brought the dead brother back to life and made the plot focus on sibling rivalry. I created a more linear progression for Dylan’s investigation into whether he had the ability to visit another world, and I had the brother play a larger part in this mystery. To my surprise, this new version of the story felt even closer to what I had originally want to achieve. And it got a lot more interest from editors.

The editor who bought the novel, Kathy Dawson (who has her own imprint at Penguin), wanted me to make even deeper cuts. In the original version of the manuscript, Dylan is obsessed with a series of fantasy novels about the Lookingland, a magical realm Dylan thinks he can visit. Throughout the novel, other characters also try to access the Lookingland, so it became an element that tied together the separate stories that make up Where Futures End. Kathy suggested I cut out the Lookingland entirely; she thought it was too confusing, one more thing for the reader to keep track of in an already intricate novel. But how in the world would I then tie all of Where Futures End together?

Parker's assistant, Arya
We figured out that Dylan, instead of reading novels about the magical land he longed to escape to, should write stories about that land himself. This set up a new way to connect the stories that comprise Where Futures End.

In the second part of Where Futures End, Dylan’s stories come to the public’s attention. In the third part, we see that books and movies have been made from Dylan’s stories. In the fourth part, a main character makes his living playing a video game based on Dylan’s stories. And in the fifth part, the stories take on a life of their own…

It was painful to make all of those deep cuts. I wasn’t always sure I should make such huge changes to my original vision! But I took the advice of my agent and did my revisions in a separate document so that I always had the option of reverting to the original manuscript.

That helped me make bold changes, and in the end, I felt the new versions of the manuscript were better than the old versions.

It helps to have an agent and an editor who are so insightful with their revision suggestions, but I also recommend taking chances with revisions, knowing you can always go back to what you originally wrote if those revisions don’t work for you.

As a science fiction writer, what first attracted you to that literary tradition? Have you been a long-time sci-fi reader?

Does anyone else remember “poot” from My Teacher Fried My Brains by Bruce Coville (Aladdin, 1991)? I loved that crazy-weird stretchable pet when I was in grade school. And I was fascinated by the tesseracts in A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1963).

When I was a kid, if there was a book in my library about something strange, I took it home.

Those books inspired me to write my own weird stories about kids visiting alternate realities and wielding supernatural powers.

Reading and writing science fiction was the only thing that could feed my ever-hungry imagination.

What drew me to science fiction as a kid were the strange ideas, the mind-benders, like Meg Murray talking about how time is the fourth dimension.

Where Futures End makes use of the tropes I’ve loved reading about from a young age: alternate universes, time distortion, psychic abilities. But I’ve also grown to love how science fiction explores personal interactions and cultural changes. I wanted Where Futures End to explore culture in the same way Feed by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick, 2002) does, and to explore relationships in the same way that How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (Penguin, 2004) does.

Science fiction, more than any other genre, lends enough distance to gain new perspectives, and that’s the main reason I still love the genre.

Add a Comment
3. Avalon Full Manuscript Writer’s Retreat

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

1. A full manuscript critique from one of the agents

2. A full manuscript group critique

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

4. A first page session with agents,

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

I have two available spots, if you are interested.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather AlexanderAgent Heather Alexander from Pippin Properties

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

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

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

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

Talk tomorrow,


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

4 Comments on Avalon Full Manuscript Writer’s Retreat, last added: 6/19/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
4. PiBoIdMo Day 24: Agents Love Picture Books

I asked the kidlit agents participating in PiBoIdMo as your “grand prizes” to tell us why they love picture books. Their answers are sure to inspire!

Heather Alexander, Pippin Properties
Picture books are easy to love because they are tiny little windows that offer beautiful glimpses out into the whole, wide, wonderful world, and into hearts like and unlike our own.





Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
I do love picture books! There is nothing more satisfying that to find a picture book manuscript which has been carefully crafted to share a story with the youngest readers.  The Impressionist painter Pierre Auguste Renoir said that painting is “making love visible” and I can’t help thinking that is why some picture books are so endearing and everlasting. They make the love we feel for our children, our grandchildren, and the children within us very visible. It is a true craft which needs to be learned and practiced. And I honor those who learn this craft and honor children.


Kirsten Hall, Catbird Agency
Kirsten Hall
Picture books pretty much have me wrapped around their finger. I’m obsessed by the story-telling opportunities offered by this highly-visual genre! Picture books (as a format) seem simple at first blush, but they are often in fact quite layered and even poetic, displaying an elegant interplay between text and art. Best of all, picture books are accessible to everyone. You don’t have to be able to read in order to love them. They can be savored for what they offer visually, and when read aloud, until a reader has command over the written word. Simply, what format is better than the first one that takes children by the hand and turns them into book-lovers?


Susan Hawk, The Bent Agency
The best part of picture books, for me, is way words and illustration marry together to create a sum greater than its parts.  I love the way art builds meaning in the story, and how the simplest of texts can be full of emotion and heart.  I remember so well the picture books that I poured over as a child — mystified and delighted to be invited into the world of reading and books.  For me, it’s an honor to represent picture books!



Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

trishagentI love picture books because they celebrate a time in our life we all look back on so fondly. I love being a part of helping to create them because we’re creating books for kids who will look back on them for the rest of their lives.




Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
I became a reader because of picture books, and I became an agent because of picture books. They are one of the richest and most influential forms of literature. So much feeling, so many laughs, in so few pages, meant to be read over and over again!





Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency
I love picture books because they speak to the quintessential child in each of us. They reach across the gaps of age and culture and language and bring us under their spell. A perfectly-crafted picture book is a full-senses experience that can last a lifetime.




Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency
I love the breadth of story and emotion—from clever and comical, to poetic and pondering—that can be found within the framework of a 32-page picture book.  I love the right prose, the visual subplots, the rhythm and rhyme and repetition (and repetition, and repetition).  But, most of all, I love them because they’re short.




Kathleen Rushall, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

kathleenrushallI love working with picture books because they remind me that the earliest literature we read in life can be some of the most memorable (and the most fun!).





Joanna Volpe, New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.
I love picture books because they’re fun to read aloud, and they’re meant to be read with someone else.They can’t not be shared! Even now, I don’t have kids, but when I read a good picturebook, my husband gets to be the audience. He’s very understanding. :-)





10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 24: Agents Love Picture Books, last added: 11/24/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
5. Conference season

Oh, to be in New York City right now. The annual SCBWI winter conference is in full swing and I would love to be there, too. Utah’s own James Dashner is giving the keynote on Sunday.

It is the kick off to the 2015 writing conference season. The SCBWI is the biggie, attracting a large national level

LTUE - Feb 12-14
Life, the Universe, and Everything. That about covers it. The conference moniker is borrowed from a Douglas Adams book with the same title. Running now for thirty years, LTUE bills itself as a “three-day academic symposium on all aspects of science fiction and fantasy.” Of course, it deals with “everything” so there’s bound to be something for most any writer. It meets at the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center. For complete information, go to LTUE.net.

Writing for Charity - March 21
This one day event features presenters, many of whom are Utah authors, panel discussions and a chance to have your work discussed with an agent, either Ammi-Joan Paquette or Minju Chang. They have four options for registration, each with varying levels of exposure to the two agents in attendance. Oh, and your registration fees are charitable. Writers for Charity chooses different organizations to donate to with a goal of getting books into the hands of children. They’ll also meet in Provo and more information is available at WritingforCharity.blogspot.com.

LDStorymakers - May 15 & 16
Agents galore and more Utah writers presenting on various aspects of the craft. Martine Leavitt delivers the keynote. Prices vary depending on the degree of involvement you choose. This conference also happens in Provo and their site, LDStorymakers.com provides details. 

WIFYR - June 15-19
My personal favorite is Carol Lynch William’s Writing and Illustrating For Young Readers. Like the others, this conference offers agents and Utah authors, and pricing varies. This is a week-long conference and differs from the others in that writers in the morning workshops are more active participants. Listening to a lecturer tends to be a more passive role. The workshops are interactive and intense. Their purpose is to critique and improve your manuscript. The afternoons have presenters and Jennifer Nielsen is the keynote speaker. This conference meets in Sandy and the WIFYR.com website offers details.

It’s winter in NYC, balmy in SLC. I would love to do SCBWI’s conference one of these days. But why spend the money on airfare and lodging when we’ve got some excellent opportunities for writers right here in Utah.

(This article also posted at http://writetimeluck.blogspot.com)

0 Comments on Conference season as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. NESCBWI Whispering Pines 2015

The time had come… after a pleasant drive through the backroads of RI through the snow drifts and pines…

…so began the 2015 edition of the Whispering Pines Writers Retreat at the Alton Jones campus! This was a special year, though- the 20th anniversary of it’s beginning. I have been coming since I was the illustrator mentor in 2007. Every year is full of inspiration, bonding, and renewed vigor for our writing careers. It is also full of cake. SO MUCH CAKE. And food that magically appears. It is another world, to be sure.

Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Mary Pierce have been the co-directors for many years, and have decided to step down this year. There’s no way they would go out without a bang, and it started right away! KidLit Jeopardy was a great way to kick it off andstart on that bonding I was talking about. It’s always a laugh fest. My team came in 3rd place (pretty decent)!

DSCN0030My favorite category is BUNNIES. :)


DSCN0031Hayley Barrett gives Lynda a going-away present…


DSCN0032…and it was fascinating! “Embrace the journey” was a good theme for the whole weekend.   
DSCN0034Mary Pierce and Kristin Russo got mini trophies for being a driving force (literally) for the retreat.


julie sally

NESCBWI RA Sally Riley and incoming retreat director Julie Kingsley  get commemorative staplers, for holding things together. Julie will be joined by Cameron Kelly Rosenblum as co-director of next year’s Whispering Pines retreat.


DSCN0041Co-director Mary receives a superhero cape for going up, up, and away above the usual requirements! 


DSCN0042Some of the mentors: agents Erin Murphy and Ammi-Joan Paquette, and editors Sylvie Frank, Kendra Levin, and Mallory Kass.
DSCN0045Laurie Murphy and Linda Crotta Brennan were recognized as the originators of the retreat 20 years ago.


DSCN0046Greenhouse Literary agent John Cusick gave great tips on ignoring the nagging voice that tells you you can’t write, and how to carve out legit writing time in your life. As both a writer and an agent, he knows intimately what he’s talking about.

Lynda and Mary pulled off a pretty incredible surprise by bringing back SIX previous mentors just to be on a panel about “what I wished I knew when I was starting out”. She had asked me casually to weigh in on this subject, but I didn’t know it would become a full-out panel discussion with all these fantastic writers and illustrators. Color me humbled. It was a real high point of the event!


WPMentors, past and present: Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Kim Newton Fusco, Leslie Connor, Jennifer Thermes, Kelly Murphy, Erin Dionne, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Carlyn Beccia, Me, Barbara O’Connor, and Brian Lies. Thanks Pam Vaughan for this photo!


DSCN0056Agents Ammi-Joan Paquette and Erin Murphy turned the tables asked each other questions. Erin looks for things she didn’t know she liked until she read them; it’s the exceptions to the rules that grab her. Ammi-Joan is open to any genre and concedes that there is no one-size-fits-all path in a career.


DSCN0058First pages in the cozy lodge. The mentors really went above and beyond this year is their discussions of the first pages, giving us meaty and useful critiques.


DSCN0061Mallory Kass, Sylvie Frank, Kendra Levin, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Ammi-Joan Paquette, John Cusick, and Erin Murphy.
DSCN0063Carlyn, bringin’ the glamour and spreading it around. “Give me more zhush!”


DSCN0066Food. So much food. Food that we didn’t have to prepare, and dishes that magically disappeared after, only to be replaced by cake. Such is the way of Whispering Pines.


DSCN0073Writer girls Sandy Smith Budiansky and Brook Gideon. The smiles say it all.


DSCN0075Senior Editor Kendra Levin, from Viking, is not only a great editor, but a life coach. It was excellent to hear how she blends these ingredients to bring out the best in each book. I won’t think of elevators the same way again!


DSCN0077Jennifer O’Keefe has the uncanny ability to paint gorgeous watercolors during the retreat! 


DSCN0078Editor Sylvie Frank from Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books gave a great inside look at the editorial process. I loved how she makes her own dummies of manuscripts just to become one with the flow of each story. That’s dedication!


DSCN0082Kristin Russo stepping up and sharing her writing exercise.


malloryMallory Kass  from Scholastic looks for books that transport the reader, and immerse them in a new world. She seeks characters that have such a unique world view that it colors the reader’s view, too. She was quite a character herself, relating publishing to the dating world in a disturbingly accurate way!


Adieu, Whispering Pines, for another year. You never fail to bring out the best in everyone.


5 Comments on NESCBWI Whispering Pines 2015, last added: 3/22/2015
Display Comments Add a Comment
7. Summer Reading List: Summer Sports, Baseball, & the Outside World

By Nina Schuyler, The Children’s Book Review
Published: June 12, 2012

It’s summertime with its big bowl of a blue sky. Outside becomes another room, with open fields and the whir and buzz of bugs and baseball, and the voice of the water and the touch of sand.

Day One of summer, my son asks, “Now what?” So we ride our bikes to the library and load our backpacks with books about summer. Here’s a list to fill up the baggy pockets of summertime.

Summer and the Outside World

Oceans: Making Waves! 

Created by Simon Basher, written by Dan Green and Dr. Frances Dipper

Oceans: Making Waves! created by Simon Basher and written by Dan Green and Dr. Frances Dipper (independent marine consultant) takes kids underwater to discover mountains taller than anything on dry land, and trenches deeper than Mount Everest is high. Green personifies the aspects of the ocean. Here’s the Tide talking: “I’m a bit of a lunatic! As the Moon passes overhead, the water in the ocean feels a tug toward it. That’s gravity. In fact the whole planet feels this force of attraction…” Filled with interesting facts that make you see the world of the ocean with new eyes (the giant kelp grows up to 20 inches (50 cm) per day!)

Ages 10-15 | Publisher: Kingfisher | March 27, 2012

The Secret World of Whales 

By Charles Siebert; illustrated by Molly Baker

You’ll learn in The Secret World of Whales by Charles Siebert, illustrated by Molly Baker that the human brain and the whale brain are surprisingly similar and the sperm whale has the largest brain on earth, weighing more than 19 pounds (8.6 kilograms). Siebert explores the history, legends stories and science of whales. By the end, as the author did, you’ll want to have your own face-to-face encounter with this amazing creature.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | April 20, 2011

Citizen Scientists

By Loree Griffin Burns; photography by Ellen Harasimowicz

Summer means getting outside and Citizen Scientists by Loree Griffin Burns, photography by Ellen Harasimowicz shows you how to engage with the natural world in a scientific way.  You’ll discover how to capture and tag a Monarch butterfly without damaging its wings, and you’ll learn to distinguish be

Add a Comment
8. What Do Kidlit Literary Agents Think About Blogs?

If you’re an un-agented writer, you might be thinking—do I even NEED a blog? What content should it contain? How often should I post? What SHOULDN’T I blog about?

Well, relax. I asked a few agents what they thought of writerly blogs. Their responses may surprise you.

Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency:

“I don’t have any strict rules or do’s and don’ts. I find blogs are perhaps less useful than they used to be, with the exception of those with large followings. Mostly I go to them, when considering signing someone new, to get a sense of their personality and how they present themselves (whether to fellow kidlit folks, gatekeepers or kids).”

Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency:

“A writer’s blog wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for me unless it was wildly unprofessional. First and foremost, when I’m looking at a potential client, it’s all about the writing. But beyond that, a blog or website gives a sense of who that person is, how our tastes and interests might mesh, etc. So make sure your web presence reflects who you are, and that it looks clean and tight and polished. I don’t think they’re essential, but it is nice to put a face and background to the voice I’m reading on the screen.”

Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency:

“I don’t care if an author has a blog or not. But if they DO have a blog, I hope it is lively, interesting, informative, fun to read, and gives a sense of their “voice” and a glimpse into their lives.

Turnoffs: Lots of word-count posts. Constant self-promotion. Complaining about blogging, complaining about the publishing industry, complaining about specific people (your agent or editor, for example)—or “Humblebragging.”  Overly political or “sexy” posts (unless you are a political or sexy writer).

If an author HATES blogging and is struggling to find the time or energy…if it is taking away from their work or making them miserable…then they should absolutely not do it. An unused blog, or a blog that is just complaints or self-PR, is so much worse than no blog at all.”

Teresa Kietlinski, Prospect Agency:

“Blogs are absolutely important in my decision making. When submissions come in, I tend to visit blogs first because they give me a taste of the writer’s (and illustrator’s) personality, voice and interests. It also lets me see how dedicated they are to the craft of writing or illustrating. Do they post frequently? Do they talk about topics of interest in the children’s book world? Are they honing his/her skills? What books is he/she reading? Would I like to join him/her for

10 Comments on What Do Kidlit Literary Agents Think About Blogs?, last added: 8/9/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
9. All I want for Christmas

Looking for that perfect Christmas gift? How about a WIFYR conference?

I’m not talking about something for others in your life. This is a special gift just for you, for the writer you. He or she deserves it. And a wonderful gift it is.

There are several ways to go about it. You can leave subtle little hints around the house. In notes, strategically place here or there, you could mention the great authors your gift entails. They run the morning workshops and share their expertise in the afternoon sessions. Matt Kirby, Martine Leavitt, Cheri Pray Earl, and AE Cannon will be there. As will Mette Ivie Harrison, Sharlee Glenn, J Scott Savage, and Kris Chandler. Steve Bjorkman will be heading up the illustration class. Perhaps a conspicuously misplaced letter to Santa would get the message across. Remind the jolly elf that the gift fits all, from beginner to advance writers.

If subtle doesn’t work, a more blatant approach is needed. Tell your significant other you want to take your writing to the next level. Sitting for five days with a room full of like-minded writers, critiquing and being critiqued, discovering the nuances of the craft, learning areas your story works and where it needs help; no other gift can offer so much.

Yes, it’s pricey. Compared to other conferences, however, it is cheap. The Southern California Writer’s Conference costs almost as much but it only runs through a weekend. You don’t get the critique workshop experience. Same for the SCBWI conference in February. You could pay more for the one in San Francisco. It stretches over the longer President’s Day weekend, but still no critique session with your very own published author.

And none of the others is run by our own Carol Lynch Williams. Carol has done so much to help developing Utah writers through this conference.

If your gift givers are still not getting the message, to heck with them. Give this one to yourself. In addition to hints on the multiple aspects of the craft, WYFIR offers editors and agents who provide tips to getting publication. They view the attendees as serious writers and often offer specific submission guidelines to help move your query above the slush pile, base just on your attendance alone. A morning workshop gift for you is ideal, yet the afternoon sessions alone is a less expensive option that will still get you close to editor Alyson Heller and agents Ammi-Joan Paquette and Stephen Fraser.

Merry Christmas to you. Registration will be opening soon at http://www.wifyr.com/

0 Comments on All I want for Christmas as of 12/8/2012 7:01:00 PM
Add a Comment
10. Maria Gianferrari’s Success Story: Agent and Two-Book Debut Deal!

Wow, that’s kinda unheard of, isn’t it? A debut deal for TWO books?! I’m blown away. I know you are, too. So let’s meet the NOT UNTALENTED Maria Gianferrari!

I met Maria online a couple years ago when she signed up for PiBoIdMo. She’s also purchased my jewelry. And now she’s represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette, which makes us agent-mates. I mean, we’re practically sisters at this point, right?

OK, I will stop asking questions and give answers now. How did Maria land her agent? What is the two-book deal about? (Oh wait, that’s more questions, huh?)


Maria Gianferrari’s debut PENELOPE, UNTALENTED, focusing on a girl who’s having a difficult time deciding on what talent she might have (if any!) to put on display for her school talent show; with a little help from her dog, she tries out various talents with disastrous results — until she realizes that she and her dog have a talent to share that ‘sunique to them, to Cynthia Platt at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s, for publication Spring 2014, in a two-book deal, by Ammi-Joan Paquette at Erin Murphy Literary Agency.

Now take it away, Maria!

Maria...on the path to publication!

Maria…on the path to publication!

I first met Joan in 2009 at the PEN New England Susan Bloom Discovery Award ceremony. I was lucky to have been chosen as one of the winners for one of my nonfiction picture book manuscripts, and she introduced herself to me. At the time, I only had two submission-ready picture book manuscripts (and several in progress) so the timing wasn’t right, but she told me to keep in touch.

In May 2011, I saw Joan briefly at the New England SCBWI conference and she encouraged me to send her some manuscripts. We were getting ready to drive cross-country and live in San Diego for a year for my husband’s sabbatical, so I told her I’d be in touch at the end of the summer. I sent her a bunch of picture book manuscripts in late August, and then I heard back in October that she liked several of them, and asked me to revise two of them. I did two rounds of revisions for Joan, with the able assistance of my online critique group (Go CP!), and in late August 2012, I became her client. I felt overjoyed, and very lucky again, because Joan took me on based on my picture book manuscripts, knowing it would be more work, because there would be multiple editors involved. Ultimately, she told me that she had to have them on her list, which was a very nice compliment.

Joan began sending out three of my manuscripts almost immediately, and I began to receive some lovely rejections, and even a couple of revision requests. I was coming home from picking up my daughter at school, when I heard a voice on the answering machine. I picked it up and to my great surprise and delight it was Joan telling me we had an offer from Houghton Mifflin for my fiction picture book PENELOPE, UNTALENTED! I must have sounded like a complete and total idiot. All I could say was “Oh My God” about a thousand times.

Meanwhile my 11 year-old-daughter, Anya, was screeching in the background—“Mom—what is it? Who is it?”—so I told her that I sold a book. Then if I’m remembering correctly, I think Joan asked me if I wanted to sit down, so I did, and then she started telling me that I got a two-book deal! I was completely flabbergasted. Most of the conversation was pretty hazy, but I do remember thanking her, and telling her that this was beyond my wildest dreams—it was & is! After we hung up the phone, Anya and I did a happy dance in our living room. Our dog, Becca, thought we were nuts. The hardest part was having to wait to share my news because Joan had a hard time getting in touch with the other two editors to whom it had been sent since both had been out sick—flu season!

The lovely Cynthia Platt is “my” editor at Houghton. I live in the Boston area, so we recently met for lunch, and I was also able to meet Mary Wilcox and Monica Perez. It was so surreal that they knew my MC Penelope, and were excited about the book! I’m really looking forward to working with Cynthia on both of these books, and to finding out who will be chosen as the illustrator!

Thanks for sharing your success story with us, Maria! 

Now aspiring picture book authors, what does this teach us? Patience and perseverance is key! Maria first met Joan three years before she became her client. Make those connections and keep in touch! Take advantage of SCBWI events (like the NJ Chapter’s annual conference in June) to improve your craft and network with agents, editors and fellow kidlit professionals. It all pays off!

11 Comments on Maria Gianferrari’s Success Story: Agent and Two-Book Debut Deal!, last added: 3/20/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
11. Tricia Lawrence – Newest Agent at Erin Murphy Literary

Tricia_agentTricia Lawrence is the newest agent at Erin Murphy Literary Agency and attending the New Jersey SCBWI Conference in June. As associate agent, Tricia represents middle grade, young adult fiction and nonfiction and is looking to build her list of clients. She’s likes strong world building, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go. Tricia lives in Seattle, so you could say she is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA. With Ammi-Joan in New England and Erin in Arizona, they seem to have things covered, but of course, you do not have to live near an agent for them to represent you.

Tricia says, “I’m also beginning to look for younger books: picture books, early readers, chapter books as well as middle grade and young adult. I love all genres, but find that a story with a mystery is what I’m most drawn to. I love, love, love finding something new, whether it is a character that makes me laugh out loud to a character that continues to persevere in spite of everything being thrown at him/her. I would love to find books that are extremely high-concept, but that have an amazing main character. It really all comes down to character, doesn’t it?

I like historical, scifi, spec fiction, fantasy, paranormal (although the paranormal must be really original), contemporary, mystery/thriller, and adventure. I’m particularly drawn to books that focus on big educational transitions in a kid’s life (what it feels like to be leaving high school, that YA sweet spot or learning to navigate middle school coming from elementary school or learning to deal with school at all for younger readers). I must be reliving my own childhood years in school over and over again! I am also very interested in nonfiction for teens, on subjects covering babysitting to how to prepare for college in a fresh, original spin.”

EMLA is closed to unsolicited queries or submissions. We consider queries that come to us by referral from industry professionals we know, and individual agents are open to queries from attendees of conferences where they speak. So attending the June Conference in Princeton, will open this door for you. www.regonline.com/njscbwi2013conference

Here are some additional Tricia interview’s to read:

Forever Rewriting

Fresh As A Daisy

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Events, opportunity, Publishers and Agencies, Publishing Industry Tagged: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Tricia Lawrence

1 Comments on Tricia Lawrence – Newest Agent at Erin Murphy Literary, last added: 4/22/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
12. PiBoIdMo 2013: Meet the Agents

I call the agents who participate in PiBoIdMo “agent prizes”, but let me make one thing clear: you do not get to bring them home with you.

Oh, sure, I know how you’d love to cuddle up with an agent, dress them in adorable footie pajamas and read them bedtime stories, but alas, they are remaining in their respective homes. For now. Who knows? If they really LOVE your ideas, maybe they’d like to snuggle beside you? But I digress…

At the conclusion of PiBoIdMo, on December 1st, I will post the “PiBo Pledge”. Leave a comment on the pledge post if you have completed the challenge with at least 30 ideas. You do not have to submit those ideas to prove that you have them. You’re on the honor system. It’s OK, I trust you.

grandpoobahfredIf you have “signed” the pledge by commenting AND you had also registered, then you are eligible for an “agent prize”—a.k.a. THE GRAND POOBAH OF PRIZES. You will get your 5 best ideas evaluated by a kidlit agent. They’ll tell you which ideas might be the best ones to pursue as manuscripts. (Or not.)

Don’t worry–you’ll get a few days to pick your 5 best ideas and flesh them out before sending to your assigned agent.

This year we have EIGHT EXCELLENT AGENTS participating! This means there are EIGHT GRAND PRIZES! I hope to add more, but these are who we have thus far.

Now…let me introduce you…let me make you smile… (wait, that’s let me entertain you…oopsie…but I bet you’re smiling anyway)…


Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)

joanagentJoan is a Senior Agent with EMLA, working from her home office in Massachusetts as the “East Coast branch” of the agency. She represents all forms of children’s and young adult literature, but is most excited by a strong lyrical voice, tight plotting with surprising twists and turns, and stories told with heart and resonance that will stand the test of time.

An EMLA client herself, Joan is also the author of numerous books for children, most recently the picture books Ghost in the House (Candlewick, 2013) and Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo (Clarion, 2013), and the novels Paradox (Random House, 2013) and Rules for Ghosting (Walker, 2013). When she is not on the phone, answering email, or writing, you will most likely find Joan curled up with a book. Or baking something delicious. Or talking about something delicious she’s baked. Really, after books and food, what else is there worth saying?

You can read more about Joan’s writing and agenting process here.


Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency (EMLA)

trishagentTricia is the “Pacific Northwest branch” of EMLA—born and raised in Oregon, and now lives in Seattle. After 18 years of working as a developmental and production-based editor (from kids book to college textbooks, but mostly college textbooks), she joined the EMLA team in March 2011 as a social media strategist.

As associate agent, Tricia represents picture books/chapter books that look at the world in a unique and unusual way, with characters that are alive both on and off the page, and middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction that offers strong worldbuilding, wounded narrators, and stories that grab a reader and won’t let go.

Tricia loves hiking, camping out in the woods, and collecting rocks. She loves BBC America and anything British. She has way too many books and not enough bookshelves. You can find Tricia’s writing about blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, and other social media topics (for authors and the publishing industry at large) here and here.


Marietta Zacker, Nancy Gallt Literary Agency

mariettaagentMarietta has experienced children’s books from every angle—teaching, marketing, publishing & bookselling. She thrives on working with authors who make readers feel their characters’ emotions and illustrators who add a different dimension to the story. She is also book curator at an independent toy store/bookstore. Read a recent publishing industry piece by Marietta here.



Danielle Smith, Foreword Literary

daniellemsmithDanielle Smith began her agent career at Foreword Literary Agents in 2013 where she represents picture books and middle grade authors and illustrators. Her enthusiasm for children’s literature began as a young child, but grew exponentially when her own two children were born and shortly thereafter she began reviewing books at her top rated children’s book review site There’s A Book. For more than five years she’s been involved professionally with books through print and online publications such as Women’s World and Parenting Magazine, as a member of the judging panel for The Cybils awards for fiction picture books, as well as locally by serving on the board of The Central Coast Writer’s Conference.

Danielle is also a writer, represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg for her middle grade novel The Protectorate. She’s a member of SCBWI and can frequently be found on Twitter talking about anything from children’s books to the BBC’s Sherlock to her own parenting woes & joys.

Read more about Danielle here.


Mira Reisberg, Hummingbird Literary

miraagentMira Reisberg came to launch Hummingbird Literary following a 25-year history in the field of children’s literature working as an award-winning illustrator, a writer, editor, art director, designer, a children’s literature and art education professor, and a teacher/mentor to many now successful children’s book creatives.

Her mission is to successfully represent all age-levels to create wonderful books that bring meaning and/or joy to children’s and young adult lives. Hummingbird Literary will have a limited number of clients so that Mira and her team can focus on building long-term careers and fruitful relationships.

Learn more about Mira and Hummingbird here.


Susan Hawk, The Bent Agency

susanhawkSusan Hawk represents authors who write for children of all ages, babies to teenage.

Susan comes to TBA from Children’s Book Marketing, where she worked for over 15 years, most recently as the Marketing Director at Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, and previous to that as the Library Marketing Director at Penguin Young Readers Group. She’s also worked as a children’s librarian and a bookseller.

Susan handles books for children exclusively: picture books, chapter books, middle grade and YA, fiction and non-fiction. She wants a book to stay with her long after she finishes reading, and she’s looking for powerful, original writing. She’s open to mystery, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary (really any genre). Her favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial. In non-fiction she’s looking for books that relate to kid’s daily lives and their concerns with the world. In picture books, she’s looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and characters as indelible as her childhood favorites Ferdinand, Madeline and George and Martha.

Read more about Susan here.


Lori Kilkelly, Rodeen Literary

lorikilkellyLori Kilkelly is an agent with Rodeen Literary Management, founded by Paul Rodeen, formerly of Sterling Lord Literistic, in 2009. After working in sales for a number of years, Lori decided to follow her passion for books. She attended the Denver Publishing Institute, subsequently joining the agency as an intern in early 2010. Ascending the ranks from intern and reader to assistant, she worked with current and potential clients as well as editors and publishers. In early 2012 Lori took on the role of Social Media Manager, creating and maintaining the Rodeen Literary Facebook page as well as Twitter and Pinterest accounts, to provide promotional opportunities for RLM clients as well as keep interested parties informed about books, news and events involving RLM. In December 2012 she began representing her first client, Toni Yuly, and has subsequently taken on an additional four clients. She represents authors as well as illustrators and is actively seeking talented Middle Grade and Young Adult writers.

Please visit here for more on Lori and Rodeen Literary.


Sean McCarthy, McCarthy Literary

mccarthy small headshotSean McCarthy began his publishing career as an editorial intern at Overlook Press and then moved over to the Sheldon Fogelman Agency. He worked as the submissions coordinator and permissions manager before becoming a full-time literary agent. Sean graduated from Macalester College with a degree in English-Creative Writing, and is grateful that he no longer has to spend his winters in Minnesota.

He is drawn to flawed, multifaceted characters with devastatingly concise writing in YA, and boy-friendly mysteries or adventures in MG. In picture books, he looks more for unforgettable characters, off-beat humor, and especially clever endings. He is not currently interested in high fantasy, message-driven stories, or query letters that pose too many questions.

You can visit Sean here and follow him on Twitter here for his thoughts on publishing news, the inevitable hipsterfication of Astoria, and the Mets’ starting lineup.


Yay! So those are our agents, folks.

Now I should end on a humorous note, but you know, running PiBoIdMo just wipes the witty right outta me sometimes.

Maybe…yabba dabba do?

10 Comments on PiBoIdMo 2013: Meet the Agents, last added: 11/19/2013
Display Comments Add a Comment
13. Double Book Review: Wild About Bears & Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo

Since it's been awhile, I'm popping on the PBJs today to post a double book review. I was lucky enough to get the above books signed by the author/illustrator Jeannie Brett and author Ammi-Joan Paquette. Both books are visually beautiful and offer layers of interest and depth for readers.

Wild About Bears is a non-fiction picture book giving an overview of the eight bear species. The artwork is captivating and lush, and the facts are so intriguing. This is a true family book, and I can see us returning to it for years to come. Visit Jeannie's website for loads of information and bonus materials. 

 If you recall, I reviewed Mustache Baby last year, illustrated by Joy Ang. I instantly recognized her bold, expressive style on the cover of Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo, written by Ammi-Joan Paquette.

True to picture-book form, this book is a fine marriage of words and images. Ammi-Joan has written a big, bold, hilarious tale full of big, bold, hilarious words.

 I love that my near 3 year old walks around saying hullabaloo after reading this book (and knows EXACTLY what it means). The endpapers smartly include definitions - I know I needed to reference it for the word 'defenestration'.

Everything is done with fun and mischief so you might not even realize that you've been hornswoggled into learning a few new words. Thanks, Ammi-Joan!

0 Comments on Double Book Review: Wild About Bears & Petey and Pru and the Hullabaloo as of 4/18/2014 10:21:00 AM
Add a Comment
14. Kudos: Kirkus Review 2014 Nominees

Last week, Kirkus Review put out a 27 page list of their 2014 Young Reader Book Nominees. They did a really good job of putting all the information about each one in an easy to use display. The link is at the bottom of this page. I took the books from the list that were written or illustrated by people I know for this post, but it is a great list to use to find books you might want to read.

Kudos to all my friends who made the list below:

SLEEPYHEADS by Sandra J. Howatt
Released: May 6, 2014
Reviewed: March 17, 2014

by Sandra J. Howatt, illustrated by Joyce Wan

“A superb execution of soporific shapes and sounds perfect for the bedside table. (Picture book. 2-6)

Sleepyhead readers explore a hushed woodland at dusk, where they discover animals nestled in their cozy places at bedtime. Read full book review >

TEA PARTY RULES by Ame DyckmanReleased: Oct. 3, 2013
Reviewed: Sept. 1, 2013>
by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

“Strong storytelling, pacing, emotive illustrations that match the deceptive plot and an exuberant sense of fun make this little gem a winner. (Picture book. 3-7)

What stops a bear cub from gobbling down a plateful of delicious cookies? Tea Party rules, of course! Read full book review >

PETEY AND PRU AND THE HULLABALOO by Ammi-Joan PaquetteReleased: Oct. 8, 2013
Reviewed: Aug. 21, 2013

by Ammi-Joan Paquette, illustrated by Joy Ang

“Here’s hoping that there are more kerfuffles and shenanigans in the future for this undeniably delightful duo. (Picture book. 4-8)

Quiet Petey and his devil spawn of a best friend indulge in a little chaos propelled by gleefully sesquipedalian writing. Read full book review >

KING FOR A DAY by Rukhsana Khan

Released: Jan. 1, 2014

Reviewed: Aug. 31, 2013

by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Christiane Krömer

“This story soars. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)

Set in Pakistan during Basant, “the most exciting day of the year,” this story focuses on the strength and resourcefulness of a child in a wheelchair as he navigates the skies at the spring kite festival. Read full book review >

PANIC by Lauren Oliver

Released: March 4, 2014

Reviewed: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus StarPANIC
by Lauren Oliver

“The only thing more terrifying than the game itself is not getting the chance to play it. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Oliver makes a white-knuckle return to realism that will have readers up until the wee hours. Read full book review >


Released: Feb. 11, 2014
Reviewed: Nov. 20, 2013


by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Tomie dePaola

“A tenderly crafted collection that captures the joyous individual moments of infant discoveries. (Picture book/poetry. 6 mos.-2)

Twenty-three original, first-person poems for the very young. Read full book review >


Released: Feb. 1, 2014
Reviewed: Nov. 20, 2013
by H. Chuku Lee, illustrated by Pat Cummings

“This lovely reimagining of an old tale affirms the browning of American’s contemporary young readership. (Picture book. 4-8)

A brown-skinned Beauty—what a refreshing change! Read full book review >

THE TORTOISE & THE HARE by Jerry Pinkney
Released: Oct. 1, 2013
Reviewed: Aug. 14, 2013


by Jerry Pinkney, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

“A captivating winner—start to finish! (artist’s note, design notes) (Picture book/folk tale. 3-6)

With luminous mixed media pictures, a short, carefully meted-out text and a Southwestern U.S. setting, Pinkney (The Lion and the Mouse, 2009) takes on another of Aesop’s fables—marvelously. Read full book review >


Released: April 1, 2014
Reviewed: Feb. 26, 2014


by Emily Jiang, illustrated by April Chu

“From the booming paigu to the delicate strings of the ruan, the lutelike pipa and the yangqin, or hammered “butterfly harp,” a lively medley that will expand the musical boundaries of most young audiences. (bibliography) (Informational picture book/poetry. 6-9)

Thirteen young musicians of diverse ethnic background ready themselves to play their traditional Chinese instruments on stage in this informative and gracefully illustrated twin debut. Read full book review >

THE GRUDGE KEEPER by Mara Rockliff

Released: April 1, 2014
Reviewed: Feb. 19, 2014

by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

“Wordplay and humor provide an effective vehicle for a valuable moral. (Picture book. 5-8)

“No one in the town of Bonnyripple ever kept a grudge. No one, that is, except old Cornelius, the Grudge Keeper.” So begins this original fairy tale that provides a literal illustration of the idiom “holding a grudge.” Read full book review >

Released: Oct. 1, 2013

Reviewed: Aug. 14, 2013

by Susan Jeffers, illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Released: Oct. 1, 2013

“A whimsical, magical interpretation of a holiday classic, improved by the additional storyline and the charming narrator. (artist’s note) (Picture book. 3-7)

Jeffers has created a lovely story incorporating the words of the old folk song with one important change: a clever substitution of Santa as the giver of all the gifts instead of the narrator’s “true love.” Read full book review >

FIREFLY JULY by Paul B. Janeczko

Released: March 11, 2014
Reviewed: Jan. 15, 2014


edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

“Scintillating! (permissions, acknowledgments) (Picture book/poetry. 4-8)

Choosing from works spanning three centuries, Janeczko artfully arranges 36 elegant poems among the four seasons. Read full book review >

TWO BUNNY BUDDIES by Kathryn O. Galbraith

Released: March 4, 2014
Reviewed: Feb. 19, 2014


by Kathryn O. Galbraith, illustrated by Joe Cepeda
Released: March 4, 2014

“Learning how to navigate the path of friendship is an important part of life, and these bunny buddies learn a lesson that is gently, beautifully shown rather than told. (Picture book. 2-7)

In this simple but insightful story, two rabbits discover that lunch with a pal is more fun than eating alone. Read full book review >

Don’t miss the full 27 page list. CLICK HERE FOR FULL LIST.

Have you read any of the books? Do you know anyone whose book is listed? If so, give them a pat on the back.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: authors and illustrators, Book, Kudos, list, Publishing Industry Tagged: 2014 Young reader Nominees, Ammi-Joan Paquette, Amy Dyckman, Joyce Wan, Kirkus Review

2 Comments on Kudos: Kirkus Review 2014 Nominees, last added: 6/9/2014
Display Comments Add a Comment
15. Entering Writing Contests Does Pay Off

Entering writing contests are a great opportunity to get your work in front of agents, editors, and other writers.

This is from Miss Snark's First Victim Blog.

Friday, April 16, 2010
Friday Fricassee

And we have another agent signing!

January Secret Agent Contest winner Vahini Naidoo has just signed with the lovely Ammi-Joan Paquette, who had chosen Vahini's excerpt as one of her winners! (Entry #14, if you want to take a peek in the archives.)

CONGRATULATIONS, Vahini and Joan! Best wishes on a long and successful pairing.

This is Ms. Paquette's second signing from our blog, so I probably ought to start charging her commission. Or something. (I'm totally kidding. She knows I adore that she adores this blog.)

0 Comments on Entering Writing Contests Does Pay Off as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Special Critique Opportunity

Agent Ammi-Joan Paguette from the Erin Murphy Literary Agency has been on my mind, so today we talked and I added her to the line up for the conference.  Laurie calls her Joan and I call her Ammi, so whatever you call her, she is going to do something special for us.   She represents all forms of children’s and young adult projects, but only accepts queries via referral or from people she has met at conferences.

Here’s how her special critiques will work:

You will e-mail to me a pitch, the first three pages of a manuscript and a synopsis if it is a novel.  You will get 10 minutes to sit down with her to talk about what you submitted and go over what she thought on all three things.  With this sample she should be able to tell if she wants to see more. 

Ammi-Joan says, “To me, being an agent is like conducting a perpetual treasure hunt. My clients send me their wonderful manuscripts. My job is to look at all aspects of their projects and the market, follow the clues of concept, style and interest, and match each project up with the right editor who will fall madly in love.”

The cost is $55.

Editor Heather Alexander’s spots filled up in a snap.  Don’t miss this opportunity.  E-mail me to secure a spot.  Want to thank David Caruba for the idea seed that lead to this being offered.

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, children writing, Conferences and Workshops, Events, opportunity, Uncategorized Tagged: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Special Critique Opportunity 0 Comments on Special Critique Opportunity as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Lots of Kudos

This week we had a lot of success stories. It shows that working on your craft and coming out to writing and illustrating events clearly play a role in future successes.

I know everyone will be happy to hear a few success stories.

Sladjana Vasic won the September 2011 e-Book Cover Design Award, for a Nonfiction e-book.


I could not find a picture of Beth Ferry, but Beth has a big feather in her hat. She signed with agent Elena Mechlin at Pippin Properties for her Stick and Stone story – a direct result of attending our June conference.


Here is Tara Lazar with her Agent Ammi-Joan Paquette. If you attended the 2011 June Conference you most likely met Ammi-Joan. Tara sold her first book, THE MONSTORE, at the end of last year. Now Ammi-Joan at Erin Murphy Literary Agency has sold Tara Lazar’s second book, I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK to Alyson Heller at Aladdin.


Darlene Beck-Jacobson signed with agent Liza Flessig at the Royce Agency for her historcial novel – a direct result of attending our June conference.



Jody Staton’s story won her a spot in the “Writers at Camden” Community Workshop in conjunction with Rutger’s University.


Congratulations everyone! Something good is waiting for the rest of you reading this – I just know it!

Talk tomorrow,


Filed under: Agent, authors and illustrators, Book Contracts, News, success Tagged: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Beth Ferry, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Jody Staton, Sladjana Vasic, Tara Lazar
6 Comments on Lots of Kudos, last added: 10/25/2011
Display Comments Add a Comment
18. PiBoIdMo Day 20: Ammi-Joan Paquette

by Ammi-Joan Paquette 

There’s one thing you should know about me right upfront: I love making lists. There’s something that I find both focusing and freeing about having to crystallize my thoughts into this form; while I might not cover everything there is to say on the given subject, just the act of making the list helps me focus on the things I feel are most vital.

So, picture books. During these grand days of PiBoIdMo goodness, I’ve been giving a lot to the form. Certainly they are a big part of my life: I write them, I read them, I sell them (for my authors). But what pushes a text from a short story into a perfectly crafted masterpiece? Editors are not looking for something that’s just sweet, or nice, or passable. And I’m not either. Texts like these would very likely have sold five or ten years ago. But nowadays? The bar is a lot higher.

Which leads me very nicely to my list. What makes a picture book text stand out from the pack? What kinds of stories should you be crafting? What are my top tips and most targeted advice for perfecting the craft of writing picture books? Read on to find out!

1. Think outside the box.
The beauty of events like PiBoIdMo is that they focus the power of volume. “Quality not quantity,” the adage goes—but sometimes, it takes quantity to find that quality. It’s the old familiar brainstorming routine, whereby the free-flow of ideas stirs up the mind to the extent that the mundane gives way to the extraordinary.

So stir up those creative juices! Get crazy! Make lists and put unexpected elements together. A shark… and a train? A pigeon… and a bus? Like a phenomenal preschool-aged Glee mashup song in fully illustrated form, you too can strike gold with your big out-of-the-box idea.

2. Focus on a character.
If every era has a buzzword, the one for the contemporary picture book marketplace would be: character-driven. Everyone wants to see (or be) the next Fancy Nancy. But what does that mean to you, sitting as you are with brain to fingers to keyboard?

What editors don’t want: copycat stories. (Oh! I know: Stylish Suzie! Or maybe… Frilly Jilly!) No. The key to parsing out this riddle is to go deeper. Put your own spin on the demand, and focus on the core premise: Kids want someone they can connect with. They want to see a bit of themselves in the larger-than-life heroes who fill their pages. They want a dash of crazy; a spark of excitement; a quirky, interesting, fully-themselves hero or heroine who can take their imagination by storm.

Be original. Be flamboyant. Give specific character details. And give your readers a brand-new friend they can take home in their pocket.

3. Embrace the universal.
So far my tips have been all about the crazy, the creative, the new-and-oh-so-different. Now I’m going to take all that back a notch, add a great big qualifier on top. Your picture has to be fresh, new, original—yes. But!

It also has to be about the same ol’ thing.

What? After all that talk of originality, now this? Here’s the thing: It’s not enough to have a wild and wacky premise. There also has to be some deeper core to the story that connects with readers on its most basic level. I’ve heard them described as the “universal child emotions” that need to be represented in order for the story to fully hit its mark.

Now, please note that we’re not talking about morals or lessons or message here. What are talking about is theme, subtly underlaid, weaving throughout the text and supplementing the

10 Comments on PiBoIdMo Day 20: Ammi-Joan Paquette, last added: 11/20/2011
Display Comments Add a Comment
19. Salina Yoon KALEIDOSCOPE Winner! (Plus a preview of upcoming giveaways!)

Thanks to everyone who visited Salina Yoon’s post about her newest and most challenging novelty book, KALEIDOSCOPE. The winner of the signed copy is:


Congrations, Donna! Be on the lookout for an email from me…

Didn’t win? No worries. There’s more giveaways coming in the next two weeks. Yes, it’s a busy Spring over here! Here’s a sneaky peekie (what my five-year-old calls it):

Ame Dyckman and Dan Yaccarino’s BOY + BOT

Sarah Frances Hardy’s PUZZLED BY PINK

Carolyn Crimi and Stephanie Buscema’s PUGS IN A BUG

Ammi-Joan Paquette & Marie Letourneau’s THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS

Plus, don’t forget, if you’re not already subscribed to my blog via email, join today to be entered into a three-picture-book-prize-pack giveaway on April 1st. I’m not foolin’! Just enter your email address in the left column.

11 Comments on Salina Yoon KALEIDOSCOPE Winner! (Plus a preview of upcoming giveaways!), last added: 3/29/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
20. The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Ammi-Joan Paquette (plus a contest!)

Some of you are probably hoping this is a post about tracking Ammi-Joan Paquette, the [amazing] agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency. But it’s not. It’s about tracking Ammi-Joan Paquette, the author!

Yes, Joan (as she prefers to be called) made her kidlit debut with THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES from Tanglewood Press. She has since released NOWHERE GIRL, a middle grade novel, and now, another TIPTOE GUIDE!

And what’s it about?


Who doesn’t love mermaids? They’re pretty, they have flowing manes of hair, they can breathe underwater, and they start name crazes like “Madison”. (OK, anyone under 30 isn’t going to understand that reference.)

TL: Joan, first fairies and now mermaids. Why do you think children are so fascinated with these creatures?

AJP: I think fairies and mermaids are two of the creatures which most fire the imagination—I was going to say “of the very young,” but actually, the appeal is open-ended! Perhaps because they feel just one step removed from reality, it’s easy to visualize them lurking just out of sight, right around the edges of perception. Who knows what might be possible, if you truly believe? For this reason, I don’t think our collective love for fairies or mermaids will ever wane—they’re just too likely.

TL: Your TIPTOE GUIDES combine photographs with whimsical illustrations. Whose idea was it to combine these two styles?

AJP: The first book in this series was inspired by a nature walk/fairy tracking adventure I took with my daughters when they were young. As we walked, I took photos of our discoveries and wrote down a lot of ideas and notes, many of which (the notes, not the photos!) were incorporated into the final manuscript. So early on there were definitely photos in my head. As I polished the story into an actual manuscript and eventually sent it on submission, though, I really put the illustration side out of my mind—and once it was acquired as a picture book, I just assumed it would probably be illustrated with art. My wonderful editor, Peggy Tierney of Tanglewood Press, was the one who conceived of this combined artwork/photography medium. I couldn’t be more thrilled with Marie Letourneau’s finished products—they are even more gorgeous than I could ever have imagined!

TL: So your TIPTOE GUIDES are about finding a little more magic in the world. Why is this an important message?

AJP: I think a hopeful outlook is like a cherry on top of life’s sundae. There’s a childlike quality to expectancy, to being open to the possibility of more that can open some of the most amazing doors. Message? I don’t know. I just like the way it feels to me.

TL: Is there a third tiptoe guide in the works?

AJP: Not yet! But who knows what may lie ahead?

TL: Well, maybe our blog readers know!

So let’s have a contest to give away a signed copy of THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS! Our last drawing contest was such fun; let’s do another.

Parents, have yo

11 Comments on The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Ammi-Joan Paquette (plus a contest!), last added: 4/8/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
21. “The Tiptoe Guide” Winners!

Thanks to all the children who participated in Ammi-Joan Paquette’s THE TIPTOE GUIDE cover contest! We asked you to draw the cover of what you imagined could be the next book in the series, and we received some very creative entries. Since they were all so good, we randomly selected a winner. So…

Congratulations, Annika, age 9!

Annika wins a signed copy of THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS! And who knows, maybe sometime soon we’ll see a TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING PEGASUSES! (PEGASI? PEGASU? Just what *is* the plural?!)

And here are the runners up…

Grace, age 9!

Katie, age 5! (With my personal favorite, MONSTERS!)

Lili, age 4! (Wow, nice lettering, Lili!)

And Julie’s daughter* with a very colorful entry! *name and age to come

Thanks to all the kids who entered! It’s so much fun to see your creativity at work.

I promise to have more cover contests soon, including one for my upcoming book, THE MONSTORE!

10 Comments on “The Tiptoe Guide” Winners!, last added: 4/17/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment