Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

Last Post of 2009

I hate to double post on a Spotlight Thursday, but it just seemed all wrong not to have a "last post of 2009" and see what everyone's doing for New Year's Eve!

We don't have any particular traditions over here. When I was a kid my family partied with my best friend's family every year. We ate food, played games, stayed up and banged pans at 12. That was fun. Hopefully as my kids get older we can develop some kind of tradition like that. But for now, since they're so young, I think the kids will end up going to bed at the usual time and hubby and I will watch a movie or two.

What are your plans for New Year's Eve? Do you have any family traditions? Anything fun you do with your kids?

Happy New Year!

Agent Spotlight: Paul Rodeen

This week's Agent Spotlight features Paul Rodeen of Rodeen Literary Management.
Status: Open to submissions.
Paul RodeenAbout: "Paul Rodeen discovered his love of writing, editing and publishing at Knox College where he was the fiction editor and a contributor to the award winning college literary journal Catch. Paul was graduated from Knox College with a Creative Writing major in 2001. Later that summer, he attended the Denver Publishing Institute where he was encouraged to move to New York City to officially start his publishing career. 
"In late 2001, Paul received his first job with the highly respected literary agency Sterling Lord Literistic, Incorporated. He began his career as an assistant to Jody Hotchkiss, a film agent with Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. at the time. After a few months of reading and evaluating scripts, Paul was informed that a position was available in the children’s book division of Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. as an assistant to George Nicholson, the legendary children’s book publisher turned literary agent. Paul welcomed the opportunity to work for such a respected figure in the publishing business and he quickly found that he still loved many of the genres he had enjoyed when he was a child and a teenager. During his three years working as an assistant to George Nicholson, Paul Rodeen signed his first client (the writer/illustrator Peter Brown) and he also closed his first book deal FLIGHT OF THE DODO.  
"In 2004, Paul Rodeen moved back to his home state of Illinois where he opened up a small satellite office in Chicago for Sterling Lord Literistic, Incorporated.  Between 2004 and 2008, Paul expanded his list of clients to include over a dozen talented writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade novels and young adult fiction.  This group of talented artists became the backbone of what would become Rodeen Literary Management. 
"In late 2008, with much encouragement from his clients, editors, publishers and other agents, Paul Rodeen established Rodeen Literary Agency an agency devoted to supporting the careers of children’s book writers and illustrators." (Link)
What He's Looking For:
Genres of interest:
Children's fiction from picture books to young adult, middle grade and young adult non-fiction, illustrators and graphic novelists.
From AgentQuery:
"He is actively seeking writers and illustrators of all genres of children’s literature including picture books, early readers, middle-grade fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels and comic books as well as young adult fiction and nonfiction." (Link)
From a 2010 Conference Post:
“He currently represents between 20 and 25 clients and would like to build his list up to about 50. The five things that Paul looks for when reading submissions are: conflict, voice, character development, setting, and pace.” (Link)
What He's Not Looking For:
Adult projects. 
Web Presence:
Rodeen Literary website.
QueryTracker, AgentQuery.
Editorial Agent?
A list of clients is available on the website. 
Mr. Rodeen’s clients include: Linas Alsenas, David Barneda, Peter Brown, Luc Bouchard, Lauren Castillo, Jeff Newman, Neil Numberman, Aaron Reynolds, Julia Sarcone Roach, Michael Townsend,  Frans Vischer, Melissa Wyatt, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail queries only.  No hard copy submissions. Send a cover letter with contact information and up to 50 pages of material.
See the Rodeen Literary Management website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Response Times:
The agency only responds if they are interested.
What's the Buzz?
There is a lot of positive feedback on Paul Rodeen from clients and aspiring authors who have had experience with him.  He's reported to be a funny, down to earth guy.  He has a great work history in publishing and his agency seems to off to a great start.
Worth Your Time:
Publishing a Children's Book with Literary Agent Paul Rodeen Podcast at Educators to Educators (10/2018)
Please see the Rodeen Literary Management website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/25/2020.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A***
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Need some help perfecting your query? Submit it to The Public Query Slushpile for public feedback from other writers. Every query gets at least a little feedback and the turn around time is much, much faster than the better know, formidable Query Shark. If you submit a query, make sure to take the time to give back to others.

Best to all you queriers out there!

If you'd like to send in a research or writing tip to be featured on Lit Rambles, please e-mail them to agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

A Belated Merry Christmas

For those that celebrate, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas, and for those that don't I hope you had a lovely Friday and weekend. We sure did! My mom is here visiting for the week, so I'll probably be scarce, out goofing around and shopping and the like.

If I don't post anything but the regular until then, I hope all of you have a very happy New Year and get a great start on all your resolutions and goals!


Agent Spotlight: Quinlan Lee

Quinlan Lee has left agenting to pursue other interests. She is no longer with Adams Literary. Please direct queries to Josh or Tracey Adams.

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Sign up for Google Alerts and have search results automatically sent to your e-mail. You can see what people are saying about you, your blog, your book, or any and all agents you're interested in researching. Whatever search term(s) you'd like to be continually alerted to! Just remember, you have to set up an alert for each seperate search term or phrase that interests you. For example, I have alerts set for Casey McCormick and Literary Rambles and some of the agents I've spotlighted.

Here's the help page if you'd like more information.

And if you'd like to send a research or writing tip in to be featured on Lit Rambles, please e-mail them to agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

Thoughts on 2009 & 2010

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking abut 2009 and 2010. What happened? What have I learned? What do I want out of this next year?

The answers have been somewhat surprising.

This time last year I was eight months pregnant and anxiously (miserably) awaiting the arrival of my second baby, Dresden, wondering how it was going to affect my life, my family, and my writing.

My goals for 2009 were centered on the desire to get something ready for submission, to overcome weaknesses, improve my blog, and generally just survive as a mother of two.

I feel like I failed in my writing goals, for the most part. I didn’t write anything I was comfortable querying, nothing I loved enough to polish, and rewrote the first half of one novel so many times it would make you puke.

But some wonderful things did occur this past year. I started Agent Spotlight and my blog sort of blew up. I joined SCBWI, Publisher’s Marketplace, spoke with agents who loved what I was doing, had people interview me (1, 2, 3), and became thoroughly ensconced in the writing and kidlit community. Not to mention had that baby (late!), got married, became a reader for a lit agent, and yes! survived as a mother of two, and managed all that I wanted to manage and more.

Despite not achieving my main writing goals for the year, there’s a lot to celebrate there, so I’m dubbing 2009 “The Year of the Blog.” Lit Rambles has been a vehicle for much love and success, and 2009 has been absolutely amazing if I stop and try to count all of its blessings.

And all of you are among those blessings! That’s a lot!

For this next year, one would probably expect me to keep on trucking towards the goals I didn’t achieve in 2009, and in some ways I will, but there is something that is going to set the pace of 2010, and there are some things I’ve realized that will really affect my goals.

Things, things, things.

This year I find myself anxiously awaiting something come January again. Not a baby, thank goodness, but school.

Yes. I’m going back to school, continuing my education. And I find myself pondering the same questions. How is school going to affect everything? Can I manage? What will suffer?

Family, House, Work, School, Interning, Writing, Blogging, Spotlights, Reading, Critiquing, Networking, Socializing, and so on and so forth, and all those other things that happen in a natural year.

That’s what I’m looking at having to manage in 2010.

I have a feeling something is going to fall to the wayside or have to go away completely, if not more than one thing, and it’s not going to be my family or house, of course! But what? I can’t imagine letting any of that go.

So I’m not going to just yet. I’m going to remain optimistic and see how I handle it all, but there are some things that do need to change slightly. Namely, my attitude, my main goals, and one of my blog features.

See, in all this thinking I’ve been doing, I realized something big. I went about my writing goals all wrong in 2009. I was focused on word counts and finishing and submitting and succeeding. It was all hurry, hurry, more, more, now, now and I lost sight of the goals that really matter to me.

I honestly don’t want to publish just to publish. If I’m going to do this, I want to publish novels that I love absolutely and can get behind 100%, novels that mean something to people, that matter. If I can’t do that, consider me out of the running. I don’t think I could handle the pressures of being a published author under any other circumstances. And as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t think I can write those kinds of novels yet, YET, but I AM happy to know this about myself.

Which brings us back to goals.

I have to stop focusing on word counts and getting to the finish line and get back to focusing on craft and quality. I have to stop all this hurry, hurry, more, more, now, now and go back to being satisfied with the slow, steady climb to my cloud of dreams.

So, my friends, I won’t be focusing on word counts this year, I won’t be doing writing challenges, and I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo. Yes, that means I won’t be doing Wednesday’s Words either. It’s been an amazing tool this past year, and I appreciate every one of you that has participated and encouraged me, but I’ve decided it's not what I need anymore. However, if you'd like me to keep posting WW for you, I’d love to do that, and I’d love to keep encouraging everyone that has been a part of WW in the past. Just let me know in the comments. I might put it up occasionally, anyway, to keep you updated on my writing.  I just won't be keeping track like I was.

So… after all that, what are my goals for 2010?

1) Manage school with everything else.

2) Learn to prioritize better.

3) Focus on craft and quality.

4) Be a source of support and encouragement for all of you.

5) Allow this writing thing to take as long as it needs to.

Now, how about you? Have you given much thought to the past, present, and future? Have you considered that you might be focusing on the wrong things, and letting the rush, rush get to you? What did you learn in 2009? What are your plans for 2010?

Please answer one or all these questions or tell me something else entirely. After reading my (long) ramblings, I’d love to know what’s on your mind!

Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kate McKean of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, Inc.
Status: Open to submissions.
About: "Kate McKean joined HMLA in 2006. She earned her master’s degree in fiction writing at the University of Southern Mississippi and began her publishing career at the University Press of Florida. She is proud to work with New York Times best selling authors in a wide variety of genres including Daniel Mallory Ortberg’s TEXTS FROM JANE EYRE, Madeleine Roux’s YA horror series ASYLUM, and Brittany Gibbons’ memoir FAT GIRL WALKING. In addition to working with clients, she is an adjunct professor at New York University.
"For adults, she is primarily interested in contemporary women's fiction, literary fiction, historical fiction set in the 20th Century, fantasy, magical realism, and science fiction. For children, she is looking for projects in middle grade and young adult in the areas of horror, romance, LGBTQ issues, contemporary fiction, sports, magical realism, fantasy, and science fiction, as well as picture books of all kinds, especially non-fiction picture books. In non-fiction, for adults or children/teens, she represents books by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of pop-culture, memoir, sports, food writing, humor, design, creativity, and craft. She is also interested in graphic novels and memoirs for all ages--adult and children." (Link)
You can read another bio on Ms. McKean's website.
About the agency:
"Howard Morhaim Literary Agency has been representing authors since 1979. Our aim is to match talented writers with skilled publishing professionals in order to bring quality fiction and non-fiction into the world. Howard Morhaim Literary Agency is known for representing authors working at the top of their fields and staunchly advocating for their rights. Our roster of clients includes New York Times Bestsellers, award-winning academics, and debut authors alike; we champion them all throughout their long publishing careers." (Link)
What She's Looking For:
From her Manuscript Wish List:
"Non-fiction for kids. Please send me your biography, history, science, technology, creativity, memoir, or narrative non-fiction for middle grade or YA readers. Please, no gross-out middle grade (i.e. The Best Farts in History, or the like).
Young Social Media Stars: If you are a young adult with a large following online, please reach out.
Graphic Novels: YA especially, but I'm looking for all ages. More love, less war.
Big-idea, big-hook YA. It should be hard to come up with comp titles for your YA, because there's nothing out there like it. I don't want "the next [huge YA novel] because that's already been done. Gimme something new.
Historical YA and MG, especially if it is NOT about WWII or other well-trod areas of historical fiction
Chapter books, espeically with girl protagonists. I'm especially interested in chapter books with a strong engine, which means a hook or catalyst in the story that spins off into many storylines, like The Babysitters Club. That set up spawned hundreds of books. I am not looking for one-off chapter books.
Middle grade of all stripes, except wacky, zany, gross out middle grade. If you're writing the MG version of Rick & Morty or Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy I DO NOT want it.
Picture books. I like them funny or heartfelt, but they must have a top notch read-aloud quality.
In all genres, I'm looking for authors from under-represented groups.
In general, I represent authors writing for children in the areas of thriller, horror, romance, LGBTQ issues, contemporary fiction, sports, magical realism, fantasy, and science fiction. In non-fiction, for adults or children/teens, I represent books by authors with demonstrable platforms in the areas of pop-culture, memoir, sports, food writing, humor, design, creativity, and craft.r interests lie in literary fiction, contemporary women's fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, mystery, young adult and middle grade fiction, narrative non-fiction, sports related books, food writing, pop culture, and craft."
What She Isn't Looking For:
Novellas, poetry, screenplays; "If your manuscript features dragons, vampires, angels/demons, werewolves, FBI agents or amateur sleuths, she is not likely the best agent for your work." (Link) (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Web Presence:
Howard Morhaim Literary Agency website.
Ms. McKean's website
Her #MSWL on Twitter.
Her Agents and Books newsletter.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
There's a list of some of the clients the agency represents on the agency website.
Clients include or have included: Daniel Lavery, Madeline Roux, Trung Le Nguyen, Jaya Saxena, Matt Lubchansky, Linette Moore. AC Esguerra, Alyson Gerber, Caela Carter, Jess Verdi, Alix E. Harrow, Michelle Rial, Dana Middleton, Nicole Kornher-Stace, Theresa Thorn, Erin Hahn, Hallie Bateman, @dog_rates, Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Terry Blas, Caroline Moss, Tim Herrera, Allison Hoffman, EJ Koh, Katie Kennedy, Nefertti Austin, Molly Pohlig, Cara McGee, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
"Please send a cover letter and the first three chapters of your novel, or the full nonfiction proposal. Attachments are fine."
See the website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Response Times:
Ms. McKean's response time seems to range from 8 to 12 weeks.
What's the Buzz?
Great buzz. I don't think Ms. Mckean is especially well known in the kidlit community since she doesn't rep a lot of children's authors, but she seems to be a pretty big deal among the non-fiction set. Particularly, there's a lot of buzz out there regarding the fact that she has approached and signed several clients through either a website or Twitter feed, and then gone on to sell their proposals.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews and Posts:
Deez Interviews: Meet Kate McKean at Deez Links (11/2019)
Agent Spotlight: Kate McKean at PB Spotlight (06/2019)
SCBWI Exclusive Interview With Kate McKean (Date unknown).
An Interview With Literary Agent Kate McKean at Slice Magazine (07/2017).
Agent Kate McKean and Author Alyson Gerber Guest Post at Literary Rambles (03/2017).
Learn What Agent Kate McKean Is Seeking at Writer's Digest (02/2016).
Query Questions With Kate McKean at Michelle Hauck 08/2013).
LitChat Interview With Kate McKean at Lit Stack (08/2013)
Please see the Howard Morhaim Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last Updated: 5/17/2020
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed by Agent? 5/18/2020
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

I have another fabulous tip to share with all of you today. Please welcome Roz Morris to the blog, and definitely check out her free e-book. It's fabulous and, yes, I did say free!

"I saw on your blog that you're interested in resources that might be useful to writers - and I wondered if your readers would be interested in my site?

"It's called Nail Your Novel, inspiration and creative provocation for writers www.nailyournovel.com and www.dirtywhitecandy.com.

"I'm a fiction writer (many bestselling ghostwritten titles published) and I also critique for a leading literary consultancy, teaching new writers how to get the best out of the novels they write. The emphasis of my blog (Dirty White Candy) is practical, quirky tutorials, to stimulate creativity and sort out those tricky questions that all writers have - and it's for everyone, whether they're new to writing or old hands. Some of my most popular posts have been Plotting - The Mamma Mia Lessons and How To Write The Time Traveler's Wife.

"Also, to coincide with the end of NaNoWriMo 2009, I'm giving away FREE copies of the pdf of my book, Nail Your Novel.

"In theory the process should be simplicity itself - no registration, no need to give any email addresses or personal details - just download, save the file and start to enjoy! (If you try it and find otherwise, do tell me - and that includes the enjoyment part too...)"

Thanks so much, Roz. These are truly great resources you're offering. I'm sure you'll get several visits to your site and many downloads of your book today!

I Think It's Time For Another....

...Blog Promo!

What are you blogging about this week? What new turns has your blog taken? Have you just started your first blog? Are you desperate for some new readers?

Please share in the comments what you're up to in the blogosphere and then click around and do some adventuring.

(Hopeful) Happy Monday!

An Interview... with Me!

I've had the pleasure of being interviewed twice as a blogger (links in the right sidebar, if you missed them), but now I can share with you my first ever interview as a writer!

Please stop by Heather Lane's fabulous blog, Edited to Within an Inch of my Life, and check it out! I'll be popping in all day to answer questions and reply to comments, if you're compelled to leave me some.

While you're there, make sure to take the time to follow or subscribe to Heather's blog. It's blossomed into a great, inspiring place for writers to be, and Heather has a new feature where she interviews aspiring authors journeying towards publication! Isn't that amazing? I love learning about fellow aspirees, their triumphs and tribulations, and it'd be great to see this feature continue.

See you over there!

Agent Spotlight: Swanna MacNair


Profile removed.

Ms. MacNair founded Creative Conduit, a transmedia content company, Sept 2010.  I do believe she is representing authors as a literary agent any longer.


Wednesday's Word Count

Wednesday you come again, seeking the count of my words...

Current word count:

Goal last week:


Words 'til finish: 20,001/953 words a day until Dec 31th.

Goal this week: 6,671.

Comments: I did some tweaking and revising on what I wrote for NaNo earlier in the week, and then had the strong desire to start something new. So I did. I realize I'm practically famous for this by now, but it just had to be done. Inspiration struck and I ran with it. So... I'm changing projects for the time being, but keeping my goal of 25k for December, and so far it's going great. I haven't had a story this eager to spill out of me for awhile, so I'm pretty excited!

How is everyone else doing? Update me on your goals and achievements in the comments. I love following along with your progress!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today I have another tip for you from Nancy Viau, author of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD. Make sure to show Nancy the love by thanking her in the comments and/or visiting her website. Here's her tip!


"This is a terrific quick tool for rhymers, but that's not all! Hit the arrow on the second scroll box to the right and you'll get synonyms, antonyms, definitions, related words, similar sounding words, and a bunch more."

I've used this site on several occasions to find rhyme words, but I haven't dug into the extra features at all. I love using OneLook for related words, so I'll be definitely checking out Rhymezone for that in the future.

Thanks so much, Nancy!

(And readers, if you want to send a tip in, just e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com - I'm always looking for new tips to share!)

How Do I Format My E-Query?

A couple weeks back, after the post on manuscript formatting, someone requested I do a post on query formatting. I'm going to start with e-queries and save paper queries for another day, as I think it would be confusing to try to mesh the two.

Now, like manuscript formatting, there are all sorts of different ways you can format, and lots of different opinions on how to do so, but as long as it looks professional and is well-written, you're going to be fine. Don't sweat over it so bad that you never query! Agents will overlook a lot if the material is brilliant. But, you want to always put your best foot forward anyway, right? So, here are some guidelines...

Subject Line:

What you put in the subject line matters. I think it's best to include the title of your manuscript headed by an appropriate label such as "query" or "requested material." Examples: "Query: The Cat That Went Splat" or "Requested Material: The Cat That Went Splat. It also doesn't hurt to throw the genre in there, if you'd like to make that designation. This can be good if an agent has mentioned a strong desire to see more of the genre you write, i.e. "Query: Atomic Angst (YA). Just make sure you're not trying to fit your whole query in there. No need to have the title, the genre, the word count, the synopsis, and your check routing number in the subject!


Address your query directly to its intended recipient. Some agents don't care all that much, but a lot of others are put off by general salutations such as "Dear Agent" or "To Whom It May Concern." It doesn't say a lot of good about you and your search for representation if you can't even take the time to properly address the person you're sending it to.

Example: "Dear Mr. Bransford" or "Dear Ms. Reamer." NOT: Yo Nathan or 'Sup Jodi!

Tip: It should always be Ms. or Mr. Never Mrs. Miss, or Mister, even if you know the marital status of the agent. Treat your query letter as business correspondence -- that's what it is.

Tip: If you're unsure of the agent's gender, research until you find a first name, or reach out to fellow writers on a message board. It shouldn't take a lot of extra time to find out the agent's gender and knowing it will help you avoid having to use a general salutation.

Contact Information:


As with paper queries, you still need to include your contact information. However, I suggest putting it at the bottom of your query rather than the top. Why? It's harder for an agent to skim down a query on screen than it is on paper, especially if they're using a handheld device such as a smart phone or e-reader. It's more time efficient and inviting for them to be able to open your e-mail up and start reading immediately. They still need all your contact information, though! so make sure you DO include it. Full (real) name, phone number, address, and website or blog (if you have one you'd like to list).

On the flip side, some people prefer to put their contact information in the left upper hand corner, like you would a business letter, arguing that that's where an agent will look first, if they're interested in contacting you. A valid argument, so you'll just have to decide on your preference there.

Tip: Wherever you put it, format your contact information as you would in a business letter, flushed left, name on one line, phone number on another, street address on another, and then city / state, etc. Confused? Look up business letter formatting or grab a stack of mail.

Tip: Always include more than one way to be contacted.


It's not necessary to include the agent's contact information, as you would on a paper cover letter. The agent knows who they are and, if the query is addressed to them and has arrived in their e-mail, they know it was meant for them.

Query Body:

I suggest writing (and rewriting) your query in a document where you can save a "shell" that you can then personalize for each agent before pasting it over into an e-mail.

As far as actual formatting: Single space, align left, no indents, 12 point font, Times New Roman (nothing fancy, peeps). Do include paragraph breaks! One space between each. Nothing worse than a huge block of single spaced text. Write no more than a normal screen's length of text. In other words, nothing too long. You risk getting skimmed or losing the agent's interest if your query is overly long.

Tip: Paste your query into Notepad or another program that will strip the formatting and make your text Plain Text rather than HTML or Rich Text (some e-mail programs will do this, others will not). This will save you a lot of formatting headache, as the conversion from your e-mail program to another will often adjust your text formatting and make it look all crazy. Plain Text, on the other hand, will transfer as it appears to you before you send it, and you can rest assured it's not turning into gobbledygook.

Tip: If you're especially anxious about your query, you can test drive it by sending it to yourself or a friend (especially a friend that uses a different e-mail program) to see how it comes through.


Just like you began your query on formality, you should close it on formality. You can choose any number of standard business closures such as "Sincerely," "All the best," etc. and then "sign" with your full name.

Tip: Make sure you thank the agent for their time! And if you've decided to put your contact information at the bottom, now's the time to add it. Don't forget.

Including Material:

Your safest bet is to include sample pages in the body of the e-mail, under your closing line several spaces, as a general rule of thumb. Most agents request sample material be sent this way, if they request sample pages at all, but you should always follow each agent's specific submission guidelines, so if they happen to request that it be attached, attach it.

If you're including sample pages, I would highly suggest pasting the pages into Notepad, as you did with your query above, to strip the HTML or Rich Text formatting. This will remove your indents, yes, and that's fine, but it will ensure your formatting looks good and readable. Agent's won't care if your sample pages are or aren't indented when they're in the body of the e-mail. It's pretty standard knowledge that e-mail formatting is shifty.

If the agent requests more material, such as a partial or full, and does not specify whether or not to attach it, I would attach it. That's usually how they'll want it. It's easier for them to load onto their reading devices and will retain your original formatting.

Tip: If you do strip your pages of HTML or Rich Text, as suggested, it will also strip your italics and/or underlining. So, if they're important in your sample pages, you'll want to go back through when you've pasted your pages into the e-mail and put the emphases back on using your e-mail program's format tools.


Am I forgetting anything? Please, everyone, speak up in the comments and leave your own query preferences, how-tos, and tips. I'd love to hear what you've learned in the query trenches, and what you do differently or the same. Also, if you have any questions, leave those as well!

Agent Spotlight: Anna Webman

I received word from a client 7/31/12 that Anna's last day as an agent is 8/10/12. She is leaving the publishing industry all together. Writers should not submit.

Please query a different Curtis Brown agent.


Wednesday's Word Count

I can't beleive it's time for a WWC again! Or that it's DECEMBER. Wow. Talk about time flying. This is my favorite time of the year though. We put up our Christmas decorations last Saturday and we're going to get our tree in about a week. So exciting!

Current word count: 26,038.

Goal last week:


Words 'til finish: 23,962/856 words a day until Dec 31th.

Goal this week: 5992.

Comments: Well, I made my secondary NaNoWriMo goal, which was at least 25k. Yay! I'm thinking about making 25K in Nov a yearly tradition. Why? Because I've learned, between last year's NaNo and this year's, that I write really sloppy when I'm trying to write that much. Soo sloppy that I don't even want to revise what I've written, making it a darn-near waste of time.

As for this month, I'm not sure what's going to happen. I want to write another 25k but I'm kind of tired of the push and shove, especially with the holidays approaching and everything that's going on right now. I'm going to try (try! try! try!) but I might end up taking a break until the new year. We'll see!

Wednesday Question: What are your plans for December? Do you let your writing hybernate for the month? Are you holding off on submitting through the holidays? Or are you chugging along per usual?


Please tell me I need this. I need this, right? RIGHT?!


Oh good, cause I bought it. ; )

Agent News: Susan Hawk Joins The Bent Agency

From the Bent on Books blog:

"Susan Hawk is joining the Bent Agency. She will represent authors of young adult and middle grade fiction. For the past 15 years, she worked in Children’s Book Marketing, 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 is actively acquiring young adult and middle grade books; non-fiction and fiction (especially literary fiction), as well as fantasy, science-fiction, historical fiction and mystery."

For a more in depth bio on Ms. Hawk, and submission guidelines, see The Bent Agency website.

Such exciting news. Not only is The Bent Agency growing, but so is the number of agents repping MG and YA. Yay!

Best to the agency and all who query.

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Tuesday already? Another tip! Today's comes from frequent reader and commenter, Kathryn Jankowski. You're sure to have seen her in the comments if you come by often. She always has something sincere, helpful, or encouraging to say. Please take a moment or two to stop by, check out her blog, and say hi! Here's her tip:

"Your readers might enjoy http://www.writing-world.com/links/names.shtml, a list of character naming resources.

I actually found this via another, nearly overwhelming site that will take me ages to go through, but is so comprehensive I had to bookmark it http://www.internet-resources.com/writers."

Sometimes it's hard to find just the right name and these sorts of resources are the perfect place to turn to. And I agree, that second link will need some digging into. Thanks so much, Kathryn!

(Calling all readers: If you have a writing or research tip you'd like to share, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Wednesday's Word Count...Late

I know, I know. I didn't get my Wednesday's Word Count up this week. I'm sorry. By the time I remembered, I didn't think it was worth it since I had a spotlight to post. And well, I'd pretty much thrown in the towel on NaNoWriMo, and it's never fun to say, "I'm giving up."

Current word count:

Goal last week:


Words 'til finish: 27,097 / 9,032 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 2,100.

Comments: Some unexpected (but good) things came up this week and I got a whole lot busier than I expected to be. I knew I wouldn't be able to write my 20k, and I knew, if I didn't write that 20k, I'd never be able to catch up. So I decided to let it go rather than stress myself out. Instead, I focused on my secondary goal of 25k this month and 25k next month. That leaves roughly 2k for the next three days, which I can definitely do, and I feel so much better with that number than say, 27k.

What I have to remember is, it's still a lot more than I probably would have written without NaNo, and for me, that's still a WIN.

With three days left, how are my fellow NaNoers doing? And, most importantly, how was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope it was full of thanks and good times!

Initial Paragraphs - No Indentation?

In the comments from Sunday's post on manuscript formatting, Sharon asked:

I'm curious about the last entry under chapters...Why don't you indent the first paragraph of a new chapter?

Thanks for the question, Sharon! Gives me something to blog about.

The way I understand it, in writing, an indentation denotes the start of a new paragraph, a sort of pause, setting it apart from any preceding text. When a paragraph is preceded by a header or title, this sort of denotation isn't necessary. It's obvious where the paragraph begins.

That said, this is not a hard-and-fast rule AT ALL in creative writing. If you take a look at several books on your shelf, you'll find that some authors indent their initial paragraphs and some don't. Essentially, it comes down to a matter of style, and it's so inconsequential you needn't really worry about it. I doubt any agent or editor really cares which you do on initial submission, and if they do have a set preference, it's obviously an easy fix.

Does anyone else want to weigh in on this, or provide more concrete information?

(If you missed it, don't forget to check out today's writing tip, too!)

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today's tip comes to you from Elise C. and features a great, free program to play with. Check it out!

"I'm using this great plot mapping system right now that is free to download called Dia. Here is the link to download it. http://sourceforge.net/projects/dia-installer/ It can be used for anything you need to map and it's all customizable including shapes, colors, arrow placement. It's really fun to fiddle with."

Thanks Elise! I had trouble downloading the program from your link, but this one worked great. Dia seems like a lot of fun (and an absolutely awesome outlet for my procrastination skills) but so far I'm a bit overwhelmed. Can't wait until I have more time to play with it.

Does anyone else use this program? Have any tips or tricks to share? If you download it, please come back and let me know how you like it!

How Do I Format My Manuscript?

There are a lot of different ways to format a manuscript, and a lot of different opinions on how to do so.  I've decided to share the way I do it, and then I'd like to open up the comments for others to share their preferences.  Note:  This is using Microsoft Word.


General Page Formatting:

  • 1-inch margins all around (under File -> Page Setup).
  • Double space to "exactly" 24-25 pt (under Format -> Paragraph -> Line Spacing).

Title Page and Page 1 Header:

  • Different first page header (under File -> Page Setup -> Layout tab - Click "Different First Page" under "Headers and Footers." Exit).
  • Add left sided header including full name, address, and contact information (under View -> Header and Footer - align left).
  • Add right sided header including word count (under Format -> Tabs -> Tab Stop Position 6" aligned right, tab over to right side of page).
  • Title in capital letters centered roughly halfway down (about 12 Enters).

Page 2 and On Header / Slug:

  • Click on page 2 and create a left-sided header as before.  Include last name / title of work.
  • Tab right as before and add page numbering by clicking the # button.


  • New page for each new chapter by using a page break (Ctrl / Enter OR under Insert -> Break - Page Break).
  • Chapter title centered in capital letters eight Enters down.
  • Text begins two enters after chapter title.
  • First paragraph of each new chapter not indented.


  • Times New Roman font.  12 pt.
  • 1/2 inch indent (standard tab) for each paragraph.
  • 2 spaces after period.  Note: This is a habit of mine.  I think the standard is 1 now).

Scene Breaks:

  • Enter down twice from text, center ** or ## symbols and Enter twice again.


I developed this standard based on Cynthea Lui's article "How to Format Your Manuscript" (she explains a lot of this better than me), Nathan Bransford's post "Formatting Your Manuscript," and my own preferences.  How do you format your manuscripts?  Any tips, tricks, or links you'd like to share?

Wednesday's Word Count

NaNoWriMo, day the eighteenth!

It's kind of funny. Yesterday felt like the longest day ever while it was happening, and now I'm wondering where it went! Here's my word count update...

Current word count:

Goal last week:


Words 'til finish: 34,730/2,894 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 20k? Gulp.

Comments: I think I did pretty good. I wrote several, though not all, days this week and feel like I'm finally letting go. I've settled into the story and I'm finally loving the great reveal that happens with each paragraph, sentence, word. I think I need to write about 20k this week if I want to get back on track, and you know, I'm kind of up for the challenge. Let's see what I can do! Anyone else want to buckle down and try to catch up this week?

And on that note, how are you doing? What are your word counts up to? How is the week going? Do share!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another great tip. This one from frequent reader and commenter VR Barkowski. Make sure to stop by and visit her blog. She posted another great research tip there yesterday that you might not want to miss!

"The Seventh Sanctum website is crammed with all kinds of random generators plots, characters, names, ideas. It's also a whole lot of fun. I won't mention how much time I've wasted with the quick story idea generator. :)"

What a fun website, VR! I've certainly lost some time to it since you sent this tip in. Thanks so much! And hey, everyone, I'm getting low on tips again, so if you have one you want to send in, please do!


Agent News: Gwendolyn Heasley

Slightly old news, but in case you missed it...

Gwendolyn Heasley, author of the upcoming YA novel CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE RECESSIONISTA, joins Artists and Artisans as an agent, focusing on young adult.

"She's actively seeking authors of Young Adult manuscripts of all genres, specifically manuscripts that have a sharp voice and vivid settings."

Check her out on the Artists and Artisans web site, and the Guide to Literary Agent blog.

Best to all who query!

For Those That Have Been Asking...

...here are a few wedding photos!  They were taken by my best friend and her boyfriend who are just starting their photography business, DarkLight Pictures.  I think they turned out really good!

IMG_9733Blur copy IMG_9745 copy

IMG_9601 copy IMG_9715 copy

IMG_9809 copy

Wednesday's Word Count

First order of the day, BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER. Mine tried to crash on me this morning. I hadn't done a backup for two months, so I was definitely feeling the panic. Fortunately, I was able to get into safe mode just before throwing it across the room. Got everything backed up and it seems to be working fine now. I don't trust it though. I'll be backing up daily.

Current word count: 7,283.

Goal last week:


Words 'til finish: 42,717/2500 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 15,000.

Comments: Erm. As you can see, I'm getting epically behind on NaNoWriMo. I won't give excuses. I'll admit it. I'm just not motivated. *Sigh* I had meant to add a couple thousand words to my count this morning, but then the whole computer crash thing happened. I'm still within catch up range though, so I'm really going to try to focus on writing daily and see what I can do to get back on track!

How are you doing on your word counts (NaNo or otherwise)? I know some off you are blowing the rest of us out of the water. Totally. Awesome. Keep it up everyone!!!!!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today's tip features a neat little writing tool and comes to you from the fabulous Heather Lane. Make sure to stop by and visit her blog, Edited to Within an Inch of My Life. But check out her tip before you go. She picked it up from Verla Kay's awhile ago, and it's a good one!

"When I am revising, I need to be able to get to each chapter easily. So, I highlight the words, Chapter One (or the title, if you use them for chapters) and right click to have the menu pop up. I select Paragraphs, and under Outline Level, I highlight Level 1. On the left hand side of my screen, an outline appears, and if I click there on Chapter One, I zap back to that first chapter, no matter where I am in the novel. Since I have different POV's within each chapter, I highlight the beginning of those, and right click to get me to the same menu. Then in Outline Level, I choose Level 2. So, my whole novel becomes outlined on the left hand side of the screen, and I get a feel for where things are, and am able to find anything quickly. All my chapter starts are at Level 1 of my outline, and all my POV switches are at Level 2. It makes revisions so much easier.

And I love anything that helps my revisions easier."

This little wonder is called Document Map and is a standard feature in Microsoft Word. I did a quick post about it here (and oddly enough, it was a Heather that introduced it to me!). It can be a little confusing at first, but give it a shot and I bet you'll be hooked. It's only a little effort for a lot of organization.

Thanks so much Heather!

Are the Spotlighted Agents All Legit?

From the comments:

Would you consider all the agents you profile "vetted" in the sense that, if they appear on this list, we can assume they're good agents who aren't just scam artists? They all seem to be true agents, which is nice. I know that I've been very weary of untrustworthy agents.

Yes! I only profile legit agents that have verified sales and/or work with (or have worked with) a well-known agency with verified sales and clients. If they're Spotlighted on my site, you can be assured they're trustworthy agents and agencies in the sense of legitimacy (no guarantees on the way they handle themselves and their clients, however, but so far all the agents I've spotlighted seem to be great).

If someone requested a profile on an agent who wasn't legitimate or trustworthy (hasn't happened yet), I would put up a warning post rather than a profile. Likewise, if something fishy came up about an agent I've already Spotlighted, I would notify everyone with a similar post and put the information on their Spotlight until I could get an official thumbs up or thumbs down from our writerly watchdogs over at Writer Beware.

If you have any more questions, please ask!

Wednesday's Word Count - Nano Style

I haven't done my NaNoWriMo words for today yet, but here's my Wednesday update, as promised:

Current word count: 5,043.

Goal last week:


Words 'til finish: 44,957/1729 words a day until Nov 30th.

Goal this week: 11,670.

Comments: I'm writing! I'm writing! And so far I'm staying on track. Now, what I've written royally sucks as far as I'm concerned, but I mainly wanted to push myself to let go and stop being overcritical. I think I've managed that. I'm tempted to slow down now and put more quality into what I'm writing but I'm not sure I should. We're only four days in. Might be better to keep pushing myself until I've gotten a good lead on Inner Editor, if ya know what I mean.

And for you curious souls, I'm writing an MG fantasy for NaNo this time around. Fun, fun!

Your turn! Post your word count (NaNo or normal) updates in the comments!

Agent News! Lisa Gallagher & Michael Bourret

From Publisher's Lunch Deluxe:

"Former publisher of William Morrow Lisa Gallagher is joining Sanford Greenburger Associates as an agent. She notes, 'I want to apply my extensive marketing experience to help bring writers and their work to the widest possible audience across various media and formats.' Heide Lange at SJGA adds, 'Lisa is that rare publishing professional whose talents include strong editorial insight, marketing expertise, and keen business sense.'

"In other agency news, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management is opening a second office in Los Angeles in December, to be run by agency vp Michael Bourret, who has been at DGLM for 10 years. He will continue to grow his own list of author clients while also 'aggressively pursuing new film and TV opportunities for the agency.'"

On Twitter, Michael says there will be more info up on the blog and web site soon.

Best to Lisa and Michael!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

It's Tuesday and I have another great tip to share! This one is from children's author Nancy Viau, author of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD. Check it out! And make sure to stop by and visit Nancy on your way out.

"Children's Writer's Word Book
by Alijandra Mogilner.

This is a great book for anyone who wants to know the reading level of a particular word. (easy readers, the educational market, kids' magazines, etc.)"

Sounds like an awesome book for children's authors, especially those writing for younger markets. Thanks so much Nancy!

What is a Beta Reader & Where Do I Find One?

I received the following question via e-mail:

I wonder, have you blogged about how one goes about finding Beta Readers? I looked around your website but couldn't find anything, but I seem to recall from a past post of yours that you do have and value BRs. I'm a bit abashed to say I don't really know what a Beta Reader is.

A beta reader is, essentially, someone who reads your work and offers input while it is in draft form.  Generally, they look for typos, grammatical errors, continuity issues, etc. in order to help improve and polish your work before its submitted to a publishing professional or made public.  A lot of beta readers will do more than check for typographical errors, however, and will extend their generosity and time by critiquing and commenting on plot issues, characterization, believability, overall feeling, etc.  Whatever they find that they feel could use improving.  Mostly, it depends on what you want and what you and your beta reader(s) agree to.  If you're particular and/or thin-skinned, the more up front you are regarding the kind of beta reader and feedback you're looking for, the better the experience you'll have. 

Oftentimes, beta readers will turn into critique partners if you're well-matched and find yourself returning to them as a reader/critiquer.   This can be an excellent arrangement if your partner continues to be as blunt and unbiased toward your work as they were originally.

As for finding beta readers, my advice is to sign up for a writing forum like Absolute Write and to post in the appropriate section that you're looking for beta readers.  Often times, writers looking for beta readers will offer to do the same in return.  If you're not already a member, you're likely to get a better response if you post around the forum for a while first.  Get involved, make a name for yourself, give back. 

Another way to find beta readers is to use your blog, if you have one.  Just put a post up detailing what you're looking for.  Some of your regular readers might be more than happy to help. 

Basically, If you have a way to connect with other writers, use it.  If you don't, start putting yourself out there and network.

In my opinion, it's good to use both non-writers and writers for beta readers as they'll approach the task differently, so don't be afraid to use your family and friends as well.  Just don't solely rely on them.  Unbiased advice from someone who knows the ins and outs of writing has its benefits.

Now, let's turn the question over to everyone else.  Where do you find your beta readers? What do they generally do for you?

Agent Spotlight: Barry Goldblatt

This week's Agent Spotlight features Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary.
Status: Open to submissions. 
barry_portraitAbout: “To paraphrase Garrett Morris of SNL, children’s books have been very, very good to me. It was never my planned career option, however.

I came to New York in the summer of 1989 after graduating from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Journalism. I’d just finished an intensive six-week course on science fiction with James Gunn there, and I was determined to come to the city and get an editorial job at a science fiction magazine or book publishing company. If I’d only done a little research beforehand, I’d have realized how few editorial positions there were that fit that description. Fortunately I had a great interviewer at Simon & Schuster who explained a bunch of other job options, including describing the subsidiary rights department, which sounded like a lot of fun. I added that to my application letters and suddenly started getting a lot more calls for interviews…but none of them with science fiction or fantasy publishers.
"I was running low on cash and starting to worry when I got a call to meet with Donne Forrest, the Subsidiary Rights Director at Dutton Children’s Books and Dial Books for Young Readers. I liked her immediately and we had a good interview. She sent me home with three books: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, Interstellar Pig by William Sleator, and Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne. I read them all that night, and she called and offered me the job the next day. She made it clear to me that she needed a body right then, but she’d completely understand if I found a job in SF&F in the near future and left. Six months later, I got a call from Tor about an editorial assistant job…and I said “no thanks, not interested.” I’d fallen in love with children’s books, and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
"Two years later I was laid off by Penguin (after just signing a lease for a more expensive studio in the East Village to boot!), but fortunately landed a new job as the subsidiary rights associate at The Putnam and Grosset Group. After a couple of years there, I was handed a true golden ticket: I was hired as the Rights and Contracts Director at Orchard Books.When news came in 2000 that Scholastic was buying Orchard, I had to decide what to do with my future. I’d always thought of agenting as an opportunity down the road, but I certainly hadn’t planned to do it so soon. I talked with several people about it, including award-winning author Angela Johnson, who basically said that if I did decide to agent, she’d be my first client. With that kind of vote of confidence, I took the leap and in September 2000 opened my agency, and it is without a doubt the best move I’ve ever made.” (From the agency website)
About the Agency:
Barry Goldblatt Literary was founded September 2000. The agency specializes in children's and young adult fiction as well as graphic novels and adult genre fiction.
Web Presence:
Barry Goldblatt Literary website.
Publisher’s Marketplace page.  
QueryTracker, AgentQuery.
Update 2/2/2023
MS Wish List
What He's Looking For:
Barry Goldblatt represents children's projects exclusively including middle grade, young adult, and graphic novels. He likes quirky, edgy, and offbeat. (Link)
What He Isn't Looking For:
Adult projects, screenplays, educational or institutional non-fiction.
Editorial Agent?
A full list of BG Literary clients is available on the website. website
Query Methods:
E-mail: No.
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: Yes.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Fill out the online form and paste in a query, synopsis, and the first 20 pages of your manuscript.  Query only one agent at the agency; querying one is querying all. 
See the BG Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Response Times:
The agency only responds if interested.
What's the Buzz?
For nearly twenty years, Barry Goldblatt worked in subsidiary rights for various children's publishers including Dutton Children's Books and Dial Books for Young Readers, The Putnam & Grosset Group, and Orchard Books. When Goldblatt heard Scholastic was buying Orchard in 2000, he decided it was finally time to form his own agency and founded Barry Goldblatt Literary.
Since then, Goldblatt has become a very successful, well-respected literary agent with some of the best children’s and young adult authors in his clientele.  His clients absolutely adore him.  He’s married to the ever-fabulous Libba Bray. If you have a chance to hear these two speak at a conference, do yourself a favor and go.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews and Podcasts: (Updated 2/2/2023)
Podcast at 88 Cups of Tea (08/2017)
SCBWI TEAM BLOG Pre-Conference Interview: Barry Goldblatt (07/2011).
INTERVIEW: Barry Goldblatt - Founder of Barry Goldblatt Literary Agency at A View from the Top (05/2010).
Agent Panel: Barry Goldblatt at the SCBWI Conference Blog (01/2012).
Video of Barry Goldblatt speaking at the 34th annual Mary Calletto Rife Youth Literature Seminar on YouTube. (11/2011).
The Wisdom of Agents – Panel Discussion, SCBWI-LA 2011 conference notes including Barry Goldblatt at Karen Sandler’s blog (08/2011).
Agent Friday: Barry Goldblatt at Writing While the Rice Boils (12/2010).
Children’s Literary Agent Barry Goldblatt Knows What He Likes In The Ever-Changing and Expanding Children’s Market at Writer’s Digest (03/2008).
Please see the agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 2/2/2023.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Wednesday Nada

No word count today. I haven't been writing (sigh) but I am trying to gear up for NaNoWriMo. Things aren't looking particularly good though... I'm still not fired up about any of my ideas, there's a cold making the rounds in my house, I haven't slept much in the last three nights (Dresden's been miserable, keeping me up), and there are a lot of other little things going on.

But, I'm trying to remain optimistic. I just read through my NaNo 2008 posts and I'm feeling quite a bit more excited now. I hung in there even when it got tough and managed to stay positive. I've just got to do that again.


The word meter (right sidebar) and the icon are both from Language is a Virus. Last year, I found it much easier to update that meter than the official NaNo one (especially in the beginning when the site was running slow), so I'm defaulting to that one again. You might consider grabbing your own, and some of the cute icons, too!

Do you have a word count update you want to post? If you're participating in NaNo, are your ready? Don't let me be a downer, guys, please share your progress and goals with me. It's always inspiring! And yes, I promise there'll be a real Wednesday update next week with word stats -- NaNo style!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Today's tip comes to you from Samantha Clark who has a fabulous writing blog where she talks about her works-in-progress, the craft, and posts great author interviews. Please, stop by visit her!

"I've found that movie credits are one of the best places to find odd and interesting names for characters. When watching a movie, I'll try to note down any that stick out as great character names. When I need a name, sometimes I'll browse through the cast and crew lists of movies on IMDb.com, and not just the actors' names, the behind the camera crew too. For example, Rhett Reese is a writer on Zombieland. Rachel Kick is a makeup artist. Toby Sells is a special makeup artist. Heather Wusterbarth is a second assistant director. Cat Rowe is a digital colorist artist. These are all from the same movie, and all interesting names -- true last names -- that I might not have thought of or found in a phone book."

Thanks Sam! I just love this tip. I always catch some great and unusual names in movie credits as they scroll by!

Interview with Author PJ Hoover

It always makes for a great Monday when I have an interview to share and today I have a great one with PJ Hoover, author of The Forgotten Worlds Trilogy. Check it out!

Hi PJ! I’m so excited to have you for an interview. Could you start us off by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi Casey! Thank you for having me. It's a huge honor to be on your blog! About me? I grew up as the girl who was good at math and science. I loved Computers, Calculus, and Archaeology. Archaeology? Yes, see, I always had this love of the unexplained, and though I got my degree in Electrical Engineering, I kept that love with me. So after designing computer chips for 15 years and having two kids, I decided to combine a love of the unknown and my enjoyment of reading, and write fantasy books of my own. The fun part is sneaking math and science into my fantasy books in fun, creative ways.

Your first novel, THE EMERALD TABLET, debuted in the fall of 2008, and the second book in the trilogy, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, just released this month. Please, tell us about them!

THE EMERALD TABLET is the story of a kid who finds out not only does he have to go to summer school on a hidden continent under the Pacific Ocean, he's not even human. And to complicate matters, he's not even there a day when he and his friends are tasked with saving the world. Remember when summer was just for relaxing. The fun thing about THE EMERALD TABLET is that being of another species, the main characters can do cool things like telepathy and telekinesis.

As for THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, it picks up where THE EMERALD TABLET leaves off. I always like to say the most fun thing about NAVEL is two words. Time. Travel. I love time travel stories and had a blast writing my own!

Now, how about in haiku?

How fun! Here goes:

What kid wouldn't like this skill?
Practical jokes thrive.

Brother can't be found
Time Traveling Telegens
Trouble will ensue.

What did your journey from aspiring author to publ
ished author entail? What were the key milestones along the way?

The key milestone for me was attending the SCBWI conference in New York one year. I met my editor there, who kindly offered to read my extremely long manuscript. She gave me phenomenal feedback which I grabbed and jumped on. When I finished, I asked her if she'd read it again. And again. And then she bought the trilogy.

How highly would you recommend SCBWI to aspiring children’s book authors and illustrators? How has the society helped you?

This kind of follows on to the previous question. If not for SCBWI, I would never have met my editor. SCBWI is an amazing resource for networking, critiquing, and bonding in general. I can't imagine not being a member. Writing is a bit lonely, and having people to compare notes, celebrate, and commiserate with is beyond measure.

Your second book, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, had its happy release day on October 12th. What sort of release-day fun have you put into motion? Any upcoming events?

My biggest plans were my release party. I just had it on October 18th! It was a blast with lots of people coming out, including kids who always make any party better! In addition to the party, I'm traveling to some conferences and book festivals in the upcoming months. You can check my schedule on my website at www.pjhoover.com. In addition to conferences, I love talking to kids. I've spent the last few weeks talking to classrooms of kids about the books. They ask the best questions!

Where can readers stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest on you and your books?

There's my website at www.pjhoover.com. It has links to all the fun social networking sites I'm part of. Please find me. And friend me. And tweet me. And all that! I love getting email!

I'm also an avid blogger. My blog is at pjhoover.blogspot.com, and I love when people drop by and comment. So please, drop by, and comment!

In reading your blog and the interviews you’ve done in the past, I know your books have a lot of little life treasures and inspirations in them. I believe some have to do with your past work as an electrical engineer and others are related to family and interests. Care to tell us about some of these? I love getting an inside look at the creation of a book!

Well for starters, one of the bad guys is named after my high school Geometry teacher. He was one of my favorite teachers, and I immortalized him forever :)

I love Rubik's Cubes, and thus made up the Kinetic Orb which is like a Rubik's Cube but for smart people.

My son came up with the word "Nogical" which turned into a genetically engineered creature.

And I try to incorporate binary numbers whenever possible as my special tribute to electrical engineering. After all, there are 10 kinds of people in this world: those who understand binary and those who don't.

I’ve read most of the reviews you’ve received for THE EMERALD TABLET and I’m pretty curious. How does it feel to have your books compared to titles like the HARRY POTTER series by J.K. Rowling and the PERCY JACKSON series by Rick Riordan? I can’t think of any greater praise for a middle-grade author!

Yes, I love being able to say my books are in that same genre! Everyone has heard of HARRY POTTER, and being able to legitimately compare my books to those and the PERCY JACKSON books is such a blast. This is exactly the audience I was targeting with THE EMERALD TABLET, and I'm thrilled when reviewers point this out.

You’re currently a full-time author (and mother of two!) with an admiringly stable writing schedule. What’s an average work day like for you? Any tips for those of us struggling to pull it together?
What other nugget(s) of advice would you give for aspiring authors?

The best advice I have is to make chunks of time. If marketing needs to be done, work on a big chunk of it one day such that the next day revisions or writing can be done for a big chunk. Being able to focus on something for longer than a half hour at a time is key for me in completing anything.

Other advice I have is patience. Patience when writing and revising. Patience while waiting on agents and editors. Patience between revisions. I try to set aside stuff for a while (like months at a time) while revising. This helps give me a fresh, shiny perspective.

Oh, and finally, don't give up!

With THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS trilogy coming to a close in the fall o
f 2010 with THE NECROPOLIS, you must be working on something new. Can you divulge anything about your current works-in-progress?

I'm so totally closed-lipped about new projects. But here's what I have. I am working on new stuff! I have an Egyptian mythology themed middle grade book I've been working on, and I also have a young adult fantasy heavy with Greek mythology. Everything seems to be centered around mythology :) There's a YA I have in the oven also, but it's pre-anyone-reading it at this point.

You live in Texas and really seem to love it. What’s your favorite thing about living there? How’s the local writing community?

Amazing is the only word I can use to describe the Austin writing community. Seriously how did I get so lucky as to move to the best city in the world for children's authors? Aside from how many talented authors we have here, everyone is so nice. It's the most welcoming community I can image.

Finally, what’s one interview question you haven’t been asked and wish you would be? And please, answer it!

Okay, how about my favorite Mario Kart character. When I'm talking to kids, I always ask them if they can guess. No one ever does. The answer? Bowser.

Thank you so much for having me, Casey! It's been a blast!

Thank YOU, PJ! It's been a pleasure. I can't wait for my copy of THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD to arrive so I can have another adventure with Benjamin and his friends!

Everyone Doing NaNoWriMo 2009...

Let's unite!

BUDDY ME and then leave your link or user name in the comments for others. That is, if you're interested in buddying and being buddied. : )

Six days... six days...

P.S. Thank you for your sympathy, comments, and fabulous morale yesterday! It meant a lot to me, really. I've been pretty down.

Overthinking It


I've been a bit mum about my writing lately and that's because it's not going well. I beleive I have a classic case of overthinkage. Having a really hard time shutting off my internal god-I-want-to-write-so-good-so-bad editor. It's gotten to the point that I can't stand anything I write creatively.


I do think it's sort of awesome that if you type "overthinking" in Google an article called "Overthinking Is The Enemy of Creatives" comes up first. And it's good! Give it a read if you can relate to my struggle.

Anyway, in overthinking overthinking, I overly think I've come up with a solution.


Whaddya think?