CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Meowloween Giveaway Hop through October 20th


Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Adria Goetz and G.Z. Schmidt Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/19/20

Melanie Castillo Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/21/20

Tori Sharp Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/18/20

Maria Vincente Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/7/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/18/21

Tricia Skinner Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/20/21

Agent Spotlight Updates

All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.

Agent Spotlight: Barry Goldblatt

This week's Agent Spotlight features Barry Goldblatt of Barry Goldblatt Literary.
Status: Closed to submissions. As of 5/5/20, he is closed to submissions. Check his website to see when/if he opens to submissions.
barry_portraitAbout: “Barry Goldblatt opened his own agency, Barry Goldblatt Literary, over ten years ago, and has been gleefully signing wonderful authors ever since. He used his experience working in rights and contracts departments at Penguin, Putnam, and Orchard as a springboard, and set out to find writers whose work made him laugh, cry, scream and jump up and down. His clients include award-winners and bestsellers Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, and Lauren Myracle.” (Link)
For a complete bio and publishing history, see Mr. Goldblatt’s page on the BG Literary 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.  
Twitter.
Facebook.
AAR profile.
QueryTracker, AgentQuery.
Goldblatt Literary Blog (inactive).
What He's Looking For:
Genres/Specialties:
Barry Goldblatt represents children's projects exclusively including picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult. He likes quirky, edgy, and offbeat works and welcomes "older YA" as well as genre fiction including fantasy and science fiction. (Link, Link)
From an WD Article (03/2008):
"I need to find myself laughing hysterically or weeping my eyes out, or I need to be marveling at the intricate details of a plot or fascinated by an extraordinary voice."  (Link)
From an Interview (07/2006):
"I'd love to see more American fantasy writers get published, and more different kinds of fantasy: Eastern and/or Indian themed fantasy (heck, any cultural fantasy that offers more than traditional Western settings and archetypes). I'd be thrilled to see science fiction make a comeback, at all age levels. I'd also like to see more recent historical fiction, set in the 60s, 70s and even 80s." (Link)
What He Isn't Looking For:
Adult projects, screenplays, educational or institutional non-fiction.
Editorial Agent?
"I definitely have an editorial role with my clients, as well as the more typical agent one. It’s not so much that I edit—certainly not in the way a real editor will—but I definitely will talk with a client about a manuscript, about what works for me and what doesn’t, and I’ll often send them back for a revision before submitting to editors. [...]I want to be able to send out a manuscript that simply can't be refused, so I want it as polished as possible before I let anyone see it." (Link)
Quotables:
"The first thing I do after I read something I love is call the author. I've spent two or three hours with writers discussing their work, their goals, their favorite movies. I'm looking for a connection, a meeting of like minds, someone I can comfortably and without hesitation support and cheer on for twenty years or more. If I find that, I'll offer representation. If I don't feel that connection, odds are we're not going to be a good fit." (Link)
"I don’t like to blow smoke. I think one of the reasons I’ve been successful is when I call up an editor about a book I’m representing, they know I love it. I’m not sitting here creating a lot of hype over something that’s sub-par. I’m creating a lot of hype about something that I love. They may not agree, but they know that at least if I’m sending it to them that I’m passionately 120 percent behind it. I don’t think authors should expect anything less from their agent." (Link)
Regarding the retreat Mr. Goldblatt hosts for his clients each year:
"My retreat is probably the one thing I've gotten the most notice for, because it's unique and (in the minds of some agents) completely insane. But I feel that by bringing my clients together, building a community that's equally creative, supportive and just a whole heck of a lot of fun, that I've enhanced what I have to offer as an agent...not to mention, gotten some terrific book deals out of it, deals that almost certainly wouldn't have happened without the retreat." (Link, seems to be down)
Pet-Peeves:
“For me it's simply sending me things I don't represent. It drives me crazy.” (Link)
Clients:
A full list of BG Literary clients is available on the website
Mr. Goldblatt's clients include:
Holly Black, Libba Bray, Stephanie Burgis, Toni Buzzeo, Cecil Castellucci, Cassandra Clare, Michelle Hodkin, Angela Johnson, Jo Knowles, Lauren Myracle, Robin Wasserman, among many others.
Sales:
As of 2/12, Mr. Goldblatt is still listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 7 deals in the last 12 months, 8 six-figure+ deals, and 70 overall.  Recent deals include 4 middle grade, 3 young adult.
NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.
Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query, synopsis, and the first five pages of your manuscript in the body of an e-mail with the word “Query” in the subject line.  Query only one agent at the agency; querying one is querying all. 
See the BG Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips: 
“I don't know that there really is such a thing as an ideal query letter for me. A query letter has one purpose and one purpose only: does it make me want to read the manuscript? Anything else is just decoration. It needs to be concise and present the plot of the novel quickly and clearly, without a lot of flowery language and overly detailed plot description. It's a quick introduction, nothing more.” (Link)
Response Times:
The agency’s stated response time is 2-3 weeks on queries and 3-4 months on requested material (Link). Stats on the web show Mr. Goldblatt responding to queries and submissions within these timeframes, often much sooner.
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.  He boasts a 98% sell-through rate and 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.
Follow him on Twitter @barrygoldblatt for daily updates.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
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).
Interview with Agent Barry Goldblatt by Todd Tuell (Date Unknown. Pre-2010).
Interview with Agent Barry Goldblatt on the Classof2k7 blog (07/2007).
SCBWI Bologna 2006 Agent Interview: Barry Goldblatt at Cynsations (03/2006).
Around the Web:
Barry Goldblatt Literary thread on AbsoluteWrite.
Barry Goldblatt Literary on P&E ($, AAR).
Mr. Goldblatt maintained a BG Lit blog from 2004-2009. While it’s inactive now, there are some still valid, informative posts that may be worth your time.
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).
Post by Cheryl Reif on Barry Goldblatt's fair but blunt critique style (10/2008).
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).
Recap of some "query lesson" tweets by Mr. Goldblatt at Chinook Update (07/2009).
Contact:
Please see the Barry Goldblatt Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/5/20.
Agent Contacted For Review? No.
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.

IcanIcanIcan.

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:

Telekinesis
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

So...

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.

Yeah.

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.








Yeah.

Whaddya think?

Inanimate Alice - Digital Fiction

You've seen all the future-of-publishing talk surrounding e-books, but what about digital fiction? Have you heard of it?

I was recently introduced to Inanimate Alice, a digital story that combines text, sound, images, and even games to create an interactive reading experience. It follows the story of eight-year-old Alice and her digital imaginary friend, Brad, as they grow up in the 21st century with a peculiar, somewhat troublesome childhood. With Brad's "help," Alice goes on to become an extremely successful games animator.

"'Inanimate Alice' is a study of human/computer relations in a world where having friends means never having to meet them."

It's co-written by Kate Pullinger, a novelist, and Chris Joseph, a digital writer and artist, and produced by Ian Harper of The BradField Company.

Check out the first episode, China, and see what it's all about. Four of the ten episodes are currently available online for free.

I can see a future for this form of media with reluctant readers, the video game generation, in schools as an interactive educational tool, etc., and I suspect e-readers of the future will be compatible with the format.

What are you thoughts on digital fiction? Do you embrace this as a form of advanced reading or do you think it's too game-like? Please share the link, and let's discuss!

Agent Spotlight: Sara Megibow

This week's Agent Spotlight features Sara Megibow of kt literary.
Status: Open to submissions.
sara_sized_160x240About: "Sara Megibow is a literary agent with kt literary out of Highlands Ranch, CO. She has worked in publishing since 2006 and represents New York Times bestsellers authors including Margaret Rogerson, Roni Loren, Jason M. Hough and Jaleigh Johnson. She specializes in launching debut authors and working on long-term career development and profit strategy with them. She is a graduate of Northwestern University with degrees in Women’s Studies, Gender Studies and American History. Always LGBTQ+ Friendly!" (Link)
About the Agency:
"Books aren’t just what we do, they’re who we are. We become the sum total of our reading experiences – the romance, the adventures, the coming-of-age, the fantasy, the dare-to-believe. At kt literary, we want to be more.
“Madeleine L’Engle once said, ‘You have to write whichever book it is that wants to be written. And then, if it’s going to be too difficult for grown-ups, you write it for children.’ Write for children. Write for adults. Write for yourself. And then, when you’re ready to find a literary agent to take your work to the next level, think of us.
“kt literary is a full-service literary agency operating out of Highlands Ranch, in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, where every major publishing house is merely an email or phone call away. We believe in the power of new technology to connect writers to readers, and authors to editors. We bring over a decade of experience in the New York publishing scene, an extensive list of contacts, and a lifetime love of reading to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
“And did we mention our boundless optimism?" (Link)
Web Presence:
kt literary website.
kt literary blog.
Publisher's Marketplace page.
Twitter.
#MSWL tweets.
AgentQuery.
QueryTracker.
What She's Looking For:
Genres/Specialties:
Middle Grade, Young Adult,  Romance, Erotica, Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Link)
From her Manuscript Wish List
"I’m on the hunt for middle grade and young adult novels (absolutely all sub-genres!) as well as romance novels and science fiction/ fantasy novels for the adult market. A manuscript must be 100% complete and never previously-published and as long as it fits those guidelines, bring it on! I love contemporary and historical, paranormal and urban fantasy, stand alone novels and series – anything goes. Always LGBTQIA+ Friendly!" (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
“Sara does not represent screenplays, memoir, self-help, picture books or any book that has been previously published.” (Link)
Agent Philosophy:
"My passion as an agent is strategizing profitable long-term careers with my authors. I want clients to love the books they write and make money writing them. Crafting that kind of balance between artistic and commercial success takes communication, teamwork and a focus on "Art. Patience. Strategy."
"In terms of personality, I tend to be chatty with clients. I aim to set clear expectations and explain publishing processes so authors can focus as much as possible on writing. To that end, I communicate regularly and keep my client list small in order to support each author effectively." (Link)Editorial Agent?
“I’m excellent at selling books and I identify works in the slush pile that are ready to go. Certainly I read and help shape my clients’ second, third, fourth, etc books, but in general I am not an editorial agent. There are some wonderful agents out there who are also great editors and if that’s what you are looking for in a partnership, you will find it!” (Link)
Clients:
A list of Ms. Megibow's clients is available on the kt literary website.
Ms. Megibow’s clients include: Casey McQuiston, Jaleigh Johnson, Jason M. Hough, Roni Loren, Rebecca Roanhorse, Margaret Rogerson, Angelina M. Lopez, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a one-page query letter and the first three pages of the manuscript.  Put QUERY and the title of your project in the subject line.  No attachments. 
“You are encouraged to include the link to your author website in your query letter. LGBTQ friendly!” (Link)
See the kt literary website and Ms. Megibow’s PM page for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines
Response Times:
Ms. Megibow's response time is 5 to 14 days.
What's the Buzz?
Sara Megibow joined kt literary in 2015 after nine years with Nelson Literary. She is known to be very nice, professional, and enthusiastic. The agency is highly respected and her clients seem quite happy with her representation.
I recommend following Sara on Twitter @SaraMegibow.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews & Chats:
On the Podcast: Sara Megibow at the kt literary blog (12/2019)
Interview with Sara Megibow at Sirens (06/2019)
Interview with Sara Megibow on YouTube at WriteNow Workshop (05/2019)
Meet Sara Megibow at Beyond the Book (04/2019)
Around the Web:
For conferences Ms. Megibow will be attending, see her Publisher’s Marketplace page.
Contact:
Please see the ki literary website and Ms. Megibow’s Publisher’s Marketplace page for further contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/18/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed by Agent: 5/19/2020.
***
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.

















































































































Research Tip Tuesday

Want to know what people are saying about a particular agent or subject? Google Blog Search specifically searches blogs (all blogs, not just Blogger) for your search term or phrase. Advanced options also allow you to filter and search by date. I use it all the time for my spotlights!

Next week, I have a fabulous tip from Samantha Clark. Look forward to it! Want to see your own tip featured? E-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

So Tell Me: What Personal Greatness Do You Aspire To?

What an interesting discussion we had yesterday! Some of you agree with King and some of you don't. From reading through all the comments, I'd say King's view of the bad, competent, good, and great writer looks something like this.

Great = Innately talented, has something that can't be learned or taught.
Good = The majority of successful published writers (and those aspirees with this level of drive and talent).
Competent = Potential to become published, potential to become "good," but maybe never quite good enough if the drive isn't there (the line walker).
Bad = Actually incapable or unwilling to reach competency.

Which would put most of us in the "competent" and "good" categories, including beginners not stuck in the (unfortunate) bad category. Would you agree with assessment?

I've got a different but related question for you today though. What PERSONAL greatness do you aspire to? Is it becoming a published author, prolific, renowned, a bestseller, an award winner? Or is it more related to craft... is there a level you're trying to reach, and how are you gauging it?

Do tell!

On the Potential of the Bad, Competent, Good or Great Writer

I recently devoured ON WRITING by Stephen King. It really is a great read (fascinating, inspiring), and I'm happy to have finally read it. Since finishing, I have found myself returning to a couple things Mr. King said and I'd like to discuss one. And that is the following:

"...while it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, and while it is equally impossible to make a great writer out of a good one, it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one." (p. 136)

I don't know how I feel about this. The horde of hopefuls in my head want to beleive that, wherever I'm at talent-wise, I have a chance at becoming good or great. But then, I also don't see myself developing the talent of, say, Markus Zusak or Suzanne Collins—ever.

So I see what he's saying, and I think it comes down to how one defines or views such words as "good" and "great." A writer can improve greatly, for example, as I think many of us have, but will never be a [insert author that fills you with awe]. And yet, I still find myself balking at the idea that we have a built-in cap to our potential, and wondering if it really is impossible to cross these thresholds. Even if a good writer will never become one of the greats, does a bad writer really have no chance at becoming competent or good? I'm not sure. I find myself agreeing and then disagreeing in the span of two thoughts.

What's your take?

Agent Spotlight: Michael Stearns

Profile removed. Mr. Stearns is no longer directly representing authors (see comments below).

Thanks!

Casey

Review: FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL by Elana Johnson

A few weeks ago, I won a copy of Elana Johnson’s e-book, FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL, just as it was released. I was pretty darn excited. Why?  Well, despite the many, many examples of queries I’ve read online, how-to posts I’ve studied, and attempts I've made, I’ve never been able to write a good query. I love Elanja’s blog (so smart and funny!), and I especially love her voice, so I was eager to see if this e-book would be the eye-opener I needed.

The short answer:  It was.  The long answer:  I’d like to skip today’s WIP post one more week and review it for you.

***

from the query to the callElana Johnson's e-book, FROM THE QUERY TO CALL, is exactly what the title lends you to believe it is; an informative guide that takes you from the basic start-questions of what a query is and isn't and why you need one, to two detailed sections called "Writing a Killer Query" and "Entering the Query Trenches."  By the time you finish its concise, organized, well-written 63 pages, you'll not only understand the anatomy of a successful query but how to research agents, query professionally, endure the dreaded WAIT, and everything after—dealing with rejection and fielding THE CALL. 

Three things I really love about Elanja's book.  1.)  It has everything for the writer just starting to learn about "the process" of seeking representation, but plenty also for the writer who has a good handle on it.  2.)  It is, essentially, said "process" in one well-organized bundle with a handy column ever-present on the side that enables you to jump to the section you want to read or re-read.  No more hours of searching Google and hopping from site to site as you try to piece it all together. 3.)  There are seven well-written query examples used to teach throughout the book and then available in their entirety at the end.  All of which have gained their respective writers representation or resulted in a high percentage of requests.  In other words, all successful.  I learn well by example, so these queries were like the icing on the cake.

There's no telling which section(s) will be the most helpful to you until you buy it and read it for yourself, but for me, it was the meat of the book, "Writing a Killer Query."  The way Elana broke the example queries down and showed me the four elements of a successful query was exactly what I needed.  Many others have done this online for free, sure, but not quite so in depth and certainly not Elana-style.  The big eye opener for me?  Learning I've been missing a very important element in my query—the consequence—and how important that small element really is.

Believe it or not, there's a cherry on top all that cake and icing. If you buy FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL, Elana will critique your query either by e-mail or on her Query Ninja blog.  Not only are you bound to learn a lot from this book, but you'll get a personalized, hands-on lesson too, if you wish.  Pretty darn good deal, and a great opportunity. 

Congratulations on a fabulous e-book, Elana, and thank you so much for the insight and knowledge you've put into a neat, accessible package and provided so many.

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Have you read FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL?  If so, please leave your thoughts in the comments.  Haven't read it?  Feel free to ask any questions you might have.

Research Tip Tuesday

Hey everyone, if you'd like to see this feature continue, please send some tips in! I haven't been receiving enough to keep it going. I've got one more from Tara for you today, and I'll put up one of my own next week.

"Romance fiction writers or people who write Historical Fiction might benefit from tracing modern works back to their origins. The Online Etymology Dictionary
allows writers to type in a word, and then it returns the history for that word. If writers don't see a word they like in the history, they can enter one of the words from the search results, allowing a new set of results to display."

Bio: Tara is a freelance writer and editor. She maintains her own blog Eye Feathers.

Thanks Tara! I use the Etymology Dictionary all the time when I'm trying to create words for my fantasy stories, so it can be really useful to all the fantasy writers out there as well.

I'm Back, YA News, and Question Box Revival

I'm back! And I have to say, it feels good knowing things should be back to normal this week. I'm looking forward to getting caught up and reading all the replies you left in various posts while I was gone, especially the blog party post.

First up, Happy Release Day to PJ Hoover whose second book, THE NAVEL OF THE WORLD, comes out today! If you haven't read book one, THE EMERALD TABLET, in PJ's THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS trilogy, you're missing out! And while you're busy reading book one or book two, you can look forward to my interview with PJ, which should go up in the next couple weeks.

Next, some agent news that came out while I was away...

Elaine English Literary Agency is now accepting young adult lit. You can read about the wide range of genres they're now accepting YA submissions for and some of Naomi's and Elaine's preferences on the agency blog.

ETA: Sara Crowe is back from her maternity leave and put up a call for submissions on the Crowe's Nest. In her post, she also talks about some of her YA authors and why she took them on.

In other YA news, Sourcebooks has added a new teen imprint called Sourcebooks Fire and will publish seven titles in its debut season. You can read all about it on Publisher's Weekly.

Any other news I missed while I was gone?

Finally I'd like to revive The Question Box and invite everyone to leave me some questions, if you have them. I think a healthy batch of questions would give us some great discussion material and it would let me know what kinds of posts you'd like to see here on Lit Rambles!

Try to have a great Monday!

Agent Spotlight: Beth Fleisher

According to a client, Ms. Fleisher retired in April 2014. Do not query.

So Tell Each Other: What Are You Blogging About This Week?

I'm married! The wedding went really great, and I'll share some pictures as soon as I have them.

In the meantime, we're taking off again this afternoon and I'll be staying relatively "unplugged" until Monday. I should be back full time about then.

For today, I'm using a fabulous suggestion sent in by Heather Lane and putting up the following question...

What are you blogging about this week? Please self-promote, share what you've posted and/or will post, and click around some new blogs. I think we all loved doing this a couple weeks ago. The response was amazing!

Have fun romping about the place while I'm gone (keep it clean!), enjoy the blog party, and I'll be back to check in with everyone fairly soon.

Agent Spotlight: Brenda Bowen

This week's Agent Spotlight features Brenda Bowen of The Book Group.
Status: Open to submissions.
About: "Brenda Bowen represents authors and artists of books for young readers from preschool to young adult; she also represents some adult titles. Her clients have won the MacArthur Fellowship; the Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor; the Caldecott Medal and Caldecott Honor; the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent; the Stonewall Award; the Geisel Honor; the William C. Morris Honor; the New York Times Best Illustrated Book prize; the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal; as well as many other awards and citations. Brenda’s clients have been #1 New York Times bestsellers, and have been translated around the globe; she represents Oscar-, Emmy-, and Tony-Award winners; career authors and artists; and newcomers making their debuts. She can’t decide which she loves more: a bold picture book, or a lyrical middle-grade novel.
"Brenda has the unusual advantage of having seen publishing from all sides: she began her career as an agent at Sanford J. Greenburger; she was a children’s book publisher for many years; she has written an adult novel; and she’s an award-winning author of some forty books for children. She lives with her family in New York City, and spends August in a cottage in Maine, where the menu almost always includes blueberry corn muffins. (Link)

About the Agency:
"Since its launch in 2015 by publishing industry veterans Julie Barer, Faye Bender, Brettne Bloom, and Elisabeth Weed, The Book Group's mission has been to seek out and cultivate talented writers, and to serve as their champions throughout their careers.
"We represent a wide range of distinguished authors, including critically acclaimed and bestselling novelists, celebrated writers of children's literature, and award-winning historians, essayists, memoirists and journalists." (Link)
What She's Looking For:
Specialties:
Books for children and teens, as well as some fiction for adult trade.
What She's Not Looking For:
Picture book texts, adult fiction and non-fiction, Christian fiction and non-fiction
From SCBWI Conference Notes (06/2010):
“I am very catholic in my tastes, but I can like anything from the trashy to the literary.   I am not a fan of paranormal books, and in general I am not hugely into young adult novels. I really like to focus on Picture Books through Middle Grade (including chap books and the educational market). What I like is hard to define. I also fear the ‘conference polish’ as Mary Kole mentioned earlier. So I always ask for the first three chapters in a submission. I want to work with people I love to be around! I want to be happy to see their name in my in-box. I would like to do more fiction, I already have a lot of picture books on my plate. I represent both picture book authors alone, as well as author/illustrators. I like boy oriented books that are funny. I want a story that I have never read before.” (Link)

Quotables:
"It's not good for us to make one sale and never sell your work again. You have to imagine a partnership, to trust that we're going to give our best to each other and that we'll be there for the long haul." (Link)
Referring to when she was an editor: "I was aware that some agents' names in the inbox meant that what was attached, although maybe not perfect for me, was going to be really good for someone in the house, and that it was ready to go. I'd like to be one of those agents..." (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Yes.
Web Presence:
The Book Group website
Twitter.
#MSWL on Twitter.
Publishers Marketplace.
QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.
Clients:
There is a list of clients available on The Book Group website.  Clients include:
Carin Berger, Marisa Calin, Jessie Hartland, G. Brian Karas, Hilary Knight, Caroline Lawrence, Martine Leavitt, George Ella Lyon, Donna Jo Napoli, Chris Raschka, Stephen Savage, Marilyn Singer, Naoko Stoop, Rosemary Wells, among many others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes
Snail-Mail: No
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter and ten sample pages by e-mail (no attachments). See The Book Group website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.Query Tips:
“A catchy title can be reason alone for me to request a manuscript. For example: The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant. This shows me that the author is confident enough to name his/her book this. It shows me the book is not a trend, and the title has a lyrical sound to it.
“Please query me as Ms. Bowen and not Mrs. Bowen.
“I like non-classical queries that are whimsical and share a confident story.
“Have a query that shows your voice.” (Link)
Response Times:
Ms. Bowen only responds if she is interested in reading more. 
What's the Buzz?
Ms. Bowen has nearly 30 years of experience in the publishing industry and has worked with some truly amazing companies and talents.  Her transition to agenting was met with great approval.  She’s quickly become a top dealmaker for children’s book authors and illustrators. 
I recommend following her on Twitter @bbowen949.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Four Questions for Brenda Bowen at Publishers Weekly (06/2015)Brenda Bowen interviews her new agenting self at Bunny Eat Bunny (05/2009).
Around the Web:
Her author bibliography on Amazon (She writes as Margaret McNamara).
Agent Day: Insight from Brenda Bowen, detailed conference notes at Ingrid’s Notes (06/2010).
Notes on Ms. Bowen from the SCBWI blog, and a few more here.
Contact:
Please see The Book Group website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/11/2020
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes
Last Reviewed by Agent:  3/28/11
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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.