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.

Agent Spotlight: Lauren MacLeod

This week's Agent Spotlight features Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency, LLC.
Status: Open to submissions.

HeadshotsmallElvis (800x800).thumbnailAbout: “Lauren MacLeod joined the Strothman Agency in 2007 after graduating cum laude from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing. She lives in Nashville, TN, and tweets under @Lauren_MacLeod.
"Lauren’s primary interests are young adult fiction and nonfiction, middle-grade novels, as well as highly polished literary fiction and narrative nonfiction.” (Link)
She also handles subsidiary rights for the agency.
About the Agency:
“The Strothman Agency is a highly selective literary agency dedicated to advocating for books that matter. The Strothman Agency was founded in 2003 by Wendy Strothman, the former Publisher of Trade & Reference books at Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) and the Publisher at Beacon Press.
"The Strothman Agency offers our clients extensive inside experience and knowledge of both the editorial and business aspects of publishing. We stay involved throughout the entire publishing process and help clients think long term, to shape successful careers.” (Link)
Web Presence:
The Strothman Agency website.
Publisher’s Marketplace page.
What She's Looking For:
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction, literary fiction, and narrative nonfiction.
"Looking for: Young adult & middle grade in every subgenre. She loves books for and about lost people, and well-drawn, complex, flawed characters. She is particularly searching for #ownvoices (#ownvoice queries that use the hashtag in the subject line of their email will be prioritized) and inclusive, diverse narratives as well as multifaceted female characters or feminist themes, and QUILTBAG representation.
"Fiction can shape the way people view the world and make us more empathetic. To that end, she is searching for books with themes that speak to the current political environment. She is especially interested in YA books that deal with immigration, income inequality, racism, abortion, authoritarian governments, climate change, and civil rights." (Link)
See Ms. MacLeod's Manuscript Wish List for detailed information on what she is looking for.
From an Interview (12/2010):
“I’m really hungry for well-written contemporary YA without any fantasy or paranormal elements. I’ve seen a lot of manuscripts in the last year or two about teenagers who can read minds, open magic portals, or talk to ghosts. I think those stories are fascinating, but I’m increasingly interested in reading manuscripts with situations and characters that readers can relate to.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Picture books, chapter books, early readers,  or adult fiction, romance, science fiction, mysteries, and thrillers
"A great story with dynamic writing will always be relevant. Write good books, don’t worry about trends." (Link)
Editorial Agent?
You can find a list of clients on the agency website. Ms. MacLeod’s clients include: Hélène Boudreau, The Barbara Cooney Estate, Aminah Mae Safi, Sashi Kaufman, Robert Lettrick, Jodi Meadows, Dr. Rachel Hez, Steven Hale, Helene Dunbar, American Girls podcast hosts Allison Horrocks and Mary Mahoney, Alan and Claire Linic, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter outlining your qualifications and experience, a synopsis, the genre and word count of your manuscript, and the first ten pages in the body of an e-mail. No attachments. You should receive an auto-response upon receipt.
Please see the Strothman Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Response Times:
The agency response time is four weeks. If you do not receive a response within this time period, they are not interested in reading more.
What's the Buzz?
Lauren has an active presence on Twitter and is popular with aspiring authors. Her clients are very loyal and happy in her hands. Her sales seem modest but balanced with her selective client list. Writers of realistic MG/YA fiction should definitely take note!
Worth Your Time:
Interviews and Guest Posts:
Lauren MacLeod and Holly Bodger Guest Post at Literary Rambles (05/2015).
Query.Sign.Submit with Lauren MacLeod at I Write for Apples (06/2014).
Agent Chat transcript with Lauren MacLeod at WriteOn (05/2011).
Agent Advice Interview with Lauren MacLeod at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2010).
Around the Web:
Successful Queries: Agent Lauren MacLeod and “Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings” at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2010).
Lauren MacLeod was a Secret Agent for Miss Snark's First Victim's blog; follow the link and then locate the entries for that month (July 2009) to see her comments on each entry as well as her chosen winners.
Please see The Strothman Agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/14/2020.
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 and/or teen 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.

Guest Blogger Fiona Ingram: The Wonderful World of Words

Today I'd like to welcome guest blogger Fiona Ingram, author of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab. When she e-mailed me about guest blogging, I was really eager to post this story about her daughter Mabel. I thought it would be a nice change from all the informative posts around here, and the story really touched me.

The Wonderful World of Words and One Child’s Journey There

I don’t remember actually learning to read; it’s as if I always did. Although we grew up poor (five children to feed, clothe, and educate), my parents always had books in the house. And then of course, there were the books we inherited from my grandparents. My very old copy of The Wind in the Willows, with those simple yet beautiful illustrations, is still on my bookshelf. Ratty and Mole were my heroes (and still are!). Other old friends are The Secret Garden, with exquisite color plates, The Water Babies, Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series, my collection of the Lucy Fitch Perkins’ twin series, with her poignant stories of children of all eras and places around the world. I particularly loved Anne of Avonlea, The Little Princess, and many others.

The list of children’s classics is endless and not so long ago I read them all over again. I ‘inherited’ an African foster child from a disadvantaged background. This little girl came to me at age eleven, practically illiterate, scoring only 19% for English at school. Opening the doors into the wonderful world of books seemed insurmountable because she simply did not understand the connection between the written and spoken word. What to do? Begin at the beginning seemed a good idea.

I started off with my old favorites and Mabel loved them. Suddenly, the words were not frightening because she was hearing about places and people she’d never imagined. She’d lean over my shoulder, breathing down my neck as I read, my finger tracing the words as I sounded them out. The pages began to surrender the magical words, and she found them enchanting! Fired with success, we moved onto the rest of the library, slowly devouring my children’s classic book collection in very tiny bite-sized pieces. I was still doing most of the reading.

One day, Mabel decided she’d help out with the words, and began reading to me. It was still incredibly slow but I began to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We got movies of books, watched them, and then read the books, just in case the moviemakers had left out some important bits. We expanded our repertoire book by book. I found other ways to sneak words into her day, not just when we were doing ‘serious’ reading. She read recipes with me when we baked; she read the instructions on the packaging to me while we prepared dinner; she read advertisements to me when we shopped. Suddenly words were a constant part of her life.

Mabel also began to show her imaginative side at school. Her poems and creative writing pieces began to change, reflecting more color, bigger words, more complex themes and emotions. What a breakthrough! The final moment of success came when just recently she turned to my mother and said, “Gran, will you buy me a book?”

My mother nearly fell off her chair and replied, “You can have as many as you like, darling.”

Mabel grinned. “Oh, then can you buy me all the Twilight books please?”

Thank you Stephenie Meyer for being the first author Mabel ‘owns.’ (Apparently vampires rock.)

Her latest ‘own’ books? Inkheart, and The Golden Compass.

Her latest marks for English? A magnificent 75%.

“I can do much better,” she said, frowning. “I’m going to have to improve on this if I want to be a writer.”

I have now adopted Mabel legally, not having my own children, and I can say the greatest compliment is that she has decided to become a journalist or a novelist (just like me).

Recently I called her and, hearing her voice coming from her bedroom, asked, “What are you doing?”

Reply: “I’m reading!”

Music to any parent’s ears!

About the Author: Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. The first book was inspired by an actual trip the author took to Egypt with her two young nephews (then aged 10 and 12).

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday #21

It's Tuesday! Again! That means I have another great tip to share. This one from aspiring author Lisa Nowak of The Tao of Webfoot. Please visit her blog after you've finished up here. Lisa's known for posting very genuine, inspiring posts that speak to me as a fellow writer.

Here she is:

"When I 'm writing I sometimes have trouble getting the words to flow, but I've found that a little physical activity will jog loose those ideas. I bought a digital recorder to capture my inspirations, and now I carry it with me whenever I take a walk or a drive. The model I use is a Panasonic RR-US450. It allows you to store up to 99 files in each of its folders, and you have to make a conscious effort to erase one, so you can't accidentally record over your old thoughts, the way you can with tapes. This machine comes with software that allows you to download your notes to a computer. The voice recognition feature isn't the greatest, but I understand that you can use Dragon NaturallySpeaking once the files are on your computer. Even without that feature, keyboard commands allow you to stop and start the file so you don't have to interrupt your typing to pause the recording. In addition, the recording reverses by several words when you resume playing, so if you're a lousy typist like me, you can easily catch what you missed."

I love this tip, Lisa. Recording myself is something I never would have thought to do, but I'm loving the idea. I think I'll have to pick up one of these recorders and give it a shot!

Awards! Part 1

I've been meaning to acknowledge and dish out some awards for awhile now and apologize to the lovely ladies who gave them to me that I haven't done it sooner (I'm looking at you Emily, Shelli, Elana, and Hilary).  And yet, I've just had a heck of a day and wanted to do something fun, so I thought awards!  I'll give people awards and I'll feel way better.  So I'm sort of glad I held out.  But, I'm also short on time so I'm gonna do it in parts. Hey, it's probably more fair to the awards that way, anyway. 

Silver LiningSo, today's award:  THE SILVER LINING AWARD given to me by Emily Cross at The Chronicles of Emily Cross

I feel honored to have been given this award because Emily created it, and I was one of the first five to receive it.  Here's the thought Emily put behind it, "So, in these bad economic times etc. its nice to be able to wander the blogosphere and see some really positive and optimistic posts. To honour these uplifting blogs i've made the silverlining award."

How cool is that?  Wowza!  Thanks Emily!

Here are the rules:

* Post the award on your blog.

* Let them know who gave it to you and link to them.

* Nominate five other blogs and link to them.

* Let your nominees know that they've received the award.

Okay, decisions, decisions.  I think I'll stick with Emily's purpose for the award and choose people who tend to be very positive in my eyes. I hate picking just five people, you all know that right?  Right?!?  Okay good.  Cause I love all my bloggy friends and don't get enough time to spend on all your blogs.  Here are the first five that came to mind.  Friends new and old:

Heather Kelly of Edited to Within an Inch of My Life.

Lisa Nowak of The Tao of Webfoot.

Tabitha Olson of Writers Musings.

Hillary Wagner of Hillary Wagner's blog.

Paul Michael Murphy of Murphblog.

Top 20 Spotlights

Now that Agent Spotlight has been going for almost a year (well, in March), I thought it would be interesting to see which agents have had the most visitors.  Given that some profiles have been up a lot longer than others, it's not a fair representation, exactly, but I think it's still interesting.  Here's the top 20 from March 2009 to Jan 2010 according to my stats:

Daniel Lazar

Nancy Gallt

Maya Rock

Jill Grinberg

Marietta Zacker

Alyssa Eisner Henkin

Stephen Barbara

Steven Malk

Ginger Knowlton

Faye Bender

Jennifer Rofe Jaeger

Stephen Fraser

Merrilee Heifetz

Jennie Dunham

Joe Veltre

Michael Bourret

Sara Crowe

Bill Contardi

Brenda Bowen

Jamie Weiss Chilton


See any trends?  I'm noticing agents with small web presence as well as some big names...

Agent Spotlight: Caryn Wiseman

This week's Agent Spotlight features Caryn Wiseman of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.
Status: Open to submissions.
caryn-2012-photoAbout: "Caryn has been an agent with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency since 2003, and she has sold over 450 books. She handles children's books only: YA and middle grade fiction and nonfiction, graphic novels, chapter books, and fiction and nonfiction picture books. She represents NYT bestselling authors, award-winning authors, debut authors, and authors at every stage in between. No matter the genre, Caryn is looking for books with emotional depth and a strong voice; excellent writing in a tightly-plotted story; and characters that stick with her long after she has closed the book.
Caryn is drawn to contemporary YA and middle grade novels that have a strong voice, multifaceted characters, complex relationships, beautiful writing, and a well-developed hook. Great world-building is essential, whether it's a real time and place that becomes almost a character in a book, or a light fantasy element in a unique story that's grounded in reality. Zombies, horror, and high fantasy will, most likely, never appeal. Caryn is particularly interested in books for children and teens that explore social justice themes. She would be thrilled to see more books by underrepresented authors that deeply explore their culture, as well as books in which the ethnicity or culture of the character is not the issue. She adores a swoon-worthy, layered YA romantic comedy; a funny or poignant middle grade novel with a hook that makes it stand out from the crowd would also hold great appeal. Caryn is partial to graphic novels by author-illustrators; from sweet and funny for the youngest reader to coming of age stories for the middle-grade and young adult reader to informative, non-institutional nonfiction for readers of all ages. She also enjoys character-driven, not-too-sweet picture book fiction, particularly by diverse author-illustrators. The common denominator in Caryn's list, no matter the category, is "smart with heart." She is always open to terrific children's work that doesn't fit these categories as long as it makes her laugh, makes her cry, and keeps her awake at night, either reading the manuscript or thinking about it. She does not represent adult projects.
Caryn’s clients include: Tom Angleberger, author of the bestselling ORIGAMI YODA series (Abrams/Amulet), and the adapter and illustrator of the forthcoming GERONIMO STILTON graphic novel THE SEWER RAT STINK (Scholastic); Cece Bell, author-illustrator of the bestselling graphic novel memoir, EL DEAFO (Abrams), which won a Newbery Honor and an Eisner Award; Debbie Levy, author of the bestselling and award-winning I DISSENT, and the graphic novel biography, BECOMING RBG (both S&S), and the co-author, with JoAnn Allen Boyce, of THIS PROMISE OF CHANGE (Bloomsbury), which won the 2019 Horn Book Award, and the 2020 Robert F. Sibert Honor; Kelly Starling Lyons, author of the 2020 Caldecott Honor book, GOING DOWN HOME WITH DADDY (Peachtree); Tamara Ireland Stone, author of the NYT Bestseller, EVERY LAST WORD (Disney*Hyperion); Don Tate, award-winning illustrator and author-illustrator of many books, including POET(Peachtree), NO SMALL POTATOES (Knopf) and the forthcoming SWISH (Little, Brown); Riley Redgate, author of YA such as NOTEWORTHY (Abrams/Amulet) and the forthcoming ALONE OUT HERE (Disney); Jennifer Berne, author of award-winning, lyrical picture book biographies such as MANFISH, ON A BEAM OF LIGHT, and ON WINGS OF WORDS (all Chronicle); Sarah Albee, author of nonfiction such as POISON (Bloomsbury) and the forthcoming FAIRY TALE SCIENCE (OddDot/Macmillan) and ACCIDENTAL ARCHAEOLOGISTS (Scholastic); Cindy L. Otis, former CIA Analyst and author of the forthcoming topical nonfiction title TRUE OR FALSE (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan); Terry Lynn Johnson, author of critically-acclaimed survival stories for middle-grade readers, such as ICE DOGS and DOG DRIVEN (both HMH); Mike Cavallaro, author of the NICO BRAVO series of graphic novels; Tim McCanna, author of WATERSONG, DINOSAUR SONG, and IN A GARDEN (all Paula Wiseman/S&S); Amy Novesky, author of award-winning picture book biographies ME, FRIDA and CLOTH LULLABY (both Abrams); and Kristin L. Gray, author of middle-grade novels VILLONIA BEEBE TAKES CHARGE and THE AMELIA SIX (both Paula Wiseman/S&S).
Caryn holds an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, and a BS from the University of Virginia. You can find her on Facebook (caryn.wiseman) and Twitter (@carynwiseman)" (Via email)
About the Agency:
“The Andrea Brown Literary Agency was founded in August 1981 and has offices in the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
“Our agency works to bring to light the voices and perspectives of new writers as well as to nurture and develop the careers of experienced authors. Our goal, whether seeking to secure a publishing contract for a first book or a fiftieth book, is to make sure that clients are not only published, but published well.
“Our philosophy is to remain a ‘small’ agency at heart. We invest a great deal of personal care and attention in each project, and we are hands-on in all aspects of our interactions with clients. We work closely with clients in an editorial capacity and we devise a strategy at every stage of the writing process that will enable us to find the best publisher for each book. In doing so, we think about both short term and long term goals for our clients, always keeping the trajectory of a successful career in mind.
“Our agents have backgrounds in New York publishing, editing, academia, business, teaching, writing and film, and one of our strengths as an agency is that we work collaboratively. Our clients have the benefit not only of their individual agent's expertise but of the combined experience and vision of the group.
“As a West Coast based agency, we follow a tradition of West Coast innovation in our passion for discovering new voices, in our efforts to make New York publishing more inclusive of voices from other parts of the country, and in our attempt to see publishing trends that result from this broader perspective. We combine this approach with access, standing, and visibility in the publishing community at large. Our agents make regular trips to New York, attend industry conventions, and participate as faculty at writers' conferences all over the country. We ensure a high profile for our clients and actively keep our fingers on the pulse of publishing.” (Link)Web Presence:
Andrea Brown Agency website.
Publisher's Marketplace page.
Twitter @CarynWiseman.
What She's Looking For:
Picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult; fiction and nonfiction.
You can see more of what she is looking for in her bio above.
What She Isn't Looking For:
Adult fiction or nonfiction projects.
Agenting Philosophy:
“My personal agenting philosophy is to be honest and transparent with authors and with editors. I expect my authors to be honest in return. I only take on projects that I am passionate about. If I’m not passionate about your work, I’m not going to be able to sell it, even if it’s something commercial. I also hope that my authors will not be defensive, but will take time to think about editorial comments before responding negatively. This is a partnership, and it’s built on trust and mutual respect.” (Link defunct)
Editorial Agent?
"I knew that agenting would allow me to do the things that I love best - reading and editing - and that, as an agent, I could discover wonderful authors, and help them get their books published."  (Link defunct)
There is a list of ABLA clients on the agency website. A number of Ms. Wiseman's clients are listed in her bio above and on her Publishers Marketplace page.
Query Methods:
E-mail: No.
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: Yes via queryme.online/CarynWiseman.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
“We accept email queries only. Please direct your e-query to ONE agent at our agency, and include the following:
“Fiction: query letter and first 10 pages.”
Please see the Andrea Brown Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines as well as the agency's Submission Advice, Dos and Dont’s, and Tips.Response Times:
The agency tries to respond within 4-8 weeks but does not guarantee a response due to the large number of submissions they receive. If you have not heard back in 8 weeks, assume rejection. (Link)
What's the Buzz?
Like all of the Andrea Brown agents I've profiled, Ms. Wiseman is a wonderful literary agent. She is a senior agent and has a very strong list of sales to large publishers and her clients seem very happy with her representation.
You can find Ms. Wiseman at the twice annual Big Sur Writing Workshop and on Twitter @CarynWiseman.
Worth Your Time:
7 Questions for Literary Agent Caryn Wiseman at Middle Grade Ninja (06/2016)
Query Questions for Caryn Wiseman at Michelle Hauck (10/2013).
Exclusive interview with ABLA literary agent Caryn Wiseman at LiveJournal and NaNoWriMo (11/2011).
Author-Agent-Editor Three-in-One Notebook Special | OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy at The Whole Megillah (09/2011).
Caryn Wiseman - Andrea Brown Literary Agency at Tales From the Rushmore Kid (12/2010).
Interview with Caryn Wiseman at Tales From the Rushmore Kid (01/2010).
Please see the Andrea Brown Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 6/10/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/11/2020.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7at)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.

The Naughty List by Suzanne Young

Suzanne was sweet enough to have me sent an ARC of The Naughty List and I wasn't at all surprised to gobble it up within a day. I've long loved her ongoing story blog, Going Green, and knew TNL wouldn't disappoint. It didn't! As one of my goals this year is to promote the authors and books I love, I'm going to attempt to review it for you.

Title: The Naughty ListNaughty List final cover!

Author: Suzanne Young

Reading Level: Young Adult

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: February 4th, 2010

First line: Sigh. A padlock? Who padlocked their gates in this neighborhood?


"As if being a purrfect cheerleader isn’t enough responsibility! Tessa Crimson’s the sweet and spunky leader of the SOS (Society of Smitten Kittens), a cheer squad–turned–spy society dedicated to bringing dastardly boyfriends to justice, one cheater at a time. Boyfriend-busting wouldn’t be so bad . . . except that so far, every suspect on the Naughty List has been proven 100% guilty!

When Tessa’s own boyfriend shows up on the List, she turns her sleuthing skills on him. Is Aiden just as naughty as all the rest, or will Tessa’s sneaky ways end in catastrophe?

The Naughty List. Is your boyfriend on it?"


The Naughty List is as cute as the pink cover is bears, but hey, if you're just not into cutesy pink covers please stay and let me convince you of its fun fabulosity!

Head cheerleader Tessa, along with the SOS or Society of Smitten Kittens, spends her days keeping things peppy at high school and her nights catching cheating boyfriends. Through an anonymous cell phone and top-secret correspondence, the SOS receives cheater reports and then susses out truth and proof by going on daring missions and employing spy tactics. When Tessa's boyfriend Aiden shows up on the list after the transfer of a meddlesome, attractive brother-and-sister pair, Tessa begins to lose control. After all, the SOS has a 100% proven-guilty rating. What are the chances of Aiden being an exception?

I loved so many things about this book. Tessa and her friends make it easy to get caught up the story. The voice is original and fun and Young brings depth, realism, and intrigue to the cheerleader stereotype. There’s a lot more going on here than your average high school drama, a subtle message I think a lot of teens will relate and respond to. And who doesn't want to read about a secret society?!

But it’s more than just a great cast of characters with a fun story to tell. Young used her tools as a writer and found ways to make the writing and story really memorable. By incorporating fun Cheater Incident Reports, alternative cuss words (“Mashed potatoes and gravy!”), and other secret (and oftentimes hilarious) correspondence, I feel she turned an already fun read into something unique and engaging. I can imagine myself as one of these cooperative cheerleader spies, dishing out pep and bad news in equal, saucy amounts for the betterment of my high school.

It’s a fast, well-paced read with an engaging plot and story line. I was pleasantly surprised by the turn of events and extremely satisfied by the ending. That’s a biggie for me. I have to give props to authors that can write a realistic, satisfying ending and Suzanne did. It’s not the perfect romantic ending we'd all wish for ourselves but it’s real and it’s hopeful. So, kudos Suzanne.

And guys? If I was in high school right now, I'd totally want start up an SOS after reading this. Cheating boys (and hey, girls too) across the nation, watch out!

The Naughty List is the first in a series of Naughty List books and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, So Many Boys, coming June 10, 2010.

Definitely check out Suzanne's blog, the SOS blog, and pre-order your copy today. And if you missed it, I interviewed Suzanne several months ago. You can read that here. Enjoy!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday #20

I have two tips to share with you today. The first, reposted with permission, comes from Becky of Rebecca’s Writing Journey.

"Use Forever Stamps on all your self-addressed stamped envelopes! You never know 1) how long it will take to come back to you and 2) when a postage hike will sneak up on you. If you use the forever stamp, you don't have to worry about not having enough postage on those reply letters you're so anxiously awaiting."

The second is that you follow Becky’s blog. Not only because she's chronicling her journey as a writer with great posts, but also because she posts a Tuesday Tip most weeks and has been doing it a lot longer than me. Check her archives!

I asked if I could repost the above tip because I think it’s a great one for anyone not already familiar with Forever Stamps. I learned about them last year and it’s all I buy now (unless I'm weakened by a particularly cute set of stamps – ha!).

Thanks Becky! It’s a great tip.

Guest Blogger Kristi Helvig: Why Critique Groups Rock

Please welcome guest blogger Kristi Helvig, a familiar face in the comment box. She's hear to tell you the many reasons why critique groups are awesome! When you're done reading her fabulous article, please visit her group blog, Sisters in Scribe.

Why Critique Groups Rock

So, you're an aspiring writer and have accomplished the amazing task of actually finishing a novel. Chances are you either patted yourself on the back or went shrieking through the streets proclaiming that you're a novelist (depending on your personality). However, then the moment comes when you sit back and think "Now what?" Well, here's what I think a fabulous next step should be -- before spamming the entire publishing community with the genius that is your manuscript. Join a critique group. "Why?" you might ask as defensive thoughts flood your mind such as: "My book is brilliant as is,” “I don't want outside influences muting my 'voice',” or “I don't want anyone stealing my never-been-thought of-in-the-history-of-time idea about space monkeys and their quest for the perfect banana." You get the idea.

Here's why
. If you find a GOOD critique group, be it online or in person (and there are pros and cons of each), they can do the following:

1) They are objective about your work. Well, at least more so than you. It can be extremely difficult to be objective about your own work. For instance, those of you with kids, how many of you think your child is not the cutest/most brilliant/talented example of small humanity out there. When you're attached to something - and after working on a novel for 6 months or 6 years, who isn't - it's difficult to step back and see where you might need help. Your critique group has that distance and can often point out problem areas much more easily.

2) They make you a better writer. Yes, really. No matter how great you think you are - and you might be great - you can get even better with the help of a good group. Writing in different POV's, characterization, story arc and use of dialogue are just a few examples of how the group can push you to do your best. They also can help point out your individual writing quirks - be it overuse of a certain word or the dreaded telling rather than showing. Also, critiquing the work of others in your group also makes you a better writer.

3) They encourage and support you. And not in a Paula Abdul, smoke up your ass kind of way. We share our ups and downs and have a "we're all in this together" mentality. Writing can be a tough and solitary experience, so it's nice having a built-in support group. When someone gets good news, it's so much fun to celebrate as a group and gives hope and motivation to the others. Plus, it's fun going to conferences where I actually know people there.

4) They serve as a collective barometer for your work. After getting a bunch of feedback from different personalities, part of your job is to decide which changes to incorporate and which don't serve your story. One of the best things about group feedback is you know there's a legitimate problem when more than one person points out the same issue with something in your story. For instance, I had multiple people tell me a line in my first chapter was funny but that the reference would be outdated by the time the book was published - so I changed it. On the flip side, when you have multiple people give you compliments on the same thing, you know it's well-earned and not the smoke up the ass thing.

5) They are a wealth of resources. I feel fortunate to be part of two wonderful critique groups and everyone has information that is shared with the group. Some of the published authors in my one group share information about publishing houses and editors that they like. Just this week, one woman in my group sent me a list of agents she thought would be a good fit for my book after reading my query. I've learned so much about the business end of things from my critique groups and it's been invaluable information.

As you can guess, I LOVE my critique groups. They consist of amazing, talented, persistent women who love writing as much as I do. So there you have my top 5 reasons to be in such a group. If you're in a group that doesn't have these 5 elements and feels more negative in nature, then maybe it's time to look for another group. NOTE: I found both of mine through SCBWI.

So, what have I missed? What are your favorite things about being in a critique group?
Bio: Kristi is a clinical psychologist and aspiring YA writer who is one of the contributors to the Sisters in Scribe blog.

WANTED: Critique Partner for Kareena

Hello, everyone!

classifiedKareena, a YA writer, e-mailed me wanting to know how she might find a critique partner online. I asked if she was interested in posting a "wanted ad" here on Lit Rambles and she agreed! Please read her details below and consider exchanging a few e-mails and pages with her to see if you're compatible.

Note: Comments are welcome; however, derogatory and/or harsh criticisms will be deleted if they arise. That's not what we're looking for with this posting.


My needs are simple. I am looking for someone to exchange a few pages with from time to to time and to bounce ideas off. They don't need to be editing experts- I have a friend who does that for me already- I just need someone who is widely read in my genre, who instinctively knows when something sucks or not and who can the grade the level of suckiness on a scale of 1-10, and of course can give some insight into why it sucks.

If they would be available for phone conversations at would be great too. I have skype. Just in case you are not familiar with it Skype is this great program that you can download for free from www.skype.com and once both parties have it on their computers you can talk or free anywhere in the world.

This book is written for teens ages 13-16. I would prefer a one on one critique with someone who writes in my genre (fantasy-science fiction) so I would love it if you placed the wanted add for me. I don't think I am ready to go totally public yet so I think I'll pass on the online critique group for now.


Excerpt From the Novel entitled, The Spinner's Wheel, written by Kareena Vassall

Chapter 2

Sara’s discovery

Earth-2010: Wichita Falls, Texas U.S.A

The soft morning light filtered into the sky blue room through filmy white curtains draping the two windows. A fragrant, warm breeze swept though a partially open window rustling the open pages of the science encyclopedia resting on top the bright yellow quilt covering the double bed, tuning the page from a picture of a DNA double helix to one of Halley’s comet.

At the foot of the bed, directly under the small figure huddled under the covers, lay a large brown and white cat sprawled inelegantly on his back, the tip of his tail twitching slightly. The small figure beneath the quilt flung out her foot suddenly and the cat leapt from what was obviously a comfortable spot with a frustrated hiss.

A soft chuckle emanated from the bed, and a small, heart shaped, freckled face framed by long dark red hair raised up briefly off the blue pillowcase and looked down at the disgusted feline glaring at her from the side of the bed and said without sympathy. “I told you to sleep in your own bed Mr. Piddles.” Mr. Piddles sniffed scornfully at her as if she smelled like a wet dog, turned and stalked off towards the corner of the room, his tail held high.

Sixteen year old Sara Gallagher looked to the left of her bed at the small white side table and reached out to shut off the alarm to the clock just as it struck seven. Looking at the clock, she glared and stuck out her tongue at the cheerful face of bug’s bunny whose head was currently cut in half by the long hand of the clock pointing at twelve.

Rubbing her eyes with the cuff of her black and white polka dot pajamas, she swung her legs off the bed unto the fluffy beige carpet and sat up. She peered at herself in the mirror that ran the length of the closet door and began the typical morning ritual of looking for any new freckles that might have miraculously popped up on her face overnight.

After satisfying herself that there were only the usual twenty two freckles adorning her nose, she stood, winked at Albert Einstein who gazed down at her from the poster pasted over the side table, his black pipe perched at the corner of his mouth, and shrugged on her fluffy white dressing gown.

Sitting down at the small dressing table with its heart shaped mirror, Sara carefully pulled back her hair into a ponytail, picked up her rechargeable toothbrush and headed towards her bedroom door. Suddenly, there was a loud crash from downstairs, and her mothers’ frustrated screech resounded through the house as delighted masculine laughter filtered up the stairs.

Sara grinned and threw down her toothbrush unto the bed. This domestic unrest could only mean one thing, her uncle Valerius had come to visit. Wrenching open her bedroom door Sara and Mr. Piddles bounded down the stairs, stopped by the entrance of the family room and watched the proceedings with interest.

Uncle Valerius was hiding behind the blue living room sofa. His muscular, six foot three frame was crouched down low, a difficult thing Sara thought for a man of his size and weight.Vibrant green eyes the exact shade of her mothers caught sight of her.

“Sara” he said with a gleeful smile upon his face, “take cover, your mother is on the warpath again.” He warily raised his head above the edge of the sofa and pointed to the tall, slim woman with the waist length dark brown hair who was currently rifling noisily through the broom closet in the far, right hand corner of the room, no doubt looking for something pointy and dangerous to jab her brother with. Mr. Piddles took one look at this irate vision in bright pink pajamas and ran back up the stairs.

Sara ducked behind the sofa and said laughingly, “you make it sound like she is this way all the time uncle Val, she is only like this when you visit,” she added, both of them wincing simultaneously when a large wooden carving came sailing over the sofa to hit the wall behind, bouncing to the exact spot where Mr. Piddles had been standing. Evidently her mother hadn’t been able to find anything in the broom closet.

Her uncle Valerius looked at the carving with an expression of great sympathy and said, “well I guess I bring out the best in her.” He was obviously enjoying himself immensely.

Valerius pushed out his booted foot and managed, with some effort to roll the bust to him. Indicating to Sara’s white cotton dressing gown he said,

“Lend me that for a minute Sara; I think its time to surrender myself to my fate.”


There's your teaser! If you're interested, please e-mail Kareena at kareenavassall(at)hotmail(dot)com. And if you're interested in placing your own wanted ad, e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Agent Spotlight: Emily van Beek

This week's Agent Spotlight features Emily van Beek of Folio Literary Management.
Status: Open to submissions and actively seeking queries.
About the Agency:
"Folio Jr., the division of Folio Literary Management devoted exclusively to the representation of today’s most stellar children’s book authors and artists, is wholly committed to offering our clients impeccable, individually-tailored care. We strive not only to discover and cultivate the most compelling new voices and the most original and memorable styles of illustration, but also to indefatigably and strategically support our established writers and illustrators as they thrive and develop their careers in the publishing industry. Folio Jr. is proud to offer a full complement of literary services in a changing publishing landscape, and to provide our clients with access to marketing services, website development, and media training that it takes to make each book a success." (Via email)
Web Presence:
Folio Jr. website.
Folio Literary website.
Folio Jr. Twitter.
Publisher’s Marketplace page.
Personal Facebook page.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
What She's Looking For:
"*I need your help. If you know me, you know I'm not great at taking breaks. I'm ACTIVELY building my list right now. If you have stellar, fun, expansive, bright, fantastical, joyful, adventurous middle grade hiding somewhere, PLEASE query me. Tell your friends! Crow it from the rooftops! I'm standing by with my reading glasses on! The time is now! emily@foliolitmanagement.com*"

"MIDDLE-GRADE: I’m currently on the look-out for unique and distinctive voices. I’m open to almost anything within this genre and I’m eagerly looking for something new. Please send me your diverse, epic, cinematic, action-packed, adventuresome, mysterious, and fast-paced novels! I always bear in mind that readers in this age group are looking for fun and mischief, to learn something about life, and to escape and romp.

"YOUNG ADULT: I'm eager to find novels that are high concept, diverse, fantasy or magical realism, and am open to anything conceptually unique. In the realm of paranormal, adventure, and dystopian, I'm looking for something entirely unexpected. Give me something bold and fresh with a voice that’s impossible to put aside. I’m probably not the best choice for "message” or hard science-fiction books. What I’m really looking for is the intersection between stellar writing and plot, something that leaves me puffy eyed or laughing out loud. I, like most teenagers, am looking for emotional connection, for drama, for hope. Oh! Something else--I would love, love, LOVE to discover a FUNNY manuscript, a novel to make me LOL as Louise Rennison's ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING did.

"PICTURE BOOKS: At this time, I am exclusively interested in AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATORS. I’m especially looking for award-worthy artwork, character-driven series, and work by diverse creators featuring diverse stories.

"Representing an author or artist, whether aspiring or established, is an honor and a commitment I take very seriously. I am passionate about children’s and young adult books. I am passionate about negotiating the best deal possible. I am passionate about working together with our experienced and esteemed subsidiary rights and contracts teams to squeeze as much juice out of a single property as it will yield. I find it incredibly rewarding to work with new voices. I’m also committed to helping established authors and artists continue to grow their careers. I am an “editorial” agent, in that I’ll work through as many drafts over the course of as many years as it takes to polish a manuscript I believe in to a high shine prior to submission. My goal is to build long-term relationships with authors and artists and to help them publish books that will stand the test of time.

"Unfortunately, due to the volume of submissions I receive, I will only reply (within four weeks) if I am interested. I look forward to reading your work and thank you in advance for thinking of me." (Via email)
You can find more about what she's looking for on her Manuscript Wish List.
What She Isn't Looking For:
Picture book texts (although she is interested in author/illustrators). (Via email)
"I am very actively looking to work with debut authors, so aspiring writers should certainly feel free to query me. I love launching careers and having the chance to work with someone from the very beginning." (via e-mail)
Her Advice to Writers:
"It's really important for aspiring writers to do their research when it comes to selecting an agent. It's useful to know about an agent's current roster of clients and the types of projects they feel passionately about (in terms of genre, format, and audience). Are your tastes compatible?" (Link with more!)
Editorial Agent?
"I am an 'editorial' agent, in that I'll work through as many drafts over the course of as many years as it takes to polish a manuscript I believe in to a high shine prior to submission. My goal is to build long-term relationships with authors and to help them publish books that will stand the test of time." (Link)
There is a listing  of Ms. van Beek’s clients on the Folio website and her Publishers Marketplace page and in her bio listed above.
Clients include: Kallie George, Adele Griffith, Julie Kao, Lois Lowry, Morgan Matson, Tamara Pierce, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes.
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No..
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
"Please send along your query letter and first ten pages of your manuscript in the body of the email to emily@foliolitmanagement.com. If you'd like to submit a picture book, please attach a PDF of your dummy. Links to online portfolios are always welcome. I would very much like to be able to respond to every query, but unfortunately time doesn’t allow for it. Please be sure to write QUERY in the subject line as this will ensure I do not miss your letter." (Link)Query Tips:
You can read a "submission cheat-sheet" (that addresses common slip-ups) in this interview with Emily van Beek at Cynsations.
Response Times:
Ms. van Beek is unable to respond to all queries due to the volume she receives. If you have not heard from her in four weeks, she is not interested. (Via email)
What's the Buzz?
Emily is a well-respected and talented literary agent with a successful list of clients and sales. She is a partner and heads up the agency’s children’s division, Folio Jr., representing properties for the youngest of children to the oldest of teens. Her clients seem very happy with her representation.
Worth Your Time:
7 Questions with Literary Agent Emily van Beek at Middle Grade Ninja (12/2017)
Interview with Emily van Beek at Cynsations (02/2008).
Please see Folio Literary Management website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 6/5/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/8/2020.
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 profiles focus on agents who accept children's and/or teen 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.

Featured Sweetheart! Who Me?

Just wanted to point you all to the Texas Sweethearts blog run by authors Jo Whittemore, P.J. Hoover, and Jessica Lee Anderson. I was interviewed as their newest Featured Sweetheart! If you're interested in reading more about me, you should definitely check it out. Don't you want to know how my life is like the game Jenga?

While you're there, please consider e-mailing the Texas Sweethearts a Sweetheart nomination. Oh, and you have until Sunday, January 17th to enter their contest for a chance to win a query and ten-page critique.

Enjoy and good luck!

Suggestions, Please!

So, I'm doing a study on voice in young adult literature for school and I'm trying to finish up my bibliography for it today. I'm mainly using novels told in first person but also need some in third, and maybe even second.

I've already got a long list of options, especially in first, but I'd love to know what YOUR recommendations are for YA authors/novels with exceptional voice. One thing I'm looking for is novels in third person that aren't fantasy. I'm trying for a variety of subgenres and it seems like every book I can think of in third is a fantasy novel.

So, what do you suggest? Who/what are your favorites?

Thank you!

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

I have another great Tuesday Tip to share with you today. This one was sent in by children's author Beth Pollock, author of HARLEY'S GIFT and THE NEXT STEP. Please visit her website when you're done here. Enjoy!

"One resource that I find really useful is Harold Underdown's www.underdown.org. He is a children's book editor, and the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books". His website has an incredible amount of useful information. The page that I find most useful is "Who's Moving Where?" It gives a quick synopsis of movement among key players in the children's publishing industry. For example, he posted six updates for the month of December. This is a great way to keep in touch with movement in the industry as it happens.

"There are also great articles for writers of every experience level. One article deals with the necessity of dealing with an agent and what you should expect your agent to do. In addition, he provides links to agent resources, as well as three case studies on how to tell a legit agent from a shady one. This level of detail makes it a useful website that I visit regularly."

Thanks so much, Beth. I've visited the site several times before but haven't really dug in. I'll definitely be taking a closer look!

Questions From the Inbox

I wrote a YA novel. I am seeking publication. Any tips/advice?

I edited and polished my manuscript, however I am considering professional editing. I am currently seeking a literary agent and have queried several. I understand how the publishing process works. My goal is to publish my novels through a major publisher.

Earlier in the year I decided to join with Eaton Literary Agency. Eaton Literary Agency charges fees. I do not recommend, unless you plan to pay around $5,000.00.

Feel free to post the above information in your blog for other aspiring writers.

Now I am reevaluating my options. I am considering to pay for professional editing. But, if I land a literary agent, they can edit the novel themselves.

Ms. McCormick, how do you think I should handle this situation?

-Jessie Rose

Hi Jessie!  Lots to tackle here.  First of all, congratulations on finishing and polishing your manuscript! 

As for Eaton Literary, I'm very sorry you got tangled up in an agency that charges fees.  For future querying, please look up all the agents and agencies on your list at Preditors & Editors.  If the agent or agency isn't listed or there's no information available on them, consider checking with a large writing forum such as AbsoluteWrite for a thread on the agency.  AbsoluteWrite has a comprehensive Bewares and Background Checks forum.  And if you're still unsure, you can always get in touch with me or the staff at Writer Beware.

You mentioned you're considering professional editing.  Here's the thing, do you think your writing is good enough to gain you representation?  If so, then I don't believe you should bother with a professional editing service.  A good line-by-line edit can cost a couple thousand dollars, and a broad assessment hundreds.  If you feel your writing needs a lot of help, however, then it's something to consider.  I'm more likely to suggest joining a critique group, SCBWI, and/or taking some classes though.  To me, it makes a lot more sense to build the tools needed to be a professional writer than to rely on others.  As for agents, only some are editorial and many don't have the time to do line-by-line edits.  Your manuscript needs to be as perfect as you can make it before you query, and then an agent will offer input as needed, per preference.  It's not something you can count on, so I think it's good you're considering your options and evaluating your writing. 

Beyond what I've said here, please check the agent research posts I've done in the right sidebar.  I also highly recommend perusing agent blogs for informative posts on publishing.  Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, and Rachel Gardner are a few of the best resources out there, but I have a large list of agent and editor blogs in the left sidebar that you can get lost in for days.

All that said, my best piece of advice is this: Google and research everything!  Don't walk into anything blindly if you don't have to.  And don't be afraid to e-mail me more specific questions.  You're doing the right thing by asking and learning!

Now, I'll turn the blog over to my readers and see what advice and tips they have to share.  I didn't have as much time to list resources as I would have liked and I know they'll come through for you.  Thanks for e-mailing!

Guest Blogger Katharina Kolata: Review of Holly Lisle's "How to Revise Your Novel" Course

Hi all! I won't normally be posting two guest posts a week but this one came with an important timeframe attached! Holly's Lisle's revision course, "How to Revise Your Novel," reviewed here today by the lovely Katharina Gerlach, is only available until Saturday, January 9th (for the next few months, at least). I love Holly's website and have sung her praises a few times before, so I've no doubt the course is every bit as good as Katharina says. Enjoy!

Most of the writers I know stall when it comes to revision. Some writers hate it so much that they never touch their first draft again. Some correct a few spelling mistakes, others cut or add description and flesh out a character or two. Everybody agrees that revising your manuscript is necessary but it's hard to find sound advice on how to actually improve your novel. That's why I decided to join Holly Lisle's writing course "How to Revise Your Novel".

By the way, this is not a course about style; it's about improving your story. It is aimed at everybody who wants to tell stories with believable characters in an authentic setting with problems the reader can relate to. So far, I haven't regretted taking it. Holly's lessons are helpful and written in an amusing way. Also, there is a great forum available where many students (and Holly Lisle herself as time allows) actively participate to help others. It's great to have so much support.

Over a span of 22 weeks, Holly Lisle dissects her own revision process to teach her students what can go wrong in a novel. That doesn't mean that my manuscripts contain all the issues she points out. After all, I have nearly ten years of writing experience under my belt and found out a couple of things myself. But, and that's a big one, she manages to break down a daunting task into bite sized lessons that address all the problems you might ever encounter during a revision.

In the first lessons, we learned to define what kind of novel we want to end our revision with. Only with a picture of your finished story in mind, you can turn your manuscript into the novel you want. After that, we dissected our stories scene by scene. We looked for details that need to be fixed and just as thoroughly for details that are perfect the way they are. I was surprised, how much of my story was better than I had thought. It motivates to know that.

Currently, I am working on lesson 6: "Sharpening Your Characters", and I am amazed about the easy methods Holly Lisle came up with to objectively determine if something needs to be fixed or can be left alone. The next lesson will tackle world-building (which is not only an issue for writers of Fantasy or Science Fiction) and then, we'll learn how to fix the problems we found. As a bonus, the final lesson will condense the whole process into a tool that will enable the students to do their next revision in one single reading of the manuscript (which will be invaluable when I have to meet a publisher's deadline again).

There are many Creative Writing courses available but I am sure that this is the most detailed breakdown of the revision process. Also, at USD 47.00 a month for four months (that's $8.55 a lesson) it is very reasonably priced. If you are struggling with revision, Holly Lisle's "How to Revise Your Novel" is a course that can help you.

This post was written by Katharina Gerlach, a writer and triple Mum from Germany.

Agent Spotlight: Joanna Volpe

This week's Agent Spotlight features Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media.

Status: Open to submissions.

joannavolpeAbout: “Joanna Volpe has been a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, an editorial assistant with independent publisher Blue Martin Publications, an assistant and junior agent at FinePrint Literary Management and a full-time agent with Nancy Coffey Literary & Media Representation, all before starting her own company: New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. She has worked on a number of exciting projects, including Kody Keplinger’s The DUFF, Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone, Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, Sandy Williams’ Shadow Reader series, Shelby Bach’s Ever Afters: Of Giants and Ice, and Sarah Frances Hardy’s picture book, Puzzled by Pink. For a full list of the New Leaf projects, go here. What she is most excited for right now is working with her amazing team at New Leaf. The company is off to a strong start, and they are looking to sign on more wonderful talent!” (Link defunct) 

About the Agency:

“We are a passionate agency with a relentless focus on building our clients’ careers. Our approach is big picture, offering a one-stop shop built without silos and access to a variety of services including international sales, film and television, and branding resources for all clients. Our aim is to challenge conformity and re-imagine the marketplace while equipping our clients with the tools necessary to navigate an evolving landscape and succeed.” (Link) 

Web Presence:

New Leaf website.

New Leaf Facebook.

New Leaf Twitter.

New Leaf Pinterest.

Publisher's Marketplace Page.



AgentQuery, QueryTracker. 

What She's Looking For:

“Joanna represents all brands of fiction (commercial, literary and genre) and has a soft spot for speculative and/or fantastical elements. On the non-fiction side she tends toward all things geek-related, general pop-culture, pop-science and narrative non-fiction featuring interesting and powerful women. Across the board, she’s looking for anything that highlights under-represented voices, both real and fictional.” (Link) 

You can find out more about what she's looking for on her Manuscript Wish List.
What She ISN'T Looking For:

“Joanna is NOT looking for: chapter books, text-only picture book submissions, hard science fiction.” (Link defunct)

Her Advice to Writers:

"Remember that everything you write is important, even the stories that will never see the light of day. Each one you learn from and it gets you to the next. It's okay to put something in the trunk to work on something else. Every author I know has trunked stories." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"Once I sign someone, I ALWAYS do another pass of the book before sending it out. So far, I have yet to sign anyone that has had the perfect manuscript. I am working with a lot of debut authors, but even my more experienced clients appreciate (at least, I think they do!) a polished revision before going out. I want to send it out in the best shape it can be." (Link defunct)

Clients: There is a list of clients on the agency website. Ms. Volpe's clients include Leigh Bardugo, Veronica Roth, Eric Etkin, Maple Lam, Realm Lovejoy, Kody Keplinger, Amber McRee Turner, Lee Nichols, Veronica Roth, Allan Woodrow, Sarah Frances Hardy, Lynne Kelly, Monica Vavra, Amy Lukavics, Loretta Nyhan, Adam Watkins, Lori Nichols, Shelley Moore Thomas, Shelby Bach, April Genevieve Tucholke, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

  • "Send query to query@newleafliterary.com. Please do not query via phone.
  • The word “Query” must be in the subject line, plus the agent’s name, ie – Subject: Query, Suzie Townsend. Please also include the category (ie, PB, chapter book, MG, YA, adult fiction, adult nonfiction, etc.)
  • You may include up to 5 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email
  • NO ATTACHMENTS, unless specifically requested
  • Include all necessary contact information
  • You will receive an auto-response confirming receipt of your query
We only respond if we are interested in seeing your work" (Link)
Please see the agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tip:

"The query letter is very important, but I’m not the kind of agent that will reject because of a spelling error or two…I’m more concerned about the story. […] If a query really conveys the tone of the story or the voice of the protagonist, I tend to get more excited about it. If it’s kind of standard but the premise is really cool, I might request some sample pages. But if it’s too brief or too long or unfocused, I most likely will be passing." (Link defunct)

Response Times:

The agency only responds if interested.

What's the Buzz?

Joanna has a fantastic list of clients and sales and is popular among aspiring authors for her generosity in doing contests, critiques, and giveaways. She founded New Leaf Literary in June of 2012. Follow her on Twitter.

Worth Your Time


Interview with Agent Joanna Volpe Podcast at 88 Cups of Tea (Date unknown)

How Do You Become an Agent with Joanna Volpe at Bustle (01/2017).

Agent Interview with Joanna Volpe at Amy Newman (04/2014).

Agent Interview: Joanna Volpe at Alexa Donne (01/2014).

Agent Joanna Volpe - The Pre-#LA13SCBWI Conference Interviews at I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? (05/2013).

Agent Joanna Volpe, president of New Leaf Media at Honestly YA (06/2012).

Introducing Joanna Volpe! at Pub(lishing) Crawl (01/2012).

Interview with Joanna Volpe at Renae Mercado's blog (09/2010).

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Joanna Volpe at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2010).

Audio Interview with Joanna Stampfel-Volpe at AuthorMagazine (01/2010).

Guest Posts

Why Literary Agent Joanna Volpe Loves Middle Grade at Middle Grade Ninja (03/2013).

How to Determine Your Author Fee at Pub(lishing) Crawl (08/2012).

The DOJ Settlement and Why We Should Care at Pub(lishing) Crawl (07/2012).

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth on Promotion and Publicity for Debut Authors at Pub(lishing) Crawl (05/2012).

NARB or Just Read! at Pub(lishing) Crawl (04/2012).

Bologna Book Fair for Beginners at Pub(lishing) Crawl (03/2012).

The Changing Role of the Literary Agent at Pub(lishing) Crawl (02/2012).

Around the Web:

CONFERENCE 2013: Joanna Volpe, "The Dreaded Synopsis" at The Official SCBWI Blog (04/2013).

Synopsis Tips from Agent Joanna Volpe, Part 1 at Writing While the Rice Boils (05/2011

Synopsis Tips from Agent Joanna Volpe, Part 2 at Writing While the Rice Boils (05/2011


Please see the New Leaf website and Ms. Volpe’s Publishers Marketplace page for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 6/6/2020.

Client Contacted for Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent: 09/12/10.


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.

Guest Blogger Pat Martinez: Morphemes and the Creation of Character Names and Words

Please give a warm welcome to today's guest blogger, Pat Martinez. Pat blogs at Once Upon a Time.... Please stop by for a visit when you're done here.


Morphemes and the Creation of Character Names and Words
By Pat Martinez

When you name your characters, are they randomly pulled from your favorite list of friends, children, old loves or relatives? Or do you craft them as carefully as plot and characters?

I found an article by Alleen and Don Nilsen that has caused me to re-think how I name my characters. These educaters take a critical look at the Harry Potter characters and JK Rowling's brilliant or well-thought out name and new word construction. From the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy*: Rowling creates her new words from familiar elements that empower her readers to connect the meanings of the new words with words they already know. She mixes and matches morphemes, a process that happens in natural languages more often than most of us recognize..."

Morphemes are the smallest units of language that have meaning--you are familiar with them-mal, un, non, less... Rowling cleverly uses word familiarity in new ways. She doesn't provide a glossary, but readers are empowered by the little effort it takes to make meaning. This may be in part why reading the Harry Potter series is so enjoyable. A few examples: Professor Dumbledore's Pensieve Bowl. Readers may see the word pensive and connect "thoughtful musing" where others may see "seive" and realize this is how Dumbledore sifts and sorts his experiences. Even though pensieve is a new word, a reader still understands.

Concerning names: Voldemort--literally the French translation is "flight of death." But vol, de, & mort have Latin roots and we are familiar with mort as having to do with death. So right away, a reader feels the blackness of his name.

Draco Malfoy is another name that at first glance sounds evil. We may not know immediately why, but Rowling has played on our senses-Draco--draconian, dracula,and of course Malfoy begins with the morpheme mal-literally in French bad, but a common Latin root used in negative words such as malcontent.

In my middle grade historical novel that takes place in the Paris Lost and Found, the original name of the curator was Monsieur LaCroix, a very suitable French name. But Monsieur LaCroix secretly desires to be a Cabaret comedian. After a thoughtful search, I renamed him Monsieur Rigolo, because the French word rigolo means comedic or funny.

So next time you name a character, consider his character, his temperament and purpose to the story and make it a thoughtful and meaningful choice.

*Nilsen, A., & Nilsen, D.F. (2006, October). Latin Revived: Source-Based Vocabulary Lessons Courtesy of Harry Potter. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(2), 128–134. doi: 10.1598/JAAL.50.2.5

Writing / Research Tip Tuesday

Take a page of your novel and remove all of the adjectives and/or adverbs. List them in a document. Then read the page without the words you removed and see the difference. Does it read faster? Smoother? Now replace every word you removed with something more unique, less cliche. Read it again. Chances are it reads a bit false and overdone now but you might have found a way to bring at least one sentence to life that was lacking. Assess what you've learned and rebuild the page with the words you've decided to keep.

This is an exercise I picked up from THE FIRST FIVE PAGES by Noah Lukeman. It can be done with nouns as well, but the result is a little more insane.

Have fun!

Agent Feedback: Steven Malk

I received this e-mail quite awhile ago on Steve Malk and wasn't quite sure what do with it. I've been toying around with the idea of creating a forum where we could discuss the profiled agents, report feedback, response times, etc. but I'm not sure there'd be enough interest, especially with AW and Verla's already in place to provide such outlets. Something to kick around. But in the time being, the author of the e-mail has given me permission to share it with all of you here (as he wanted it shared in some way) and link it to Mr. Malk's profile. Please note: The content and opinions posted below are not my own.

After I had queried countless agents, and gotten just as many rejections, I decided to go for broke and query Steven Malk (who I hadn't considered, because he seemed too "big" to even bother with). A week later I got a request of a full. A few weeks later, his new assistant Alena Gribskov e-mailed me to say that with Lindsay Davis's departure, they were backlogged, and wanted to let me know they were still considering it. Then, one week later, she called me to make sure it was still available. Another week passes, and Steven called me himself. We had a very nice half-hour conversation, discussing my novel, and while he didn't offer representation, he was impressed with my writing and asked for current project ideas. As of now, he likes my idea for a novel, and I am in the process of working on it.

What I've found from my experience, is that (and I'm sure it varies somewhat between agents) but Writers House in general is such a caring, well organized agency. Both Steven and Alena have been helpful, as well as they have encouraged questions and contact--which for me as a college student, who's just starting out, is completely reassuring. The reason he wanted to work with me on creating a different novel, is because he said the first novel sets the tone of the career, and he wanted something to do that a little bit more than my previous one did. This tells me that he truly does care more about the author than the sale, which made me instantly withdraw my other full request (which was to a new agent at Trident--whom I would never recommend because they have such careless policies about never replying).

Just as a moral to this story, that might be helpful to pass on, I think it's important that people don't pass up an agent just because they think they are to hard to "hook." By the same token, it's probably not a good idea to try and get an "easier" agent if they aren't right for you.

Hope my feedback helps somebody,

Ryan [redacted]

Contribute to Literary Rambles!

Hey all -

School is coming up fast for me, so I want to make sure you're all aware of the variety of ways you can contribute to Lit Rambles and help me keep it a happening place to be.  I'll still be posting Agent Spotlight profiles, Tip Tuesdays, and other writing/publishing related posts.  But if you're interested, you can help fill in the empty days in any of the following ways.

Write a Guest Post:

I'm always looking for guest posts that are on writing/publishing related topics.  Informative, educational, inspirational, etc!

Request an Interview:

Are you a published or soon-to-be published author in the children's field?  An agent?  An industry professional?  I'd love to interview you! 

Send in a Tuesday Tip:

Have a writing or research tip you'd like to share?  Send it in for a Writing / Research Tip Tuesday post!

Request a Topic / Ask a Question:

I love getting requests and questions for blog posts.  Throw 'em at me!  I'll do my best to answer, find someone who can if I can't, and post it up on the blog for everyone else to weigh in.

Request an agent for Agent Spotlight:

I'm always adding to the list, so send in your requests!  Note: I'm still working through agents that accept children's fiction, specialized or representing one or more genres therein.  For example:  If they represent mostly adult but also rep YA, as many do, I'm willing to spotlight them.  Though, I'd love spotlight more agents that are specialized in children's!

Post Feedback and/or Response Times:

The Agent Spotlights posts are always open for comments.  Feel free to leave feedback if you have experience with one or more of the spotlighted agents, or even post your response times for others to see.

Send in Updates:

It's gotten to the point that I can't possibly keep all the Agent Spotlight profiles updated on my own, which means you should always take note of the date they were posted and do a search for new content.  If you come across something new (interview, great new information, agency switch, etc) on an agent I've profiled, please feel free to e-mail this information so I can update.

If you're the agent I've spotlighted, you can ALWAYS e-mail me updates or corrections for your spotlight.

Send in For Public Critique:

Send in 1-5 lines of material, preferably first lines but I'm open to others, or your query and I'll put it up in its own post for feedback from my readers.  Comments will be moderated to maintain constructive feedback only.

Place a Wanted Ad:

Looking for a critique partner or beta reader?  No guarantees on responses, but I'm willing to post a request to see if anyone out there is interested. 

Blog Tours / Contests:

Children's authors!  Are you on or setting up a promotional blog tour or need a contest outlet?  I'd be happy to host a spot on Lit Rambles for you.  Just contact me with ideas, details, specifics, etc.


I'm always open to ideas and feedback!  Please feel free to contact me.

For all of the above, please e-mail to agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.