CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests


The Stepmom Shake-Up through July 4th


Cattywampus through July 18th

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

Veronica Roth Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/19/20

Carlisle Webber Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/7/20

Erin Casey Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/16/20

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

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/3/20

WriteOnCon Registration Begins July 1st!

We made a hilarious, somewhat random vlog to promote the registration date for WriteOnCon. It features Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker, Elana Johnson, Jamie Harrington, me, and our fabulous guest star Karsten Knight. Check it out!




Registration is for the site forum. Technically, you can register now but we're still tidying up and getting prepared. Most of the threads will be closed until the conference, but there will be a Practice Critiques forum and a place for chatting as we await the big event. So exciting! I'm hoping the faculty will be updated by tomorrow, too. What do you think so far?

Tip Tuesday #43

Sorry I've been scarce! I've been even busier than usual lately. I loved all the Q&A questions you sent in, and I'm hoping to have them back next week. Stay tuned!

Today's fabulous tip was sent in by Ammie Hart and she credits the idea to The Paper Wait. Since Ammie doesn't have a blog, please check out this great group blog instead! Here's the tip:

Keep a journal, a central file, a SOMETHING close by at ALL times that is easily accessible. When that new idea is BURNING in your head and you can hear your characters talking, and see the chapters and plot unfolding in front of your very sleep deprived eyes, take a quick break from your WIP and jot down your thoughts and ideas. I find it's better to take a quick break from the WIP to think inspirationally for a bit as it gets me motivated to finish said WIP so I can get to writing the new inspirational piece. I also find that when I do get back to my WIP, I'm refreshed. I'd like to point out there is one strict rule I have with this--I give myself a time limit. No dilly-dallying here. Usually I allow myself a few days at most, jot down information, keep it on the side, flush out characters, plot, etc, and then back to work on my WIP.

I love this idea, Ammie. I always jot down my ideas but I usually don't flesh them out right away. I think it would be better if I did, when the idea is most fresh and exciting. Readers, what do you do when a shiny new idea strikes?

Agent Spotlight: Adriana Dominguez

This week's Agent Spotlight features Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary.
AdriCrop(2) About: "Adriana Dominguez has 20+ years of experience in publishing. Prior to becoming an agent, she was Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where she managed the children’s division of the Rayo imprint. Before that, she was Children’s Reviews Editor at Críticas magazine, published by Library Journal. Adriana has performed editorial work for both children and adult publishers. She is also a professional translator, a member of the Brooklyn Literary Council that organizes the Brooklyn Book Festival, and one of the founders of the Comadres and Compadres Writers Conference in New York City. Adriana is based in New York.
Adriana represents children’s books for all ages. She has a long trajectory of publishing underrepresented authors and illustrators, and welcomes submissions that offer diverse points of view. Books that she has edited or represented have been awarded the Pura Belpré Medal, the Coretta Scott King Honor and the MPIBA’s Reading the West Award among others, and been finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the NAACP Award. Her list includes national and international bestsellers, and titles counted among the “Best of the Year” by Amazon, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, The New York Public Library, The Chicago Public Library, Parents.com, Salon.com, and others.
On the children’s side, Adriana represents fiction and narrative nonfiction as well as author/illustrators. Her growing list of illustrators includes Juliet Menendez, Jacqueline Alcantara, Ana Aranda, Tania de Regil, Rafael López, John Parra, Lorena Siminovich and Lila Quintero Weaver. Her author client list includes award winners and best sellers such as Michaela and Elaine DePrince, Katheryn Russell-Brown, and Angela Cervantes. Some recent exciting debuts: Silver Meadows Summer by Emma Otheguy (Knopf), My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver (Candlewick), Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo (HMH), A New Home by Tania de Regil (Candlewick), and Shauna LaVoy Reynolds’ Poetree (Dial/Penguin) a 2019 Kids Indie Next Book.
When not working – which is rare – Adriana can be found at the nearest airport, waiting to be whisked away from it all; along with publishing and her family, travel is her biggest passion! Follow Adriana on twitter at @VocesBlog"
(Link)
Status: She is closed to submissions except for requested conference and contest submissions.
What She's Looking For:
From the website:
"Illustrators I’m interested in artists with distinctive styles, and on bringing more diverse illustrators into the market. Representative illustrator debuts have upcoming picture books and illustrated novels with NorthSouth Books, Lee & Low Books, Nancy Paulsen Books, and Candlewick, among others. Recent deal: We Need Diverse Books Illustrator Mentorship Award winner Jacqueline Alcantara to illustrate JUMP AT DE SUN by Alicia Williams, a picture book biography of the inimitable Zora Neale Hurston, to Caitlyn Dlouhy at Caitlyn Dlouhy/S&S. Adriana Dominguez at Full Circle Literary brokered the deal for world rights.
"Picture books that are funny or endearing, with an element of the unexpected. I love twists, strong concepts, and diverse points of view. Picture books that make you wonder, “How didn’t anyone ever think of this before?!”
"Contemporary or historical middle grade and young adult novels Authentic voices that grab a hold of readers and won’t let go. Characters and stories that touch reader’s hearts and provide relief with a chuckle. I gravitate toward concept-driven contemporary, and historical novels that teach me something that I feel I must share with others. Novels that stay with readers long after the book is put down.
"Narrative nonfiction I represent a number of award-winning and best selling biographies and memoirs, such as Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown, Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina by Michaela and Elaine DePrince, and Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist by Sylvia Acevedo. I’m always interested in children’s biographies and memoirs by authors with strong platforms, for all ages."
Quotables:
"I am looking to build long-term relationships. The amount of time and effort I generally devote to my authors would not be worthwhile otherwise, as we often spend long periods of time working on manuscripts and polishing them until they are ready to present to publishers. By the time all that work is done, whether the manuscript in question is sold or not, I have generally fallen in love with the author's work, which means that I am fully invested in my clients' long-term success." (Link)
About the Agency:
"Full Circle Literary is a full-service literary agency, offering a full circle approach to literary representation. Our team has diverse experience in book publishing including editorial, marketing, publicity, legal and rights, which we use collectively to build careers book by book.
We work with both award-winning veteran and debut writers and illustrators, and our team has a knack for finding and developing new and diverse talent. We work with writers and illustrators from development of concepts and proposals for submission to championing a book into the hands of readers. Our titles have received awards and honors from the American Library Association, National Book Critics’ Circle, Children’s Book Council, Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators, National Council of Teachers of English, International Reading Association, and many more." (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Yes. "...we often spend long periods of time working on manuscripts and polishing them until they are ready to present to publishers." (Link)
Web Presence:
Full Circle Lit website.
Full Cirlce Lit blog.
Twitter.
LinkedIn.
QueryTracker.
Clients:
There is list of select client titles on the website.  Ms. Dominguez's clients include Alma Flor Ada, Reyna Grande, and Lorena Siminovich, among others.
Query Methods: Closed to Submissions
E-mail: No (only).  
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: Yes.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
See the Full Circle Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
"In terms of my personal preference, I simply need to know, from the query letter alone, what the project/book is about. I would suggest that authors belonging to critique groups bring their query letters to their groups to have them evaluated by others and most importantly, to make sure that they make sense. It is sometimes difficult to tell when you are so close to a project, and having that feedback can help you to write your proposal from the perspective of the reader, rather than that of the writer." (Link)
Response Times:
The agency response time is eight weeks. If they are interested, they will request additional information.
What's the Buzz?
The buzz on Ms. Dominguez is quiet but positive.  She's only been agenting since late 2009 but has over 10 years of experience in publishing, many in editorial positions.  Full Circle Literary is a respected agency with a strong multicultural and green line, and Ms. Dominguez has made several sales as an agent.  While she has a strong desire for multicultural projects, she also seems to be seeking contemporary, historical, and literary children's books.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Tips From 5 Literary Agents Representing Latino Authors at NBC News (03/2016)
A Cafe Chat With Adriana Dominguez at Eastern Penn Points (11/2014)
Ask the Pro at Writer's Digest (12/2011)Q&A with Literary Agent Adriana Dominguez at musings (05/2010).
Select Blog Posts:
Writing With Cultural Authenticity at The Official SCBWI Blog (08/2019)
Contact:
Please see the Full Circle Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/1/20.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? .
***
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.






























































Tip Tuesday #42

I have another great tip today from Ryan who's finally started a blog! It's called The Writer's Arsenal and Ryan will be tackling grammar topics and demonstrating how knowledge of grammar can help in creating voice, pacing, tension, etc. Please subscribe and see what he has to say. But before you go, here's his tip!

To me, one of the best things a writer can do is read and study poetry. We often forget the different things we can achieve through writing, and by looking at poetry, where different techniques are more obvious, we can find so many more tools to use. For example, poetry is a great thing to look at for pacing. If we look at the way poems speed or slow our reading, we can try to put that in our own writing. If we read a poem that uses long lines, but you get a random staccato two-word sentence, it stops us and draws our attention. We can do that in prose too. Beyond pacing, poetry can really help with imagery, metaphor, and attention to details. Since every word matters, we can also better see how our word choice effects the reader in poetry. Some great poets for pacing are: Allen Ginsberg, Olga Broumas and Jorie Graham. Some poets who have terrific imagery are: Brigit Pegeen Kelly and Sharon Olds. To see great examples of voice, check out: Frank O'Hara, Ai, Amber Tamblyn (yes, she's a terrific poet too), and Kenneth Koch.

Great tip, Ryan! I did a study on voice during my last term at school and my professor had me pick up a book of poetry called Asphalt Georgics by Hayden Carruth. It was really interesting to see how voice can be established in so few words.

Q&A with Tina Wexler of ICM

Hey everyone!

I have another exciting opportunity for you. Tina Wexler of International Creative Management has agreed to do a Q&A with us! Last month's Q&A went so well, I've decided to make this a monthly feature, if possible.

You'll be e-mailing me your questions but please read the following details before you do!

Ms. Wexler is going to answer as many as questions possible but won't be answering all of them, especially since there are bound to be repeats and similarities. To increase the likelihood of your question being answered, please refrain from asking situation-specific questions. Think of it like an interview. The best questions are those that benefit everyone. Also, the more original you are, the more likely your question won't be a repeat. Please limit yourself to one question, two at the most. When you e-mail, please include the name or screen name you'd like your question posted under when the Q&A goes up.

The actual Q&A probably won't be posted for a week or two as Ms. Wexler is going on vacation next week. We'll have to be patient. For more information on Tina Wexler and what she's looking for, please check out her Spotlight and the interviews she's done.

I'll take questions for approximately 24 hours at which point a cut-off post will be posted. Ready? Go! E-mail me your questions at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post in RED, if needed.

UPDATE 1 (2:00 p.m.): I've only received a handful of questions. Please take advantage of this fabulous opportunity and send one in!

UPDATE 2 (9:02 p.m.): We have a nice set of questions now, but you still have until tomorrow morning to send them in. Don't be shy! I'm loving the variety.

UPDATE 3 (6/22): Okay, I'm closing this post down. Thanks for spreading the word and sending questions in, everyone! The Q&A will probably post the week after next as Ms. Wexler is going on vacation. Thank you for your patience!

WriteOnCon Giveaway Winner!

I meant to post this yesterday, but the day completely ran away from me. I realize many of you are busy today (Happy Father's Day!!), but I'm still going to announce and e-mail the winner. You guys can catch up tomorrow when you stop by for the Q&A with Tina Wexler!

I numbered everyone and used Random.org to choose a winner. Random.org gave me number...

35! Which, on my list, is Alyssa Kirk. Alyssa, I'll be e-mailing you shortly. Thank you so much for spreading the word about WriteOnCon!!!!

Thanks and Monday Q&A

Thanks for spreading the word about WriteOnCon, everyone! I love all the comments and excitement!! The website should be updated this weekend with awesome new faculty. Believe it or not, there are even more in the works! Keep checking back and follow WriteOnCon on Twitter for updates. My giveaway ends tonight, so if you haven't commented and spread the word, please do so! I'll announce the winner tomorrow.

Also, make sure to stop by on MONDAY, 6/21. I'll be taking questions for 24 hours for a Q&A with the fabulous Tina Wexler of International Creative Management. Please give her Spotlight a read and think up some great questions for her. The Q&A will have the same parameters as the last. NO situation-specific questions. More details on Monday.

Have a great weekend!!!

Agent Spotlight: Wendy Schmalz

This week's Agent Spotlight features Wendy Schmalz of Wendy Schmalz Agency.
Status: Accepting submissions.
About the agent and agency: "Founded in 2002, Wendy Schmalz Agency is proud to represent YA and Middle Grade authors including award-winning bestseller April Henry, groundbreaking authors Julie Anne Peters and Ami Polonsky, acclaimed non-fiction writers, Sarah Miller (also a successful novelist), Seymour Simon and Albert Marrin, and critically-hailed novelist Katrina Leno." (Via email)
What She's Looking For:
Genres of Interest:
Children's fiction and nonfiction including middle grade, young adult (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Adult fiction and nonfiction, picture books, fantasy, horror, science fiction, mysteries, or thrillers (Link) (Link)
Quotables:
"I want an open, honest give-and-take with my authors. It should be a close relationship and it’s just as important for me to like my authors as it is for me to like their work. I’m happy to work with my authors editorially. I’m not a good hand-holder and I don’t want to be anyone’s therapist." (Link)
Dislikes/Peeves:
"I hate it when people send manuscripts or writing samples without asking first. I will delete those without opening them or send them back unread if they’re sent by snail mail. I don’t like it when people start out their queries with statistics. I’m amused by letters that tell me I’ll regret it if I don’t read their novel because representing them will make me richer than rich (I don’t ask to read those –who wants to represent someone with an out of control ego?)" (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Yes. "I’m happy to work with my authors editorially." (Link)
Web Presence:
Wendy Schamlz Literary website.
Publisher's Marketplace page.
AAR page.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
Clients: You can find a list of Ms. Schmalz's clients on the agency website. They include
Alice Alexiou, Kathy Charles, Michael Delaney, Erik Esckilsen, Tanya Guerrero, John Maxwell Hamilton, April Henry,Marybeth Kelsey, Marlane Kennedy, Jason Little, Robin MacCready, Albert Marrin, Sarah Miller, Dean Pitchford, Bonnie Shimko, Sue Stauffacher, Leonard Todd, Michael Williams, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes.  
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail your query with a synopsis included in the body of the e-mail. Do not enclose or attach the manuscript or sample chapters. She only responds if she's interested. (Link)
See the Wendy Schmalz Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines. 
Query Tips:
"What gets my attention is when someone says why they want me specifically to be their agent. It shows they’ve done their homework – that they know what sort of writers I represent and think we’d be a good fit." (Link)
Response Times:
Ms. Schmalz doesn't respond to e-mail queries unless interested.
What's the Buzz?
Ms. Schmalz has a good but quiet buzz on the Internet.  She's been representing authors for over 25 years and is taking on very few new clients as a result. She is currently open to submissions.   Her years of experience, sales history, and client list recommend her.  She's also a member of the AAR.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
7 Questions for Literary Agent Wendy Schmaltz at Middle Grade Ninja (03/2011).
Interview with Wendy Schmalz at The Five Randoms (05/2009).
Contact:
Please see the Wendy Schmalz Literary website for contact and query information.
Last updated: 5/29/2020.
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 atnatalieiaguirre7(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.





















































Tip Tuesday #41

Please check out yesterday's post and giveaway if you missed it! Today I have a quick but awesome tip from my #1 tip contributor, Lisa Nowak! We heart you and your writing tips Lisa! Right guys? I hope you're following her!

When I’m doing revisions it can get confusing trying to follow a particular subplot. To make this easier, I create separate word documents for each subplot. I cut and paste every scene for a given subplot into its document, giving each scene a heading that includes the chapter and page number for easy reference. This allows me to quickly see all the scenes together so I can be sure I’ve included all the pertinent information without being repetitive.

I've done this with two larger plot lines but didn't think to do subplots. Brilliant! Thank you once again, Lisa!

WriteOnCon - The Big Reveal!

If you follow Elana Johnson, Jamie Harrington, Shannon Messenger, Lisa and Laura Roecker, and/or me on Twitter, you've probably seen tweets about a Secret Project and (oh yes!) a VLOG we've been working on. Well, the day has come to unleash the epic and bring you in on the secret. BEHOLD! virtual embarrassment and revelation!



My first vlog, people! I know! I'm sorry! *DEEP BREATH*

Anyway! to recap for those of you at work, the six of us (linked above) and the website goddess Jen Stayroot are organizing a free online writer's conference for kidlit writers!

We’ve all heard friends and fellow writers remark on their inability to attend writer's conferences for one reason or another, and since we’re all about paying it forward, we decided to create our own and to bring it to YOU using the amazing capabilities of the web. And so, WriteOnCon was born—and rated MC-18 (main characters 18 and under).

When? August 10-12, 2010
Where? http://writeoncon.com/
How? Various forms of social media.

I can't even tell you how amazing it's going to be. No, really! We have a ton of great stuff planned and just look at the names already involved: Catherine Drayton, Steven Malk, Michelle Andelman, Suzie Townsend, Mark McVeigh, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe, Kathleen Ortiz, Lindsay Eland, Dan Ehrenhaft, Mandy Hubbard, Daisy Whitney, Lindsey Leavitt, Josh Berk, Anica Rissi, Jodi Meadows—with more to come!

I know, right?! *swoon*

PLEASE bookmark the website, subscribe to the blog feed, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook! There are some details available on the site but we'll be leaking more as we draw near the big date.

But before you go, let's have a spread-the-word-GIVEAWAY! All you have to do is spread the word someway, somehow (the more ways and hows the better) by Friday at 12 pm EST (leave a link, if possible) and comment on this post with a way to reach you. The prize is a WINNER'S CHOICE kidlit book sent right to his/her doorstep. I know, I know, I'm so lax! But please, spread the word however you prefer and put the widget on your blog, if you can.

I'm very excited to see what you all think! More details will follow, I promise. Registration opens July 1st! And make sure you stop by my fellow organizers' blogs for more contests and giveaway opportunities!

Agent Spotlight: Diana Fox

This week's Agent Spotlight features Diana Fox of Fox Literary LLC.
foxliterarylogo About: "Fox Literary is a boutique agency which represents commercial fiction, along with select works of literary fiction and nonfiction that have broad commercial appeal.I am actively seeking the following: young adult fiction (all genres), science fiction/fantasy, romance, historical fiction, thrillers, and graphic novels. I'm always interested in books that cross genres and reinvent popular concepts with an engaging new twist (especially when there’s a historical and/or speculative element involved).
"On the nonfiction side I'm interested in memoirs, biography, and smart narrative nonfiction; I particularly enjoy memoirs and other nonfiction about sex work, addiction and recovery, and pop culture." (Link)
Status: Accepting submissions, actively seeking new clients.
What She's Looking For:
Genres of Interest: Young adult, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, romance, historical fiction, thrillers, suspense, and graphic novels. She is also interested in non-fiction memoirs, biography, popular science, history, pop culture, narrative nonfiction and books about sex work, addiction and recovery.
From an Interview (11/2009):
"I'm looking for young adult fiction (all genres, for older teens as opposed to middle grade), as well as romance, science fiction/fantasy, historical fiction, thrillers, crime fiction, and graphic novels. I also represent some literary fiction. On the nonfiction side, I'm looking for memoirs, biography, history, popular science, and smart narrative nonfiction; I’m particularly interested in memoirs and other nonfiction about sex work, addiction and recovery, and pop culture." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
"Fox Literary does not represent screenplays, poetry, category Westerns, horror, Christian/inspirational fiction, or children's picture books." (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Yes.
Web Presence:
Publisher's Marketplace Page. FYI this operates as her website page
Blog.
Twitter.
LinkedIn.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
Clients:
Katharine Beutner, Gwynne Garfinkle, Hannah Harrington, Michelle Hodkin, Anna Katherine, Catherine Knutsson, Nadia Lee, Elizabeth Loupas, Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire, Christine Merrill, Claudia Gray, Prudence Shen, among others.
E-mail: Yes (preferred). 
Snail-Mail: Yes.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail:  Send a query letter and the first five pages in the body of the e-mail.  No attachments.  Put QUERY and the title of the work in the subject line.
Snail-mail: Send a query letter including an e-mail address. Fox only responds and requests via e-mail.  Do NOT send a SASE or unsolicited manuscript.
Please see the Publisher's Marketplace page for complete, update-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
"What catches my interest in a query letter is the same as what catches my interest in a book: good writing. The writing needs to be clean and hopefully polished, but at the very least without obvious errors in punctuation, grammar, etc. (I'm not talking about an obvious typo in an otherwise well written letter). I focus a lot on style and voice, as well as the story. I always ask that authors paste the first five pages of the manuscript into the body of the email, because sometimes the query isn't terrific but the book itself is." (Link)
Response Times:
Definitely varied.  Ms. Fox tries to respond to queries within 4 weeks and generally seems to do so.  She often sends rejections quicker than she makes requests, keeping a maybe pile as she goes through queries.  With requested material, however, I see averages around 3 months with other instances nearly a year out.  Note:  She almost always requests fulls when she requests. 
What's the Buzz?
Diana Fox has great buzz. She's known to be super nice, friendly, and an all around class act.  She maintains a small but successful clientele with a high sell-through rate, and her clients seem very happy under her representation.  Despite sometimes long, fluctuating response times, she's known to love and appreciate slush.  Definitely follow her on Twitter and her blog to get the latest updates and a great feel for her personality. 
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Diana Fox on Marketing at S.R. Johannes (03/2011).Agent Interview: Diana Fox at The Blog Realm (11/2009). 
Contact:
Please see Ms. Fox's Publisher's Marketplace page, submissions post, and/or AgentQuery page for contact and query information.
Last updated: 5/2/02.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.
***
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com
Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.






























































Guest Blogger Kristi Helvig: Basics of an Elevator Pitch

 

Please welcome guest blogger Kristi Helvig! She's here to talk about the Basics of an Elevator Pitch but make sure to drop by her group blog, Sisters in Scribe, where she's been talking about the Dreaded Synopsis and other great writing topics.

I was fortunate enough to attend an SCBWI talk hosted by talented author Hilari Bell and author/illustrator Anna-Maria Crum. The topic: how to give a brief pitch to agents/editors. Even if you're not doing a scheduled pitch appointment at a conference, a pitch is something you should have ready in case an editor or agent happens to ask, "What's your book about?" That's assuming you'd rather have a more coherent response than "Um, well, there's this guy and he goes to this museum, and there's this um, secret society..."

Wouldn't you rather say (well, if you were Dan Brown):

"A murder in the silent after-hour halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ." (I found this summary of The DaVinci Code online -- doesn't it have more 'flow' than the first one.)

What is an elevator pitch?

It's one or two sentences (three max) giving an overall summary of your book -- sentences that are compelling enough to make the editor/agent ask more questions. I know, right? Anyway, Hilari and Anna Maria were masters at it. They listened to attendees read part of their query letter or give a description of their book, and within minutes, they'd distilled it into a few succinct sentences. It was amazing to watch. I listened and learned, and here are a few tidbits I picked up along the way. NOTE: All examples below are fabricated by moi, so blame me if they suck.

Be Specific/Don't Be Cliche

Bad Example: When the space monkey arrived, her whole world turned upside down.

Better Example:
When the six-foot space monkey landed in her bedroom, ten-year-old Sarah Connor knew she’d finally found the topic for her science fair project.

Use Strong Verbs/Active Voice

Bad Example: When six-year-old Ben was given a black eye by the school bully, he looked for a way to get back at him.

Better Example: When the school bully pops six-year-old Ben in the eye, Ben exacts revenge the only way he knows how -- with peanut butter and a Nerf gun.

Other tip: the main character (MC) should be identified in the pitch as well as the obstacle they face, though it can be implied rather than obvious. There are exceptions to this but wait until you're famous to break the rules.

Nathan Bransford also has an amazingly comprehensive post on one sentence, one paragraph, and two paragraph pitches.

So there you have it. Any questions? Now get out there and pitch.

Tip Tuesday #40

Hey everyone! If you didn't have a chance to read Sue Walker's interview yesterday, please do. I put it up later than I meant to. Today, your Tuesday Tip comes from Daren Hansen of the Laws of Making. This is his second time on the blog, so please give him a visit!

When I described the WriteMonkey text editor a few weeks ago, I shared only half of my distraction-free writing story. The other half is that I use WriteMonkey on a netbook. Netbooks are smaller, lighter (and some would say underpowered) laptops designed for common applications (like writing), email, internet browsing, etc. There are many models to chose from and you shouldn't have to pay more than about $300.

I did remove most of the software that came pre-installed, which noticeably improved the netbook's performance. In most respects the system was what I expected, but there were two things that surprised me, in a delightful way: the netbook's 9-hour battery life and its light weight. Together, those features opened up my writing horizons. Because the netbook is so light and small, I nearly always take it along if I'm going someplace and might have a chance to write. Similarly, it's perfect to take to whatever corner of the house is relatively quiet and distraction free. And with the stunning battery life (and a captive audience in the car), I was able to turn a road-trip into a productive read-through-and-revise session.

If you're considering a new computer for your writing, I encourage you to take a look at netbooks--their liabilities as a general computing platform are assets for writers who want to minimize distractions when they're trying to write.

Thanks Daren! I've been wanting to get a netbook for this exact reason. It's a pain to tote my regular laptop around and the battery life is awful. I'd love a reliable, on-the-go writing companion! : )

Interview with Author Sue Walker!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Australian author Sue Walker recently and I'm excited to share her answers with you. Sue has published several picture books and young readers and her first junior novel, Arnie Avery, debuts this month.

Hi Sue! Thank you so much for the interview. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks Casey - it’s great to visit.

I’m an Australian author – I live in Sydney with my husband and three children, and I’ve been writing fiction and non-fiction for children for about ten years. When I’m not writing I love walking, baking cakes, and heading off for camping holidays in the bush.

It looks like you write everything from picture books to young readers. Is your upcoming release, Arnie Avery, your first junior novel? Please tell us more about it. I love the cover.

Thank you, and yes - Arnie Avery is my first junior novel. The story is about a typical 13 year old boy. He has a sense of humour, he likes riding his bike, and he likes being with his friends, but he also has a few serious problems – one is his family, and the other is the school bully, Jacko. I think the story demonstrates that no matter how tough things might seem…you can turn your life around.

What do you have planned for the release of Arnie Avery in June? Anything fun?

There’s a lot planned. I’m having two launches for Arnie Avery – one with a local school, and the other at a Children’s & Young Adult Writers Festival. Every participant will be given something special to help launch the book, and there’ll be lots of fun activities for the kids. I’m also having an in-store book signing, plus there’ll be the odd glass or two of celebratory bubbles.

I love your author website and blog. How has the marketing and promotion side of publication been for you? Given your young audience, do you find you focus your time and efforts more on in-person promotion (such as school visits) or online promotion?

The promotion side of publishing is all very new to me, but I realize it’s important to the success of your book. With Arnie Avery, I’ve split my time equally between in-person and online promotion. I have a new website and I’ve increased my online presence, and I’ve actually just arrived home from a school visit. Meeting with kids and sharing my love of writing is always a thrill, and I think readers enjoy connecting with the person behind the book as well.

From your website, it sounds like you had an interesting childhood including preschool in Malaysia on the edge of a jungle! Have any of those experiences made it into your writing?

I’ve lived in lots of different places and little snippets of my childhood do seem to creep into my work. There’s a scene in Arnie Avery that came straight from an experience I had as a ten year old. I was at the pool with my brother and sister when a boy fell into the water. We didn’t know he couldn’t swim until he sank to the bottom, and my brother had to dive in and rescue him. It’s a vivid memory – I can still see that boy on the concrete beside the pool. I’m glad it was a memory with a happy ending.

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

My first acceptance was for a non-fiction piece for a children’s magazine. I was cooking sausages on the barbeque when the editor rang and asked if I could make some changes to the article. I was so stunned I could barely utter a sensible word. That acceptance was a major milestone because it gave me confidence in my skill as a writer.

Later I decided to specialize in chapter books for children 5-8 years. Initially I had a few rejections, followed by some positive feedback, and then finally…an acceptance. A few books later, Best Friends was selected as a Notable Book by the Children’s Book Council. It was very gratifying to receive formal recognition for my work.

Do you have a literary agent? If so, how did you come to work with him/her? If not, how did you come to work with your publisher(s)?

No, I don’t have a literary agent. I started out submitting to slush piles, and over the years developed relationships with a few editors who liked my work enough to comment personally. I’m eternally grateful for feedback – good or bad – because it helps me to improve my writing. I always send letters of thanks to editors for taking the time to respond to my submissions.

Is there anything you've learned or experienced during the publishing process that's surprised you?

Yes. How incredibly long it can take to publish a picture book. After the initial search for an illustrator, it can be years before the artwork is finished.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. If you receive any personal feedback from an editor – celebrate. I’d also try to focus on one area of children’s books, whether its picture books, early readers, mid-grade or YA.

You must be working on something new. Can you divulge anything about your current work(s)-in-progress?

Right now I’m working on a YA novel about a guardian angel, and also a narrative non-fiction picture book (I know – it’s a mouthful!).

You're managing a writing career alongside a family. What's your writing process like? Do you have any tips on writing while raising children?

I write when I can, in between everything else I have to fit into the day. My number one tip is – relax. Don’t feel bad about it when you can’t write, instead spend time thinking about your story while you’re doing other things. And if you’re too tired to be creative, reading is the next best thing.

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

Readers can visit my website: www.suewalkerauthor.com

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

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted be a guide dog trainer – I never once dreamed I’d be an author. I think that’s something worth mentioning, because so many authors know from very early that they want to be writers. For me, it came as a surprise. I didn’t start writing seriously until I had children, but now I couldn’t imagine life without it.

Thank you so much for the fabulous interview, Sue. I hope we'll be seeing some of your titles in the US very soon!

Bio: Sue Walker is the author of numerous titles for children. Her book Tilly’s Treasure is part of the award-winning Aussie Nibbles series, and Best Friends is a Children’s Book Council Notable Book. Many of Sue’s poems, articles, and short stories have appeared in children’s magazines, and her books have featured in the Premier’s Reading Challenge. Sue lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, three children, and a scruffy white dog. Further information can be found at www.suewalkerauthor.com

Arnie Avery is available in Australian bookstores, and online at http://www.booktopia.com.au

Agent Spotlight: Holly Root

This week's Agent Spotlight features Holly Root of Root Literary.
Status: Open to submissions, but the other agents at Root Literary (Taylor Haggerty, Melanie Castillo, Molly O'Neill, and Kurestin Armada) are growing their clients lists more actively, so currently most likely to refer a project in-house.
About: ""Reading as much as you do in this job, it's easy to become overly analytical. My favorite books are the ones so assured in their execution that the only input my critical mind can muster is 'That was fun. How soon can we tell everyone we know about it?' I'm delighted to be in a position of perpetual discovery." (Link)
About the Agency:
“Literary agent Holly Root launched over two dozen New York Times bestsellers before founding Root Literary in 2017. The agency's clients benefit from our agents' proven skills in identifying talent, negotiating advantageous deals, and advocating for our books all the way from submission to publication. We offer our clients broad-based industry insights as well as individualized strategic thinking to empower each author to define and pursue their own unique path to success.
"We love what we do, and we do it best in partnership with storytellers who combine artistry with the drive to build a lasting body of work.” (Link)
Web Presence:
Root Literary Website.
Publisher’s Marketplace page.
Twitter @hroot.
@rootliterary
AgentQuery.
QueryTracker.
What She's Looking For:  
Genres / Specialties:
Our primary focus is commercial fiction for kids and adults. We also represent select nonfiction projects. (Via email)From an Interview (05/2011):
“I love being genuinely surprised (I should clarify this is ‘surprised,’ not ‘baffled’). What does that look like? A fresh spin on a genre I thought I was completely tired of, the execution that reminds me I actually LOVE [whatever genre I forgot that I love], the concept I can't get out of my head, the character who is flawed and frustrating and yet totally, completely lovable for those vulnerabilities. I'm really a fan of lots of kinds of books; it's so much about voice for me that I've fallen for all manner of things against my better sense and only after I've sold it had to be like, ‘Um. Right. I guess I do [chick lit/steampunk/witch/Amish/high fantasy/etc] now.’” (Link)
You There God? It's Me, Margaret involves, but is not strictly about, a young girl's faith." (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Poetry or screenplays (Via email)
Editorial Agent?
"I’m a pretty editorial agent; the competition is so stiff these days that I can’t imagine not being that way. There’s definitely a point where you just have to put it out and let the market speak but if I see a way to make a ms that much tighter, why wouldn’t I jump on it?" (Link)
Clients:
There is a page of client books on the agency website.
Ms. Root’s client include: Becky Albertalli, Winnie Archer/Melissa Bourbon, Rae Carson, JC Cervantes, Mark Cheverton, Diana Cosby, Jessica Clare, Manda Collins, Megan Crane, Kari Lynn Dell, Meredith Duran, Addison Fox, Alan Gratz, Jasmine Guillory, Kristin Harmel, Kelly Harms, Rachel Hawkins, Vivien Jackson, Amanda Joy, SJ Kincaid, Celia Kyle, Christina Lauren, Victoria Lee, Sarah MacLean, Ashley Poston, CJ Redwine, Victoria Schwab, Rebekah Weatherspoon, among others, among others!
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter and the first ten pages of your manuscript in the body of an e-mail.  No attachments.
Please check the Root Literary website for the most current information.
Response Times:
The agency sends an automated response to a query that indicates their response time.
What’s the Buzz?
Holly Root a top-notch agent with an incredible list of clients and sales. Her clients adore and gush about her every chance they get and she’s one of the sharpest, funniest agents I’ve come across. Definitely follow her on Twitter.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Holly Root on Entrepreneurial Mindset as a Literary Agent Podcast at 88 Cups of Tea (Date unknown) 
Holly Root on The Rise of Rom-Coms and Publishing in the Coronavirus Podcast at Sarah's Books (04/2020)
Agents: Who They Are and How to Get One at Track Changes (04/2020).
How to Query Root Literary with Holly Root Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2019).
Literary Agents Evaluating Manuscripts Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (07/2019).
Literary Agent Holly Root Podcast at Middle Grade Ninja (04/2019).
Switching Agents Interview at Jane Friedman (11/2018.
New Agency Alert: Root Literary at Writer's Digest (05/2017).
LitChat with Holly Root at LitChat (07/2016)
Interview with Holly Root at I Want Her Job (10/2011).
7 Questions For: Literary Agent Holly Root at Middle Grade Ninja (05/2011).
Hilarious Interview with Agent Holly Root at The Last Word (03/2010).
Brief interview with Holly Root at Jill Myles blog (01/2010).
Contact:
Please see the Root Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last Updated: 5/25/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/2/2020.
***
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.






































Yes...

There's another interview with me up on the webs! This one is at Kay Em Evans's blog. She asked some great questions about the Agent Spotlights that you might find interesting. Please stop by and consider following Kay, even if you don't want to read anymore about me. : p

(If you want to follow her, you'll have to click off the interview post and onto the main blog.)

Today, I have some school work to do and a spotlight to finish. What are your Wednesday plans? Feel free to plug your latest blog post in the comments today!

Interview with Me + Fab Giveaway

Just a quick note. There's an interview with me up on Writer's Ally. If you have any questions for me, that'd be a great place to ask. I'll be stopping by on and off today and tomorrow.

Sheri is also doing an awesome giveaway. She's giving away ten books (some signed!) as well as some awesome critiques. Check it out!!

If you missed today's tip, make sure you stop by. Thanks!

Tip Tuesday #39

Hello all - I hope you had a great holiday weekend! I have another fabulous tip from S. Kyle Davis today. Please check out his website and blog on your way out.

Ok, I'll make this short and sweet. Go get this software. I just downloaded it, and it's the coolest software I've seen for writers. I've seen some fancy stuff with plot assistance and all that sort of thing, but honestly I tend to find that sort of thing tiresome. This is simply a project editor. And it's free.

The software eliminates the problems of having either a single huge file that tends to get corrupted, or else a bunch of tiny files that you can't navigate through. It works by creating a number of .rtf files on the back end, but as far as you're concerned, you can edit through this software, including global find/replace.

It will also help you keep track of characters, important items, locations, etc. It doesn't take long to enter all the basic info for your characters (if you enter the goals, etc., it may take longer), and then you just use the "automatically add characters" command, and it links everything up. There is even a "problem words" tool that helps you find overused words, etc.

I actually had the idea for software like this, but didn't have the programming chops to do it. I'm so glad someone else has done it!

http://www.spacejock.com/yWriter5.html

I tried an earlier version of this software and it was pretty darn cool. PageFour is another free writing software I've played around with. It can be nice to get out of Word and try some features geared just toward writers. Thanks Kyle!!