Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:

EXTRACTION through August 2nd

COPPER MAGIC through August 23rd

Beach Reads Giveaway Hop through August 15th

W.I.B.I.J.?! with Prizes!

Remember when I had Heather, Tina, and Jon on the blog to tell you about their blog game, W.I.B.I.J.?!   Well, they've been working hard to spread the word, bring in more players, and make it the best experience it can be.

The next game is Wednesday, May 5th at 1 PM EST and this time there will be PRIZES.  Since W.I.B.I.J?! is all about community involvement and promotion, winners will get to choose a book by one of the previously featured authors, including May debut and picture book authors.  Get all the details here.

I recommend stopping by the site ahead of time and getting to know the game.  The rules are on the side bar and there's an EVERYTHING ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW page.  You're also more than welcome to read through and/or play previous games to see how it works. 

It's a fun and brilliant promotional tool and YOUR BLOG could be the next stop (there's a form just for that!).  Please check it out and participate next Wed, May 5th.  I'd love to see you there!

Agent Spotlight: Natalie Fischer Lakosil

This week's Agent Spotlight features Natalie Fischer Lakosil of Bradford Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

natalie-m-fischer About: "Natalie is an Assistant Agent at the Bradford Literary Agency. An honors graduate of the University of San Diego, California, Natalie holds a B.A. in Literature/Writing. After nearly four years at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and a brief dabble in writing author profiles and book reviews for the San Diego Union Tribune, Natalie joined the Bradford Agency in February of 2011.

“Natalie’s interests include talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialty is commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), upmarket women’s fiction and select nonfiction. Specific likes include historical, multi-cultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, good grammar, and fantastical, engaging and sexy plots.

“Natalie is a member of SCBWI.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“We are an editorial-focused agency and prefer to work closely with our authors in helping to build strong, sustainable careers. We believe the best author-agent relationships extend beyond making sales; in order to best serve our clients’ needs, we must also be a partner, an advisor, a careful listener, a troubleshooter and an advocate.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Bradford Literary Agency website.

Adventures in Agentland.

Twitter.

AbsoluteWrite.

LinkedIn.

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

From her Bio (as above):

“Natalie’s interests include talented, hard-working new authors with a fresh, unique voice and hook. Her specialty is commercial fiction, with an emphasis in children’s literature (from picture book-teen), romance (contemporary, paranormal and historical), upmarket women’s fiction and select nonfiction. Specific likes include historical, multi-cultural, paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy, gritty, thrilling and darker contemporary novels, middle grade with heart, and short, quirky picture books. She is always drawn to an open and positive attitude in an author, good grammar, and fantastical, engaging and sexy plots.” (Link)

From a Blog Post (10/2011):

“…I didn’t read a fantasy or a gothic-inspired ghost book, but I’d love to have those too – especially creepy, dark and chilling ghost (or fantasy) YA.

“The only kind of picture book I’m really looking for is along the lines of Square Cat by Elizabeth Schoonmaker – short, funny text, preferably character-driven (650 words or less) – and I’m being VERY very selective on PBs.

“I also didn’t read any middle grade, but I particularly love middle grade with heart, along the line of The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, and middle grade with fantastical, paranormal, or sci-fi elements.” (Link w/more)

From an Interview (04/2011):

“I love stories with captivating writing and darker themes. If there isn’t a romance I want there to be a heart-shattering emotional pull from the main character. Sick, psychological twists and gritty are up my alley. On the opposite end, I love plain ol fun fantasy.” (Link)

From an Interview (10/2010):

“Romance novels. I’ve been putting a call out for these for months, and I’m still getting about 90% YA submissions!

“I’m always hoping for a project with an idea that makes me salivate to read, and writing that engrosses me to the point where I’m lugging it around on vacation in Vegas I want to finish it so bad (yes, that just happened).” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:  

"What I will NOT represent are novels geared for the Christian market, ABC books, “boy” books (something specifically geared toward boys, such as sports books, gross bug books), non-fiction history books, TWILIGHT/HARRY POTTER spin-offs, epistolary novels (or any really niche books)." (Link)

She is also not interested in thrillers. (Link)

Quotables:

"I’d say I get a good query every 60 submissions. But I’ve requested up to fifteen from those 60. In short, the perfect query isn’t the most important part; doing your homework on agents (finding which are really a perfect fit), and having good writing and a solid story are.” (Link)

"The ideal manuscript is well-written, spell-checked, grammatically and stylistically correct (a good look at the format, quotations, paragraphs, and italics in published books is the easiest way to double check yourself), and follows our current submission guidelines (which can be found on our website). We’re looking for fresh ideas, original and engaging plot concepts, AND packaged with an ideal author…a patient, hard-working, professional individual who has an open mind to suggested edits, and who has an understanding of the market." (Link)

Her Advice to Writers:

"Slush tip of the day: don't tell me your book is like X bestseller. I'm looking for the NEXT bestseller, not the spin-off!" (Link)

"Use my name; let me know that you really PICKED me to query, and didn’t just have me on a list of 200 other agents. Send the FIRST pages of your book; don’t start at ch. 33 because you think it’s the best one." (Link)

Pet-Peeves:

“The most common mistake I see in sample pages is improper punctuation use, and improper use of tense. These drive me nuts. If a writer doesn’t know how to properly format a manuscript, he/she should not be submitting yet. Little things are okay, like typos, even tense if it’s occasional, but if I’m pausing more than I’m enjoying, it’s a no.” (Link)

"Don’t use those padded envelopes with the recycled paper stuffing; it’s like opening a stuffy attic, and makes me want to vacuum myself AND my floor AND my desk (which I’ve totally done)!" (Link)

"I am absolutely disgusted by authors who send out mass query e-mails. Or who lie in their query to get my attention." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“I’m pretty well known as a hands-on agent. I expect any client I sign to be open to suggestion, and I always discuss this upfront. I don’t expect to re-write a book, and I also expect to have to back off if the writer absolutely feels that what I’m suggesting is not best for their work. I really enjoy a collaborative working relationship.” (Link)

Clients:

There is a page of agency authors on the website. Ms. Lakosil’s clients include:

Amy Alexander, Harry Bernstein,  Monique Domovitch, Julie Eshbaugh, Stephanie Faris, Rachel Mercaldo, Roseanne Thong, J.A. Souders, Elizabeth Spurr, Elle Strauss, Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman. among others.

Sales:

As of 2/12, Ms. Lakosil is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 4 deals in the last 12 months and 8 overall.  Recent deals include 1 mystery/crime, 2 young adult, 1 picture book.

Note:  PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.  

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

“We do not open email attachments, unless specifically requested by an agent. Your entire submission must appear in the body of the email and not as an attachment.

“The subject line should begin as follows: QUERY: (The title of the manuscript or any short message you would like us to see should follow)

Fiction - Please email a query letter along with the first chapter of your manuscript and a synopsis. Please be sure to include the genre and word count in your cover letter.

Non-fiction - Please email your full non-fiction proposal including a query letter and a sample chapter. For detailed guidelines on how to write a non-fiction proposal, please check out the FAQ section.”

See the Bradford Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query tips:

"It makes a huge different to me, or any agent, to see that the author has put in that bit of extra time to personalize the project, and to show he or she has thought seriously about the submission. In turn, I take that submission all the more seriously.” (Link)

See the posts listed below under “Blog Stuff” for more great tips and preferences.

Response Times:

The agency has a stated response time of 2-4 weeks on queries. If you have not received a response within 1 month, resend your query and note you’re resending (Link).  Stats on the web show Ms. Lakosil usually responds within days to a few weeks to queries and 4-8 weeks to requested material.

What's the Buzz?

Natalie (Fischer) Lakosil has been representing clients since Sept ‘09. Her clients seem to love her and she's been known to seek out writers online whose excerpts she likes (in other words, she scouts!). The Bradford Literary Agency is very well respected, representing many talented and best-selling authors.

Follow her on Twitter @Natalie_Lakosil to get a feel for her funny and sweet personality. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Contest Q&A with Natalie Fischer at Operation Awesome (11/2011).

Interview with Agent Natalie Fischer at Beyond Words (04/2011).

SHOW ME THE VOICE . . . Interview with judge, agent Natalie Fischer at Brenda Drake Writes (03/2011).

Literary Agent Natalie Fischer On Nailing Voice, interview at Adventure’s in YA & Children’s Publishing (03/2011).

Agent Advice Interview with Natalie Fischer at Guide to Literary Agents (10/2010).

Interview with Agent Natalie Fischer at Angels and Demons and Portals (08/2010).

Agent Interviews: Natalie Fischer at Let the Words Flow (07/2010).

Interview with an Agent: Natalie Fischer at Mother. Write. (Repeat.), (02/2010).

Interview with Natalie Fischer at Teens Writing for Teens (01/2010).

Interview with Natalie Fischer at A View From the Top (01/2010).

Blog Stuff:

Natalie has a fantastic blog called Adventures in Agentland. Select posts include:

“What I Like… and Why Like It” (10/2011).

“Ponder, Polish, Perfect: How to Successfully Revise” (05/2011).

“HOOK 'em in (in three seconds or less)” (05/2011).

“Top Ten Query Pet-Peeves” (01/2011).

“Open Forum - Answered!” (11/2010).

“The Pitch Session” (10/2010).

“Common Manuscript Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them” (09/2010).

Around the Web:

See the “Events” page on Ms. Lakosil’s blog for conferences she’ll be attending.

Bradford Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Bradford Literary Agency on P&E.

WriteOnCon Panel of Professionals including Natalie Fischer (08/2011).

WriteOnCon Live Query Event with Natalie Fischer (04/2011).

WriteOnCon Live Chat Transcript with Natalie Fischer (08/2010).

WriteOnCon Live Queries Transcript with Natalie Fischer (08/2010).

Client J.A. Souders's posts on "The Call" and the query that gained her representation (04/2010).

Client Rachel Mercado shares her "how I got my agent" story (02/2010). 

There are other praise and client stories available if you search for “Natalie Fischer” and “Natalie Lakosil” in Google Blog Search.

Contact:

Please see the Bradford Literary Agency website for contact and query information.

Last updated: 2/14/12.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent?  4/29/10.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(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.

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver

Your Next Must Read:



EDITOR: Rosemary Brosnan, HarperCollins

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life? 

Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.

Instead, it turns out to be her last. 

Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.

***

You'll be seeing posts like these for books I love and strongly recommend.
If you've read BEFORE I FALL, please leave a non-spoilery comment with your opinion of it!

Tip Tuesday #34

Today's handy tip comes from Rachael who blogs at Writer's Chasm.  Please visit her blog on your way out!

Everyone has that one word or phrase that they use ALL the time. Mine are 'within minutes' and 'so' among other things. Then there are those garbage words like 'just' and 'then' and 'very.' There are whole lists of words to go through your manuscript and look for. But going through the whole thing with Find to look for each individual word is an extreme hassle. So I found a faster way.

NOTE: This works for Word 2007. If you have an earlier version, then I'm sure there's a way to do it, I'm just not sure of the specifics.

Go to Find and Replace.

Type the word you're looking for into the Find and the Replace boxes.

Click on 'More >>.' Go down to Format, click on it, and then click Highlight.

Hit Replace All.

Now all of the times you use that word are highlighted! You can do this with each word or phrase and then just scroll down the MS and look for all the highlight marks at the same time.

I love this tip, Rachael!  I didn't know there was a way to "find and highlight" rather than just replace.  That does make things simpler. Thank you! 

WANTED: YA Readers for Sherry

Hey all!  Sherry has another request.  She's looking for some teen/college-age readers to read the first 50 pages of her YA manuscript.  If you're a young adult, please check out her ad below. For a sample of her writing, view her ad from last week (now closed) or go to her website.  Interested in being a reader for her?  She can be reached at paranormal_writer @ yahoo.com

Here's Sherry:

YOUNG ADULT READERS WANTED!
Do you love to read? Do you enjoy helping others? Do you review books on a blog or website?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, than you're perfect for my Reading Evaluation! Yea!

I am looking for YA readers to review the first 50 pages of my manuscript.

I'm presently working on a YA paranormal/romance and would prefer a reader who loves reading supernatural love stories, horror, and/or paranormal suspense.
If you love scary, romantic or fantasy fiction, you might enjoy this process.

Who? High School or College Students who love to read.

What? You will be reading 50 pages of an unpublished work of fiction that I’m trying to find an agent for. After reading it, you will formulate an opinion and offer insightful feedback.

This will include a short questionnaire to be filled out after reading the text. Questions like: Does the heroine sound and act like a typical teenager? Do her reactions seem believable?

Where? You can do this from school or home, on your computer.

How? I will send you the pages via email. You get a two-week turnaround deadline. That is, you have two weeks to read the 50 pages and fill out the questionnaire.

Why should I help? Wouldn't it be wicked cool to get to say, "That book got published because of me?”

And if the book does get published, I will include your name in the dedication page and send you a signed copy in the mail before it hits the shelves.

Agent Spotlight: Amy Tipton

This week's Agent Spotlight features Amy Tipton of Signature Literary Agency.

amy_fineprint_agent-741092 About: "Amy Tipton joined the agency in 2009. She graduated from Naropa University with a B.A. in Writing and Literature and received her MFA from New College of California in Writing. She comes to the agency after working as a literary assistant and office manager at several literary agencies including JCA Literary Agency, Diana Finch Literary Agency, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency, and Liza Dawson Associates. Amy has also worked as a book scout for Aram Fox, Inc. dealing with foreign rights. She became an agent with Peter Rubie and continued to agent with FinePrint Literary Management. In addition to her agenting experience, Amy also worked as a freelance editor to Lauren Weisberger, author of The Devil Wears Prada. Her work is published in the anthology, Controlled Burn, and pieces of her first and second novel can be found in a variety of literary journals." (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions.

What She's Looking For:

Genres of interest: Middle grade, young adult, commercial fiction, literary fiction, women's fiction, and limited non-fiction including women's studies/academia, fashion/beauty, and pop culture. 

Per the website:

"I am looking for both fiction and nonfiction–edgy or quirky, commercial or literary–in particular, I'm interested in YA, middle grade, and women’s fiction.  In nonfiction I'm looking for women’s studies/academia, fashion/beauty, and pop culture." (Link)

From 07/2010 on MG:

"I am looking for boy-centric MG. Maybe reality-based, adventure more than fantasy. And no redheads! (Do you notice MG is saturated with redheads? Ever since another agent pointed it out, it's all I can see!)" (Link)

From 10/2009:

"I handle both YA and MG—and I love them! I really believe that Flux statement, 'YA is a point of view, not a reading level.' I think the line between YA and adult has become transparent. I think MG is a little easier to distinguish. The language is simpler but you have to be careful with MG—you wonder if it’s just dumb (because you’re not used to reading at that level) or if it’s MG. Everyone wants a good boy-book! I would like a good boy MG, though I’m very girl-centric when it comes to YA. But in both categories, I’m big on reality-based stuff. No vampires here! Please …." (Link)

"I do very little nonfiction. I like academia/feminist work. I also like beauty/fashion projects. I’m doing a retro-fashion/beauty guide right now." (Link)

From 02/2009:

"I am attracted to strong characters, and projects with cool concepts. I am always on the lookout for unusual and remarkable (reality-based) YA and middle grade." (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Fantasy, science fiction, picture books, chapter books, exercise/fitness/health, mysteries/cozies, romance, short stories, poetry, and screenplays.  

She is also likely to pass on:  9/11/terrorist stories, rape/cancer/abuse stories, drug addiction stories, and death/grieving stories.  (Link)

Quotables:

"...one of the biggest misconceptions is that all an agent does is sell the book—that's only a small part of the job. When I take on a project, I'm a big believer in that author and that book. I do more than just sell; I'm a champion and advocator for writers and reading." (Link)

"I joined Signature Literary Agency in 2009. I became an agent after working as a literary assistant and office manager at several literary agencies including JCA Literary Agency, Diana Finch Literary Agency, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency, and Liza Dawson Associates. I also worked as a book scout for Aram Fox, Inc. dealing with foreign rights. So, I worked hard and paid my dues! But, really, it was working with Peter Rubie that I got to be an agent. One day, he just asked me if I wanted to be an agent and I said yes." (Link)

About the Agency:

"Signature Literary has offices in Washington, DC and New York, NY.   Our agents offer expert representation and creative strategies to help writers not just sell books but to develop their careers.  We have broad experience and skills in law, writing, editing and marketing and work closely with all our clients to help them develop their platforms, writing and publicity skills.  We follow the Code of Ethics of the Association of Authors Representatives and will never charge reading or editorial fees." (Link)

Her Advice to Writers:

"To minimize your rejections--do your homework!--research the agent before you query them; make sure they rep what you write." (Link)

Pet-Peeves:

"Misspelling is a problem for me--you have spell check on the computer. I also dislike when people don't address me properly--that's rude." (Link)

"I hate books that jump on already-tired bandwagons—like right now, it's vampires; a while ago it was wizards." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Yes.  "I am a writer so, as an agent, I also edit. I'm very hands-on. I read and revise and read and revise. I enjoy bouncing ideas back and forth. I want the author to be as committed to the work as I am." (Link)

Web Presence:

Signature Literary Agency website.

LinkedIn.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance (outdated).

Clients:

Marci Blackman, Ed Glazar, and Mike Green, Teri Brown, Vicki Burgess, Sherilyn Connelly, Sandy DeLisle, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, Amy Reed, Victoria Schwab, Scot Sothern, Stephanie Strowbridge, and Courtney Summers.

Sales:

As of this posting, Ms. Tipton is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 3 deals in the last 12 months and 7 overall.  Recent deals include 2 YA and 1 non-fiction.

Note:  PM is often not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.  

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail preferred.  Send a query letter including a brief description of your novel, relevant background, and writing credentials.  Paste the first five pages into the body of the e-mail.  No attachments.

For non-fiction, send a query letter, a detailed bio or resume including platform info, and the first five pages of the manuscript, if written.  

See the Signature Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Response Times:

The agency has a stated response time of 2-3 weeks on queries and 8-12 weeks on requested material and only responds if interested.  However, Ms. Tipton seems to have very a quick response time averaging a day on queries and a few days to a month for requested materials.  She also appears to send rejections despite the agency policy. 

What's the Buzz?

Amy Tipton has great buzz.  She's known to have super fast response times, a fun personality, and a great work ethic.  Her clients really seem to love her and praise her any chance they get.  She's been in the publishing industry since 2004, assisting many fabulous agencies, and seems to be doing really well since becoming a full-time agent.  Signature Literary adheres to the Code of Ethics of the Association of Authors Representatives and has a good reputation.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

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

Interview with an Agent: Amy Tipton at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (04/2010). 

Agent Advice Interview with Amy Tipton at the Guide to Literary Agents blog (12/2009).

Interview with Amy Tipton at Gumbo Writers (02/2009).

Other:

You can read Agent Appreciation Day posts for Amy Tipton at Amy Reed's blog, Victoria Schwab's blog, Courtney Summer's blog, and Kirstin Cronn-Mills's blog.

Courtney Summers shares the story of how she got her agent, Amy Tipton, at The Swivet, and there's a document online that includes the query she sent to Amy.

Cute Agent Wish List post featuring Amy Tipton at See Pam Write, See Pam Run.

More praise for Amy Tipton at Fumbling with Fiction, Make-A-Fan Monday: Amy Tipton.

And, finally, here's a link to the few blog posts Amy Tipton did for the FinePrint blog while she worked there. 

Contact:

Please see the Signature Literary website for contact and query information.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(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.

Cat on The Witches of Greenwitch

Cat recently did an interview for Beth at writing it out on her free serial novel The Witches of Greenwitch I was interested in Cat's decision to publish one of her earlier novels online serially, a move I expect to see more often in the future, and invited her to tell us a little more about it.  When you're done reading her post, please click over to the site to check out the story and illustrations.  Here's Cat:

A Different Approach to Blogging

I confess that I am no good at blogging. I try but somehow time slips by so fast that I forget to post regularly. Also, I find it hard to come up with topics others might be interested in - I don't think dissecting bull's eyes or cleaning out hunted animals qualify. On the other hand, I really do want to reach new readers since I know that there are people who like my stories (like my German agent for example). I needed something a) interesting for my readers that b) could be posted regularly and that c) wouldn't eat up too much of my writing time.

What better could I use than one of my existing stories? I decided to serialize my MG-All Age Fantasy ""Die Hexen von Greenwitch", a story I wrote a few years ago and that my agent had considered too short to publish traditionally although she loved it. In the story, a mysterious stone magics book-rat Melissa to the world of Greenwitch where she meets fairy tale creatures that are not at all what she expected. Desperately, she looks for a way home and tries to ignore her past which pops up at the most inappropriate moments. At the same time, dangerous pursuers are at her heels getting closer by the minute.

When I realized that I needed illustrations because the Internet is a very visual medium, I took the time to translate it and searched for the right artist. By the time I had found Eszter Bohus, the translation was nearly done. Eszter is a 16 year old girl from Hungary with an amazing talent for drawing any sort of creature. I stumbled over her deviantArt page when another artist I had contacted realized she couldn't deliver four pictures a month without fail.

I chopped the story into 52 bits of 1500 to 2000 words each and started posting "The Witches of Greenwitch" both in German and English on March 2nd 2010 without any obligation for potential readers. The site has had 100 hits the first day (by the way, new readers are always welcome).

For me, this idea is still good. I know I gave away first worldwide print rights with publishing the story online - but I do believe that I would never have gotten illustrations (especially of this quality) had I chosen the traditional route - and I might have faced a long wait. Also, with current technology, it should be no problem to PoD-publish the story with all the pictures and some additional information if enough readers pester ask me.





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

Tip Tuesday #33

Today I have a tip from Carmela Martino.  Carmela blogs at Teaching Authors and her website.  If you have the time, please click over to both and check them out.  Here's her tip!

I picked this up from reading Natalie Goldberg’s WRITING DOWN THE BONES: timed writing sessions. I use these sessions to come up with new ideas or find a way to revise a scene when I’m stuck. Before starting, I set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes and then try to keep my hand moving the whole time without stopping. I find that the pressure of the timer helps to turn off the inner critic. As Goldberg says, “the aim is to burn through to first thoughts, to the place where energy is unobstructed by social politeness or the internal censor, to the place where you are writing what your mind actually sees and feels, not what it THINKS it should see or feel.” I have a specific example of how I use the timer in my writing classes in a “Writing Workout” I posted on our TeachingAuthors.com blog. You can read the post here:

http://www.teachingauthors.com/2010/01/story-i-never-expected-to-tell.html

What an amazing quote!  Boy, do I need to burn past my internal censor.  I've seen quite a few writers using timed writing sessions lately.  I plan to give them a try.  Thanks, Carmela!

WANTED: Critique Partner for Sherry

Hey everyone!  I have a "wanted ad" today for a YA writer looking for a critique partner. Please read her details and excerpt below and consider swapping some pages to see if you're compatible.  Here's what she's looking for:

I am a previously published author, trying to find an agent for my latest novel. I am looking for a critique partner to exchange a chapter with per week. I work with published authors and struggling writers who share a love of the written word. I cannot, however work with first drafts right now. Sorry!

I have a completed, 90,000 word YA paranormal/ghost story that I'm working on and would prefer a partner who writes in the YA genre. Please contact me if you're interested in working together. My email: paranormal_writer @ yahoo.com

Thanks!! And thanks to Casey for letting put up this ad. ;-)

***
First page of working title, DARK ANGEL (A Girl's Guide to the Supernatural)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard whispers in the shadows. Dark twisting shapes that chilled my blood. During the day I was safe, felt the heat of the sun on my skin chasing away the chill. This morning the gloom did little to abate my fears or warm my bare flesh.

I was tempted to jump back into bed and pull the covers over my head. Instead, I went over to the closet to pick out my clothes. I threw a dress on the bed, and then rummaged in the closet again.

The rush at the edge of my skin made me shiver.

Out of the corner of my eye, a maelstrom of shadows glided over the walls, murmuring in an ancient language. Ah, hell.

I glanced over my shoulder—and froze.

An amorphous darkness crept along the wall, different from the others. This shadow slid closer to where I stood, vague in shape, yet growing in size. It shifted, altered, trickled into blood and limbs and then...

Oh god, the thing was almost touching me. I blinked, but it didn’t go away.

I let out a yelp and stumbled back, bumping into a chair. The temperature dropped, my breath made white puffs in the air.

My eyes darted to the window. I figured that if I could get the shade up, the sunlight would swallow the darkness. I inched forward, yet kept a keen eye on the otherworldly beings. Within the shadows were shapes, hands, arms…faces. Obsidian fingers reached out, trying to grab my ankles. I knew these creatures fed off my fear, doled out like so much bitter candy. Black, evil things with darkling eyes, probing for weakness, a way to steal my soul. The biggest shadow swelled to a bulky mass and blocked my path. The other shadows backed away, helpless in the dim light—more silhouette than solid—and the large one rose higher, it’s head bobbing like a serpent near the ceiling. He watched me, with red eyes, and inside my heart, something awakened. Something dark as the creature before me. My mouth tightened.

Move. Now. My legs refused to budge. Terror, stark and vivid, squeezed my throat, so I was unable to make a sound. My fists clenched and unclenched at my sides.

This was just a nightmare, only a bad dream. And nothing more.

But it wasn’t, because I was wide awake.

A knock on my door made me jump. “Serenity?” my mother cried. “Are you all right?”

I knew I should go to the door, but I couldn’t let her in. Couldn’t let her see those indiscernible shadows that I couldn’t tell anyone about. She wouldn’t understand. Parents told children monsters weren’t real. But they were.

“I’m sorry.” I tried to steady my voice. “A nightmare.”

“Is that all?”

“Yeah.”

“You shrieked.”

“Sorry. I’m fine.”

The shadows shifted and moaned.

“All right…hurry up. We’re going to be late.”

Silence descended.

The dismal March weather mingled with the quiet made my bedroom seem oddly dim and barren, hollow just like me. I tried to ground myself as I glanced around the messy room, at the mound of clothes in the corner, stuffed animals littering the shelves, and the pile of books stacked under the windowsill. The walls were painted a dusty-rose and covered with posters of my favorite bands, and one of the hottie actor Zac Efron, and the film, High School Musical. The iron frame bed had a pink and lime green comforter trimmed in white trim that matched the curtains. The urban IKEA dresser and desk were light-colored pine. It looked like a normal teenage girl’s room except for the silhouettes moving stealthily over the crème colored carpet. They covered everything in their path like a dense, opaque blob.

I swallowed. Hard. My heart beat so fast it wanted to leap from my chest.

The hulking mass before me pulsated with death.

Well, hell. I knew I couldn’t just stand there doing nothing.

Agent Spotlight: Jodi Reamer

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jodi Reamer of Writers House.

Status: Accepting submissions.

WritersHouse[15]About: Jodi Reamer is an agent and an attorney.  She's been with Writers House for 15 years, since 1995.  She handles both children's books, picture book to young adult, and adult books with a focus on commercial fiction.  She represents many bestselling and award winning authors.  She would love to represent a legal thriller. (Link)

About the Agency:

"Writers House was founded in 1973 with a vision for a new kind of literary agency, one that would combine a passion for managing a writer's career with an integrated understanding of how storytelling works. With this two-pronged philosophy, Writers House has played a critical role in developing the careers of hundreds of novelists and non-fiction authors. We believe in offering our clients not only our expertise in negotiating contracts, but in contributing to all phases of the editorial and publishing processes. Our goal is to maximize the value of our clients' work by providing hands-on editorial and marketing advice, as well as leading the way in branding, licensing, and selling film/TV, foreign, audio, dramatic and serial rights." (Link)

"The Writers House children's book department, started by Amy Berkower in 1978, has grown to include seven agents representing many of our industry's most lauded and successful authors. Our list includes popular series like THE TWILIGHT SAGA, SWEET VALLEY HIGH, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE, THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS and JUNIE B. JONES -- as well as eight Newbery and Newbery Honor award-winning clients: Sharon Creech, Cynthia Voigt, Cynthia Rylant, Robin McKinley, Susan Patron, Neil Gaiman, Ingrid Law and Grace Lin. Writers House is also proud to represent the first two American authors to win Britain's prestigious Carnegie Award - Creech and Jennifer Donnelly; Christopher Paolini, who, at 20, is one of the youngest authors to hit the New York Times bestseller list; and the late Joan Lowery Nixon, the only four-time Edgar Award Winner recipient." (Link)

Web Presence:

Writers House website.

Publisher's Marketplace page.

AAR.

Twitter (actively reads but does not tweet at this time).

LinkedIn.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Children's picture books, middle grade, and young adult -- all genres.  Adult general fiction, mystery, romance, fantasy, science fiction, biography, and lifestyle.  (Link)

Via E-mail (04/2010):

In the adult realm, she'd love to find a really good legal thriller, and more writers like Danny Tobey, who's first novel she just took on. 

From an Interview (2009):

“I generally pass if there aren’t characters that grab me from the start. Authors can do a lot of revising, but I’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to make uninteresting characters interesting.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

She does not represent easy readers. 

She’s not interested in non-fiction, except for biography, memoir, and lifestyle.

Editorial Agent?

Yes. She makes revision requests as needed.  Many of her clients have mentioned doing revisions for her. 

Clients:

Lisa Barham, Coe Booth, Bruce Campbell, Ally Condie, Jennifer Crusie, Cameron Dokey, Elizabeth Eulberg, Victoria Forester, Mariah Fredericks, Kami Garcia, John Green, James Jennewein and Tom Parker, Barbara Kerley, Ronald Kidd, Michelle Knudsen, Sarah Darer Littman, Carolyn Mackler, T.H. Mafi, Stephenie Meyer, Peter Moore, Blake Nelson, Micol Ostow, Shani Petroff, Aprilynne Pike, Jacqui Robbins, Dan Santat, Jill Santopolo, Danny Tobey, Roderick Townley, Vera Williams, Lisa Yee, among others.

Sales:

As of 07/2012, Ms. Reamer is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 6 deals in the last 12 months, 9 six-figure+ deals, and 26 overall.  Recent deals include 4 young adult, 2 picture books.

Note:  PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.  Ms. Reamer verified via e-mail that she rarely reports her deals and this is very inaccurate. 

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: Yes.  

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Mail or e-mail a query letter and the first 10 pages of the manuscript (or until the end of that chapter). Queries are reviewed by her assistant, Alec Shane.

Do not query more than one agent within the agency at a time. She prefers exclusives on full requests.  For further details and contact information, see Ms. Reamer's Publisher's Marketplace page.

Query Tips: 

She doesn't like queries that jump right into the pitch.  She prefers a personalized intro.  (Link)

“The biggest mistake to me is not sending sample chapters with the query letter. My decision is based solely on the writing. Not everyone can make a query letter sound interesting, so don’t take a chance–send the actual writing. If an agent insists that authors send only the query letter, then try to convey the tone of the manuscript or voice of the characters in the letter. But don’t write the letter as if sent from one of the characters. I think that’s been over done.” (Link)

Response Times:

The Writers House agency has a stated response time of 6-8 weeks on queries.  Ms. Reamer's response times have fluctuated from weeks to nearly a year or more in the past. Currently, the timeframe appears to be about 1-8 weeks for queries and 1-10 weeks for requested material.

What's the Buzz?

Jodi Reamer is a top notch agent.  She boasts an impressive list of children's and teen authors, many award winning and/or bestselling, and has a keen eye for potentially successful manuscripts.  Her clients seem very loyal and pleased with her.  She's been with Writers House for fifteen years, has great contacts in the industry, and is a fantastic negotiator.

She reportedly prefers exclusives on full requests given her full client list and limited time.  She takes on very few new authors. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Flashback Friday – Interview with Jodi Reamer at Bethany Hensel’s blog (2009).

Around the Web:

Writers House thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Jodi Reamer at P&E ($, AAR).

Alice Malfunctions, My Agent and Me at Disneyland, cute post at Lisa Yee’s blog (04/2011).

Tips for Querying Jodi Reamer from client Aprilynne Pike on her blog (02/2009).

Fox news video and article on getting a book deal featuring author Shani Petroff, publisher Francesco Sedita, and Jodi Reamer. Jodi Reamer speaks briefly in the video (08/2009).

The Story Behind Twilight on Stephanie Meyer's website, including her agent story.

Aprilynne Pike's post on how she signed with Jodi Reamer (01/2007).

Contact:

Please see Ms. Reamer's Publisher's Marketplace page for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 7/11/12 -

(Added interview and quotes, updated sales, & response times).

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 4/15/10.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(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.

So Tell Me: How Do You Use Twitter?

I love Twitter.  It's second only to blogging as my preferred form of social networking.  You'll rarely see me on Facebook, except to accept friend requests and  "like" or comment on the occasional thing, and I don't like Myspace.  
 
But the problem I have with Twitter is that I approach it too much like blog reading.  I like to follow certain people closely so I can read most, if not all, of their tweets.  This has kept me from following as many people as I would like.  But that list is growing as more people become active on Twitter, and I'm beginning to lose track of tweets anyway.  I hate feeling like I have to be selective!  Until recently, lists seemed inconvenient to me. I have everyone divided up into groups like "writers," "agents," "publishers," etc. and I don't like clicking around from list to list.

Well, I've given it some thought and here are my options (the two I'm aware of):

1) I could make a list of "favorites," as I've seen others do, and lump all my favorite tweeters together.  Since I use Tweetdeck (love!), I could keep my "Favorites" column up next to my "All Friends" stream and follow both.

2) I could subscribe to their RSS Twitter feeds and have tweets come into my reader with all the blogs I read.  Definitely more discreet, but not at all convenient in terms of "real time" following.

What do you guys do?  I see people following thousands and it just boggles my mind.  I'd miss tons and tons of great tweets!  Do they track certain people somehow (lists, a reader)?  Or is it that they simply have a different approach to Twitter?  I saw someone explain Twitter one time like a big party you're stepping in to.  You only know what's going on while you're there and interact accordingly, but I still haven't been able to shake the desire to know what certain people are tweeting all the time.  Does that increase my stalkerishness? Heh... maybe. 

So Tell Me:  Do you use Twitter?  Do you like it?  Why or why not?  If you do, how are you using it?

P.S. The picture will take you to my Twitter page, and if you'd like to leave a link to yours in the comments, please do!)

Tip Tuesday #32

Wow, guys.  Thanks for all the great support and encouragement yesterday.  You are truly made of awesome, every one of you.  In fact, there is so much awesome there, I'm still responding to comments.  Stay tuned!  Speaking of awesome, today I have Carrie of Fanfreakingtastic (isn't that the coolest site name ever?) on the blog for Tip Tuesday.  Here she is!

I feel like I have a pretty stellar secret weapon when it comes to finding your story and writing your first draft. The shower. No joke. The shower is, for me, an Idea Creation Machine. While I crank out a rough draft I shower up to three times a day. When I get stuck, I hop in the shower. The ideas just flow.

Now, the real secret, I think, is the white noise. The shower creates a neutral, distraction-free zone. While the shower is a magic writing place for me, other folks may ftind their ideas while driving, walking the dog, or cleaning. Walking the dog also works well for me. I think the trick is recognizing that space wherein you can be most creative, and then consistently utilizing it as such. It's a bit like sports psychology. As a competitor, you want to warm up the same way, every time. Writers can create mental muscle memory in much the same way athletes create actual muscle memory. I also think it's wise to treat it that way. Elite athletes take practice and competition very seriously, they place a priority on it, and they find ways to make it work for them. There's a lot to be said for that mindset and getting things done.

The shower is my secret weapon too!  I love your thoughts about creating mental muscle memory.  Now, if only my kids would actually let me shower...  Thanks Carrie!  Everyone, please tell us about your creativity zone and then visit Carrie's blog.  Happy Tuesday!

Support Group

I need a support group today.  Do you?

I haven't been having an easy time with my writing lately.  Perhaps you've noticed.  And the truth is...  I've lost the joy. 

I don't know how to get it back.

And I feel like I should quit.  At least until the need returns. 

What are you going through right now?  Be honest with yourself and let it out. 

It feels good. 

Love Interest a Must in YA?

Heart Girl and BoyI recently read a YA fantasy manuscript that had a great premise and great writing but no love interest.  Not even a possible love interest.  I went through more than half the novel expecting one to pop up before resigning myself to the fact that it wasn't going to happen.  By the end, I was pretty disappointed.  And rather than thinking about the awesome world building or lovely prose, I was mentally working in a love interest, wondering if the writer knew how much stronger, more marketable, and compelling the story would be with one. 

That got me thinking.  Does a YA novel need to have a love interest, even just an inkling of one, to really shine?

With issue-oriented novels, it's not so black and white.  But with fantasy and standard contemporary, I think yes.

In the least, with any YA novel, I feel the main character needs to have an awareness of this dynamic.  I don't know about you, but when I was a teen I was always conscious of attraction and chemistry even if I wasn't inclined to date anyone, was too caught up in other life stuff, or was just plain avoiding such things.  The adolescent years are when we really start exploring love and sexuality (often to the point of preoccupation), and I think you're only hurting yourself if you completely avoid it in your YA novel. 

What do you think?  Can you think of any YA novels that are successful without a love interest or hint of one?

Agent Spotlight: Josh Adams

This week's Agent Spotlight features Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Josh Adams About: "Josh Adams, together with his wife Tracey, runs Adams Literary. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Business School—where he studied finance and accounting, and was awarded the Abe Shuchman Memorial Award in Marketing—Josh spent more than a decade in publishing and media before bringing his editorial and business backgrounds together as a literary agent. A media management specialist, he led teams of creative and business professionals in developing the editorial strategy and positioning of several national publications, and directed the marketing and brand strategy of many well-known international companies as a consultant. In his free time, Josh enjoys practicing Taekwondo with Tracey and their daughters, and is working toward his black belt." (Link)

Status: Open to submissions.

What He's Looking For:

Genres of interest: Every age and genre of children's books from picture books to older, edgy YA.

As of 04/15/2010 he's particularly interested in the following:

"I'm especially interested in unique middle-grade fantasy adventure and dystopian YA. I love to be surprised by a story, character or world I'll never forget." (Info via e-mail)

From the web site:

"Our clients’ work spans every age and every genre—from picture books to middle-grade and young adult fiction, from historical novels and fantasy to books that tackle important contemporary issues.

"While we give every submission its due consideration, we must admit a fondness for middle-grade and young adult novels with memorable characters and a unique voice. In particular, we're looking for literary stories, high-concept speculative fiction, unique fantasy adventure, humor, and character driven picture books. We gravitate toward the timeless, not the trendy." (Link)

What He's Not Looking For:

"We don’t typically handle textbooks, novelty, craft, how-to or coloring books—and we don’t handle any adult works." (Link)

Quotables:

About the agency:

"Our philosophy is that we represent authors and artists, not books. As such, we don't work on a book-by-book or term basis, like some agencies do. Instead, we we work closely with our clients to intelligently manage the entirety of their children's publishing careers. We take a long-term view of the market, of our jobs—and of launching and building our clients' careers.

"Drawing upon our editorial expertise, knowledge of the industry, and extensive experience in contract negotiations, we provide editorial judgment and input, marketing consultation, rights management and long-term career planning and advice. In addition to placing and negotiating North American publishing rights, we actively market and negotiate film, UK, translation, audio, merchandising and other subsidiary rights on behalf of our clients." (Link)

"We really work together as a team on everything. We consult each other about any major decisions or issues, and we keep each other up-to-date on everything that's happening, so if need be, either one of us can pick something up where the other left off.  Though Tracey or I may handle the day-to-day management of a particular client more than the other, we don't work with the notion that someone is a "Tracey" client or a "Josh" client. All of our clients are Adams Literary clients." (Link)

Dislikes:

"Unlikeable characters and lack of detail. I need to feel like I can make an investment of time in the characters, and I need to be able to visualize what's happening." (Link)

Editorial Agent?

"Yes, but my suggested revisions are typically more high-level--I don't line-edit, as I believe that's the editor's job--and they are only recommendations. My comments are aimed at clarifying any questions or issues I think readers will have, giving an overall sense of what I think works well or can be improved, and strengthening the work." (Link w/more info)

Web Presence:

Adams Literary website.

Twitter (the best way to receive news and updates on the agency).

QueryTracker, AgentQuery, & AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

A complete list of Adams Literary clients is available on the website here.

Clients include:  John Claude Bemis, Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, Kat Falls, Alan Katz, among many others.

Sales:

As of this posting, Mr. Adams is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 5 deals in the last 12 months and 18 overall. Recent deals include 3 MG and 2 YA.

Note: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.  Mr. Adams has verified (via e-mail) the agency reports only a small fraction of their deals and this is not an accurate portrayal.

Query Methods:

E-mail: No.

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: Yes (only).

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

"We accept submissions and queries only through the online form on the SUBMIT page of our website. We will not review—and will promptly recycle—any unsolicited submissions or queries we receive by post. Through the online form, please attach your complete manuscript as an RTF, DOC or PDF file; for artists in particular, please send a PDF of your illustrations and/or provide your web site so we may view your art samples." (Link)

Query tips: Let them know if your submission is exclusive or non-exclusive. Notify them of any offers of representation. If you need to follow up, use their online submission form and reference your submission.  Mr. Adams prefers personalized query letters. 

Via e-mail (04/2010) Mr. Adams shared the following:

"We do give priority consideration to people who've attended and met us at conferences, not only because we support SCBWI, but because we feel it's important for people to get a good sense of who we are and what we're about, since our philosophy and approach is different than other agencies. (Tracey will be at the SCBWI in NJ in June, and I'll be at the national SCBWI in LA in July-August.)"

See the Adams Literary website for official, full submission guidelines.

Response Times:

The agency's stated response time is 3-4 months, but I'm finding a huge range of response times from under a month up to nearly a year.  I'd say 4-5 months seems average. 

What's the Buzz?

There isn't a lot of info or buzz out there on Mr. Adams, but the agency is well-respected and completely legit.  They're an all-children's book, boutique agency with an impressive list of clients and sales.  They have a great team philosophy and their clients seem pleased with their representation. 

Their response times can be anywhere from a month up to a year (usually several months), so there's definitely some confusion and angst out there about response times and status queries.  Given this, I wouldn't advise going the exclusive route. 

Worth Your Time:

SCBWI Bologna Interview with Josh Adams at Cynsations (2008). 

Do Children's Writers Need Agents? Josh Adams Talks About Children's Books, an article by Jennifer Jensen at Suite101.

You can read an Agent Appreciation Day post on Josh Adams on R.J. Anderson's blog.

Keep up with Adam's Literary News, Events, and Upcoming Conferences engagements on the website or by newsletter.

There's a fabulous line up of Adams Literary's recent titles on the website.

You might be interested in viewing associate Quinlan Lee's profile here on Literary Rambles as well. 

Contact:

Please see the Adams Literary website for contact and query information.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail.com

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

The Not So Bad, Not So Great Agent

Given the nature of my blog, I see a lot of e-mails, comments, and forum threads about literary agents.  Over the past year, I've become aware of a "type" of agent that concerns me.  That is:  The not so bad, not so great agent.

This agent is legit but is not very good at what they do or has a slightly shady work ethic.  They're the poor communicator, the unorganized, the overwhelmed, the manipulator, the rude, the in-it-for-a-quick-sale, or making-few-if-any sales agent, the one editors aren't eager to (or won't) work with, etc.  For one reason or ten they're just not that great.  They're not representing their clients like they should be, and their current and former clients aren't willing to speak up about them (by name) because a) the agent isn't doing anything that bad, b) they're still trying to work things out, c) they don't know what a good agent should do for them, d) they're being professional and sheltering their reputation, e) a few or all of the above.

You don't want this agent.  This agent will frustrate you and make an already tough, emotionally draining business tougher.

The problem is, these agents are hard to recognize because few will speak up about them publicly.  They're reputation (from our limited view on the web) often appears as good as some very, very good agents.

So what can you do?  Well, start by being aware that they're out there (not all agents are created equal!) and then muster all your self-discipline and patience to be selective.

I know the search for representation is hard enough as it is, but take my advice and aim high and don't settle (I see the horror stories all the time).  I'm not saying you should only query hot shot agents or the agents of best selling, award-winning authors (that's no guarantee anyway).  No, I advise querying widely with the best of them.  But I AM saying it's in your best interest to know what you're looking for in an agent and then to put whoever offers through the wringer to see if they meet your standards and click with you.

In my opinion, the best agent will be the agent that is actively making sales and is knowledgeable in your genre (avoid genre-trend jumpers), has established clients they'd be willing to let you speak to (one or two), has a golden, public reputation, is a really good communicator, is passionate, and has a plan for you and your manuscript(s) from the get-go.

You never know how it's going to work out when you accept an offer of representation (from any agent), but I believe this is the best way to make an informed decision and give the partnership every chance at success. 

What do you think makes a great agent?  Do you recognize that some agents are better than others?  Have you had any experience with this type of agent?  Please add to the discussion!

Tuesday Tip #31

I'm in need of tips for the upcoming weeks, so if you have one to share, please send it in!  Today, I have another great tip from Lisa Nowak who seems to be full of great writing ideas.  Please visit her blog to show your appreciation. 

It's important to have a clear sense of the passage of time in your book, but that can be difficult to do from notes. I find it easier to have a visual cue, so I use Excel to create a calendar with squares large enough to jot down major plot points in. There are calendar-generating programs available as well.

You can also find calendars for past years online, which can be convenient if you're writing historical fiction. The website below allows you to create calendars for different years in various countries which include holidays and phases of the moon.
http://www.timeanddate.com/ 

Love this idea, Lisa!  Especially for projects where the time line really matters.  Thank you again for another great tip.  I truly appreciate them.

Two-Year Blogiversary & Happy Easter

Spring Boquet Two years ago today, I started Literary Rambles like this.  I didn't think the blog would last.  I had nothing to say.  I kept wondering, "What kind of writer am I?  I don't even know what to write on my blog!" (still true, most of the time).  I never dreamed I would be celebrating the blog's two-year anniversary with so many friends and encouragers.   Who knew I'd meet so many awesome people, feel such a sense of community, or have such a great opportunity to give back?  Not me.  But here we are. 

Last month was Agent Spotlight's one-year anniversary, too.  That means there are over 50 agent profiles on the blog now.  Over 50!  Holy Moly. I wasn't sure the feature would last past a few months.  I was terrified to put it out there and put my name on it (would it really be useful?!? What would the agents think?!?), but I felt it was something writers could use, knew deep down it was a good idea, so I went with it.  And you encouraged me.  It has its issues but it's become a pretty amazing resource.  I have a lot of fun putting the profiles together, learning about the agents, and helping all of you on your journeys toward publication.

I think writing goes much the same way.  If you keep at it even when you don't know what you're doing, surround yourself with friends and encouragement, and stay open to change and improvement, success in some measure will eventually come of it.  Maybe it's not what you were expecting (better or worse) and maybe some have put you down along the way... but you got there.  You took a chance, you worked for it, and other people believe in it.  I don't think success should be held any higher than that. 

Anyway, I feel like this is as much your anniversary as it is mine and the blog's.  I wouldn't still be blogging and putting profiles and posts together every week if it weren't for you and your encouragement, enthusiasm, and contributions. 

So, Happy Anniversary to Literary Rambles and its Friends, and Happy Easter to all who celebrate!  I'd like to do a contest/giveaway sometime soon in celebration, so feel free to offer up some ideas and tell me what your favorite kinds of contests are. 

Agent Spotlight: Marcia Wernick

This week's Agent Spotlight features Marcia Wernick of Wernick & Pratt Agency.

Status: Accepting submissions.

MarciaBioPhoto About: "After working and traveling around Europe after college, and working in different jobs in New York City, Marcia Wernick finally found her calling in children’s publishing. She began working at the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, in subsidiary rights, advancing to director of subsidiary rights. She has attended the Bologna Children’s Book Fair more than a dozen times, enjoying the international camaraderie of the children’s book industry. When she realized that working directly with the authors and illustrators brought her the most joy, she focused on the agenting side of the business. She became a full time agent, bringing in many authors and illustrators to the agency.  Among the clients she brought in, and with whom she continues to work, are Bryan Collier, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, Kathleen O’Dell, Jackie Urbanovic, Alexandra Boiger, and Mo Willems, who she introduced to the children’s book publishing world.  Her clients now range from the well-established to those just beginning their careers. She continues to use her subsidiary rights experience by handling the foreign rights side of Wernick & Pratt Agency and working with film agents on the licensing of motion picture/television rights. She has had great fun licensing merchandising rights such as ring-tones, game apps, plush dolls, pajamas, back packs, toys, and games. She is accepting new clients in all genres for children.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“Wernick & Pratt Agency is a full service agency focused exclusively on the children’s book industry. Established in January 2011 by industry veterans, Marcia Wernick and Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt represents established and emerging authors and illustrators, whose work ranges from fiction to non-fiction, from very young picture books and novelty books, through early readers, middle grade and young adult. Our philosophy is to represent people rather than merely the books they create, so our approach to representation is to create strategies for our clients’ long term careers.

“Wernick & Pratt Agency provides each client with personal attention and the highest quality of advice and service that has been the hallmark of our reputations in the industry. We have the resources and accumulated knowledge to assist clients in all aspects of their creative lives including editorial input, contract negotiations, and subsidiary rights management. Our goal is to represent and manage the careers of our clients so they may achieve industry wide and international recognition, as well as the highest level of financial potential.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Wernick & Pratt Agency website

AAR.

Facebook.

QueryTracker.

AgentQuery (not up-to-date).

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Children’s books of all genres, fiction and non-fiction, as well as author/illustrators. (Link)

From the Website (as of 5/2012):

“We are most interested in the following: people who both write and illustrate in the picture book genre; humorous young chapter books with strong voice, and which are unique and compelling; middle grade/YA novels, both literary and commercial.” (Link)

From Ms. Wernick’s website Q&A (02/2012):

“For me, when I start reading a manuscript, I want the character and voice to come through so clearly, and in such a compelling manner that I’m drawn into the story and want to keep reading to find out more. I’m sorry to say, but honestly, life today has so many distractions for all of us, so the manuscript has to have the strength to keep me from refocusing on all the other tasks and jobs at hand. I think it would hold true for the reader, as well. There has to be immediacy in connection and appeal. There is no chapter more important than your first chapter, no page more important than your first page and no line more important than your first line.

“For illustrations, I’m looking for a character whose personality and voice jumps out of the illustration in a unique way and says come join me on my adventure. Good technique is not necessarily enough. What I look for is how an artist uses that technique to make the look their own. It’s not only in the eyes of the beholder, but so frequently in the eyes of the characters drawn. The line between a more mass market illustration style and that in trade books tends to come down to the drawing of the eye more than anything else.” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2010):

"Although Marcia takes on relatively few clients in a year, she is always drawn to strong voices and age appropriate stories that engage, entertain and amuse the reader. In fiction, strong opening lines and first chapters that compel one to read on are key. She's a sucker for Southern voices, but overall shies away from mean-spirited characters and horror. She's not currently looking for traditional nonfiction." (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Adult fiction and non-fiction projects.

She shies away from "mean-spirited characters and horror." (Link)

Quotables:

"I'm particularly interested in people who are prolific, so I prefer to see a couple of picture book manuscripts. I'm also interested in people who can work in more than one genre, so I’d be interested in seeing the broader scope of a potential client’s work. If a writer has multiple novels, I’d recommend including descriptions and synopsis of each of them, together with the first three chapters of one of them. For illustrators, I'd also like to see the broader scope. If a potential client can illustrate with both anthropomorphized animals and people, I recommend including both. And, since it's so crucial to the picture-book genre, again, their portfolio should demonstrate their ability to illustrate with a continuity of character." (Link)

"I really appreciate being given a straightforward presentation of the person’s own work, and their reason for seeking representation. Believe it or not, everyone does not have the same reason for wanting an agent. It’s helpful to clarify the reasons. Some people are particularly interested in editorial feedback, while others want to focus mostly on the business side. And some people just think they ‘should’ have an agent, even though they don't really want one!" (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“We have the resources and accumulated knowledge to assist clients in all aspects of their creative lives including editorial input, contract negotiations, and subsidiary rights management.” (Link)

Clients:

Katherine Applegate, Alexandra Boiger, Laurie Caple, Bryan Collier, Nikki Grimes, Elizabeth Cody Kimmel, Vincent X. Kirsch, Kathleen O'Dell, Peggy Rathmann, Jackie Urbanovich, Mo Willems, and Jake Wizner, among others.

Sales:

As of 05/2012, Ms. Wernick is listed on Publisher's Marketplace as having made 2 deals in the last 12 months and 14 overall. Recent deals include 2 picture books.

Note: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales and Ms. Wernick does not appear to actively report.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

“Please send us your contact information, including your email address, your mailing address and your telephone number. Please also indicate if you were referred to us, and by whom.

“Please indicate if this is an exclusive or non-exclusive submission. We prefer exclusive submissions for at least 1 month, but it is not a requirement for submission.

“Please include a brief synopsis of your work of no more than 1 page, your background, including any publishing history, and if you have any other work available for consideration.

“If you are a novelist, please include the first three (3) chapters of the work and a synopsis; please do not submit the entire work or include chapters from more than one work unless specifically requested.

“If you are a picture book writer, please include two (2) manuscripts; please do not submit any additional manuscripts unless specifically requested.

“If you are an illustrator, please include PDF samples of your work, as well as a link to your website, or to a portfolio of your work. Please do not send any original artwork as we do not assume any responsibility for original artwork that is submitted.

“Please send all submissions to [see website for e-addy], and please indicate if you are submitting to Marcia Wernick or Linda Pratt.”

See the Wernick & Pratt Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

"They should describe what they are submitting, (i.e., a 600-word picture book manuscript or a 30,000-word middle grade contemporary novel), whether or not it's been submitted and/or rejected by any publishers. They should also let me know what other types of projects they may be working on, if any. It's helpful to know if they've attended any writer's conferences, and whether or not they're a member of a critique group, or SCBWI. Also, I do like to know if they are submitting to other agents at the same time. For illustrators, their portfolio should show their range and must demonstrate continuity of character." (Link)

See the “Quotables” above for more submission preferences.

Response Times:

The agency only responds if interested. If you do not hear back within six weeks, assume rejection. (Link)

What's the Buzz?

Marcia Wernick has an impressive 20+ years in the industry with experience not only in agenting but in rights and licensing. Wernick founded the Wernick & Pratt Agency with long-time colleague Linda Pratt in January 2011. Many, if not all, of her clients appear to have followed her and seem quite happy with her representation.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Q&A with Marcia Wernick on the agency website (02/2012).

Agent Panel: Marcia Wernick at the SCBWI Conference Blog (08/2011).

SCBWI Bologna 2010 Agent Interview: Marcia Wernick of Sheldon Fogelman Agency at Cynsations (2010).

Around the Web:

Wernick & Pratt Agency on P&E. Marcia Wernick on P&E.

Wernick & Pratt Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

See the Wernick & Pratt Agency “News” page for updates and happenings.

Marcia Wernick's Workshop: Ain't Nobody's Business but my Own: Creating Your Own Career Path, workshop notes at the SCBWI Conference Blog (08/2011).

Bits of Wisdom: SCBWI Bologna 2010 at Bethbeck's blog, featuring a quote about rhyme. (03/2010).

What's Hot.... And What's Not: Current Trends in Children's Book Publishing, including a quote from Ms. Wernick, at Walking in Public (07/2009).

Contact:

Please see the Wernick & Pratt Agency website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 5/17/12.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Reviewed By Agent? N/A.

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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.