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Tip Tuesday #65

I hope you had a fabulous holiday! I sure did, but it was a lazy week as far as writing goes. I have another Tuesday Tip from Lisa Nowak today. Please visit her blog, The Tao of Webfoot, when you're ready to leave!

Outlining by Subplot

If you're the outlining type, you might find that even if you can come up with ideas, it's difficult to figure out how to organize them. One thing that helps me is organizing by subplot. I give each one a name and move all the plot points for that subplot under that heading. I then resize my margins and make the document into two columns. After printing, I cut apart the individual ideas and glue them onto 3 x 5 cards. I use a different color for each subplot. Now I can spread them out on a table and see everything at once. It takes time to figure out where things should ultimately wind up, but it's easier to do this process with cards than by dragging and dropping bits of text on the computer. And with the different-colored cards it's very clear where you've neglected a subplot or concentrated on it too much. Once you've got your cards organized be sure to number them in case they get mixed up. You can now use them to order your plot points in your original document.

To see my whole outlining process step-by-step, you can visit the outlining page on my blog.


Love this tip, Lisa!! Very timely. I've been playing around with outlining this month and am always looking for new methods to try.

Agent Spotlight: Ann Behar

This week's Agent Spotlight features Ann Behar of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, Inc.

Ann BeharAbout: “It has always been books for me, even if I veered off my path at times. I majored in English and received my B.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1981. I went on to receive an M.A. in English literature in 1982 from the University of Virginia and my J.D. from the University of San Diego Law School in 1985. Things happened quickly after that. My husband began practicing medicine (he is a neurologist) in 1986, and my first daughter was born that August. My second daughter was born 16 months later, and for the next 15 years or so I was a full-time mother and wife. What to do with my degrees stayed on a back burner.

“In 2002, with my high school-age daughters half-way out the door, I was ready to go back to work. I found one of the few businesses in the world - the literary agency business - where an English degree and a law degree are equally valuable.

“I joined SCG, learning the business from top to bottom, doing everything from reviewing and negotiating contracts to evaluating manuscripts, with heavy, constant contact with writers.

“After five years, Russell asked me to take over the firm's small but growing list of juvenile writers and grow it into something more substantial. I accepted the challenge, and have been searching for wonderful children's books, from picture books to YA, ever since.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions.

What She's Looking For:

Interests:  Children’s books, picture book to YA.

From her bio:

“I am looking for anything that is beautifully written, with a strong, distinct voice and characters that come alive on the page. Ideally, a book should grab my attention from the very beginning and hold it there, and leave me thinking about it for a few days after I am finished.” (Link)

From Twitter (03/2010):

“I personally love literary fiction but I'm open to commercial stuff too.” (Link)

“I am looking for absolutely anything that is beautifully written and original.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Adult projects, screenplays.  I also don’t see anything that indicates she is interested in nonfiction. 

About the Agency:

“Founded (under the name Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency) in 1992 by three of the industry's most successful and experienced agents, the firm was renamed when our senior colleague Anna Ghosh became a partner.

“Works represented by the agency have appeared scores of times on national bestseller lists and been made into dozens of Hollywood movies and translated into more than 40 languages.

“Our list is eclectic and chaotic, rich and diverse, and there is no type of book that doesn't interest us if it is first-rate. We take on clients who interest us deeply as people and as writers, whatever their background and prior accomplishments. At any given moment we might be working on a first sale for an exciting new author or an eight-figure deal for a veteran of the New York Times bestseller list, or anything in between.” (Link)

Dislikes (Don'ts):  

Unknown.

Editorial Agent?

I’ve seen mention of client revisions, such as in this interview with Kate Milford.

Web Presence:

SGG website.

Twitter.

Facebook.

WeBook.

QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

Ms. Behar handles SGG’s children’s list including: Sabrina Benulis, M.B. Brown, Frank L. Cole, Cory Doctorow, Ty Drago, Esther Friesner, Stephen Giles, Charles de Lint, Robert Jeschonek, Juliet Marillier, Kate Milford, William Sleator, Farhana Zia, among many others.

There is a select list of the agency’s juvenile titles on the website.

Sales:

As of this posting, Ms. Behar is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 4 deals in the last 12 months and 8 overall.  Recent deals include 3 young adult and 1 middle grade.

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):

No snail-mail - E-mail queries only (info via e-mail)!

Send a query letter only.  No attachments. A request for additional materials will be made if Ms. Behar is interested. 

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

Query Tips:

“A good title can catch my eye, even if the query letter isn't particularly good, and make me request the manuscript where I might not otherwise have done so…Basically, if someone has come up with an interesting, original title, my suspicion is that s/he has something interesting to say.” (Link)

Response Times:

The agency has a no-response-means-no policy.  Ms. Behar seems to respond to queries within a week or two, if interested.  Her response time on requested material seems to range from days to a month.

What's the Buzz?

Ann Behar has been with SGG Literary Agency since 2002, representing the agency’s impressive juvenile list since 2005.  I see every reason to recommend her: top notch agency, specialization in children’s literature, great track record, high profile clients, no web-based complaints, etc!  Please let me know if the comments if you’ve had any experience with her. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None that I could find online.

Around the Web:

Ms. Behar and client Kate Milford participated in a #Scribechat session on Twitter March 2010.  The transcript seems to be down, but you can see her responses on her Twitter feed, at least.

There are several essays on publishing on the SGG website that may be of interest.

Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency on P&E (Highly Recommended).

Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Contact:

Please see the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency 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 or teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope you all have a delightful and scrumptious Thanksgiving! It's an impossible task to list all the things I'm thankful for, but I'm certainly thankful this blog has brought each of you into my life, especially those of you I've become close friends with. Life has never been richer. <3

Tip Tuesday #64

I have another great tip from Deren Hansen of The Laws of Making, this one on that pesky ol' inner editor. Make sure you visit the post linked below for more suggestions on how to appease it!

Your inner editor is the writing equivalent of your conscience. Jeanette Ingold said, "Your internal editor is no-nonsense; wants to keep you out of trouble; and doesn't want you to make a fool of yourself."

In cognitive science terms, your inner editor is a left-brain entity that, like its kin, focuses on detail. So a common thread in all the particular techniques is to give your inner editor a detail-oriented task to keep it busy (the mental equivalent of giving a child a coloring book). This is why drives, or long showers are often settings for inspiration: the left-brain busies itself with the details of keeping the car on the road or registering the white noise of the shower, freeing the right-brain to make associations.

So what specifically can you do as writer to quiet your inner editor? I have a number of suggestions in a longer discussion on my blog, but here are two that I've found particularly helpful.

First, be somewhat systematic about your writing. If you work to a regular schedule it's easier for your left brain to believe it when you tell it that you'll come back and correct the details errors during a future writing session.

Second, enlist your inner editor with detail-oriented tasks that support your writing. Your inner editor loves to make calendars or time-lines of key events in your story, character bios, outlines, and any sort of list. All of these artifacts help address your inner editor's fear that you get key details wrong.

Of course, it's easy to fall into the trap of appeasing your inner editor so much that you don't get any actual writing done (e.g., what fantasy authors call, "world-building disease"). The key is to time-box your inner editor: I often start a writing session with ten or fifteen minutes of detail work to both quiet my inner editor and to warm up.

Agent Spotlight: Victoria Marini

This week's Agent Spotlight features Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc.

Victoria Marini About: “Victoria Marini was born in Pennsylvania and moved to New York in 2003. She is the newest member of the Agency and came to Gelfman Schneider in July of 2008 as an Agency Assistant after graduating college in 2007. She has begun to build her own client list which includes commercial fiction, narrative non-fiction, and memoir. She is very interested in acquiring literary fiction, YA, and pop-culture and is looking for debut writers.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions, actively building her list.

What She's Looking For:

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Mystery, Women's Fiction, Young Adult/Juvenile.

Non-Fiction: Humor, Memoir, Narrative Non-fiction. (Link)

From her bio:

“She has begun to build her own client list which includes commercial fiction, narrative non- fiction, and memoir. She is very interested in acquiring literary fiction, YA, and pop-culture and is looking for debut writers.” (Link)

From an Interview (09/10):

“I’d love to see strong YA with genuine characters, an exciting story, and a fully realized world. I’m looking for edgy contemporary YA and for a fresh take on paranormal /supernatural. The only thing that is probably not for me is a coming of age story.

“As for my wish list…I’d love a so-suspenseful-I-can’t-put-it-down women’s mystery. I desperately want a spooky fantasy in the vein of Neil Gaiman. I want a gothic novel. I’d love a fresh take on the classic American noir mystery for the YA audience. I’m also interested in acquiring speculative fiction. That being said, my tastes are very eclectic and I’m drawn to anything full of heart and imagination.” (Link)

From Guide to Literary Agents:

“She is specifically looking for YA, commercial adult fiction, mysteries, creative nonfiction, memoir, pop culture, and humor. What she really wants is a book so engrossing she cannot put it down. While she loves edgy, paranormal, and suspenseful YA, she is not your best bet for traditional coming-of-age novels.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Screenplays, serious nonfiction, politics, math, religion, or other academic/reference books.  She is not the best bet for traditional coming-of-age novels. (Link)

About the Agency:

“Gelfman Schneider represents a wide range of authors including American Academy of Arts, Edgar Awards and Pushcart Prize winners as well as several New York Times bestselling authors. Among our diverse list of clients are playwrights, journalists, scientists, activists & humorists writing narrative non-fiction, memoir, political & current affairs, popular science and popular culture non-fiction, as well as novelists writing literary & commercial fiction, women’s fiction, and historical fiction. 

“We also exploit all the sub-rights to our clients work including Foreign Rights, Audio Rights, and Film & Television Rights and have been privileged to form working relationships with various co-agents. We are dedicated to veterans of the business & emerging voices which maintains our longstanding traditions while ensuring that we and our clients thrive in the future.” (Link)

Dislikes (Don'ts):  

“If an author is rude, trashes the book industry, trashes others’ books, tries to tell me why they don’t want to follow guidelines or why their novel will make a million dollars, I am usually not going past the first paragraph. I also can’t stress enough the importance of checking out agent guidelines and bios before you submit. You would be surprised by how many queries I get for popular reference books, which I don’t represent. It is a waste of postage to query an agent who does not represent the genre in which you are writing.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

Yes.  “I’d say I am a very editorial agent. I think my style would probably be classified as collaborative. I believe in talking, asking questions, and brainstorming. I maintain a close relationship with my bosses and industry friends whose advice is precious to me. I have an open door policy and share as much information as possible with my clients and want to know what visions my clients have for their books and future with me. I want my clients to feel confident, informed and comfortable. I’m very friendly.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Gelfman Schneider Lit website.

WeBook.

Twitter.

Facebook.

QueryTracker.

Clients:

There is a list of agency clients on the website.  Ms. Marini’s clients include: Lisa Amowitz, Hannah Sternberg, among others.

Sales:

As of this posting, Ms. Marini does not appear to be a member of Publisher’s Marketplace.  I do not see mention of any sales on Google search, either.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: No.  

Online-Form: WEbook.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query letter, synopsis, and sample (of no more than 40 pages) in the body of an e-mail, or submit through WEbook.

Please see the Gelfman Schenider Lit website and Ms. Marini’s WEbook profile for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines. 

Query Tips:

“The query letters I am drawn to the most are the ones that get right to the point and are written with the author’s unique voice. Be original, engaging and informative. Tell me about your book. I don’t need statistics, marketing ideas, generic letters, and overly formal introductions.” (Link)

Response Times:

The agency has a stated response time of four weeks.  Ms. Marini seems to respond within a week to a month.  Response times on requested material are limited but seem to fall within a month or two.

The Gelfman Schneider Lit website also states:

“If you followed all the submission instructions and have not heard back within 4 weeks, please write to us with subject line “query follow-up.” This is ONLY for instances where your submission has not been acknowledged by us within 4 weeks.” (Link)

What's the Buzz?

Victoria Marini is a relatively new agent with growing buzz.  She’s active on Twitter and her fun, friendly nature comes through there.  I definitely recommend following her.  Not only will you get occasional updates on queries and fulls, you’ll get a great peek at her personality and interests.  I’ve been nothing but impressed in my limited contact with her. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Agent Interview with Victoria Marini at Shiny (09/2010).

Around the Web:

Keep an eye on the About Us page on the website for recent deal news.

“The Last Book I Loved, The Testament of Gideon Mack,” guest post by Victoria Marini at The Rumpus (10/2009).

“Should Jackets Be Required?” an article by Victoria Marini at The Brooklyn Rail.

Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. on P&E (Recommended).

Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Contact:

Please see the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agents, Inc. website and Ms. Marini’s WEbook profile 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 or teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Tip Tuesday #63

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to share a tip, please do so. Today's tip was sent in by Rane Anderson who blogs at The Lit Express (love that blog title!). Here she is!


We've all heard that no matter what we say to someone, body language is what communicates most of our message. This should hold up in the stories we write. It's difficult because unlike real life interactions...or interactions in movies...we rely on communicating a message with words and no pictures. We use words to create the pictures. Our characters' body language and facial expressions are still important. Writers rely a great deal on dialogue to move the story along. But to add depth to what our characters say, it's important to tag dialogue with the appropriate body language and facial expressions.

"I'll give you the money," he said obligingly. <-- This is quick and easy, but it's lacking depth.

His nostrils flared a second before he smiled. "I'll give you the money." <-- This isn't as black & white as the the line above. The difference is the subtle suggestion of an emotion besides "obliging." This guy was trying to hide his resentment with a smile, but his involuntary microexpression gave him away to the reader and possibly the other characters.


Love this tip / mini lesson! Rane has a longer post micoexpressions and body language here. It's great! Please check it out and consider following The Lit Express.

Agent Spotlight: Kerry Sparks

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Literary Agency.

Kerry Sparks About: “Kerry Sparks grew up in a rainy, rural Oregon town. After spending her formative years building tree forts, swimming in the river, and navigating life as a middle child, she made the move to Southern California for some sunshine. During her six years in Los Angeles, Kerry produced a play, published a short story, graduated college with honors, worked in various facets of the film industry, and ate a lot of delicious food.

“In addition to her passion for words, Kerry has a love for film, road trips, running, and bubble tea. Although she enjoys the luxuries of gargantuan cities she has lived in, Kerry has yet to find a bookstore as impressive as Powell's Books in Portland, Oregon.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions, actively building her list.

What She's Looking For:

Interests: Children’s books (picture books through young adult), fiction and nonfiction, and select adult non-fiction projects (heath and lifestyle).

From her Website Bio:

“Kerry loves to be transported and surprised when reading both fiction and nonfiction. She is looking for great YA and middle-grade fiction, both commercial and literary, with a fresh voice and compelling story (although she tends to shy away from the paranormal) and enjoys the occasional picture book. In non-fiction, Kerry is most drawn to health and lifestyle books with a prescriptive focus.” (Link)

From her SCBWI Bio:

“Kerry Sparks is actively looking for YA fiction, middle grade fiction, and picture books, but is also interested in finding great non-fiction for a young audience. She enjoys working on stories that are often simple but have complex characters. She is particularly interested in picture books with a fresh voice, literary YA, narratives with a cinematic element, YA/Adult crossover, and slightly-edgy middle grade. She tends to shy away from paranormal, although if the story grabs her, she’s in!” (Link)

From Conference Notes (11/2010):

“Kerry represents PBs, MG, and YA and is particularly interested in finding romantic YA, school stories, quirky MG, and narratives with a cinematic element. She tends to shy away from werewolves and zombies, but will read anything with a strong voice and compelling characters.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Adult fiction, screenplays.

About the Agency:

"Founded in 1989 by author and academic entrepreneur James Levine, we have grown into a firm of thirteen people with offices in New York and San Francisco.  We work in every category of fiction and non-fiction.

"We represent people, not just individual projects; more than selling books, we work as our clients' creative and business partners throughout the entire publishing process. Our goal is to develop and guide talent to its fullest expression across a variety of media-books, film and television, audio, and electronic formats.

"Most of our titles are published by imprints of the major houses-Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin Group, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, etc-but we have also done business with almost fifty independent and/or university presses.

"Our strong foreign rights department works internationally with a respected network of co-agents to place our titles with leading foreign publishers, and we are regular participants at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the London Book Fair, and Book Expo America." (Link)

Dislikes (Don'ts):

Unknown.

Editorial Agent?

Yes, the entire agency is. "We offer service in four broad areas: editorial development, business representation, collaborating writers, and publicity & marketing strategy." (More info)

Web Presence:

Levine Greenberg Agency website.

SCBWI.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

Clients:

There is a page on the Levine Greenberg website featuring the agency’s client list and another with select MG & YA agency titles

Ms. Sparks clients include: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski, Deena Limpoli, Jenny Lundquist, Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, Malina Saval, Kristina Springer, among others.

Sales:

As of this posting, Ms. Sparks is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 2 deals in the last 12 months and 2 overall (with another 2 deals under her maiden name, Kerry Evans).  Recent deals include 2 young adult, 1 middle grade, and 1 picture book.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: No.  

Online-Form: Yes.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query to the agency e-mail addy addressing Ms. Sparks, attaching no more than 50 pages.  OR, fill out the online form addressing Ms. Sparks in the summary (and let her know you found her here!).

See the Levine Greenberg Lit website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines. 

Response Times:

The agency only responds if interested, usually within three seeks. Ms. Spark’s response time on requested material seems to be within a week to a month.

What's the Buzz?

Kerry Sparks is a relatively new agent who deserves some notice.  She’s been an agent with Levine Greenberg (recommended on P&E) since 2008, has already made a good handful of sales, and is actively looking for clients and building up the agency’s children’s list. Her clients seem very pleased so far.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None that I could find online.

Around the Web:

Interview with Elizabeth Fisher, the Levin Greenberg rights manager at Divine Secrets of the Writing Sisterhood (12/2010).

Client Deena Limpoli’s re-agented (with Kerry Sparks!) story at Author 2 Author (10/2009).

See the “How We Work” page on the Levine Greenberg website for detailed agency info.

Levine Greenberg Literary Agency on PE (recommended).

Levine Greenberg Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Contact:

Please see the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency 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.

Tip Tuesday #62

Guys, sorry the blog has been so quiet! My last day of work was this past weekend and I met a big school deadline yesterday, so I'm hoping I'll have more time for you in the coming weeks. I'll try to write up some posts that have been requested.

It's Tuesday today, however, which means a TIP, and I have a great one from Lisa Nowak. Please visit her blog, The Tao of Webfoot, after you give this a read!

Formatting and Binding Manuscripts

It's helpful to look at your manuscript in different formats when editing, but 300 unsecured pages can be tough to maneuver through. They're also a pain for beta readers to deal with. For those reason, once I've done my second draft, I make bound copies. I bought a duplexing printer (Brother HL 5250DN) so I can easily print double-sided. (Warning: duplexing printers have lots of extra moving parts, so it's wise to cough up a few bucks for a warranty.) I reduce the size of my font, set my line spacing at 1 1/2 and my margins at .8 inches, and eliminate all space between chapters. This cuts a 300-page manuscript by nearly half. Since you're printing on both sides, you wind up with only about 75 sheets of paper. I make covers out of heavy paper, printing the title on the front and my contact info on the inside. Then take the manuscripts to an office supply store for coil binding.

My betas really like reading a manuscript in this format. After going over their comments, I transfer the suggestions I like to my working copy. This copy also makes editing easy, as it's simple to maneuver through (I use tabs to mark each chapter) and the different formatting makes it easier to spot typos. When it's time to transfer the edits to my computer, I simply put a checkmark on the hard copy beside the ones I've completed. By using different colored pens for each edit, I can re-use my working copy several times before I need to print a new one.

Love this tip, Lisa! I bet the thrill of binding a draft for betas and read-throughs gives you extra motivation to finish. Do you ever add a cover? Thanks for the tip!

Agent Spotlight: Barbara Kouts

Profile pulled.

Ms. Kouts is closed to submissions and not looking to sign new clients.

Tip Tuesday #61

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to share a tip, please do so. Today's tip was sent in by Lois D. Brown who blogs at I Devour Kid Books. Please give her blog a visit on your way out!

This is not my original idea, but I'm passing it along. When you're looking for a unique way to describe a color, go to a make-up company's website and read all the colors of eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick. Chances are, you'll find a description that fits what you're trying to say.

Love this tip, Lois! I've used nail polish colors once or twice for inspiration. : )

WriteOnCon Nov Event and More

Hey guys!

How was you weekend? Did you do anything for Halloween? The fam and I baked cookies and rice krispie treats, carved pumpkins, and went trick or treating. The kids are four and nearly two this year, so it's starting to get real fun for them. It was a nice weekend.

Info on the November WriteOnCon monthly event is up! On November 15th at 9 pm EST, we'll have Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary + Media and his client Leila Sales, author of MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, on the blog for a chat about the author-agent relationship. Please, start thinking up questions and plan to join us!

Also, you have just a bit more time to hop over to Ishta Mercurio's blog for a chance to win DUST CITY by Robert Paul. Her contest ends at midnight tonight so get over there! All you have to do is follow her blog and leave a comment naming your favorite fairytale.

Are there any contests or blog posts you'd like to plug? Leave them in the comments when you tell me how your weekend was!