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SURVIVAL COLONY 9 through October 4th

SALT AND STORM through October 4th

STRAY through October 11th

Happy New Year!

New_Year2011Hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post just to… talk.  Weird, huh?  I mean, this is a blog right? My blog? *looks around* Yes. Yes it is.  Hm.

Well first, I’d like to welcome my new readers.  I used to post more than spotlights, tips, and guest posts (swearsies!) but life got a little crazy.  I’ve been juggling school, interning, writing, WriteOnCon, work, this blog, critique partners, two kids, and everything that comes along with each.  I made it through about half the year before things started falling apart and I had to take a hard look at all the places my time was sneaking off to.  Out of everything, Lit Rambles was, unfortunately, among the easiest of things to pull back on.

To my faithful followers who haven’t bored of me, hi!  I’m sorry I’ve been so quiet.  I hope you haven’t been concerned.  I kept thinking I just needed a break and I’d be back in full force but here it is the end of the year and things are still quiet.  It really has been because of business and mental blankness.  I’d want to post something outside of the usual features but my mind was just…mush.

And yeah, it’s still mush. 

I’ve had a pretty awesome year though, quick as its gone by.  I met my 2010 goals.  Agent Spotlight is still going strong.  WriteOnCon was born and rocked.  I went to my first SCBWI conference.  Friends of mine have gotten agents and book deals.  I’m still reading for a lit agent and love it.  And my recent biggie, I quit my job in November!  Let’s just say, it’s been a long time since I’ve felt this peaceful.  As for writing, I’m revising.  Yes!  Not drafting, not rewriting, not staring at the screen (okay, maybe sometimes) but revising. 

So, naturally, my main my goal for 2011 is to finish this novel, revisions and all, and take the next step.  Aside from that, I’ll be focusing on school.  I’m graduating in June and really looking forward to having that time back as well.  I think it’s going to be a year of Big Accomplishments, even if that only extends as far as finishing my novel and graduating school.  Reasonable goals, yes?

Also, I put my feelers out about this on Twitter, but I should discuss it here as well.  I’m thinking about taking a two or three month break from Agent Spotlight to do major updates in 2011.  I’m just shy of 100 spotlights and can’t keep them all up-to-date any longer.  In fact, I might have to bring in a blog partner this year if I intend to keep profiling new agents.  I haven’t made any solid decisions yet except to take time off to update the oldest of the bunch.  I’d love your thoughts. 

I’m sure there’s a lot more I should reflect on or say about 2010 and 2011 but nothing more is coming to mind at the moment.  Thank you for your friendship and support.  I get so many great comments and e-mails about this blog and I so appreciate them.  I hope you all have a safe, happy New Year’s.  I’m wishing you the best in 2011.  

In close, here are some my favorite reads from 2010.  A few will be coming out in 2011.  Please click on the covers for more info.

The Miles Between 9780786838189 9780545054744 9781416912057 9780061726804  9780763645762 9780823422852 9781423121305 7862667 7656231 9780525421559 9781606840177 9781595143976 9780803734951 9780763619589 9780061827624 9780061431852 9780142415436 9780802786609 9780525423270

Tip Tuesday #69

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 is another fabulous one from author Laura Lascarso. I think you'll find it very helpful. Please visit Laura's website to check out her blog and 2012 YA debut!

Page 80 (aka Writer's Block)

Pages 1-79 are sheer bliss. I’m in love with my story, I’m in love with my writing, the characters are singing, the words are flowing and everything is as it should be.

Then I hit page 80.

At page 80, everything starts to unravel. I question the meaning of the story, the authenticity of my characters, my own abilities as a writer. Everything about the story is flawed, I’m not the writer I thought I was. I should quit this nonsense and go get a real job.

But if getting a real job doesn’t appeal to you, these are some strategies I’ve employed in the past.

1. Put it away. The longer the better. This is always hard for me because I tend to work obsessively on my projects and if I’m not actively shaping it, I feel as though I’ve abandoned it. But sometimes distance is necessary to be able to think critically and objectively.

2. Give it to a friend, someone who is a constructive and critical thinker. Maybe they can tell you where they think you think it’s going, or tell you why it’s not working.

3. Start over. I’ve had great results with this, sometimes switching from 3rd person to 1rst, or vice versa, or telling the story from someone else’s POV. You may have thought it was one person’s story, when really it was someone else’s. Characters are tricky that way and it’s fun way to experiment (and exercise) with voice.

4. Let it go. Sometimes if you move onto a new project, the story will come back to you.

5. Read. Reading good books is a great way to look critically at what’s wrong with your own. Study their page’s 80 and see how they got through it–did they introduce a new character? a new obstacle? a terminal disease?

6. Let go of expectations and/or set small goals for yourself. “Today I’m going to write one killer line, today I’m going to write one great description, ect.”

7. Just keep writing. You love to write like a fish loves to swim. So write poetry, short stories, emails, blog posts, or work on editing someone else’s work. Every little bit you do makes you a stronger writer.

Got any more suggestions? I’d love to hear them. Page 80′s come around again and again.

- Laura Lascarso

Guest Blogger Jenny Sanchez: Lit Rambles Success!

 

I love when writers find their agent one way or another through my blog. The lovely Jenny Torres Sanchez e-mailed me recently with those precious words "found my agent because of you" and I couldn't have been more thrilled. I always find success stories inspiring and know there are a lot of writers still looking and waiting for their future agent, so I asked her if she'd be willing to share her story here on Lit Rambles and she said YES. Enjoy!

The first time I learned about queries, I remember getting a sinking feeling. Why? Because all this time I thought the hard part to becoming an author was actually writing the novel. I had no idea that you could do all that work, write all those words, only to never even have your novel considered because you don’t have an agent. I understand the reason for queries but writing them is pretty darn hard—an art almost. And getting agents to pluck yours from the hundreds they get every week and then actually request your manuscript—well, let’s not go there. I almost, almost, succumbed to the odds but I didn’t. Because...well, I was almost finished with my YA novel and just couldn’t bear to give up at that point.

So, I hitched up my sleeves, and started researching agents and how to write queries. Once you start doing that, it’s very easy to get lost in the whole business side of things and forget about the most important thing—your manuscript. So, I made one rule for myself. Work on my manuscript (and ONLY my manuscript) in the morning while my kids where at school, and research queries, agents, the industry at night when they were in bed. And I stuck to it.

Luckily, very, very, very luckily I came across Casey’s Literary Rambles Blog. I thought I’d hit the jackpot! Here was everything—agent interviews, agent likes and dislikes, links to agency websites, links to authors they represent, what they prefer to see in queries, in short, the most in-depth information in one place. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait for each agent spotlight post. I kept notes of agents that represented YA contemporary literature and made a list so once I was ready to start querying, I’d know where to send my manuscript.

In this time, I also learned about marketing and trying to develop a following and blogging and a whole bunch of other things that give fiction writers the heebie-jeebies. And I thought, oh man, writing is sooooooo much more than, well, writing. I was hesitant to start blogging and tweeting because I wasn’t sure I’d be any good at it. I mean, I wasn’t even sure how Twitter worked. And as far as blogging goes, it took me forever to develop a good writing schedule that I could stick to so I wasn’t sure I had it in me to blog regularly. But again, I figured if I really wanted this, I had to be willing to tread unfamiliar ground and keep going. So I did. And honestly, Casey’s site was pretty inspiring. Every time I visited Lit Rambles, I was blown away by the amount of information Casey compiled, and she did it all just to help other writers, so I figured if she can do that and work on the gazillion other things she does, then surely I can post a blog entry every now and then.

I created a blog account, wrote a silly post about Tyra Banks getting a book deal (which then hit me like Snooki’s book deal hit us all later on), wrote another one about the day I met Jay Asher and Lisa McMann at a conference, and put Lit Rambles on my blogroll. And voila, just like that, I was officially a blogger (even if nobody was visiting my site, which was kind of a bummer). But then one day I got a comment, and it was from Casey thanking me for the blogroll link. And I thought, this girl rocks! Casey—I think you where the first visitor to my site and you gave me the hope that eventually, others would come!

Anyway, as a Lit Rambles follower, I eventually came across an agent spotlight on Victoria Skurnick from Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. I clicked onto the link to the agency website, read their submission requirements, and checked out the online submission form. The online form doesn’t give you the option to address a specific agent, but I read all the agent bios and saw that several represented YA so I filled out the form, attached the sample of my manuscript, and hoped (but didn’t quite expect) to hear back from someone.

I got an email informing me they received my query and would contact me if interested. By this point I’d already gotten rejections from other agents, so I didn’t hold my breath. I thought, yeah, yeah, and went about my life. But then one day I received an email from Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg requesting my full manuscript. I was cautiously thrilled. I sent along the full, figuring I’d soon get a thanks but no thanks. Instead, I got an email requesting a phone call. Okay, at that point I sort of kind of maybe had a mini heart attack. Because this was a PHONE CALL! A LEGITIMATE, REAL, PHONE CALL...FROM A LEGITIMATE, REAL AGENT! But I’d also read (in my tireless research) that a phone call did not necessarily mean an offer of representation. So I stifled that excitement, sat on pins and needles for four days, fantasized about being signed, would again remind myself of the dream-crushing but sensible warning that a phone call did not necessarily mean representation, and...waited. And as we all know, this profession will definitely teach you the art of waiting.

After what seemed like forever but was just four days, Kerry and I finally talked. The more we discussed the manuscript, the more I knew she and I would work really well together. She made great suggestions, made me consider things I hadn’t before but now totally made sense, understood the story and characters, and most importantly—was excited about my manuscript and believed in it.

So I signed with Levine Greenberg and the whole experience has been amazing and, truth be known, something I wasn’t sure would ever really, really happen. I feel incredibly lucky to now have such an insightful, patient, and talented agent like Kerry. And I am forever grateful to Casey and this blog since this is where I found the agency, inspiration, amazing and accurate information, and a supportive community of writers.

You can follow Jenny on Twitter (@jetchez) and at her blog, Read. Write. Suffer. Please do!

Today...


I'm wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Agent Spotlight: Jennifer Carlson

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennifer Carlson of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

Dunow, Carlson, Lerner About: “Jennifer Carlson has been agenting for thirteen years. Previously, she worked at Henry Dunow Literary Agency and Harold Ober Associates. She works with narrative nonfiction writers and journalists covering current events and ideas and cultural history, as well as literary and upmarket commercial novelists. On the children’s side, her clients are primarily young adult and middle grade fiction writers with a very select number of picture book projects. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, she lives in Brooklyn, New York and is a member of the Literary Council of the Brooklyn Book Festival.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions.

What She's Looking For:

Interests:

Literary Fiction, Commercial Fiction, Women's Fiction, Young Adult, Children's; Narrative Non-Fiction (history, current affairs). (Link, Link)

From her Bio:

“She works with narrative nonfiction writers and journalists covering current events and ideas and cultural history, as well as literary and upmarket commercial novelists. On the children’s side, her clients are primarily young adult and middle grade fiction writers with a very select number of picture book projects.” (Link)

Per AgentQuery:

“She enjoys high-quality fiction with a modern edge.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Screenplays, poetry.

About the Agency:

“Henry Dunow, Jennifer Carlson, and Betsy Lerner formed Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency in 2005. The agency represents literary and commercial fiction, narrative nonfiction, memoir, popular culture and young adult fiction. In addition to representing publishing rights, the agency works with established networks of co-agents to represent translation rights in all foreign territories in addition to film, television, and audio rights.” (Link)

Dislikes (Don'ts):

Unknown.

Editorial Agent?

Unknown.

Web Presence:

Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner website.

AAR profile.

AgentyQuery, QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

There is a list of Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner agency clients on the website.

Ms. Carlson’s clients include: Kevin Brockmeier, Paula Chase, Marisa de los Santos, Gwendolen Gross, Debbie Nathan, Robert Neuwirth, Maggie Pouncey, Jessica Powers, Jon Raymond, Paul Reyes, David Schickler, Mary Quattlebaum, and David Teague, among others.

Sales:

As of this posting, Ms. Carlson is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 1 deal in the last 12 months and 30 overall. Recent deals include 1 women’s/romance. Past children’s deals include 4 middle grade, 3 young adult, and 2 picture books.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail: Send a query letter only. No attachments.

Snail-Mail: Send a query letter only. Include a SASE or return e-mail address.

Please see the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Response Times:

While the agency tries to respond to all snail-mail queries, their e-query response policy is as follows:

“Due to the volume of inquiries the agency receives, we are unable to respond to all emailed queries. We apologize in advance for this inconvenience.” (Link)

Ms. Carlson’s response time on queries, when she responds, appears to be just days to a month or so. Response times on requested material are usually within one to two months.

What's the Buzz?

There isn’t a lot of Internet buzz out there on Ms. Carlson and information on her agenting style is limited, but the agency is extremely well-respected and established. She is a member of the AAR, has thirteen years of experience, a faithful client list, and sales with big houses. Her interest in children’s is mainly in MG and YA but includes a select number of picture books as well.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

If you have a subscription to Writer’s & Poets the Aug 2010 issue featured a Q&A with Jennifer Carlson. The page also says you can buy the back issue.

Around the Web:

Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Jennifer Carlson on P&E ($).

Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner on P&E ($).

Contact:

Please see the Dunow, Carlson & Lerner 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.

Guest Blogger S. Kyle Davis: J.K. Rowling and Plot Planning

 

Hey everyone! This fabulous guest post was written by S. Kyle Davis and I'm super excited about it. Why? Because I'm a Harry Potter nerd and this is great stuff. Please visit Kyle's blog and check out the Redline Friday feature he's been doing. If you're interested in having your 250 words critiqued, you can e-mail Kyle at kyle(at)skyledavis(dot)com.

J.K. Rowling and Plot Planning

NOTE: this post is a modified/expanded version of this post from Kyle’s blog.

If you're as much of a Harry Potter geek as I am (or if you've been following YA authors on twitter lately), then you may have already seen this:

http://bitcast-a.v1.dfw1.bitgravity.com/slashfilm/wp/wp-content/images/jkrowlingpage.jpg

Released originally as one of the Easter eggs on her website, this is a glimpse into J.K. Rowling's plot planning methodology. I found this a wonderful tip on how to plan your plot, whether during initial writing or during rewrites (depending on if you're a "planner" or a "pantser").

To save you time deciphering this page, here's what Rowling does:

In the far left column, we have the chapter #. This page is for chapters 13-24. Next to that, she has the time frame. Note that she doesn't go too overboard here with specific dates. She just has the month, which is about all she needs to remind her readers of what time of year it is (I need to get better myself at remembering to include a reference in each chapter). Next to that, we have her tentative titles for the chapters. After that, she has the overall plot of that chapter.

Now, for the really interesting part. After that, she has listed all of her main plots and subplots.

These include:

• The prophesy (the main plot of Voldemort being after the prophesy, Harry's glimpses into Voldy's mind, etc.)

• Cho/Ginny (the main romantic plot/love triangle)

• The DA (also includes Umbridge, etc.)

• Order of the Phoenix

• Snape/Harry & Father (includes both Occlumency lessons and Harry’s concern about whether his father was really a nice guy)

• Hagrid and Grawp

What I find interesting is that, especially for the more important subplots, she tries to work each one in to every chapter (except when the plot is finished or they're away from school, etc.). This not only helps her remember what all is happening in the book, but also reminds her that these subplots need nourishment.

So, how do we apply this to our writing?

1) List every subplot you can think of for your novel. This can actually be a telling exercise. It puts your entire novel into perspective. So how many subplots should you have? That’s a subjective question, but typically it ranges anywhere from 5 – 10. Less than that seems to be too few, and more can quickly make a novel unwieldy. The more subplots you have, the more you have to feed each one (making each one “thinner”). On the other hand, too few can make a novel feel thin, even if the subplots you have are very well developed. Finding the right mix of subplots is a delicate thing, and could be a whole blog post in itself.

2) Order your list according to precedence. Look at Rowling’s list. The prophesy is first, followed by the romantic subplot then the DA/Umbridge subplot. Other subplots go farther down the list. Do the same for your list of plots. First goes the main plot, then the other plots in order of importance. Typically, the romantic plot will be second or third (unless the novel is a straight-up romance where the actual “goal” is for one character to hook up with another, in which case it’s first). Farther down than that seems to result in a “What’s really the point?” sort of romance plot (but that’s just my opinion). The reasoning behind this step is that it forces you to choose between your plots. You can’t feed a hundred pages to every subplot, no matter how much you love them. Prioritizing them results in a clear, unified main plot (yes, you must have exactly ONE main plot!!!), with well-developed subplots.

3) Read each chapter and write out a short description of what happens. This will give you an idea of how your book really progresses. Again, whether you are a planner or a pantser, you need to go through this process during your revisions.

4) Start with the timeline. This is step is key, and one I often fail to do. You must know when everything is happening. If you’re a creative ADHD type like me, then this step will KILL you. I know that. You know that. However, we both know that sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just do it already. This is one of those times.

5) Next, identify what happens relating to your main plot in each chapter. What you may find is that occasionally NOTHING happens relating to your main plot. If that’s so, then ask yourself why. Every chapter should be advancing your main plot in some way. If it doesn’t, then change it or take it out.

6) Continue the process through the rest of your subplots. Go through each plot, identifying what’s happening with that subplot during that point of the novel. With some of the subplots, it’s fine if nothing new happens for the subplot. However, you should know WHAT is happening during that subplot.

7) Begin revisions. Address each plot, keeping the timeline in mind. Try to remind the readers about each subplot in some small way. Sometimes, it can be as simple as adding a single line about the subplot, which remind the readers, “Oh yeah, that’s going on too.” You may also want to add mention of the timeline as you go as well, which will ground the readers on what’s happening when.

8) Marvel at how much clearer your novel has become.

Awesome, right? Please leave a comment and don't forget to stop by S. Kyle's blog!

Tip Tuesday #68

Guys, I just hit 1000 followers. Thank you! I can't tell you how touched I am you've stuck around when I've been such a quiet blogger the last half of this year. There will be a post on that SOON (cause you know I can't resist an end-of-year post). In the meantime, I have a fabulous tip from Deren Hansen on research! Please visit his blog as thanks.

If we literally followed the advice to, "write what you know," we wouldn't have stories about boy wizards, ruby slippers, or epic wars sweeping across a galaxy. Of course, we might argue that the person who imagined those things does, in fact, know them. Writer's face a bigger challenge when they want to write about something, like a city or a profession, with which they have no experience but others know very well.

There are many ways to learn about something unfamiliar: books, travel, interviews, etc. Between its search engine, maps, and street view, Google makes it particularly easy to pick up a passing familiarity with a topic or take a virtual tour of a place.

But the particular problem for writers is that we generally don't have time to become experts on the topic. So how do you know when you've done enough research to use the unfamiliar thing in your story without giving the people who actually know the thing reason to throw your book across the room?

I use the following guidelines:
  • Your research isn't done until you've discovered something surprising about the topic.
  • Your research isn't done until you can explain how the conventional wisdom is right and wrong.
I have a longer discussion about research techniques when writing about the unfamiliar on my blog, The Laws of Making.

Deren Hansen

Agent Spotlight: Amy Boggs

This week's Agent Spotlight features Amy Boggs of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

AmyBoggsAbout: “After a summer internship, Amy Boggs joined the Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2009 as the assistant to Donald Maass. She was promoted to Contracts Manager in 2010. 

“She previously interned at the Beth Vesel Literary Agency and worked in a children’s bookstore while attending Vassar College.

“She is looking for fiction with vivid stories and strong characters in unique, well-wrought settings. Her focus is on fantasy and science fiction, especially urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk, YA/children’s and middle-grade, and alternate history. Historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction, Westerns, historical romance, and works that challenge their genre are also welcome.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions, actively building her list.

What She's Looking For:

From her Bio:

“She is looking for fiction with vivid stories and strong characters in unique, well-wrought settings. Her focus is on fantasy and science fiction, especially urban fantasy, paranormal romance, steampunk, YA/children’s and middle-grade, and alternate history. Historical fiction, multi-cultural fiction, Westerns, historical romance, and works that challenge their genre are also welcome.” (Link)

From an Interview (08/10):

“I tend to prefer works with a fantastical bent. I love being taken into new and fantastic places, and as a kid I was wild about works that took me on an adventure (that I would then reenact with friends). This sense of adventure is possible without the fantastic as well, like the wildly inventive Big Splash or the realistic portrayal of "the kids I wasn't friend with in school" that Sachar specializes in. But really all I want is a fun and engaging plot set in a vividly drawn setting filled with uniquely wrought characters. That doesn't sound too hard, does it?” (Link)

From an Interview (05/10):

“I'm looking for a manuscript that takes the idea of steampunk but draws from 1st century Maya instead of 18th century Europe. Too specific? ;) I'm looking for plenty beyond that, of course, but if someone already has it, send it along!

“In broader terms, I want something that draws me right in and refuses to let go. Some aspects that can help with that are unique and complex settings, characters who challenge or break the mold while retaining that appealing blend of strength and humanity, plots that are tightly woven and keep me guessing, and writing that can effortlessly make me cry one paragraph and laugh the next.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Picture books, poetry, scripts, non-fiction. (Link)

About the Agency:

“The Donald Maass Literary Agency in New York City is a literary agency for professional novelists.

“Donald Maass’s pioneering work and writing about the development of fiction careers has made DMLA a leading agency for fiction writers.

“Agents Donald Maass, Jennifer Jackson, Stacia Decker, Cameron McClure, J.L. Stermer and Amy Boggs together represent more than 150 novelists and sell more than 100 novels every year to leading publishers in the U.S. and overseas.” (Link)

Her Advice For Writers:

“Be daring. It's far better to fail spectacularly than to stay safe and achieve ‘meh.’ Push your stories beyond the boundaries of what makes sense, make your characters do things that they would never, ever do. Of course it is then up to you to make those plots and actions seem perfectly logical, but by writing big you'll surprise the reader and yourself.” (Link)

Dislikes (Don'ts):

“The biggest mistake that queriers make is not following our submission guidelines. […] the biggest mistake folks who follow guidelines make is talking too much about things that aren't in their story.” (Link with more details)

“…queries that go on and on about what a genius the writer is; similarly, I don't like queries where the writer is humble to the point of trying to convince me the work isn't worth my time. The first kind is like a used car dealer trying to hassle me into a car, the latter is like a needy person trying to guilt me into giving a compliment. Neither type is appealing. Along those same lines, a good rule of thumb is to not use any adjectives to describe your writing or plot, such as ‘thrilling,’ ‘heart-warming,’ or ‘beautifully written.’ You don't need to say these things; they should come across in the writing.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“To borrow from Don's philosophy, good books sell themselves. I like to work with authors on an editorial level, sometimes before representation, to make the book shine. This doesn't mean good books always sell right away, but with persistence and an open editorial mind, great things can happen.” (Link)

Web Presence:

DMLA website.

Twitter.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker.

Clients:

There is a list of DMLA clients on the website. Ms. Boggs clients include: Teddy Harrison, Sara King, Ada Palmer, among others.

Sales:

As of this posting, Ms. Boggs is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 2 deals in the last 12 months and 2 overall.  Recent deals include 1 women’s fiction and 1 sci-fi/fantasy.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: No.  

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail a query letter and the first five pages pasted into the body of the e-mail.  No attachments.  While the agency does accept snail-mail queries, Ms. Bogg’s really prefers not to receive them.

See Ms. Bogg’s bio on the DMLA website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

“All you need in a query is a summary that touches upon the main protagonist(s), the main conflict, and the main antagonist(s). Rather than trying to summarize the whole work, stick to the first fifty pages; makes the task less daunting.” (Link)

Response Times:

The agency has a stated response time of up to four weeks on queries and about the same on requested material.  Their policy is as follows: “We will respond to every e-query that is properly addressed and follows the submission guidelines.  We will not respond to e-queries that are addressed to no one, or to multiple recipients.

However, Ms. Boggs seems to respond anywhere from days up to five or more months and has many outstanding cases of no response.  She may have adopted the no-response means no policy due to business. 

What's the Buzz?

Amy Boggs is a very new agent having just been promoted to contracts manager and acquiring agent earlier this year (2010).  She is actively building her list and has already made two sales for her client Teddy Harrison. 

This is a great opportunity to query an agent actively looking for talent.  Given her response times, however, I suggest you mark her down as a no-response means no agents and be thrilled if you hear back. 

Definitely read the interviews linked below and follow her on Twitter to learn more. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

7 Questions For: Literary Agent Amy Boggs at Middle Grade Ninja (08/10)

Interview with an Agent: Amy Boggs at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (05/10).

Around the Web:

Agent Insights: Narrative Preference - Amy Boggs talks about first person narrative at Flogging the Quill (09/2010).

Keep an eye on the What We’re Looking For This Month page on the website for info and updates.

Donald Maass Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Donald Mass Literary Agency on P&E (AAR, $).

Contact:

Please see the Donald Maass 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.

Guest Blogger Edward Stern: The Evolution of Children’s Books


Hi everyone! Today I have a guest post by Edward Stern from My Dog Ate My Blog on the evolution of children’s books.  Please give it a read and leave a comment.  I would love to know what you’ve observed in the evolution of kidlit, too!

The Evolution of Children's Books

MDAMB avatar Edward Stern is a guest blogger for My Dog Ate My Blog and a writer on online schools and universities for Guide to Online Schools.
Growing up, my favorite books were classics like Curious George or any number of Dr. Seuss books. Children's books were simple but whimsical morality tales, teaching me and other readers to do right, with heartwarming illustrations that didn't require a lot of critical analysis.
My, how things have changed. Over the last 25 year children's books have become more elaborate and denser affairs, incorporating often tough themes that books of an older generation would not have touched, but treating them deftly and warmly. The simple illustrations of older classics have been replaced by elaborate, colorful displays, gorgeously hand-drawn, painted, or now, computer-generated with added complexities such as pop-up pages or other gimmicks.
Children's books have become more sophisticated, in plot, subject matter, and illustration/presentation, reflecting a need to keep children interested in an age of ever-present media. Getting children to read has always been difficult, but never more so than now. There is stiff competition from more instant gratification such as the internet, television, and video games. Children's books have to vie for the attention of their audiences against new mediums.
As a result, the books have become increasingly more complex. The pages are glossier, the plots more detailed, the illustrations more eye-catching. The information age has brought about a revolution in how authors and publishers think about a child's aptitude to comprehend. As video games have taught us, children grasp technology well. But their understanding of the underlying content is truly remarkable. Traditional children's stories have perhaps ignored a child's ability to critically analyze situations and problem-solve, focusing instead on naive, escapist, parent-approved tales.
Tradtional stories still certainly have a place, but there is also now room for books that tackle tougher subjects. Previously unheard of, many books now deal with the sentiments of loneliness, particularly resulting from busy or negligent parents. Others explore parents with alternative lifestyles, like the famous Jennifer Has Two Daddies and Heather Has Two Mommies. Children's books need not skirt life's truths. Instead, they should teach acceptance of all kinds of feelings and differences relevant to modern times, because children need not be shielded: they are sophisticated enough to handle it.
It would be wrong to write about any trend in children's lit without discussing the Harry Potter phenomenon. These books incorporate all the above-discussed to make one mega series: complex plot; hard themes including isolation, death, and loss; and exciting writing and action that bests anything on film or television (except maybe the Harry Potter films themselves). These are books that many parents would have considered too dark and intense in previous years, but are now the most popular ones the world has ever seen.
To be sure, Curious George still has a place in today's age. Sweetness and good storytelling will never go away, and it's something publishers of all eras should to keep under consideration. But to see the publishing houses of children's literature respect their audience's capacity to learn and grapple with complex and challenging topics is most encouraging, and perhaps represents the greatest change from yesteryear.

Tip Tuesday #67

Hey everyone! I have another great tip from Lisa Nowak today (she has so many great ones!). Please give this a read and then stop by her blog for a little Christmas cheer. You don't want to miss Lisa singing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlecats. : ) Really, go be amused.
Backing up Emails

I'm too lazy to keep a journal, but I do have people I email regularly, sharing what I've been up to. With my writing friends, I often brainstorm book ideas in these emails. Several years ago I realized they were a valuable resource, so I started archiving them. Each month I save them to Word, creating a document with a name that makes it easy to find later. (ex: Aug 2010) I save the emails I receive in separate documents from the ones I send. By backing things up this way, it's easy to find things later by doing a word search. If I know, for example, that I discussed ideas for a particular character last summer, I open the appropriate document and do a search for that character's name.

While this is useful for archiving story ideas, it's also a nice substitute for a journal. Sometimes it's fun to take a trip down memory lane to see what was so important to you a year or two ago.
Great tip, Lisa! I archive a lot of the e-mails I receive but hadn't considered backing up the important ones I send. I bet it's really neat reading through those old thoughts and feelings.

Agent Spotlight: Steven Axelrod

This week's Agent Spotlight features Steven Axelrod of The Axelrod Agency, Inc.

StevenAxelrodAbout: “Steven Axelrod has been an agent for over 30 years and president of his own agency for more than 25 years. Prior to agenting, he was an editor at The Literary Guild, managing editor at Harcourt Brace and a reader for a number of paperback houses. His present clients include two-time Edgar Award-winning mystery author S.J. Rozan, as well as many top women’s fiction authors, including #1 New York Times bestsellers Christine Feehan, J.R. Ward and Julia Quinn, as well as multi-New York Times Bestsellers Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips , Suzanne Brockmann and Catherine Anderson.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions.

What He's Looking For:

Chick Lit, Fantasy (paranormal), Mystery, Romance, Thrillers/Suspense, Women's Fiction, Young Adult. (Link, Link)

“In terms of fantasy, he is only interested in paranormal fantasy.” (Link)

What He Isn't Looking For:

Picture books, screenplays, high fantasy.

About the Agency:

Founded in 1983 (Link). 

In 1994 the agency joined with The Rowland Agency to form the Axelrod & Rowland Agency; however, they appear to have separated in recent years. (Link)

Pet-Peeves:

Unknown.

Editorial Agent?

Unknown.

Web Presence:

Website (under construction).

AAR.

Twitter.

LinkedIn.

AgentQuery, QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.

Clients:

Catherine Anderson, Barbara Bretton, Suzanne Brockmann, Jayne Castle / Jayne Ann Krentz / Amanda Quick, Alyssa Day, Christine Feehan, Amanda Hocking, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Quinn, S.J. Rozan, J.R. Ward, among many others,

Sales:

As of this posting, Mr. Axelrod is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 8 deal in the last 12 months, 10 six-figure+ deals, and 19 overall.  Recent deals include 7 women’s/romance and 1 paranormal.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: Yes.  

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query letter only.  Include a SASE if querying by snail-mail.

See Mr. Axelrod’s AAR page for contact information (including e-query address).

Response Times:

I saw his response time for queries listed as 2-3 months on an agent listing site.  Limited stats suggest of average of about 3 weeks with instances coming in sooner and later.  His response time on requested material appears to range from days to months but is usually within a month.

What's the Buzz?

Steven Axelrod is considered a top notch agent, well known for his award-winning, bestselling mystery and women’s fiction clients and years in the business.  He accepts young adult fiction according to all the databases, but I am not aware of any YA clients or sales at this time.  I couldn’t find any specifics on what he might be looking for in the YA realm, but I think he’s definitely worth a query. 

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None that I could find online.

Around the Web:

Why Publishing is Making You Crazy—and What You Can Do About It: The Tao of Publishing, article by Steven Axelrod and client Julie Ann Long (12/08).

Big Publishers Terrified of Kindle Mavericks, great article featuring Amanda Hocking’s success story and how Mr. Axelrod handled her originally self-published work (10/10).

Conference notes including Steven Axelrod from a ECWC Agent Panel at Musetracks (10/09).

The Axelrod Agency on P&E.

The Axelrod Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Contact:

Please see Mr. Axelrod’s AAR page or one of the query databases above 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.

Sorry!

That was supposed to be an update to a post, not a re-post!

Tip Tuesday #66

Tip Tuesday time! Today I have a tip from author Laura Lascarso whose debut YA novel comes out from Antheum in 2012. Congrats Laura! Please visit her website to check out her blog and book! Here's her tip:

Finding the ly's

This is a quick post to share something that I did with my latest manuscript that I found really, really effective. On a friend's recommendation, I did a search for “ly” and brought up all my ugly adverbs. ugLY, My biggest offense was the word “really” which I had one on nearly every page, which I’ve used three times already. Who knew? I also came up with the word “family” a lot, which led me to believe that it was a big theme that I had overlooked before. Next I’m doing “okay” and “like.” Hopefully at the end of it, my manuscript will be cleaner, tighter and stronger for it.

Every little word counts. Really, it does, really, really.

Oh, and one more fun thing to do when you’re trying to procrastinate, check out the Gender Genie, http://bookblog.net/gender/genie.php Basically, you plug in a sampling of your text and the Gender Genie figures out how male or female your narrator is. For instance, I inserted this blog post into the Gender Genie and it gave me a score of 254 Female and 235 Male.

Just as I suspected, I’m a female.

- Laura Lascarso

Love this, Laura! Every word does count. I'm happy to report I (or my narrator, at least) seems to be female as well. : ) Looking forward to seeing your first book on my shelf!

Agent Spotlight: Adam Friedstein

This week's Agent Spotlight features Adam Friedstein of Anderson Literary Management, LLC.

NOTE: I've received a report that Mr. Friedstein is no longer with Anderson Literary. You may want to hold off on querying. Will post details when I have them - 2/14/12.

Adam Friedstein About: “Adam grew up on the North Shore of Massachusetts and holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Bard College.

“He began his publishing career in 2005 at Writers House, later going on to the foreign rights department at Harold Ober Associates, and most recently Trident Media Group where he worked with agents Ellen Levine, Alex Glass, and Melissa Flashman and authors such as Christopher Andersen, Russell Banks, Stanley Fish, and Matt Bondurant.

“He’s looking for books that make statements, books with captivating characters and loud voices, books with unique perspectives on the familiarity of adolescence and adulthood, specifically debut literary fiction, literary thrillers, young adult fiction and narrative and serious nonfiction, including memoir, popular science, and pop-culture books.” (Link)

Status: Accepting submissions.

What He's Looking For:

From his bio:

“He’s looking for books that make statements, books with captivating characters and loud voices, books with unique perspectives on the familiarity of adolescence and adulthood, specifically debut literary fiction, literary thrillers, young adult fiction and narrative and serious nonfiction, including memoir, popular science, and pop-culture books.” (Link)

From Guide to Literary Agents on YA:

“I have never been a big sci-fi or fantasy guy. I do go for YA on the historical side. I like YA on the darker, older side as well—quirky stories that remind me of the pathos of adolescence in a creative way. (Link)

(See his interview with GLA for more info on the adult genres he reps.)

What He Isn't Looking For:

Plays, screenplays, science fiction, cookbooks, gardening, craft books, picture books. (Link)

He does NOT want supernatural YA (info via e-mail).

Quotables:

About the Agency:

"Anderson Literary Management is the culmination of Kathleen Anderson’s three decades of publishing experience, thirteen of those years as an agent, seventeen as an editor. In 1995, she made the unorthodox decision (at the time, which is commonplace now) to “jump the fence” and leave institutional publishing for the entrepreneurial world of agenting. The decision was prescient because, in fairly short order, her authors gained international reputations on the back of her established tenure as an editor. It was a liberating move, allowing her to become more closely aligned with the discovery of authors and manage their artistic development. Her literary acumen attracted writers of all stripes without the restrictions of working for a single imprint of a publishing house. Now ALM represents authors to the industry as a whole. This time, however, it’s on our own terms, with writers that reflect our many and varied passions in life.” (Link)

“We are committed, spunky, empathetic communicators, representing authors who are truth-tellers as well as story-tellers. We foster long-term relationships based on integrity, sound business practices, mutual respect, and companionship. We represent authors, not books – meaning, we manage and nurture the careers and ideas of writers over many books, not just on a book-by-book basis – and we remain active as partners throughout the publishing process. We orchestrate publishing and media deals worldwide involving factors both personal and professional, because matching writers with the right people to publish, film, and stage their work is our key to their success.” (Link)

Pet-Peeves:

Receiving submissions for genres he doesn’t rep, multiple book submissions, and form queries (info via e-mail).

Editorial Agent?

Yes, very much! He does a lot of editorial work with his clients and really enjoys that aspect of what he does. (info via e-mail).

Web Presence:

Anderson Literary website (his info is not up yet).

LinkedIn.

QueryTracker.

Clients:

There is a list of Anderson Literary Management clients on the website. Mr. Friedstein has a growing list he is actively submitting.

Sales:

As of this posting, Mr. Friedstein does not appear to be a member of Publisher’s Marketplace. He reports, via e-mail, that he does not have any sales yet (new agent!) but is actively submitting his clients.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

For fiction, creative nonfiction, and memoir, send a query letter, a brief 1-3 page synopsis, and up to 50 pages of material. Include a SASE if sending via snail-mail.

For nonfiction, send a query letter, proposal, and up to three chapters. Include a SASE if sending via snail-mail.

See the Anderson Literary Management website for complete up-to-date submission guidelines. See this interview on the Guide to Literary Agents blog for info on submitting via e-mail.

Query Tips:

“I don't hate synopses, though I do prefer to experience a story for myself, especially if it's already piqued my interest with a well-written and creative pitch.” (Link)

Response Times:

The agency has a stated response time of minutes to six weeks on queries. Mr. Friedstein seems to honor this with most responses falling within days to a week. There are occasional instances up to the six-week mark, however. Requested material seems to get a response within a month or two.

What's the Buzz?

Adam Friedstein is a relatively new agent but has worked in the publishing industry since 2005. He does not have any sales yet but has a list of clients he is actively submitting. I’ve seen mention that the agency has a team philosophy, suggesting Mr. Friedstein has the knowledge and experience of his colleagues to offer on top of his own. Wishing him many sales in the coming year!

You can find him at the Writer’s Digest conference in January, The DFW Conference in February, and The Write Stuff Conference in March 2011.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Agent Advice Interview with Adam Friedstein at the Guide to Literary Agents Blog (08/2010).

Around the Web:

Adam Friedstein on P&E.

Anderson Literary Management on P&E.

Anderson Literary Management on AbsoluteWrite.

Contact:

Please see the Anderson Literary Management website and Mr. Friedstein’s interview on the Guide to Literary Agents blog 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.