Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Kelly Dyksterhouse Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/12/2022
  • Savannah Brooks Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/19/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

How to Juggle Writing and Working by Christyne Morrell and Trex Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author Christyne Morrell here to share about juggling writing and working to celebrate the release of her MG science fiction Trex. This is an issue I struggle with, so I found her post really helpful. And I love that Trex is both science fiction and a mystery. I’m looking forward to reading it. FYI I also interviewed Christyne last year when her MG fantasy Kingdom of Secrets released.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

This middle grade mystery follows the adventures of a boy with an experimental brain implant, and a reclusive girl training to be a spy, as they're pitted against school bullies, their own parents, and an evil, brain-hacking corporation. Perfect for fans of Stranger Things.

Trex's experimental brain implant saved his life--but it also made his life a lot harder. Now he shocks everything he touches. When his overprotective mother finally agrees to send him to a real school for sixth grade, Trex is determined to fit in.

He wasn't counting on Mellie the Mouse. She lives in the creepiest house in Hopewell Hill, where she spends her time scowling, lurking, ignoring bullies, and training to be a spy. Mellie is convinced she saw lightning shoot from Trex's fingertips, and she is Very Suspicious.

And she should be . . . but not of Trex. Someone mysterious is lurking in the shadows . . . someone who knows a dangerous secret.
 

 Follower News

 Before I get to Christyne’s post, I have Follower News to Share. 

Elizabeth Varadan recently released her adult mystery, Deadly Verse. Here’s a blurb: In the tradition of Hitchcock, this mystery takes you to the bookstores and cafés of Portugal while investigating a valuable poem that inspires murder. Follow this suspenseful story of bibliophiles who care for literature more than they care for life itself.     David Hagerty, author of the Duncan Cochrane crime series set in Chicago And here are a few links: http://elizabethvaradansfourthwish.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizabethvaradan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/4thWishVaradan

Purchase Information: Amazon and Belanger Books

Elizabeth Mueller has a new release of her dystopia, fantasy, scifi romance, Awken: A Love Story. Here's the blurb: What good is "perfect" without love? In a world without crime, aging, or death, Daemos escapes his prison with dark secrets that threaten the Balance. N'reena learns two things from him: love is real and people are dying from her technological inventions. A note: Awaken is a serialized story on Kindle Vella with new episodes every Sunday and the first three are always free. Here's a few links:

book link: https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B0B5PM6GL8
website: http://www.elizabethmueller.com/

 

Don’t Quit Your Day Job:

How to Juggle Writing and Working

When I sold my first book, several seasoned authors told me not to quit my day job. Their comments were mostly tongue-in-cheek - because publishing is famously stingy - but it was also legitimate advice for a host of reasons. Not only does my day job provide a predictable source of income, it gives me the freedom to write what I want, on my own timeline. Because I have a financial safety net, I don’t feel pressured to “write for the market,” and I don’t have to hustle to make ends meet between book deals. If I took the plunge into full-time writing, I fear that my passion would become a chore, or even a source of anxiety.

But despite the good reasons for keeping a day job, juggling writing and work (and parenting and fitness and a social life and… well, life in general) isn’t easy. Through trial and error, I’ve developed practices to achieve balance, precarious as it may be. Like any advice, these tips won’t work for everyone, but they’ve allowed me to manage a full-time career as a lawyer alongside a burgeoning career as an author. And maybe they’ll be useful to some other writers out there, plugging away at day jobs.  

-       The 30 Minute Rule: This is the cornerstone of my writing process. It’s similar to the “write every day” advice that has been so hotly debated online, but my rule is more forgiving. I reserve 30 minutes a day for being a writer. This can be sitting down and typing words on a page, but it also includes writing-adjacent activities like doing research, attending workshops, promoting my books, etc. The important thing is that I devote time each day to connect with this part of my identity, so it doesn’t get shoved aside for more “important” things. I’ve found that 30 minutes is the perfect length of time - long enough for me to be productive and achieve that elusive state of “flow,” but not so long that it can’t be squeezed into a packed schedule.    

-       Set Expectations: If you’re planning to incorporate writing into a calendar that’s already bursting at the seams, it’s a good idea to give a head’s up to everyone who’s going to be affected by that decision - family, friends, roommates, etc. It’s easier to set boundaries and stake out writing time if you establish early on that writing is a priority for you. Tell your spouse what sort of support you’ll need from them, warn your friends that you’ll probably have to turn down some social events, and be extra nice to your in-laws so they’ll come over and babysit!

-       Confess to Your Co-workers: For years, I kept my writing habit a secret from my co-workers, afraid that they’d perceive my passion for writing as a lack of commitment to my job. When I finally came clean after selling my first picture book, my colleagues were unanimously supportive - many of them even bought the book! It was a relief not to have to hide my writing anymore. Remember that everyone has interests outside of work - whether it’s running marathons or baking cookies. Just because yours has the potential to become a separate career doesn’t mean you aren’t a dedicated employee.   

-       Stay Agile: When you have a limited amount of time to write, you can’t be too picky about where, when, and how you do it. Flexibility and mobility are key. I use Scrivener on the desktop to compile my novels, but I always have a “working draft” Google document in play so I can draft and edit chapters on the go. I’ve done some of my best writing on my phone - on the train to work, at soccer practice, or in waiting rooms.

-       Accept that You Can’t Do It All: Once you break into the world of writing and publishing, you’ll find loads of exciting opportunities available - writing groups, school visits, conferences, panels, launch parties, etc. But writers with busy non-writing lives simply can’t do it all. With only 30 minutes per day allocated to writing, I constantly have to make tradeoffs. Saying yes to one writing event almost always means saying no to another. And speaking of…

-       Learn to Say No: This can be tough to put into practice, especially when you’re promoting a book. But your time is precious and in short supply, so something’s gotta give - and that something can’t always be your writing time. Besides, if you stay focused on your next project, there will undoubtedly be other opportunities on the horizon. 

-       Settle In for the Long Haul: Just because you can write a novel in 30 minutes a day (and you can!) doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient route. Don’t expect to churn out a manuscript every few months, and try not to compare yourself to those authors who do. Instead, focus on the advantages of spending more time with your stories. I find that the longer my stories marinate, the better I understand my characters and the worlds they inhabit. 

-       Pat Yourself on the Back: After an exhausting day at work, you could do anything with that precious half hour - nap, watch Netflix, take a bubble bath. If you choose to use it to pursue your dream, you should congratulate yourself. The reward will be that much sweeter when you finally type “The End.”

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Christyne! You can find Chistyne at christynewrites.com and on Twitter and Instagram at @christynewrites.

Giveaway Details

Christyne has generously offered a hardback of Trex for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by September 3. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow Christyne or me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog. 

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Monday, September 1st, I'm participating in the Glam and Glitz Giveaway Hop 

Wednesday, September 7th, I have a guest post by debut author Keely Parrack and a giveaway of her YA thriller Don't Let in the Cold and my IWSG post

Monday, September 12th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Sarah Fink and a query critique giveaway 

Tuesday, September 16th, I'm participating in the Falling Into Leaves Giveaway Hop 

Monday, September 19th, I have a guest post by debut author Stacy Knockowitz and a giveaway of her MG historical MG historical The Prince of Steel Pier

Wednesday, September 21st, I have an agent spotlight interview with Jazmia Young and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 26th, I'm reviewing Alba Dobb's MG historical The Other Side of the River and doing an ARC giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday, September 1st!

 

SCBWI-Michigan Critique Carousel Opportunity

 

Logo by SCBWI-MI member Cathy Gendron

Happy Friday Everyone! I’m one of the 2022 Critique Carousel Coordinators with Alicia Curley and WendyBooydeGraaff for SCBWI-Michigan’s Critique Carousel. I’m so excited to help organize it and participate in it. It’s my first time submitting anything to an agent or editor in over 15 years.

FYI  The critique carousel will only be open to Michigan SCBWI members for the first week. In the event we have additional critique slots available, we may open to additional SCBWI regions/members. Keep your eye on our blog (https://scbwimithemitten.blogspot.com) and our site (https://michigan.scbwi.org)--Any information regarding the event will be posted there (and social channels).

Here are the FAQs we prepared to help SCBWI-Michigan members get ready to participate.

This year’s Critique Carousel is right around the corner, and we know Michigan SCBWI members have questions. Good news! We’ve got answers!

15 amazing kidlit agents are lined up for this year’s carousel and they’re looking forward to reading your work! We hope the FAQs below will help you prepare for the logistics of the event. More details regarding the participating agents will be shared once the registration website goes live in September. Don’t worry; you’ll have plenty of time to review the agents and pick the one best suited to critique your work. 

We hope you’ll consider taking a spin on this year’s Critique Carousel!

Respectfully,


Your 2022 Critique Carousel Coordinators, 

Alicia Curley, Wendy BooydeGraaff, and Natalie Aguirre 

Q: What is the Critique Carousel?


The Critique Carousel is a virtual SCBWI-MI event for members to receive a written critique from an acquiring agent. Participants will select a kidlit agent that represents their genre (science fiction, fantasy, etc.) or age category (picture books, middle grade, young adult). Agents will have a month to read submissions and provide the critique on our standard SCBWI Gold Form. After the event and after revising their work, participants will have the opportunity to submit to their critiquing agent for representation consideration even if their agent is closed to submissions to the general public.


Critiques cost $55/each and are a max of 6 pages. Please see more information regarding submission requirements below.


Q: What can I submit to the Critique Carousel?


Agents participating this year are open to critiquing: 



·                Picture books (fiction and nonfiction)

·                Chapter books

·                Middle grade (fiction and nonfiction)

·                YA (fiction and nonfiction)

·                Graphic novels (fiction and nonfiction)

·                Novels in verse 


During registration, you’ll be able to see which agents are open to critiquing what. 


Q: What is the Critique Carousel submission window? 


Registration opens at 7:00 pm September 19th, and it will close at 11:00 pm October 2nd. 


Participants must submit their manuscripts (and meet all submission guidelines) by midnight on October 2nd.


Agents have until November 12th to complete their critiques. We will do our best to have all completed critiques back to participants before the end of November.


Q: Can I sign up for more than one critique?


No; participants can only register for one critique during the registration window. In the event critique spots are still available, we will notify participants via email regarding opportunities to purchase additional critiques. 


Q: How do I format my manuscript for the Critique Carousel?


Submission guidelines for written critiques:

·                At the top of the manuscript or manuscript sample, include your name, email, and title of the manuscript. In successive pages, add your name and manuscript title to the top of each page as a header. These are not counted toward your word limit.

o        Picture Books:

§     Fiction: up to 800 words, 1-inch margins, double spaced (sample here). 

§     Non-fiction: 1,200 words, 1-inch margins, double spaced.

§     Art notes do not count toward word count.

o        Novels: 6 pages, 1-inch margins, double spaced. You may include a synopsis (at the end of your pages), but these will not be critiqued (sample here).

o        Graphic novels: 

§     Art and text: 6 sample page spreads in jpg or pdf format, as well as a summary/synopsis.

§     Text only: 6 pages of script.

§     You may include a synopsis (at the end of your pages), but these will not be critiqued (sample here).

o        Novels in Verse: 6 pages, 1-inch margins, single-spaced, no page breaks at the end of a poem. Run them right up after the one before. You may include a synopsis (at the end of your pages), but these will not be critiqued (sample here). 

·                Please use standard font formatting; Arial or Times New Roman, size 12.

·                If your manuscript is intended to be author/illustrated, you may add the line "author illustrated PB" (or MG or Chapter Book, etc.) in your contact information.

·                Please name your file in this format: YourName_AgentsName_GENRE 

o        For genre, please use: PB, CB, MG, YA, GN, NV

o        Example: JaneDoe_AgentX_PB

·                Preferred file formats: Word doc or PDF


If your manuscript arrives with formatting issues, we’ll let you know and give you a chance to resubmit, but you still need to make the submission window date. We are unable to offer refunds due to formatting errors so please follow carefully!


Q: Will there be more agents who represent picture book writers, not only author/illustrators?


We’ve worked hard to ensure there are plentiful critique opportunities this year for picture book writers. 13 agents are offering picture book critiques, however not every agent offering picture book critiques is open to picture book submissions (or picture book text only submissions). Please read the agent’s MSWL carefully when deciding which agent to select for your critique.


Q: Will the agents in the carousel be open to submissions? If agents are currently closed to submissions, will they accept submissions from the writers they critiqued?


Yes, agents will be open to submissions from Critique Carousel participants for six months after receipt of the completed critique. Agents who are presently closed to submissions to the general public are asked to adhere to this as well. Instructions for submitting to agents will be shared with participants via email, with their completed critique.


Q: I’m submitting a novel, should I include a synopsis?


While it is NOT mandatory, it is highly encouraged that you include a synopsis of your novel or graphic novel with your materials for critique. This way, agents have more information to analyze your submission. Please note, agents are not asked to provide critique on the synopsis itself, but they may use it for more context on your story, in order to provide better feedback on your work.


Note: Please limit your synopsis to one page, single spaced, standard formatting (12pt size font). Include this at the end of your 6 pages.


Q: How do I write a synopsis?


There are a lot of great resources online for synopsis writing. A few that may be helpful: 

·                How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Mary Kole)

·                Synopsis Writing Made Easy (Writers Helping Writers)

·                How to Write a Novel Synopsis (Jane Friedman)


Q: For novels and graphic novels, should I submit the first 6 pages? Or can I submit any 6 pages?


There’s no specific requirement here, however, we strongly suggest the first 6 pages. Your first pages are your first impression with an agent or editor, and they’re likely to be the only pages read in a submission package. Those are also the pages that set up the story, and the story may not make sense if you choose pages from the middle of your manuscript. You want those pages to shine! Making these pages as strong as possible can make a big difference in getting an agent or editor to request more work.


Q: I’m submitting a novel and my first chapter ends on page 7 and the limit is 6 pages. Can I just send 7 so you'll have a complete chapter?


No; please limit your manuscript to 6 pages. If your chapter is longer than 6 pages, look for a natural stopping point before that and send the pages up to that point.


Take a look at the manuscript sample for a novel. You may be able to fit in more than you realize by not leaving the typical spacing for a chapter beginning. 


Q: After I submitted my work, I made some changes and I want to replace my original submission with a new one. There is still time before the submission deadline, so can I do that?


No; please upload your manuscript ONLY ONCE. We cannot accept multiple revised uploads. Proof your work carefully and submit when you are absolutely ready.


Q: I would like a refund, or I’d like to cancel my participation. How do I do that?


There are no refunds or cancellations for this event. 


Q: I have a question that’s not addressed here. Who can I contact?


For any questions that are not already addressed in our FAQs, please reach out to critiquecarousel@gmail.com. We’ll respond as soon as we’re able. 

Upcoming Interviews and Guest Posts

Monday, August 22nd, I have a guest post by debut author Christyne Morrell with a giveaway of her MG science fiction Rex

Monday, September 1st, I'm participating in the Glam and Glitz Giveaway Hop 

Wednesday, September 7th, I have a guest post by debut author Keely Parrack and a giveaway of her YA thriller Don't Let in the Cold and my IWSG post

Monday, September 12th, I have an agent spotlight interview with Sarah Fink and a query critique giveaway 

Tuesday, September 16th, I'm participating in the Falling Into Leaves Giveaway Hop 

Monday, September 19th, I have a guest post by debut author Stacy Knockowitz and a giveaway of her MG historical MG historical The Prince of Steel Pier

Wednesday, September 21st, I have an agent spotlight interview with Jazmia Young and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 26th, I'm reviewing Alba Dobb's MG historical The Other Side of the River and doing an ARC giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!


 

Literary Agent Interview: Lynnette Novak Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Lynnette Novak here. She is a literary agent at The Seymour Agency.

Hi­ Lynnette! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Lynnette:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

I mentored in Pitch Wars for two years (2015 and 2016) as a freelance editor. It was amazing. I loved having contestants send entries to me and enjoyed going through my slush pile to choose a manuscript I wanted to help a writer improve. That first year gave me the itch to become an agent and my Pitch Wars time in 2016 confirmed it. I pushed that feeling aside, believing you had to become an intern at an agency right out of university. I didn’t do that, so I thought I’d missed the boat.

At times, I divided my day between my elementary teaching job, freelance editing, and writing. You read that right! I used to write, so I know what writers go through and can totally relate! I wrote romantic suspense novels and was starting to get somewhere, winning awards or coming close. I even had an offer of representation from an agent for one of my books. So exciting!!! However, a conversation I had with another agent while attending the RWA conference as a Golden Heart Finalist threw me for a loop!

I told her how much fun I had as a Pitch Wars mentor and I wished I could be an agent too. She laughed. She said with seventeen years freelance editing experience, I could jump right into agenting.

Wait. What…

I had some thinking to do. There was no way I’d start two new careers at the same time (as an author and agent). My hair would all fall out! So, I asked myself which career path I NEEDED to pursue. Agenting. No question. I get to read for a living. I get to experience so many worlds, characters, and plots—much more than if I had been writing my own stories. And I get to work with talented editors, agents, and authors aka My Peeps! I contacted a handful of literary agencies, received three offers, and chose to work with The Seymour Agency in 2017.

Best. Decision. Ever.

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

The Seymour Agency strives to offer aspiring and established authors the representation and resources they need to succeed in the ever-evolving publishing industry.

 

Our literary agents firmly believe in exploring every opportunity for our authors. From foreign and audio rights to film, television, and other multimedia and digital prospects such as gaming and apps, we strive to provide hands-on emotional, professional, promotional, and editorial counsel to each one of our authors.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

Currently looking for: (Always looking for own voices, diversity, and LGBTQ+!!!)

In adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and mysteries (traditional, amateur sleuth, and cozy).

In young adult fiction: thrillers, psychological suspense, horror, contemporary, mysteries, and fantasy.

In middle grade fiction: contemporary, horror, fantasy, action/adventure, mystery, humor, and novels in verse.

In children’s fiction: picture books (non-rhyming preferred).

In graphic novels: chapter books, early readers, MG, and YA.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

This is constantly changing, but right now, I’m looking to add to my middle grade and young adult lists, including graphic novels in those age groups.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

At the moment, I’m not looking for science fiction in any age category.

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I’m not interested in adult nonfiction or Christian fiction.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

It’s very important to me to represent marginalized voices so I can help get those voices into the world.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I’ll bet you never guessed I’m an editorial agent. Did my seventeen years as a freelance editor give it away? LOL Of course, it depends on the project, but generally speaking, we do at least one big picture/developmental edit. I read the MS and give the author notes on what is and isn’t working. I make suggestions on how to fix issues, but I don’t expect the author to necessarily use my suggestions—although, they’re more than welcome to. What I’m really saying is, “There’s a problem here. Please fix it.”

After the author sends the revised MS back, I then open Track Changes and make comments about all kinds of things like stilted dialogue; buried dialogue; repetition; passive writing; information/backstory dump; not enough emotion; show, don’t tell; talking heads, POV slip; not enough conflict; stakes aren’t clear; scene feels rushed; GMCs need to be fleshed out; pick up the pace; and the list goes on.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

Please query me through Query Manager: https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak. Queries sent to my email address will be deleted, unread. I like a one-page query that includes a pitch and short bio. The first five pages should be attached. If you start with a prologue, you can mention it, but I’d rather see the first five pages of the actual story unless I’ve requested to see more. Note: If I “heart” your pitch in a Twitter pitch party, I want you to send it to my query email address not Query Manager. Yes, it’ll be read and I’ll reply to let you know if I’m interested.

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

If the query is more about the author than the story, I might not be able to get a strong feel for the premise and could reject for that reason. Sell me on your writing.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

That varies. It depends on my schedule at the time. I TRY to stay on top of queries by responding between 1 day and 1 month.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I have hybrid authors who self-publish and are traditionally published (or seeking to be traditionally published), and I have clients whose first book was with a small press. I won’t represent a book that has already been published, even if it was self-published. Many publishers won’t touch them. I’d rather have a new story to shop. As far as advice goes, be transparent. You don’t want to start a professional relationship with your agent by “forgetting” to mention the book has already been published.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

Publishing is constantly changing, so we adapt accordingly. As long as there are contracts to be negotiated, agents will still be around.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Megan Hart/Mina Hardy

USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon Charts bestselling author M.M. Chouinard

Award-winning picture book author Joanna Rowland

Laura Brown

Stacey Agdern

Joel Shulkin, MD

Marzieh Abbas

Sahtinay Abaza

Alice Lin

Akure Phénix

Medeia Sharif

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and podcasts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

N/A

9/2/2022 Update: Agent of the Month Intro, Part 1 Interview, Part 2 Interview at Writing and Illustrating 9/2022

Links and Contact Info:

15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak

Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Having realistic expectations and a thick skin can make this industry a little more bearable.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lynnette.

­Lynnette is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through September 3rd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.