Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 22, 2017

Book Winner – Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Claire Lordon has won MICE SKATING by Annie Silvestro
Please send your address.

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Welcome to the 26th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Submit published or unpublished work. $4,000 in prizes.

Please submit during October 15, 2017-April 30, 2018. We will award $1,500 each for the top story and the top essay. For this contest, a story is any short work of fiction, and an essay is any short work of nonfiction. Ten Honorable Mentions will receive $100 each (any category). The top 12 entries will be published online. Judge: Judy Juanita, assisted by Lauren Singer. Please submit as many stories and essays as you like. All themes accepted.

Entries may be published or unpublished.

Length limit: 6,000 words.

No restrictions on age or country. When the contest is open, please click the Submittable button below for full details.

Fee: $20 per entry. The results of our 25th annual contest will be announced on October 15, 2017.

Judges

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Judy Juanita

Judy Juanita is the final judge of the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Her debut novel, Virgin Soul, chronicles a black female coming of age in the 60s who joins the Black Panther Party (Viking, 2013). Novelist Jean Thompson said of Virgin Soul: “Hard to believe it’s been almost fifty years since the formation of the Black Panthers. The novel captures that time’s particular combination of violence and possibility, and the urgency of young people who invested everything in the possibility of change, even as grand rhetoric was undercut by very human failings.”

Juanita’s collection of essays, De Facto Feminism: Essays Straight Outta Oakland (EquiDistance Press, 2016), examines the intersectionality of race, gender, politics, economics, and spirituality as experienced by a black activist and self-described “feminist foot soldier”. DeFacto Feminism was selected as Book-of-the-Month for December 2016 by the African Americans on the Move Book Club (AAMBC), and was a Kirkus Reviews Book-of-the-Month for March 2017, which gave it a starred review. Juanita is a contributing editor for The Weekling, an online journal, where many of the essays appeared. The collection was a distinguished finalist in OSU’s 2016 Non/Fiction Collection Prize. Her work is archived at Duke University’s John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.

Crab Orchard Review’s Allison Joseph said Juanita’s fiction “should be required reading for anyone studying the vicissitudes of recent American history.” Juanita’s short stories and essays appear widely, and her poetry has appeared in Obsidian II, 13th Moon, Painted Bride Quarterly, Croton Review, The Passaic Review, Lips, New Verse News, Poetry Monthly, and Drumrevue 2000.

In drama, Juanita’s themes are social issues overlaid with absurdity, humor and pathos (in one play, a distraught nurse whose teenage son has overdosed falls head over heels in love with a duck). Her seventeenth play, “Theodicy“, about two black men who accidentally fall into the river of death, won first runner-up of 186 plays in the Eileen Heckart 2008 Senior Drama Competition at Ohio State University

She was awarded New Jersey Arts Council Fellowships for her poetry and earned an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She has taught writing at Laney College in Oakland, California, since 1993.

Full Bio

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

Lauren Singer

Lauren Singer is an assistant judge of the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, the Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest, and the North Street Book Prize. She is a native New Yorker living in Western Massachusetts. Her poetry has been published in Nerve House, Bareback, Feel the Word, Read This, Kosmosis, One Night Stanzas, and other literary magazines across the country. In 2015 she received her MSW at the University of Chicago, is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and an attendee of the New York State Summer Writer’s Institute. She has self-published three chapbooks, and received an honorable mention in the 2011 Wergle Flomp contest. In addition to her creative interests, Lauren works as a mental health clinician and therapist in Holyoke, MA. Lauren prides herself on her wealth of useless knowledge, namely of nineties R&B lyrics, and she can pretty much quote “The X-Files”.

Full Bio

Judy Juanita offers advice to contestants here.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 21, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Leslie Withrow

Lesley Breen Withrow is a children’s books illustrator as well as an artist and designer specializing in surface patterns and stationery items for The Gift Wrap Company. Her artwork can be seen on many products including children’s books, stationery items, gift wrap and bags, children’s apps and toys.

For as long as she can remember, she has been creating art. One of her first memories is drawing with her Nana. As a kid she enjoyed making pictures and telling stories visually and was always the girl with a pencil and sketchbook in my hand. As an adult, she still loves seeing the world through the eyes of a child and feel so lucky to make pictures every day!

Leslie loves to bring a fun and energetic spirit to all of her pictures. Her favorite projects incorporate lively lines, colors, textures, and patterns, and are specially suited for a very young and inquisitive audience.

How long have you been illustrating?

I’d say all my life, but professionally for 15 years.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

When I was just out of college I works as a graphic designer at an architectural firm. One of the architects there commissioned me to draw his dogs in pen and ink and design it into a puzzle. I remembered being excited that he recognized my artistic abilities and that he wanted to pay me for them.

Did you live near the Rhode Island School of Design and was that a factor in deciding to go there?

I suppose, I am from Cape Cod and was looking for a school that wasn’t too far away. Actually, I went to Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI for college, which is not far from Providence, where RISD is located. I had wanted to be an architect when I was younger which is what drew me to RWU and their fabulous architectural program. But math was challenging for me and I knew that architecture wasn’t the right. Since I had always had a love of architecture, history and art, I majored in Historic Preservation and minored in art at RWU. Both these programs are a part of RWU’s art and architecture school so it was a good fit in many ways. I have always had a love of children’s books so after college I enrolled in RISD’s Children’s Book Certificate Program. There I met some incredible instructors and just loved being apart of the RISD community.

What did you study there and did you have favorite classes?

At RISD I loved the children’s book, story telling classes of course, but I absolutely love portraiture so I’d have to say my most favorite class was portrait drawing. I loved drawing from live models and a highlight was getting to sculpt your own face in clay.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

I wouldn’t say that I really went art school, although in hindsight I really wish I had. I think it would have been fun! But I do think my experiences have influenced my art style. I had the joy of travelling to the United Kingdom for a semester to study historic preservation and there I got to tour most of the UK’s historic buildings and cathedrals. My group was permitted to go ‘behind the scene’s’ a lot, in places that you don’t typically get to go on tours, which was incredible. A real highlight was getting to walk through the upper floors and the roof of Westminster Abbey! I do think my love of architecture and my many years of architectural drafting come into my children’s artwork. I still really love drawing buildings. You can see them in Bunny Bus and I plan to work them into more of my children’s books in the future.

Did the school help you find art jobs to get you started?

No, I seemed to find them naturally.

What type of job did you do right after you graduated?

I worked briefly making historic architectural drawings for a small building/remodeling company that specialized in historic preservation. I would measure buildings and then create hand-drafted architectural drawings, floor plans, elevations, etc. My job was to not only make these drawings accurate but to add an old-fashioned, hand-drawn, unique and historic look to them. I then worked as a graphic designer at an architectural firm and learned all about new construction.

When did you start illustrating greeting cards and how did you find a publishers to work with?

After the architectural firm, I worked as a Planner for Paramount Cards (a 100 year old greeting card company that closed it’s doors in 2005). As a Planner I designed greeting card lines and collections, created specs and gave art direction to freelance and in-house artist. I loved working with freelance artist and finding the right ones for specific cards and collections. I was thrilled to see my concepts and quick sketches turned into final art and product. Getting to talk to and work with freelance artists was incredible for me. It was then that I knew I wanted to be one of them!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

I have always had a love of children’s books. When I was 7, Norman Bridwell, The creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog visited my elementary school. I remember him reading some of his book, talking and answering questions about what it’s like to write and draw children’s books. And I very clearly remember this… he drew an incredible drawing of Clifford and then handed it to the girl next to me. I was disappointed for sure, but I then knew I wanted to make children’s books. After that I would make lots and lots of little dummy books and I read lots of children’s books. My favorite story at that time that I created was called ‘The Heart Friends’. It was about two hearts that were friends. Ha! In college I would take out lots of children’s books from the library and study them for fun.

How many picture books have you illustrated?

3 books so far – You’re My Boo, Beach Lane Books (imprint of Simon & Schuster) September 2017
Written by Kate Dopirak – Bunny Bus, Farrar Straus Giroux, January 2017 written by: Ammi-Joan Paquette – Maximillian Villainous, Running Press (imprint of Perseus Books/Hachette Book Group) August 2018 written by: Margaret Chiu Greanias

What was the name of your first illustrated book?

My first children’s book is ‘You’re My Boo’, Beach Lane Books (imprint of Simon & Schuster) September 2017 written by: Kate Dopirak. I have worked on other books but they were more novelty books like the ‘Little Ocean Books’ for babies, which are a series of 10 little chunky recycled paper board books packed in a stackable tower, by innovative Kids.

How did you get the job to illustrate that book? How did you get the attention of Beach Lane Books find discover your artwork for illustrating YOU’RE MY BOO?

In 2013 I sent out a postcard with my newly signed agent, Chris Tugeau, at CATugeau Artists Agency, and within a month or so after the mailing Beach Lane Books contacted me and told me that they wanted to work with me. They said that when they saw my postcard come across their desk they just knew that I was the perfect artist to illustrate ‘You’re My Boo. I was thrilled!

How long did they give you to illustrate the book?

It was about a year and a half or so.

Your latest Book, BUNNY BUS was written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and you both live in New England. Did you know each other before illustrating her book?

No, Joan and I did not know each other before Bunny Bus. We were brought together in a different way than is typical for most children’s books. Joy Peskin, Editorial Director at Farrar Straus Giroux also liked that first postcard that I sent out with my agent. One side of the postcard had little clothed animals eating lunch at a school lunch table and this is the image that Beach Lane Books liked for ‘You’re My Boo’. The other side of the postcard had a big Bunny Bus character with school kid animals waiting to hop onto it. Joy told me that she loved my postcard and Bunny Bus character and tacked it onto her wall and thought, there’s a book there. One day her young son came into her office and ran right over to my postcard said ‘Bunny Bus’ excitedly. Joy contacted me the next day and said let’s make a book called Bunny Bus! I was over the moon. I did not have a story written for Bunny Bus yet but was open to someone else writing it. Joy reached out to Joan and I absolutely loved the story she wrote. I had the pleasure of getting to meet and do two children’s book events with Joan this past winter. One at ‘The Blue Bunny Books & Toys’, Dedham, MA, and owned by the amazing Peter and Paul Reynolds (and one of my all-time favorite book shops). Bunny Bus, much to my amazement, was selected to be placed on the octagonal tables at all Barnes & Nobels around Easter time, since it’s an Easter book. It is a real honor to have your book selected to be featured on that display table, so our other even together was at a local Barnes & Noble. It was a real thrill to get to meet Joan and do our events together, as a writer and artist team!

How did you connect with CATugeau Agency to represent you? How long have you been with them?

I had won the first NESCBWI Anne Barrows Memorial Scholarship Award and it was especially
meaningful to me as I had met Anne several years before. Anne had been represented by CATugeau Artist Agency and after winning this award I reached out to Chris Tugeau, the owner of CATugeau Artists Agency and she reviewed my portfolio and gave me some wonderful feedback. I wasn’t the right fit for her agency at that time but I really liked Chris and knew that I wanted to approach her again at some point, when I had developed my art more and when the time was right. And so, in 2012 I reached out to the CATugeau agency again and everything clicked! I signed on with them in early 2013.

Have you done any book covers?

No, I haven’t done book covers, but I’d love to!

Would you like to write and illustrate a children’s book?

Yes, I very much would love to write and illustrate children’s books! I have several stories that I have written and am in the middle of writing. I am currently working on creating book dummies for them.

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Possibly, but at this time with my very hectic schedule, I am looking for established publishers.

Have you ever tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

I have thought about this, but have not attempted it yet. I absolutely love and am amazed by David Weisner’s wordless picture books.

Have you worked with educational publishers?

Yes, I have done several books and many products and spot illustrations for educational publishers.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Yes, I have illustrated for children’s magazines. One of my favorites was a story I illustrated for a Highlights “Hello’ washable paper book. I would love to do more magazine work.

Are you still illustrating for greeting card publishers?

I work also work as a Senior Designer for The Gift Wrap Company when I illustrate and design many paper collections and stationery products such as gift bags, gift wrap, cards, letter writing sets, journals, sticky notes, etc.

What is your favorite medium to use?

I love to draw and paint and collage and so I create these pieces and then scan them in. I then bring them together in Adobe Photoshop and this is where I finalize my art. I also love to paint with Corel Painter and bring those ‘digital’ paintings into Photoshop as well. So I consider myself a mixed-media artist.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, it has and I am sure it will continue to evolve. Although I do love my playful, colorful cartoon/collage look, I also love pencil, pen and ink and scratchboard and I absolutely love portraiture and real-life drawing (and painting) as well. In fact those were my go-to mediums for a very long time before I started to develop my children’s book ‘look’ more. For many years I considered myself a black and white artist. I do hope to do more with those mediums in the future. I would absolutely love to draw/paint artwork for Middle Grade and YA books. I think as artists we love to grow and try new things and I think this can keep our work looking fresh as well.

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

Yes, right now I have a small space set up in my home. In the future I’d love to have a bit more space, but this works well.

What the most important thing in your studio?

Hmmm… my computer. Without that, nothing can get done.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I work a lot in a creative way so I don’t feel that I have to designate specific time for my craft. I do feel lucky that my job at The Gift Wrap Company and my children’s book work are both highly creative and involve design and drawing and creating artwork.

 

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

Yes, I use Painter and Photoshop in my illustrations as well as scans of papers and drawings and painting and textures and all. In Bunny Bus some of my daughter’s finger painting and writing from Kindergarten is in there.

Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

Yes, I use a Wacom Tablet

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I would love to both write as well as illustrate children’s books. I would also love to work on the art for a Middle Grade and/or YA book.

What are you working on now?

This has been a very busy year. I illustrated a storybook & game for Peaceable Kingdom that just came out last month and is an exclusive at Target. I visited our local Target recently with Mother and 12 year old daughter and it was such a thrill to see my game there with all the other incredible games they carry! I also just completed artwork recently for a children’s book with Running Press Kids (imprint of Hachette Book Group). The book is called ‘Maximillian Villainous’, written by Margaret Chiu Greanias and will be out August 2018. ‘in the story, a tenderhearted monster simply cannot behave in the tradition of his villainous family, especially when he become smitten with a bunny’. (as said in the Publishers Weekly announcement)

 

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

Make good art. Keep at it. Keep drawing and reading and developing your ideas and techniques and style. And tap into your inner child an play.

This is one of my favorite quotes from the amazing author Neil Gaiman. It’s from the commencement speech he gave for the University of Arts Class of 2012 and is truly one of the best and most inspirational speeches I’ve ever heard. It’s on YouTube and it’s totally worth checking out if you haven’t already seen/listened to it yet.
Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.

Make good art.

I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you can do best. Make good art. Make it on the bad days. Make it on the good days too. And …while you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do.

― Neil Gaiman, Make Good Art

 

Thank you Lesley for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Lesley’s work, you can visit her at her website: http://www.lesleybreenwithrow.com/

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Lesley. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

OCTOBER AGENT OF THE MONTH: JENNIFER MARCH SOLOWAY ASSOCIATE AGENT AT ANDREA BROWN LITERARY.

Jennifer represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and YA stories, and is actively building her list. Although she specializes in children’s literature, she also represents adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and horror projects.

For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end.

When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasy.

YA is Jennifer’s sweet spot. She is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative. Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature.

That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!

HERE IS PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER:

Any pet peeves?

Overheard conversations.

However, I also think overheard conversations present an opportunity for revision and to elevate the story. Usually an author uses an overheard conversation to convey information to the character and the reader, but such scenes almost always feel passive, convenient and implausible to me. I like to help my clients think of another way for the character to actively seek and discover that same information with agency—instead of overhearing exactly what they need to know to move the drama forward. A character driving her story is always more gratifying and compelling to me.

Do you give editorial feedback to your clients?

Yes. My goal is to help my clients revise and polish their manuscripts for publication and make their project the best it can be, so I spend a lot of time reading client manuscripts and providing editorial feedback. I want to put our very best foot forward.

Do you have an editorial style?

I try to be detailed and encouraging; I don’t like to be harsh or blunt. My editorial approach is to consider every negative a positive. In other words, if something isn’t working—the scene is confusing, the character’s feelings are vague, there’s too much summary, on and on—that spot is an opportunity to make the project better. Same goes for repetition in language or the use of clichés; I see that language as a placeholder for a future draft, when you can go back and polish the words at the line level. It’s amazing what just a few additional beats of detail or inner mind or context can do to a story. I love to help writers see those possibilities in their work. Nothing gives me greater joy than to help someone find their story or polish their project. I love to be a cheerleader for my clients. Writing is hard; publishing is even harder. It takes guts, thick skin, and sheer tenacity to keep going.

How many clients do you have or want to build up to?

Good question. I’m still early in my career and trying to figure out the right balance. My goal is to always best serve all of my clients, and I have yet to discern how many clients I can represent without spreading myself too thin. Right now, I am able to support all of my clients, and I have energy and room to represent additional clients—and would love to find more. Please query me!

What is your typical response time to email/phone calls with your clients?

I try to respond within 24 hours or sooner.

How do you like to communicate (email vs. phone)? And how often do you communicate during the submission process?

I am available via email, phone, Skype or Google+, and text for quick questions. I work closely with my clients and inform them every step of the process.

What happens if you don’t sell this book?

It depends on the project. Either we revise and try again, or if the project isn’t selling because of market conditions, we might set it aside for a while and try again later.

How many editors do you go to before giving up?

It depends on the project and the client’s goals.

How long is your average client relationship?

Right now, more than a year, but I am a new agent as of 2016 and have yet to part ways with any of my clients.

Do you handle your own foreign/film rights contracts or does your firm have someone else who handles those contracts?

Our agency partners with The Taryn Fagerness Agency for foreign rights. She has sold hundreds of books into the foreign market and has experience selling foreign rights for New York Times bestselling authors, first time authors, and in nearly all genres. She attends the major international book fairs on our behalf, pitching our titles to foreign co-agents and foreign publishers.

Regarding film and television, our agency works with a variety of co-agents, including those from APA, CAA, Gotham Group, Hotchkiss & Associates, IPG, RWSG, and William Morris Endeavor.

Are you open to authors who write multiple genres?

Yes.

Are you interested in being invited to writer’s conferences?

Yes. I love going to conferences and meeting writers. Please keep me in mind.

Thank you Jennifer for the Interview. Great answers.

STOP BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR THE WHAT JENNIFER HAS TO SAY ABOUT THE FOUR FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 19, 2017

Book Giveaway: Famously Phoebe by Lori Alexander

Congratulations to Lori Alexander on her new picture book – FAMOUSLY PHOEBE launching October 31st. Lori has agreed to give one book away. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Phoebe was the shining star of her family. Then someone came along to take her place.   

For as long as Phoebe can remember, she’s known the clickety click click of a photographer snapping her picture. Thanks to the camera-carrying “paparazzi” (aka Mom and Dad), she’s always been the star of the show . . . until the day a tiny newcomer arrives on set.

Will Phoebe learn to share the spotlight and assume the role she was born to play: big sister? This sweet tale of sibling rivalry resolved is perfect for every older brother and sister.

BOOK’S JOURNEY:

The idea for FAMOUSLY PHOEBE was generated during Tara Lazar’s “Picture Book Idea Month” back in November 2014. For those of you who have not participated, the month-long challenge is a time to brainstorm 30 ideas in 30 days for future writing projects. Guest bloggers share their own tips for getting the creative juices flowing when you may be feeling less than inspired. Plus, prizes. Lots of prizes! (FYI, the challenge has been renamed “Storystorm” and now takes place every January).

Idea #24 on my list was: A girl’s family takes so many pictures of her, she thinks she might be famous.” I was pretty new to social media back then and found it funny the things some of my friends were posting online (baby pictures…so many baby pictures!). At the same time, my seven-year-old daughter wanted me to take pictures of her new haircut. And she wanted to see each one immediately, on the digital camera. I tried to explain how we had to wait for film to be developed back in my day. How it might be months before my parents actually finished a roll of film and finally dropped it off to be turned into a stack of photographs.  My new haircut would have been well grown out by the time I saw the picture. Boy, times have changed!

So I had an idea about a girl who loved being in the spotlight, but it still was pretty thin. I needed to flesh out my main character and give her a real-deal problem. I thought about how much attention a first-born child receives and how things shift when a sibling comes along. Now Phoebe had a problem to deal with: a younger co-star arrives on-set. Baby sister, Rose, is stealing the spotlight! Phoebe feels like an “extra” or worse yet, a personal assistant.

But as many of us know, those little brothers and sisters sneak into our hearts. After lots of action, comedy, and drama, Phoebe finds a way to connect with Rose like no one else can. And Phoebe graciously accepts her new role: big sister. She was born to play the lead!

It was fun to sprinkle Hollywood lingo throughout the story. One spread shows Rose in the midst of her very specific baby routine: liking only one kind of toy, drinking only one kind of milk, sleeping only one kind of way. Phoebe thinks, “Geesh, What a diva!”

The manuscript went through a bit of editing once it was acquired by Sterling Children’s Books in summer 2015. The biggest revision was a new ending. I tend to write funny more than sweet, but the final spread is big on heart and is my very favorite in the book. Of course, this story of sibling rivalry resolved didn’t really come to life until French illustrator, Aurélie Blard-Quintard, worked her magic. Her watercolor and colored pencil artwork is lovely, cover to cover. I hope you join the Phoebe fan-club and check this one out!

LORI’S BIO:

Lori Alexander is the author of BACKHOE JOE (Harper Children’s), FAMOUSLY PHOEBE (Sterling Children’s) and the upcoming ALL IN A DROP, a biography of scientist Antony van Leeuwenhoek (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She happily shares the spotlight with her husband and two children under the star-filled skies of Tucson, AZ. You can find out more about Lori on her website at: lorialexanderbooks.com

Thank you Lori for sharing your book, its’ journey, and participating in our book giveaway. It looks like a wonderful picture book and wish you tremendous success. Please share your future successes with us.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 18, 2017

Picture Book Writers: First Page Opportunity with Alli Brydon

Alli Brydon is a creative editorial professional and writer based in the New York City area. She has nearly 15 years of experience developing and editing children’s books for U.S. publishing houses. Having worked as both an acquiring editor and an agent for children’s book authors and illustrators, she brings a unique blend of skills to all projects. While her specialty is in children’s books, Alli is available to hire for any of your editing and writing needs.

Alli has agreed to critiquing 4 Picture Book First Pages – one each Wednesday starting October 25th. See Submission Guides at the bottom of this post.

SHE IS OFFERING A TEN PERCENT DISCOUNT OFF HER SERVICES FOR ANYONE FOLLOWING WRITING AND ILLUSTRATING.COM

Alli says, ‘Whether you’re an author looking to self-publish or get noticed by agents and publishers, or you’re an in-house editor with too much on your plate right now, let me make your words sparkle! With nearly 15 years of professional experience as a children’s book industry insider, I am the expert you need to help you craft, edit, and polish your words.”

Alli is an editor, writer, publishing market expert, meticulous proofreader, salesperson, and project manager.  Having worked with almost every publishing house in the US and UK as both editor and literary agent, she has unique knowledge of the many facets of the industry.

She grew up in a family of visual artists, wordsmiths, and readers, who nurtured both the creative and detail-oriented sides of my personality. After she earned my MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005, my passion for economical language and evocative imagery led me to a career in children’s book publishing. Equally at home at an art museum or in the library, at the beach or on the ski slopes, reading children’s books with my kids or writing them in my spare time, binging Game of Thrones or hiking in the woods near my Westchester, NY home—I balance life with work, perseverance, and good ol’ ink, sweat, & laughs!

Services For Publishers, Authors, Illustrators, and Other Professionals

Developmental and Substantive Editing

Writing/Content Development

Copy Editing

Proofreading

Photo Research

Book Proposal Consultation

Query Letter Critique

Illustrator Portfolio Review

Illustrator Web Site Review

Coaching in Picture Book Writing

Contact Alli to discuss your project and ask about rates: allibrydoncreative@gmail.com

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES For FIRST PAGE PICTURE BOOK CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “2017 First Page Picture Book Critique” and paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you include your name, the title of the piece, and confirm it’s a picture book at the top on both the email and the Word document (Make sure you include your name with the title of your book, when you save the first page).

SUBMISSIONS DEADLINE: October 31st.

REMEMBER: ATTACH THE WORD DOCUMENT AND NOT GET ELIMINATED!

Your First Page Word document should be formatted using one inch margins and 12 point New Times Roman font – double space – no more than 23 lines – only one page. Send to: kathy(dot)temean(at)gmail(dot)com.

PLEASE FOLLOW THE GUIDELINES: Your submission will be passed over if you do not follow the directions for both the pasted email and the attached Word doc. This is where most people mess up.

Please check back next Wednesday.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 17, 2017

ASK CAT

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On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Catugeau Artist Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.

chrisandchristy

Here’s Chris:

Happy creative Oct!  though summer does seem to want to continue endlessly this year !  Just as I’m going to ‘endlessly’ add on to my Aug. ‘ASK CAT’ about pricing and other market matters!  We keep getting questions about particulars and that is GREAT! 

1.)  “considering taxes and rep commissions the $5000 for a picture book (or educational book) is more like $2500 or $3000?  

Good of you to actually figure this out!  and YES!  gulp!  Reps usually take 25% of fairly priced offers (some more)  and yes if you are in the 25% tax bracket then together half of your fee will be going elsewhere.  But you have the other half!  You have work!  You have more wonderful samples to show off so next time you can get a higher fee! For a normal trade picture book with a medium or large house the fee should be closer to $10,000 or more depending. But the % are the same.  Have to note here:  it is extremely hard to find educational work if you aren’t with an agent.  Most is done through design studios they change often as do personnel and their clients and artistic needs.  Even though fees and taxes DO hurt, you have the work and the earnings! And they are done FAST so you can do a lot of them…. more $$$.

2.) “do publishers pay illustrators in the typical ‘on signing’/upon delivery/upon publication’ payments over the course of two or more years, making the actual yearly earnings small.”

I have to speak to educational jobs first.  Those are paid normally just once…when you get the finals in and they are accepted. But the payments are within 30 days almost always.  For TRADE books, often they are the 3 payments…. on signing, at sketch stage, and at approval of finals.  All paid normally within 30 days of invoice.  Often publishers now will attempt to stretch the final payment until ‘on publication’ which does add a year.  We try never to accept that, but without an agent you might have to.  We don’t feel it’s fair.  You complete a job…you should be paid.

As to ‘actual yearly earnings small’…. that is a relative statement as it depends on expectations, speed of work, and how much you can take on.  This is most often a ‘free lance’ industry as I mentioned last month.  Some artists by taking on overlapping trade and educational work can make a very good living at it. Many do editorial work and/or advertising jobs.  Many also are fine artists and show in galleries and festivals.  What is your energy level and tolerance?  Be honest with yourself.  Nothing is certain however.  One year might be fabulous and the next year you are barely working.  It IS a bit of a ‘labor of love’, but with good work ethic and determination, promotion, client follow through, and some sleepless nights you can make a living. (like Dan Santat…yes!)

3.) “…you mentioned for some trade projects can you negotiate for a royalty later. Should this be stated in the original contract?”

SORRY…you misunderstood my comment.  You negotiate for a royalty at the beginning of a trade book project so it is in the contract.  What I’d mentioned is that at times for a most successful series/chapter book/etc. that are often a flat fee (no royalty) to begin with, one might negotiate later for a small royalty due to the series success.  This would NOT be in the original contract.  It only happens when there has been great success and they wish the same illustrator to continue.  (you then have negotiating leverage) After 4 or so in a series an artist might want to try and negotiate for a higher initial fee as well for the same reason.

4.) Sharon asks:  “Would it be best for a professionally published artist/author to try for a LIT. REP for dummies? rather than a ARTIST REP?  Have authored 1 book, but illustrated many books , mostly edu. and want to break free from that mold”

I have written on this subject before, but to make clearer yet…. this is a very personal decision.  As Artist Agents predominately, we think we can represent the artist perhaps best for ALL their artistic endeavors…writing and illustrating. In fact we are dropping the ‘Artist’ in our agency name this next year. We’ve done both quite a few times, but not all Artist Agents do.  So check that out as you research. Often a client who loves the art will WANT to see the dummy ideas…clammer for them in fact!  Insider doorway!  There is no reason one couldn’t present to TRADE outlets even though you have done mostly educational.  BUT it will require a different LOOK/STYLE no doubt. That is up to YOU …not the agent.

Going with a LIT AGENT might be a good split though if you are looking for just the writing with a new style of art possibly too for that sort of work.  Many’ Lit Agents’ do take on artist/writers now. I assume they have a good eye and knowledge of art to help guide the artist in you.  😉

I have several more questions to answer in Nov. on this same track.  Thank you for asking for the ‘closer details’ of the business of children’s book art!  Happy to share….so do ASK!

Do send on more questions about our wonderful industry!!

####

Christina A. Tugeau Artist Agency LLC is the first mother/daughter agency in the business! A trained artist herself with a BA in Fine Art, Chris Tugeau has been in the children’s illustration industry for over 25 years. Since opening her own agency in 1994, Chris has enjoyed representing many talented artists, and has been an active part of the illustration community; writing and presenting for SCBWI regions around the country. She is also the author of SCBWI Illustrator Guidelines. A veteran artist and rep, Chris is an advocate for ethical fairness and the bright future of children’s publishing. She’s also a mother of 3, a grandmother to 8, and best friend to husband, Bill.

Chris and Christy, Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer questions and helping everyone trying to build their careers in the children’s publishing industry. This was a terrific questions and a terrific answer. – Great article.

Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.

Thank you Chris and Christy for more great answers.

NOW SIT DOWN AND WRITE UP YOUR QUESTIONS FOR “ASK CAT.”

Hope this illustration by Priscilla Burris will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy.  http://www.priscillaburris.com/Priscilla.html

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 16, 2017

Book Giveaway – PIZZA DAY by Melissa Iwai

Congratulations to Melissa Iwai on her new picture book – PIZZA DAY launching October 31st. Melissa has agreed to give one book away. All you have to do to get in the running is to leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you did to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Check back to discover the winner.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

A young boy and his father gather ingredients in the garden to prepare pizza on a hot day in this preschool picture book companion to Soup Day.
On a sunny, summer day, a young boy and his father assemble the ingredients for a homemade pizza. From gathering fresh garden herbs to rolling out the dough for a crust to spreading on sauce and cheese, this picture book leads young chefs step-by-step through the process of making a favorite meal. A pizza recipe completes this appealing preschool offering.

BOOK’S JOURNEY:

When my son Jamie was a toddler, he didn’t like eating vegetables. To encourage him to broaden his palate, I started involving him more in the cooking process. I let him choose vegetables at the green grocer and help me prepare them by washing them at home. I’d help him cut some soft ones, such as mushrooms and zucchini (with my hand guiding his) with a plastic knife.

I developed a special veggie soup that became his favorite (probably because he would help to make it). I wrote a story about it and that became SOUP DAY.

SOUP DAY takes place in the city in the winter. It features a little girl and her mom and the comforting soup they make on a snowy day. I wanted to also write a companion book that took place in a rural setting in summer. That was the genesis of PIZZA DAY.

PIZZA DAY features a little boy and his dad and the Garden Pizza they make on a summer’s day. They use vegetables that they have grown in their garden instead of buying them in a store.

With both stories I wanted to promote the joy of cooking with kids, teaching them kitchen skills, and making healthy, delicious food.

I’m happy to also report that during the intervening years between the publications of SOUP DAY and PIZZA DAY, Jamie love of cooking has only grown. Now a teenager, he often cooks meals all by himself. He loves to find new recipes online, as well as experiment on his own.

I hope kids as well as adults enjoy PIZZA DAY and the board book version of SOUP DAY, which come out together October 31st!

MESLISSA’S BIO:

Melissa Iwai is the children’s book author and illustrator of Soup Day. She has also illustrated numerous picture books, including Let’s Go to the Hardware Store, Truck Stop, a 2014 Bank Street Library Best Book, Hush Little Monster, B is for Bulldozer, as well as many others. All of her books may be viewed at: http://www.melissaiwai.com/
View daily work on Instagram which often features sketches of her life in Brooklyn, NY: https://www.instagram.com/melissaiwai1/

Thank you Melissa to sharing another incredible book and journey with us.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 15, 2017

Book Winners – Kudo’s & Industry Changes

Darla (Don’t know last name) has won

The Clueless Girl’s Guide To Being A Genius by Janice Repka

Rita Goldner has won Marielle in Paris by Maxine Rose Schur –

Illustrated by Jeanne de Sainte Marie

Please send me your addresses.

Annie Silvestro’s BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL, with illustrations by Tatjana Mai-Wyss, the sequel to BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB, in which Bunny and his book-loving forest friends head to school to help a new friend settle in on her first day, to Frances Gilbert at Doubleday Children’s, for publication in Summer 2019, by Liza Voges at Eden Street for the author.

Amalia Hoffman has signed a two book deal with Schiffer Publishing, for two board books, sold by agent Anna Olaswanger scheduled for publication in Fall/Winter, 2018.

Amalia Hoffman has also won the PJ Library’s Author Incentive Award for my upcoming book, Dreidel Day Can.

At Simon & Schuster, Stuart Roberts has been promoted to associate editor and Zachary Knoll has been promoted to assistant editor.

Lara Jones has been promoted to assistant editor at Emily Bestler Books.

At Simon & Schuster, Julianna Haubner has been promoted to associate editor.

At Orbit, Brit Hvide has been promoted to senior editor and Nivia Evans has been promoted to associate editor.

Michelle Campbell joins Little, Brown Children’s as senior manager of school and library marketing. She was most recently manager of library and educational marketing for Scholastic.

Margo Lipschultz will join G.P. Putnam’s Sons as executive editor on October 23. Most recently she was senior editor for Harlequin.

At Touchstone, Matthew Benjamin has been promoted to executive editor and Lara Blackman has been promoted to assistant editor.

Chris Russell has left Viking to join Axios as expert voices editor.

At Albert Whitman, Sue Tarsky has been promoted to publishing director

Molly O’Neill has joined Root Literary as agent, still based in New York. She was most recently an agent at Waxman Leavell Agency.

Margo Beth Fleming has joined Brockman, Inc. as a literary agent. She was senior editor at Stanford University Press, where she worked for the last 11 years.

Jordan Kost has joined Sourcebooks as creative director for children’s. Previously she was creative director for Albert Whitman.

Margo Beth Fleming has joined Brockman as literary agent. She was previously senior editor at Stanford University Press.

Heather Jackson, most recently at the David Black Literary Agency, has launched Heather Jackson Literary Agency, a full-service agency focused on commercial nonfiction and fiction.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 14, 2017

Illustrator Saturday – Rahele Jomepour Bell

Rahele Jomepour Bell is an international award-wining artist who right now is focusing on picture book illustration, which is her real love. She also enjoys painting, collage, animation, printmaking and the list goes on. I love telling stories with pictures. Discovering a new medium and exploring a new technique is the most exciting part of my creation. Recently painting with natural mediums such as gouache and pencil is my favorite.

I have graduated with MFA in Integrated Visual Arts from Iowa State University in 2015, I now live and work in my home studio located in a beautiful tiny city of Ames in the state of Iowa. It looks out over a small Iowa yard, with low-speed railroad tracks in the distance. I like watching the train crawl by, especially when I see a rabbit or a squirrel watching. What are they thinking?”

Here is Rahele discussing her process:

I transfer my little thumbnail sketch to a paper drawing. I slowly add details.

Then I add layers of shading and lighting. This is the final drawing.

I scan the final drawing and paint with natural brushes on Photoshop.

How long have you been illustrating?

During high school, I started my first professional experience in the most famous children Caricature Magazine in Iran called “Gol Agha”, and I was 18 years old when I found the chance of doing an internship in one of the most famous publications in Iran ‘Beh-Nashr, resulting in publication of my first two books in 2001.

What and when was the first painting or illustration that you did where someone paid you for your artwork?

My first published illustration that I got paid actually happened when I just graduated from college with B.F.A in Graphic Design. The publisher paid me but never published the artwork. Because I illustrated the groom and bride were dancing in the picture and it was forbidden in that time. I do not have the original piece but I have a picture of the work in progress.

But right after it, one of my classmates who was the art director of a children magazine in that time asked me to do about 6 illustrations for their magazine. The magazine was called “Tiz-Houshan” for kids ages from 9 to 12. Here are some of those illustrations:

 

What made you choose to attend the Iowa State University for art?

I did research for M.F.A programs in Illustration and there are a few universities that offer this program but most of them are private schools and they consider illustration more as a communication design degree not fine arts. I found the illustrated picture books by Professor Chuck Richards and I could not wait to be his student.

What type of things do you study to get an MFA in Integrated Visual Arts?

At this program, I could have different opportunities to take a variety of classes and studios included of painting studios, textile, drawing, and illustration.

The underground comic art class helped me with my character design, their gestures and facial features, use of visual metaphor and understanding how much storytelling, composition, and point of view can be related to each other. Also working with Professor Chuck Richards, I learned how the marriage of text and image is so important for making a book. I have learned I can use my story telling and narrative style in illustrating a book but still be concerned about the text and follow the story.

Do you think art school influenced your style?

It is not about art school, it is about other artists from other part of planet you meet at school. My reason of coming to the united states and study at ISU was being in contact with international artists from all over the world, in an educational institute and being able to expand my knowledge and understanding of Art. I know the best artists who are self-thought and they are my heroes such as Beatrice Alemagna and Henri Rousseau

What job did you do right after you graduated?

I did a children’s picture book illustration project and have five books that are published in 2016; Tehran, Iran by Balout Books Publishing house ( Faray-e Elm).

How did you come up with the idea for the illustration you did for the 2016 Iowa Conference – Explore Your Storybook World flyer?

Thanks to Dorothia Rohner; Iowa SCBWI art coordinator for choosing me to design this flyer. I had a lot of fun doing this illustration project. I believe each book leads children to new adventures. We as authors or illustrators trying to help children to explore and find their own world by reading our books, but first we need to explore ourselves in our own story that we are telling.

How long did that take you to do?

A week; counting all sketches and playing with the composition.

Do you art exhibits to help promote yourself?

Yes, it does and I also enjoy meeting and talking to people who are interested about my art.

Do you have an artist rep. or an agent? If so, who? If not, would you like to have one?

I do not have an agent yet but YES! I would love to have a right agent to represent me.

What type of things do you do to get illustrations jobs?

Being a member of SCBWI and getting involved in different art events and conferences or even doing some volunteer illustration jobs helps me to get illustration commission.

How did you get the opportunity to paint a bench in a shopping area?

My mother in law who also is an artist knew about this public art opportunity, she gave me the website address and I submitted my artwork, and it was selected. It also won the second jury prize!

How long did that take you to do?

About a week, every day working from morning to the late afternoon.

Did the weather interfere? How did you treat it when done, so it will hold up in the elements?

The weather was very nice, it was May 2016. A little bit windy but not distractive. First, before start painting I sanded the bench very well, this helps the wood absorbs the paint better. At the end, I varnished the bench in three layers, 2 layers right after getting the painting done and one layer a week later.

Do you ever get contacted from people seeing the link to your website on the bench?

Yes! People sent me their pictures with the bench and it was so lovely to see them enjoying their time seating on that bench I painted.

Do you do any artwork other than children’s illustrations?

I am also painting. My paintings subject is mostly about women and their roles in the contemporary era. I make dolls, I sculpt little creatures with clay.

Marker pen and gouache on wood.2015 Romeo and Juliet, Scenic paint on canvas, 2016

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate for children?

One of the biggest influences on my interest in illustration started from my childhood. From the first years of elementary school I was hooked on those books which were illustrated by very best illustrators of the world. I wanted to be that person who draws pictures like those images in picture books.

Have you done any book covers?

I have done book cover artworks but it is just for self-promotion.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate your own children’s book?

This is my dream! My husband and I are working on the story ideas which have the potential of being children’s book.

Would you be open to illustrating a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

If I love the story, YES! Why not! 

Have you worked with educational publishers?

I have done educational illustrations for Iranian publishers but not in the United States yet. For sure, I would love to do the educational illustrations.

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines?

Yes, both inside of the U.S and outside. But I got published as an illustrator for the first time in the U.S with illustrating stories from Cricket Media/ Faces Magazine.

Have you tried to illustrate a wordless picture book?

It is under process. In my opinion, it takes more time in compare with other type of picture books.

Have you put together a picture book dummy to show off your talent?

I am working on two picture book dummies. I am not in a hurry, I know it is something that needs time and focus and of course a lot of revising.

What is your favorite medium to use?

Pencil and gouache, paper collage! I love to combine these mediums with digital technique. By this I have the chance of keeping the organic feeling of traditional mediums and also having a good result of printing from digital touch.

Has that changed over time?

Oh yes! I have worked with a lot of different mediums!

Do you have a studio set up in your home?

My studio is in our basement, what I care is having a big table to work and my art supplies.

What is the one thing in your studio that you could not live without?

My favorite picture books I have collected over the years.

Do you try to spend a specific amount of time working on your craft?

I try to spend drawing every day even half an hour! Sometimes I go there to my studio and I might just read about art online (such as your blog) or dig another illustrator’s work. It helps me to get motivated and Jing the bell of creativity in my brain!

Do you take pictures or do any types of research before you start a project?

A lot! I spent more time to do research rather than doing the artwork by itself. I take photos with my smart phone, save some of my favorite artist’s art sample for my inspiration. Oh! Pinterest and Instagram, these two social medias are the best inspiring references for me too!

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

Internet and social medias helped me to find lots of artist friends form other sides of the earth! It is very important to know other artists who share the same thing you love. I cannot be happy without being in contact with other artists and creative people. And social media improved this goal for me.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I use both Photoshop and Illustrator program as a digital tool to create my art work.


Do you own or have you used a Graphic Drawing Tablet in your illustrating?

Yes, I have an Intuos drawing tablet.

Do you have any career dreams that you want to fulfill?

I want my books in hands of children all over the world! Even someday in hands of children living on Mars.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am being prepared for two upcoming art shows I will have one in December and one in February. I am also getting ready for Iowa SCBWI conference in Cedar Rapids this October. I am going to meet so many talented people, and very special art director from Cricket Media; John Sandford! I am pretty excited about this conference!

Do you have any material type tips you can share with us? Example: Paint or paper that you love – the best place to buy – a new product that you’ve tried – A how to tip, etc.

I always love to draw on very smooth papers and I have tried different kind of papers to find the right one. I love Moleskin sketchbook papers a lot, but they are expensive! Somehow, I could find the same type of paper, but much more affordable. It’s Egg shell colored Mohawk fine paper. It is very soft and smooth and gives you a great surface for using drawing pencils.

Any words of wisdom on how to become a successful writer or illustrator?

I am on my own way to be a good illustrator, I am still learning but one thing that really has helped me is this word from my husband; “Never give up and never get disappointed’! Always be consistent about reaching your goals!

 

Thank you Rahele for sharing your talent, process, journey, and expertise with us. Please make sure you keep in touch and share your future successes with us. To see more of Rahele’s work, you can visit her at her website: http://www.rahelestudio.com/

If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Rahele. I am sure she’d love it and I enjoy reading them, too. Thanks!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

OCTOBER AGENT OF THE MONTH: JENNIFER MARCH SOLOWAY ASSOCIATE AGENT AT ANDREA BROWN LITERARY.

Jennifer represents authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and YA stories, and is actively building her list. Although she specializes in children’s literature, she also represents adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and horror projects.

For picture books, she is drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but she always appreciates a strong dose of humor and some kind of surprise at the end.

When it comes to middle grade, she likes all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasy.

YA is Jennifer’s sweet spot. She is a suspense junkie. She adores action-packed thrillers full of unexpected twists. Throw in a dash of romance, and she’s hooked! She’s a sucker for conspiracy plots where anyone might be a double agent, even the kid next door. She is a huge fan of psychological horror that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as she loves a good thriller, she finds her favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction. In such stories, she is particularly drawn to a close, confiding first-person narrative. Regardless of genre, she is actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature.

That’s her wish list, but the truth is an author might have something she has never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for her. She is open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise her!

HERE IS PART ONE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER:

What are your favorite genres?

Contemporary YA
Literary suspense
Literary thrillers & mysteries
Literary psychological horror
MG mysteries
MG humor
Laugh-out-loud picture books

Are there any story or themes you wished someone would submit?

I would love to find something like THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, by Sherman Alexi—such a great book! His voice is so honest and real, yet funny. I especially love a close, confiding, authentic first-person narrative. Best of all, it gives insight to a world I wouldn’t never find or know on my own.

Do you represent New Adult manuscripts?

No.

If you had a client that wrote YA and decided to write a New Adult Novel would you represent them with that?

It would depend on the project. I wonder if the “New Adult” novel might be an adult project, which is a much broader category with greater publishing opportunities.

What do you like to see in a submission?

The projects that capture my interest have at least three of the six following traits:

(1) A dynamite opening line (or lines)
(2) A strong, engaging voice
(3) An intriguing premise that somehow feels different from anything else I’ve seen
(4) An opening scene filled with drama that had enough context to immediately ground me in the world and suck me into the story
(5) An irresistible character with high stakes and agency
(6) An additional story thread that is also compelling

And the ones I request right away have all of the above.

How important is the query letter?

Query letters are important, and I appreciate a well-crafted, professional letter. The query is an opportunity to introduce oneself and the project, and it creates my first impression of the author and/or illustrator.

But for me, the most important piece is the writing. If I fall in love with the story and the writing, I don’t mind if the pitch isn’t perfect.

How far do you normally read before you reject a submission?

I always err on the side of caution. If I see potential in something, but I’m not sure, I’ll mark it a “maybe.” I might go back to that project and read it several times to make sure I’m not missing something. I want to fall in love with a project, and I read everything with that hope.

Would you lose interest in a submission if the writer missed correcting a few misspelled words?

I prefer a clean manuscript, but if the writing is amazing, a few minor editing errors aren’t deal killers for me.

Do you let people know if you are not interested in what they sent?

I read every query carefully, and I wish I could respond to everyone personally. Unfortunately, because of the high volume of material our agency receives, we are not able to respond personally to every submission. If I responded to everyone who queried me, I wouldn’t have time to represent my clients.

How long does it usually take to respond to requested material?

I try to respond within 6-8 weeks, or sooner if I can.

Do the agents at Andrea Brown ever hand off a submission to another agent, if it doesn’t work for them, but is a good story and is written well?

Yes, we’re a collaborative agency. If I see something that I think would be a good fit for my colleague, I will pass it to them, and they will do the same for me.

Have you noticed any common mistakes that writers make?

I think the biggest mistake is submitting work too soon. I see potential in almost every submission, but most projects I receive are at too early a stage for me to offer representation. The drafts tend to be too raw and in need of more work. Often, I can tell the author is still writing to discover, or if they have discovered the end, they have yet to rework the beginning and middle.

I am looking for something with potential, something I think I can sell. I want to read the story and have a vision for how the work could be elevated and polished. A manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but at the same time, it has to be really good.

CHECK BACK NEXT FRIDAY FOR PART TWO OF MY INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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