Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 30, 2022

September Agent of the Month Lynnette Novak – First Page Results

SEPTEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH
LYNETTE NOVAK

Agent Lynnette Novak at The Seymour Agency

Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent 17 years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as the New York Times and the USA Today bestselling authors.

Lynnette earned a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2015 and 2016. Both her mentees acquired an agent.

Although Lynnette was born and raised in Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends.

She loves dark and suspenseful, mysterious twists, unique worlds, light and funny, a good love story, and lots of voice. Lynnette is always looking for diverse and LGBTQ+ authors and wants to share more of these marginalized voices with the world.

Currently looking for: (Always looking for marginalized 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.

To Query: https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak

Email for Other Concerns: lynnette@theseymouragency.com

Twitter: @Lynnette_Novak

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FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES WITH LYNNETTE:

Debbie Vilardi                         Grandma’s Bat Mitzvah                    Contemporary Picture Book

Grandma caught up to Shanna at her cousin Sarah’s Bat Mitzvah. “I wish I could read Hebrew like you. You read beautifully.” [LN1]I’m not sure you’re starting at the right place. This feels like a narrator, but farther down, Shanna is narrating.

Shanna paused. [LN2]What is she pausing? I don’t think you need to tell us. If she had been reading and now she’s replying to Grandma, the reader will understand that she’s no longer reading. With picture books, especially, you need to make sure every word is necessary. But you read. I heard you.” [LN3]When? Where?

“I read the transliterations,” Grandma explained, [LN4]Telling “the English letters that sound like the Hebrew. In my day, Hebrew school was for boys.”

“That’s not fair.” Shanna couldn’t imagine being kept from Hebrew school. That meant no tasting fruit from Israel, no helping older kids with service projects before their Mitzvah celebrations, no Chanukah parties, and no Bat Mitzvah. [LN5]This is great! I can already imagine the illustrations! How could you skip the celebration that meant you were a grown-up Jew?

The following Thursday afternoon, Shanna jumped from the bus . [LN6]Why then? Why not decide during that conversation? Not to say she should necessarily. If she doesn’t, we need to know she’s been thinking about this and Thursday is when the idea came to her. Ground us. Let us know Grandma is there waiting for her. “I’ll teach you Hebrew.”

“Oh, no. That’s okay. My time is past.”

“No, it’s not. First, you’ll learn to read like me and then you’ll have a Bat Mitzvah. Come on.” Shanna raced home.

Once inside, Granma caught her breath. [LN7]How old is Grandma? Would they really race? “I can’t learn Hebrew now. I have to start dinner.”

Soon the smell of diced onions filled the room. Shanna offered to peel carrots. [LN8]I’m not sure how much of the story will be in the kitchen cooking, but I wanted to let you know editors are telling agents the market is saturated with grandparent/grandchild cooking stories. “So, is this what you learned instead of Hebrew?”

“Yes, and how to keep Kosher and the blessings for the candles. Things needed in a Jewish home.”

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is an interesting beginning. I think it’s cute that Shanna wants to teach Grandma how to read Hebrew. Great idea!

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

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MAGAWA’S MISSION (PB) by Hannah Roy LaGrone – 508 words + back matter

Baby Magawa [LN1]We need an art note that tells us what kind of animal this is. At first, I thought it was a human baby. Then, I thought maybe a rat, but bananas, peanuts, and watermelon made me wonder if it was something else… is four weeks old when he opens his eyes for the first time—and immediately begins his HeroRAT Training.

In a lab in Morogoro, Tanzania, he prepares for a mission that will take him five thousand miles away, to sniff out buried weapons of war.

Magawa starts with baby steps: interacting with the scientists who train him to get comfortable around humans and wearing a harness so he can later walk on a lead and explore.

Then, at ten weeks, he learns to follow clicks.                                                                                   Each one means a delicious reward! [Art: bananas, peanuts, watermelon]

Explore…                                CLICK! Snacktime! YUM!

find targets…                          CLICK! Snacktime! YUM!

and sniff out a certain smell.   CLICK! Snacktime! YUM!

He’s searching for TNT, a material that makes weapons explode. Humans’ noses [LN2] Human noses…  aren’t powerful enough to smell the dangerous material, but with Magawa’s super sniffer, he’s a champion TNT-finder.

As an African giant pouched rat, Magawa’s body is perfect for this job:                                          a sensitive nose to sniff out hidden weapons,                                                                              a lightweight body to quickly explore dangerous ground without causing any explosions,   and a brilliant brain to easily complete his HeroRAT training.

CRUNCH!                                         [art: eating peanuts when he successfully finds TNT]

He practices searching larger and larger areas for the smell of TNT buried underground.

Check!                         CRUNCH!                                         [art: eating peanuts]

He learns to avoid smells that aren’t TNT.                             [art: buried decoy targets]

Finally, he takes his field test. [Art: Field is 8600 sq ft.]

Magawa faces an enormous land plot. His trainers have buried TNT, as well as other smells to try to trick him.

Sniff, sniff, sniff! Just a decoy. Kkeep moving.

Sniff, sniff… wait! Scratch! Yes. Ignoring the trick smells [LN3] This bumped me. Can you find another way to say this?, he finds every hidden TNT target.

Magawa is ready. And he’s not a baby anymore. He’s a full-grown, one-year-old HeroRAT.

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is an interesting topic, one I haven’t come across yet. Good job! I think kids will like the sounds (click, crunch) and I could see them making those sounds as someone reads the book to them.

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

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IDEAL DOG by Suzanne Morrone

The corridor is so white and slick and clean, I imagine I’m an atom, shooting down the long clear tube of a particle accelerator. [LN1]I’d like to see a hookier first line. Plus, we need to be grounded more than this. Let us know he’s in the hospital. My trajectory is straight out of here, back to my own life[LN2]Interesting. We know the kid likes science. Back to Blueberry. [LN3]I want to know a little more about him. Why did they call him Blueberry? If that’s too much to explain here, you can wait, but I’m sure readers would like to know. I can almost smell his fur, feel his paw as he hits me, [LN4] Maybe he taps Nick? Hit sounds harsh. demanding I throw his ball. Being with him is the opposite of being here[LN5]I think you can dig deeper here and be more specific. . I imagine [LN6]You already used “imagine” in the first line. Can you try something else here to keep the writing fresh? the tickle of his whiskers, and smile. I’ve forgotten[LN7]Some people will say that since we’re in his POV, he wouldn’t be able to tell us he’d forgotten this. Others might think it needs more, like the thought isn’t finished. I think you added it for humor, but what hit me when I read this was the image of the dog getting smashed to smithereens. I wonder if you couldn’t try something else to end this paragraph or simply cut this line. , for the moment, that the point of hurtling an atom at supersonic speeds is to smash it to smithereens.

Grandpa once told me that like the atom, things in life can shatter, and in the end, it can turn out to be the best thing for you. But that’s not how it seemed to me [LN8]We’re in his POV, so you don’t need this. when I ruined our vacation by falling and knocking myself out[LN9] I was bumped out of the story because I had to go back and read the previous sentence again. I’m not sure it works to compare “things in life shattering” to “ruining a vacation.” Plus… and this might be because I didn’t realize we were in the hospital…I didn’t understand that this happened recently and that he was in the hospital because of it.. My newest freak accomplishment.

The hallway floor hisses under the glide of the wheelchair and light reflects off every shiny surface.

“Sir, really, I can walk. I’m ok.”

Antiseptic smells fight with the cloud of aftershave hovering around the volunteer pushing me, an old-man-scent reminding me of Grandpa. This man [LN10] I changed this because “he” would refer to the last male mentioned, which was Grandpa, but that’s not who you mean. is about 400 years older than Grandpa, though, and I’m worried pushing me will be the last thing he ever does because we aren’t really going at supercollider speed. Sloth speed is more like it.    [LN11] LOL

“Hospital rules,” he croaks. [LN12]I recommend using invisible dialogue tags like said, asked, and those that show volume like yelled, mumbled, whispered, shouted, etc. All others distract and can bump readers from the story.

Mom pats my shoulder[LN13]Where is she? Was she there all along? If so, we needed to know that earlier, so it doesn’t seem like she just appeared. If she did just come up to him, we need to know that too. More grounding needed.. “We’re almost out of here, Nick. Just a few more minutes[LN14]Buried dialogue, so I moved the next sentence to the next line to fix it..”

Her way of saying it’ll be okay. She knows there are snakes twirling [LN15]I know you’re trying to avoid the cliché, which is great! However, this needs a little tweaking. Can the snakes be slithering or rolling in his stomach? Twirling doesn’t seem to fit those creatures. in my stomach, and the one thing that calms them down is Blueberry[LN16]Most agents/editors prefer Times New Roman. You sometimes use Times, but this is Cambria, which isn’t used in the industry.

My little sister, Lucy, lags behind as usual[LN17]Where has she been? Bring her into the scene. Is she saying anything? Complaining? Stomping? Show us how she’s feeling by how she’s acting and then he can react to that., since she thinks being seen with me is like having a bucket of cooties poured over her. Cooties were big in second grade, but she is almost in third grade now. I’m hoping cooties are just a phase. [LN18]I think this needs a tweak. He’s smart enough to know cooties are just a phase, so maybe instead of this, he can hope she soon outgrows that phase?

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is a nice start and it has potential to be more. I don’t know how old Nick is, but this reads like middle grade. If that’s the right age group, great job! If he’s older, you’ll need to take a closer look at his voice.

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

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MIRACLE JONES GOES HOME

MG Novel-in-Verse

By: Marci Whitehurst

MIRACLE

Even though Miracle is my name

(for real, not even kidding)[LN1]Love the voice here.

I can’t make a miracle

happen.

I have tried a lot in twelve years:

planting money trees,

wishing on stars,

saying magic words.[LN2]Because having more money is his ultimate goal, I would put that last. Maybe he wishes on stars, says magic words, and when those don’t work, he plants a money tree.

I’m older now and know better.

What I can make,

is toast

d

r

i

p

p

i

n

g

with butter,

soft and chewy,

with a little cinnamon and sugar,

tasting like dessert.[LN3]I need more here. We know he can’t make money and that he can make toast, but we don’t know why we should care about that. Everyone can relate to wanting more money, but I don’t know that making toast is a big enough accomplishment in this case. However, it could be. We just have to know what makes that accomplishment special.

MONEY

What I want to make

is money.

Money might would get us places one day,

if we had it.

Our station wagon,

Blue Betty,

broke down in Washington,

after limping us through Oklahoma,

Colorado,

Idaho,

and coughing us into the outskirts of Seattle.

Momma wants to see the Space Needle.

And get as far away from Missouri as

a snowman from a heat wave. [LN4]This doesn’t seem to fit with the tale of the car that broke down. Maybe this can go somewhere else?

HERE IS LYNNETTE:

This is a great start. I have a good sense of your voice, which is lovely in this format. I think this has good bones and, with a few tweaks, it could be a strong beginning.

Thank you for the chance to read. This industry is subjective, so use the feedback that works and toss the rest.

Best,

Lynnette

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Lynnette, thank you for sharing your time and expertise with us. It is really appreciated.

Talk Tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 29, 2022

Book Giveaway: HANUKKAH NIGHTS by Amalia Hoffman

Amalia Hoffman has written and illustrated a new board book, HANUKKAH NIGHTS and published by Kar-Ben Press on October 1st. Amalia has agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Amalia.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Follow along as, one by one, eight bright colors light up the dark Hanukkah nights. Sponge or spatter, scrape or stamp—each light is painted in a unique style. Learn how to paint Hanukkah lights in different textures, too!

BOOK JOURNEY:

My book journey began in 2019 when Chris Barash, chair of the PJ Library Book Selection Committee, came across All Colors, a board book I had written and illustrated. The illustrations were created with chalk, drawn over black sandpaper. The bright chalk colors set against a stark black background were very striking. Chris asked if I could create a similar book with a Jewish theme.

Chris and I started brainstorming. What kind of book could this be? What theme could work in this technique and format? We talked about different possibilities: maybe a Jewish holiday book? A concept book? A book about a menorah?

I remember how much I enjoyed the Hanukkah holiday when I grew up in Jerusalem. I loved lighting the colorful candles and watching the flames. They flickered with yellows, oranges and tints of blues, purples and maroons. Our neighbors used to place their menorahs on the windowsills, so when I stood on the balcony of our 4th floor walk-up apartment, I could see dozens of flames in the dark. The sight of the glowing flames became more magical as the nights progressed until the 8th night, when all the menorahs were fully lit.

I envisioned a Hanukkah counting board book where, as the child turns the pages, more lights would appear against the black background, just as they did in my memories of Hanukkah in Jerusalem.

I began playing with different techniques and supplies that kids use while creating art: doodling with crayons, spattering with a toothbrush, dipping a finger in paint and stamping, brushing wet paint and scratching the surface with a comb. I scanned my experiments and turned each texture into a glowing flame for the menorah in my book. For the line drawing in the last few pages, I used white chalk.

The book turned into a Hanukkah counting book and also an art book because as the readers turn the pages, they realize that it is a little child who painted all the flames.

At the end of the story, the artist is in bed and the story ends with,

Candle lights

Hanukkah nights

Nighty night…

Sleep tight!

This ending allows parents to put their little ones to sleep during Hanukkah nights or any other night.

When I felt that the general idea for Hanukkah Nights was solid, I sent my book proposal to Chris, who shared it with the members of the PJ book selection committee. I was delighted to be honored with the PJ Library Author/Illustrator Incentive Award.

Joni Sussman from kar-Ben Publishing acquired the book. The clever team at Kar-Ben suggested to add a spread showing how each texture was created so parents or teachers can experiment in making art with the simple tools I used.

Amaila, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Young toddlers will love the simple line drawings and vidid colors against the stark black bakground. The easy text will help them learn the words in the book. Look like this would be a good holiday gift for a young toddler. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 28, 2022

Book Winners – Kudos

BOOK WINNERS:

Maria Marshall won PIRATES DON’T DANCE by Shawna J. C. Tenney

Nancy Riley won NOT ALL SHEEP ARE BORING! by Bobby Moynihan

Please send your address to kathy(dot)temean(@)hotmail(dot)com

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CONGRATULATIONS!

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INDUSTRY CHANGES:

At Talcott Notch Literary Saba Sulaiman has been promoted to senior agent and Amy Collins has been promoted to agent.

Diane Landolf who was at Random House Children’s for 21 years, most recently as senior editor announced her new children’s editorial business, Diane Landolf Editorial.

Aevitas Creative Management launches ACM Kids & Illustration, a new division “dedicated to promoting the work of ACM’s growing list of children’s authors as well as the work of client illustrators.” The division is overseen by senior agent Adriana Dominguez and partner Rick Richter.

At The Tobias Literary Agency, Sarah N. Fisk has been promoted to associate agent.

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Looking for something to do this weekend? Collingswood Book Festival Saturday October 1st

You can meet Darlene Beck-Jacobson – Yvonne Ventresca – Charlotte Bennardo – to name a few.

https://www.collingswoodbookfestival.com/

The Rye Children’s Book Festival in NY – October 2nd

To name a few – See Amalia Hoffman and Nancy Armo.

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Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 27, 2022

Book Giveaway: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD by Laura Sassi

Laura Sassi has written a new board book, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHRISTMAS CHILD, illustrated by Gabi Murphy and published by Paraclete Press on October 4th. Laura has agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Laura and Gabi.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Join Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds, sheep, and various stable critters as they celebrate the birthday of a very special baby in this rhyming counting book for little readers and their families.

Written by bestselling author Laura Sassi and illustrated by Gabi Murphy, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child! celebrates the warmth, wonder and excitement of the night Jesus was born. Written in gentle rhyme with bright illustrations and lots of things for little ones to notice and count, it’s sure to be a Christmas favorite.

Intended for little ones ages 0 – 4 and their families, Happy Birthday, Christmas Child is:

  • sturdy board book perfect for little hands
  • a charming introduction to the wonder and joy of Christmas
  • a spark for conversation about how Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus’ birth 
  • a fun way for toddlers and preschoolers to practice counting and naming things
  • a great gift option for Christmas, birthdays, baby showers, children’s ministry, preschool programs and more

BOOK JOURNEY:

I’d had it on my heart to write a Christmas counting board book for a while. I wanted it to be different from my first Christmas book GOODNIGHT, MANGER which had as its hook putting a crying Baby Jesus to sleep in a very noisy stable. Families connect with that story because they can relate to the bedtime struggle. And I love the underlying hope behind that book- that Jesus came into our mess, that he cried and thus that He is able to relate to us on a deeply human level.

But, there are other angles to the Christmas story and the vibe I wanted to catch in this new book was not one of noise and busy-ness, but of calm and joyful wonder. There’s a verse in the biblical telling that’s often read in church services during Christmas, that has always struck me.  From the gospel of Luke, it reads, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19, ESV).

So with that verse in my heart, I joyfully set to work. First, hoping to capture Mary’s wonder as she saw the events unfold as the angel had foretold, I made a list of items (and creatures) in the Christmas story that little ones might find wondrous. These included the stable itself, the hay, small creatures like mice and spiders, angels, shepherds, and of course Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus with his ten tiny toes which play a finale role in the story.

Next, I set about finding a pattern of meter and rhyme that I felt captured the joyful wonder of that first birthday night. I chose four-line verses with an ABAB rhyme scheme in iambic meter.

Then I played with words, counting, and order, revising again and again until it felt right. I shared it at several stages with different critique buddies and with my agent. Then, when it was ready, we sent it to the team at Paraclete Press. They acquired it shortly thereafter and the journey to bringing the book to fully life with illustrations was underway.

The illustrator Paraclete chose for this project is Gabi Murphy and she has done a wonderful job capturing the wonder and fun of the story, as evidenced by the trailer.

After what must have been an intense period of illustrating, the book was finalized, went to print and even arrived in the warehouse ahead of schedule in August!

I’m delighted with the final product and hope families with little ones looking to savor a religious Christmas will enjoy this new addition to the Christmas board book world.

LAURA’S BIO:

Laura Sassi has a passion for telling stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of six books for children including the best-selling Goodnight Ark, which was a 2015 Christian Book Award Finalist; Goodnight, Manger; Diva Delores and the Opera House Mouse, which won First Honor Book for the 2019 Best in Rhyme Award and is a 2021-2022 Iowa Goldfinch Award Nominee; Love Is Kind, which was a 2020 Anna Dewdney Read Together Award Honor Book; Little Ewe: The Story of One Lost Sheep and her new board book with Zonderkidz, Bunny Finds Easter!

She writes daily from her home in New Jersey and finds special joy in sharing her love of reading and writing with the next generation at school visits and other book events.

GABI’S BIO:

Gabi Murphy’s first big influence in art came from an extremely bubbly tutor she had for A level art who declared, with much exuberant arm waving, ‘Darling, you must ‘do’ art!’ And so I did…

A foundation course in art was followed by a BA(Hons) in graphic design at what is now Middlesex University. Following this she went on to further study for a PGCE in Art and Design which qualified her to teach art at secondary level and above.

Realising that she had spent quite enough years in study – she decided she had to get on with the ‘do’ bit of the plan.

She has been a self employed artist ever since…..

Gabi spent many happy years illustrating greeting cards and then moved on to illustrating children’s books, and writing a few too!

Digital art bought about a real transformation in the way she worked. She says, “The learning curve may be steep but possibilities are endless as the world of digital art is constantly evolving. It is truly exciting and tremendous fun (as long, that is, as the computer behaves itself!).”

However, her creativity isn’t limited to digital work. Her studio testifies to the many different projects she undertakes and she says, “frankly, it generally resembles a chaotic muddle! But to me it’s a place of endless possibilities.”

Whether it’s hand decorated furniture – blanket boxes, toy boxes, nativity cribs and even an African styled Altar stand! Children’s toys including a large sit on children’s train, wall murals, church statue renovation – of which, a large statue of St Joseph with Jesus was a particular pleasure to work on as it enabled her to correct a divergent squint on little Jesus!

Laura, thank you for sharing your new book and journey with us. This would make a perfect Christmas gift for a toddler. I love how your combined the wonder and joy of Christmas with helping young children learn their numbers and identify the creatures and objects throughout the book. Gabi did a really good job illustrating your story. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 26, 2022

Agent Jen Nadol – The Unter Agency

I’ve worked in publishing for nearly 15 years, first as a YA author with novels published by Bloomsbury USA and Simon & Schuster. In 2018, after a one-year editorial internship with a digital publisher, I joined The Unter Agency where I represent adult, middle-grade and young adult projects, both fiction and non-fiction.

Fiction: Action/Adventure, Children’s, Commercial, Crime, General, Historical, Horror, LGBTQ, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult
Non-Fiction: Biography, Journalism, LGBTQ, Memoir, Pop Culture, Psychology, True Crime

In fiction, my taste leans to commercial or commercial/literary stories, most often darker contemporary, thrillers, mysteries, magical realism, horror. I also love pacey rom-coms and women’s fiction with great character development. I’m not the best fit for fantasy (of any type) or younger middle-grade. I like some “science-y” SciFi (e.g., Andy Weir, Alan Glynn), but am rarely a match for SFF. I don’t represent picture books (except for existing clients) or chapter books. As a general rule, if there’s a dragon, “chosen one” or animal protagonist in the story or you’d describe it as satirical/offbeat/quirky, it’s probably not for me. I’d love to see more diverse content across the board and a fantastic mystery or thriller (or horror) with POC characters is top of my wishlist.

In non-fiction, I like memoir, narrative non-fiction, works that delve into the human psyche/behavior but am open to considering just about anything. That said, I’m not a good fit for anything super political, military, historical or academic. I’d also love to see a deep dive exploration of online dating/psychology of attraction.

Fun facts about me:

  • I love strategy games and am always up for hours of Settlers of Catan
  • I ski, hike, bike, kayak and love all manner of active exploration (I have 3 boys; it’s a survival strategy)
  • I grew up in eastern PA and lived in DC, Boston and NYC before moving north of the city
  • Before publishing, I worked in department store retail, stores & corporate, for 10+ years; great camaraderie, terrible job

 

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to jen.nadol@theunteragency.com

Email a query & up to 10 pages (pasted in the body of the email) to jen.nadol@theunteragency.com

“Please know that we have received the query and will be in touch if we are interested in pursuing your work, but if you do not hear from us within 3 months, please assume that your work is out of active consideration.”

Vital Info

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 25, 2022

Book Giveaway: THE SNOWMAN WALTZ by Karen Konnerth

Karen Konnerth has written a new picture book, THE SNOWMAN WALTZ, illustrated by Emily Neilson and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Karen and Emily.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

On a cold winter’s night under a starry sky, a dozen snowmen swoop down into a woodland glen. With a swing and a glide, they waltz in pairs, moving gracefully along a frozen river to a one?two?three tempo. Wearing top hats and colorful mittens, the snowmen bump, spin, and laugh as they make their way to dance on a frozen pond in a clearing. But wait, who is tramping down the hill and into the very same space? A dozen penguins, with their gleaming eyes and red bowties, march into the clearing, interrupting the dance. It’s a collision on ice. What a disaster! How can both groups share the same space? What will it take to sort out this kerfuffle to the satisfaction of both parties? Told in lyrical text with contrasting rhythms, this fun read-aloud offers a subtle lesson in cooperation for readers of all ages. Back matter includes song and sheet music, as well as a finger dance activity.

BOOK JOURNEY:

Although the story concept actually came to me in an instant, the journey of The Snowman Waltz was certainly gradual. I have been performing both original and folklore based stories as a full time puppeteer for decades, and have also worked as a musician, composing songs, and playing piano and violin. Apparently it was those threads that wove themselves together for the idea of a conflict resolution story built around contrasting musical rhythms. I do not usually write stories in verse, but this theme demanded it – to allow the reader to actually feel the two rhythms. And as I worked on the text, a melody was always in my head for the waltz segments, so I wrote that down and arranged it for piano to include in the book.

So, it was a combination of that fascinating wonder when the brain simply has a life of its own and is up there gathering bits and pieces to collage into something new, and conscious work to refine and pull it together in further work on the imagery and consistent rhymes and rhythms. That is pretty much the story of the text.

How it ended up as a book is more complicated. I started working on a dummy, illustrating with digital collage, which I was still experimenting with. I had years of experience sculpting in various media, and building all kinds of three dimensional figures, sets, etc. for puppetry, but not so much experience in traditional two dimensional media.

Around this time I also signed with an agent, Tanusri Prasanna (now with DeFiore and Company). She had tried diligently to place a couple other titles, without success. She asked what else I was working on, and I sent her The Snowman Waltz text only, as I did not feel confident yet with the illustrations. It did not take long for her to find interest with Sleeping Bear Press. Since she had submitted what I sent her – text only – we decided not to complicate things by resubmitting with illustrations when they said yes. Sleeping Bear found illustrator Emily Neilson, who did a lovely job bringing the text to fun and lyrical life.

Oh, and the finger waltz dance step chart is a brilliant idea I saw on a placemat in a restaurant in Argentina (for tango rather than waltz).

I am now developing music curriculum related activities to go with the book, so that it can be an asset in a music classroom, as well as providing teachable moments on accepting, appreciating, and respecting differences in cultures, customs, and more.

I have one other picture book out at this time, Calliope Kate and the Voice of the River (Pelican Publishing 2022), which I illustrated using photos of the carved Czech marionettes I made to perform the story, as well as The Sophisticated Sock: Project Based Learning Through Puppetry, which I self published in order to share with teachers my extensive work using puppetry as well as creative writing to teach across the curriculum.

Further information on my website: www.karenkonnerth.com.

KAREN’S BIO:

Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, my background as regional and world traveling professional puppeteer became the foundation for my visual storytelling through writing and illustration for children as well as my specialization in arts integrated teaching. I have shared my classroom experience developing and implementing arts integrated projects with educators at the National Art Education Association, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and for the U.S. Embassy English Language Specialist Program in Central America,  Asia, the Middle East, and South Africa.

 

A small project sampling:

• Louisiana librarians learning to use puppet theater to augment library literacy incentives

• Classroom teachers in Wisconsin creating a puppet community to teach social studies

• Pre-school teachers in Umlazi Township, South Africa using puppetry to nurture literacy

• English teachers in Bahrain using shadow puppets to encourage natural use of language

• Mothers at a hospital in Chenai, India, making puppets for their children of tailors’ silk scraps

So, my favorite thing is : Evolution – allowing new skills, interests, and opportunities to guide my direction in contributing to the work of nurturing young imaginations in hopes for a harmonious world. My present main focus is writing and illustration, along with school author visits to celebrate and nurture creative writing.

EMILY’S BIO:

Emily Neilsen is a children’s book author/illustrator and a stop motion fabricator based in Portland, OR.

As a kid she always wanted to write and illustrate books. She says, “I think if I had known that animated films were made by actual humans, I’d have wanted to work on those too!” So when a variety of stars aligned, bringing her into the world of stop motion, she was ridiculously happy. She’d skip into work every day and chip away at a miniature mountain, or tree, or prop and then skip home and make things for herself.

A week after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015, she settled in Portland, OR where she’s worked as a Look Development artist on Laika’s Missing Link. After four wonderful years at Laika, I left to finish the illustrations for my first book, CAN I GIVE YOU A SQUISH? (Which was featured on Writing and Illustrating).

She then spent three years working as a set dresser and model maker on a Netflix stop motion feature called Wendell and Wild, directed by Henry Selick, during which she wrote and illustrated her second book THE RAINBOW PARADE that came out in May 2022.

Recently I have had the opportunity to do some visual development and character design for Dwarf Studios and Bix Pix.

Emily has worked as a set dresser and model maker on a Netflix stop motion feature called Wendell and Wild, directed by Henry Selick.

Emily was featured on Writing and Illustrating’s Illustrator Saturday.

Karen, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. Who doesn’t love Snowmen and Penguins? Kids will want to turn every page to watch the dapper Penquins join the the colorful snowmen with their tops hats, mittens, and scarves parade out on the ice to dance together. The illustations are so stunning you can feel the rhythm coming off every page. So happy to see a book nurturing an appreciation for music and dance. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 24, 2022

Illustrator Saturday – Afsaneh Sanei

Afsaneh Sanei is an illustrator and a writer of children’s books. She was born in 1985 in the colorful city of Isfahan in the central part of Iran. Afsaneh obtained her Bachelor of Painting at Tehran University in 2008 and completed her Master of Illustration at the Art University of Tehran in 2012. After a decade of working with Iranian publishers and releasing more than 15 books, she moved to Belgium to pursue her dream of being a free international artist.

Her books focus on developmental psychology and mental health in children. She believes a perfect picture book interacts emotionally with its audience, sparking reflection and curiosity. Growing up in a region with ancient and rich history, she has always aspired to apply her country’s literary and pictorial heritage in her art, content, and style.

HERE IS AFSANEH DISCUSSING HER PROCESS:

1: I draw for 2 hours every night just before going to bed. It doesn’t matter which project I am working on. It is something apart from them. I say it is like meditation for me!

Listening to a track of music and I do sketches very fast without thinking! The theme or the source of inspiration may be anything! Then I just add some extra imaginary objects or characters to it.

2: It’s time to make them clearer! I start to paint them rough! Just as you see in the picture! Yes, the result is full of ideas and stories! Some of these frames are very special to me because I can see a potential story or idea inside it.

In fact, I let my unconscious mind fly and create whatever she likes. Some of the ideas are awesome. So, I choose the best of them and complete it with more details.

Most of the time I see them as book covers. So, I make up names for them to keep the story idea fresh!

3: when I choose one of them, the first thing I do is create its characters and after that extract its color palette! In this case, characters are tiny!

4: So, it’s time to start with favorite brushes to shape the main atmosphere. When I do digital painting, I prefer some brushes like real brush strokes.

5: it’s time to add some more details!

Yes! That is my way of making my illustrations. For the picture books, I should consider many things like the concept of and the story which leads to final design and usually it takes a long time.

Interview with Afsaneh Sanei:

How long have you been illustrating?

It’s been about 12 years since I have been working as an illustrator. If I am not mistaken, I started my profession in 2010.

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

It was more than 12 years ago. I remember I was working as a character and background designer for an animation company in Tehran. I was a master’s student at that time.

You were born in Iran. What made you want to move to Belgium?

It has a long story, complex with some political and social issues! To make it short, to follow my dreams! My concern has been producing high-quality books both in form and content which stem from my rich pictorial and literary culture. And also cooperating with many well-known publishers around the world!

When I was in Iran it was hard to do so. Sanctions has had a great impact on my country and in many aspects and make it disconnected from the world. As the consequence, its book market is quite small, and the publishing industry is weak. To be honest, the quality of the books didn’t meet my expectations at all and every time my books were published, the result really disappointed me!

On the other hand, you as an Iranian have no PayPal or international bank account, so it is almost impossible to work with non-Iranian agents or publishers because of difficulties in dealing with the payments and the tax issues!

All these things and more led me to leave my country and start my new journey to achieve my goals and dreams!

How long have you lived in Belgium?

Not long! It’s been about 11 months. Since November 2021.

Why did you choose to get your Bachelor of Painting at Tehran University?

As far as I know, I didn’t choose anything!!! I was born and chosen to create new things and paint on any surface I could as a child. It was obvious that I was interested in art, everybody knew this. Then I went to Graphic Design high school. That led me to art university finally. But this time, I chose painting because I thought in this major, I could learn many basics, like drawing or working with colors or testing many techniques, better.

What made you decide to get your Master of Illustration at the Art University of Tehran four years later?

When I finished my bachelor’s, I realized illustration is somewhere between Graphic Design and Painting. That was exactly what I wanted. At that time illustration wasn’t as known as today, at least in my country. I’m talking about 2007 when there was no Instagram or Pinterest or any other remarkable platforms like that. It was hard to find good picture books or any pictorial sources about trendy or up-to-date illustrations, especially picture books for children.  I was extremely thirsty about this vague major, so I decided to apply for the master’s in illustration to learn more about it!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate books?

When I was working as a background designer for animation! It may seem similar to book illustration but it’s not. I loved books more than animations! Moreover, I wanted to design everything by myself to tell my own story! I must confess that I got bored many times because I thought animation projects took a long time to be finished, and I was turning to a machine for making backgrounds! That time I found out that it was not my cup of tea!

I loved books more than anything!

Did you do freelance art in-between graduating from Tehran University and started at the Art University of Tehran?

No. I was working in an animation company.

When did you learn to speak English?

I seriously started learning English in 2013 after my master’s degree. I needed to search for everything, as I told you before, mainly because of the shortage of information!  And then to find a way to expand my career and communicate with the outside world.

What classes did you like the most at Art University of Tehran ?

Handprints! And Painting Techniques.

Did Art University of Tehran help find illustration work you could do after graduation?

Not really. Although I had learned many things from university, I found my illustration work just by applying for some children’s magazines. Unfortunately, the university system in Iran is not connected to the market like here in Europe! They don’t promote students and connect them to the market.

Do you feel art school influenced your illustrating style?

Personally, I believe everything happens to a human can affect his or her life.

I think I have two styles. In retrospect, one of them is free-handed and drawing alike (the influence of painting art school) and the other one is simpler and closer to graphic arts (the trace of Graphic design high school). Yes! For all these years I have been influenced by both.

What type of job did you do after you graduated?

Mostly doing illustrations for magazines and books. But I also used to teach at university and some other private classes. I also like working with children. So, I used to work with them as an art teacher to thrive their imagination and curiosity. And as I told you before, I also worked as character and background designer for animation companies.

How did you promote yourself as an illustrator?

Well, when I was in Iran, mostly by Instagram. And the strong professional networks that I had built through all these years there. It was quite hard to go beyond this and break the borders of all sanctions and limitations. But I had to do it because of my strong passion to expand my career out of my home country! So, I decided to attend international book fairs which was not a cheap and easy decision! I attended in Beijing and Frankfurt book fair. Hence, I could gain emails of many editors, right managers or publishers to send them my books’ query letters and my portfolio. Yes! It worked. I could sell my first book rights to “Minedition”.

But here in Europe it’s easier to promote yourself via many websites or attending many related associations or societies or various book fairs and even art festivals and galleries! I’m still searching for some other potential possibilities!

When did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

I don’t know exactly when but if I remember, I have had a great bond with children. I know them well and I am fully aware of their needs or characteristics. Maybe that’s why I started my career with children’s books. And I have an active inner child as well! So, I feed her everyday with my stories and illustrations.

Have you made a book dummy to help sell a book idea?

Yes, I have! It’s an urgent need! It’s the most important part of your presentation! As an illustrator, you must learn how to show off what you have, including your ideas and your abilities in storytelling and techniques. You tell me, is it possible to sell your book’s rights without submitting your dummies in this competitive market?

Was The Day my Dad Was Lost the first book you wrote and illustrated?

It was my first book as writer and illustrator which became my first book to be published out of my country. Before that, I had illustrated more than 15 books as illustrator.

Was Als Papa verloren ging a picture book? 

Yes, it’s a picture book for preschool children.

It has a funny story about a girl who has a big question.” Where does my daddy go every morning!?”

It was published in German and French. Do you think it will be published in English?

I hope one day It will be published in English and other languages, but that depends on the publisher “Minedition” which holds its global rights. Every illustrator likes to see his or her books on the bookshelves as much as possible.

I see you have illustrated two books come out in English in 2021. Was BE READY MONSTER! your first picture book in English?

The book “Be Ready Monster!” and “The Scarecrows Wish” have been published in my country in Farsi. But their rights are available. The aim of having a website, in my view, is to make connections with people in any race or country. So, I had to present it in an international language. that’s why I changed the title of them from Farsi to English.

Madrese Publications published The SCARECROWS WISH. Are they an educational publisher? 

Yes. Madreseh is an old and big publication in Iran that produces both schoolbooks and children’s books with the aim of education.

How did you connect with Christy Ewers at The Cat Agency?

I knew the Cat Agency for a couple of years. She was the agent of my friend Rahele Jomepour Bell, who was very satisfied with her collaboration with Cat Agency. So, she introduced me to Christy. She looked at my portfolio and my dummies, and then our story began!

Would you illustrate a book for an author who wants to self-publish?

Most of the time I prefer to illustrate my own ideas and stories. And I am always working on them but in some conditions I might accept. I must like the story. Story is every important to me!

Have you done any illustrating for children’s magazines? Which ones?

Yes, I can’t even count them! maybe more than hundred! But all of them were published in Iranians magazines. I haven’t tried working with magazines out of my country so far but I’m open to do so in some cases!

Do you want to write and illustrate more of your own books?

Definitely! My aim is to produce high-quality picture books for children. In the next coming days, “Who Sneezed Inside the wall” is going to be published by Minedition. And I am working on three more picture books to present to the market by Spring 2023.

What is your favorite medium to use?

It depends on the project. Even though, I mostly do digital painting, my personal preferences are oil colors and acrylic-gouache.

Has that changed over time?

Many times!!!

When you are open to learning and curious, changes are inevitable. As human beings, our attitudes, feelings, and thoughts are subject to change so do the mediums we use and the styles we have.

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

I usually draw one or two hours every night before going to bed. It’s a kind of meditation for me. I just listen to music and draw without thinking. This process plays an essential role in getting ideas for my stories.

Do you take pictures or research a project before you start?

Definitely!!!

Depending on the project, I do some research before and during the project. This research usually is on the visual aspects of the project such as characters, atmosphere and so on, or the concept of the story like its structure and its psychological aspects. In other words, extracting the essence and the concept of the story demands lots of research and study.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

I remember the time when the internet was not so common and full of information. At that time, a limited number of books from my personal library or the bookshelves of the university were my only window to the world of illustrations. Internet, however, has provided me and many other illustrators with a strong network and possibilities, through which we can connect with one another apart from the place we live, sell our artistic products or learn from each other by exchanging feedbacks on each other’s works!

What do you think is your biggest success?

I’m so proud of myself when reviewing all the long way I have gone through! Despite all the serious barriers I had had, I could go on and never gave up.

I could keep up with my peers despite living in a country which was somehow disconnected from the world. Yes, I can call it a success!

 

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I used to use Photoshop, and I have never worked with Painter.

Do you own or use a graphic tablet?

Yes, I used to work with Wacom Cintiq pro-13. But now, I have an iPad pro 12 and recently I have been working with procreate app for making my illustrations.

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

I have many of them! But some are the followings:

To add rich Persian pictorial and literary heritage to my illustrations and create a unique style which is fresh and new and write stories in a modern style for today’s children.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on one of my books titled “Tutu’s Adventure in the Train”. The storyboard is about to finish. At the same time, doing some research, I’m forming some ideas and concepts for my upcoming picture books.

Moreover, I have a collection called “365”. In this collection, I just draw and illustrate whatever I like with no limitations! Different techniques and styles in any size and tools are included. In this long-term project, the aim is to pursue for my unique style and search for new stories through pictures.

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 recently bought acrylic gouache and I must confess that it’s an amazing product! Of course, I combine it with some other materials like watercolor or gouache but in general, using this product is very delightful and handy. This medium like gouache has a matt look and as the same as acrylic, it would be deactivated after drying.

My advice for professional artists is that try to use high-quality materials. The outcome would be far different when you use inappropriate tools.

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

My friends, beyond everything is You! Having CLEAR targets, hardworking and consistency is the keys to success!

 

Afsaneh, thank you for taking the time to answer the interview questions and sharing your process. Please let me know about your future books and successes so I can share them with everyone.

You can visit Afsaneh using the following links:

WEBSITE: www.afsanehsanei.com

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/afsane.sanei/?hl=en

LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/afsaneh-sanei-b4173976/?originalSubdomain=ir

AGENCY: https://catagencyinc.com/#/afsaneh-sanei/

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 23, 2022

September Agent of the Month: Lynnette Novak Interview Part Three

SEPTEMBER AGENT OF THE MONTH
LYNETTE NOVAK

Agent Lynnette Novak at The Seymour Agency

Prior to joining The Seymour Agency, Lynnette spent 17 years freelance editing. She worked with new writers, advanced writers, as well as the New York Times and the USA Today bestselling authors.

Lynnette earned a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Manitoba, where she specialized in English and French. She excelled in Advanced Creative Writing in university and studied writing for children and teens through the Institute of Children’s Literature. She was a Pitch Wars mentor in 2015 and 2016. Both her mentees acquired an agent.

Although Lynnette was born and raised in Manitoba, Canada, she now lives in Minnesota with her husband, twin girls, and many pets. Her personal interests include reading, writing, exercising at the gym (okay, that’s a love/hate relationship), working on an assortment of crafts, all things having to do with animals (if she could own a farm, zoo, and animal shelter, she would), and enjoying time with family and friends.

She loves dark and suspenseful, mysterious twists, unique worlds, light and funny, a good love story, and lots of voice. Lynnette is always looking for diverse and LGBTQ+ authors and wants to share more of these marginalized voices with the world.

Currently looking for: (Always looking for marginalized 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.

To Query: https://QueryManager.com/QueryLynnetteNovak

Email for Other Concerns: lynnette@theseymouragency.com

Twitter: @Lynnette_Novak

*******

PART THREE OF MY INTERVIEW WITH LYNNETTE:

Do you have any plans to represent children’s book illustrators? Would an illustrator have to write before you would represent them?

I do represent illustrators of children’s books as well as graphic novels. Some of my illustrators also write, but that’s not a requirement.

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

I mostly communicate via email, but I love to call an author with an offer whenever possible. I send out monthly updates to all my clients who are on submission, but I also respond to all emails in a timely manner.

What happens if you don’t sell a book and the author wants to self-publish that book? Would you be okay with that?

That depends on the book, the author, and the situation. It’s something the author and I would have to discuss together and decide the best course of action.

Do you seek help from other agents at your agency to get suggestions on editors and/or publishers to submit to for the clients you sign up to represent?

Our agents are very close. We share editor wish lists all the time.

Would you ever send a manuscript to another agent if it was good, but not your style?

Yes, and I have done just that.

What do you think of digital and audio books? Are they part of every sale these days?

We try to keep as many rights as possible for our authors, so if the publisher insists on audio or digital rights, we want to make sure the royalties are fair.

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

We have specific people who specialize in these areas, but we sometimes handle those contracts ourselves.

Do you see any new trends building in the industry?

I tend to avoid trend-watching. By the time a trend is recognized as being a trend, it’s already on the way out. I’d rather focus more on what has saturated the market.

Any words of wisdom on how a writer can improve their writing, secure an agent, and get published?

Go to workshops/conferences (online and/or in person), get involved in a critique group, and invest time into learning the craft. Nobody is born with that knowledge. We’ve all had to learn it. That’s just a part of the biz.

Would you like to attend other conferences, workshops writer’s retreats?

Yes!!! I love to attend conferences, take pitches, sit on panels, and teach workshops!!! Please invite me!!!

Thanks for having me. I had fun answering your questions!

*******

BELOW ARE THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR SEPTEMBER 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUES:

In the subject line, please write “SEPTEMBER 2022 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: Paste the text in the email, plus attached it as a Word document to the email. Please make sure you put your name, the title of the piece, and genre: a picture book, chapter book, middle grade, or young adult, Non-fiction, contemporary, historical, Sci-fi, fantasy, etc. 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).

PLEASE name the Word document file by putting 2022 SEPTEMBER FIRST PAGE  – Your Name – Title of first page. Thank you.

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.

DEADLINE: September 23rd. – noon EST

RESULTS: September 30th.

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

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

Stephanie Campisi has written a new picture book, Quacks Like a Duck, illustrated by Maria Lebedeva and being published by Familius Press on September 27th. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Shephanie and Maria.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Petunia the platypus heads to her first party since arriving from Australia. She has the present, a party hat, and a pavlova, but it’s a costume party and she doesn’t have a costume! Everyone asks what she’s supposed to be: “Are you a duck?” “Do you have webbed feet?” “Can you lay eggs?” Even without a costume, Petunia stands out, and all of the other party guests give her a full-on identity crisis! Will she, with her weird quirks, ever fit in?

For anyone who has ever felt out of place—from moving to a new country to moving to a new school—Quacks Like a Duck is a charming tale of acceptance and individuality that will have you laughing and embracing your own quirks and differences with pride.

BOOK JOURNEY:

I’ve always been fascinated by the platypus – they’re so strange and sweet, and very difficult to spot in the wild. (As a fairly introverted person, I can relate!) Perhaps that was why Petunia popped, fully formed, into my head when I went to pen something about my first experience as an Aussie attending a Thanksgiving party in the US!

Quacks was one of those rare books that actually came out almost perfectly on the first draft, and other than a few tweaks to the ending and a couple of adjustments here and there (a bonus echidna joke!) didn’t actually change much through editing. I just started typing away having fun with the idea of an uncostumed (but still very odd looking) platypus at a fancy dress party confusing everyone as they try to guess what she’s meant to “be”.

 

There’s an old saw that a platypus is a hodgepodge of a duck, beaver, and an otter, so I couldn’t resist a plot element that involved the three of these stumbling into the party pretending to be a platypus! I think once I had that moment, the rest of the book came together very easily.

I’ve been very privileged to work on Quacks with South African illustrator Maria Lebedeva, who has done the most charming job of bringing Petunia and her fellow partygoers to life in a bright, cheerful manner that’s perfectly aligned with the tone of the book. We had heaps of fun brainstorming the different animals and their costumes (I love the crocodile dentist and Vincent Van Goat). The cover was a bit of a challenge, because we wanted something a bit ambiguous that played off the whole “is it a duck, or is it…something else?” question that underpins the book. The whole team ended up chiming in with their ideas and feedback! I think the cover we landed on is absolutely spot-on, and it’s had a great reception!

Quacks was actually meant to launch this time last year, so Petunia is fashionably late to her own party – but it’s good to see her putting in an appearance, and with a pavlova in hand, no less! I hope that readers young and old have a chuckle at Petunia’s antics, and perhaps enjoy a good ol’ Aussie pavlova or some fairy bread as they read along!

STEPHANIE’S BIO:

Stephanie Campisi (cam-PEE-zee) is an Australian children’s book author based in Tennessee. She is small and quiet enough that people readily share with her their tall tales and darkest secrets, which she then makes taller, darker, and occasionally more handsome. She suspects she might have made an excellent spy. She has slept in a cemetery, has a friend who was bullied by a prince, and has lived in a haunted house in a haunted town.

Stephanie’s books include Luis and Tabitha, Very Lulu, Five Sisters, Axolotls: Day to ZZZ and the forthcoming Quacks Like a Duck.

Stephanie is the author of books including Luis and Tabitha, Very Lulu, Five Sisters and Axolotls: Day to ZZZ. Her next picture book, Quacks Like a Duck, will be released in September 2022. Stephanie is represented by Haley Casey of Creative Media Agency (haley@cmalit.com)

Stephanie is available for work-for-hire and IP projects. She specialises in humorous projects for very young readers through to middle grade.

You can find Stephanie on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

MARIA’S BIO:

Maria Lebedeva is a Russian-born South African illustrator (1986). She has a BA in Information Design from the University of Pretoria, an MPhil in Visual Arts (Illustration) from the University of Stellenbosch, and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Johannesburg.

Storytelling is the primary driving force behind her work, inspired greatly by her irrational love of children’s picture books (which she obsessively collect), and her work as an illustrator. Illustration generally implies creating a visual story-line as an accompaniment to text, and she is greatly inspired by writing, where words she reads or hears trigger an image, or vice versa. Maria’s work almost always starts with a story or notion, a daydream or observation – something that triggers an idea which begs to be expressed visually. Folklore and fairy tales have always been her greatest inspirations, and she likes to combine these playful influences with a good dose of everyday reality, resulting in some whimsical dissonance. Ultimately, I hope to encourage an audience to engage with my illustrations, to interpret and make associations, and to create stories of their own.

Maria illustrates (mostly) picture books, living and working in Somerset West, South Africa. She is a lover of children’s books, an avid traveller, a coffee enthusiast, and a PhD candidate. She is represented internationally by SB Rights agency.

Stephanie, thank you for sharing yoru book and journey with us. I love that you wrote a book to help children embrace their differences and be proud of them. Petunia is so cute and the whole book looks like so much fun. Maria, did a great job with the illustrations and adding to the fun. Good luck with the book.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

If you are a follower, you may want to check to see if you have been receiving my daily emails. A large number of followers have reported they are not receiving anything from me. I reported this to WordPress with some of the email addresses affected, but when they checked, they said they were in the system, so they helped me set up another link. If you are not receiving anything, then go to the the right sidebar and sign up again. It might say you are alread signed up and may have to resign up. I hope you will take the time to check. Thank you.

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If you won a book between May and August didn’t receive the book, you should be getting it soon. I fell behind when I got Covid and just just sent the winners address out to the right people, so give it a few weeks, then let me know if you did not receive a book. Thank you.

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BOOK WINNERS

Laura Roettiger won CHICKEN FRANK, DINOSAUR by S.D. Wenger

Mia Geiger won LET’S BUILD A LITTLE TRAIN by Julia Richardson

Winners please send your snail mail address to kathy(dot)Temena(at)hotmail.com Thank you!

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KUDOS:

Author/illustrator of ABUELITA AND I MAKE A FLAN Adriana Hernandez Bergstrom’s COUNTDOWN TO NOCHEBUENA, a counting book that celebrates Latine Christmas traditions, to Mary-Kate Gaudet at Little, Brown Children’s, for publication in fall 2023, by Emily Mitchell at Wernick & Pratt Agency (world English and Spanish rights).

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NEW IMPRINT:

4U2B Books & Media

Loyola Press is launching 4U2B Books & Media, a new imprint “to help children, parents, educators, and lifelong learners thrive with a sense of place and purpose.” In addition to children’s books, they will publish select titles for adults. First titles include two children’s books by Mark K. Shriver, which will be released in September 2022 and 2023, respectively.

President and publisher Joellyn Cicciarelli said, “With 4U2B Books & Media, we’re looking to entertain, educate, and nurture families by helping children develop self-awareness, social-emotional skills, responsible decision-making, and thriving relationships.”

SCBWI ILLUSTRATOR CONTEST:

Each year, a rotating panel of judges will provide an assignment and will judge the submissions. The theme and specific assignment will change year to year, but the general goal will be to show sequence and narrative. The prize is an all-expense-paid trip to the SCBWI New York Winter Conference. The winning illustrations will be displayed during the New York Portfolio Showcase (in conjunction with the conference). We will also have an online gallery displaying the submissions to the award for any member who submitted to the award and wants to participate.

SUBMISSIONS OPEN NOW

Click HERE to submit.

2022 theme is “Tiny Wonders”. See more details!

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INDUSTRY CHANGES:

Martin Literary & Media Management

Rick Lewis has joined, specializing in adult and YA speculative fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and magical realism. He was previously editor-in-chief at Uproar Books.

Kristen Terrette has joined and will represent middle grade, YA, female-driven crime thrillers, faith-based books, and picture books with an author/illustrator.

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Talk tomorrow,

Kathy

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