Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 15, 2020

Agent Looking for Clients – Devin Ross

Devin Ross

New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc.

DEVIN’S Wish List

Devin is seeking both children’s and adult projects. In children’s, her main focus is YA, with select MG projects. She is not representing PB projects at this time.

Fiction: Children’s, Fantasy, General, Graphic Novel, Horror, Humor, LGBTQ, Literary, Middle Grade, Mystery, Poetry, Romance, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult
Non-Fiction: Cookbooks, Humor, Illustrated, Journalism, LGBTQ, Pop Culture, Psychology, Science, Travel
Favorite sub-genres: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary YA, Diversity, Epic Fantasy, Feminism, High Fantasy, Humor, Illustrated, Magical Realism, Multicultural, Narrative Nonfiction, Pop Psychology, Relationships, Self-Reflection, Social Issues, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, narrative non-fiction

IN YA: Devin’s looking for commercial fiction; coming of age, plot-driven books with strong voices and crossover appeal that break the status quo. Devin is passionate about representing diverse and underrepresented voices and is always actively looking for such projects in any category.

She’d love to see more contemporary projects that will make her laugh and cry and leave her with a smile. A strong voice is important to Devin for the contemporary projects she represents.

She is also drawn to fantasy and thrillers that suck you in from the very first page. She loves thrillers with crazy twists that shock you to your core.

IN ADULT: Devin is looking for peculiar, eccentric, character-driven, commercial or upmarket fiction that is conceptually unique.

She’s also looking for upbeat women’s fiction or rom-coms. She loves contemporary romance with a unique hook, and stories told by diverse voices. Romance written for millennials is her focus, she loves modern stories that appeal to a younger audience. She is especially drawn to stories that explore the difficulties of being a young woman and feeling the pressure to conform to societal norms.

She loves all types of fantasy and is drawn to stories with magical realism. She is especially intrigued by magical realism that investigates emotion, psychology, or trauma. While she loves science fiction, she is not looking for it at this time.

IN NON FICTION: she loves a book that explains complex science to people unlike her *cough* who almost failed junior chem. My nonfiction interests are eclectic so here are a few: Whiskey, craft beer and home brewing, complex science written for the average person, fandom, self-care, millennials issues (don’t send me books on how we’ve destroyed things for babyboomers, I honestly don’t care), astrology, spirituality not connected to a specific religion, old theaters (I love these), 90’s music, anything humor related.

Devin grew up wanting to be an artist. She painted to escape and is looking for books that help her to do the same. She’s looking for anything that throws her into a new world, or that helps her see her own in a different light. Devin loves books that make her feel strongly; bonus points for stories that make her laugh and cry. Finally, she is looking for books that teach her things, whether purposeful or through the telling of a story, it doesn’t matter. She is a lifelong learner and is always looking to expand her horizons.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to


  • Send query to Please do not query via phone.
  • The word “Query” must be in the subject line, plus the agent’s name, ie – Subject: Query, Suzie Townsend. Please also include the category (ie, PB, chapter book, MG, YA, adult fiction, adult nonfiction, etc.)
  • You may include up to 5 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email
  • NO ATTACHMENTS, unless specifically requested
  • Include all necessary contact information
  • You will receive an auto-response confirming receipt of your query
  • We only respond if we are interested in seeing your work

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info
Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 14, 2020

Limited Opportunity: NJ SCBWI Advanced Picture Book Mentorship

NJ SCBWI Advanced Picture Book Mentorship


Registration for this event will open
Thursday, January, 16th at 4:00 p.m.

When registration opens, use the link at the end of the email to register.
The registration link will not work before January 16th at 4:00 p.m.
Any registration attempts prior to 4:00 p.m. on January 16th will be invalid.

PLEASE NOTE: Only first time PB Mentorship attendees may register since there are only 28 spots.

DATES: Saturday, February 22nd & Saturday, April 25th (Registrants must attend both sessions)

TIME: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (Both Saturdays)

PLACE: Garwood Presbyterian Church, 341 Spruce Ave, Garwood, NJ 07027

4 advanced picture book workshops with two industry professionals, Karen Boss (Charlesbridge) and Rachel Orr (Prospect Literary Agency).
3 individual manuscript critiques.
A deep dig into your writing and chance to hear first-hand what editors look for in a manuscript.
Time to implement feedback and receive additional feedback on your subsequent revisions.
Study published picture books for what works AND engage in peer critiques/roundtable.

COST: $475.00 (NJ SCBWI members only)

All participants must have at least 2 full PB manuscripts.
All participants MUST attend both Saturdays.
The first manuscript must be uploaded by January 25th.
First time PB Mentorship attendees only (there are only 28 spots).


The registration link will not work before January 16th at 4:00 p.m.
Any registration attempts prior to 4:00 p.m. on January 16th will be invalid.
With our best wishes for a successful 2020,

Tisha, Rosanne, Kelly, and Barbara
The NJ SCBWI Regional Team

Love both of these mentors. Hope you can get in and take advantage of this offer.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 13, 2020

Opportunity – Book Winner – Kudos – Industry Changes

Do you have a book you’d like featured on Writing and Illustrating? I have a few spots available. Please send an email – Book Promotion in the subject box – include your book’s journey, the Amazon link, your bio, your picture, and 5 .jpgs at least 500 pixels wide of the interior art, if it is a picture book. 




Yvonne Ventressca short story, “The Third Ghost,” was selected for the upcoming eponymous anthology, Voyagers: The Third Ghost. The collection features ten historical/adventure stories chosen for middle grade (9-12 year old) readers. Here’s a bit about “The Third Ghost” short story in one line:

Among the darkened, arson-damaged streets of 1980s Hoboken, Lewis stops to help two ghosts until he realizes his own family is in grave danger. 

Voyagers: The Third Ghost will be available May 5, 2020, and you can preorder a copy from AmazonKindle, Barnes & NobleITunes, or Kobo.



Christa Desir has joined Sourcebooks as associate editor.

Lexy Cassola has been promoted to assistant editor at Dutton.

Noa Wheeler has joined Bloomsbury Children’s as executive editor, responsible for the Sarah J. Maas publishing program. She will continue her freelance editorial work for authors and publishers in addition to her role at Bloomsbury.

Janna Morishima has launched a literary and illustration agency, Janna Co., focused on children’s graphic novels and visual storytelling. Morishima previously worked at Scholastic and was the director of the children’s group at Diamond Book Distributors.

Literary agent Gemma Cooper has been appointed a director of The Bent Agency UK.

Zareen Jaffery will join Kokila as executive editor on January 13. She was previously executive editor at Simon & Schuster Children’s.

Rachel Beck has joined Liza Dawson Associates as agent. She was previously an agent with Holloway Literary.


After I posted my favorite books that I read in 2019, I read a few more. I enjoyed this one so much, I thought I should included I OWE YOU ONE, so you know not to miss reading this one. It definitely should be on my 2019 Favorite List.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 12, 2020

Illustrator Critique of Sharon Holm by Dr. Mira Reisberg

Hullo again, it’s Mira Reisberg with my final video critique for this series. As I’ve mentioned, I love teaching and these video critiques allow me to also teach some Photoshop skills. This one is for Sharon Holm whose cute alligators could make a wonderful book. In the video I talk about curving the arms and playing more with positive and negative space, squinting to see if you’ve created pleasing abstract shapes, and making the images more relational (which in many ways is at the core of kid’s books – exploring different kinds of relationships).

I spoke a little about creating clothing and color schemes connected to place, where in this case I imagined the characters to be Miami alligators with that Miami Vice color scheme. I also spoke a little about creating a ground or horizon line so that the characters didn’t just float in space. But I didn’t speak about fleshing out the environment with these images to contextualize them more by actually having some objects subtly indicate the interior rooms that the characters are in, or the exterior landscape either, which I think would elevate these images if done with a light hand so the characters still took center stage.

Below are a before and after image and then just an “after” image where I flipped the image to face right and guide the viewer onward to turn the page, and played with the color contrast more and then below that is the video. As always, know that as many people as see your work, that’s how many opinions you’ll get and to take what you like and leave the rest

Sorry your cute bunnies got lost but I might even put faces on them to make them even cuter.

I really hope you enjoyed this series and that I get to play with you again in the future. I’d especially love to help you further if you can swing it to take our live and recorded  illustration course. This one is going to be especially awesome because of my co-teacher, the new bonuses, the line up of editors, agents and art directors joining us, and our assistants. The Magic starts this Monday! Wahoo!

Sending much creative love, Mira

Please leave a comment here and on facebook about what Mira is doing or join Mira’s Facebook group using this link: or join her email community. She is currently giving away a fabulous brand new free course:

ALSO HEADS UP: there’s still a small discount with the 2020ArtLove code along with wonderful FREE Photoshop and Procreate courses among other goodies for the Children’s Book Academy’s game-changing illustration course. First live training starts Jan 13th. Come find out why people rave about this course here:


Dr. Mira Reisberg has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She is an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clearfork/Spork and is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Her students have published over 370 books and won ever major North American award. Mira’s 8 published children’s books have won awards and sold over 600,000 copies. She lives in a 100 year-old house in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two cats.


Thank you for sharing your expertise with us. I know even the writers have enjoyed watching your videos and discovering more about the process. You are a treasure for everyone in the children’s book community. Hope you have a wonderful class. 

Remember: Mira’s class does not start until Monday, so you still can jump in, learn and hone your skillls.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 11, 2020

Illustrator Saturday – Cheryl Pilgrim

Cheryl Pilgrim is a  writer, illustrator, and public school art teacher living in the Houston area with her husband. She has two grown children and a menagerie of rescue cats and dogs.

Her debut author/illustrator picture book, Big and Little A story of Opposites was released Spring, 2019 (Holiday House). Cheryl also illustrated a middle grade chapter book, THE LITTLEST VOYAGEUR (Spring, 2020, Holiday House).

As a kid she always loved drawing, painting, reading, and writing, so it’s no surprise that she still spends most of her days creating stories and using her art to bring them to life.

​She works in a variety of media including pencils, watercolors, oils, acrylics, and digital collage and is represented by Essie White with Storm Literary Agency.


When I first started planning the book cover for The Littlest Voyageur, I drew lots of small thumbnail drawings. It helps to start with small compositions when planning a drawing so you can see quickly what works without spending a lot of time during the initial stage. And since book covers are often shown as thumbnails on handheld devices and on shopping sites, the image and title should read as a small image as well as on a full book cover.

One of the struggles with this cover was how to highlight the main character, the squirrel, who also happens to be the smallest. In addition, it was important to include the canoe and the men paddling. After drawing many versions and trying various angles, I narrowed it down to a handful of
ideas. Then I drew larger sketches with more details and values.

These were the five sketches I sent to Holiday House.

So which one did Holiday House pick? None of them! Well, actually, it was a combination of two of them. They wanted #5 with the squirrel facing the viewer like in #3. Which makes so much sense, I am not sure why I didn’t think of it. Thankfully, there are editors, art directors, and designers weighing in on the decision.

After they approved the final sketch, I started painting. I traced the final sketch onto a piece of smooth multimedia board. I plan colors out on a separate board before starting. While planning I knew I wanted the red squirrel to contrast against the light blue sky, so even though the squirrel is small, he would read as the most important character on the cover.

Even though I usually paint a scene more than once, in this instance I was happy with the first painting and did not end up redoing it. Holiday House later decided the image should wrap around the entire book jacket so I painted additional scenery being careful to leave space for text and then combined them together in Photoshop.

Interview with Cheryl Pilgrim:

How long have you been illustrating and when did you decide you wanted to illustrate children’s books?

While I’ve always loved to draw and paint, I didn’t consider illustrating as a career until I was older. Growing up I never saw illustrating as a real career choice mainly because I never knew anyone who made a living making art. I grew up in a family of teachers, so while I took lots of studio art classes in college, education was my major. In my mid 30’s, while teaching elementary school, we had an author/illustrator visit from Loreen Leedy. After hearing her speak, I knew that is what I wanted to be when I “grew up.“ It wasn’t until was my mid 40’s that I became serious about illustrating so I’ve been working at this for about 10 years.

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

When I was in high school, my grandmother paid me to paint a picture of her house. It was an old two story southern colonial with the large columns. That painting hung in her house for years. After she died it was then passed down to a cousin who has it hanging in his house. I cringe now when I see that awful painting.

Where did you study art?

I studied a little bit throughout my life. When I was young, my parents signed me up for art classes with a local artist who taught painting out of her home. We did a lot of copying and then eventually created our own compositions. When I went to college I took art classes. but found they were focused mainly on modern art and free expression. I was so hungry for realistic drawing and painting classes, I lost interest in pursuing art in college. I eventually found other avenues of education such as live portrait/figure drawing groups and classes with artists such as Susan Hotard and Cheng Lian where I learned most of my basic drawing and painting skills. I have also taken online classes with E.B. Lewis, The Illustration Dept. , and SVS Learn

What types of classes did you enjoy the most?

If it is an art class, I enjoy it, so it is hard to name a favorite. I especially enjoy classes where I can get one-on-one critiques of my artwork.

Do you feel school helped you develop you style?

I did not learn as much in my art classes in school as I did in my independent learning with local artists and online classes. My “style” has developed over time but not intentionally. I think a style develops organically and changes the more you draw and paint.

Did the school help you find work when you graduated?

It helped me find a teaching job and I still teach art to this day. Teaching pays the bills so I can create my art!

Did you leave college and go directly into teaching art?

I started out as a classroom teacher then later found a job as an art teacher.

Was Hound Dawg first book illustrated book?


How did you get that contract?

Patricia Vermillion, the author, contacted me about illustrating her picture book, Hound Dawg (TCU Press). I loved her story and her characters. At that time I worked mainly in collage. Everyone of those pages was completed with cut papers. It was so much work, but so satisfying as well. It also showed me that I could complete a picture book.

Was Big and Little: A Story of Opposites the first book that you wrote and illustrated?

Yes, I worked on that book for over two years before it was picked up by Holiday House. Then they
asked me to revise it again.

Did your agent ask you to revise before selling the book?

No, but my editor at Holiday House did.

Did you sign a two book deal with Holiday House with they offered you the contract for BIG AND LITTLE?

No, just one.

Have you been able to line up school visits with your teaching schedule?

I definitely want to do school visits in the future, but it is difficult to do right now with my schedule. I have been able to do some bookstore and preschool visits.

How did Holiday House come up with the idea of getting you to illustrate a middle grade chapter book, THE LITTLEST VOYGEUR? Do you think your black and whites on Instagram were the spark?

When my editor left Holiday House, they handed me over to editor, Margaret Ferguson. She happened to be looking for an illustrator for The Littlest Voyageur. I am not sure exactly why she picked me, but I did happen to have illustrations with boats and an old farmer along with some of my black and white images on my Instagram and website so maybe she knew I could do black and white images of adult men paddling a boat? Maybe it was just being at the right place at the right time? Either way, I am so thrilled she hired me for that project.

How long did they give you to illustrate the book?

It took me about 6 months to complete. Along the way, there were changes and additions. At one point, it was decided they needed individual portraits of all eight men (voyageurs) for the book. Even though the portraits are only about one inch tall in the book, I drew the originals as 8 x 10 drawings. I am sure most people would not realize how much work went into those “tiny” portraits.

How many B&W’s did you have to do for the book?

This book is heavily illustrated so there are twenty-three drawings along with the eight portraits.

Have you ever tried illustrating a wordless picture book?

Yes, I have a picture book dummy that is wordless, but I was never satisfied with the ending so it lives in my file cabinet along with all my other unfinished stories.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate more picture books?

Yes! I have another picture book dummy completed that my agent, Essie White, is currently submitting, and I have a new one in the works I hope to finish soon. And maybe someday I will go back and revisit all those unfinished stories in my file cabinet.

How long have you been represented by Storm Literary Agency?

I’ve been with Essie at Storm Literary Agent about four years. She found me through Twitter when I posted some art and she commented on it. I did a little research and saw she was a new agent but already had sold several picture books. I reached out and asked it if was possible to submit my picture book dummies. One of those was Big and Little. There were a lot of questions back and forth and she gave me some of her clients to contact as references. I contacted two of them and they gave glowing reports. I signed with her and shortly after she sold my debut picture book to Holiday

Is working with a self-published author to illustrate their book something you would consider?

If it is the right project at the right price, yes. The main thing is I have to be excited about the story.

What do you think is your biggest success?

My biggest success is starting an illustration career late in life and sticking with it despite a huge learning curve along with the failures and
struggles I faced (and still do!).

What is your favorite medium to use?

I like pencil for black and white work and acrylics and oils for my color work.

Has that changed over time?

Yes, at one time I did primarily collage.

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

I use a Wacom tablet with my Mac. I still like to work traditionally but use Photoshop for adjusting and editing.

What materials and/or tools do you use to create your work?

Some of my favorite materials include: Bristol board for final drawings, Strathmore Heavy Mixed Media Board (vellum finish) for my paintings, Liqiuitix acrylics, Rembrandt and Schmincke Norma oil paints, and Blackwing pencils.

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

Both of my kids are grown so I no longer have Mom duty. I always keep a sketchbook with me so I can work on projects while stuck in line or in a waiting room. I am also a night owl so I like to stay up late and draw and paint. I’m probably a little obsessive about it.

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

I do gather lots of references for any illustration I am working on. With Big and Little, I had my two dogs, the inspiration for the story, for references. I also collected pictures from magazines and the internet for character poses. Since The Littlest Voyageur is historical fiction, it required quite a bit of research. I found pictures and read books and articles about the subject matter and time period. Everything needed to be accurate: the clothing, setting, and character design. My husband was the model for many of the poses in the illustrations. Steven Veit, a park ranger at The Grand Portage National Museum in Minnesota, was also a huge resource for me. He answered many questions, sent me pictures, and checked some of my artwork for historical accuracy. At one point I had the boat coming in from the wrong direction toward Grand Portage. Those small details really matter for

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

The Internet has definitely opened doors for me by providing illustration and writing classes and critiques, helping me find my agent, and providing a space to display my art for the entire world to see, 24/7.

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

I want to write a MG novel some day.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on a picture book dummy about a little girl and her fear of swimming. It is somewhat autobiographical. I am also working on a preliminary sketch for a dog portrait oil painting I’ve been commissioned to do.

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.

My tip for illustrators is to be open to revisiting or starting over with a piece of art as many times as it takes to get it right. As I improve, I hope it will get easier, but at this point, most of my final drawings and paintings have been redrawn or repainted at least once, and some, multiple times.

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

In a few words: Patience, persistence, tenacity, and a willingness to learn.

Thank you Cheryl for sharing your talent and expertise with us. Make sure to let us know your future successes. To see more of Cheryl’s work, you can visit her at: 



If you have a minute, please leave a comment for Cheryl. I am sure she’d love to hear from you and I enjoy reading them, too. 

Talk tomorrow,



Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 10, 2020

AGENT OF THE MONTH: Chelsea Eberly – Interview Part One

I am very happy to announce that Chelsea Eberly is kicking off 2020 by being our Agent of the Month. Scroll to bottom for how to submit a first page and maybe win a critique with Chelsea.

Chelsea Eberly began her publishing career as an editor of Kindergarten and Pre-K reading textbooks at McGraw-Hill, which gave her a solid respect for everything the School/Library market does, but she always knew that children’s book publishing was her true passion. After attending the Columbia Publishing Course, she joined Random House Books for Young Readers, where she rose to become a Senior Editor. she’s had the pleasure of publishing multiple award-winning and New York Times bestselling books, editing authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few.

Now as an agent with Greenhouse, she brings her deep understanding of how publishers think and vast editorial experience to my role as an expert advocate for my clients. She loves to help her clients think Big Picture about their career goals, and then work with them to develop the strategy that will allow them to achieve their dreams. Basically, she loves books and the people who make them. Chelsea says, “There’s nothing better than falling in love with a story and then telling everyone you know that they HAVE to read this book! If I love something, you will hear about it, and I bring that energy and enthusiasm to my clients’ work on a daily basis.”

“My taste is upmarket and decidedly commercial. Bring on multiple hooks and best-in-class storytelling!”

Chelsea represents authors of middle grade, young adult, graphic novels, and women’s fiction, as well as writer-illustrators of picture books. As a former Senior Editor at Penguin Random House, she edited award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors such as Tamora Pierce, Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, Matt de la Peña, Mark Siegel, Julia Walton, and Jessica Cluess to name only a few. She has a deep understanding of how publishers think and is an expert advocate for her clients. Chelsea is also a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree, which recognizes “the rising stars of the US publishing industry.”

A Midwesterner turned New Yorker, Chelsea regularly presents at writing conferences across the country and enjoys teaching craft. Follow her on Twitter at @chelseberly and discover more about her taste on her Publishers Marketplace page.

What Chelsea is seeking: High-concept, commercial reads that will stand out in the crowded US market with depth and heart. She is actively building her list and is primarily interested in fantasy, magical realism, contemporary fiction (particularly romance, thrillers, and humor), and graphic novels—though please surprise her with an excellent read that she didn’t know she needed. She has a soft spot for literary when there’s a strong plot propelling the reader forward. Chelsea would love to see projects from underrepresented voices. She is also interested in reads that thoughtfully address mental health and learning disabilities as part of the story but not necessarily the main focus. She is open to non-fiction with a unique point of view and/or a platform-driven project.

In MG, she is eager to represent: An unforgettable voice and an uplifting take on the problems that middle-school readers face, especially if the story is told from a specific point of view that can act as a mirror, window, or sliding glass door into diverse experiences. She loves when authors tackle Big Truths in a heartfelt way. She is also on the lookout for memorable characters in action-packed fantasy adventures and humorous voices that can grow to become series juggernauts.

In YA, she would love to find: A great love story, a unique fantasy world, and a heart-pounding mystery/thriller. She loves when authors are thoughtful about structure and voice; e.g. a ticking-clock timeline, a closed setting, a journal-entry format, Death as a unique narrator, and so forth. Ambitious projects with multiple commercial hooks and an empowering sensibility with feminist and social justice angles are a plus. She falls head over heels for any story that can surprise her.

In the Graphic Novel medium, she looks for: Middle Grade and YA contemporary, fantasy, fractured fairy tales, unique retellings, and select historical/non-fiction projects if they have clear hooks. She loves when authors are mining their own experiences in an autobiographical or semi-autobiographical way. Hit her with side-busting humor or box-of-tissues feels. She has a soft spot for cats.

In Picture Books, she is highly selective, looking for writer-illustrators who can create a strong character, a clear conflict, and write with a humorous voice and/or a surprising twist at the end. Chelsea loves creators who understand the sense of community that being read a book aloud delivers. She is open to non-fiction if the story has multiple hooks and an evergreen, contemporary delivery.

In adult women’s fiction, Chelsea is extremely picky. She loves upmarket contemporary fiction with a feminist angle, a strong romantic thread, and/or a domestic thriller/mystery. Think QUEENIE, ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE, WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE, AYESHA AT LAST, BIG LITTLE LIES, and WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING as examples of her taste.


I noticed you attended to Columbia Publishing Course. Is this something most editors/agents do? How long is the course?

You’ll find that many editors and agents do come out of the Columbia Publishing Course or NYU’s Summer Publishing Institute. Columbia’s program is a six-week intensive, where you live and breathe book and magazine publishing. It’s truly intense and highly competitive, but also a lot of fun for those of us who are passionate about publishing.

Coming from the Midwest, I found it extremely helpful to live in the dorms while I found an apartment in New York City, and some of my best friends today are people I met during that course. But it is not a requirement. Many editors and agents who were more local didn’t need to go that route, and more power to them!

How many years did you spend as an editor?

I was an editor at Random House Books for Young Readers for over eleven years. Before that, I was a textbook editor at McGraw-Hill for about two years.

What sparked you to jump from editor over to the agent side?

I love editing, but I found that I was doing less and less of it the higher I climbed the ranks. (Or, I should say, I was squeezing editing into my nights and weekends.) I began to feel removed from the parts of the job that brought me the most joy: spotting talent, editing, working closely with authors to achieve their best book, and supporting their careers without any conflict of interest.

I find that as an agent, I can build a list that truly represents me rather than the list that my imprint needs me to acquire. There were a lot of books that I would have loved to buy, but they just weren’t right for my imprint. Now, I don’t have that limitation. I can matchmake the books I love with the perfect editor at whatever imprint is the right fit. At my going away party, my RH colleagues gave me a lovely card that said “House of Eberly” on the front, and I do feel like I’m building a list of brilliant creators in the way that a publisher launching an imprint would do as well.

I also love public speaking and teaching, and I wasn’t finding time for that as an editor. I’m excited to do more conferences. I’ll be speaking at SCBWI’s national conference in New York this February, and I’m thrilled!

Do you have a limit on the number of clients you will represent?

I’m sure I will find my limit, but right now I’m focusing on building my client list.

Any story or themes you wish someone would submit?

Great question! This is constantly evolving, so please check out my #MSWL. In general, I’d love to see more middle grade in my inbox. I am particularly interested in seeing more BIPOC/LGBTQ authors who are #ownvoices, so feel free to mention that in your query if you are comfortable sharing that information. I would like to represent a diverse client list and advocate for stories that have historically been marginalized.

To get super-specific, I would love to see YA romance that celebrates Black culture and is an uplifting read; a Latinx YA romance centered around a quinceañera; a MG adventure with the cultural specificity and fresh contemporary voice of Sayantani DasGupta’s THE SERPENT’S SECRET; a MG with a voice as strong and a plot as exciting as Jason Reynold’s GHOST; an enemies to lovers YA with the amazing banter and sizzling romance of RED, WHITE, AND ROYAL BLUE; a YA thriller with the closed set and brilliant feminism of WILDER GIRLS; a MG dealing with Big Truths like DEAR SWEET PEA; a MG or YA with a great Southern voice; and a MG or YA that has a well-handled diabetic main character, where diabetes doesn’t have to be the focus or issue of the book.

Which do you lean more towards: Literary or Commercial?

I lean toward commercial. I want my clients’ books to reach the most readers possible. But I do want my clients to be ambitious in their storytelling. I firmly believe that the books that rise to the top of the bestseller list are often those best-in-class, award-winning reads that also have commercial hooks.

Do you think it is okay for an author to write middle grade novels, and YA novels? Or do you feel it is better to focus on one age group and genre?

It’s okay for an author to write middle grade and YA novels, but there should be a strategy. I would suggest focusing on whichever will establish you to the greatest success before switching to another age group and genre. You’ll want to have this conversation with your agent so that you both are aligned with your vision.

What do you like to see in a submission?

Voice and ambition. I love when I fall for a voice and want to spend time with that character in that world. That’s a guaranteed way to keep me reading. I also admire authors who are thinking ambitiously about structure and genre. For example, the multiple POVs of ONE OF US IS LYING or the epistolary nature of THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE THE TIME WAR. The authors who feel like they know the genre they’re trying to publish into and have their hands firmly guiding the tiller.

How important is the query letter?

The query letter is very important. It’s your one shot to hook me.

Any tips on how an author can get you to ask to see more?

I love when an author has a great elevator pitch in their query. This is a one- or two-sentence quick pitch about the book that can often include relevant comp titles for the genre—titles that show a great understanding of the works their competing against in the current marketplace. For example, THE SCIENCE OF BREAKABLE THINGS elevator pitch could be: An uplifting contemporary middle grade about a girl who uses an egg drop competition and the scientific process to “solve” her mother’s depression. Hand to readers who love THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH and THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH.

I also love when authors tell me about their specific connection to the work. Why was this the story that you had to write? Why are you the perfect author for this particular book?


Company Website:


In the subject line, please write “JANUARY 2020 FIRST PAGE CRITIQUE” Example: 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 whether it’s a picture book, middle grade, or young adult, 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 2020 January – 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: 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.

DEADLINE: January 23rd.

RESULTS: January 31st.

Talk tomorrow,


The 29th Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship will be awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress, in 2020, by the James Jones Literary Society.

The award is intended to honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into cultural and social issues exemplified by the late James Jones, author of From Here to Eternity and other prose narratives of distinction. Jones himself was the recipient of aid from many supporters as a young writer and his family, friends, and admirers have established this award of $10,000 to continue the tradition in his name. Two runners up awards of $1000 each may be given by the Jones Literary Society. All selections are at the discretion of the judges. For more about James Jones and the James Jones Literary Society go to

Eligible writers

  • Have never published a novel
  • Are U.S. citizens
  • May have published any other type of work including non-fiction articles and short stories

Non eligible writers

  • Officers of the James Jones Literary Society
  • Writers who have published previous novels

Eligible submissions

  • Unpublished novels
  • Novels in which one or more chapters have been published

Non eligible submissions

  • Collections of short stories
  • Linked short stories
  • Self-published novels

Note: Manuscripts may be simultaneously submitted for the First Novel Contest and to a publisher for publication. If the work is accepted by a publisher at any time up to the announcement of the First Novel winner, the Society must be notified and the selection will be withdrawn from the contest.

Entry Fee: A $30 check/money order, payable to Wilkes University, not to James Jones First Novel Fellowship, must accompany each entry. For online submissions there is an additional $3.00 processing fee.

Manuscript Guidelines: A two-page (maximum) outline or synopsis of the entire novel and the first 50 pages of the novel-in-progress are to be submitted. A specific format for the outline or synopsis is not required.

The manuscript must be typed and double-spaced; outline may be single-spaced. Entrants should include their name, address, telephone number and e-mail address (if available) ONLY on the cover letter, but nowhere else on the manuscript. Pages should be numbered. For online entries please attach your cover letter in the cover letter box, and your outline/synopsis and the first 50 pages of you novel as one document under attached files.  Please do not include your name in the title of your attached file.

Submissions will be acknowledged only if accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped postcard. No manuscripts will be returned. Failure to comply with manuscript guidelines may disqualify entries.

For a copy of the press release on the winners, please submit a SASE (to the address listed in the next paragraph) marked “Winners 2020 Contest.” The press release will be available in late Fall 2020.

Entries for the 2020 contest will be accepted after October 1, 2019.

DEADLINES: Entries can be mailed via SNAIL MAIL or our ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM. Hard Copy entries should be sent to the James Jones First Novel Fellowship, c/o M.A./M.F.A. in Creative Writing, Wilkes University, 84 West South Street, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766, and postmarked no later than March 15, 2020 midnight Eastern Standard time.

ONLINE SUBMISSION FORM entries should be sent to ELECTRONIC ENTRIES should be sent no later than midnight, March 15, 2020 Eastern Standard time.

The winner will be notified in September 2020. An excerpt from the winning manuscript will be published in Provincetown Arts (July 2021.)

For more information, please contact us via e-mail.

Tlak tomorrow.


Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 8, 2020

Agent Lauren E. Abramo

Lauren E. Abramo

Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

Lauren E. Abramo joined DG&B in 2005 after getting degrees in English at NYU and Irish Studies at NUI Galway. As VP and Subsidiary Rights Director for the agency she maintains a small client list and sells foreign and audio rights. She’s eagerly looking for middle grade (contemporary, fantasy, and adventure), contemporary YA, and smart, accessible adult fiction in a variety of categories, including literary, romance, thrillers, and women’s fiction. She’s also interested in adult narrative nonfiction, especially pop culture, psychology, pop science, reportage, media, humor, and contemporary culture, primarily where those areas intersect with social justice. In all categories she’s especially interested in underrepresented voices. Born in New York City and raised not far outside it, she now lives in Brooklyn.

Lauren’s Wish List Favorites 

Lauren is a Vice President at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret and has a small and carefully cultivated client list, in addition to being the agency’s director of subsidiary rights.

Most of the nonfiction she represents is for the adult market and has a social justice connection (including non-fiction that isn’t primarily about social justice but is written from the perspective of and centering the needs of a community underrepresented in that field/discipline).

Her adult fiction taste can best be described as upmarket commercial and accessible literary, and she’s most partial to literary fiction, contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and domestic and psychological suspense.

In children’s she concentrates on middle grade and young adult fiction. In middle grade her tastes run the genre spectrum. In YA she tends toward grounded contemporary, from fun and fluffy (please send her more fun and fluffy!!!!) to sad and serious.

Here’s what’s her specific wishlist as of November 2019:

  • Adult Nonfiction
    • Nonfiction about the intersection of the healthcare industry and marginalized populations
    • Political/social justice nonfiction about the sex work industry
    • A serious, criminal justice-oriented look at marijuana legalization/decriminalization and its decarceration implications
    • Non-sensationalist true crime, including on cults
    • A journalistic deep dive into MLMs
    • Popular science, especially very accessible high concept books on biology, psychology, and neuroscience
    • Accessible reportage on contemporary social issues, especially inside perspectives on communities that are often neglected

  • MG and YA fiction
    • Fun, fluffy YA
    • Middle grade or YA fiction and upmarket, accessible adult fiction and non-fiction by authors who are:
      • trans and/or non-binary and/or otherwise not cisgender/binary gender
      • disabled and/or neurodiverse and/or mentally ill
      • Native American and/or American Indian and/or Indigenous
      • and of course anyone at any of the intersections of the above demographics, including BIPOCs in those demographics
      • whether they’re writing something with a focus on identity or not (including fun and fluffy!) and whether or not they’re writing something with a protagonist who shares their identity
    • Fiction by #actuallyautistic authors with autistic protagonists (especially middle grade, especially contemporary)
    • Middle grade with old houses full of mysterious architecture, like secret passageways and stairs hidden by bookcases and spooky hallways to nowhere
    • Fun but sincere middle grade about kids who are facing real world stakes but are also unapologetically weird

  • Adult Fiction
    • Contemporary adult romance with protagonists and/or love interests who are BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and/or disabled
    • Romance novels that don’t glorify persistence. Men who take no for an answer. Active affirmative consent.
    • Upmarket accessible fiction including “women’s fiction” and “book club fiction” by authors from underrepresented communities
  • Fiction inspired by or non-fiction about real-world mysteries, like Morgellons, the Tamam Shud case*, the Voynich manuscript, Hinterkaifeck, and the Sodder children (*If you write me an incredible novel with a main character based on Jestyn, I will be your best friend for life.)
  • Fiction that recognizes that friendship is as complex, fraught, and valuable as family and romance
  • Underrepresented voices across all categories I represent. By underrepresented voices, I personally mean writers from marginalized communities that are not well represented in publishing.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

Please see DGB’s submission guidelines at the Guidelines and Details link below for the basics. If you’re responding to a very specific request from me above, please include #MSWL in the subject line.

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info

Talk tomorrow,


Laurie Calkhoven has written a Chapter book titled, ROOSEVELT BANKS, GOOD-KID-IN-TRAINING illustrated by Debbie Palen. Vivian has agreed to share a copy with one lucky winner. 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 do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Laurie and Debbie!

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. Thanks!


“Broad humor lightens the load of this lesson, and nuanced friendships enrich it.” – Kirkus Reviews 

Roosevelt Banks, Good-Kid-in-Training is about a ten-year-old boy who discovers that his two best friends are planning a bike and camping trip. Not only that, they’ve agreed to be bike-dudes-in-training and ride their bikes every day after school and on weekends. Roosevelt wants more than anything to go along. There’s just one problem—he doesn’t have a bike. After much campaigning on Rooselvelt’s part, his parents agree to buy him a second-hand bike IF he can manage to be good for TWO WHOLE WEEKS. In the meantime, Roosevelt’s nemesis is trying to steal Roosevelt’s best friends and the spot on the trip. How can Roosevelt be good and be the same fun guy his friends want on the camping trip? Trying to stay out of trouble leads to more problems than expected—and to the discovery that being a good friend is more important than any bicycle.


Roosevelt Banks, Good-Kid-in-Training grew out of a school visit. I was speaking to an auditorium full of sixth-grade writers in Missouri, when one of the students asked why we need conflict in stories. The best example I could come up with on the spot was an anecdote about a boy who wished for a bike for his birthday, and immediately got his wish. I pointed out that that wouldn’t be a very exciting story. Then I played the “what if” game. What if his parents tell him he has to earn the money for the bike? What if he’s a trouble magnet and he has to be good for two whole weeks before they’ll even think about it? The kids all agreed that throwing conflict into the mix would make for an interesting story.

I flew home to New York and forgot all about the bicycle story until a few months later. I was in between projects and started noodling with a new character – a prankster with history professors for parents (his sister’s name is Kennedy and their dog is Millard Fillmore). Then I started wondering what kind of trouble Roosevelt could get into and why. I remembered the what ifs about the boy who wanted a bike. From there—as Bruce Colville would say—I put my character up a tree and started throwing rocks at him.

I worked on the novel on and off over the next eighteen months. I read the first page at a roundtable at the 2017 New Jersey SCBWI conference and got some great feedback from fellow writers. And in late 2017 I felt like the story was ready to go. I queried a few editors, but no one expressed interest. Then my critique partner Wiley Blevins let me know that he had just sold his novel (Trevor Lee and the Big Uh Oh!) to Red Chair Press, a small educational publisher that was starting a trade line. I sent my novel off in early 2018 and in less than a week I had an offer! Red Chair brought illustrator Debbie Palen in to illustrate the cover and do some interior art. I couldn’t love the illustrations more. They bring a lot to the story.

It’s my first time working with a small publisher, and the experience has been great. I’m really looking forward to seeing how Roosevelt performs out in the world. I hope kids find him as much fun as I do!


Laurie Calkhoven grew up in a suburban neighborhood very much like Roosevelt’s, and she’s always been interested in wacky presidential facts. She’s never swallowed a frog, knocked over a rabbit hutch, or sung too loud in music class, but she is the author of many novels and nonfiction books for young readers. You can find her online at

Laurie, thank you for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. Roosevelt Banks looks like a fun book that children will love. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 6, 2020

Illustrator Critique: Mira Reisberg critiques Diana Delosh

Hullo again, it’s Mira Reisberg with another wee video critique. As I’ve maybe mentioned, I love teaching and these video critiques allow me to also teach some Photoshop skills. I really enjoyed these two pieces of Diana Delosh’s work and one of the pieces in particular as you’ll see in the video.

Keeping characters consistent is challenging and one of the things you can do is create a style sheet for each of the characters with a color and texture palette that you can reuse throughout. Creating a proportion grid is also helpful where you figure out how many heads go into the body and how long the arms and legs (and in this case trunks) are in relation to the body or head. Another tip is to copy and paste or Xerox each of the versions of your character so you can see the differences and similarities together.

Diana has high skills but has mostly published in magazines and the educational market, which isn’t nearly as much fun as doing trade books that tend to also pay better and give royalties. We had an illustration couple, Chantelle and Burgen Thorne in our illustration course a couple of years ago, primarily because they wanted to move into the trade market, and now their careers are rocketing. Needless to say, I’d love to help Diana make this move too. Here’s a lovely testimonial from Chanelle and Burgen. Please click on the red video triangle if you are reading this via email so that it takes you to Kathy’s blog.

Shifting gears, in the video below, I demonstrate the good old warp tool in Photoshop and speak of the importance of contrast for text. Personally I think contrast is really important for a whole range of reasons but mostly to make for more dramatic and legible illustrations (unless of course it’s a low contrast kind of story about going to sleep where you don’t want it to be too dramatic) as well as highly legible text.

So without further ado, here’s the video critique for Diana and hopefully it helps others as well. Please click the red video triangle to see the video on Kathy’s blog.

Or Click Here:

And here’s a little before and after:

Mira’s Rough Revision Suggestions:

So that’s it for my second to last video critique for Kathy’s blog.


Diana Ting Delosh is an illustrator, hand letterer and writer. She creates whimsical art, independently and by commission. At the age of two, she developed her taste for art when she nibbled her way through a box of crayons. She has been doodling away ever since.

Diana has illustrated for: Pearson Educational Publishing, Farfaria, Dover Publications, Harcourt Achieve, Scott Foresman, Ladybug Magazine. Her writing has appeared in Highlights/High Five and Ladybug magazines. She received the following awards: Highlights High Five Pewter Plate for Puzzle Poem of the Year, Bubble Trouble, July 2008 and a SCBWI Magazine Merit Honor Award for Illustration 2002.

Please leave a comment here and on facebook about what Mira is doing or join Mira’s Facebook group using this link: or join her email community. She is currently giving away a fabulous brand new free course:

ALSO HEADS UP: there’s still a small discount with the 2020ArtLove code along with wonderful FREE Photoshop and Procreate courses among other goodies for our game-changing illustration course. First live training starts Jan 13th. Come find out why people rave about this course here:


Dr. Mira Reisberg has a PhD in Education and Cultural Studies with a focus on children’s literature. She is an acquiring Editor and Art Director at Clearfork/Spork and is also the Director of the Children’s Book Academy. Her students have published over 370 books and won ever major North American award. Mira’s 8 published children’s books have won awards and sold over 600,000 copies. She lives in a 100 year-old house in Portland, Oregon with her husband and two cats.

Mira is available to do in person Skype or private webinar critiques as part of her upcoming Craft and Business of Illustrating Children’s Books interactive e-course, which she is co-teaching with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Art Director, Andrea Miller and a group of editors, agents, and art directors. Andrea also has some one-hour critiques available too. The course starts Jan 13 through Feb 24 2020 and will be spectacular. Grab it while you can here:


ONE MORE CHANCE: Send something in by Tuesday to have a chance for a critique with Mira

Please send Two or Three SEQUENTIAL illustrations (Two/three with the SAME “story/characters‎”) to:
Kathy.temean (at) Illustrations should be at least 500 pixels wide and your name should be in the .jpg title.

Put ILLUSTRATOR PORTFOLIO in the subject area and send to kathy(dot)temean(at) and include a blurb about yourself I can use to introduce you to everyone.


Mira, another fabulous job. Just goes to show there are always something you can tweak. See you next Friday.

Talk tomorrow,


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