Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 2, 2019

Agent Building List – Brent Taylor


Triada US was founded in 2004 by Dr. Uwe Stender. Since then, the agency has built a list of high quality fiction and non-fiction for readers of all ages.

After years of interning in trade book publishing, Brent joined Triada US in 2014 to assist Uwe Stender while building my own list of fiction and non-fiction for readers aged 0-18. Brent was promoted to associate agent in November 2015 and to agent in April 2017. In addition to his role as an agent, he manages the agency’s subsidiary rights, licensing audiobook and foreign rights and attending international rights fairs.

He is seeking joyful books, for big-hearted young readers, that are extremely well-written, robust with emotion, and appeal to a wide, commercial audience.

I’m Brent Taylor, a literary agent and subsidiary rights manager at Triada US. For more information about my background and the projects I work on, visit my Publishers Marketplace page. In terms of what I’d love to see from querying writers, I describe my taste as upmarket: stories that are extremely well-written, robust with emotion, and appeal to a wide, commercial audience. In other words, books that feel both literary and commercial, gorgeous writing with brilliant plots and high stakes.

Picture books: I have a fondness for author-illustrators but am open to text-only manuscripts. I love fresh, zany, off-the-wall picture books, like The Day the Crayons Quit (written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers) and Seven Bad Cats (written and illustrated by Moe Bonneau) (a book I sold myself!). I love art that feels simultaneously quiet and big: vibrant colors, off-beat but strong lines. I’m a big fan of picture books that subvert tropes, like Worm Loves Worm(written by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato) and Prince & Knight (written by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis) (another one I’m immensely proud to have sold!). To sum it up in a sentence, I’m looking for picture book stories and art kids have never seen before, projects that will turn children into life-long readers.

Middle grade: My middle grade tastes are extremely eclectic, from first kisses to dragons to graveyards and summer camps. I want to represent middle grade novels that make kids feel seen and heard. I love realistic, coming-of-age stories but I also go bonkers for dragons, vampires, and demons! I would love middle grade novels with a ton of voice, heart, and big emotions that also use unconventional narrative structures, like Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss or Don’t Solve the Puzzle by Krista Van Dolzer (here I go again, raving about my own books!), which both include puzzles in the story that readers can solve alongside the characters. I love well-written fantasy with a lot of action but dealing with circumstances or creatures that feel fresh and unique. On my client list, The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (rakkhosh demons!) and Silver Batal and the Water Dragon Races by K.D. Halbrook (water dragons!) are perfect examples of this. I would have loved the opportunity to represent something like The Whisper in the Stone by Kamilla Benko, a fresh fantasy about a classic creature (unicorns!).  All that aside, I fall in love with voice first and foremost.

Young adult: I want the young adult fiction I represent to help teenagers find their place in the world. I’m looking for stories about the weird space in between craving independence and feeling bittersweetness in leaving youth behind. I love books that show teenagers that there’s not one true experience or path. In young adult my tastes are more oriented toward realistic fiction, but I love stories with small twinges of magical realism or strangeness. Some of my favorite YA novels are The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, and Every Day by David LevithanI have a soft spot for novels-in-verse, but I’m a sucker for any sort of beautiful sentence or passage.

Graphic novels: I have a strong preference for author-illustrators when considering graphic novel projects, but I’m looking for all of the same things as above in the graphic novel category.

Non-fiction: I’d love to see all sorts of non-fiction in the categories that I represent, including but definitely not limited to picture book biographies, particularly about hidden figures of history, memoir, narrative stories on a wide range of topics, and how-to.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to

Send your query letter and first ten pages pasted in the body of the message to brent [at] triadaus [dot] com. Put “Query” in the subject line.

You can find Brent on Twitter:

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 1, 2019

Book Giveaway: A BOY LIKE YOU by Frank Murphy

Author Frank Murphy has a new picture book titled, A BOY LIKE YOU, illustrated by Kayla Harren. It is is hitting bookstores on July 15th.

Frank has agreed to share a book 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 Frank and Kayla!


There’s more to being a boy than sports, feats of daring, and keeping a stiff upper lip. A Boy Like You encourages every boy to embrace all the things that make him unique, to be brave and ask for help, to tell his own story and listen to the stories of those around him. In an age when boys are expected to fit into a particular mold, this book celebrates all the wonderful ways to be a boy.


Even though I started drafting A Boy Like You in the Winter of 2018, its genesis occurred long before 2018. Teaching, coaching, and parenting over the past three decades all led to me writing A Boy Like You. But in 2018, there were a few things that sort of nudged me to write the text, imagining it as a picture book. One, sadly, was the onslaught of school shootings. Seeing tragedy after tragedy and noticing that a common denominator was the shooter almost always being a boy, in part, pushed me to write the text. Another factor was the culmination of seeing too many boys often feeling undervalued at recess, where sports usually dominate the choices for play and interaction. The third was the fact that I was seeing so many books written to empower girls (which I love!), but few for boys; I really wanted boys to have a picture book that addresses strength and masculinity – and the myriad ways to show it.

In late April of 2018, I submitted the manuscript to Heather Hughes at Sleeping Bear Press. (Heather acquired my first picture book, The Legend of the Teddy Bear, almost 20 years ago.) Heather got back to me pretty quickly and let me know that someone would get in touch after reviewing the manuscript. In June, Sarah Rockett emailed me to let me know that the editorial team was looking over the manuscript and that she’d get back to me soon. I was in Italy, while on vacation in July, when I received Sarah’s second email telling me that the editorial team thought I was “close to something great with this concept”. She asked if I was up for working on it a little more and re-submitting it. She gave me a little bit of direction from the editorial team; mostly, they thought it was too didactic and a bit too mature – they were right! Fortunately, I had paid an editor to critique the manuscript a few months earlier. I immediately went back to that editor’s notes. While touring Sorrento, Florence, and Ravenna, I squeezed in a lot of redrafting; the editor’s notes I had helped tremendously.

On July 24th, I re-submitted the manuscript (a few days after returning from Italy) with fingers crossed. Sarah really liked what I had done and because it had such a timely topic she pushed it through the acquisition process AND on July 27th she let me know that Sleeping Bear Press wanted to offer me a contract. I was thrilled! Sarah and her team wanted to get the book into readers’ hands as soon as possible, so summer 2019 was chosen as the earliest possible publication date. Sarah and I crammed in many, many revisions. Sarah was incredible; she collaborated on this text with me with expertise and creativity. When I found out Kayla Harren was chosen for the art, I immediately looked her up and I was thrilled. Kayla is a rising star in the KidLit world. Her ability to capture emotions with facial expressions is uncanny. The way she attaches light and shadow is stunning. I just love her art.

I’ve never had a book turn around so quickly. Some of my books have taken more than three years from acquisition to publication. So having a picture book come alive in less than a year is remarkable. I’m really happy it published so quickly because I think families and classrooms need a book like this, now more than ever – one that speaks to boys in the ways that it does.

For me, A Boy Like You is a culmination of teaching leadership all these years as a parent, coach, and educator. I hope A Boy Like You creates discussions for people who read it and share it. And I hope the discussions open up hearts and minds to create space for acceptance, patience, and kindness. If just one boy learns that he should always clean up after himself, that he should hold the door for the person behind him, or that choosing kindness is a way to be strong – then A Boy Like You will have made a difference. And if just one boy is inspired and validated by the message “Be the YOU that makes you feel most alive,” then A Boy Like You will have made an impact for a lifetime.


FRANK MURPHY is a teacher who writes and a writer who teaches. He has taught a wide variety of grades at the elementary for more than 26 years. A history buff, former basketball coach & Sixers fan, and popular speaker, Frank is the author of many fun historical fiction/biography books for young readers, including several popular Step into Reading History Readers – including the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2006 Best Book Award Winner Ben Franklin & the Magic Squares. Most of his children’s books are about iconic people from the past like Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Frederick Douglass, and Clara Barton.

His newest picture book is A Boy Like You (July 2019) illustrated by Kayla Harren and published by Sleeping Bear Press. A Boy Like You is a loving tribute to boys, celebrating all the wonderful ways to be a boy and encouraging readers to be the truest version of themselves–while embracing empathy and kindness. As a teacher and father, Frank is committed to helping expand the definition of what it means to be a boy and a man, this is an important and timely message for anyone who cares about today’s male youth.

Frank was born in California, but moved to Philadelphia, PA when he was 8 years old. He’s been in the Philly area ever since. He currently teaches 6th grade.

He has written more than 18 children’s books and A Boy Like You is his favorite. He currently lives in Bucks County, PA. Visit his website at


When I first read the manuscript for A Boy Like You I immediately saw my husband and brother reflected in the text. I was so excited to illustrate this book so I could honor the wonderful boys in my life.

I love seeing the influx of “girl power” books in stores. I am so happy girls are getting a wide variety of books about strength, leadership, perseverance, and speaking up.

However, boys face challenges regarding gender stereotypes, too. I am lucky to know some amazingly sweet and sensitive men, but I know their journey growing up was not always easy. They were taught that boys couldn’t show emotion or be sensitive.

I was so happy to read Frank Murphy’s words encouraging kindness and empathy. I knew instantly that I wanted to help present this message to boys and to the parents of boys. Strength is not just a physical trait, before bravery comes fear, and kindness is always the best option.

When illustrating this book I tried to include as many different boys as I could. As Frank says, there are many ways to be a boy, and I wanted that to be evident in the illustrations. My hope is that every boy can connect with this book in some way. Maybe they resemble one of the characters, maybe they identify with an emotion, or maybe they recognize a familiar situation depicted in the book.  I hope this book helps guide each boy to be their best self.


Kayla Harren graduated from the School of Visual Arts in NYC with a BFA in Illustration. She illustrated the picture books Juma the Giraffe and Our Elephant Neighbors for Wild Nature Institute and PAMS Foundation.  Mary Had a Little Lizard, published by Sky Pony Press, was her debut picture book as an author/illustrator. Her artwork has been featured in Communication Arts, 3×3 Magazine, and the Society of Illustrators Illustration Annuals.  She won the June 2017 Highlights for Children Pewter Plate Award for her illustration.

Kayla’s books include Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich and Mary Had a Little Lizard. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about her at Kayla was recently featured on Illustrator Saturday.

Thank you Frank and Kayla for sharing your book and Journey with us. This is a loving tirbute to all the wonderful ways to be a boy and the most true version of yourself. As usual Kayla did a fantastic job with the illustrations. Kayla was featured on Illustrator Saturday. Here is the link.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 30, 2019

Kudos – Book Reveal and Book Winners


Manju B. Howard won GOODNIGHT WIND by Linda Elovitz Marshall

Penny Taub won BUBBLE WRAP GIRL by by Kari van Wakeren

Maria Marshall won DOGS AND THEIR PEOPLE by Anne Lambelet

Kathy Mazurowski won Oink-Oink! Moo! Cock-a-Doodle-Doo! by Jennifer Sattler

Joyce Schriebman won HECTOR: A Boy, A Protest, and the Photograph that Changed Apartheid by Adrienne Wright

The Aunt Savant won BUTTERFLIES ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by Annie Silvestro

Please send your address to kathy.temean(at) – PUT BOOK WINNER and the name of the book in the subject line. Thank you!



WISHES, DARES, AND HOW TO STAND UP TO A BULLY by Darlene Beck-Jacobson (Creston 2020):

Eleven year old Jack misses his Dad who is MIA in Vietnam. It’s been months since he and his family had word of his whereabouts. The last thing Jack wants to do is spend summer with his grandparents. Mom believes it will be good for them all – Jack, his sister Katy, Mom, Gran and Pops – to be together while they wait for word about Dad. Keeping busy will keep them out of trouble and help them think of other things.

Jack expects the worst summer of his life. The first summer without. Without Dad, without friends, without his room and all the things that remind him of Dad. When Jack meets a girl named Jill – a girl with a brother who makes trouble for both of them – things they believe are turned upside down. Welcome to a summer of fishing, camping, bullies, and a fish who grants wishes. A fish that could be the answer to Jack’s problem. But when Jill makes wishes of her own, things don’t turn out the way they expected.  Every wish has a consequence. Will the fish grant Jack’s biggest wish?  Will Jack be brave enough to ask?  

Congratulations! Darlene.


Charlotte Wenger has joined Prospect Agency as an agent. She was previously an associate editor at Page Street Kids. Here is a link to last year’s interview with Charlotte:

Louise Quayle has joined Audible as a director of acquisitions and content partnerships, reporting to Kristin Lang. Most recently she was senior acquisitions editor at Penguin Random House Audio.

Vicki Lame has been promoted to senior editor at St. Martin’s and Wednesday Books.

At Delacorte, Kelsey Horton has been promoted to editor; Monica Jean and Audrey Ingerson to associate editor; and Alexandra Hightower to assistant editor. At Random House Children’s, Stacey Sundar has joined as creative services administrator.

At Highlights Press: Michelle Budzilowicz and Marlo Scrimizzi were both promoted to senior editor, and Christy Thomas moved up to assistant editor.

Madeline Jones has been promoted to associate editor at Holt.

Stephanie Winter has been promoted to associate agent at P.S. Literary Agency.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 29, 2019

Illustrator Saturday – Sheryl Murray

Sheryl grew up near Chicago in a rambunctious family of eight kids. Storytelling was an everyday thing in her house: whether it was being part of her sister’s backyard theatrical productions, making up bedtime stories for her four younger brothers or trying to convince her mom that she couldn’t possibly have been the one who drew on the baby with her best lipstick. She was also the family artist, drawing on everything and everyone (Sorry, Danny!). Sheryl says she always knew she wanted to write and illustrate children’s books when shegrew up.

Since earning her BFA in Illustration, she has drawn storyboards for ad agencies, produced handmade tile, helped restore lots of old houses, exhibited my ceramic sculptures across the U.S., traveled six continents, and became a mama to two very sweet, sometimes silly, always creative girls who just keep growing and growing themselves. All these experiences has influenced her style of drawing and filled her head with stories and characters that are just too good not to share.

Sheryl now lives in Portland, Oregon and she never tires of exploring it’s misty beaches, mossy forests and friendly mountains. And she’s always on the lookout for secret swimming holes. She loves rainy day tea parties, reading aloud to her daughters, and libraries – especially the children’s section, which has the best books and those cozy little chairs that are always exactly the right size, no matter how grown up she becomes.


Thumbnails: My visual process usually starts with thumbnails. I still find this easiest to do on large sheets of marker paper, keeping everything quick and loose. I try out a lot of ideas; developing ones that interest me with further sketches.

Color Palette: Once I’ve roughly figured out my idea, I continue to refine the image digitally and do some basic color comps to plan out my palette.

Transfer Pencil: I use Saral transfer paper between layers (or a lightbox behind) to trace the line drawing onto a textured paper and start building value with pencil.

Pencil Work: I often work at a reduced size to allow for more texture to come through in the final illustration – it makes for more dramatic linework.

Ready to Scan: The completed pencil drawing is now ready to scan. I move back and forth between Photoshop and Procreate during the digital process.

Final Image: I like the ease of coloring my images digitally. It feels a lot like how I used to do marker work and keeps things feeling gestural and intuitive for me. I’ve learned to keep each color on a separate layer to make changes less of a hassle. I added the snow by erasing the B&W layer digitally.

Many thanks to my studio assistant for the “help” styling my process shots. Here Tatum displays an array of pencils and erasers I favor. (Not shown: the indispensible Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber eraser)

Interview with Sheryl Murray


How long have you been illustrating?

I have been working on and off as an illustrator for almost 30 years.


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

In college, students in my illustration class were given the opportunity to illustrate early readers for the DR-TA Reading Series published by Trillium Press for classroom use. I illustrated THROUGH ROSE-COLORED GLASSES. I posed my roommate’s family for reference photos for the 20 black and white ink illustrations. I still have a copy of that little reader on my bookshelf.

What made you leave Chicago to live in Portland Oregon?

The easy answer would be that I moved for love. I fell head over heels for both my then boyfriend/later husband who was planning to move to Portland even before I met him, and the city itself when we visited the area. What’s not to love about a vibrant, creative city that’s a short drive to beaches, mountains, hikes in the wilderness, and wine country? It’s so wonderfully green here and very friendly. I adore Chicago too, and miss the hustle and bustle energy and people-watching sometimes but not the more extreme weather.

What school did you attend to get your BFA in Illustrating? 

I attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois. My year was the first year the school had an Illustration major. Our professors were working artists in many different areas of the art world: from fine artists who exhibited in large galleries to a well-known comic book illustrator with mad inking skills.

What type of classes were your favorites?

Looking back, I think classes that took me out of my comfort zone and exposed me to new ways of thinking were the ones I now value the most. I had a fine art professor for a drawing class that made me think so hard that I’d be holding my head after class. My high school had a very limited art program so I was also exploring many art mediums for the first time. I loved watercolor and spent many happy hours layering abstract pools of color on giant paper. I learned to build and stretch my own canvases and created even larger works in oil paints.

Did art school help you get illustrating work when you graduated?

My college art classes definitely taught me a lot about composition, color theory, and techniques like inking and line work that I still use today. Unfortunately my portfolio was not focused towards children’s publishing, which was my dream job even back then.

What type of illustrating did you do first starting out?

There was a lot of free-lance advertising work to be had in Chicago, if you were determined and persistent. Every agency I showed my portfolio at right out of school asked if I did marker work. So I taught myself to do marker illustration and built a busy free-lance career creating storyboards for client presentation at numerous advertising agencies. It was kind of like Mad Men without the daytime drinking and fabulous dresses. I also was hired to do final illustration work developed from the initial marker comps I created.

How did you get involved in doing sculpture?

While I was free-lancing as a storyboard artist in Chicago, I took several clay classes for fun at Lill Street Studios, a little ceramic studio in my neighborhood. One class was an introduction to tile making, from doing mosaic to painting flat tile to carving bas-relief and learning to make plaster press molds. I was entranced the first time I carved into a slab of wet terra-cotta. I still have a deep affinity for clay.

I moved to Portland shortly after that class and began taking ceramic classes full-time at the Oregon School of Art and Craft. I learned to slab-build sculpture and spent a lot of time carving and working into the surfaces. My work was always very narrative and often figurative. A local gallery owner saw my work and asked me to be in a group show. I also won several awards at the annual Oregon Potters Association show around the same time. From there I began exhibiting my work nationally.

When did you decide to illustrate children’s books?

I’m not sure I ever didn’t want to illustrate children’s books! I grew up in a boisterous family of 8 kids. I was pegged early as the artist in the family. And I always had my nose stuck in a book. I was also a dreamer, always lost in some wonderful internal story. I read a lot to my younger brothers and we were always making up stories for them and putting on plays. At some point as a teenager, I just knew it’s how I wanted to contribute to the world. I would love my stories to spark the imagination and creativity in another child’s life.

Have you had an opportunity to illustrate a picture book?

I am thrilled to say I am just finishing up final art for HAND IN HAND, my first illustration project with Simon & Schuster. It is a sweet board book about a mom and toddler heading out together for a day’s adventure. It will be published in Spring 2020.

I see The Cat Agency represents you. How long have you been with them and how did they find you?

Yes, they do! How lucky am I?? My agent Christy Ewers is simply a gem and a fantastic partner in my career. I met Christy through SCBWI Oregon at a retreat for writers and illustrators last fall. I have been volunteering as the Illustration Coordinator’s assistant for our region for several years. I got to know Christy while assisting her at the retreat, which I was also attending. I also did a one-on-one portfolio review with her during the weekend where we started talking more seriously about working together. We stayed in touch after the retreat and Christy offered me opportunities that gave me a feel for how well we communicated and what it would be like to work together. She offered me representation and I signed just before Thanksgiving 2018.

I am so happy to be part of such a talented bunch of illustrators and writers – Christy and her mom, Christina Tugeau have really created something special – it’s like being part of (another!) big family!

What do you feel influenced your illustrating style?

I think the biggest influences on my style come from my background in storyboarding and carving clay tiles and sculpture. Drawing for storyboards taught me a lot about sequencing the narrative and changing up perspective to engage the audience and keep things interesting. Drawing for clay pieces and actually carving them influenced the way I use weighted line and composition to direct the eye across the piece. I also think time and life experience have shaped my illustration style for the better.

I have spent many, MANY hours pouring over picture books and reading to my two daughters, who are now teenagers. I’ve travelled a great deal; exploring art museums, and absorbing the architecture, textiles and culture of the many different countries I’ve been lucky enough to visit.

Being a member of SCBWI, attending conferences and retreats and participating in one-on-one critiques with art directors, agents, and editors has also definitely influenced my style and helped my identify what was working and what I needed to change up to best communicate the narrative and emotions of a story.

Do you work full time as a free-lance illustrator?

My studio time is split between free-lance illustration jobs and writing and developing my own stories and book dummies with the hope of soon being published as an author/illustrator.

Do you have any desire to write and illustrate a book?

Absolutely (see above)! I have several book dummies that I am tweaking right now as well as a half dozen or so new story ideas in various stages of development. I also keep a notebook with scribbled bits and drawings that have potential.

Do you exhibit your art in galleries?

I was in a wonderful group show of Portland children’s book illustrators at a local gallery last summer; sharing both our process and final art. I am also part of another group of local artists and illustrators currently developing a show that will be happening during Portland Design Week next fall.

Have you ever illustrated a book cover?

I illustrated the cover for my book project with Simon & Schuster, Inc. mentioned above, but haven’t yet had the opportunity to work on a stand alone book cover. It’s definitely another type of illustration I’m interested in pursuing, along with interior black & white illustrations.

Do you have a studio in your house?

Sometimes I think my whole house is my studio! I do have an actual studio space that is half of one large room under the eaves shared with my bedroom. I often choose to write at the dining room table for a change of pace. And sometimes I even work at my daughter’s desk in her bedroom (when my space gets too hot or messy). I will be converting my too-small-for-a-car garage to an official studio space soon so stay tuned…

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

At this point, all my work for the children’s publishing industry is contracted through my fabulous agent Christy Ewers at the CAT agency.

Have you worked with educational publishers? Which ones?

I haven’t had an opportunity yet but look forward to the possibility.

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

I haven’t illustrated for children’s magazines yet but would love to do so!

Have you ever thought about illustrating a wordless picture book?

I’m definitely a visual storyteller first, so a wordless picture book is very enticing. My own writing tends to be sparse with a lot of weight placed on the images. I am currently developing on one that feels like it might work best without words. And I think there are many children with big imaginations that love getting lost in the illustrations and adding their own story. I love to include lots of little details in my work for the non-reader to discover.

What do you think is your biggest success?

Besides my two daughters, Zoe and Alice, who I think are incredibly amazing?!? I feel like I’m just getting started with children’s books. I would consider it a big success and be happy and content making good books that touch young minds for as long as I can hold a pencil.

What is your favorite medium to use?

In the past year, I’ve gone somewhat back to basics. I am really enjoying just using pencil on paper for most of my work. I can create a lot of movement and value that way. After the black and white work is done, I have been adding color to my illustrations digitally. I’m also experimenting with cut paper work – I think it could work well especially for middle grade covers (and it’s so fun to do!).

Has that changed over time?

I am always changing up my mediums. I believe that different stories and age groups call for different materials and textures. I have worked in a wide variety of mediums and like to experiment with different combinations when first developing a look for the story.

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

I very rarely go more than a day or two without working in some creative mode that hones my craft. I usually try to spend a little time experimenting with materials at the beginning of the work day. My agency encourages us to submit new art for postcard mailings centered around a theme or for holiday mailings, which is a great chance to show something fresh. I also enjoy going to art workshops and social drawing nights with friends. I definitely get a lot out of SCBWI events too – I’ve gained some major technique tips from listening to lecturing illustrators and talking to my peers. All of this has become part of what I consider my process and lends itself to developing my craft.

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

I do some research before I start and more after I have done initial thumbnails. I do a lot of google searches and sometimes hit the library or delve into my own collection of books. I have many reference selfies of myself and my kids on my phone in crazy positions when I just couldn’t figure out how to draw it without an image.

Do you think the Internet has opened doors for you?

The internet can be a great tool. I have definitely benefited from editors and art directors being able to view my work on my website. Social media is another great resource for getting work out there and to connect with other artists as well as see what is new and happening in the children’s book world.

Do you use Photoshop or Painter with your illustrations?

I do use Photoshop, mainly for technical things like cropping, correcting flaws, and adjusting final colors. I used completely traditional materials up to a few years ago and finally taught myself how to do what I needed. I add to my PS knowledge base on a need to know basis through advice from artist friends and online tutorials.

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

I started using the Procreate app on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil about two years ago. It’s now a regular part of my process. I use it to develop my pencil roughs and to add final color to most of my current illustrations.

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

My dreams feel like they are starting to come true! I am over the moon to be working with Christy Ewers at the CAT Agency. I love collaborating with art directors, editors, and writers to bring stories to life with my illustrations. And it’s very satisfying to know that my pictures will add to the experiences and imagination of so many little developing minds. My biggest hope is to also write my own books as well as illustrate them.


What are you working on now?

I am just finishing up illustrations for my first book with Simon and Schuster. I’m excited to have some studio time to get back to work on my own stories and book dummies after a really spectacularly busy spring.

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 am a big fan of Blackwing pencils. I like how truly dark of a line I get with a lot of grainy texture. I still brainstorm, sketch, and create final line work for transfer on 100% rag marker paper like Bienfang Graphics 360 – a throwback to my years as a storyboard artist.  And I do my final pencil illustration on Strathmore 400 Series Bristol Vellum.

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

Join SCBWI and participate! Go to conferences, retreats, and other events. I learned so much from faculty presentations, from looking at other illustrators’ portfolios, and from participating in both group and individual critiques. Talk to other artists and form a critique group – I have received endless support and invaluable advice from my group and from other illustrators and writers I have become friends with over the years.

Be curious, listen carefully, and always keep on creating!

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

Twitter: @Sheryl_Murray

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

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 28, 2019

Agent of the Month – Connor Eck – First Page Results

Here is Connor Eck, agent with Lucinda Literary – actively building an eclectic list in the children’s genre. As June’s AGENT OF THE MONTH, he has critiqued four first pages. You will find them further down.


Connor Eck represents adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction, picture books, memoir, business, sports, and narrative nonfiction. Connor looks for fresh voices, unforgettable characters, tightly constructed plot, and thematic storytelling. In nonfiction, he is drawn to powerful narratives that challenge the status quo or ask big questions, original thinkers, and authors with strong platforms.

A sample of books Connor has represented include: YOU BE MOMMY, a picture book in which a tuckered out mother asks her child to “be mommy” at bedtime, and the sequel YOU BE DADDY (Macmillan); BE STRAIGHT WITH ME, a young adult book-in-verse exploring how the author and her male gay best friend unexpectedly fell in love in college (Andrews McMeel); LIFE IS SHORT & SO AM I, the memoir of a little person’s improbable journey to, through, and beyond WWE (ECW Press).

Connor has a passion for writing, nurturing literary talent, and for bolstering the careers of his fellow writers. He received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Union College. To query Connor directly, email

Here is more about Lucinda Literary:

Lucinda Literary is one of very few hybrid literary, marketing, and lecture agencies for authors. We represent books across categories, but specialize in “ideas” or “big think” books that look to change the way people work, behave, and live. Most often, our clients come to us already well-known in their fields as original thinkers or voices—they are business leaders, scientists, or bring a strong media or online profile.

But sometimes, there is just a great title concept. Or a great story that requires a professional writer. We help develop books from the ground up.

Lucinda Literary selectively represents fiction. We primarily look for voice-driven, emotionally raw, and often unconventionally told novels for adults and young adults. In children’s books, we look for stories that transport us and break new ground, much in the way our adult books do.

Bringing a background in marketing, and publicity relationships to every project we represent, we are strategists and advocates not just for the books, but for the entire careers, of our authors. We do not take on a high volume of clients by design, which allows us to be hands-on, attentive, and editorially invested.

Lucinda Literary has worked with all of the major publishers and more, including:

  • PenguinRandomHouse
  • HarperCollins
  • Simon & Schuster
  • Hachette Book Group
  • Macmillan
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Hay House
  • McGraw-Hill
  • Scholastic
  • Amazon

Here are the four critiqued first pages. Connor’s comments are in red. Any added words are underlined and any tgext with a line through it has been deleted.


The Broken Reach by Ella Chalmers & Beth Doherty – YA Fantasy

The slim moon cast little (Little typically refers to size. Something along the lines of dim or narrow ray of light…) light. It made the limb, (Specifics—foot, hand?) at first, look like a sprout unfurling. (This simile could perhaps be simplified for the young reader. You could keep unfurling maybe, but sprout might be too obscure for kids.)

Gren knelt under the naked, heathen tree with roots that marred (Again maybe a simpler word?) (Not sure this is immediately recognizable for kids. Also, it’s not precisely clear that Gren is on top of the cliff.) the cliff face below. He’d taken his hoe to turn the earth. He wanted to plant the tomalven  seeds (Will a young reader be familiar or is this a fictional seed?) his sister had found, before the birds awoke.

Pressing his fingers into the dirt, Gren uncovered the remains of a miniature body. It was humanlike (How so? Critter and scaly skin are mentioned, so a reader might wonder what exactly about the body is human.), aside from the broad, buttery wings that broke through the skin between the shoulder blades. He turned the body over in his hands feeling the prickles of scaly skin, the shuttered eyelids that he was hesitant to peel back, and the curl of dark hair that wisped around his fingers like shadow. (Lovely description!)

A small click made Gren jerk his head around to look at his home. He knelt silently on the dirt, observing the odious (Too advanced?) quiet of the two-room cottage. The makeshift curtains hadn’t swayed from their position, and a waxen titch (?)  hadn’t been lit to ward off the night.

Far below the cliff he could hear the gentle slap of water against rock. The breeze sighed, and the tree creaked. But it didn’t click.

Gren set the winged creature onto the soil – its fingernails were smaller than the tomalven seeds scattered beside it. He knew if he brought the critter into the cottage it would be found within hours. No one could hide anything on the island. Not when the four of them, his family, were forever scrounging for food.

He wondered where it had come from, how far had it had travelled on such light, dust-mucked wings. (Wonderful description!)  But mostly, how it came to be buried in his garden.  – I deeply appreciate the tight grammar. The mood is visceral, the setting palpable, and the 1st page ends in high suspense. The reader will be compelled to flip the page. I do think word choice could reflect the  audience a bit more, as suggested in previous comments. A reader may also wish for an image of Gren’s character—is he a boy, old man, is he tall, stout? I think the writing and story show promise, should word choice be simplified.

“Gren?” hissed a voice.


“He’s My Brother.” by Meryl Brown Tobin – Middle Grade story – 15,410 words

“Come in!” booms Sister Maria’s big voice.

The small dark-haired boy standing outside of Sister Maria’s office pales (May be an unfamiliar verb to a MG reader.) . Taking a deep breath, he puts his head around the heavy wooden door. “You want to see me, Sister Maria?”

A big figure dressed in a long black flowing black robe with a dark black veil over her head looks (Is there a looking verb that can characterize her emotion?) at him through thick brown-rimmed glasses at him. “Come in, come in, Timothy. Don’t loiter, boy.”

I wish she wouldn’t yell like that, (italicized) Timmy thinks. To stop himself from putting his hands over his ears, he holds his arms straight by his sides. Forcing his trembling feet forward, he steps in front of Sister Maria’s big wooden desk. Stop, he silently cries silently to the butterflies flying around in his tummy. He stares at Sister Maria’s man-sized (You might err away from a gender comparison here.) hands as they shuffle several papers across her desk. His heart lifts. Maybe she’s going to tell me Kev’s coming home (Italicized). Butterflies flutter in all directions in his stomach.

Timmy He sneaks a look  at Sister Maria’s face. You look the same as you did three years ago, (italicized) when I first saw you here in your office three years ago, he thinks. But Kevin isn’t here to look after Timmy me this time. He blinks hard.

Tall (It was just a bit unclear that this was a flashback.) and fair like their mother, Kevin had been there in Sister Maria’s office on that first occasion.  then He had tipped his foot to touch Timmy’s, and the butterflies in Timmy’s stomach had stopped flying about.

With a nod at Kevin, Sister Maria had demanded, “How old are you?”


“And you?”

“Five.” Timmy had wished his voice was strong and clear like his brother’s.

“Hmm, then you’re old enough to understand,” Sister Maria had said. “Your father won’t be coming to see you again––he died this morning.”

If Kevin hadn’t reached out an arm to grab him, Timmy would have dropped to the floor. Great suspense to end page one! A reader will want to turn the page.



NEVER ask a Space Alien to your Sleepover. Oh, no you already did.

Well, But if you do … Prepare Yyourself.

Space Aliens won’t bring flannel footie pajamas to your sleepover, s. She’ll wear silver spandex onesies that shimmer like lime Jell-o.  Onesies are for babies.  And nobody likes lime Jell-o?!

She can’t play dress up in Granny’s feathered hats, either Space Alien has (“Wear” might be a fun inaccuracy or you could go with “She has.”) She’ll wear  Antennas. Which are PERFECT for ring toss.  But NOT for playing dress up with Granny’s feathered hats she won’t like that. (Where picture book texts are judicious in word count & choice, this may be a detail left to the illustrator. Most often, it’s the fewer words, the better.)

And wWhatever you do, DON’T let Space Alien recharge her spaceship!  It’ll melt all the toasters in the WHOLE neighborhood.?! And i

If your microwave beeps and the garage door rolls up at the same time?  It’s because Space Alien opened a Doorway to Another Dimension.  DON’T go in there!

She’ll think your Granny’s old TV is her Aunt Vel-Ma from the planet Blazmost.  And feed it kitty litter.  Unless you turn on “The Price is Right” . (Reference might be too antiquated, which could be what you’re going for but this won’t resonate with kids. You may be better off making one up.)

And wWhen Space Alien feels homesick, she’ll and calls Blazmost on Granny’s cell phone,. You can forget about your data plan AND your allowance ALLOWANCE.  For.  Ever. (Fun start! Not having seen the rest, I would only suggest you be sure there is a perceptible story arc. That the narrative is more than a list of sleepover misadventures. How does the narrator (and/or Space Alien) evolve? The current market adores picture books with empowering resolutions.)


Working title: Where Does the Rain Go?  (What about BUG IN A BUBBLE?) by Eleanor A. Peterson WC 149  – Picture Book

Rain, rain, go away! (Publishers do prefer a small word count. I wonder though how many pages you envision for this book. 14 could be too brief. Picture books are typically 32 pages.)

The rain stopped,. Sherry she jumped into a puddle and out came a bubble.

Sherry was in trouble.

Trapped in a bubble, she went down a funnel.

The bubble raced into a stream, and with a loud POP (Because of the “POP” I’m curious whether Sherry is on an actual ride & slide or still in the stream?) , it floated atop.

She was on a ride, and to her surprise,  it went down a slide.

Floating farther away and into a bay.

Sherry could see she was heading towards the sea.

She cried out with glee when a whale came by and said, “Hi!”.

Dolphin came by and wondered why a tiny bug was sailing away, in a bubble.

She would surely get into trouble.

Dolphin pushed the bubble toward the beach that the little bug could surely reach.

The sun was hot, and Sherry heard a loud POP.

She closed her eyes, and to her surprise, she was back in her puddle full of bubbles. (The concept of a bug in a bubble is cute and fun. You may reconsider the rhyme scheme however, keeping to a steady pattern. Young readers appreciate consistency. Nice start!)


Thank you Connor, for sharing your time and expertise with us. This helps so many writers. Please let us know any of your future successes. I’ll be happy to share them with everyone.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 27, 2019


Series: MFA For Breakfast


Setting as character. To an experienced writer, this idea may sound familiar. But what does it actually mean? We may have heard of it. We sort of know. Now, let’s deconstruct this concept, so we can use it to the fullest in our stories! 

Let’s think back: what makes for deep, interesting characters?

The protagonist’s wants and goals fuel the action and propel the story forth. Their changing beliefs define their personality. The antagonist’s attempts to thwart that desire can increase the stakes and mount the tension. The change, internal and external, that our hero experiences determines the narrative arc. And their physical appearance can give the reader hints about their deeper self, their challenges or their identity.

All of the above can be applied to the setting.

First, let’s start with what’s on the surface: physical appearance.

Young Jack constantly pushes his glasses into place in The Magic Tree House chapter books series as he and his little sister travel through space and time in the magic tree house. It’s almost like Jack is adjusting his vision, to better handle whatever crazy landscape his travels bring him to. Harry Potter can’t get away from his lightning-shaped scar no matter where he goes. That scar and its cause are reminders of Harry’s magic heritage, constantly reminding readers of Harry’s yearning for love and his struggle against Voldemort.

My protagonist Sonya Solovay in Castle of Concrete is short. She is always working not to slouch. Those features are a part of her and are important. Her height makes her the perfect “damsel in distress” Russian girl who gets “rescued” by charming wanna-be champions. This puts her in a position where she needs to struggle and grow into someone bigger than that, short stature notwithstanding. As for her efforts not to slouch? That is meant to demonstrate her desire and challenge in becoming “freer” even as her country struggles for the same things.

So how can setting have a defining physical feature?

Think of your story’s centerpiece.

Where are most of your important events seem to be happening? If your story had a heart, where would it be? What is your Hogwarts, your tree house?

The centerpiece of my novel is “castle of concrete,” which is a construction site where Sonya likes to spend a lot of time, the way an American teen might hang at a playground. The place is a metaphor for the collapsing communist Russia in the midst of 1990s perestroika, a word that means “re-building.” As Sonya kisses a boy for the first time and dreams of her own personal freedom between concrete partitions that will become the walls of someone’s apartment one day, her setting’s own future is uncertain. Will the country turn toward democracy? Or sink back to the familiar darkness of the old regime?

This brings us to desires and challenges. Just like all your characters, setting too can have them.  It can have wants and goals. Or at least you can see it that way if you see a place/time/social context as reaching or striving.

A dystopian society is reaching toward freedom from oppression — or maybe torn between wilderness and civilization. A dangerous mountain peak? Maybe it wants to be left alone, in peace, from the meddlesome humans! A deep lake could want to hide a monster under its surface. Modern America’s deepest yearning might be peace within itself, the healing of divisions.

Our protagonist’s backstory, their childhood, often comes to define who they are. Sometimes the past is something the protagonist tries to return to; more often, especially in young adult fiction, the past is something to run away from. The history of your setting is its backstory. Bring it in, let it define the course of your narrative. Better yet, let it mirror your protagonist’s journey.

In Castle of Concrete, Sonya wants to get away from her quiet childhood in Siberia where she was a shy outcast, missing her faraway dissident mama. When at 15 years old, she reunites with her mother at last, she is determined to shine this time.

“A smoky Siberian city. A quiet classroom. The gossipy neighbors on a bench, suddenly quiet at my approach. Me always quiet, too quiet, with too many feelings and things to say. It’s all behind me now, or it should be.

I promise that Sonya the Shadow has stayed behind, like the latest nothing city she inhabited, like the self-suffocating crowd she left on that train. Look out, Moscow Region, for the new Sonya Solovay! This isn’t wishing like before, not some childish dream, this is a promise.

For all my faults — you know, the cowardice and unremarkableness and such — at least I always keep my promises.”

What is your setting’s relationship to its backstory?

In Castle of Concrete, 1990s Communist Russia’s yearning to get away from its dark past is also shown through various details.

In the same scene as above, where Sonya first arrives to Moscow in the novel’s opening, the city’s history and present intertwine as Sonya steps off the metro and onto the street.

“The Moscow sky greets us with light rain and fresh exhaust smells — wonderful, bewildering big city smells — wonderful, bewildering big city smells that make me giddy. A giant tower of a building evokes the grandeur and the terror of Stalin’s times. Its top looks needle-thin from the distance, its shoulders broad. Its concrete facade is massive and real. Other buildings, older ones, show off their balconies and tall narrow windows, their ancient yellowish paint tinged with noble dust.

Traffic roars and rushes past us along a boulevard as wide as a sea. New Life, loud and stinky, throws possibilities in my face.”

As you write and revise, ask yourself, how does the time, place and social context of your story reflect your main character’s own journey?

If your setting were a character, would it an antagonist or an ally? What are its goals? What is it trying to believe in? How is changing? Where is its living heart?

Katia, Thank you for all the articles you wrote to help all of us. They were all excellent. And thank you for sharing your book with us. I loved it. Please let us know when you next book comes out. Good Luck!

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 26, 2019


Ashley Franklin has a new picture book titled, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, illustrated by Ebony Glenn. It hits book shleves on July 9th. Ashley has agreed to share a book 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 Ashley!


A picture book for magical yet imperfect girls everywhere, written by debut author Ashley Franklin and perfect for fans of such titles as Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer and the classic Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman.

Tameika is a girl who belongs on the stage. She loves to act, sing, and dance—and she’s pretty good at it, too. So when her school announces their Snow White musical, Tameika auditions for the lead princess role.

But the other kids think she’s “not quite” right to play the role.

They whisper, they snicker, and they glare.

Will Tameika let their harsh words be her final curtain call?

Not Quite Snow White is a delightful and inspiring picture book that highlights the importance of self-confidence while taking an earnest look at what happens when that confidence is shaken or lost. Tameika encourages us all to let our magic shine.


NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE began as a story idea for Tara Lazar’s StoryStorm challenge (then PiBoIdMo). For me, this wasn’t just another challenge. It was a new opportunity to regain the faith I had lost in my writing.

Having received mostly silence and no’s after being on submission with multiple manuscripts, I’d started losing faith in my writing. Perhaps everything I’d done up until that point had been a fluke. After all, I had landed my (then) agent through a Twitter pitch contest that I’d entered at the last minute. Before that, I hadn’t queried too many agents. Maybe it was time to face reality. Maybe my writing was good but just not that good.

So yes, I entered PiBoIdMo on a mission. My mission was to come up with a list of ideas I could mine for my next “sure thing.” As we all know, there’s no “sure thing” when it comes to writing.

While my idea for NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE was on this list, it wasn’t one that I focused on. I came up with several manuscripts, but none of them felt right. I didn’t get excited when I read them. My mission was starting to feel like a chore instead of a pursuit of passion. Something wasn’t connecting.

This time, instead of wallowing in self-doubt, I waded through the muck of uncertainty and decided that I needed to make a big change. I was getting lost somewhere between my ideas and the writing. I needed help.

I signed up for Susana Leonard Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic course. That’s when I revisited that same PiBoIdMo list and found “Princess story—but a Black girl.” The title came to me almost immediately—NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE. I read each course lesson with this title and idea in mind. Those guided lessons gave me the tools that I was missing. By the final lesson, I had a completed manuscript.

Would I say that I completed my mission? Nope! It was truly mission impossible. There’s no way to know what will definitely sell. I did, however, realize a mission that I set when writing every manuscript now. If I’m not in love with it, I have to let it go.

2016 was the year I regained faith in my writing. I loved tinkering with my princess manuscript, and my agent seemed as enthusiastic about it as I was. I loved every draft of NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE that I did (and there were many). I loved it enough to keep revising it until I believed it was a story that others would love as well.

Fortunately, my editor, Luana Horry at HarperCollins, fell in love with Tameika’s story as much as I had. I received the offer for publication in 2017.


Ashley Franklin is an African-American writer, mother, and adjunct college professor. Ashley received her M.A. from the University of Delaware in English Literature, where she reaffirmed her love of writing but realized she had NO IDEA what she wanted to do about it.

Ashley currently resides in Arkansas with her family. Her debut picture book, NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE, will be published July 9, 2019 by Harper Collins. The idea for the book originated from a former StoryStorm (then PiBoIdMo) challenge. For more information on Ashley and her writing journey, you can visit her website:

Social media savvy? You can find Ashley on one of these platforms:


Twitter: @differentashley

Instagram: ashleyfranklinwrites

Facebook: Ashley Franklin

Thank you, Ashley for sharing your book and its’ journey with us. It looks like a fun picture book for children. Best of luck promoting NOT QUITE SNOW WHITE.

Talk tomorrow,


Posted by: Kathy Temean | June 25, 2019

Harper Magazine Submissions

Submissions Information

Nonfiction and Fiction Submission Guidelines

Writers wishing to submit nonfiction to Harper’s Magazineare invited to send queries to the address below, accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. The magazine will neither consider nor return unsolicited nonfiction manuscripts.

Harper’s will consider unsolicited fiction. Unsolicited poetry will not be considered or returned.

All fiction submissions and nonfiction queries must be sent by mail to:

Harper’s Magazine
666 Broadway, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10012

Ideas for the Readings section are welcomed at Volume precludes individual acknowledgment.


Art, Illustration, and Photography Submission Guidelines

Artists, illustrators, and photographers may send material for consideration at any time, in any format: digital files, prints, or portfolios. If you wish to have your work returned, please include appropriate packaging and postage. Address submissions to Kathryn Humphries, Art Director at the address above. Digital files may be sent to

Art submissions for the Readings section may be sent at any time by mail or email. Mail submissions should be addressed to Art Intern at the address above. If you have questions, please call (212) 420-5720.

Talk tomorrow,


Alice Sutherland-Hawes is the Rights Agent at Madeleine Milburn Ltd and is also growing the children’s & YA list at the agency, including illustrators.

She began her career as a bookseller before working at The Agency for three years, where she gained an invaluable insight into the publishing industry. Whilst at The Agency she negotiated multiple UK deals and helped sell rights across the world in titles including A Kestrel For A Knave, the Paddington books and Malorie Blackman’s books. Along with books, she has a passion for films and spent some time as a film critic.

Alice edits an online magazine dedicated to Young Adult literature, part of her mission to help people of all ages discover the joys of reading.

Actively looking for: BAME and #ownvoices authors across all ages and genres; tween stories to fit between MG and YA; graphic and quirky picture book illustrators; non-rhyming picture book texts; brilliant world-building.

Also would like to see:

Alongside my role as Rights Agent, I am also growing a Children’s, YA and picture book list. I’m looking for talent across all ages, from picture books to Young Adult, and am particularly keen to find new voices for readers aged 10-13.

There is definitely less choice for that age group now, which is a huge shame, and I’d love to have some talented writers to fill the gap. In particular, I’m looking for funny books along the lines of Karen McCombie and Louise Rennison, but fantasy such as Artemis Fowl will also go down very well.

For illustrations, I’d love to see something a little different. My favourite styles are usually graphic and quirky, but I’m always on the lookout for interesting faces, backgrounds and stories. I’m not necessarily looking for author/illustrators, so don’t worry if you’re not a writer. I’m not looking for rhyming picture book texts so I would love to find a writer who uses engaging prose to tell an exciting story in 1000 words or less.

I’m not actively seeking YA but if I see something exceptional I’ll seriously consider it.

Across all ages, I’m very keen to find diverse storytellers and #ownvoices, and am particularly interested in books from diverse authors which aren’t about diversity issues. I’d love to see diverse stories across all genres including romance, fantasy and dystopia.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to


Please do alert us via the submissions email address if other agents have requested your complete manuscript or you have an offer of representation.

Address your submission to the specific agent you feel most suits your work, you can read about what each agent is looking for on the right.

Put your name and the title of your manuscript in the subject line of the email, for example Abigail Bond THE FLIGHT

The manuscript and synopsis should be in Word format and 1.5 or double spaced.  Please check the spelling before sending.


We would love to see your one-line elevator pitch at the top of your email and up to three comparable books or authors you’d place your book alongside.

Please send a professional email introducing your work in the same way that you would write a formal covering letter.  Pitch your book in your email – write a compelling blurb to get us interested in the story and do include information about yourself that is relevant to the work you are submitting.

Attach a one or two page synopsis and the first three chapters ONLY of the manuscript.  There should only be two attachments. Please do not send multiple emails. Do not pitch your work in the synopsis as this should ‘tell’ the story, with spoilers, rather than ‘sell’ the story.

To submit illustrations please send a little information about yourself along with a sample of your portfolio, but note we will only accept either a link to your website or attached illustrations as PDFs or jpegs. We will not accept download links or zip files.

The Madeleine Milburn Literary, TV & Film Agency is a leading literary agency based in the UK. The agency represents award-winning and bestselling authors of adult and children’s fiction and non-fiction who consistently feature on The Sunday Times, New York Times and international bestseller lists. The Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency is renowned for talent spotting new writers, negotiating major deals across all media including print, digital, translation and Film & TV, and turning books into bestsellers.

In 2018, Madeleine won Literary Agent of the Year at the British Book Awards. She was praised for her ‘prolific deal-making‘ and ‘long-term vision for her authors‘. She is known by editors as a ‘tenacious negotiator and an excellent collaborator with a nose for commercial success‘.

The agency, now in its seventh year and with three other full-time agents, a foreign rights agent and an in-house editor, has been described by The Bookseller as ‘a major force in publishing’.

As a member of the Association of Authors’ Agents (AAA), the Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency is committed to giving the highest possible level of service to authors.

Talk tomorrow,


The First Line:

This journal wants a short story or poem beginning with a pre-set first line. To celebrate 20 years of the journal, they are inviting writers to select any one of the first lines from their previous journals (Volume 11, Issue 1 to Volume 15, Issue 4 for the Fall edition). They also accept nonfiction.

Here are the first lines:

Vol. 11, Iss. 1: Herman Sligo was a bit actor who played Uncle Emil in three episodes of the popular television series The Five Sisters.
Vol. 11, Iss. 2: For two weeks now, I’ve been trying to figure out if people are laughing with me or at me.
Vol. 11, Iss. 3: “My life is a sham.”
Vol. 11, Iss. 4: Waiting for change always seems to take longer than you would expect.
Vol. 12, Iss. 1: Working for God is never easy.
Vol. 12, Iss. 2: Paul and Miriam Kaufman met the old-fashioned way.
Vol. 12, Iss. 3: Three thousand habitable planets in the known universe, and I’m stuck on the only one without ___________. [Fill in the blank.]
Vol. 12, Iss. 4: Until I stumbled across an article about him in the paper, I never realized how much Walter Dodge and I are alike.
Vol. 13, Iss. 1: Sam was a loyal employee.
Vol. 13, Iss. 2: “We need to talk.”
Vol. 13, Iss. 3: Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train.
Vol. 13, Iss. 4: It had been a long year.
Vol. 14, Iss. 1: “There are a few things you need to know before we start.”
Vol. 14, Iss. 2: Rachel’s first trip to England didn’t go as planned.
Vol. 14, Iss. 3: A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street.
Vol. 14, Iss. 4: Sometimes, when it’s quiet, I can remember what my life was like before moving to Cedar Springs.
Vol. 15, Iss. 1: On a perfect spring morning with flat seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a terrible mistake.
Vol. 15, Iss. 2: I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old.
Vol. 15, Iss. 3: There must have been thousands standing in the rain that day.
Vol. 15, Iss. 4: I came of age in a time of no heroes.

Deadline: 1 August 2019
Length: 300-5,000 words
Pay: $25-50 for fiction, $5-10 for poetry, $25 for nonfiction

A few notes:

  1. Don’t just resubmit a story we’ve already rejected. We will know. We have every story submitted to us on file and why we rejected it.
  2. Also, we understand that writers may add our first line to a story they are currently working on or have already completed, and that’s cool. But please do not add our first line to a previously published story and submit it to us. We do not accept previously published stories, even if they have been repurposed for our first lines.
  3. However, if you used one of our past first lines for a story that was published in another journal or magazine, write and tell us about it.

Fiction: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count won’t get your story tossed from the slush pile).

Poetry: All poems must be written with the first line provided. The sentence can be broken across lines, but the punctuation cannot be altered or dropped. Poem length is up to the poet.

All Submissions: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine should their story run.

Multiple Submissions: We don’t mind if you want to submit multiple stories or poems for the same issue.

Submissions: We prefer you send manuscripts via e-mail to submission (@) thefirstline (dot) com. We accept stories in MS Word or Word Perfect format (we prefer attachments). Please do not send pdf versions of your story or links to Google docs. Make sure you tell us what issue you are submitting to in the email Subject Line. Make sure your name and contact information, as well as your bio, are part of the attachment. Stories also can be sent to The First Line‘s post office box. No manuscripts will be returned without an accompanying SASE with sufficient return postage.

Notification: We don’t make decisions about stories until after each issue closes. We typically send notices out within three to four weeks after the issue’s deadline to everyone who submitted a story. You can also check the home page of the Web site as we will indicate each issue’s production status there.

Payment: We pay on publication: $25.00 – $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 – $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction (all U.S. dollars). We also send you a copy of the issue in which your piece appears. You’ll receive your money and issue at the same time.

Note to our international writers: Postage cost for sending author copies overseas is becoming outrageous, so we are reducing international author payment by the amount it would cost to send one author copy overseas. However, if you would like to receive an electronic version of the issue (PDF) instead of a hard copy, author payment will not change.

Talk tomorrow,


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