January 2010 Archives

Meeting Editors and Agents - In Person

Nothing is better than actually meeting an agent or editor in person. (Although long term following of someone on twitter is close.) By listening to an editor or agent talk at a conference, not only do I learn about their house, their agency, their tastes, and perhaps how they work with authors, I discover something of their personality. I've gone away with "Wow, I'd love to work with __________." I've also experienced, "We just wouldn't mesh." They've also taught me about craft, given me insights into my own weaknesses in writing, made me think, inspired me, encouraged me, and challenged me. Whew!

This past year I was privileged to meet quite a number of editors and agents--all at SCBWI conferences. (If you've never gone to one, I really encourage you to do so.) Two agents that pop to mind with no reference to notes from the LA conference last August are: Marietta B. Zacker, Nancy Gault Literary Agency, and Sarah Davies (pronounced Davis), The Greenhouse Literary Agency.

I loved Marietta's straight forward, no nonsense approach--this was especially noticeable in the Q&A time. She's passionate about what she does. She advised when writers are looking for an agent that they consider these questions: "Who will share your vision? Who will share your passion?" Marietta recommends writers find the passion that each has - whatever that may be.

At the beginning of her speech Sarah answered the questions on everyone's minds. She also told her audience that writing is like being a violin player. "Would you expect to be on a world stage when you just learned to play scales?" she asked. Sarah finds it thrilling as an agent to have the opportunity to change someone's life and help them reach their dreams.

At the Iowa and Illinois SCBWI Conferences I met Candlewick Editor, Yolanda Scott, who besides being a good editor is also a singer! Which reminds me, Ted Malawer at Upstart Crow Agency, used to sing opera (Kansas SCBWI conference.) Back to Yolanda who reminded us, she and other editors do what they do because they love it. She wants to know we've checked out her publishing house when we submit.

I've heard lots of agent talks, but in Kansas Ted gave some very practical advice about what we should be asking agents. He also advised, "Think about the query letter as the bait." He believes comparisons--i.e. your manuscript to other books--are his job, not yours, which is different than what I've heard others say. (Again, why we should be out listening to these professionals speak!)

In Illinois I met Alisha Niehaus from Dial Books for Young Readers. She did a fantastic and fascinating workshop using Savvy by Ingrid Law. With permission of Ingrid she gave us insights into how the book changed--wow! When talking about middle grade readers in another session, Alisha said, "Though they wish they could make out with a vampire, they are still trying to figure out how to fasten their training bra."

I met other editors and agents in 2009, but this post is growing too long to mention them all. Over the years my knowledge of the publishing world has grown by listening to agent and editor talks, panels, critiques. I've learned how dedicated these professionals are. Best yet, I've improved my odds of finding the right home for my manuscripts.

Each writer’s process is as

Each writer’s process is as different as our fingerprints.

Jacqueline Woodson

You only need to see

You only need to see as far ahead as your headlights show you. Take one step at a time on the road you want to go.

Deborah Hopkinson

Modern Fantasy - The Demon's Lexicon

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Looking for a book with surprising twists and turns? Then read The Demon's Lexicon (Margaret McElderry, 2009) by Sarah Rees Brennan. In it you'll meet brothers Nick and Alan, who with their mother are on the run from the magicians who killed the boys' father. The two end up going on the run with Mae and her brother Jamie who come for help because Jamie's marked by a demon.

I love it when I read a book that surprises me, where things aren't what I thought they were, but yet it makes total sense. That's what did with this story. The next book in this modern fantasy trilogy comes out summer of 2010, and the third book, summer 2011. Sighing since I have to wait...

Sarah Rees Brennan's definitely another author I'll be following. Here's her website and her blog, Sarah Tells Tales.

maze runner.pngWow, I liked The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009) by James Dashner from the first line: "He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air." Thomas wakes up and doesn't remember his past, though he remembers facts and how to do ordinary things. He finds himself delivered to the Glade whose only residents are other teen boys. No one explains why he is there and where "there" is. His guide is the previous newbie or Greenbean, and he doesn't know a lot more than Thomas. Of the different jobs the boys do in their community, Thomas decides he wants to take on the job of maze runner, no matter how dangerous it is.

I enjoyed this book very much am I'm definitely checking out other books by this author. (My husband liked it a lot, too.)

James Dashner has a blog you might want to check out. And at the Random House page for The Maze Runner there's a game, a video, and news about the book.

If you've never been rejected

If you've never been rejected perhaps it's time you: A. submitted more often, or B. checked your pulse. Rejections are as much a part of a writer's life as words, and as inevitable as hunger.

T.M. Wright

Coming Out This Month! - Boys without Names

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Boys without Names (Balzer & Bray, 2010) by Kashmira Sheth is a very powerful book which demonstrates the power of story in the book itself.

11 year old Gopal and his family have to move away from their village to Mombai in order to survive. But things don't go well there either. His father lost, Gopal decides he must earn money for the family and trusts someone he shouldn't. Gopal ends up as a slave in a sweatshop with other boys, who can't even share their names. It's Gopal who makes a difference to all their lives. First by giving them names, next by telling stories.

Don't miss it! I know I'll be rereading it.

Thanks to Ruta Rimas for introducing me to this book.

Read about the author here: http://kashmirasheth.typepad.com/my_weblog/

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By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead (Hyperion, 2010) by Julie Anne Peters grabs with the title and doesn't let go. It's a thought provoking book you shouldn't miss.

Daelyn has been bullied all her life and has now found a website that might help . . . help her commit suicide that is.

Then she meets Santana. Not that she talks to him, but he won't quit talking to her. He doesn't seem to be bothered by her silence and lack of response. Yet a connection begins to form. Will it be enough to save her life?

Read about Julie and her other books at her site: http://julieannepeters.com

Real Writers get rejected.

Real Writers get rejected.

Terry Miller Shannon