Introducing the Agents . . . Pitch Madness 2017



Pitch Madness is a contest where you can win a request from one or more amazing agents. To get all the rules, see the Pitch Madness Page.

The submission window will be open from 12:01 AM EST until 11:59PM EST on February 24. There is no limit of how many entries will be accepted. Please note: All entries sent before or after the allotted times will be deleted.

Sixty finalists move to the agent round. Pitch Madness will accept Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult completed and polished fiction, novel length manuscripts only. No non-fiction. One entry per writer.

For details about the contest and how to enter, go to Announcing Pitch Madness 2017…Candyland Edition! 

Good luck! All the twitter fun will be happening on the hashtag #PitchMadness!


And here are the 2017 Pitch Madness agents! 


Lara Perkins  Andrea Brown Literary

PictureTwitter | Andrea Brown Literary

Lara represents authors and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. She has been with Andrea Brown since 2010 and is also the agency’s Digital Manager.

In picture books, Lara is actively seeking picture book author/illustrators who bring unique perspectives to their work, particularly perspectives that have been historically underrepresented in children’s literature. She is drawn to bold art, a playful use of media and format, and kid-appealing humor.

In middle grade, Lara is drawn to fresh, unexpected fantasy and light fantasy, clever mysteries, and vivid contemporary realistic fiction, all with a strong sense of place and exceptional character development. Character-driven humor always catches her eye, and she loves friendship stories (especially friendship “break up” stories), multicultural family stories, and non-traditional family structures.

In young adult, Lara is seeking transformative, page-turning, character-driven fiction in any genre: fantasy, science fiction, contemporary realistic, historical, mystery, etc. She gravitates towards an unexpected premise that makes her do a double take (example: assassin nuns!), an evocative and richly described setting, and fully realized, complex characters. She’s looking for authors who wield language intentionally, and manuscripts that she can’t put down because she’s swept up in the high stakes, the compelling voice, the original world building, and/or the character-driven humor. As a more specific wish, Lara grew up in Los Angeles and would love to find a middle grade or young adult novel set in the real, diverse LA (not Hollywood).


Heather Flaherty – The Bent Agency

Twitter | The Bent Agency

Heather Flaherty represents children’s, middle-grade, and young adult fiction and non-fiction, as well as select adult fiction and non-fiction.

From Heather: I grew up in Massachusetts, between Boston and the Cape, and worked in New York City as a playwright during college. After a lot of country-hopping in my early twenties, I began my publishing career in the editorial department at Random House UK. I then became a young adult and children’s literary scout, advising foreign publishers and Hollywood on the next big books. Now, as an agent, I’m thrilled to focus on helping authors find that same success.

I’m looking for YA fiction across the board, especially issue-related YA with humor and heart—but not depressing or mopey. I also love hard, punchy contemporary YA that doesn’t hesitate when it comes to crazy! I want to see contemporary stories with sci-fi or fantasy elements, as well as straight-up YA fantasy. I’m also a sucker for clever retellings of classic fairytales, myths, and folklore. Finally, I’m looking for really good horror and ghost stories—not gory for gory’s sake, but dark, twisted, and even lovely. The one thing I love above all else in a YA novel is a strong and specific character voice: a real person, not another “everygirl.”

As for middle-grade, I want it stark, honest, and even dark; contemporary or historical, as long as it’s accessible. Coming-of-age stories, dealing-with-difficulty stories, witness stories about adult issues seen through a child’s eyes, anything that makes you want to hold the narrator’s hand… for your own comfort, as well as theirs. These stories can have magical or fantasy elements as well.

And on the adult side, I’m looking for female-centric thrillers and commercial women’s fiction with solid storytelling and strong voices. I’m also always on the lookout for fantastic upmarket projects that bridge the gap between commercial and literary lists.


Christine Witthohn – Book Cents Literary

Book CentsTwitter | Book Cents

Christine Witthohn is a U.S. literary agent and the founder of Book Cents Literary Agency (opened in 2006), as well as the U.S. Sales and Licensing Agent for Spanish publisher, Grupo Edebé (Barcelona, Spain).  She is a sponsor of the International Women’s Fiction Festival held annually in Matera, Italy and she teaches brainstorming, branding, and social media classes in various cities around the U.S., U.K., and Italy (adding France and Germany next year).  She is member of AAR, RWA, MWA.


 Rena Bunder Rossner – Deborah Harris Agency

PictureTwitter | DHA

In general, I represent Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Thrillers, Upmarket Women’s Fiction, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I am always looking for Young Adult Fiction, Middle Grade Fiction and Picture Books. I am open to representing Non-Fiction and Cookbooks, but it would have to be the right project for me – I love Science Writing and Literary Non-Fiction.

I am desperately seeking Middle Grade! I am also very much looking for Picture Books. I am always looking for beautiful literary fiction.

I’m a poet, and I think the best novelists were poets first, so novels in verse, novels with poetic language and writing, are totally things I am always looking for.

I am very interested in representing Fantasy and Science Fiction of all types, I am always looking for Israeli and Middle Eastern Science Fiction and Fantasy, and also SciFi/Fantasy with Jewish content and themes. This includes Adult/Middle Grade/Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy.

I also represent Young Adult contemporary novels. I would love to find a New Adult or Adult novel written about the Israeli army (LGBQT also!) I would love to represent historical fiction set in Ancient Israel, or historical fiction with Israeli/Jewish content and themes – for Adults/Middle Grade/Young Adult.

I love all types of historical fiction, in all genres. I’d love to see literary novels set in the Middle East – historical fiction, fantasy, and especially multicultural romances.


Amy Bishop  Dystel, Goderich, & Bourret

Twitter | DG&B

Amy Elizabeth Bishop joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret after being a DG&B intern in the summer of 2014 and then continuing to hang around until after she graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a degree in Creative Writing. She grew up in upstate New York and has now made the traitorous switch to downstate living. Reading-wise, she is interested in both commercial and literary women’s fiction, fiction from diverse authors, historical fiction, and contemporary YA. In terms of nonfiction, she’s compelled by personal narratives, biographies, and anything with strange facts. She is also a poet and reads for The Rumpus in her spare time.

Amy wants to see more…commercial women’s fiction and romance.


Lindsay Mealing – Emerald City Literary Agency

lindsaybio.pngTwitter | Emerald City

Lindsay has been writing stories since she could first hold a pencil. It wasn’t until she sat down to edit a manuscript for the first time she realized her true love was not on the writing side of the publishing industry, but the business side. She began interning for Mandy in early 2015 and quickly realized agenting was what she wanted to do forever more.

Lindsay is a self-proclaimed  nerd, loving everything science fiction and fantasy – from epic tomes to gaming. She fell head over heels with the SFF genre when she read KUSHIEL’S DART by Jacqueline Carey (she even has Phedre’s marque tattooed on her back).


Erin Harris – Folio Jr.

Twitter | Folio Jr. 

From Erin: I’m an agent who loves to champion the careers of debut and established authors.  I represent YA, literary and upmarket commercial fiction, and narrative non-fiction.

My life in publishing began in 2007 when I interned for the literary agent William Clark of WM Clark Associates.  In 2008, I joined the Irene Skolnick Literary Agency, where I first experienced the thrill of advocating for books I believed in and writers I admired.

Early on, it became apparent to me that there was a need for agents who could think like writers.  I’d studied literature at Trinity College (Hartford, CT), but I was eager to hone my creative and editorial skills. This desire led me to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School.  I now see myself as a kind of interpreter, an agent conversant in both the language of the writer and the language of the industry, whose job it is to help you navigate publishing’s shifting landscape.

Outside of the office, I’m an active participant in New York’s literary community.  I’m a member of PEN American Center and Women’s Media Group, as well as a founder and host of H.I.P. Lit, a literary event series based in Brooklyn.


Penelope Burns – Gelfman Schneider / ICM Partners

TwitterGelfman Schneider

Penelope Burns is the newest member of Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners. She came to the agency as an intern after graduating from Colgate University and attending the Denver Publishing Institute in 2012. Currently, as an agency assistant, Penelope is looking to a build a list of her own. She is interested in Literary and Commercial fiction and non-fiction, as well as a variety of Young Adult and Middle Grade.


Andrea Somburg – Harvey Klinger Literary Agency

Andrea SombergTwitter | Website | Harvey Klinger

A literary agent for over fifteen years, Andrea Somberg represents a wide range of fiction and nonfiction, including projects for adult, young adult and middle grade audiences.  Previously an agent at the Donald Maass Agency and Vigliano Associates, she joined Harvey Klinger Literary Agency in the spring of 2005. Her clients’ books have been NYTimes and USABestsellers, as well as nominated for The Governor General’s Award, the Lambda Award, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award.  Andrea also teaches courses for MediaBistro and Writers Digest, on topics such as nonfiction, memoir, mystery and thrillers, fantasy and sf.  Her client list is quite full, however she is always actively looking to take on new authors who write in the following categories:  Fiction: literary, commercial, book club fiction, romance, thrillers, mystery, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, young adult, new adult, middle grade. Nonfiction: memoir, narrative, popular science,  pop-culture, humor, how-to, parenting, self-help, lifestyle, travel, interior design, crafts, cookbooks, business, sports, diet, health & fitness.


Stefanie Lieberman – Janklow & Nesbit Associates

Stefanie LiebermanTwitter | Janklow & Nesbit

Senior Counsel, Literary Agent

Stefanie seeks to represent authors who write upmarket commercial fiction, and she would likewise welcome young adult and romance submissions that feel fresh to the reader. She is particularly energized by manuscripts that feature strong female characters and voices that sparkle off the page.
Stefanie joined the agency’s Legal & Business Affairs Department as Senior Counsel in 2005.


Liza Flessig & Ginger Harris-Dontzin – Liza Royce Agency

Ginger-Harris-and-Liza-FleissigTwitter | Liza Royce Agency

Liza Fleissig, with her partner Ginger Harris-Dontzin, opened the Liza Royce Agency (LRA) in early 2011. Their goal was, and remains, to represent authors in all stages of their careers, from the most established to those developing their craft, as well as debuts. Both former partners in NYC based litigation law firms, Liza and Ginger bring a combined 40 years of negotiating experience to the field. This background, along with connections rooted in publishing, movies and television, allowed them to focus and build on a referral based clientele.

From picture books through adult projects, fiction and non-fiction, LRA welcomes strong voices and plot driven works. Their inaugural books became available in stores January 2013.  Their first was an Edgar nominee, another was an Indie Next Pick, and two others were optioned for film. LRA’s success began right out of the gate.

Here’s to more great books!


Kathleen Ortiz – New Leaf Literary

Twitter | New Leaf

As the Director of Foreign Rights at New Leaf, Kathleen regularly attends book trade shows around the world to sell titles to translation publishers and looks for new medium opportunities for our clients’ books. She is also a Literary Agent actively seeking to sign more authors and illustrators, specifically fresh, new voices in YA and animator/illustrator talent. In YA she gravitates more toward beautiful and exceptional world building as well as contemporary stories whose main characters stay with the reader far beyond the pages. She would love to see a beautifully written YA set within other cultures and experiences. On the illustration side, she loves animator/illustrators and their unique way of storytelling. Kathleen is not currently seeking middle grade, screenplays, or adult projects not listed above.


JL Stermer – New Leaf Literary

Facebook | New Leaf

JL is adding to her non-fiction list in both YA and adult categories with smart pop-culture, comedy/satire, fashion, health & wellness, self-help, and memoir. She’s also growing her fiction list (a bit more selectively) and is looking for adult and some YA coming-of-age, humor, dark and edgy stories, and new and original voices in commercial and upmarket. She also thinks graphic novels are really cool.

JL is looking for voices that reflect the world as it changes, stories that share the human experience of life, love, growth, and achievement. And they don’t have to all be serious–having fun is important! Some of her favorite reads include: The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll,Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood by Janet Mock, Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, French Milk by Lucy Knisley, Less Than Zero by Brett Easton Ellis, and Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton.

A born and bred New Yorker, JL has lived in Manhattan her whole life and is a lover of all things arts & culture, people watching, and doughnuts.


Jaida Temperly – New Leaf Literary

Twitter | New Leaf

Jaida’s primary focus is Adult Fiction, with a special affinity for literary fiction, magical realism, historical fiction, upmarket fiction, horror, and speculative. Jaida also loves stories that shed light on marginalized experiences and question the “status-quo”, as well as titles that include #OwnVoices themes, international settings, political commentary, conspiracy theories, and alternate histories. Some of her all-time favorite Adult Fiction titles include: THE VEGETARIAN by Han Kang, THE SELL OUT by Paul Beatty, THE DINNER by Herman Koch, JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL by Susanna Clarke, and A THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon.  

Prior to joining New Leaf Literary, Jaida studied Biology at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and briefly attended medical school, before moving to NYC and interning at Writers House. She loves art history, traveling, logic puzzles, secret societies, antiques, and numerous other topics that come in handy for Trivia Night and crossword puzzles.

Suzie Townsend – New Leaf Literary

#NoDAPL TownsendTwitter | New Leaf

Prior to joining New Leaf, Suzie graduated film school, earned her Masters of Education, taught high school English, and coached a swim team. In her spare time, she read everything she could, which prompted her move to publishing. She got her start as an intern at FinePrint Literary Management where she was hired as an assistant before making the move to literary agent. She’s been part of the team at New Leaf Literary & Media since its inception in 2012.

Suzie represents all brands of children’s and adult fiction. She loves women’s fiction, all subgenres of romance, fantasy, and crime fiction. On the children’s side, she particularly loves YA and MG. Suzie loves strong characters and voice-driven stories that break out of the typical tropes of their genres, and she’s always looking for unique new voices in stories.


Peter Knapp – Park Literary & Media

Peter KnappTwitter | Park Literary

Fueled by the thrill of reading a new story for the first time, Peter works creatively with clients and the PLM team on marketing, branding initiatives and promotions to get great books into the hands of readers. Before joining PLM, he was a story editor at a book-scouting agency working with film clients, and he continues to look for new ways to partner with Hollywood on adaptations and multimedia properties. Find him re-watching Studio Ghibli movies, playing board games with friends, or right here to submit a new fiction query—he’s ready to add more authors to his growing client list!


Abigail Koons – Park Literary & Media

Image result for abigail koonsTwitter | Park Literary

Always eager to travel the world, meet new people and learn about other cultures, Abigail began her career working for the multinational corporation, EF Education. After realizing that books were her passion, she joined the foreign rights department at the Nicholas Ellison Agency where her prior experience in international business combined with her outgoing, adventurous nature proved invaluable to building relationships with co-agents and publishers.  After joining PLM in 2005, Abigail expanded her roster of clients and today, in addition to her role as the Executive Director of International Rights, she represents both emerging and established authors, including Emily Anthes, Catherine McKenzie, Emily Voigt, Martin Michaud and Diana Yen. Although her projects—and tastes—run the gamut from popular science and narrative nonfiction to commercial fiction and thrillers, all her clients’ work share elements of adventure, surprise and the unexpected.


Blair Wilson – Park Literary & Media

Blair WilsonTwitter | Park Literary

A contract master, Blair works alongside our co-agents to negotiate publishing agreements outside of the United States with a focus on Eastern Europe, South Korea and the Baltic states. After a day of executing foreign taxes for authors or assisting with submissions, you might just find this North Carolina native teaching textile arts classes at the American Folk Art Museum and Textile Arts Center in New York City. This creative studied Victorian Literature but has truly fallen in love with the voices of new and emerging authors, making PLM a perfect fit for her. She is actively building her own list of clients in the areas of middle grade and young adult fiction and adult non-fiction with a focus on D.I.Y., lifestyle, pop culture, pets, and books dealing with issues of sexuality, identity and culture.


Eric Smith – PS Literary, Associate Agent

EricSmithTwitter | Website | PS Literary

Eric Smith is an associate literary agent at P.S. Literary, with a love for young adult books, sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction. He began his publishing career at Quirk Books in Philadelphia, working social media and marketing on numerous books he absolutely adored. Eric completed his BA in English at Kean University, and his MA in English at Arcadia University. A frequent blogger, his ramblings about books appear on BookRiot, The Huffington Post, and more. A published author with Quirk Books and Bloomsbury, he seeks to give his authors the same amount of love his writing has received. Which is a lot. If you would like to send a query to Eric, please click or tap here to review our Submission Guidelines.


Thao Le  Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

Thao Le

Twitter | Sandra Dijkstra Literary

Thao Le is a literary agent at the Dijkstra Agency since 2011. She also handles the agency’s financials and select contracts.

Thao is looking for: Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books by author/illustrators, Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is selectively open to Romance.

In the Adult and YA Sci-fi/Fantasy realms, she enjoys stories rooted in mythology, fairytales, and legends with atmospheric settings and strong world building. Particularly stories that are inclusive and multicultural. She’s also a fan of magic realism.

In contemporary YA, she’s seeking witty, heartfelt writing with an authentic teen voice. Especially stories about family and friendships. Think Stephanie Perkins, Jenny Han, or Sarah Dessen.

And in Middle Grade, she’s looking for fantastic adventures and clever protagonists the likes of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, and Soman Chainani’s School of Good and Evil.

In the picture book arena, she is only currently taking on author/illustrators, however she’s a fan of Jon Klassen, Kate Beaton, Cale Atkinson, and Liz Climo and would like to add projects in the same vein to her list.

In Romance, she’s drawn to heroes/heroines who turn stereotypes and tropes on their heads (such as heroines in typically male roles and sensitive heroes who aren’t necessarily alpha, but just as swoonworthy). She enjoys historical romance the likes of Julia Quinn, Courtney Milan, and Eloisa James, speculative romance similar to Gail Carrier’s Parasol Protectorate series, and contemporary romance that is as addictive as Sonali Dev’s Bollywood series.

In general, she loves beautiful literary writing with a commercial hook. She is most excited to add more writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.

Saba Sulaiman – Talcott Notch Literary Services, LLC

sabaTwitter | Talcott Notch

From Saba: I was drawn into the world of literature by default when my sister’s growing collection of books in our tiny room began to overflow onto my bed. Bewildered by her fascination with these musty, decaying volumes, I decided to experience them for myself—and instantly fell in love. Born to Pakistani expatriates in Sri Lanka, and knowing how to express myself only in English for the first fifteen years of my life, I found comfort in reading about other culturally displaced people, unable to communicate in their native tongues, and hesitant to assert themselves in environments where there were few examples of people like them. Moving to Pakistan and absorbing what it meant to be an educated woman in a traditional Islamic society contributed greatly to my desire to learn more about similar narratives, especially from other women. In an effort to understand how it felt to be surrounded by other ambitious women with the desire to shatter patriarchal restrictions, I enrolled as an undergraduate at Wellesley College. And the rest, as they say, is history

After double majoring in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies at Wellesley, I studied modern Persian Literature at the University of Chicago, where I got involved with editing our department’s academic journal. And it finally hit me—working closely with writers to hone their craft; seeing a piece of writing from its inception through to its eventual publication; and advocating for what I believed was stellar prose worthy of recognition—this was my calling. So I interned at various newspaper and magazine publications, worked as an editorial intern at Sourcebooks, and then wound up at Talcott Notch, where I’m excited to begin my career as a literary agent.

I’m currently open to the following genres:

Adult: up-market literary and commercial fiction, romance (all subgenres except paranormal), character-driven psychological thrillers, cozy mysteries, and memoir.

Young Adult: all subgenres except paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi. I’m particularly interested in contemporary realistic YA — anything with heart, humor, and personality. But if you’ve got a fast-paced, chilling mystery, I’m all ears.

Middle Grade: anything that’s smart, accessible and written with flair. Whether it’s quirky and funny, or just plain sweet and heartwarming — it’s no big secret that this is my favorite category. Also, I’d love anything Roald Dahl-esque.


Lauren Spieller  Triada US Literary Agency

sunglasses pictureTwitter | Website | Triada US 

Literary Agent Assistant Lauren Spieller comes to TriadaUS with a background in literary scouting and editorial consulting. She has a sharp editorial eye, and is passionate about author advocacy. Lauren is seeking Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, as well as select Adult fiction and non-fiction. Whatever the age category or genre, Lauren is passionate about finding diverse and underrepresented voices.

In MG, she’s drawn to heartfelt contemporaries, contemporary fantasy and magical realism, and exciting adventures. Some of her recent favorites are Rules for Stealing Stars, George, The Thing About Jellyfish, Wonder, Hour of the Bees, and Rooftoppers. In YA, she’d love to find authentic teen voices in any and all genres. She is especially fond of fantasy, magical realism, and space operas; contemporary stories with a hook; and anything with a feminist bent. A few favorites include Dumplin’, Scorpio Races, An Ember in the Ashes, OCD Love Story, Six of Crows, The Raven Boys, and Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

In Adult, Lauren is seeking commercial fiction, particularly female-driven psychological thrillers (a la Lauren Beukes and Gillian Flynn), and immersive literary fantasies, such as The Night Circus, The Miniaturist, and A Darker Shade of Magic. She is also interested in female-driven Upmarket General Fiction, especially if it’s funny or has a touch of magical realism (note that she is NOT looking for Romance), and unique non-fiction with an existing platform. She’s particularly hungry for counter culture books, cocktail books with a twist/theme, or narrative nonfiction with a unique hook (if you’re the next Lindsey West, Roxanne Gay, or Lauren Duca, she wants to hear from you).


Thank you to our Pitch Madness 2017 agents! We hope you all find some manuscripts to love!


Here’s the schedule for Pitch Madness …

February 24: Pitch Madness submission window opens for 24 hours

February 24  – March 5: Pitch Madness Slush Readers sort the entries

March 6: Pitch Madness Draft – Hosts pick their top entries

March 6 – 14: Hosts coach their teams

March 16 – 17: Agent Round

March 23: #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party (Even if you made it in, didn’t make it in, or didn’t enter Pitch Madness, #PitMad is open to everyone!)


Stand for Something

“In this fearful age it is not enough to be happy and prosperous and secure yourselves; it is not enough to tell others: look at us, how happy we are; just copy our system, our know-how, and you will be happy yourselves. In this fearful age you must transcend your system; you must have a message to proclaim to others; you must mean something in terms of ideas and attitudes and fundamental outlook on life; and this something must vibrate with relevance to all conditions of men.”

~Charles Malik, former president of the General Assembly of the United Nations



The word DEADLINE weighs heavy on our culture.

There are at least seven novels . . .

three comics . . .

sixteen movies . . .

two radio dramas, two video games . . .

four albums, two songs, one music imprint, three bands . . .

and an online entertainment magazine with the name Deadline.

All of these images evoke anxiety for me, and perhaps that anxiety is what motivates us. During my years at the university, fear of failure redefined the idea of deadlines to me. Paying thousands of dollars to not turn in a paper or project was unacceptable. Children screaming because their diaper had reached critical mass became another type of deadline. Business demands, life demands, the desperate need for sleep and food–life is riddled with deadlines of all shapes and sizes.

There are two major definitions . . .

plural noun: deadlines
  1. 1.
    the latest time or date by which something should be completed.
    “the deadline for submissions is February 5th”
    synonyms: time limit, limit, finishing date, target date, cutoff point

    “the deadline for manuscript submissions is February 14”
  2. 2.
    a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners were liable to be shot.

keep calm and meet deadlines

The first definition fits my lifestyle. Note the word ‘should’. It’s a loose one, weak, with low consequences.

The second definition is how (I’ve heard) most published authors feel about due dates. That pressure has one advantage, though it comes at a high price. Deadlines make us organize, have goals (even if they’re forced), and become more productive.

Theres_No-Escape_From_A_DEADLINECollege, running a business, having three children in four years, I know what we can endure. Without these deadlines, it’s a rare person who pushes themselves out of that comfort zone.

I’ve found that goals with deadlines are useful and help me stay motivated, especially when I reward myself with something I really want, like a writer’s workshop, a pedicure, or a tiny chocolate.

I hope you can find a way to stay motivated and use deadlines to your advantage. It will be good practice if you don’t already have an agent, editor, or publicity person keeping you on your toes.


Pitch Madness 2016 Mario Kart Edition!

My dear friend Brenda Drake is hosting a contest called Pitch Madness. This year’s game is Mario Kart!

This Friday, February 26th, from 12:01 AM to Midnight EST, she will have a submission window open for anyone who would like to enter.

From Brenda’s own site:

Pitch Madness is a contest to win a request from one or more of the amazing agents listed in this post.

Sixty finalists move to the agent round. Pitch Madness will accept Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult completed and polished fiction, novel length manuscripts only. No non-fiction. One entry per writer.

For details about the contest and how to enter, go to this post. Good luck!

All the twitter fun will be happening on the hashtag #PitchMadness!


I Just Read . . . The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

This book’s most impressive aspect for me was characterization. Even when I wondered here and there about certain aspects mentioned below, the characters were so compelling I couldn’t help myself. I did extra chores just so I could finish listening to the end on audible.

The Kirkus Review says . . .

The challenge? Surviving the genocide of the human race when aliens attack Earth in the not-too-distant future.

Sixteen-year-old Cassie, her brother Sam and her dad survived the first four gruesome waves of the attack. Together, the three wait out the titular fifth in a military base for survivors until school buses arrive to take all children to safety, including her brother Sam. Cassie, her dad and the rest of the adults are then divested of their weapons and marched into a bunker by their protectors. Cassie escapes, only to see her dad (and everyone else) brutally executed by their so-called protectors. She then embarks on a mission to rescue her brother. As in his previous efforts (The Monstrumologist, 2009, etc.), Yancey excels in creating an alternative world informed by just enough logic and sociology to make it feel close enough to our own. The suspension-of-disbelief Kool-Aid he serves goes down so easy that every piece of the story—no matter how outlandish—makes perfect sense. The 500-plus-page novel surges forward full throttle with an intense, alarming tone full of danger, deceit and a touch of romance. The plot flips back and forth with so much action and so many expert twists that readers will constantly question whom they can trust and whom they can’t. Best of all, everything feels totally real, and that makes it all the more riveting.

Nothing short of amazing. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 7th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-399-16241-1
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online: March 6th, 2013
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013

My thoughts . . .

From the very beginning, Yancey does an amazing job with his characters. Their decisions never felt like a plot device. Their emotions rang true.
The premise is unique in that the aliens (like The Host) look like the humans, which keeps us guessing as to who are the aliens and who are the humans, one of Cassie’s biggest problems. While the plot twists and turns were cool, I thought they were predictable. (I’ve been plotting way too much lately).
From Kirkus: “The suspension-of-disbelief Kool-Aid he serves goes down so easy that every piece of the story—no matter how outlandish—makes perfect sense.”
I did not find this true. There was a major flaw for me, which was why an alien race so advanced that they’ve been watching us for thousands of years has the capability of literally eliminating every single human, but they choose not to.
Nope. Wouldn’t happen.
Overall, this was an amazing read! I highly recommend it and hope the movie does it justice, though I keep expectations low these days.
I’ll be reading the next two in the series sometime in the near future.

From Rick Yancey’s Website . . .


Rick is the author of fifteen novels and a memoir. His books have been published in over thirty languages and have earned numerous accolades and awards from around the world. His young adult novel, The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp, was named a “Best Book of the Year” by Publishers Weekly and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. In 2010, Rick received a Michael L. Printz Honor for The Monstrumologist. The sequel, The Curse of the Wendigo, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His latest novel, The 5th Wave, the first in an epic sci-fi trilogy, made its worldwide debut in 2013, and will soon be a major motion picture for GK Films and Sony Pictures.

There’s a lot more about Rick Yancey on his website. Click here to go take a look!


I Just Read . . . THIEF OF LIES by Brenda Drake

What a fun read! This book took me a couple of chapters to get into, but then it really pulled me in. If you like romance and a really great twist on what’s lurking in your local library, this book is a must-read.

Kirkus Review says:

A girl learns about her magical heritage and preordained fate just as an evil wizard threatens to take over an enchanted world in this YA series opener by Drake (Touching Fate, 2015).

Gia knows she loves libraries. But she doesn’t realize that she can use them as portals to other libraries around the globe until she accidentally falls into a book, taking her friends Nick and Afton with her. On the other side, they encounter a horrible creature the size of a rhino under attack by several teenagers in armor, including Arik, a dreamy warrior who shares a love of Gia’s favorite children’s book. These teens are Sentinels, protectors of the gateways between the human world and the realm of Mystiks, or magical folks. Not only does it turn out that Gia is a Sentinel herself, but she’s also the prophesied daughter of two Sentinels—an illegal union—and she may bring about the end of the world. But Gia’s not one to let prophecies and rules interfere with her dreams; she agrees to train as a Sentinel for the summer, as long as she’ll get her old life back in the fall. But as Gia becomes deeply involved in the Mystik realm, where anyone could be an agent of Conemar, the sinister wizard set on global domination, she realizes that more depends on her there than at home. This familiar-feeling novel boasts some energetic new twists. Drake’s worldbuilding is intriguing: powerful battle globes (Arik wields a fire globe; “He can manipulate the fire into a thin whip”), new races of fairy creatures who work in tandem with Sentinels and wizards, and—best of all—portals in libraries, which many readers will eagerly believe are mystical places. And while Gia possesses a clear teen voice, her romantic feelings remain inconsistent; her relationship with Arik seems on again, off again before it ever starts. Other plot points, such as the mistaken identity of a key character, remain muddled. And a late-introduced love triangle seems inserted almost haphazardly.

While suffering from too many characters and some convoluted plot elements, this novel still offers an exuberant mashup of portal fantasy and chosen-one motifs.

Pub Date: Jan. 5th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-63375-221-4
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: Jan. 6th, 2016

My thoughts . . .

Kirkus is tough! I think we should focus on the last phrase, “this novel still offers an exuberant mashup of portal fantasy and chosen-one motifs.” It was a great escape for a couple of cold winter nights.

From Brenda Drake’s Amazon Page:

Brenda Drake AuthorBrenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up is of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Connect with the author:   Twitter   |   Website


Upcoming Conferences for Midwest Authors

Is an illustrator at a conference a con artist?

I admit, that was bad. But whenever I think of something even minutely clever, I must share it. Mock at will.

So conferences . . .

In my opinion, they’re necessary. I’ve become a better writer, been inspired, uplifted, networked, and gained a few stories to tell in the process. Writing is such a competitive field, some agents and editors are choosing clients exclusively from writers they meet at conferences.It shows you’re committed through increasing your education and putting writing first.

Here is a small list of conferences here in the Midwest if you feel so inclined.

SCBWI Kansas Region 2016 Events

logo-scbwiSaturday, Feb. 20: LET ME SAVE YOU 20 YEARS . . . Speed Course in Children’s Writing and Publishing workshop with Lorri Cardwell-Casey, Overland Park. Registration now open.

June 3-9: CRITIQUE ACROSS KANSAS AND MISSOURI. More information to come. Watch for a March email seeking critique group hosts in locations across the two states.

FALL CONFERENCE Nov. 4-5: Overland Park. Manuscript critiques Friday night, conference all day Saturday. (I always love this conference!)

SCBWI Oklahoma Spring 2016 Conference (One day event)

April 16, 2016 Spring Conference Registration Now Open

SPEAKERS: Sara Sargent–Executive Editor with HarperCollins, Carter Hasegawa–Associate Editor at Candlewick, Karl Jones–Assistant Editor at Grosset & Dunlap, Jodell Sadler–Agent at Sadler Children’s Literary, Vicki Selvaggio–Associate Agent at Jennifer De Chiara Literary, Jason Henry, Senior Designer and illustrator at Dial Books For Young Readers

SCBWI Illinois 2016 Wild, Wild Midwest Conference

Wild Wild MidwestDate(s) – 04/29/2016 – 05/01/2016

Location: Chicago Marriott, 1801 N Naper Blvd – Naperville, Illinois 60563

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR MEMBERS: https://www.regonline.com/WWMW2016
• February 1: Member Early Bird Registration: $295 ( rate available through March 25th)
• February 8: Non-Member Early Bird Registration: $335 (rate available through March 25th)
• March 26: Regular Registration begins (Members $310; Non-Members $350.00)
• April 24: Registration ends

Member only add-ons, if selected, are: manuscript critiques ($45), manuscript contest ($12), 3 hour intensives ($40), portfolio reviews ($45)

Program & Faculty:

40 faculty members! Click here to view the current list.
8 different intensives
35-40 different sessions on topics related to Picture Books, Novels, Nonfiction, All-Genres, Business, Illustration, and Publishing Independently
First Pages Panels, First Looks Panels, and onsite Art Show included in registration
Written critiques; Onsite portfolio reviews; a manuscript contest (with four categories):prize–full manuscript submission!
Autograph party and Costume Party and Prize for best costume!
Bookstore:  Sponsored by Anderson’s Books. Registered attendees who are either traditionally or independently published will be able to sell one title. Faculty books will be available, too.

Midwest Writers’ Workshop (#MWW)

MWWJuly 21-23, 2016
L.A. Pittenger Student Center, 2000 W. University Avenue
Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Registration is now open. There are three options for different price packages.

The mission of MWW is to give all writers the opportunity to improve their craft, to associate with highly credentialed professionals, and to network with other writers.

We have 45+ different instructional sessions with top quality faculty during our three-day program on everything from fiction to nonfiction, marketing, and ways to get your creative juices flowing. Thursday focuses on genre-specific intensive sessions. Friday and Saturday are packed with sessions on the craft of writing and the business of writing.

Those were just a few . . .

For a more comprehensive list of conferences and workshops around the country, a great resource is the Conference and Residencies page under Tools for Writers from the amazing Poets & Writers publication.

I hope you can attend a couple conferences this year!


Taking the Time to Do It Write; March Goals

Success takes time. I see so many of these viral videos or songs that are a One-Hit-Wonder. I don’t want to be a One-Hit-Wonder.

One Hit 1 I don’t even want two hits. I want to be a writer forever!

Tom Hanks was in a movie about One-Hit-Wonders. A great flick if anyone wants to see it. In the end, their lives went back to normal.

one hit 4

I don’t want to go back! I want normal to be writing–all the time. I want to get published. I want to keep getting published. And I will work as hard as I have to.

And the one thing I’ve learned is that doing something right means taking the time to perfect your skills. I don’t know how close I am to my goal. But I will keep going until I’m close enough that some agent can’t bear the thought of rejecting me. Editors will wonder where I’ve been all my life. And I will tell them: I’ve been learning, working, honing the words.

And that day, it will all be worth it.

Until then–here are the ways I am getting there, one month at a time.


1) Write 20,000 words on RFA

2) Blog 4 times

3) Read 4 books, one on the writing craft

4) Do not think negatively about the queries I sent in February

5) Participate in Pitch Madness: Clue Edition (I’m scared to do this, but the agents are amazing!)

Good Luck #WriteMotivation buddies and anyone else out there who wants to be writer.


#WriteMotivation February Tally

Monday blogging was too much to ask, so I am wrapping up the month today instead. Overall, making goals and adding things to my calendar in small pieces is working well. Breaking up the overwhelming things makes them appear less intimidating. So here it is.

1) Read one book every week, one of which is about how to improve my writing.

Read Writing Irresistable Kidlit, by Mary Kole and blogged about it.

Read The Christmas Sweater, by Glenn Beck and blogged about it.

Still half-way through The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott.

About 3/4 through Game of Thrones, Book 1, by George R. R. Martin. (This counts as at least one.)

2) Post on every member’s blog once per week.

Week 1: DONE

Week 2: DONE

I haven’t done this again. I get discouraged by people on #WriteMotivation who don’t reciprocate, and that got me a bit down. Sorry to those of you who actually have supported me. Your comments help more than you realize.

3) Send out 15 agent queries.


4) Do not get depressed when I am rejected.

Got two rejections within about 15 minutes of querying. Not sure how to take that. But not depressed.

5) Finish final edit of TPR.

Week 1: Chapter 18 of 32. I feel good about this.

Week 2: Chapter 26 of 32. Woot!


6) Outline all of TGM. Decide on POV and tense for TGM.

Week 1: Have to finish 5 first.

Week 2: No change.


But, hey, I did a lot this month. So I made myself molasses cookies. (My favorite.) Wish you were here to share them with me.


molasses cookies


My Addiction Support Group: #WriteMotivation

You name it, and it’s probably an addiction for someone. But I propose that not all addictions are bad, like chocolate or writing–both of which are needed on a daily basis for me to be happy and sane.

Lindt Truffles in Every Flavor

Since I have definite goals about eating chocolate, tracked with the hips and scale method, I decided to do the same for my writing goals. #WriteMotivation is the group that helps me acknowledge the good I’m doing, and I get to cheer others on as well. For any addict-writer, here’s the place to join and get help. I can see things getting done! Here’s how I’m doing this month:

1) Write fifteen pages per week of new material.

See below.

2) Edit five hours per week.

Week 1: Edited 6 hours.

Week 2: Edited 10 hours.

Week 3: Edited 16 hours.

I’ve learned that I prefer not to edit and write new material at the same time. I tried, but my brain can’t switch very well on the same day, and while I can switch every other day, I would rather not.

3) Read one book per week.

Week 1: The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas

Week 2: Stardust, by Neil Gaiman

Week 3: The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

4) Critique SS for my critique partner.


5) Read/crit L for my other critique partner.

Somewhere in the middle.

For all my #WriteMotivation buddies, thanks for all the intervention! These cookies are for you.

Feel free to take one.
Feel free to take one.