Monday, October 25, 2010


I have a wide interests in books, as you can probably tell by the sales I have made. But what I would really like more of are ROMANTIC COMEDIES. Not goofy, silly chic-lit with no underlying heart/intelligence/soul but full-fleshed, make me laugh/cry/yearn/scream ROMANTIC COMEDIES.
This weekend I was at the SCBWI Mid-Atlantic conference, which was fantastic. Being a west coaster, trying to fall asleep at a decent hour on the East Coast was not working for me so I flipped on the TV and watched (until 2am) 50 First Dates. This was probably the 8th time I've seen this movie, but I saw in it things I didn't see the last 7 times. And it got me thinking....

I watch romantic comedies over and over again. ...4 Wedding and a Funeral, You've Got Mail, Failure to Launch, Jerry McGuire, Maid of Honor, The Wedding Singer, Bridget Jones Diary, Moonstruck, Hitched, The American President, Runaway Bride, What Women Want, The Wedding Planner, Must Love Dogs, The Holiday, The Goodbye Girl, Pillow Talk, Barefoot in the Park, Who's Coming to Dinner?, 40 Year Old Virgin, Sabrina, Benny & Joon, The Devil Wears Prada, Love Actually, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Dates, 27 Dresses, Shakespeare in Love, While You Were Sleeping, About a Boy, Juno, Shallow Hal, Enchanted....this list goes on and on.

If you have a ROMANTIC COMEDY FOR TEENS, I want to read it! I will probably want to read it over and over again!

Contemporary, mystery, paranormal, historical, sci-fi.....doesn't matter---it is about characters--soul-searching, groin-yearning, heart thumping, heart breaking, fast paced, laugh out loud, cry out loud, make me want to be your character ROMANCE!

Bring it on!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


I am thrilled to announce the sale of Sherry Shahan's ICE ISLAND to Michelle Poploff at Delacorte, an imprint of Random House.

How ICE ISLAND came about is one of those perfect writer-editor relationships. Here is what Sherry wrote me when she sent me this fantastic manuscript:

Michelle Poploff had been prompting me to return to my Alaska-writing roots for several reasons. Not only has FROZEN STIFF remained in print for more than 10 years, but it's a companion title in the classroom to "Call of the Wild" and "Julie" books.  It was Michelle's idea to include sled dogs. Enter ICE ISLAND.

So how does a California girl write authentic books like FROZEN STIFF and ICE ISLAND ?

Some readers have a weird idea of what it means to be a writer. They think I’m locked away in a dingy room with only a computer to keep me company. It's true. I have calluses on my fingers from typing more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books on a plastic keypad. (Okay, so a few titles were tapped out on a typewriter.) But that's only part of the story.

As part of my research, I’ve ridden on horseback into Africa’s Maasailand, hiked through a leech-infested rain forest in Australia, shivered inside a dogsled for the first part of the famed 1,049 mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, rode-the-foam on a long-board in Hawaii, and spun around dance floors in Havana, Cuba. True!

My adventure novel DEATH MOUNTAIN (Peachtree) is based on a true story. While attempting to hike to the highest peak in the contiguous United States, Mt. Whitney in California, my group was caught on an exposed ridge in a deadly electrical storm. The pack horse and mule were struck by lightning and killed. Three women in my party were airlifted off the mountain by helicopter and flown to a nearby hospital. Thankfully, they were released shortly after a doctor examined them.

For my middle-grade novel FROZEN STIFF (Random House), I spent a week kayaking to the largest tidewater glacier in North America, Hubbard Glacier in Alaska. Like my main character, I battled renegade icebergs and had a close encounter with a bear. Again, true.

When I decided to write and photo-illustrate DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: THE STORY OF THE JR. IDITAROD (Mondo), I stayed with a family of mushers in Alaska. Everyday, I followed them with my camera while they trained their dogs. You know that's a true story since "DASHING" is nonfiction.

After following the Iditarod for several years, I decided to fly to Nome for the end of the race. I wanted to see the teams come in after 1,000 miles. I was even able to set up a book-signing for DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW: THE STORY OF THE JR. IDITAROD, along side mushers who were autographing Iditarod posters. What an amazing experience!

I then flew out to St. Lawrence Is., which is in the middle of the Bering Sea; it's closer to Russia than it is to the US mainland. I was astounded to see polar bear hides on drying racks, and men repairing walrus skin boats in preparation for whaling season, etc. I always thought I'd set an adventure story on this remote island.

On a personal note, I am excited and grateful to make another sale for Sherry. Sherry's PURPLE DAZE was my first sale as an agent! 
Sherry queried me with her amazing novel in verse, PURPLE DAZE on Jan 12th, 2009. I read the manuscript that night and signed her on Jan 13th. At this point I had been an agent for 10 months and had not one sale, not one! So taking on a historical novel-in-verse would seem counter-productive for a non-selling agent, and signing with a non-selling agent would seem counter-productive for a writer who had sold over 30 books on her own, sans agent.  BUT one month later, on February 19th, the offer for PURPLE DAZE came screaming into my email inbox, and in March, 2011 PURPLE DAZE will be on bookshelves everywhere. 

Oh, and a few words about Michelle Poploff, a most respected and loved editor. After a full two months of agenting ( I signed my first client on March 22, 2009), I was thrilled to be on the faculty of the NJ SCBWI. A bit intimidated by being on the 'other side of the desk/stage' (yeah, check out all the amazing faculty at this conference), I was relieved and overjoyed to be kindly and sincerely welcomed into the industry by all the agents and editors (most of these agents and editors have known Ronnie Ann Herman for years so I was definitely riding the right coattails). But I particularly remember Michelle Poploff seeking me out and asking me to breakfast so we could discuss what she was looking for in manuscripts and her promise of quick reads. Michelle has become a wonderful friend who I can count on not only for honest and spot-on critiques of manuscripts I send her but guidance and straight-forward advice on how to be a well respected and successful agent.


Sherry Shahan is the author of 30 books for children, including books for preschoolers to middle-graders, both fiction and nonfiction. She is also a photo-illustrator. Current titles include novel Death Mountain (Peachtree), Spicy Hot Colors/ Colores Picantes and Cool Cats Counting (August House). An animated version of Spicy appeared on PBS “Between the Lions.” Her Alaskan-based adventure Frozen Stiff (Random House/ Yearling) remains in print after 10 years; it’s currently on the “Battle of the Books” list nationwide. Her novel in verse Purple Daze will be published by Running Press in March, 2011.

Sherry holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and teaches writing courses for UCLA Extension. She's been a featured author in the week-long Kern County Young Authors Fair in Bakersfield, as well as a presenter at professional conferences such as Colorado Council of International Reading Assn., Texas Library Assn., California Reading Assn., California School Library Assn., California Teachers of English, Santa Barbara Author-Go-Round, StoryFest in Ventura, and Eureka Author Festival.

Sherry Shahan's Website

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


International plot consultant Martha Alderson's THE PLOT WHISPERER, in which the author shares her award-winning tips, techniques and multi-sensory approach to plot and the secrets to success for her clientele of best-selling authors, New York editors, and Hollywood movie directors, to Paula Munier at Adams Media, for publication in Fall 2011.

I am thrilled to announce that Martha Alderson's THE PLOT WHISPERER will be out from Adams Media in time for next year's NaNo.

I introduced you all to the amazing Martha Alderson AKA The Plot Whisperer in my post HERE where I told you how I met her and how blown away I and all the people at the conference I attended were by her easily accessible and comprehensive approach to plot. Now you can learn from this plot master too!

And Adams is the perfect publisher for this master-class of a book. Martha's editor, Paula Munier, is not only an acquisitions editor for Adams but a multi-book published author. And Adams innovation and marketing ingenuity from packaging to distribution will propel THE PLOT WHISPERER into the hands of aspiring and published writers alike.

Congratulations Martha and Paula!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Kelly Milner Halls, eds.'s GIRL MEETS BOY, twelve original "he said/she said" paired stories written just for this collection by Joseph Bruchac, Chris Cruther, Terry Davis, Rebecca Fjelland Davis, Kelly Milner Halls, James Howe, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Randy Powell, Sara Ryan, Terry Trueman, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Ellen Wittlinger, to Kelli Chipponeri at Chronicle, for publication in Spring 2012.

Whoa--let's slow this down and look at this line-up of talent: 

Joseph Bruchac
Chris Cruther
Terry Davis
Rebecca Fjelland Davis
Kelly Milner Halls
James Howe
Cynthia Leitich Smith
Randy Powell
Sara Ryan
Terry Trueman
Rita Williams-Garcia
Ellen Wittlinger

I met Kelly Milner Halls on Sept 10th of this year when we were both speakers at the SCBWI Boise Conference--yes, just one month ago. In fact, Kelly tells the story of how we met and how we came to work together HERE.

I signed Kelly because I love her non-fiction work. Little did I know she had created and edited a YA anthology with some of the greatest YA writers of our time. We were sitting at the airport in Boise post-conference, waiting for our planes to board when she said....oh yeah, I have another project I think you might like GIRL MEETS BOY.

I read the collection in one night and knew editors and readers were going to gobble up this book like I did. When I read it, I felt like I was back in my Stanford days reading only the best of the best -- Grace Paley, Bernard Malamud, Flannery O'Conner, etc.-- reading short stories that do not merely visit your mind, but stay in your soul for a lifetime. These are the stories of GIRL MEETS BOY.

I am so thrilled that Kelli Chipponeri at Chronicle and I shared this vision. I got an excited email minutes after I sent Kelli the manuscript, and with the whole Chronicle team behind this fantastic anthology, "the call" shortly after. When GIRL MEETS BOY hits bookshelves, it will have an amazing team of writers, editors, art directors and one happy agent bolstering it on their shoulders!

GIRL MEETS BOY: AN ANTHOLOGY is edited by Kelly Milner Halls with Joseph Bruchac, Chris Cruther, Terry Davis, Rebecca Fjelland Davis, Kelly Milner Halls, James Howe, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Randy Powell, Sara Ryan, Terry Trueman, Rita Williams-Garcia, Ellen Wittlinger contributing original young adult stories written just for this project.

Since the dawn of human history, the gender gap has left boys and girls in near endless wonder.

"What did he mean by that?" a high school freshman wonders, after talking to her boyfriend.

"Why doesn't she understand?" her boyfriend mumbles as he walks away.

GIRL MEETS BOY, a collection of "he said/she said" short stories examines the power of perception, enlisting writing duos to tell the same story from two gender opposite points of view.  Differences are clear in each controversial tale, but so are similarities, revealing the historic chasm might just be possible to bridge.

This anthology is not for the faint of heart.  Their hands free, each author -- most YA stars in their own right -- wrote candid, sometimes shocking accounts of love, longing, stereotypes and the hope for clarity common in the young adult realm.  These stories will have teens talking -- about the book and about challenges of their own.

Though known for her many nonfiction books for young readers, including SAVING THE BAGHDAD ZOO, ALBINO ANIMALS and TALES OF THE CRYPTIDS (the last two were both YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers), Kelly Milner Halls read and heralded young adult literature for more than a decade as a book reviewer and feature writer.  Her work appeared in publications including Booklist, BookPage, Teen Reads, the Denver Post, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Washington Post and many others.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Bid on signed, personalized copies of some of your favorite authors' books. Or on items you can't get anywhere else, like critiques from top agents, editors, and authors. All proceeds go to Family Violence Prevention Fund. And, follow Swanti Avasthi's blog tour for SPLIT to support Family Violence Prevention Fund.

Click HERE to bid on a critique by me of your query letter + first 10 pages of your manuscript.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


 I am thrilled to announce the sale of Janet Gurler's ALL THAT JAZ to Leah Hultenschmidt at Sourcebooks, for publication in Fall 2011.

 In Janet Gurtler's ALL THAT JAZ, a teenage girl survives and even thrives in a small-minded town as the mistaken product of an African American football player and his 16 year old blond princess, until she makes a huge mistake of her own.

Sometimes when your editor leaves (the wonderful Dan Ehrenhaft bought Janet's first Sourcebooks book, THE WEIGHT OF BONES), your books and your career hang in limbo. And sometimes an entire editorial department, marketing department, the publisher, and the new editor they hire falls in love with your work, and your career catapults to the next level.

Janet, hang on to your pen because you are on your way to YA author stardom!

Congratulations Janet and Leah!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I am thrilled to announce the sale of Julie Williams' IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD in a pre-empt to Nancy Mercado at Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan.

And how fun to see the announcement in today's Publisher's Weekly Children's Bookshelf:

Nancy Mercado of Roaring Brook Press has preempted North American rights to It's Not the End of the World by Julie Williams, a La Cage aux Folles-inspired YA about a girl genius who must thwart her unconventional family's demise in which her mother, her father, and her father's new boyfriend, all live under the same roof, while dealing with her Jehovah's Witness grandmother's prediction of the end of the world. The projected pub date is spring 2012. Jill Corcoran at the Herman Agency did the deal.

Here's a sneak peak from the manuscript:

Professor Enomoto says, “Write down three things you absolutely DO NOT want us to know about you. Don’t worry. You won’t have to read them out loud or turn them in.”


I can do this.  I DO NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW:
1. My IQ which is off the charts and the rest of the test results that got me here.
2. That I will never belong in the theatre even though I have spent every waking moment there since I was born.
3. That my family is falling apart and I think once that happens I am going to disappear. You know, like ink fading on a manuscript that’s been left out in the sun.

Now the Professor says, “Okay, now write down three things you are willing to share with the class, starting with your name.”
1. Jessie Jasper Lewis
2. Yes, my parents really are Mark Lewis and Una Jasper Lewis of the critically acclaimed and world-famous Minnesota Theatre Company.
3. Yes, I really am only 16 years old and this is my first class at the U of M.

JULIE WILLIAMS is the author of the young adult novel-in-poems, ESCAPING TORNADO SEASON, HarperTempest 2004, Finalist, Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award, 2005 & NYSRA Charlotte Award Committee 2006 YA Reading List. Her poetry has been published in many small press journals and nominated for a Pushcart prize. Julie has worked as an actor, secretary, counselor, seamstress, administrator, teacher, and grant writer.  She’s worked in theatre companies, hospitals, universities, and even for a Hollywood caterer. For the past five years whenever she’s not writing, you’ll find her in her studio up to her ears in paint, glue, markers, fabric, paper, old photographs, beads, sticks, driftwood, stones, vintage books and lace and hardware – all used to create mixed media assemblage and collage. Julie has been actively involved with SCBWI since 1988, serving the Los Angeles region as a conference coordinator, KITE TALES designer, and for three years as co-regional advisor.

Julie attended Bemidji State University (Minnesota), the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (graduating with an MFA in Acting and Directing). For 20 years she was an adjunct professor at California State University, Northridge teaching for the Communication Studies and Theatre Departments and retiring in 2003 as Assistant Director of CSUN’s Educational Opportunity Program. In 2006 she and her husband moved back to Minnesota, where she is enjoying the four seasons and the vibrant writing and artistic communities of the Twin Cities.

Visit her blog to see her fabulous art and read her wise, wise words!

And why do I say wise? Some of you know this already, but I consider Julie not only a client and a friend, but a mentor. She was one of my first critique partners when I started seriously writing a novel in verse, and she and I bonded more than simply on paper, but in our souls. When Ronnie asked me to become an agent, Julie was the first person I called to ask if she would allow me to rep her. At the time Julie was barely writing, but rather devoting herself to art. We talked about projects that she worked on when we were in that critique group together so many years ago, and she agreed to go back to writing and to be my client. Lucky me!

She got to writing IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD and a little over a year later she sent me this funny, sweet, surprising, completely out-of-the-box manuscript. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD sold quickly to a most fabulous editor, Nancy Mercado, who it turns out Julie met at an SCBWI Los Angeles Writer's Retreat years before. (Nancy, I am not sure if you even remember that but Julie sure did. She told me that she thinks Nancy Mercado would be a fantastic editor for her. That her style and smarts really aligned with her sensibilities as a writer and as a person.)

In the last few weeks the magic happened: offer, acceptance, cheers and now a formal announcement. All I can say is thank goodness it's not the end of the world because Julie and Nancy have a lot of wonderful books to create and share with all of you!

Congrats Julie and Nancy!


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