Tis Better to Give than to Receive

Friday, December 28, 2012

No kidding!  Gift giving is my crack.  I LOVE shopping and finding the perfect gift for someone, wrapping it in pretty paper, anticipating how excited they are going to be because I am a Gift Master, and then getting to see them unwrap it.  

I told you I tend to get a little overexcited and give my gifts in advance, and then I go out and buy substitute gifts that I also usually ending up giving before the appointed time, creating a present-giving cycle of doom that ends depending how early I purchased the original present.  ::Draws breath::



Well, my mom got three early Christmas gifts this year and my dad got two.  John got nothing ahead of time because I had no idea what to get him besides his actual Christmas present and didn't want to get myself into a brain-wracking situation.

Getting geared up now for New Year's Eve (aka my birthday!) and turning twenty-six years old.  Also, I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a breakdown.  I thought it would happen last year for my 25th, but I was surprisingly okay with that age milestone.  I think 26 is going to hit hard because that is going to be when I change from my early- to mid-twenties to my mid- to late-twenties.  And I think we all know how much older that sounds.


What's up, sister.

P.S.  Insanely awesome news: There is film interest in both Dean's and Dan's books, MURDEROUS MINDS and THE CLEARING, respectively.  I am so excited to see how this plays out!!! 

Newtown, CT

Monday, December 17, 2012

I spent most of the weekend, not wrapping presents and reading manuscripts like I thought I would, but glued to my laptop, watching ABC news and reading updates about the school shooting in Newtown, CT, while wiping tears from my eyes.


An image of children leaving the school from The Newtown Bee.

This is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever heard about.  John called me on Friday morning and told me what had happened and all I could think about for a minute was "Thank God it wasn't at my mother's school."  My mother is a first grade teacher in Middletown, CT and thinking about her and her students in danger gave me a fractional amount of insight into how the parents with children at Sandy Hook Elementary must have felt when they heard what had happened.

My heart goes out to all those parents and children, and I know when I go home for Christmas I will do what President Obama mentioned in his address and hug my mom that much tighter when I see her, as well as the rest of my family and loved ones.

Contracts Contracts Everywhere

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So many contracts!  Dan's editor, Emlyn, just sent the contract for THE CLEARING for me to look over, and I'm still negotiating the contracts for Dean's MURDEROUS MINDS, and Jessica's THE LOOKING GLASS.  I haven't had Dean's contract for too long, and there have been a lot of changes with Jessica's so I'm very busy trying to remember everything I learned from Sean Fodera's contract session way back when.

I'm so glad that I have Emily (our agency president).  I have to go on an admiration rant for a minute and say that she is the best mentor a girl could ask for!  She's been wonderful helping me navigate my way down Literary Agent Road (and Contract Cul-de-Sac) and I don't know where I would be without her.  Well, I wouldn't be at Prospect for starters...




It's a really interesting story, actually.  Emily (and most of the other agents at Prospect) are all former Writers House assistants!  When I stumbled on to the Prospect website and learned this, I was incredibly impressed.  I couldn't imagine just going off and starting an agency all by myself, so I emailed Emily telling her how much I admired her and asking her if she had any advice about how to best move forward in my career. 

And she emailed me back with a job offer.  She said she was looking to add another agent to the agency, and would I like to come by and meet with her? 

Crazy, right?  Crazy lucky!!



My mom's Irish, so I think this applies...


Okay, back to contract stuff for a little while and then I'm getting ready to go out, because today is John's and my one-year anniversary!  Cue the music and dim the lights!  It's about to get romantic...after I finish these contract notes...



P.S.  Had a brush with literary greatness this week when I confirmed Salman Rushdie's brunch reservation at the restaurant :)

Dan, Dan, He's the Man!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Best way to kick off the holiday season (besides already having all your Christmas shopping done - yeahhh!):  Selling a book!

I am excited to get to report that I have an offer for Dan's creepily fantastic manuscript, THE CLEARING!  I'm working on finalizing details with the publisher, so I won't say anything else at the moment except that I am sooo happy for Dan - this deal is very much deserved.  He is an amazing writer who has done a lot of work to get this story polished and perfect.


Trying to hussle together a couple more deals before holiday craziness/backlog sweeps the industry.  Crunch time!  


Also, I signed a new client today.  She has an awesome adult historical fiction manuscript about Blackbeard, which I absolutely LOVE...I've noticed that I'm taking on a lot of historical fiction projects.  My inner history buff seems to be coming out in full force!


P.S.  Have you read the news about Simon & Schuster?  Not sure how I feel about this one...

Turkey, Trains, and Troubles

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I had so much fun at Thanksgiving!!!  It was great to see my family - my cousin, Scott, and his wife just had twins and they are the cutest things ever!  John loves children (He will literally just start making silly faces and playing games with kids he sees on the street. I think he freaks out parents who don't know him.) and had Eleanor's tiny hand curled around his index finger.

I was working at the restaurant last year and was in the city for Thanksgiving all by myself, so it was kind of a downer then.  But this year, I got to be with everyone!  I didn't want to leave.

John also had a holiday work party on Saturday so I left Connecticut after Thanksgiving, went back to New York for a day to work at the restaurant, and then took a train right back to Connecticut.  I was in transportation hell and if I didn't love him so much, I would have just used my day off to do some Christmas shopping - my friend Dasha went to Saks for Black Friday and got a black rabbit fur vest!!!  I was in shock...growing up in central Connecticut, Black Friday was usually not that classy.



...instead of to Walmart like everyone else.

As for agenting stuff, part of me is feeling pretty psyched that I've been able to sell some great books this year and have some more in the wings that I hope are going to find good homes fairly soon (fingers crossed!).  I also just did a video interview for DIY MFA, which was awesome - although I was freaking out about being interviewed via Skype and my hair kept getting in my face.  


The other part of me is feeling a teeny bit disillusioned.  I came into agenting with the idea that I would never drop a client, because I can imagine how crummy that feels and would hate to do that to someone.  Well, if you read my blog, you know that I've already done that.  And this week, I had to do it again.  It doesn't get any less shitty, no matter how cordial the parting of ways.

Excited :D

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving is coming!  Thanksgiving is coming!  I'm going to eat turkey and mashed potatoes and stuffing and cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes and green beans and corn and pumpkin pie and pecan pie (which I pronounce pe-cahn and that apparently makes me a nut elitist) and some ice cream for good measure and some of that yummy clam dip that my mom makes with melted cheese.  Oh, and the homemade pickles that we made a month ago.  Going to be goooooood.  John is going to come with me to my parents' house - our first Thanksgiving together!

In other equally exciting news, Georgia sent me the cover for Jessica's book last week!  It is always so exciting to see what the cover looks like, because that's when you start to get the yay-this-is-going-to-be-an-actual book feeling.


So awesome!

And some more exciting news: I got an offer for Dan's book last week too!  Huzzah!
All in all, things are pretty thrilling around here!

Getting It Together

Monday, November 12, 2012

My mom's birthday was last Thursday, and the day after that was the wedding of my friend Lindsay, whom I've known since we were in first grade, so I took a looong weekend and went home to do some celebrating (and tearing up)!

Now that I'm back, I am going to read the revisions Esther sent me for her manuscript and bug some editors whom I haven't heard back from in regards to various projects.  I feel like I have a lot of loose ends dangling around and it would be great to gather some of them up and sell some more books!!  I've been a little reticent to overly-bug, though, because I'm not 100% sure what the etiquette for contact after a hurricane is.  Can I email and write, "Hi Dave, I haven't heard from you in regards to XYZ and wanted to make sure you actually have internet and are still reading the manuscript.  Looking forward to your thoughts!"  Seems a little callous...


Time to hunker down and get some reading done, and also gently and considerately bug.  Now that I'm looking around my room, I should probably do laundry as well.



OMG, I don't know if I would ever be able to afford an apartment that has this room, but I want it!


P.S.  I'm participating in YALITCHAT's Agent for the Holidays!  Click on the link to check it out and to submit a pitch!

Things Post-Sandy

Monday, November 5, 2012

I was incredibly lucky this past week: my building never lost power or internet and all the grocery stores in my neighborhood were amply stocked with food and water.  Watching the news, it was absolutely horrifying to see the kind of damage that was done by the storm.  My cousin Katie lives in Alphabet City, and although she didn't have flooding, she was without power, hot water, or internet for several days and unable to take the subway uptown.  Her phone kept dying, but I was able to text her daily and make sure she was okay.



Hurricane Sandy: Live Storm Reports
Can you believe this image?  This is something out of THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (which I made the mistake of watching during Sandy).

The Backspace conference was this past Thursday at the Radisson on 32nd, even though I thought that the city was completely dark past 34th Street.  The hotel must have a Man of Steel generator.  The conference went really well, even though it happened right after Sandy.  I participated in an agent panel with three other agents and led (by myself!) a small group workshop where I critiqued authors' opening pages.

I had a "first" during the workshop - usually there are always some aspects of an author's opening pages that I would like to see altered or improved on in some way, but this time, there was one author in my group whose first two pages I thought were pretty much perfect!  They were about a woman who returns to France after killing her father.  Obviously, since these were just the first two pages, I have no idea if she actually killed her father or if there are just mysterious circumstances that she was involved in that led to his death, but I hope to get the chance to find out!  I gave her and the other workshop participants my email so that they could send me their queries.




A picture of the conference.

After the conference, my friend Laura came and visited.  She lives in Chicago and I haven't seen her since college!  She was going to a wedding in Connecticut the next day, so I didn't get to catch up with her for that long, but we went to brunch in the city and did some shopping.  We stayed uptown and she kept commenting how you would never know there had just been a hurricane from looking at all the people milling around and from all the shops that were open and decorated with pre-Christmas glitter and lights.  Hopefully, the rest of the city will be able to recup as quickly.

P.S.  Thank you to all my clients and friends who checked in on me during the storm, especially the wonderful Jeff Cole, who offered to send me batteries and homemade pumpkin bread!

Hurricane!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Got my food, got my water, got batteries, got plenty of reading material to keep me busy if the power goes out.  Let's see how this goes.




Also, for those of you who don't know, Penguin and Random House are merging.  Bring on the panic attacks while entrapped in a small space (my apartment).

What I've Been Up To

Monday, October 22, 2012

I have had a lot going on recently!  I was excited because I had strong interest in Dan's project, THE CLEARING, from an editor at St. Martins, who unfortunately ended up passing; I had my hands full submitting Brianna's new series proposal and Scott's proposal for a group biography called THE TRANSCENDENTALISTS; and also with following up with other various editors.  Oh yeah, and contract stuff (THANKS, JESSICA).

While I was doing this, I am super happy to say that I also signed two new clients, both of them middle grade writers!  One is has written a coming-of-age story about three children who are part of different warring tribes in Africa.  The other author has written a book about a Darwin-loving Dutch girl living in Java during the explosion of Krakatoa in the late 1880s.  I made an offer for another book about a "blueprint" for saving the environment, but another agent snapped the author up before I could!  BLARGHHH.

It is exciting to have new authors to work with, in addition to my other clients.  I've been very busy reading revisions from them - I was actually joking with my client Jessica, saying that I knew they all collaborated behind my back and decided to send me their revisions all at once! 


One thing that happened recently that has been bothering me is something that I said (not too long ago) wasn't in the cards: I parted ways with one of my clients.  I won't go into the details of the situation, but I feel horrible about it.  He is a wonderful person and I did my best to help him figure things out and get him to change his project, but in the end, we were just in two different camps about how to best execute his idea and make it marketable.  I hate feeling like I'm giving up on something, especially when that something is someone's cherished project.  I think it was the best for both of us, though, and I wish him luck.

I've been at the restaurant on weekends lately, which has just added to the feeling of constant work-ness.  But now that I've mostly dug myself out of my reading hole (and I have Sunday off!), I want to do something fun this weekend.  Like re-read LJ Smith's THE SECRET CIRCLE trilogy, which I fell in love with as a teen (again with my weird penchant for alternate romantic endings, I wanted Cassie to end up with Nick!).  Apparently, there are two new books in the series, albeit ghostwritten ones written by a different author.  I'm tempted to buy them and see if they will feed my New Salem magic frenzy or if they will ruin the series for me, which I hope they won't!


Whooo weekend!

P.S.  I am going to a Halloween party this Wednesday that is being thrown by a bunch of Random House editors and the theme is THE HUNGER GAMES.  How do I dress?  All dystopian with pink hair and a dress in the shape of a triangle?  Or can I get away with gray sweats and say I'm from District 12?


Read, Read, Coffee, Read, Read, Coffee

Monday, October 15, 2012

Because of a family matter, I wasn't able to go to the Rutgers conference after all, which was a bummer.  If you were there and were planning on sending me a submission, please feel to email it to me and let me know that you were at Rutgers!

I am slightly overwhelmed with work/reading this week.  Last week was also kind of a toughie.  I will be loading up on coffee and sugar, and spending my days/nights with laptop in lap!  Send me energizing thoughts, please!!



I will be doing this, but be  looking much less taupe.

You Are What You Wear

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

So I got a little stumped by something last week.  John and I were in Connecticut shopping for a wedding gift for a friend, and as we were gazing into store windows he said something about how he thought I was beautiful no matter what I wore.  That set off my vain girl alarm.  I asked him if that meant he didn't like the way I dressed, and he said, no, not really, it wasn't his style.  Which set off my really vain girl alarm.  I tried to strong arm him into saying that he changed his mind and actually thinks that I dress very well, but it didn't work.

When I go out into the world (i.e. for editor lunches) and I'm not just another anonymous New Yorker grabbing a coffee at Starbucks, I tend to look like a J. Crew catalog - something that has always made my mother very happy.  But when I'm just hanging around, I am a jeans/sweatpants and t-shirt kind of girl.  Keep in mind that John is a jeans and t-shirt kind of boy.  When I asked John what he would ideally dress me in if I were a Barbie, his response was, "Dark jeans, and t-shirts, and black peacoats."  First of all, that is clearly a very seasonal outfit and secondly, how that is that any different from what I normally wear (minus the peacoat, which makes me think of old fashioned sailors on the coast of Wales)?


Aren't I pretty?

Anyways, I will be at the Rutgers One-on-One conference this Saturday, dressed like a color-coordinated prepster, unless this whole thing with John sticks in my head and I end up going outfitted more like someone from a Levis catalog.  If you are cool with trekking all the way to New Jersey (or if you already live there), I will see you then!

P.S. I just finished reading a revision of a YA manuscript I requested a little while ago (it is about children coming of age while living in warring African tribes).  I'm totally hooked - I just made an offer to the author and I hope she accepts!

Show not Tell

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Editing your manuscript can be difficult, especially when you've reached that wonky stage where you've read it so many times and lived with it so long, you can't tell good from bad any more.  I thought it would be helpful to talk a little bit about my experiences editing manuscripts.  When writing revision notes for my clients, or for authors whose manuscripts I see potential in, I often find myself  making one comment more than any other.  It is: Please SHOW, not TELL, this.



When writing your novel, you should almost think of the reader as another character in your story.  You want them to participate in what's going on, to have a deep connection with your characters, and to feel almost as if the story is happening to them as they are reading it.  To accomplish this, you need to use dialogue and rich, sensory description to successfully evoke the emotions your character is feeling, the setting they are in, etc.


For example, which sentence/s to you find more compelling?   Connie was nervous as she went to go pick up the phone, or Connie heard the phone ring from the hallway.  She walked toward it apprehensively, her palms chilled and sweating.  As she picked up the phone, her voice quavered.

Hopefully you said the second, more descriptive/engaging one.  The writer (yay, me!) is utilizing description of all the senses (umm...minus taste).  But on the other hand, you want to make sure you don't over-show, either.  You don't want the reader to feel as though they are being told how to see, interpret, or register something at every moment of the novel.  You need to give the story a little room to breathe.  It's a fine line -  if you end up on the wrong side of that line, you have something that readers will put down after the first page.  But if you get it right, you have something subtle, absorbing, and memorable.

P.S.  I changed the background on my blog!  My website design-y friend has been trying to get me to let him make it all fancy and cool, but I kind of like my simple tile-imaged books.

Great Dates

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

So the update is: It turns out that I LOVE speed dating!  I went to the ECC agent/editor "speed networking" event last week and had such a great time!  Every single editor there was incredibly cool, and it was a lot of fun talking about our common interests.  I left with more business cards than I know what to do with - thankfully the ECC committee gave us a sheet with everyone's contact info and with room next to each person's name to take notes about their acquisition interests, otherwise I doubt I would be able to remember who goes with what name!


This is where the speed networking took place.  It was kind of like musical chairs mixed with some kind of advertising game.

We were up on the second floor of this little bar called The Australian, which was set up with lots of little tables and booths, and every two minutes, the agents had to rotate to another table/booth and "speed date" a new editor.  I left feeling like I had just been at a rock concert: my throat was sore from yelling and I was a little deaf from all the noise!

It was also great because two of my friends and former colleagues from Writers House were there!  I bumped into Alec Shane as we were both signing in and hollered across the room (unsuccessfully) at Brianne Johnson, who I ended up just tackling at the end of the night.  It was really nice to catch up with them and hear how things are back at Writers House.

I had a great weekend with John at the Big E, too!  He won me a stuffed monkey coming out of a banana peel (We named him Jorge) and when we came home, we made our own pickles!  One of John's friends told him how to pickle things, so my mom has four jars of pickled cucumbers and green beans in her fridge for the next month or so.



This is Jorge!!

Hurrah for Psychopaths!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I am thrilled announce that I have an offer for IMAGING EVIL, a non-fiction proposal by my client, Dr. Dean Haycock.  The book explores recent discoveries about what MRI scans of the brains of psychopaths can reveal about brain function in these pathologically evil people.

Dean is a great writer with a fascinating subject and I am happy that we have found an editor who recognizes that!  



An example of a psychopath.  Not one featured in Dean's book, but still ;)

An awesome part of being an agent is when you get to call your client with news like this.  Dean has been waiting a long time while various editors read the proposal over the summer, so it was very gratifying to be able to call him and let him know that his patience and effort is being rewarded!

Although I have changed my mind about giving myself a purse-reward after finding a publisher for Dean (I was at Bloomingdale's the other day, and John and his little brother made fun of every single handbag I picked up), I am rewarding myself in another way this weekend: with the Big E.

It's like Disneyland for New England.

For those of you who grew up outside of New England, the Big E, or the Eastern States Exposition, is basically the biggest, most amazing fair in the entire world.  My parents used to take me every year and we would eat our way through the statehouses.  I already have my plan: clam chowder in the Rhode Island statehouse, hot dogs in Connecticut, cider doughnuts in Vermont, baked potatoe in Maine, fudge in New Hampshire, and a maple cream cone in Massachusetts.  

John has never been so I'm dragging him this year, even though he seems less than enthused about my fantastic food plan.  Is he in for a surprise.  We're going to leave there fat and happy and wishing we had bought two-day passes!

P.S.  Later this week, I will be attending an agent/editor "speed dating" event.  I'll let you know how that goes - I feel like it's either going to be totally awesome and I'll have a ton of new editors to submit projects to or the most awkward thing ever.  After all, we book nerds aren't known for being particularly adept with social graces.  For instance, me hiding in a bathroom stall at a Columbia MFA mixer until more people showed up comes to mind...

Vive la France!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whitney Lee, our foreign rights agent, had some exciting news for me this past week: She received a request in France for THE LOOKING GLASS!  Yay!!  Possibly my first foreign rights sale!!  I (and obviously Jessica, too) am very excited about the thought of seeing both French and English editions of THE LOOKING GLASS.  I haven't read anything in French sinceLe Petit Prince in high school, but if Jessica's book get published in French, I am going to make an attempt to dust off my language skills and read the translation.

Other stuff going on this week: well, lots of lunch dates, which are always fun!  I'm meeting with editors from Penguin and St. Martin's this week and phone-meeting an editor at Harlequin.

Also, STILL waiting to hear about THIEVES WHO CHANGED HISTORY and IMAGING EVIL.  Hopefully the publishing karma gods will reward me with wonderful deals for both projects (my boss, Emily, was waiting all summer to hear back about offers for a project of hers and now has a spectacular deal with an amazing publishing house!).  I've already decided that if I do get offers for these projects, I am going to reward myself for dealing with the stress of waiting for so long.  Probably with a purse. 



HA! I wish.

In other news, I'm reading some great manuscripts that I found in my submission box.  Both are middle grade/YA historical fiction and so far, I'm loving them both!  One is about the story of a young Danish girl during the 1883 Krakatoa volcanic eruption in the Dutch East Indies, and the other is about the interweaving narratives of young members of warring African tribes.  I can't wait to see how they end!

Guess I'm Going to Go Eat Worms

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I am now officially friendless in New York.  Okay, not really.  But one of my best friends, Sarah, is leaving to move to California.  She is road-tripping across the country--stopping at really fun sounding places, like Charleston, Nashville, the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, and San Diego--and then going to work in the film industry in LA.  She was my last best friend still in New York.  Erin is in Korea (for now) and is planning to backpack around the globe, Grace is in grad school in Chicago, Darienne is in med school in San Francisco.  What the hell, guys?!  When we were graduating from Amherst, you were all about moving to New York!  What happened to the plan??

I have to say though, I am really proud of Sarah for moving to LA like this, especially because I would be terrified to move somewhere so far away and unfamiliar by myself.  I think part of me wishes I were brave like Sarah and Erin and were traveling around the country/world.

I studied abroad at Oxford for a year and loved getting to travel to so many new and different places.  I've always hoped that I'll be able to do something like that again.  John wants to travel, too, so maybe someday we can do something where we go to a new place every year.  I never got to Rome and I've always dreamed about seeing Egypt and exploring all over China. 


The hanging monastery in China.  How amazing is that??

There are places in the US that I've always wanted to visit, too: Jackson Hole, Charleston, Napa, Dallas, Twin Lakes.


Jackson Hole.  I want to breathe this air.

P.S. I'm really excited about an author that I just offered representation to!  Her name is Gabrielle and she's written a really great middle grade manuscript that alternates between the last day of Anne Frank and another German-Jewish girl named Lotte, who is an evacuee living in Oxford!

Modern Family

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Both John and my best friend Sarah are huge TV/film buffs.  They can talk about who starred in what all day long, and they did it last week.  John got to meet Sarah for the first time at her 25th birthday party last Thursday.  Initially, I was worried that they would have this awkward, stilted conversation, but as soon as John mentioned Breaking Bad, they were off and running, talking about their favorite shows and what movies they had recently seen.

I know absolutely nothing about TV or film.  I am one of those weird people who doesn't know who Emma Stone is and doesn't watch anything (apart from The Big Bang Theory and True Blood.  John makes soooo much fun of me for liking True Blood, especially because I can't stand Twilight!)



Okay, I know who she is now.

But I've recently added a new TV show to my obsession list.  Modern Family.



Cameron and Lily!

It is so good!  John got me addicted to it this past weekend and I devoured the first two seasons in three sittings.  My favorite character is Cameron, who adopted a baby from Vietnam with his partner, Mitchell.  Cameron is absolutely hilarious--he has this great line when Mitchell is trying to "tone him down" for a playdate with a bunch of other parents and their children:  "Sure, Mitchell.  Maybe if I put on a polo shirt and khakis everyone will think we're just two straight golfing buddies who decided to have a baby together."  I love it!!  If someone had a book idea for a quirky, non-traditional family a la Modern Family, I would be totally into it.

Slowwww

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Everyone knows summer is pretty slow in the publishing industry.  People go on vacation, we have summer Fridays (half days), things just wind down.

Summer drives me crazy.

Even though I occasionally whine about always having work to do, in truth, I am one of those crazy people who actually wants to be busy all the time.  If I'm just sitting around doing nothing, I go bananas.  Long subway rides are hell for me, because I have no cell service and usually forget to bring my planner or a book with me.  I go out of my way to find a route home that involves the 7 train, which runs above ground, so that I can at least call my mom and get life updates about her and my dad.


Above-ground 7 train, I love you.

The slowness of summer is grating on my nerves a bit because I have a couple great projects that editors are interested in and I'm waiting to see if I will get an offer for one (or both!) of them.  One is THIEVES WHO CHANGED HISTORY, which I've talked about before, and the other is IMAGING EVIL, this super cool project that details what MRI scans reveal about brain functions in psychopaths!  I would obviously love to see both of these projects at wonderful publishing houses and can't wait to hear from these editors.  However, since it is summer, they/their editorial board/their publisher have been away on vacation, their acquisition meeting has gotten moved, they've had stuff piling up that they're just getting around to reading, ARGHHHH.  I know they're not trying to make me feel like an impatient two-year-old waiting for Santa to show up, but that's who I'm turning into.

Is he here??????

DECIDE ALREADY!  I want to do my I-sold-a-book dance!

Fun Fact

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I never knew this until I started agenting, but most editors rise through the ranks (from editorial assistant, to assistant editor, to associate editor, to editor, to senior editor) by jumping around from publishing house to publishing house.  Although it can be done, nowadays, it is very unlikely for someone to stay at one publishing house for their entire career. In fact, my friend, Christina, will soon be starting her new job as an associate editor at Hudson Street Press!  She is currently working as an assistant editor at Little, Brown.

I'm not a huge corporate workplace kind of person, which is one of the reasons being an editor doesn't really appeal to me, but I also have to say that the constant moving and uncertainty career-wise would bother me.  I'm not really into change.  



Wassup.

Not that there's necessarily any certainty or assured stability when you take a job as a literary agent's assistant.  You obviously are not guaranteed to become an agent, but once you are one, you don't have to worry about moving forward with your career by moving to different agencies.  For instance, almost all of the agents who work at Writers House have been there for 10+ years.  
There isn't really any ladder to climb (or to jump from rung to rung) when it comes to agenting: You just go from being an assistant to being an agent (with possibly a between-point of being a junior agent, although not every agency does that).


Of course, instead of staying at one agency your entire career, you could opt to start your own (which is what Prospect Agency's president, Emily, did!), although you have to be pretty brave to do that!  I got my job at Prospect Agency by reaching out to Emily (who was also a former Writers House assistant) and letting her know how much I admired her for going out and starting her own successful literary agency.  The idea of tackling all the accounting, taxes, and finance-y things that come with running your own business is enough to make me run for the hills!


Me doing math.

Pins + Needles, and Also Some Editor/Friend Fun

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You may remember me holding my breath about getting an offer from Random House for THIEVES WHO CHANGED HISTORY, a proposal by my client, Brianna.  Well, I’m on pins and needles again, waiting to hear from a senior editor at Sterling.  She loves Brianna’s proposal and wants to create a non-fiction series with it!  Her acquisitions meeting was yesterday (it was supposed to be on Monday, but it got moved), so I’m hoping to hear back from her soon!! 

When I Google searched for images of “pins and needles,” 
everything that came up was really creepy except for this!

I was out in Jackson Heights last night with Kat and Wes (both editors), as well as another editor from St. Martin’s and her boyfriend.  We went to the Jackson Diner, which (you wouldn’t expect it from the name) is a great Indian restaurant.  We were  talking about acquisitions meetings for a bit and how they each have different rules/setups.

I’m meeting another editor/friend tonight!  Her name is Laura and she was my intern when I worked at Writers House.  She’s an editorial assistant at Penguin now and we are going to go to the South Street Seaport and Pier 17 tonight, which should be a lot of fun!  Fred and I took Andrey there on his last night in New York and I’ve been wanting to go back ever since.

So basically this week, I’ve been having a lot of fun while also obsessively checking my inbox.

Pondering on the Train...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Good news: I am definitely a gift-giving goddess!  Now that is it safe to share (although I don't even think John knows I have a blog), I went slightly overboard and bought him a laptop for his birthday.  I know, extravagant, but he doesn't have one and ALWAYS hogs mine to watch Suits and Dexter when we're together on the weekends.  More importantly, this way, we can talk on Skype and I'll get to see his handsome face during the week.  And there is the additional hope that he'll start checking his email.  Maybe.
Bet you he's just watching episodes of Breaking Bad.

As for agenting stuff, here is something I was thinking about on the train back to New York: is it okay to drop a client and, if so, under what circumstances?  I know that in an ideal world this would never happen, but the truth is that sometimes, agents and authors aren't able to work together successfully.  When I worked at Writers House, the agent I worked for dropped one of her clients when he rudely suggested she wasn't doing enough for him (they had been having communication issues for a while) and I also know agents who have dropped clients whom they end up not getting along 
with or working well with.  Conversely, before signing with me, one of my clients (who has a wonderful novel called SKY OF BRONZE currently out on submission!) had an agent who she ending up leaving because the agent wasn't a good fit for her.

If you find out that one of your clients isn't revising/working on his or her manuscript the way you want to, or if the two of you can't seem to communicate effectively, how long do you spend trying different approaches or make rounds of editorial comments for a manuscript?  And vice versa,  if you don't feel that your agent is doing a good job or if you don't mesh, how long do you send tactfully-worded emails for?


For any of my clients who read this, don't panic!  I do have some clients who are going through tricky revisions to craft their projects for submission, but as I've said in the past, I only offer representation to authors whose books I truly believe in, so I want to try every avenue possible to help them get published!  Plus, thankfully for me, all my clients are really great people and easy to get along with.

Second Time’s a Charm

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

So I finished reading RISKING EXPOSURE, the YA novel about a girl in Hitler Youth that I was excited about.  There was so much about it that was great and the author has a strong writing style, but there were several things that weren’t quite there yet.  For instance, although I was intrigued by the storyline, there were several elements of the plot that I felt needed to be worked on: plot threads to be expanded or cut, character relationships to be developed, and so on.

Finding a book that I’m on the fence about happens more often than you’d think.  I come across manuscripts that have a lot of potential but that still have important problems that need to be resolved.  Perhaps it’s that the writing needs some polish or the arc of the story needs to be refocused—whatever the thing is that I’m on the fence about, it is big enough that I don’t feel that I can offer representation just yet. That is when I do the next best thing.

I write the author a detailed email with my revision suggestions and then ask them to please submit to me again if they choose to edit their manuscript.  That way I can see if the author has the capability to execute the revisions I suggested and if the story is able to come together the way I am hoping it will.

I sent an email to the author of RISKING EXPOSURE and she is going to work on improving the story.  I’m so happy that she is choosing to do that and I’m crossing my fingers she will send it to me again once she is through.

P.S.  Back to Connecticut for John’s birthday this weekend with my super extra-special present in tow!

Shopping for Boys Is Really, Really Difficult

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My boyfriend's 25th birthday is in two weeks, and I have been under pressure to find the perfect gift for him, which has been hell, because:

1. I love him a lot, so I want his birthday to be special.
2. Twenty-five is a big birthday, so I want it to be super extra-special.
3. I already bought him the perfect gift for Valentine's Day (red and black Jordan sneakers), so I have to one-up myself.
4. It has been almost impossible to one-up myself, because I played the sneaker card too soon.

Apparently he and his brother exchange sneakers for every gift-giving occasion, but to be honest, I don't think that I would be able to successfully find another pair of sneakers that he would like (finding the Valentine's Day ones was one of the most stressful situations  I have ever been in!) and as I said, I want things to be especially memorable for his 25th. 


Michael Jordan, how do you come up with so many freaking sneaker designs???

It took some hard thinking, but I have finally managed to come up with the one-up gift and I am insanely excited/nervous about it.  Now that I have come up with his fabulous present, my next big problem is going to be keeping it a secret.  

I am horrible at keeping gift-related secrets.  I get really psyched about giving presents to people and also want to know right away if they like it or not, so I end up giving it to them early.  When I was little, I used to buy Christmas presents for my parents and when I couldn't contain myself any longer, give it to them as a "countdown" gift and then go out and buy a replacement Christmas gift the next day.  And then start the whole cycle over again until they either put their collective foot down or it finally became Christmas morning.


Open it!  Open it now!!

But I am trying really hard to restrain myself, because I know if I give him his present early, there is NO WAY that I will be able to find another one-up gift and I'll end up giving him something lame like socks for his actual birthday.  Restraint!

Tanning + Reading

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

So. Much. To. Do!!!

Thankfully, I will be in Connecticut visiting my family and my boyfriend while I do it (I'm taking a super long weekend!).  I have a feeling that all the reading and editing I have on my plate will seem less overwhelming when they are being done by a pool as I eat my mom's blueberry muffins.  


Yummmm!

In other news, I'm reading a manuscript that I found in my slush pile that I am really enjoying so far!  It is about a young girl who is part of Hitler Youth.  At first, Hitler Youth is basically like German Boy/Girl Scouts.  They go on hikes, camp out, etc.  But as Hitler starts revealing his agenda for the nation, the atmosphere in both her town and in her Youth group start to change and she is forced to make a decision about what her role will be in the new Youth group and in the Reich.

I'm excited to finish reading and see what happens!  Also looking forward to blueberry muffin/tanning heaven.

I Am so Cool

Thursday, July 5, 2012

So I buckled down the other day and got an air conditioner!!  I am extremely excited about it, especially after two years living through New York summers without one.  Yes.  Two years.   I have no idea how I did it.

My picture of heaven.

Installing an AC also prompted me to clean and re-organize my entire room, so now I am in a haven of neatly organized books, clean surfaces, and pleasantly chilly air.  I can sleep under the covers without feeling like I'm slowly suffocating and I even sipped hot coffee last night while I read a manuscript!  My life is awesome.

Andrey moved out at the end of last week to go back home to Bulgaria for the summer before he starts grad school.  He could only take two suitcases worth of stuff, so he ended up getting rid of a lot of his things.  He gave me his really pretty LED monitor, so now I also have big computer screen to hook up to my laptop and play movies!  Fred got his computer chair (grr) and is now also happily installed in Andrey's old room.  He said his goal is to make it look like a Starbucks, and I have to say, so far he's doing a really good job. 

In other news, there should be a deal announcement going up on Publishers Marketplace soon for Jessica Arnold's THE LOOKING GLASS, so keep a lookout! 

Writing a Great Query Letter

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

When I was at the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference this past Friday, I noticed that there were a lot of questions from attendees about how to attract a literary agent/write a great query letter .  Although there is no sure-fire formula for getting an agent's attention or for crafting a perfect query, I figured it might be helpful for me to talk about what appeals to me when I am reading my submissions.


First of all--and I know this is not helpful--there is a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to query letters.  Several people at the conference asked what kind of topics we wanted to see within a certain genre.  I can't say with certainty what kind of books I'm interested in seeing, although I do have general preferences, i.e. narrative non-fiction, YA, etc.  However, a lot of what intrigues me to a particular submission is the creativity of or approach to the topic. 

On my Prospect Agency bio, it says that I would love to see a book about Lady Dracula or a high school teacher who finds herself falling for one of her students.  You have NO IDEA how many query letters I've received about those topics and not one of them has caught my imagination.  Usually what makes me sit up and take notice is when I read about an idea for a story that I never would have thought of, or for one that approaches a topic from a completely new angle.  Then, regardless of whether or not it has been listed as one of my previous interests, I'm hooked.  For instance, I'm not a big science fiction/fantasy person, but I would have LOVED to represent Seth Grahame-Smith, who wrote PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, because his ideas are sooo incredibly unique and interesting.  When you hear the titles of his stories, you go, "Wait, what?  That's awesome!  I want to read that!"


 
Soooo cool.

So, when writing your query letter, highlight what it is that makes your novel unique and why it stands out from others in its genre.  It is also important that the writing in your letter reflects the voice and style of your actual manuscript.  I'm not saying to be gimmicky and pretend that the main character is writing the letter or anything like that; you just want the writing in your query to be as engaging as the writing in your book.  Tell me who/what your story is about and draw me into the plot with captivating description.  Do not summarize the entire story, but give me a couple short paragraphs to draw me in and make me want to know more.

Give your query letter as much consideration as you do your manuscript; don't just write it  in 10 minutes and send it without taking time to reflect and revise.  Have other people look it over for you and tell you what they think.  Your query letter is just as important as your manuscript.  Many agents will reject you and not bother to read any of your sample chapters (and I admit, I am one of them!) 
if you don't impress them with your query .


Make sure to include any relevant information about yourself, especially if you are a non-fiction author.  Platform is INCREDIBLY important for non-fiction queries.  Even if you have the best idea in the world for a non-fiction book, I will be hesitant to take you on if you have no related qualifications for writing it.  I received a query letter from someone for a proposal for a non-fiction book on Razia Sultan, the first female ruler of India.  The letter was well-written and I liked the idea, but the author had no background in Indian history or history at all.  I can't remember, but I think he was a math professor.

As you can probably tell, to my mind, a lot of what makes your query great is your story.  You have to have something captivating, unique, and well-written.  Something that will stay with the agent (and the reader) long after they have finished reading.  My favorite books are my favorites because of the impact they made on me and the connection I had with the story or with the characters.

Hoorayyyyy

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I am extremely happy to report that my client, Jessica Arnold, has received a multi-book deal for her debut work, THE LOOKING GLASS!  The novel is a young adult mystery, set in Maine, and is about the paranormal happening surrounding a fourteen-year-old girl, named Alice, who is has an accident in a swimming pool that leaves her in a coma.

When Alice wakes up in the lobby of the B&B where she has been vacationing with her family, she notices that everything looks different.  The cheap desk lights have been replaced with gas lamps, and the linoleum tiled floor with hardwood and rich Oriental carpeting. The most disturbing difference though is the artwork.  As Alice goes through the hotel, she sees that the paintings on the walls are all of the same woman: Elizabeth Blackwell, the insane actress (and rumored witch) who killed herself in the hotel in the 1880s.

Trapped in the 19th century version of the hotel, Alice must figure out a way to break Elizabeth's curse (with the help of Elizabeth's old diary and Tony, the son of a ghost hunter who is investigating the haunted B&B) before she becomes the inn's next victim. 

I’m so excited for Jessica and am looking forward to seeing her manuscript become an actual book!

The lovely Jessica Arnold!

The editor at Random House who was considering THIEVES WHO CHANGED HISTORY, the non-fiction project of one of my other clients, Brianna, unfortunately decided to pass on it, but getting an offer for Jessica has only revved up my enthusiasm for Brianna’s proposal and all of my other clients’ manuscripts.  I only take on projects that I truly believe in, so I know that I will eventually be able to give them all the happy news that I was able to give Jessica this past week!

Keep rooting for me!  I’m on a roll!

P.S.  I’m off to Rhode Island this Friday for the Ocean State Summer Writing Conference.  If you’re going to be there, make sure to introduce yourself to me.  When I was at Backspace, a couple writers came up to say hello and mentioned that they had been reading my blog, which made me feel great!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, June 11, 2012

BEA (Book Expo America) is one of my favorite events of the year.  It is the largest annual book trade fair in US and every publisher imaginable has booths where they exhibit ARCs of upcoming titles and current books.  It reminds me of Christmas for bookworms, mixed with that old TV show where shoppers had 10 minutes to run like crazy through a store and grab everything they could—does anyone know what I’m talking about?  I’m pretty sure it was called Supermarket Sweep

The maze that is BEA!

This past Thursday, I got to go to the Javits Center and walk around two huge floors filled with stalls of books.  It’s a maze and as you walk around, vendors handed you canvas bags so that you could stuff them full of all the amazing books you saw as you wandered.  I met with some great editors from different houses while I was there, including Alli Brydon from Sterling.  The two of us had an interesting talk about the kind of books we are interested in and also what life is like being a literary agent versus being an editor.

I ended up texting her after our meeting, because I snatched an ARC from St. Martin’s stall for a book by Matthew Dicks: MEMOIRS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND.  It is the story of the imaginary friend (named Budo) of a nine-year-old boy called Max.  Max, who has some sort developmental disorder like autism or Asperger’s, is kidnapped by a paraprofessional at his school, and Budo must struggle with his own mortality and integrity to save his friend.


I went to Connecticut to celebrate my father’s 65th birthday after BEA, and finished the entire book during the train ride.  This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time; I was tearing up while I was pulling into New Haven.  I told Alli she had to make sure she got a copy!  I even ended up sending the editor of the book an email raving about it…hopefully she will be as understanding as Wes Miller and realize that I am not a crazy stalker.  Just an enthusiast.
 
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