Wheeling and Dealing

Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring has sprung!  I've been so happy with the gorgeous, warm weather that has been gracing the city, and have been making an effort to enjoy being outdoors more.  I've even been thinking about getting leashes for the cats and taking them to Central Park... 



When I was talking about all the submissions I have out last week, I forgot to announce another great thing: I have two new clients, the wonderful Shauna Holyoak and Kalyn Josephson!  This news-sharing is coming a bit late in the game, but I love, love, love their projects and am pumped up to be going into the summer with new things to work on.  Shauna's project actually just sold to Disney-Hyperion in my FIRST EVER "very nice deal," so I am over-the-moon pumped!!!!!!!

Which leads us to...DEALS!  I sold Shauna's book to Disney, Taylor Zajonc's new thriller THE MAW to Skyhorse, and LZ Marie's  sexy mythology short story collection to Cleis pretty much one after the other!  That was an awesome three days 

I was so worried at the start of the year that I was moving too slow, but now it seems like things are being sent out and selling left and right

Good thing I have so many AMAZING manuscripts on my roster!



Back on Track!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hi, guys!  I am back on the wheel and feeling great!  I have four great deals underway for:
  • Janice Broyle’s YA inspirational THE SECRET HEIR (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
  • Dean Haycock’s nonfiction TYRANTS (Pegasus)
  • Erin Peabody’s exciting secret project…more to come!
  • Lauren Smith’s audio book of LEGALLY CHARMING (Tantor)

Whoo!  I’m also pretty psyched to have a lot of submission out to new rounds of editors and because I’m so excited about these projects, I thought I’d give you an inside look into the letters I sent to editors about them!



THE FIRST MARTIAN

 Welcome to the world of 13-year-old Tian Slack, who has spent his entire life on the Mars research dome with his mother and the rest of her team--in fact, he's famous on Earth for being the first human born on Mars.  Of course he's not a handsome prodigy like his nemesis, 18-year-old Ishaan, but his vid channel gets millions of views.  
 However, when a shuttle arrives with new scientists, one of their daughters--a girl named Una who is Tian's age--removes the filters on Tian’s com pad so that he can see that not everyone on Earth thinks his outer space antics are awesome.  To top it all off, now that the blockers are off, Tian and Una discover that someone has been making terrorist threats against all VAST facilities on Earth, Mars, and the Moon...and it may be Tian's father, who left the dome mysteriously when Tian was a baby.
 Through holo-classes with Moon settlement children, Tian figures out that his father used to be a part of a group called Earth Is Home before joining the MIRD crew, although nothing is known of him after he left the Mars settlement and went back to Earth.  When a reality show lands a crew of stars for its new series near the research dome, Tian starts to wonder if one of them may be the "inside man" one of his moon friends told him about.
 Tian must prove that he's worthy of the approval he craves--to Una, to Earth, and to his fellow dome-dwellers. When the dome's nuclear power plant (which provides the dome with air, pressure, water, and gravity) shuts down in the middle of a dust storm, Tian must set aside his new insecurities to become the hero he once thought he was--for real now--or everyone he cares about will die. 

 REVOLUTION OF FIRE AND BLOOD

 I am so excited to talk to you about my author Kim Graff and her #ownvoices, LGBTQ, YA fantasy, REVOLUTION OF FIRE AND BLOOD.  It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Cyntha Kartal, who is trapped in Gobberbon prison with her girlfriend Lu.  They are political prisoners whose families rebelled against the Luceren government and were subsequently slaughtered, and as a result, Cyntha’s Talent--a unique ability that elite humans have--has been locked into her body with a spinal tattoo that prevents her from unleashing it.
 After a scuffle with a guard who tries to attack Lu, Cyntha finds herself face-to-face with her father, the Chancellor of Luceren.  He tells her that he has been searching for her ever since her mother took her and ran away to lead the rebels, but Cyntha doesn’t believe him for a minute.  Her father is an extremely powerful and dangerous man--he believes that only the Talented should govern and that Norms, those without abilities, should be governed harshly and kept as lower class citizens.


Brought back to Luceren’s capital, Cyntha quickly learns that Gobberbon was nothing compared to the gilded trap she finds herself in now.  Her father agrees to lift her tattoo if she will obey him (and because his Talent involves controlling peoples’ minds, she is scared to agree); her twin brother insists that he has been trying to quietly undermine the government because he is secretly gay; and his sexy best friend, Seth, shows her banned books of poetry and says they hold clues to the whereabouts of resistance meetings.  Cyntha has no idea who to trust or what to believe, but she knows one thing: she will do whatever it takes to unlock her Talent and take her revenge.

 MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS

(This is a for a new client!!!  I’m thrilled to be working with Shauna Holyoak and so glad Pitch Wars brought us together!)
 I am very excited to share a new MG project with you: Shauna Holyoak’s MY PAPER ROUTE AND OTHER DEADLY THINGS, about Kazuko Jones, a hilariously sassy and determined detective who never quits, much to the chagrin of her traditional Japanese mother and the rest of the town. 
 However, Kazu knows the recent spree of dognappings happening around her community is a case she can and WILL solve.  With the help of her best friend March and Japanese mastiff Genki she narrows down her list of suspects to a creepy man on her paper route.  However, the more they dig into the case, the more dangerous things become.  The dognapper is getting bolder and when their search leads them to a dogfighting ring and Genki is taken, Kazu realizes that solving real crimes and knowing when to do the right thing is not always as easy as it is in detective stories.

 MISS ANTHONY AND GRACE

 In the late 1800s, Grace Adelle Woodworth was an unusual woman.  She had her own business, working as a photographer, and roamed Rochester, NY as she pleased, meeting various people and taking their picture.
 That is how she met Susan B. Anthony.  Grace struck up a friendship with Miss Anthony and took a picture of her on her 85th birthday--a picture that is now famous and has appeared around the world in magazines, newspapers, and schoolbooks.
 Anne O'Brien Carelli, Grace's descendant, discovered Grace's relationship with the famous women's rights activist and has written a picture book, MISSANTHONY AND GRACE, about how Grace came to take Miss Anthony's photograph.  It is a charming, unique story that I would love to share with you if you are interested!

THE EMPEROR’S ASSASSIN

 What would you do if Nero had you under his thumb?  Meet Locusta, a rich Gaul who gets swept up in the intrigues and dangers of life at Nero's court.  
 Originally only dreaming of making a perfect match and continuing to lead the innocent, pampered life she is accustomed to as a member of the Parisiis of Gaul, Locusta is forced to travel to Rome to ask the emperor to lift the taxes on her family's vineyard after her father's health deteriorates.
 While she is there, family friends take her in and introduce her to the wild life of Rome's elite, where multiple affairs and machinations are de rigeur.  When she uses her skills as an herbalist to perform an abortion for a young noble girl, word of her talents reach Nero's ears, and he immediately commands her to work for him, alternatively brewing up tonics to release inhibition and poisons to murder his enemies.
 But when Rome is set aflame and Locusta is forced to flee, she must decide whether she can depend on the city's nobility (and the playboy son of her family friends) or if she will put her trust in a solider whose faith in the new religion is the opposite of everything she has learned in the Eternal City.

 RUNAWAY

 I am so excited to introduce you to Kristin Lenz's contemporary YA novel, RUNAWAY, about what happens when a suburban teenager named Charlotte finds herself drawn to a boy from the streets of Detroit.

Just after her father returns from his tour in Afghanistan with PTSD, a vicious rumor about Char's supposed secret sex life spreads through her school and her former best friend, Ella, disappears.  Unable to confide in her parents, who are struggling to help her father re-adapt, Char has no one to turn to. She desperately decides to go to Turning Leaf, the teen runaway shelter where Ella was last seen, and meets Aiden, a charismatic, homeless teen with a mysterious past.

Even though there are certain suspicious things about him, Char can't help but be attracted to his sweetness and confidence.  After he escapes from Turning Leaf right before police come to arrest him on unknown charges, Char decides to sneak away from the shelter and find him.  What follows is a turbulent journey of danger, self-discovery, and friendship that will leave Char forever changed.
 

What do you think of these submissions—which is your favorite?  And let me know if you have any questions about the submission process from agents to editors!  

Query Critique (A Little Late)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Query critique time!  For everyone who enters (and those who don't) spread the word so that even if you don't submit a query, you encourage others to read and comment.  Thanks :)



If you're not familiar with how to enter, take a look at my previous post to read the rules.  Good luck!  

Happy Pub Day!

Monday, April 3, 2017

The query critique is postponed a week because tomorrow is the pub day for Beth Ellyn Summer's amaazing YA debut, AT FIRST BLUSH!  I absolutely love this--it's a super fun read!--and I think the cover is one of my favorites so far!  Everyone, check out the book and Beth's interview below!





For everyone who doesn't know, tell us a little bit about yourself and what led you to start writing.

I've wanted to be a writer since before I knew how to write. I think I was three or four when I was "writing" stories (squiggly lines on paper). I was lucky to have amazing English teachers pretty much through every grade and each and every one of them encouraged me to write. In college I got sucked into the world of TV production and thought that was for me, but the minute I graduated I was pulled right back into writing!

What was your road to publication like?

Oh boy. Ha. Long. And slow. There were two queried MSs we will pretend never happened, and once I finished AT FIRST BLUSH (then titled The Intern Diaries) I shot off about 25 queries and had an awesome request rate. I'd only been querying a month when you chose me as a contest winner on the Love YA blog. As you know, sub was a long road for me. We changed this MS multiple times. I scrapped the original love interest and brought in Tyler Lance, cut major plot lines, and we STILL had trouble. Then YouTuber Zoe Sugg aka Zoella published Girl Online. And as you know, that was a rough day. It sounded so similar to my story, and the fact that it was written by an actual YouTuber with millions of subs...I was crushed. But thankfully it worked as a comp title, and Bloomsbury was wonderful enough to offer!

After the contract was signed, were there any unexpected aspects of the publishing process that surprised you?

I think the varying speeds. Like, for my cover, things moved FAST. They started working on it like two months after the offer, and it was completed two months later. Then revisions were a whole other ball game. It took a while to get those and I was so anxious to tackle them. Then once I got them I was daunted. It was shocking to learn how far the MS was from where it needed to be!

What was your inspiration for writing this book?  What about the main character?

I had always wanted a story that touched on my time as a Conan and Fallon intern. That was the main inspiration (Lacey's best friend, Cynth lands an internship at a late night talk show and throughout the story, everything kind of leads back to that place).

My main character, Lacey Robbins, was inspired by all the YouTube beauty gurus and their makeup tutorials. These girls are successful entrepreneurs. They've made careers out of putting makeup on themselves on the internet. Who knew that could be a thing?! They're all so determined to increase their subscriber count daily. I thought it would be fun to write about a YouTuber on the cusp of a million subscribers, and how she'd handle a growing channel.

As for Lacey's love interest, rock star Tyler Lance, I've always found sibling bands fascinating. Like Hanson or R5. There's always the one heartthrob in the group, the one all the girls go insane over. But when it's family, how do the others handle their sibling's success? I was watching an interview once with R5 and I couldn't help but wonder...what would happen if heartthrob Ross Lynch just up and left his family to go solo? How would his siblings deal with it? What would happen to the band, to their careers, their relationship? And would they do everything in their power to draw their brother back in? Tyler's story is heavily influenced from that idea!

How do you think your manuscript has changed since you started working with your editor?

AT FIRST BLUSH went from being a story about a YouTuber and her love of makeup to a story about a 17 year old girl who falls in love for the first time, and has to decide if she's ready to start living for herself instead of living to make her millions of subscribers happy. It's about two teenagers learning to find balance in their lives. It's so much more developed. I swear, I think Tyler was only in like 5 or 6 scenes before my first major round of edits. And looking back, Lacey never really grew up enough in earlier versions of the MS. I wanted to make sure she comes into her own in the final product! My editor, Meredith Rich, did an amazing job helping me draw out these really cool moments and tightening everything up! 

What part of the publication process has been the most interesting/fun? What part has been the hardest?

So far I think the most exciting/stress-free thing was watching the publishers work on my cover! That was SO COOL for me. I loved each idea they had, and every time a new version popped up in my inbox I would freak out.
The hardest has been revisions! You don't realize how not developed the story is until you read that first edit letter! Another hard thing has been learning to let go. I can easily obsess over all the ways I could pace the story differently, and kick myself for not going in other directions. At some point you HAVE to make peace with your choices and press "send!" 

What is some fun promotion you've done for the book?  Anything upcoming we should be keeping our eyes or ears out for?

My pre-order campaign! I bought a bunch of makeup and for every pre-order, the pre-orderer (? lol) got one item, plus a signed bookmark, and was entered to win a Z palette! I'm excited to have more makeup-themed giveaways in the future. 

Anything that new authors can learn from your experiences?

Read in your genre, as much as possible. Read and read and read some more! Don't get in your own head so much or let fear of writing something sucky hold you back. Try new things and have fun! Also, make awesome writer friends! The biz can be rough so you need people to cheer and commiserate with. 

What's a fun fact about yourself?

I'm Wheel of Fortune obsessed and can solve puzzles with only one or two letters. Everyone tells me to go on the show, but a) it's really hard to get chosen, and b)  I know the minute I'm surrounded by Pat and Vanna and a studio audience I'd choke hard!

Hamster Wheel

Monday, March 27, 2017

While I was taking my break from blogging last week, I ended up having a chat with some fellow agent friends about the dark side of agenting and it is this: you can always, always be working and there is also always someone who is doing better than you are.  

Most of times, this is actually simulating for me and pushes me to do better, but every once in awhile it feels a bit too much like being on a hamster wheel.



When that happens, I've learned the best thing to do is just hit the brakes and step off the machine.  Well, to be honest, when that happens, I usually have a mini-meltdown and then watch cartoons and eat ice cream until I feel better, but still! 

In the past, I've compared it to giving a mouse a cookie: you always want more than what you have.  Not getting a deal or losing out on a particular author can pack a punch, especially if they happen in a row.  One of the things I was stressing about was a lack of deals to break the 2017 seal, but then luckily I landed an audio deal for Lauren Smith and a new book deal for Dean Haycock, so that got me on track to feeling better.

Breyer's Blasts Reese's Chocolate ice cream set me down that path, too...mmm!



Like When the Teacher Shows a Movie in Class

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hello!  Last week was a very stressful one for me, so to cut myself some slack, this week's post is a clip from my new favorite movie: Zootopia!  Enjoy! 




Query Critique Winner

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hi everyone!  Larissa was lucky number 8 for this month's query critique!  Below is her original query:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 

A feel weeks ago I took your Potential Client Match Quiz, and after scoring 96/100 I was just waiting for the right time to query you. So I’m pleased to introduce my first novel, WAITING FOR FOREVER. It's an Adult Contemporary Romance with a touch of Fantasy, complete at 80,000 words.
 

Always a skeptic, Mark McCarthy never believed in such a thing as soulmates until his life ends in a car accident. At only twenty-three, he must say goodbye to everything he used to call life, and accept this new reality of waiting for this Brazilian girl of color everyone claims to be his soulmate. In The Waiting Room – this world where people from all walks of life have a bird’s eye view to their soulmates’ lives – he can choose between waiting for her, or moving on and giving up on their supposed special connection forever. And in his head the choice seems pretty obvious – why would he wait decades in that boring place for a girl he only met once? – until the day he catches a glimpse of Olivia's life.
 

When Mark realizes soulmates’ love is not something easy to let go of, he decides to wait for Olivia’s entire life to play out so they can live together the eternity that was promised.  And The Waiting Room doesn’t seem so bad when he discovers that their connection is more powerful than he imagined. He might not be able to be with her physically, but he can still be with her in mind. However, the more conscious the living soul is of the dead soul, the faster she will die to come meet her half, and Mark is about to find out that playing Olivia’s guardian angel can have serious consequences for them both.
 

In the living world, Olivia Brandão seems to have gotten everything she always wanted. She has a great job, she can finally help her parents financially, and she loves her devoted fiancé – but she can’t shake the feeling that something is missing in her life. Smart and sensitive, she’s willing to risk everything to follow her heart. What she doesn’t know is that her “something missing” is no longer in her world and that the more she searches for it, the closer she gets to her own death. In the blink of an eye, now Mark must choose between do what is best for him and let fate do its job; or break his own heart and give the love of his life an opportunity he didn’t have: to live a long and happy life – even if it will be with someone else.
 

Though WAITING FOR FOREVER has been written as a trilogy, it can stand alone. I believe it will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY, or Cecelia Ahern’s PS, I LOVE YOU.
I’m a Brazilian writer, currently living in France where I’m preparing a PhD thesis in Geography. Thanks to the first #DVpit the full manuscript is already being considered by REUTS Publications.
 

Thank you for your consideration.
 

Sincerely,Larissa Lopes

And here is my critique:

Dear Ms. Pestritto,
 

A feel weeks ago I took your Potential Client Match Quiz, and after scoring 96/100 I was just waiting for the right time to query you. So I’m pleased to introduce my first novel, WAITING FOR FOREVER. It's an aAdult cContemporary rRomance with a touch of fFantasy, complete at 80,000 words.
 

Always a skeptic, Mark McCarthy never believed in such a thing as soulmates until his life ends in a car accident and he realizes that he he has to make a pit stop on his way to the afterlife to see if he wants to meet herAt only twenty-three, he must say goodbye to everything he used to call life, and accept this new reality of waiting for this Brazilian girl of color everyone claims to be his soulmate. In tThe Waiting Room – this world an in-between place where people from all walks of life have a bird’s eye view ofto their soulmates’ day-to-day lives – he can choose between waiting for her, or moving on and giving up on their supposed special connection forever. And in his head the At first, the choice seems pretty obvious – why would he wait decades in purgatory that boring place for a girl he only met once? [When did he meet Olivia?  This isn't mentioned until now!] – but then he gets to really know Olivia until the day he catches a glimpse of Olivia's life.
 

When Mark realizes soulmate's love is not something easy to casually let go of, he decides to wait for Olivia to join him on the other side ’s entire life to play out so they can live together forthe eternity like they are supposed tothat was promised.  After making that chioce,And tThe Waiting Room doesn’t seem so bad; when he discovers that they have a powerful mentaltheir connection that allows him to be with heris more powerful than he imagined. He might not be able to be with her physically, but he can still be with her in mind. However, the more conscious athe living soul is of its dead soulmatethe dead soul, the faster she will die to come meet her half, and Mark is about to find out that playing Olivia’s guardian angel can have serious consequences for them both.
 

In the living world, Olivia Brandão seems like she hasto have gotten everything she always wanted. She has a great job, she can finally help her parents financially, and she loves her devoted fiancé – but she can’t shake the feeling that something is missing in her life. Smart and sensitive, she’s willing to risk everything to follow her heart. What she doesn’t know is that her “something missing” is no longer in her world and that the more she searches for it, the closer she gets to her own death. [You need to expand on this area more.  If Mark is communicating with her, does she not realize that he is a real person and her dead soulmate?  Why does she not specifically know what is missing?  And does she get closer to her death because she wants to die to join Mark or because something more sinister is happening?] In the blink of an eye, now Mark must choose between doing what is best for him and letting fate do its job,; or breaking his own heart and givinggive the love of his life an opportunity he didn’t have: to live a long and happy life – even if it will be with someone else.
 

Though WAITING FOR FOREVER has been written as a trilogy, it can stand alone. I believe it will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman’s IF I STAY, or Cecelia Ahern’s PS, I LOVE YOU.
I’m a Brazilian writer, currently living in France where I’m preparing a PhD thesis in Geography. Thanks to the first #DVpit the full manuscript is already being considered by REUTS Publications.
 

Thank you for your consideration.
 

Sincerely,Larissa Lopes

The premise of this story is so interesting and the query is on its way--there are a few areas that I think can be changing to help with clarity, but overall it is very compelling!  Chime in with your thoughts below.  Larissa, congrats on winning and I hope this is helpful to you.  Best of luck sending this out!
 
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