Today The Nightmare Charade by Mindee Arnett is out!

This book marks the end of the Arkwell Academy series--such a bittersweet moment. I love this series so much and Dusty is definitely one of my favorite characters. I couldn't be more satisfied with an ending, even if I didn't want this series to end.


It's been a while since I did a query round up. They were all starting to sound the same, but back by request is a new one.

As of 1:00 pm, they're done!

Queries Received: 248

Queries Requested: 4 (women's fiction, NA/romance, fantasy, YA historical fantasy)

Queries Debated: 4
(These are queries I thought seriously about but ultimately passed.)
A great New Adult concept where the writing showed real potential, but even the sample pages needed a heavy line edit.
Good concept, good writing, first scene feels very cliche.
Query from the POV of a serial killer I couldn't tell if this is a memoir or fiction (so you know, if something happens to me, you know where to start looking)
Cool concept, but the writing feels like it's trying too hard to be literary (lots of imagery and similes/metaphors that feel forced)

Queries Passed to a Colleague: 8

Queries That Got a Personal Response: 4
There's a reason the debated queries matches up with this one.

Common Rejections Reasons:
I love this concept but the writing is flat.
I can't tell what this is about.
I just don't feel enticed.*

* This is the biggest problem I see with queries. It might be put together structurally okay, but it just feels like words. Now before you get annoyed (I know they are words), here's what I mean. You need to hook me. I just read 243 queries in 2 hours--how do you make yourself stand out in that? You have voice and great details that make me interested. I have to want to know more to request.

Random Thoughts:
For all the talking about outliers I do, I get a lot of queries with crazy comps (The Epic of Gilgamesh, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Divergent meets Twilight/The Selection/Hunger Games/The 100/Harry Potter)
No attachments, please
Don't overdo it with formatting: bold, italics, crazy fonts--they're all a great example of "less is more"

The #1 Spot on My Wishlist:
A great mystery or thriller for adults with really great writing and awesome pacing (like Tana French)



Book Expo America is an annual convention that a lot of publishing people attend and talk about. A few weeks ago it was probably all over my social media feeds. So I got a question about it. 
What is an agent's role at BEA? Is it to meet with other publishing professionals? Get an idea of what other books are on the market? Scout for potential clients? Support any agency authors who might be there? (And if so, how?) Fangirl/boy over the ARCs they want and get books signed like any other reader would? Thanks!
The answer is essentially all of the above. 

BEA is fun and exciting and a lot of work for agents. I love to see what publishers are advertising--it gives you a great sense of what they're excited about and what's working in the market.



There's also some great industry news put out in the PW Daily each day. You can read about different events and trends and what fans are lining up for, etc.



And yes, there's also some swagging and fangirling involved. This year, I fangirled Alexandra Bracken and was super excited to read Passenger. And you know, I like books. Free books are like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one. 



And walking the floor and picking up ARCs is also a really great opportunity to do the market research. Knowing what books are coming out from the different publishers--and knowing what books are getting various marketing budgets is something important for agents. It helps me better serve my clients and also know what else to look for. 



For instance, my favorite things to go to at BEA are the Editor Buzz Panels. There's one for adult books, one for YA, and one for MG. The five editors of the books selected (by a BEA panel) usually talk about the book and what it was like to get it on submission and why they loved it and also why they're excited for all the great things coming up for the book. 


These are the books from the Editor's Buzz Panel. (Sorry not the best picture). After listening to all the editors I was most excited to read Home is Burning, but they all sound great. I can't wait to dive into them. 


To give you some context on what this means, some other titles that were part of the Editor's Buzz Panel in different years: The Night Circus, Brain on Fire, Five Days at Memorial.




There's also meetings. Jess and Kathleen take a lot of foreign publisher meetings. This year Jackie and Jaida took a number of audio publisher meetings. Then there's meetings with editors. I had a lot of Starbucks meetings and endured the long lines.


I also had meetings with a few library distributors and book merch people. I met with the lovely people at Litographs and got myself a TS Eliot tattoo.


Then there are client events. As an agent, I do a lot of going to client events and helping out, taking pictures, etc, and then often meet with the hardworking client. 


Then there are the BEA parties after the night. Many of the publishers have a BEA party and agents typically go to them with clients who are attending BEA or with other agents so that we can network up a storm. 



 Then we go home and then wake up the next day and do it all over again. So the only thing I'm not doing is scouting for new writers. That's still done best via the slush pile in my opinion. 











I didn't sell this book, but I do love it: Taking Heart by TJ Kline is out today!


So I get asked a lot of questions about where writers can find their critique partners and beta readers. The truth is that I don't know. I'm not on the frontlines looking for readers so I don't necessarily have the best advice here.

But I got this question twice on Saturday and I took to twitter to find the answer.


Here's the link to the tweet if you want to see all the answers, but below I've compiled some of the replies that might be useful.


Local NaNoWriMo Meet Ups

Twitter (through contests, hashtags)

Authors or Sites that put out a call for CPs (AuthoressAnon Critique Dating Service, Maggie Stiefvater's Crit Partner Love Connection, CPSeek, Scribophile.com)

Friends and family, friends of friends

Writing organizations (SCBWI, RWA)

Local bookstore writing group

Facebook writing groups

Writing classes

There are lots more, but hopefully this is a start.









A few years ago, I volunteered to be a Ninja Agent for Write on Con. I read queries on the forums and offered some feedback and thoughts from an agent's perspective. Several of those queries were quite good, and I requested them.

One turned into an offer.

I'm so happy to be able to say that now it's a book: The Edge of Forever by Melissa E. Hurst is out today.


I'm back with another query that worked.
Two years ago, sixteen-year-old Alora was found wandering in the woods with no memory of her life. It's 2013 now and the blackouts have started again. Each time Alora wakes up in a different place with no idea of how she got there. The one thing she is certain of? Someone is following her.

In 2146, seventeen-year-old Bridger is one of a small number of people born with the ability to travel to the past. While on a routine school time trip, he sees the last person he expected—his dead father. Who, according to the Department of Temporal Affairs, was never assigned to that time. He’s even more stunned when he learns that his by-the-book father was there to break the most important rule of time travel—to prevent the murder of someone.

Someone named Alora.

Determined to discover why his father wanted to help a “ghost,” Bridger illegally shifts to 2013 and, along with Alora, races to solve the mystery surrounding her past and her connection to his father before the DTA finds him. If he can stop Alora’s death without altering the timeline, maybe he can save his father too.

Told in a dual point of view, THE EDGE OF FOREVER is a 98,000 word YA science fiction novel. It is stand-alone with series potential and may appeal to readers of Marie Lu’s LEGEND or Myra McEntire’s HOURGLASS. Thank you for your consideration.
This is a great example of a query that introduces a book with two narrators.

It's also a great example of a query that builds. We find out some information about Alora--including the fact that someone is following her. That first paragraph introduces some heavy conflict. The next paragraph introduces even higher stakes in the conflict--impending murder.

And oh yeah, it's Alora's murder.

This is also a query that introduces good worldbuilding details in a subtle way, so that they don't get in the way of the story. It's concise and every word counts.

After I signed Melissa, I sold the book to SkyPony and it comes out June 2nd!


Back when I was a baby agent, there was always a new milestone to hit: my first client, my first sale, my first foreign sale, my first middle grade sale, my first adult sale, etc. You get the idea.

Selling a book felt like the most amazing feat. I would celebrate--and I still do. But after being in the business a while, you know that selling a book is only the first step of the battle. There's so much more that goes into this job.

As a result, the milestones become less about the sale and more about things down the line. Only every once in a while, you're reminded what it felt like when you first started.

Case in point.

When New Adult first exploded onto the scene I was really excited about it, and I wanted to see the age group expand into many genres. A really fabulous writer based in the UK named Laura Salters asked me a few questions on twitter and we talked NA.

Then she queried me with a New Adult Mystery she described as Harlan Coban meets John Green. I loved that idea so I requested. And it was amazing. The novel needed some revision, but it was the kind of book that I couldn't stop thinking about long after I'd finished. I loved it. (Jess Dallow who was one of my first reads on it, loved it too).

We sent Laura some notes, she revised and I signed her. We revised again and then went on submission. It ended up becoming a bit less NA and a bit more mystery with crossover potential, but we liked it that way.

I sold it to an editor at HarperCollins in my first ever mystery sale. I couldn't have done it without such a talented author and such an amazing book.

I'm happy to say that today is the release of that novel, Run Away. Here's to many more. (Hopefully they'll be just as amazing and pageturning as this one).


Cora Carmack's third Rusk University book is out today. All Played Out is Nell and Torres' story and got the same sexy romance and amazing humor that all her books have.


After the Bologna Children's Book Fair, I started getting a lot of questions asking about the Fair and about what was hot and what wasn't etc.

Well, I didn't go this year. Last year and the year before, I was lucky enough to go and see this (among other things).



This year, that honor went to Joanna Volpe and Jess Dallow. So to answer all the questions, I have the fabulous Jess Dallow, reporting here on the goings on in Italy:

Hi everyone!

I'm Jess. I'm both a literary assistant here at New Leaf, as well as the foreign rights assistant. Since Suzie didn't attend Bologna this year, she asked me to write up a little something so everyone can have an idea of what happens at these fairs.

This was my first full year in foreign, therefore it was also my first time at the Bologna Book Fair. I heard a lot of things before going, mainly how great it was, and it definitely did not disappoint! Joanna and I got there a few days early and spent some time acclimating to the time change (it definitely did not help that we had to go through the European time change - once is enough, thank you!) There were publishing parties, lots of delicious food, and since I had never been to Italy I got to experience some of it while also meeting a ton of new people in publishing that I didn't know beforehand.

Then Monday rolled around and it was time for the fair to start. The best way to describe it is to imagine a huge, huge warehouse filled with booths, people, and books. Publishers from around the world had their stations set up with information about their books, as well as copies so people could leaf through them. There was walls that filled with illustrations from people and by the end of day three it was art upon art upon art. All the agents were upstairs at the Agents' Centre where rows of tables were set up . Some agencies had one, some had two (New Leaf did so that way we could take double the amount of meetings.) That is where I spent my 8 hours a day, every half hour filled with a meeting (minus lunch and a break which was necessary since they took away our bathrooms!) It was really cool to see which books agents brought to represent their clients and it was fun to leaf through them on our breaks.

The overall mood was great. Everyone was excited to be there, the weather was gorgeous, and it was one of those things where you could tell that everyone genuinely loved their jobs. Even with the long hours, everyone was high energy and buzzing with excitement. Publishers seemed to be looking for less fantasy this year and more contemporary. While fantasy is still working both in the US and overseas, because publishers have bought a ton of it in previous years, they are now looking to change things up a bit. That's not to say some fantasy wasn't a hit, but I definitely got more requests for contemporary.

There were no big books of the fair this year, but in light of the way our world is excitedly changing, transgender stories seem to be up and coming. New Leaf has a transgender novel that got a lot of attention, as did some of the other ones at the fair. But other than that, there wasn't one thing getting a ton of attention over another!

All in all, it was a really great fair and I can't wait to go back next year!
So again, this book isn't mine. I recently signed the amazing TJ Kline because I was such a fan. But the first book in her new series, Heart's Desire, is out today and I seriously love it.

It makes me want to go out and buy a ranch and start an animal shelter and fall in love with everything. Perfect weekend reading now that it's starting to warm up around here.


I've been reading queries for a long time. I still get surprised though when I see some of them. Lately I've been seeing some openings that don't exactly make the desired first impression.

A few examples:


"It took me more than twenty minutes to full recover from the shock of your gorgeousness."

"I chose to query you despite how much you enjoyed the Twilight series."

"I know you ask for pages, but excerpts are a better way to see the full range of my work so I've pasted them below."

"Attached is a book I wrote."

"This is only a concept rough draft."

"I have completed a plot synopsis I'd like to send you."

"I have an idea for a book."



Kristin Halbrook's fabulous second novel, Every Last Promise, is out today!


I love this book. It's so very real and raw. Here are the opening lines which grabbed me and sunk their hooks in when I first read them:

This is a story about heroes.
I am not one of them.

The third and final book in the Project Paper Doll trilogy is out tomorrow!


Here's a great question:
What are the "do's" and "don't's" of a great pitch session?
Here are some of my thoughts:

DO come prepared. You should do a bit of internet research on the agent you're pitching. Know what books they represent. Also know what you're going to want to say. Practice it in the mirror or for your friends so that you can say it without reading and without sounding like a robot.

DON'T just pitch for the sake of pitching. If a writer pitches me a business book, I'm not going to have anything constructive to say. I don't do business books. We are not a good match.

DO have a concise pitch. Be concise, but don't be afraid to include details that will tug at agent's emotions. If I were MarcyKate Connolly, I'd pitch Monstrous like this: I have a middle grade fantasy novel titled MONSTROUS. When her father recreates Kymera from the parts of her broken body, the wings of a raven, the tail of a serpent, and a cat's razor-sharp vision, he gives her life with memories or pain. But she has a mission. A wizard is stealing girls in her village, and it's her mission to stop him. It's Frankenstein meets Brother's Grimm told from the point of view of the monster as a teenage girl. It will appeal to readers of Anne Ursu and Natalie Lloyd. It's complete at 85,000 words.

DON'T try to cram a lot of backstory and subplots and supporting characters into your pitch. Main character, main conflict. That's it. That your protagonist has a mother who's half blind and a sister who lives in his basement might be relevant to the character's growth, but if they're backstory or subplots, don't tell me about them. Also, no play by plays.

DO have a conversation. Say hello and introduce yourself when you sit down. Ask the agent a question. Then launch into your pitch. Don't talk at them--say your quick pitch, then wait for them to ask you a question. (Prepare for things like "what inspired you?"  "what happens next?" or "what are your comp titles?" And have a few questions prepared that you might want to ask the agent if you have some time at the end.

DON'T try to pitch more than one idea at a time. Focus on the one project you are most passionate about.

DO actually send your manuscript if it's requested. A lot of people who pitch me don't send their material and sometimes I'm really disappointed!

DON'T be nervous. I know this is hard, but here's the truth. A pitch is great experience and maybe you'll meet an agent this way, but most of my clients just query me. So even if your pitch is a disaster, you could still just query the agent--and many others. If you are so crazy-nervous that you're going to get hives or shake or cry, don't sign up for pitches. Be a human at the conference. Talk to agents like they're people. They might ask what your query is about or ask you to query them. Or just send them a query.

DO be a good human. This means following social cues and acceptable business etiquette.

Along those lines DON'T stalk agents and pitch them in the bathroom, at the gym, in an elevator, while they have food in their mouth, standing in a small room and blocking the only door, when they're trying to go back to their hotel room (these have all happened to me). Also remember that no means no. If an agent says the book isn't for them, you don't want them as an agent. Yelling or trying to coerce an agent to change their mind, only makes them want to work with you even less.