Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

Cora Carmack has a new book out

It's new adult, but it's also paranormal.


Kalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

When I was a baby agent, the second author I signed was Kristin Halbrook. 

And it was for this book:


Back then it was titled something different and it's gone through several rounds of revisions since then, but it was a beautiful book about flawed and real characters, and I loved it. 

It's been a long journey, but the book is finally available to readers, and I couldn't be more proud.

Here's what it's about:

Katie Sawyer has spent the past three and a half years cultivating the perfect UCLA experience. She has the perfect boyfriend: a football star. She has the perfect social life: she's President of Delta Gamma. But her perfect best friend, Chelsea, just drowned. Worse, the body tumbled out of the closet in Professor Griffin's chem lab.

Katie's fairy-tale façade hides a past she would like to forget, but Chelsea's death brings every old emotion to the surface. If she's going to move on from her hurts, Katie has to pull her not-so-perfect self together and search out the identity of Chelsea’s killer, even if it means turning to Josh Hunter for help. It's not easy. Josh infuriates her. Once upon a time, they were next door neighbors and best friends. They were confidants. They were even teenagers fumbling and exploring each other in the dark. He knew everything about her. He owned her heart. That was before things changed.

Now, secrets are surfacing. Chelsea was seeing someone. And she was pregnant when she died. Katie must come to terms with Chelsea’s other life…and face the fact that she has some secrets of her own. Even if it means letting the past--and Josh Hunter--back into her life.

A college Clueless meets Veronica Mars, Kristin Halbrook's new adult mystery is full of sexy romance and twists that will keep you guessing until the end.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Example Query: Alexis Bass

Okay, here's the query:
Hi Suzie,

Seventeen-year-old Aubrey Housing and her best friends abide by the wisdom of Marilyn Monroe when it comes to romance: “A wise girl kisses but doesn't love, listens but doesn't believe, and leaves before she is left.” Following every first kiss with a preemptive strike on future commitment, and giving as little as they know they'll get in return, Aubrey and her friends have made it to the second semester of their senior year heartbreak-free and with their dignity fully intact.

So when Nathan Diggs moves to town he’s no exception. That’s what Aubrey keeps reminding herself. But there’s no denying Nathan is different. He’s oddly caring, polite in a way that isn’t embarrassing, and he happens to have the exact same sense of humor as Aubrey. She tries to shake it – she’s above this – she pities other girls for not knowing better, but it's too late. Aubrey’s already broken the most important rule of all: do not fall in love.

With senior year fading quickly, Aubrey must be strategic if she wants to keep Nathan. She’s seen the failed results when girls want what she wants from Nathan and actually try and have it. But business as usual might mean sharing Nathan, or worse, losing him completely. One false move in either direction could land her a broken heart.

GIRLS EVOLVED is a contemporary young adult novel about letting go, and is complete at 83,000 words. It will appeal to readers of Lauren Oliver, Nina LaCour, or Courtney Summers, and I thought you might be interested in its concept.

The first ten pages are pasted below. I’d be happy to send you more! The manuscript is available at your request.

Sincerely,

Alexis Bass
Here's what I love about it:

The first line. Any high school girl following the wisdom of Marilyn Monroe when it comes to romance, thinks she has it all together, but definitely has another thing coming. I also love the Marilyn quote and the way it's seamlessly incorporated into this query.

The structure. The best queries really build as you read them. This first paragraph tells me who Aubrey is and what she's trying to avoid: a broken heart. The second paragraph raises the stakes and reels me in. That's the point I knew I was going to have to read this manuscript.

Bonus points for the comp authors. Lauren Oliver, Nina, LaCour, and Courtney Summers are all authors I like--and they all can write contemporary YA that feels blisteringly real. And that was exactly what I got with Alexis Bass's debut novel.

The title changed to Love and Other Theories, and of course it comes out next month!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Happy Release Day!!


Jennifer Ryan's novella, Can't Wait, is out today!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Are Agents Gatekeepers?

Okay here's the question:
When agents reply, "It's good, just not for me," isn't that admitting to being gatekeepers to traditional publishing?
And here are my thoughts:

No.

There are a few reasons why. Here's one:

There's a subjective element to books. I might read a book about wereferrets and think "this has a great voice but I don't like ferrets" and another agent might read and love and think "this is the best thing I've ever read."

This isn't gatekeeping because not all agents have the same taste. I've read books before that I probably wouldn't have requested at the query stage. But those books still found an agent and still got published.

Plus, editors do the same thing to us. Let's say I did sign the wereferrets book. Not every editor would want it no matter how good it was. Even huge bestsellers or books that go to auction still get some passes. If it's well written with a good voice, I'm sure they see that, but they also just might not fall in love with the wereferrets.

And it's not just them either. Editors also have to "sell" the books they want to take on to their team--publisher, sales, marketing, etc. Sales might say--sure this is good, but we can't sell wereferrets to the major accounts so no.

And they say that because they're interacting with bookstores and the accounts (major retailers) and those buyers are saying "no we don't want any shapeshifters, we're not going to order any copies of books like that." Or maybe sales remembers how last year they tried to say a book with werebadgers and that book only sold 200 copies because none of the accounts ordered it to carry in store. Therefore they don't think wereferrets will be much different.


And the retailers, they're making that decision based on what they think their consumers want. Which they're determining based on the what the consumers are actually buying--or not buying. If they order 100 copies of a book about werebadgers and only sell two copies, they're not going to want any copies of a book about wereferrets.

So really it's the consumers that are driving the stores, and the publishers, and the agents. That's not to say that there aren't readers out there hungry for a story about wereferrets--it just means they're not buying books like that at traditional retailers. Maybe they're only buying ebooks. Or maybe they're reading fanfiction and pirating ebooks. Maybe they're only buying books from shapeshifting fandom conventions. I don't know (this example is getting out of control, but I hope you see what I'm saying).

Now here's another reason:

"This is good, but it's not for me" might not be the truth. There might be a harder truth, like "This is good, but it's not good enough."

I really like clothes. I get one of those monthly boxes that sends you a few clothing pieces and an accessory. Last month, it included a pair of earrings that were gorgeous and I really liked them. But they were $50 for just a little pair of earrings that weren't anything super special. So I liked them, a lot, but I didn't $50 like them.

Sometimes manuscripts are the same way. I've said I really like fantasy. Let's say I request a YA fantasy. I might read to the end, I might think, "that was a good read" but I do a lot more for my clients than just read their books once. There's the reading and the editing, but there are meetings and phone calls and strategizing and a lot of hours that go into that client's career and their books.

And there's only so many hours in a day. I can only take on so many clients. So I might read that YA fantasy manuscript and think, this is good, but it's not good enough for me. Maybe it's the characters or the pacing or the writing. Or maybe it's not even anything I can put my finger on. Maybe it just doesn't stay with me after I've put it down. Whatever it is, I don't love it the way I loved Gates of Thread and Stone or Red Queen. So it's not for me--because I only have time for things I love that much.

Sometimes it's hard to articulate that to authors. Even us agents don't like to discourage people or hurt people's feelings--and there are a lot of agents, maybe someone else will see something I don't or they'll have the time.

So that's a long answer to your question. I don't think we're gatekeepers. I know it's hard to get a book traditionally published--and that it's hard to get an agent. But the internet has made it easier than it was. Keep writing. Write a great book that you're passionate about--even if the characters are wereferrets! Then write another book. And keep going. At some point, you'll get there.

Happy Release Day!

You might not know this about me, but I'm a Friday Night Lights fan. It's less the football and more the characters that I loved. 

Which is why when Cora Carmack had an idea for the Rusk University series, I was super excited.

I loved All Lined Up

But All Broke Down is even better. I know I say this a lot, but this book is my new favorite Cora Carmack novel and that's saying a lot. 


For me, this one line says it all: She fights for lost causes...he is one.

Silas Moore has everything I loved about Tim Riggins. And there was a lot to love about Tim Riggins.


And the romance. Oh my god.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Happy Release Day!

So by now, you probably know the story. I was adamant about the fact that New Adult was not a thing. Then I read Cora Carmack's Losing It and changed my mind.

After that I read a lot of New Adult. In fact I read just about whatever I could get my hands on. I loved it! But because I read so much of it, sometimes the stories started to feel a little similar. I got a lot of submissions (which was a good thing!) but after a six months to a year, I started wondering if this was it, if I could find more NA that I really loved, or if I had about all the NA clients that I needed.

Then I got a query from Renita Pizzitola. And I was reminded what I love about NA so much.

Just a Little Crush by Renita Pizzitola is a beautifully authentic college story. It reminded me of how it felt to think that I had everything together, that I knew exactly what I wanted out of life only to find out that it was the things I was wrong about--and the hot mess mistakes--that worked out best in the end.

So.

Happy release day to Renita!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Ask Me Anything: How Literal was I...

Okay, here's the question:
I remember Suzie always states that she keeps reading a manuscript if the first line catches her, then the second, the third, and so on. I don't know if I should take this literally, but if you come across a line that needs work, do you stop there even if you were interested in what was before? Are you willing to forgive that single line (or lines) and keep going?
This is a good question. I do say this a lot. I wasn't the first agent to say it. I heard it from a wiser more experienced agent on a panel back when I was a baby agent.

So here are my thoughts.

You do have to take that literally...to a point. For the first 25-50 pages or more until I'm hooked, each line really has to grab and hold onto me.

Once I'm hooked, I can overlook things and keep reading.

Now, here's the thing. When you mention a "line that needs work" though, it makes me think we might be talking about different things.

When I mention that the first line catches me, I'm not talking mechanics. I'm talking voice and storytelling.

Have you seen this?

I started reading that manuscript on a Sunday afternoon. I could not stop. Even though the manuscript turned out to be 168k words. It had some issues. I gave some notes. There was probably a typo or two. But the voice and the storytelling had me by the end of the first chapter. There was no way I was going to stop reading.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Example Query: Renita Pizzitola

Here's another example query for you to feast your eyes on. Renita queried me with her NA manuscript The Unity of Opposites in October last year.

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES is a New Adult Contemporary Romance complete at 70,000 words.

When nineteen-year-old Brinley Monroe runs into Ryder Briggs--an insanely desirable, tattooed bad boy and the other half of her disastrous first kiss--she knows she’s in trouble. Since that humiliating day four years ago, when she experienced a moment of Ryder-induced-bliss followed by nose-diving into a swimming pool, she’s hated him...every delectable square inch. Now in college, her past has reappeared and, by the looks of it, still hasn’t grown into his ego.

Despite their scorching chemistry, a guy like Ryder is the last thing Brinley needs in her life. As the product of a teen mom, who now loves vodka more than her own daughter, Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life. But while spending time with Ryder, she discovers there is more to him than the image he broadcasts. Though complete opposites, they share the same fear--repeating their parents’ mistakes. And as Ryder's desire not to hurt her drives him away, her trust in him draws them back together.

But when Ryder’s involvement in a campus-wide scandal comes to light, the only person to pay is Brinley. As much as she wanted to believe otherwise, learning from her past means leaving people from it out of her future. Now, in order to protect her, Ryder must fix the mess he’s caused then do what he should have done from day one. Walk away.

I am a romance author currently published through Lyrical Press. (YA Paranormal Romance series--October 2012 and September 2013, and an Adult Urban Fantasy Romance--March 2013). I appreciate your time and consideration and sincerely hope to hear from you in the near future.

 Here's what caught my eye:

The Title. Now, we actually changed it--more on this later--but I loved the title. It automatically intrigued me. (Maybe I always go for people who are my opposite, I don't know).

That first paragraph gives a great set up. I love that Brinley and Ryder have a history and that it's humiliating for her. A disastrous first kiss followed by a nose-dive into a swimming pool--and it's made her hate him? That feels so very authentic. I still have a high school kiss that makes me cringe whenever I think of it. And if I ran into that guy now, oh I wouldn't be a fan.

But what really gets me with that paragraph is that Ryder "still hasn't grown into his ego." This is such a great example of voice and characterization in a query. It's a little detail, worded in a way that reflects exactly something that Brinley would say and it tells me so much about her and about the book.

The second paragraph sets up more conflicts. This is a book that is a romance but each of the characters have their own conflicts going on as well. Brinley's relationship with her mom comes into play here. More than that though, I also love that "Brinley refuses to let bad decisions rule her life." This tells me that she's a strong character, she might have history and family issues like all of us, but they're not going to get the best of her.

And of course the tease of a campus wide scandal really got me too, but what I liked about the ending is that this feels like a romance that's more than just a will they/won't they--it sounds like a relationship story, something that requires working through every day conflicts and struggles. It feels so real and authentic to the college experience.

Of course Renita is a fabulous writer so when I started reading her pages I was totally hooked. And I wasn't the only one. 

THE UNITY OF OPPOSITES and two companion novels sold at auction to Random House Flirt. We changed the name to Just a Little Crush and now it comes out October 21st. That's almost 12 months to the day that Renita queried me!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

If you're missing summer, this is the book you should curl up with this weekend.


It's the best one yet.

Wishlists -- New Leaf Style

Recently on tumblr someone asked me if the NL team had their wishlists somewhere online. I have mine on the blog and try to keep it current-ish, but I thought updating all of our wishlists and posting them would be a great way to kick off the fall.

So here they are--click on our names to be directed to the wishlist!

Mackenzie Brady

Kathleen Ortiz

Suzie Townsend

Joanna Volpe

Happy Fall!

Friday, August 22, 2014

So tell me...Can You Handle the Truth?

Apparently I don't hold up well under peer pressure....

It's August, I am about to head out for vacation, and I'm excited to come back in September and finish 2014 with a bang.

So you asked for it.



What am I talking about?

I always hear from writers that they want to know what an agent is really thinking when they click to send a form rejection.

If you fall into that category, this is your chance.

When I'm back from vacation, I will respond to the queries I receive in complete honesty. I will either request your manuscript or I will pass and tell you exactly why.

No form rejection.

Now, this isn't a critique. Please don't expect that. I would never again see the light of day.

This is just an honest response to your query, but if you've been getting a lot of form rejections, this might tell you why. (hopefully it'll be at least a little helpful?)

You may see something as simple as "Not bad, but just not for me." or "I don't represent legal thrillers." or "Mermaids creep me out." OR you may see something like "I don't understand your plot" or "I stopped reading when you mentioned that the mailman was a vampire space zombie who has come to deliver a message of PAIN. Because come on...seriously?"

So, if you want the truth, query me for the next week (so right now until 11:59 pm EST on Saturday 8/30) and follow the directions very carefully.

Directions:
  • Queries must be submitted to Query(at)newleafliterary(dot)com. 
  • All queries entered must have this in the subject line: QUERY SUZIE - I can handle the truth
  • If it does not have this in the subject line, it will be considered a regular query only.
  • Queries must be in the body of the email. NO attachments!
  • Queries should include the first 5-10 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email below your query. 
  • One query per writer please. (Don't think you can trick me with different email addresses either)
I will make an announcement when I have responded to all the queries. I'll be aiming to have them all answered by Sunday 9/7.


Further Guidelines:
  • Yes, if you've already been rejected by me (or someone else at New Leaf) you may resubmit your query. But revise your query first. Don't say "You already rejected me..." Treat it like you've never queried her before.
  • Your queries will NOT be posted on this or any other blog. I will reply to you via your e-mail, only.  (Make sure your email doesn't require me to fill out some form to prove I'm not a spammer--I'm not going to go that above and beyond to get back to you).
  • You must treat this as an actual query process, which means you need to have a complete manuscript. If I do request your manuscript, I don't want to find out there isn't one!
Okay, ready go!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ask Me Anything: Multiple Offers of Representation

Recently on tumblr someone asked what they should do if they're in the lucky position that more than one agent offers on their manuscript.

First I'm going to say that's awesome.

Next, I'm actually going to defer to a brilliant post written by the fabulously talented MarcyKate Connolly who found herself in that exact position when she queried her forthcoming novel, Monstrous.

Here's what she says.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

Jennifer Ryan's third novel in The McBride's series is out today!


Here's a confession: I don't actually rep this book. I recently started working with Jennifer but this book came before me. 

But I love it. I'm a huge fan of Jennifer's books. Swoony cowboys and romantic suspense, sign me up. This is a perfect novel to dive into while you dig your toes in the sand. Trust me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy Release Day!!

Lori M Lee's debut novel, The Gates of Thread and Stone is out today!


I love this book so much. It has it all: beautiful writing, page-turning suspense, a strong and smart heroine, a swoony love interest, and a creepy and magical fantasy world.

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?