Writing Funny Picture Books!

Everyone loves to laugh, and humor is a fantastic entry point into reading for kids who are intimidated by books. Writing humor is tricky though! It doesn’t come easily for everyone. I’m excited to offer a Zoom workshop on writing funny picture books—I take silly books seriously! In this workshop we will closely examine successful humor-driven picture books on the market and decode the secret to their success. I’ll highlight  specific techniques you can use in your own work. If you’re a picture book writer who wants to add more humor to your work, come join me for this webinar on November 17 at 8 PM EST. You can register at the link below. Since this is my first time offering a workshop independently, I’m offering it for $25 while I test the webinar waters. I’ll make sure to leave plenty of time at the end for a Q+A. Can’t wait to laugh with you!! If you aren’t available to join me live, you can still sign up—I’ll be sending the recording to all registered attendees the next day.

Register here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_gLiZyGfaTvSwPY69M4crSw

Lucky by Christy Mandin

Happy Publication Date to LUCKY by Christy Mandin which published with HarperCollins Children’s today! This is her debut as an author-illustrator and her illustrations/color palette/character designs are to die for. It’s one of those books where you’ll catch something new every time you read it. This is a story about a pearl whose shell home is crushed so she must embark on a journey to find a new one. It’s a story about home and friendship and taking care of our ocean! Plus, the illustrations are to die for. You can buy a copy here, and you can also check out Christy’s website to learn more about her beach cleanup movement called Lucky + Jim’s Cleanup Club

I’m joining P.S. Literary!

I’m so excited to finally share that I’m joining P.S. Literary Agency! I’ve always seen PSLA as an agency that launches incredible careers while also having a warm, supportive voice and presence within the industry—which is something I can’t wait to be part of.

This is a big move for me—I’d been at Martin Literary since I was a shy 19-year-old intern and really feel like I grew up there. I’m so thankful for my time at MLM—especially for the mentorship I received and the brilliant friends I made. I learned the art of tenacity at Martin Literary, and for that I am forever grateful. I can’t wait to see what happens next. 🙂

I’m open to submissions for picture books, middle grade novels, adult fiction, and graphic novels. You can read my submission guidelines here: https://www.psliterary.com/submissions/

I look forward to making more magic at P.S. Literary!

The perfect Christmas gift for the little ones in your life

Ever since I started my career as a literary agent, I’ve wanted to represent a Christmas picture book. I love the idea of having a book I can point to every Christmas season, especially one that has a timeless feeling. I have so many fond memories of reading Christmas books with my mom and sisters as a little kid. We’d take a bath, get in our PJs (often one of my dad’s t-shirts that looked like a nightgown when we wore them) and cuddle up in my parents’ jiggly water bed—and my mom would read to us. She’s a very animated, theatrical person so story time always felt like an event. I loved when she read The Polar Express, The Mitten (or anything by Jan Brett, really), The Legend of the Candy Cone, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, Christmas in the Big Woods (the maple syrup candy always sounded dreamy to me!). I wanted to represent a Christmas picture book that gave me that same nostalgic and timeless feeling, and along came The Gift Shop Bear by Phyllis Harris. I fell in love with the cozy, nostalgic feeling, the magical setting of the gift shop and the attic above it that Bear lived in in the off-season, the relationship with Annie and Bear. I was so happy that I was able to represent and sell this beautiful book, and now I’m so delighted to see people buying it and gifting it to the kids in their lives, along with a teddy bear to go along with it. What a special gift! I think this is a perfect gift for the little ones in your life. 🙂 You can order a copy on Bookshop, Amazon, Indiebound, or wherever you prefer to buy your books! A lot of Barnes & Noble locations are featuring it in their Christmas picture book section, too.

AgentChat on YouTube

I was recently invited to do a live AgentChat interview on YouTube with Sarah Nicolas, which was so much fun. Watch to get to know me a little bit better, get a few query tips, and most importantly: hear my cat Maple screaming in the background the entire time.

Thank you so much for having me, Sarah!

Opening to Adult Fiction Submissions

I’m really excited to be opening up to adult fiction submissions, as of February 2020. Here’s some insight into what I’ll be looking for:

ADULT:

  1. Thrillers—I love gritty, juicy thrillers, and want to work with people who want to build their careers around writing thrillers. I love Gillian Flynn, Jessica Knoll, Lisa Jewell. I’m excited to see what Samantha Downing and Wendy Heard write next. Some of my favorites include Luckiest Girl Alive, Sharp Objects Then She Was Gone, My Lovely Wife, Hunting Annabelle, and The Girl on the Train.
  2. Women’s Fiction—If you dream of Reese Witherspoon or Oprah ushering you into her book club, then I want to see your work! I love interesting voices/POVs, dual timelines with a historical feel, rhythmic language, generational sagas. Some of my favorites include Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Dollhouse, Room, The Girls, The Mothers, Little Fires Everywhere, Fates and Furies.
  3. Romantic Comedies—I’d love to work on “frothy beach reads” that have both humor and heart. I love a strong voice + unique perspective. I need a commercial hook here. Some of my recent favorites include The Unhoneymooners, Waiting for Tom Hanks, Maybe in Another Life, Playing with Matches, and The Rosie Project.
  4. Graphic Novels—I’d love to find some interesting contemporary graphic novels for adults. I’d be interested in nonfiction, or humor, or romance. Epic fantasy or space operas likely won’t be the best fit for me, but I’m open to taking a look at a wide range in this space.

Picture Book Webinar for 12×12 with Julie Hedlund

I’m really excited to be doing a live webinar about all things picture books for 12×12—an online empire built by Julie Hedlund, who is the Patron Saint of Helping Aspiring Picture Book Writers.

So I was very flattered when Julie reached out to me asking if I would be interested in doing this webinar.

Here are the details: the webinar will take place live on Feb. 26 at 10 AM PST, and I believe will be available for a time period after that as well. In order to access the webinar, you need to be a 12×12 member. You can become a member here: http://bit.ly/2RRcqcx

12×12 is an incredible resource no matter where you are at on your publishing/querying journey. Whenever first time writers come to me asking for advice, I point them toward 12×12, and SCBWI.

We will be talking about what makes a strong submission, what I look for in a picture book, current market trends, and what I hope to see pop up in my inbox in 2020. I’m really looking forward to it!

Making story time engaging

Aren’t our nieces so darling? We always look forward to getting to spend time with them when their parents have a date night.

I’ve read books to them before, but in the past I’ve tended to pick books based on what *I* wanted to read, rather than taking account of their current interests and picking a book based off of that. As a literary agent AND an auntie, I always want to encourage the love of reading. I knew that my older niece, Meira, is going through a potty humor phase (she is 5, after all) so when I saw WHEN UNICORNS POOP at Barnes & Noble, I knew I needed to check it out. I thought it was funny and clever, and chock-full of potty humor so it was the perfect fit.

This picture was taken for our first read-through when they both quietly listened. Then they asked to read it again, & they giggled through it. (Meira giggled at the book and Thea followed suit to be like big sis.) Then they asked to read it again & they made sound effects. Then they asked to read it AGAIN & they had it memorized.

My nieces are young and squirmy so I’ve learned that zippy, funny books are best for them, and if there’s a dash of potty humor, all the better. I have also learned: doing funny voices and accents, encouraging them to make sound effects, asking them to point to things on the page, etc. has kept them engaged. I want books to be fun for them! How do you keep your little, squirmy ones engaged?

P.S. I didn’t represent WHEN UNICORNS POOP, but that doesn’t mean I can’t plug it! You can buy it here, or at your local bookstore. I’ve seen it at most Barnes & Noble locations, too.