It’s a typical February here in Charlottesville: one day it’s eighty degrees, the next we have freezing rain. Which leads to a very fractured existence. Do you open the windows or get the fireplace going (well, Netflix fireplace for us)? Do you read Wodehouse or War and Peace? Get going on another edition of the Roundup or just start in on the box wine? At least for the last question I had an answer. This week we have agents on the move, great contests, wishlist highlights, and some perspectives on the usefulness of critique at the end.
We’d love to hear your feedback. Please let us know what you think in the comments and if there are certain types of information you would like to see in the Roundup. Also feel free to tweet at us (@freelancingrads) with any ideas or questions. Have a great writing week!
Two established agents in new literary homes
Carrie Pestritto has left Prospect Agency and joined Laura Dail Literary as an agent.
Fiction: Commercial and Upmarket Women’s; select Historical; Diverse YA and upper MG including select Fantasy; select Picture Books
Nonfiction: Narrative; Biography/Memoir
“As an agent, she loves the thrill of finding new authors with strong, unique voices and working closely with her clients. Carrie always strives to help create books that will introduce readers to new worlds and is drawn in by relatable characters, meticulous world-building, and unusual, compelling premises.”
You can contact Carrie at email@example.com. Click here for more information on the agency’s submission guidelines and a link to Carrie’s Manuscript Wish List. You can also find her on Twitter @literarycarrie.
Colleen Oefelein, formerly of Inklings Literary Agency, has joined The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an associate agent.
Fiction: Picture books; Middle Grades; Young Adult; Adult
Nonfiction: Not at this time.
“I love plot-driven, commercial stories with unforgettable characters and gritty character dynamics. I adore writing that has a great cadence and natural rhythm, which like a dance, flows and stutters in a gorgeous motion that worms into my brain and reverberates there for days. I love a fresh premise (or a fresh twist on a familiar story line) coupled with a strong, genuine voice. Just plain weird is right up my alley, and dark, quirky characters make me sit forward. Clean writing with plenty of white space and story-telling full of subtle nuances that give my brain room to imagine will pique my interest. I like a strong hook. Make me laugh, gasp, sigh, smile, sit forward, hold my stomach, or read through my fingers on page one please. Cliffy chapter endings are perfect for me and I prefer characters who take a book by the balls and yank it forward. An antagonistic protagonist, an unreliably evil villain, flawed characters, and antiheroes are definitely my favorite, as is a high-adrenaline plot. I love anything unexpected, dark, edgy, weird, funny, or so wrong it’s right.”
A haiku contest for US undergrads with a nice cash prize (plus bonus poetry contests!) and an upcoming award for picture book authors with a May deadline, so you still have time to procrastinate!
West Chester University Poetry Center’s Myong Cha Son Haiku Award—Submissions due by March 15th, 2018 (poetry contest, $$$ prize)
Who: Undergraduate students currently enrolled in a US college or university
What: Up to two original, unpublished haiku. First prize is $1,500, runner-up receives $500.
To Submit: Contest guidelines and submission info may be found here. Also check out the University’s other upcoming contests on the same page. Submissions may be a combination of poems submitted to the Iris N. Spencer Award, the Myong Cha Son Haiku Award, and the Rhina P. Espaillat Poetry Award, all with $$$ prizes!
Little, Brown Emerging Artist Award for Picture Books —Submissions due by May 15th, 2018 (fiction contest, $$$ prize + travel + consideration for publication)
Who: US residents at least 18 years of age as of January 15, 2018. Professional children’s book illustrators or authors, individuals represented by book publishing agents, or individuals whose works have been previously published by any book publisher are NOT eligible to enter, though self-published authors are.
What: Up to 1200 words of text and at least 6 pages of finished art for an original story idea, new take on a classic story, or nonfiction incorporating the award’s mission statement, reproduced below. Winner receives gift cards totaling $1,500, round-trip travel to New York City, a day at Little, Brown Young Readers’ offices in New York, and an opportunity for the winning submission to be reviewed by LBYR’s editorial team for possible future publication.
“To encourage the development of high-quality children’s picture books that resonate with readers of diverse backgrounds and experiences, that in some manner draw from the rich cultural experiences of this country—whether they manifest in character, theme, setting, plot, or are derived simply from the artist’s own experience of identity. Diversity includes literal or metaphorical inclusion of characters of underrepresented ethnicity, religious background, gender identity, class, mental or physical disability, or any other nondominant populations.”
To Submit: Contest guidelines and an online submission form may be found here.
#MSWL Highlights: Manga and Murder
Penny Moore, Agent at Empire Literary
Penny says: “One of my favorite Korean style manga series is Bride of the Water God, though the K-drama is terrible. If anyone is familiar with this series, I WANT THIS IN MANUSCRIPT FOR IN MY INBOX ASAP. THANK YOU.” Source Tweet
Fiction: General; Fantasy/Science-Fiction; Middle Grade; YA
Nonfiction: Biography; Travel; Lifestyle; Children’s books; Pop Culture
“…while she’s interested in all genres, she’s specifically seeking inventive works featuring breakout voices and compelling plot lines that will make young readers feel seen and heard for the first time.”
You can follow her on Twitter @precociouspenny. Penny is also the founder of Literary Agents of Color, “a directory devoted to listing and supporting literary agents of color in the publishing industry.” We’ve spotlighted this project once before, but it’s worth repeating. They’re doing important work, check it out!
Amy Elizabeth Bishop, Agent at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret
Amy tweets: “A lovely e-mail from @stephlystein got me thinking & so I’ll share here for my #MSWL: ‘Teen girls hunting down killers: mood of 2018.’ (**women hunting down killers also works.)” This sounds like a great project for any Murderinos out there… just sayin’… Source Tweet
Fiction: Upmarket Women’s; Select Historical; Non-Western Fantasy; Diverse fiction across genres
Nonfiction: Narrative nonfiction; Feminist perspectives on contemporary issues; select Historical; Pop Science; Journalism
Follow Amy on Twitter @amylizbishop.
Get your reading glasses ready and your cash card handy, because next month SP Books, an English publisher, is releasing a facsimile of the original notebooks that contain Mary Shelley’s romantic horror classic Frankenstein to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the book’s publication. Besides enjoying the illusion of having a handwritten copy of such an enormously important work in your greedy little paws, you can also see the changes that were made by the author and her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. In the Guardian’s piece on the facsimile’s publication, they quote both Jessica Nelson, an employee of SP Books, and Anne K. Mellor, a professor at UCLA, on the famous poet’s contribution to the novel (the handwritings of the married couple are discernible in the manuscript, so you can see where a change was suggested by Percy and where Mary made her own changes). Nelson reads Percy quite charitably, describing him as a sort of benign editorial influence on the debut novelist, while Mellor feels that his notes reveal his paternalistic perspective on his wife. You can come to your own conclusions about whether he’s Patronizing Percy or the Poet with the Heart of Gold if you have a couple of hundred dollars (or euros) to plunk down on a book that’s entirely in the public domain. Check it out here.
What’s not up for debate is that whatever their attitude toward us, other people’s criticism can help us grow as writers. Over at LitHub, Kaethe Schwehn, graduate of two MFA programs, writes about her writing group and the slow crumbling of her belief in the so-called “solitary genius.” Schwehn describes the unconscious pretensions present in graduate programs dedicated to poetry and literary fiction and the accompanying shared illusion of the artist as an independent genius, both of which made her hesitant to join a writing group, especially one with members devoted to writing (gasp!) genre fiction. What she found when she did, of course, were people devoted to honing their craft, people who liked talking about the power of words. And she benefited from it. It’s well worth a read. Check it out here.