Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Let's Meet Sourcebooks Editor Bunmi Ishola

Welcome to Inside the Publishing World Wednesday! This past weekend I attended the PNWA conference here in Seattle and I have some great info to share. To start, I'm spotlighting Sourcebooks Editor, Bunmi Ishola.

Who is Bunmi?
"Raised in Texas and Nigeria, Bunmi Ishola spent most of her childhood reading. She thought she wanted to be an author, but Nigerian practicality forced her to pursue journalism instead (which still wasn't practical enough for most of the Nigerian adults in her life). She studied English and journalism at Texas A&M University and later got a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. After working for World Literature Today, The Norman Transcript, The Dallas Morning News, and CURE magazine, Bunmi left journalism to teach middle school social studies and English. After seven years in the classroom, she decided to go back to take a chance and find a job working with her biggest passion: books. She is now part of the children’s editorial team at Sourcebooks. She also serves as a board member and the Editor-Writer Mentorship Chair for The Word, a Story Telling Sanctuary."

What is she looking for?
Graphic Novels, Historical (General), Mainstream, Women’s Fiction, Children’s Picture Book, Children’s Chapter Book, Children’s Middle Grade, YA Graphic Novels, YA Historical (General), YA Literary, YA Mainstream, YA Romance, YA Essay & Articles, YA Book Length Projects (All Types), YA Memoir, and more Indigenous stories.

More specifically- In MG she would like mystery, adventure, Stem, Fantasy, and Survival. In fact, she told us she loves science and Stem books with fun ideas. She wants to introduce kids to big ideas and new experiences.

 In YA, she would like to see more Romcom. She is just starting to look into graphic novels.

What she doesn't want-
Short Fiction
Adult Fantasy

How does an agent decide between a book being MG or YA? 

Character age has a lot to do with it: ages 14 + are YA. Also, she asks herself what is the strongest hook for what age group? Marketing will be better for the group that would like it more. Don't worry if it is upper or lower middle grade, the agent will decide that.

What does she look for in a query?
The Hook.
She asks herself why would a kid or teacher want to buy your book?
Things need to be interesting and come from a new angle.
If you send in a synopsis please include the ending, especially for picture books.

Where can you find her?
On Twitter- @bunmi_ishola
Her Blog-

Sourcebooks has many imprints and I was not given any direct info about submissions to Bunmi. However, here is where you can find their submissions guidelines for their different imprints.

Friday, September 13, 2019

PNWA19 Pacific Northwest Writers Conference

Hi everyone! I am currently at the PNWA19 writers conference. I’m getting great information for future editor and agent featured posts. Our keynote speaker last night was sci-fi legend Greg Bear. Got a picture with him!

Today was agent and editor panels along with my first pitch session. There were so many people that in 1 1/2 hours I only got to pitch twice. Got one yes and one not for me. But that’s why I come😀 On Sunday, I’m looking forward to a keynote from YA author CC Humphreys.

If you could ask one publishing question from an agent or editor what would it be? I’ll see if I can get you an answer. Leave a comment below.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Penny N' Pals by Jenny Brunstein

Welcome to Middle-Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing Penny N' Pals by Jenny Brunstein.

The Story-
Greg and his mother recently had an older dog that passed away, but now they are going to buy a new puppy to fill the emptiness. Penny is a puppy who lives with her mommy and brothers and sisters. She likes to play and see everything. When Greg chooses her for his new puppy they are off to his home in San Francisco.

My Thoughts-
This is a very quick and easy read for younger ones. It is sweet with a good theme. Children will love reading the book from both Greg's and Penny's perspectives. Greg worries that he will not be enough for a puppy, but his mom gently reminds him that it will take time and work. On Penny's behalf, she doesn't notice slip-ups, she notices petting and getting feed. In the end, they will work together to be a family.

The book flows well and contains simple messages. There are wonderful pictures! I really enjoyed their placements and felt they added tremendously to the story. My one critique is that the parts that are told from Penny's POV start off odd. Even though Greg hasn't picked Penny out of the litter yet, somehow the mommy dog starts the day off by telling Penny today was the day she was getting adopted. They have a small discussion about being away from her puppy family and how she will now have a human family. It just felt off because when Greg comes to pick a puppy, he looks at all the pups, including Penny's sister Trisha. How did the mom know? And the puppy already has the name Penny before being adopted. Coincidently, Greg chooses Penny for the name too.

However, as the story continues, Penny's humor is adorable and the way she looks at the world from a new puppy viewpoint is cute. I'm giving this book 4 stars!

Buy it now- Penny N' Pals (Book Book 1) by Jenny Brunstein via @amazon

Friday, August 16, 2019

Dragon School 1- First Flight by Sarah K. L. Wilson

Welcome to YA Friday! Everyone, I have fallen in love with a new YA fantasy series. My daughter checked the first book out of the library and I have already inhaled the first 15. The library wasn't getting them in fast enough so I had to buy 11-15 on my kindle. The series is entitled, Dragon School and book 1 is First Flight by Sarah K. L. Wilson. You can find the books as singles or in 5 book omnibus sets.

The Story-
Sixteen-year-old Amel is a cripple who wants to be a dragon rider. Everyone is allowed a chance to try, and those who fail either die or become servants. Everyone thinks she will fail.

On the day of dragon choosing, a dragon actually calls her name, and Amel is made a purple companion. Now all she has to do is take her first flight and she will officially be an initiate. They are supposed to have six weeks of training but after only three days, the students are told they have been called into battle. Only those who make their first jump will continue on.

My Thoughts-
I feel in love right off the bat. Amel is courageous and spunky with a huge heart. She doesn't whimper or whine about her disability instead, she fights hard and finds ways around the problems. The first sign that Amel is special is when her purple dragon actually chooses her, unlike the others who chose their dragons. Then, we find out she can talk to and understand her dragon within her mind. This girl is going places.

The hurdle of book one is the first flight. The student must actually run and jump off a cliff at the right moment and land on their dragon. Amel knows she can't run, but she won't give up.

This series is unique in that each book is a quick read, but with a full story. As an author, the two things that make a book fall into the YA category is a protagonist over the age of 14 and a book of around 70+ words. Instead, this author writes small segments, but they never leave you without a sense of fulfillment. Plus, her endings are incredible. You want to pick up the next book in the series within seconds. At the end of each book I kept telling my daughter, this ending was even better than the last. The story and the world it encapsulates keeps growing and cooler stuff finds its way onto the pages.

This series has it all. There is action, fantasy, romance, danger, magic, and drama! 5 stars!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Manuscript Wishlist 8/12

Let's see who is looking for what on #MSWL. Remember to do your own research.

Charlotte Wenger- Prospect Agency
I've given my #MSWL a freshening up now that I'm an agent! Find out what I'm looking for on my profile and keep an eye out for my #MSWL tweets! 

P.S. Literary Agency
Aug 10
“Send me your internship novels with drama, humor, and more!”

Heads up! New Editor :)
Danielle Kaheaku - Editor
Aug 9
I'm pleased to announce that I'll be joining @Ominum_Gatherum Publishing as an Aquiring Editor. Please follow me for updates and my MS wish list.

Samantha Wekstein- Writer's House
#MSWL An Anne/Gilbert relationship.  Swoon.

Jaime Collins- Nash Agency
I see a LOT of thriller queries from the detective's POV.
I would LOVE to see something from the killer's POV.
Dark humour.
Please send it to me (as per sub guidelines at The Nash Agency!

ZR/Zabé Ellor- JDLit
#MSWL middle grade about a beauty pageant, preferably funny and with a protagonist who likes it (instead of “I’m not like other girls”)

Brandylane Publishers
Aug 9
#MSWL -- the world needs more active #feminists. We’re currently seeking feminist #historicalfiction and #historicalnonfiction, so head to the #submissions page on our website! #womenarepower

Karly Caserza -Fuse Lit
Aug 8
I’m really hungry for #MG stories where the protagonist uses #STEM in badass and witty ways. Gimme? Query me. #mswl

Natascha Morris- Bookends
Aug 8
I would love to see a MG about a kid who doles out the justice of the streets without using violence, and instead their words and their mind. #MSWL
I really love the Descendants so I would love to see a MG about a kid that deals with growing out of the family shadow. #MSWL
And I'd love to find a book that deals with poverty and homelessness in a sensitive and kid friendly way #MSWL
Kid entrepreneurs! Kids standing up to authority! MG is when you are finally getting a sense of identity outside of the family unit and this would be perfect! Undergorund slime business out of the bathroom? YES #MSWL
MG Magical realism and Fantasy

Robbie Guillory- Kate Nash Lit
Aug 8
A few things I’d love to see drop into the #KateNashLiteraryAgency #submission inbox (address in my bio):
1.A rural Victorian saga, but that leaves the big houses out. As harvest time gets underway I long for hard cider and the sound of threshing machines.
#MSWL #amwriting
WW1 or WW2 stories that aren’t acts of derring-do. What about the people left behind, or those in the factories?
Got a character like Tilly Shilling? Get it in my inbox.
#MSWL #amwriting
.Real urban settings, with stories that wear them like a skin. The time period is irrelevant as long as I can picture what the streets smell like after rain.
#MSWL #amwriting

Erica- Metamorph Lit
Aug 7
Also #MSWL:
- Psychological thrillers with romantic elements
- Cozy Mysteries (think
- Rom Coms
- Small town romances with strong community ties and series potential
- Holiday romances
- Picture books with a great story, no rhyming ones at the moment.

Jessica Reino- Metamorph Lit
Aug 7
For #nonfiction I love learning new things when written in an engaging way. I’m interested in pop culture, health&wellness, sports, parenting, and humor books #mswl
Stories that have a dance or sports them-send my way! #mswl
Send me stories about the immigrant experience #mswl
Send me plus-sized MC for your romances #mswl

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A Hectic Summer

Hi everyone! It has been awhile. I have to say this year has been difficult. If you remember, my father passed in December. That had me not blogging for a bit. Then, my mother became ill and I had to spend weeks in Utah at the hospital and her recovery unit. I had hoped she would get better an acclimate to Utah, so I came home to Seattle. While here I was able to attend the Seattle Writer's Workshop. I thought things were getting back to normal, but in June I learned that my mom and Utah did not agree. The altitude caused her to need extra oxygen.

Both of my siblings live in Utah, so the choice became obvious. She needed to come here. Luckily I had the Storymakers Conference to attend in Provo, Utah, so I was able to fly her home with me. Then came weeks of trying to fix up and sell her home in California. She was finally able to move in with us a few weeks ago.

The very next morning I awoke to the sound of my husband dry-vaccing the upstairs bathroom. Overnight the toilet tank had broken, flooding the house. The water took out the bathroom, two bedrooms, the landing, stairs and poured into the garage. Disaster!

I had thought to get back to blogging right after my mom moved in, but nope. We had to have the water damage people come out and rip everything up and away and now we are waiting for there to be a consensus over cost. You can imagine the mess and how we are cramming into rooms.

During this time I have not been able to write what I wanted too and several writing samples that had been requested from agents have sat on hold. Then today a bright light shined down. After a week spent doing GISH,

the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, I received a request for a full manuscript. It came from a query I had sent between situations. Joy filled my heart.

If you are a writer, you know a full MS request doesn't always mean representation, but it is an awesome step in the right direction. It also had me springing into action. I moved around furniture to get to my desktop and get things ready to send out and had a second to blog this post. I hope this request is a sign of good things to come and now that I've made a path to my computer, I'll be blogging more. But bear with me, reconstruction is still looming.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Agent Rachel Letofsky from Cooke McDermid

Welcome to Inside the Publishing World Wednesday! Today I am spotlighting another amazing agent that I met at the Seattle Writers Workshop, Rachel Letofsky.

Who is she?
Rachel is a graduate of the Humber Creative Book Publishing Program and the University of Toronto, where she specialized in English literature. She joined what was then The Cooke Agency in 2010. She frequently travels throughout North America to writers’ festivals and literary events to moderate panels, take part in quick-pitch sessions, and host workshops for authors. She is currently an agent at Cooke McDermid.

What does she want?
Rachel is actively seeking: ground-breaking and heart-breaking middle grade and YA titles in all genres. She is drawn to works with a whimsical nature or a grounded, gritty edge in equal measure, though in either instance, unforgettable characters and original concepts are a must. She also has a natural soft spot for exquisite literary fiction. In nonfiction, Rachel is looking for narrative-driven memoirs, and anything quirky, life-affirming or mind-blowing.

Specifically, Rachel told us that her agency is a boutique agency. Nine agents who each do a different genre. Her niche is MG and YA and some adult literary fiction. Also, some Non-Fiction narrative or memoir. She told us to do our research and make sure if we submit to the agency, that we submit to the right agent. You can look at all the agents of Cooke McDermid HERE.

Do's and Don'ts-
1. Do your research.
2. Have a well-written query letter. Mention why you chose to submit to that particular agent.
3. Use #MSWL on Twitter. (Manuscript WishList), but DON'T pitch on twitter unless it is for a pitching event such as #Pitmad.
4. If she asks for a synopsis, be sure to include the whole story, including spoilers.

Other Advice-

1. She likes a good voice. If the voice grabs her it has the "lift factor" that brings her into the experience.
2. Social Media is about authenticity. An agent might recognize someone's name. So be engaging and cultivate good online relationships.
3. January and September are busy months for the slush pile. Summer is less busy, but a lot of agents take vacation then too. "So, send it in when it is ready for you." They process all queries in the order they receive them, so they will get to it.
4. Be patient. Getting published can be up to a 2-year timeline after you are signed.

Want to Submit?
Cooke McDermind has an online submissions page for the entire agency. Check it out HERE.