Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Heart and Soul

Those of you who read this blog are probably the choir to whom we (blogging agents) preach. You probably carefully track what agents have which rules and submit your queries accordingly. You probably use blogs as a way to find out what agents are looking for which hot genre and what agents have which hobbies and passions and could make a home for your book baby. And, in your writerly quest to follow the rules set forth so clearly/contradictorally and to attend conferences, workshops, etc. with agents and editors, I bet you've heard the phrase: "I know it when I see it." Yes? It's probably close to the most frustrating phrase an unpublished writer could hear. After all, what exactly is the it that the agent/editor will recognize when s/he sees it? I'm not exactly positive (I'll know it when I see it, ok?), but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with heart & soul.

It sounds simultaneously a little trite and a little vast, I'll admit. It's only one step up from Chopsticks on the piano and often indefinable in our emotional lives. But when an author manages to bring heart and soul into a book in a genuine way--one that mirrors the little nuanced ways that we change and are changed by others' hearts and souls--the author transforms something ethereal into a tangible force. Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me is just such a book (and obviously the Newberry committee thinks so too). Miranda's interior life and her understanding of her relationships with her family and friends expand throughout the book, all working in tandem to shape the nature and course of time. The book is touching and true, and it resonates long after it's finished. Sounds like heart & soul to me.

There are more "I know it when I see it" answers than that, of course, and heart and soul wouldn't be an appropriate answer for every "I know it when I see it" question. But it's definitely one of the answers for me, and something I'm constantly looking for when reading queries & submissions.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Happy News of Reviews

On the topic of brief-good-news-items-for-a-Monday, Bettye Griffin's title A New Kind of Bliss earned a spot in's Best Reviewed Books of 2009 list for garnering a Top Shelf rating--5 stars. Additionally, Save the Best for Last (which Elaine blogged about here) earned an Honorable Mention from for its 4-1/2 star rating. Congratulations, Bettye!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Release

In the throes of a new year, we were delayed in announcing a new release for January. Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume III is out this month from Harlequin, featuring You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs... by Tawny Weber. You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs... is a sexy retelling of a classic fairy tale for a new kind of bedtime. Read more about the title here, and check out the book!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New Year Announcements

I always love the start of a new year. It always seems so full of hope and promise. This year, of course, has a special bonus -- it's the start of a new decade as well.

The end of the year always brings time for review and assessment, for clean-up and catch-up. Looking back gives you the opportunity to see that "big" picture view which quite often gets lost during the year in the day-t0-day responsibilities. Assessment usually leads to the "what if" questions or the "how to do better" resolutions. And all the stored up energy from the relaxed holidays starts pushing for release, and redirecting actions for the new year.

So, this year the agency is off to a new and solid start. First, we have our new look for the blog and for our updated website. One of our multi-talented interns, Lindsey, has done all of this, and I think she has done a marvelous job! Cheers for Lindsey!!!!

Let us know what you think of the changes. Certainly give us feedback if anything is unclear or incomplete. We've tried to give more information in a better and easier to read format, so let us know if we've succeeded.

The second big announcement is that I'm taking a break in receiving queries for a 90 day period. Starting February 1st, I will not accept any new queries (via email or snail mail). If you send me something, you'll just get an auto response asking you to resubmit after May 1st. So, if you have something ready and you're really eager, make sure you get it in before February 1st.

I'm doing this because I need to catch up on reading that's already here in the office. For those who have already submitted partials or full manuscripts in response to my earlier requests, this is good news for you. It means that your wait is almost over. My backlog, unfortunately, has grown to embarrassing proportions. I also want to spend a bit more time with existing projects and working with my current authors during the next few months. It's also only a temporary hiatus. I'll try to blog about the progress I'm making and certainly will give notice when the doors are once again open for me to receive queries.

But Most Importantly, take note: Elaine's taking a break does NOT in any way affect Naomi's acceptance of YA queries. She continues to look for new YA projects and will continue to accept new queries for such projects throughout this period. The agency is definitely hoping to concentrate more in the YA area for 2010.

So, Happy New Year to all. We're already hard at work on our resolutions and hope you are, too!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Award Nominations

I love titling a post like that; it can only mean good news. Celeste Norfleet has been nominated for two awards. First, she was nominated for an RT Book Review career achievement award in contemporary fiction, as announced in February's RT. Second, she was announced as an Emma Award finalist in the category of Best Steamy Romance, for her summer '09 release of Sultry Storm. (We showed you the cover here, so as you can imagine the nomination is an apt one.) The RT Awards will be announced in the June issue of RT, and the Emma Awards will be announced at the Romance Slam Jam in April. Congratulations, Celeste!