Here’s a Free Winter Scavenger Hunt for the Family!

The days are short and gray. But not JUST gray. If you look closely, you’ll see even the most gray of winter days is filled with colors, textures and surprises!

Here’s a Winter Scavenger Hunt you and your kids can enjoy. It’s inspired by my picture book A DAY SO GRAY (Clarion Books), illustrated by Alea Marley. Please feel free to download, print and share this widely with friends, librarians and educators. I hope it creates some fun winter memories with the kids and inspires mindful walks together.

A DAY SO GRAY is about two friends finding out that a gray winter day is SO much more than gray. Here’s a holiday gift suggestion! You can get A DAY SO GRAY for the young readers in your life and pair it with copies of this scavenger hunt. Along with searching outdoors, children can also find many of these scavenger items in the book itself.

Kirkus says, “Cozy up with this book to start a conversation about finding what’s bright when things seem dull.” Shelf Awareness notes that, “Lamba’s words encourage readers to seek out the tiny scraps of beauty that brighten life’s doldrums…Marley creates an enchanting soft-focus winterscape drenched in light….Whenever a day is gray and lonely, this cozy reminder to look on the colorful side will invite smiles and lift spirits.”

For more info about A DAY SO GRAY and for purchasing options, click here.

These days, more than ever, we all appreciate positivity, natural beauty and hope. I hope that this Winter Scavenger Hunt lifts your spirits and the spirits of every child in your life. Enjoy!

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

BEST-SELLING BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS SERIES OPTIONED FOR TV

So excited to share this news! Here’s the press release:

NEW YORK, NY– TV rights to the iconic best-selling Scholastic book series THE BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones have just been optioned by Bardel Entertainment, Inc. and its Italian-based parent company Rainbow S.p.A. Brokered at auction, the deal was negotiated by Marie Lamba and Jennifer De Chiara of The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, and film agent Stephen Moore of Paul Kohner, Inc. Bardel and Rainbow will jointly produce the live-action series with Bardel’s CEO Rick Mischel, independent producer Kimberly Guidone, and authors Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones serving as Executive Producers. Screenwriter Arne Olsen, best known for Power Rangers: The Movie and All Dogs Go to Heaven 2, has come aboard to translate the book series to screen.

With more than 30 million titles sold to date, THE BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS reigns as one of Scholastic’s top-selling series of all time. The chapter books feature a group of classmates that investigates adults who may or may not be monsters.

“With their clever blend of friendship, laughs, and chills, these books are a perfect fit for TV,” said De Chiara. “It’s no wonder we received so much interest in this incredibly valuable IP.”

According to Lamba, the series, which debuted in 1991, still holds a special place in the hearts of its original readers. “Many of these super-fans have shared the books with their own kids. Now we all can’t wait to see the BAILEY SCHOOL KIDS stories spring to life on the TV screen, reaching a whole new generation of fans.”

Guidone, who pitched the books to buyers, is especially excited to have Bardel and Rainbow on board to bring this series to television. “As a leading brand of successful children’s entertainment, I know they will build an exciting global franchise. This is a dream team for what is sure to become a red-hot TV property.”

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Agent Monday: New JDLA Agent Tara Gilbert

28424320-1340289906116529-7144543962448628714-oHappy Agent Monday, everyone. I hope you are all keeping healthy and safe. And, hopefully, you writers out there are creating lots of wonderful material to brighten the world. I’m so happy to introduce you to one of our newest agents at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency: Tara Gilbert. Let’s get to know her with a Q&A right now!

Thanks so much for talking with us today, Tara! How did you get into agenting? 

TG: I was fortunate enough to find a wonderful writing group on Twitter that had several interns in the industry. When Entangled Publishing was looking for more interns, my friend Andrea Walker (now an agent at Olswanger Literary) suggested I apply! That’s when I received my first internship in publishing. The following summer, I received my first agency internship with Corvisiero Literary Agency and felling love with agenting.

Can you share some details about yourself, and how these have shaped who you are as an agent and as someone working with authors? 

TG: I worked as a Staffing Manager for over a decade before I decided to make a career change. A lot of the skills working as a headhunter are very similar to those of a Literary Agent. I have great intuition, I can negotiate with the best of them, and I’m very outgoing despite being an introvert. Before that, I held many roles in business administration like Buyer, Planning Assistant, Assistant Accountant, Payroll Specialist, and many more. I like to say I’m a jack of all trades, which gives me a strong sense of business and professionalism that agents need.

What types of projects are you representing? Anything you are especially hoping to find in your inbox? 

TG: Adult, YA, and MG in most genres. I have the best clients, and I’m so excited for their books to be out in the world. However, they all like dark and tragic stories, so I’d love to sign an author who writes romance or happy books. Someone hilarious, but can make me cry (like TJ Klune’s books do). I’d also love to see more works from authors in underrepresented communities.

Can you give us an example of one of your favorite books in each category that you represent, and why it’s your favorite? 

TG: It’s soooo hard to pick one.

Adult – VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab, I love a villain story, but what I love even more is the complicated relationship between Eli and Victor. I love how it’s a story about “superheros/villains,” but it doesn’t feel like a typical sci-fi, and it focuses more on the relationship aspects.

YA – THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater, I love how her fantasies feel real in the sense that it could happen in real life. She has a literary style to her voice as well, which I love in commercial fiction. Her worldbuilding is smooth and flawless. The friendship of the group is also one of my favorites in fiction.

MG – Anything by Rick Riordan. I think his Percy Jackson series was the first time I ever read a MG book with a gay character in it. I love how diverse his books are and how thoughtful he is with the representation. The voice is perfect for MG and always hilarious. Also, I’m a fan of any mythology.

To help folks understand your point of view, what are some of your favorite TV shows and Movies? 

TG: I tend to watch TV shows more than movies, but I will do my best!

TV – Schitts Creek, Gilmore Girls, The Dragon Prince, Killing Eve, Haunting of Hill House, Anne with an E, and so many more.

Movies – Howls Moving Castle ( I love the book too), Stardust (I haven’t read the book, I need to), Booksmart, Dead Poets Society, Little Women (most versions), Anne of Green Gables (1985), 10 Things I Hate About You, and so many more.

Note: I love sci-fi and high fantasy in film, but rarely as books, so I didn’t include a lot of my favorites. 🙂

What’s in your reading pile? 

TG: About 500 books (I love buying ebooks). Top of my list is CINDERELLA IS DEAD, FELIX EVER AFTER, THIS IS HOW YOU LOSE A TIME WARE, SILVER IN THE WOOD, MEXICAN GOTHIC, HOUSE OF THE CERULEAN SEA, and CEMETERY BOYS.

I’m currently reading THE NEWSPAPER CLUB and AND I DRAKEN.

What makes a successful query to you? 

TG: Short and sweet. I love queries that open with a strong hook/logline. If you can summarize your query into one to two paragraphs, that tells me you have a high concept pitch. Although, sometimes, that can mean a very generic query/plot, so be sure to make it precise and include unique elements.

What are some common query mistakes that will result in an immediate rejection? 

TG: I wouldn’t call them mistakes. The most common reason I pass is because I wasn’t connecting with the premise/concept of the book. I also pass because I wasn’t connecting with the writing style (not because the writing was bad, but just because it wasn’t pulling me in).

I will pass if the writing needs more work, but I will usually note that in my pass email. Sometimes the worldbuilding isn’t there, or the author is telling vs. showing the character’s actions and emotions, or the author infodumps and uses too many expository details.

Are you a very editorial agent? What does that mean to you? 

TG: I would say I am, but not so much that I become a copy editor. I focus more on plot, character/relationship arcs, and refining voice.

What is your idea of an ideal client? 

TG: I love my clients. Each one of them is collaborative and easy to work with, so I would say that’s my ideal client. They each take feedback very well, especially since I am a very blunt agent and don’t always sugar coat everything.

Where can folks go to follow you online? 

TG: Facebook: @taragilbertlitagent

Twitter: @literary_tara

Instagram: @literary.tara

Your link for submission guidelines?

https://www.jdlit.com/tara-gilbert

Anything else you’d like people to know about you or what you are looking for?

TG: I love character-driven stories. I love all kinds of voices and writing styles, but I love it when they are especially unique.

Thanks so much for sharing more about yourself here, Tara!  Wishing you lots of great submissions from lots of great writers. 🙂

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Agent Monday: New JDLA Agent Megan Barnard

IMG_6493Happy Agent Monday, everyone! Is it Monday? Time has truly been a fuzzy thing these days. I hope everyone is keeping well and cool. Well, here’s some happy news: The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency recently welcomed new Associate Agent Megan Barnard to its staff.  And Megan has popped by here to answer a few questions so we can get to know her better. So let’s get right to it!

Welcome Megan! Thanks so much for stopping by here.

Can you tell us how you got into agenting? 

Megan: I’d always been interested in working in publishing but wasn’t sure how to get into it, because I couldn’t afford to move to NYC to work as an intern. I was lucky enough to find a remote internship and I interned remotely for three years at several wonderful agencies, including P.S. Literary and Folio Literary Management. In 2020 I began working with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency as an Associate Agent. I love it, and can’t imagine being anywhere else!

What types of projects are you representing? Anything you are especially hoping to find in your inbox?

Megan: I only represent adult fiction and nonfiction. I particularly love historical fiction, upmarket, literary, and book-club fiction. I would LOVE to find the next Circe or The Snow Child, as I adore historical fantasy. Do you have something that is lush and atmospheric with a wonderful story like Kate Morton or Kate Atkinson? Send it my way! In terms of nonfiction, I’m open to narrative nonfiction, and would specifically love to find a memoir that combines nature writing with a lyrical style, like The Outrun or The Salt Path. I love that these books combine real problems (alcoholism, homelessness) with gorgeous and moving prose.

To help folks understand your point of view, what are some of your favorite TV shows and movies?

Megan:

  • The Office
  • The Crown
  • About Time
  • Pride and Prejudice-Keira Knightley version
  • Parks and Rec
  • New Girl
  • Anne of Green Gables
  • Knives Out
  • La La Land
  • Top Chef
  • Downton Abbey

What’s in your reading pile?

Megan: I generally read a mix of fiction and nonfiction. In terms of nonfiction, I’m reading H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (I know, I’m behind!), Mudlark by Lara Maiklem, and How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. For fiction, I’m reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, The Book of V. by Anna Solomon, and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

What makes a successful query to you?

Megan: The most successful queries for me are the ones that are clear and to the point. Who are your characters, what is the problem they have to overcome, and what will happen if they don’t overcome it? I also love a fabulous comp. Chances are if you comp (honestly!) to one of my favorite books, I’ll ask for a partial.

What are some common query mistakes that will result in an immediate rejection?

Megan: I understand how difficult querying is, so please don’t worry if you have a typo or spell my name wrong (though do try your best). The things that would make a query an automatic rejection are genres/categories I don’t represent, anything racist, sexist, or insulting me, or a query that doesn’t follow my guidelines (I don’t mind a mistake here or there, but don’t just send me your pages or synopsis and no actual query!).

Are you a very editorial agent? What does that mean to you?

Megan: I am! I would never try to sell a book without it being in the best shape possible, so my clients and I edit manuscripts until they really shine. Most of the time I won’t be line editing, but I will work with my clients on structural edits (character development, stakes, tension, pacing, and so forth).

What is your idea of an ideal client?

Megan: Someone who wants a long-term writing career with many great ideas and stories in them!  I also prefer you to tell me how you work best: do you want to communicate only by phone? By email? Do you want daily submission updates, monthly, or not at all? Just let me know! Communication is key in this relationship, and I want to know any issues or problems you’re having with your book, your editor, or anything! You’re my client, you’re never bothering me!

Where can folks go to follow you online?

Megan: You can follow me on Twitter @meganebarnard and Instagram @meganwbarnard.

Your link for submission guidelines?

Megan: You can find my submission guidelines at https://www.jdlit.com/megan-barnard.

Anything else you’d like people to know about you or what you are looking for?

Megan: As a young agent, I’m hungry to get my hands on a lot of different books. Above all, I’m interested in character-driven novels that are lyrical and give me a book hangover.

Also, querying is difficult and can be scary, and you are courageous each time you hit the send button! So please send me your queries. I am SO excited to read your wonderful stories.
Thanks again, Megan! We’re so happy to have you on board. 🙂

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Agent Monday: Creativity for a Stressed Writer

Note that became A DAY SO GRAY

Marie’s note that inspired her new picture book A DAY SO GRAY

Happy Agent Monday, everyone! These are tough times, and everyone reacts differently. For some writers, it’s a period of isolation that leads to deep thinking and bursts of incredible creativity. But if you are feeling stuck, rest assured, you aren’t alone. As a writer myself, I’m finding it hard to string together big ideas, even though I may be pondering plenty. Are you feeling the same?

While this can be distressing to an author who is used to having words a-flowing, do take heart. Your subconcious is surely hard at work. And take notes, because books do indeed grow from those seemingly small ideas that pop into your head.

Witness the note above that I wrote to myself after journaling early one morning. It was a simple idea, but it had some true power behind it – at least to me. So I stuck it on my desk and let it sink in. It grew and became a picture book manuscript, which then became A DAY SO GRAY, illustrated by Alea Marley, and published by Clarion Books.

a-day-so-gray-interior1

Starting pages from Marie’s picture book A DAY SO GRAY

The book features two friends, one who complains, saying, “This day is so gray,” and another who says, “No it isn’t!” and then points out all the colors in the landscape. It’s an optimistic book that reflects a side of me that is always looking for beauty and positivity everywhere. And it all came from a very simple but honest idea quickly jotted down.

So even while you may be feeling scattered and stressed, listen to the ideas that bubble up. For me, these quick thoughts are often unguarded and honest, so they truly express something important to me. Something with deep possibilities and meaning. Some jotted down notes come back to me as I think of them again and again – that’s one way I know that THIS idea demands attention. That it just might become a book. But some of the best ideas are those I’ve quickly forgotten until I looked back at some scribblings.

So journal. Keep a notebook and pen by your bedside to capture your early morning dreamy ideas. Go for a walk and immediately record with your phone an idea right as it comes to you, before it flutters away.

Gray coverIdeas do indeed flutter away unless they are caught and looked at. There’s something there. Some piece of you that is honest and true. Collect these thoughts and review them from time to time to see where the inspiration will take you.

It’s a small but important way to be creative, even when you are very stressed. Even when you find it hard to be productive as a writer.

And, it just might just become your next book.

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Earth Day Fun!

Butterfly craft fun!

Happy Earth Day everyone! Actually, every day is Earth Day! While Spring is bursting out all over, many of you are mostly keeping indoors to stay safe. I am too! So here’s a reading of my picture book GREEN GREEN: A COMMUNITY GARDENING STORY that you can see at home, along with ways that kids big and small can help our planet right now. Cozy up and just click on the link here.

And here’s a fun craft that you can do at home – make a butterfly finger puppet!

All you need is scissors, paper or card stock, a pipe cleaner or a twisty tie for the antennae, and stuff to decorate your butterfly with. You can use colored pencils, markers, crayons, stickers, glitter glue – use your imagination! For step by step directions and a butterfly template you can print out and trace, click here.

Another important Earth Day Everyday thing you can do to save the bees and butterflies – and the Earth – is to conquer all those new weeds popping up NOT with chemicals but with a simple to make at home Bee Friendly Weed Killer spray.  Got weeds? Yup, I’m sure you do! Then please check out how to get rid of weeds and keep our bees and butterflies safe by clicking here. Not only is it good for the Earth, but you’ll save money too. Win win win!

And for more ways to be GREEN GREEN, you can check out my picture book GREEN GREEN: A COMMUNITY GARDENING STORY for inspiration, which is available online through stores, by clicking here.

 

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

On Magical Father-Daughter Walks

Me (then Marie Busterna) age 5 in front of my Wyckoff, NJ home

When I was a little girl growing up in Wyckoff, NJ, my father and I would often explore through wintry landscapes, my mitten in his gloved hand. “Look,” he’d say. “Do you see?”

He’d point out colors and shapes. Suddenly, together, we’d notice that snowdrifts had purple shadows. Red weedy canes rose up from the field. And golden poofs topped long grasses that nodded in the wind. That dreary winter day transformed from a dull slushy gray, into one that was filled with colors and shapes and stunning beauty. 

This “noticing” is something I still manage to do every day. Driving by a large open field, I can’t help but pick out russet-colored branches, dusty blue puddles, and swaths of golden and red weeds. And I’m always struck by the subtle beauty that is all too easy to overlook.

These experiences inspired my picture book A DAY SO GRAY (illustrated by Alea Marley, Clarion Books). The story is about two friends out for a walk in winter. “This day is so gray,” one grumbles. “No it isn’t,” the other says, and together they discover colors and beauty all around them. I’ve dedicated this book (not surprisingly) to my dad Santo Busterna. Kirkus noted that the book has an, “almost magical way of seeing and appreciating the world”.

If there is a magic to seeing, it’s a simple one we can all conjure up. It’s one that we can pass like a treasured spell book from parent to child.

Call this magic “mindfulness” if you like. Akin to meditation, mindfulness is said to ground us in the moment, reduce stress, and get us out of our anxious brains and into feeling more alive. Therapists share mindful exercises with their patients. Schools have even enacted mindfulness units to soothe today’s over-programmed kids.

My father, Santo Busterna, and I (note his carved cane!)

My dad was born in the 1930s, long before mindfulness was a thing. He grew up in the then-undeveloped wilds of Long Island. His father, my Nano, was a gruff Sicilian who spent long days building houses, lugging heavy cement blocks by hand. And my Nana was up to her elbows in hot soapy water as she cooked and cleaned for her husband and four children. His parents surely didn’t give him mindfulness exercises to help him notice and relax.

So I asked my dad recently, how did this happen? How did you become someone who noticed so much all the time?

“Well,” he said, “I just did. Back then, we had nature all around us. You stepped out your door and right there were the woods and fields for you to play in and explore.”

Of course nature can certainly be full of beauty, and it’s soothing to boot. But I’ve met plenty of people who grew up in natural surroundings, yet who are still stuck in their own heads. And I’ve known others who have had no real access to nature who still have a mindful eye for details.

In my dad’s case, I think the noticing came easily to him because he was a born artist. Artists are the epitome of mindful because they have to look closely and always observe things in order to then create.  

He sketched from an early age, and he loves to tell me of the time he sculpted a dog out of clay. “I was about six years old, and this dog was so perfectly done and so detailed that my teacher insisted I was a liar. That one of my parents must have made it.” For college, he wanted to go to art school, but his father made sure he studied something more practical: Chemistry. Degree in hand, Dad turned to the most creative career he could find, becoming a Perfumer. In his spare time, though, he carved countless original works in wood and in stone.

As for me? I’m not exactly a born artist. And I didn’t grow up surrounded by wild landscape. Instead, my childhood was suburban, full of tidy lawns and clipped azalea bushes, with a few patches of woods between properties. For me, I notice so much simply because my dad showed me how. And because of this I have become a writer, a close observer of the world.

When an adult presses the proverbial pause button to spend time with a child, to share the joy of noticing, well, that’s powerful stuff. This is something we can all do, and it can happen anywhere, at any time. Out on a winter walk. In a muddy park looking for early signs of spring. Strolling along a city sidewalk past busy shops.  Even while cozied up on a couch with a picture book on our laps.  

Noticing is a special magic, and sharing that experience with someone you love is pure enchantment.

I’m grateful that, no matter how busy my dad might have been, he always took the time to hold my mittened hand in his gloved one so that we could actively see some of the world together.

“Look! Do you see?”

Yes, Dad. I do.

*Marie is an author of YA novels and of picture books, and she’s a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

A DAY SO GRAY – my book birthday!

Today is the book birthday for my new picture book A DAY SO GRAY!!! Woo hoo!!! As of today, this book is available for purchase everywhere in bookstores and online. It’s illustrated beautifully by the talented Alea Marley, and published by Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

In this book, warm friendship and a fresh way of seeing things transform a snow-covered landscape from bleak to beautiful!  Kirkus says, “The thought-provoking and poetic text effectively celebrates balanced, helpful relationships and a positive, almost magical way of seeing and appreciating the world….Cozy up with this book to start a conversation about finding what’s bright when things seem dull.”

Please join the “party” and help me celebrate this birthday! How? Well, there are a bunch of ways to help this author (and any author you know). Here are a few (and any one of them will be much appreciated):

  1. Obvs, buy the book, if you can. Here’s the link to sites everywhere
  2. Share this post and other posts about the book on social media
  3. Know someone with a grandchild, a baby, or who needs a gift for one on the way? Suggest they check out A DAY SO GRAY.
  4. Attend a signing/reading that I’ll be at – and come and say hi! Don’t feel you have to buy the book there. Your presence will make a huge difference! Here’s where I’ll be, when.
  5. Read and review the book on your own sites, on book sales sites, and on Goodreads.com
  6. Mark my book as “to read” on Goodreads – that means others who are friends with you there will see it too
  7. Belong to a library? Then you can go onto the library’s site and key in this book as a requested purchase for your library system
  8. Are you a teacher/librarian, or do you know one? Perhaps you or they would want to use A DAY SO GRAY for a wintry story time, or for one about colors or mindfulness
  9. Tell anyone about the book who might be interested. Word of mouth is the best way to share!
  10. Be seen in the wild reading this book. Perhaps take a selfie and share it.
  11. If you see A DAY SO GRAY on the shelf somewhere, take a pic or a selfie with it and share online
  12. If you’d like to have me on your blog, or podcast, or chat with you for an article, send me an email at marielamba@hotmail.com
  13. Thinking of booking an author for a school visit? Check out my school visit pages here.
  14. A high five of any sort, whether online or in person, means a lot. Seriously, your support in any way, shape or form, makes a huge difference to this writer. Writing can sometimes be a long and lonely path, so just knowing there are so many good people in my life who are cheering me on? Well, that means the world!

Thanks, everyone! Thanks to my family for their support, always. Thanks to my fabulous agent Jennifer De Chiara. Thanks to my gifted editor, Anne Hoppe, and the wonderful and caring team of editors, designers, publicists and marketing team members at Clarion Books. And thanks to you!

No day is gray with all of you by my side!
🙂 Marie

News! Now Seeking Non-Fiction to Rep!

Businesswoman standing on a ladder looking through binocularsHi everyone! I’m so excited to announce that, in addition to representing fiction and memoir, I’m now also representing non-fiction projects. I’m actively hunting for non-fiction works, so hit me up with your query if you think our interests align.

As you may know, I’m a Literary Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in NYC. I’ve done deals with major publishers, including Simon & Schuster, Random House, Scholastic, Harper Collins, etc., and I’ve secured film and TV deals for clients as well. So far that’s all been within the realm of children’s and adult fiction. I’m really looking forward to jumping into the world of non-fiction too!

For children’s non-fiction, I’m open to looking at most subjects. In the adult realm, I want memoirs with strong voices and unique, inspiring stories (especially foodie memoirs, or ones with a celebrity or pop culture connection). And in adult non-fiction, I’m seeking narrative non-fiction, pop culture, history (little known or unique view of well-known), science and technology for the rest of us, art, biography (especially unknown/little known sides of well-known people), parenting, cooking and food, health and wellness, lifestyle, advice and relationships, and personal finance.

MP900178861Overall, I’m especially looking for non-fiction that is inspiring and hopeful. I have a special interest in social justice, in titles that elevate and celebrate women and diverse people, and in books that aim to improve our society and help our environment.

​Do you have a non-fiction project that seems to fit? Then send it my way. Please follow my submission guidelines, though, which you can find by clicking here. Along with my guidelines, you’ll also find some more specifics about the type of books I gravitate towards.

I look forward to seeing what you have!

*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

 

Agent Monday: Senior Agent Stephen Fraser

FRASERheadshot

Happy Agent Monday to all!  Today I’m honored to be hosting at Q&A with Stephen Fraser, Senior Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. Stephen is a wonderful and kind agent with an acute eye for spotting talent! So let’s get to know a bit more about him here.

Q. Stephen, thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions! How did you get into agenting?

A. Happy to be here! I was an editor for 25 years at seven different publishers, working on everything from a children’s magazine, two children’s book clubs (both hardcover and paperback), and trade books (both paperback and hardcover imprints). When I left HarperCollins, there were no more jobs at the executive editor level available at that time – in fact, a lot of executive positions were eliminated – that was when Jennifer De Chiara asked me if I’d be interested in joining her agency. Interestingly, I had been the first editor she’d made a deal with when she had started her agency.

Q. Can you share some details about yourself, and how these have shaped who you are as an agent and as someone working with authors?

A. I was an English major in college and I did a Master’s Degree in Children’s Literature. Because I was an editor, I have a lot of experience working one-on-one with writers.

Q. What types of projects are you representing? Anything you are especially hoping to find in your inbox?

A. I represent everything from board books to picture books to chapter books to middle grade and young adult. Both fiction and nonfiction. I have done a few books for adults, like a couple of photograph collections and some Hollywood books. I have one adult novel I am shopping around. But children’s and teen are my primary focus.  In fact, the books that have won awards are all middle grade novels, like HEART OF A SAMURAI by Margi Preus which won the Newbery Honor; GLIMPSE by Carol Lynch Williams, which won a PEN grant; and ICEFALL by Matthew J. Kirby, which won the Edgar.

Q. Can you give us an example of one of your favorite books in each category that you represent, and why it’s your favorite?

A. One of my favorite picture books is THE GREEN UMBRELLA by Jackie Kramer. I love the circular structure of the narrative and the wonderful read-aloud quality. I love Janice Harrington’s touching verse novel, CATCHING A STORYFISH, which tells the middle grade story of a girl who finds her own voice. PURE GRIT by Mary Cronk Farrell is an outstanding nonfiction story which is true ‘narrative nonfiction.’ It reads like a novel. THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams is a riveting story of a teen girl who runs away from a polygamist community. Guess what – I sold this story just one day before that news story broke about the Texan polygamist community!

Q. To help folks understand your point of view, what are some of your favorite TV shows and movies?

A. I love movies – I see at least two movies each week – and I like a variety of genres. EIGHTH GRADE was an honest and touching portrait of middle grade kids. INTO THE SPIDERVERSE was a hip, contemporary story for teens. Loved-loved-loved AT ETERNITY’S GATE, the recent film about Vincent Van Gogh starring Willem Dafoe. It really conveyed a sense of how Van Gogh saw the world. For TV, I am currently enjoying Season 7 of Homeland; I love my half-hour of silly with Will & Grace; and the series The Crown is TV perfection, in my mind.

Q. What’s in your reading pile?

A. I make myself read for myself for at least ½ hour every night. I’m currently reading a biography of Claude Debussy that came out last year and the latest historical novel by Louis Bayard about Abraham Lincoln. Plus a new book about Virginia Woolf, someone about whom I can never read enough.

Q. What makes a successful query to you?

A. I like a short description of the book – format,  genre, basic story line. And I like to know if the author has been published before (I need to know what publisher).  A good query is not too long and doesn’t include TMI.

Q. What are some common query mistakes that will result in an immediate rejection?

A. If someone begins, ‘Dear Agent’ or ‘To Whom It May Concern” I immediately delete it. A writer needs to be doing their research and to have the courtesy to address an individual agent.  Typos don’t make a good first impression. I guess the biggest mistake is a query for the kind of project that I am not interested in. And send one title at a time – I have gotten five picture books all banded together, which is too much.

Q. Are you a very editorial agent? What does that mean to you?

A. Yes. Because I was previously an editor, that is always my instinct: to see the potential in a manuscript and figure out how to bring it to full flower. I am glad to toss ideas around with a client, read a partial, or give feedback on a full manuscript. Not all agents work that way. I won’t let a manuscript go out until I feel it is right. I am especially fussy with picture books.

Q. What is your idea of an ideal client?

A.  A writer who stays in touch every six weeks or so.  Agents aren’t paid until they sell a book, so clients need to be respectful and appreciative of an agent’s time. I don’t mind chatting on the phone or communicating via e-mail. I don’t generally meet with clients who may be in Manhattan on vacation or for other business – I just don’t have the time.  If there is some event at a publisher which involves my client, that, of course, is different. And you know every writer is different. Some work very independently; some need more hand-holding. And that is okay.

Q. Where can folks go to follow you online?

A. Our website of course has a page about me here. I am also on both Twitter and Facebook. Or come to one of the writers conferences I participate in every year around the country. I am always looking for fresh talent.

Q. Your link for submission guidelines?

A. Please check our website for my guidelines here. E-mail queries only, please.

Thanks for taking to the time to chat with us today, Stephen! And for you fellow writers reading this, do check out the other Q & A’s featuring agents in past and future installments of Agent Monday. Stay tuned for more Agent Monday insights soon!

 

*Marie is a Literary Agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City. To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.