Monday, June 30, 2014

Getting the Call with Jennie Davenport

When the going gets tough and you want to give up, true-life stories can be a source of inspiration. This one comes from Jennie Davenport. The struggle can be long, but the end is worth it! Congrats, Jennie! I'm so happy for you! We must have been reading Bookends blog at the same time because I learned from that wonderful source also.

As an added benefit, Jennie's story ties in nicely with my upcoming July contest: In With The New. Her agent was a new agent at the time! 

Thanks for this opportunity, Michelle! I love telling my Call story—the time I officially was offered representation by Beth Campbell of BookEnds. BookEnds was the first agency that ever caught my eye years ago, when I first decided I wanted to make a career out of writing. Back when I decided to look into the business of getting an agent, back when I had no idea how it all worked, I came across the BookEnds blog. No joke, between this and the Nelson Literary Agency blog, I learned every single thing there is to know about the publishing and agenting world. Everything. I owe my passion for it to this blog. Unfortunately, they stopped doing posts because of time constraints, but they keep the blog public for anyone to reference. Because of this immediate love for them, and in researching their agents and agency, they were my dream agency.

I queried them.

Multiple times.

On a few different projects, back when I was an even greener rookie than I am now. Of course they were all rejected, and rightfully so. It wasn't until a couple of years later, when doing my last round of queries for Hemlock Veils, that I came across Beth, who was a new agent with the agency. Funny, after dozens and dozens of rejections, and many other agencies I came to adore, I would eventually land a place with the agency who was my original number one choice. Kind of awesome.

So, how did I get my agent? The last batch of queries I sent off, about a year ago, was probably my roughest yet, because even though the batch before showed a lot of interest, this batch, for some reason, showed none whatsoever. I don't know if it was the market's sudden decline for an interest in paranormal (which is very probable), or timing, or what. Either way, I had ZERO luck, unlike six months before that, when I had numerous requests (all of which were rejected because the project wasn't ready, and I totally appreciate that now because that rejection and feedback made Hemlock Veils what it is now). So, I had put all that wishful thinking aside and moved on from the world of agents for a bit. I had decided that I would hop back into it a few months down the road, and do a whole other batch.

So in the meantime, I bettered my manuscript and even entered a few contests. The last contest I entered was a simple twitter pitch party—one I felt pretty negative about, I hate to admit. I was thinking, “These things never work! It'll get me nowhere, and I'm doing this just because I feel like I have to.” I had spent so many months/years trying to be positive through the rejection, that I had just sort of reached a point of giving up. I had started thinking that, for the first time ever in this process, it just may never happen for me. But I pitched anyway.

And though I didn't get the attention of an agent, I did get the attention of a FABULOUS editor from Swoon Romance. It shocked me. She wanted to read my manuscript. Still not trying to get hopes up, I thought, “Okay, sure, I'll send it. Whatever.” So I did.

And she loved it. My jaw dropped when I read that. And, what?! She wanted to sign me?! I was floored. And SO flattered.

But...I didn't have an agent! I kind of freaked out. I didn't know how to treat the contract. I didn't know what to do. So I did some research on the publisher, waiting it out. And what happens in the meantime?

Beth from BookEnds just so happens to email me, back from the query I had sent her months before—the one I had mentally moved on from. Turns out she got married (how dare she?) and was pretty darn busy. Turns out she was interested and wanted a partial.

So I sent it to her, but told her I got an offer from a publisher and they gave me a deadline.

So she asked for the entire manuscript. And Heaven help her, she read the entire thing in a week, even with all the other things she had going on.

My deadline was quickly approaching by this time. During, I decided to take a somewhat spontaneous trip to Oregon by myself. Yeah. For me, an introverted writer mom, this was a dream come true! I had never been there, but always wanted to, which is why I placed Hemlock Veils in that setting. And as though fate had its hand in my journey, as soon as I got off the plane at the Portland airport (after a horrendous SLC airport experience, I might add), I turned on my phone and found an email and voicemail from Beth.

I listened.

And I FLIPPED inside when she said she wanted to offer me representation. Guys, this call was the thing I had been dreaming about for the past three years—the thing I had been working SO desperately hard to achieve, and the thing I was beginning to think may not come to pass. So, right there in terminal D, I had "the call." I had to sit at one of the little tables for quite a while to gather myself after. I didn’t even care that the hundreds of people walking by saw a dopey smile on my face. And of course, I was totally awkward and weird on the phone with Beth, even though she was awesome. Bottom line: I was SO thrilled, and it just set the tone for the rest of my amazing trip!

The idea that I have an agent, as well as an awesome publisher who is releasing my book in October, is still, to this day, surreal as ever to me. Not even seeing the cover for the first time this week felt real. Please, do NOT give up on your dream. I worked so hard at it, and in retrospect, I can easily say it happened at the right time. Hard work does pay off!


Jennie is an author of modern fairy tales and the paranormal, represented by Beth Campbell of BookEnds, LLC. Jennie’s first published novel, HEMLOCK VEILS, will be released by Swoon Romance this fall. Lover of words, to-do lists, nature, music, movies, theater, books (duh), and anything that moves her to real emotion. Sometimes (most times) Jennie can survive only because of caffeine. She hates anything crafty, only because she’s terrible at crafts. Her ideal getaway? Solitude, so she can write uninterrupted.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Query Kombat 2014 Round 5

They're here. They fought and revised their way from 230 entries down to four! The judges have voted them the best of the best!

Who will emerge victorious and head to the finals?

The judges will be pulling out their hair on these match-ups! 

Congratulations to everyone who entered for showing their bravery. Best of luck to all Kombatants near and far!

QK Round 5: Tag, You're Dead versus Girl Destroys World

Entry Nickname: Tag, You're Dead
Title: Tag, You’re Dead (originally The Game)
Word count: 80K
Genre: YA Thriller


When six teenagers play Tag in present-day Chicago, there’s a twist from the childhood version…if you get Tagged, you get Dead.

The three "Its" have their reasons for buying a place in the Game: surgically-enhanced Brandy is dying to destroy a naturally beautiful girl; untalented Robin desires his target's position on the school basketball team; and brainiac Charles craves a battle against an intellectual equal. 

Three hand-picked innocents play as “Runners,” under threat to their loved ones should they refuse to participate: lovely, small-town Laura; superstar athlete William; and Amanda, gamer extraordinaire. These three want only one thing…to survive.

As soon as the Runners receive the “Go” on smart watches locked onto their wrists, the Game rockets them through the city, from the El to Michigan Avenue to the Lincoln Park Zoo. There is no time to rest; every thirty minutes the Runners’ coordinates are transmitted to the Its, which diminishes the Runners’ chances of ever reaching Home Base alive.

The Game will not end until someone is Tagged, so the Runners must choose how to play: will they accept death, murder their Its, or find a way to use their individual strengths to stop the Game before anyone dies?

TAG, YOU’RE DEAD alternates among the POVs of all six players in the Game – who will live to see it end?

First 250 words:


Friday, 8:00 PM

“I can’t choose,” Brandy Inkrott said. “I want to kill them all." 

“Tag,” her mother said from her brocaded antique chair. “You want to Tag them all.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Either way,” her father said, “I’m afraid you have to pick one.”

Brandy studied the images of the teenage girls on the screen. Brunettes. Blondes. Asians. Hispanics. Light-skinned. Dark-skinned. Every one of them gorgeous. Every one of them middle-class. No-names. None of them like her. “They’re all so perfect. Can I pick more than one?" 

A woman’s voice pierced the air, emanating from Surround Sound speakers. “The price for two would be extravagant, Ms. Inkrott. Plus, Tagging more than one Runner would be difficult. Almost impossible.”

“I don’t care. I can do it.”

Her father shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”

“I suggest this,” the woman said. “Play this time with one. If you are successful you may play again, and then you can go after two. I know it’s tempting when you see all those beautiful faces, but you’d be setting yourself up for disappointment.”

“What do you know?” Brandy said. “You’re probably some fat old lady in a trailer park somewhere. I could Tag you.”

Silence sizzled over the speaker.

“I’m sorry, Madame Referee,” Brandy’s father said. “She didn’t mean it.”

“Did so,” Brandy said.

“Bran, honey, please." 

The girls’ faces on the television disappeared, replaced by only one, which took up the entire surface of the eighty-inch screen. The woman shown there was incredible.


Entry Nickname: Girl Destroys World
Title: MAGICK 7.0
Word count: 85,000
Genre: MG Fantasy


In fourteen-year-old Anne’s opinion, there are two kinds of quests: the kind that lead to unicorns and lollipops, and the kind that get you and everyone you love killed, horribly and painfully (possibly by zombie sharks). She knows this because her budding magick abilities have accidentally entangled her in a quest, and so far she hasn’t encountered any lollipops.

She could opt out, but then as per Paragraph 5 Subparagraph 3 of the Official Questing Regulations she’d be exiled forever and all of her friends would be tossed into a dungeon. She’d rather kiss a Steam Troll than let that happen.

Her task? Slay a silver dragon that doesn’t exist. In just three days. With only the guidance of a wizard with a platypus for an arm and a sassy holographic sparrow. It’s all pretty straightforward (“straightforward” being a relative term) until she meets Lord Oswald, a weirdo in a cryogenic chamber who wears a lab coat and comfortable loafers. As the duly licensed Antagonist, he should be trying to stop her. Instead, he swaps roles and steals her quest.

That’s when Anne learns she wasn’t on a mission to save the world, but to destroy it (so not exactly environmentally-friendly). And Lord Oswald seems more than happy to see it through to completion. With the atomic clock counting down, Anne must figure out why she’s suddenly the villain of her own quest and pray to all things platypus-related that her unstable magick can defeat Oswald’s ten-thousand-year-old “technology.”

If she stops him, she might yet become a HeroTM.

If she doesn’t, everyone dies (in which case, definitely no lollipops).

First 250 words:

At Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children they didn’t play favorites. Each orphan was treated with the same amount of disdain and neglect. They were provided with one threadbare tunic, one pair of ill-fitting shoes, and one dusty and moth-eaten overcoat. They were given a daily ration of gruel, and they were bathed exactly once per month, just before going on duty in the coal mine. This, incidentally, was consistent with the advice given in the popular self-help guide, How to Raise Orphans and Make Money.

There were three ways to leave Saint Lupin’s. The first was to get adopted. Perhaps by a nice family who would whisk you away to your long dreamed-of castle on a hill—one surrounded by forests and glens, filled with interesting and friendly people, rich with history and bright with promise and hope. The board of governors was extremely pleased with its track record in this regard as it had managed to prevent all adoptions since the Institute’s foundation.

The second way was to reach the age of fourteen and be unceremoniously kicked out on your bottom.

The third way was to embark upon a quest. Although quests were heavily regulated (so they could then be heavily taxed), there were no restrictions regarding age or background and thus anyone could apply. The secret to a successful application was first to fulfill a prophecy (also heavily taxed). At Saint Lupin’s, both of these topics, that is, quests and prophecies, were considered particularly taboo subjects of inquiry.

QK Round 5: Shalom Sasquatch versus Cozy for Geeks

Entry Nickname: Shalom Sasquatch
Title: Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things
Word count: 77K
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance

Seventeen-year-old Samantha Berger is pretty sure most nice Jewish girls don’t have parents who force them to hunt Bigfoot, especially on national T.V.  Just when Sam thinks she couldn’t be more humiliated, she meets the competition: a team of snobby anthropology students from Yale who are set on wiping the floor with her “Squatch” loving family.

The captain of the other team, Devan Mehta, is impossibly cute in a Bollywood Romeo-meets-Sherlock Holmes sort of way — until he opens his perfect British mouth and calls her family a bunch of low-class wankers. Sam’s no longer just embarrassed. She’s livid, and determined to beat the ascot off Devan and his crew. After all, the prize money will allow her to study pre-med at the college of her dreams, far from Yetis and Yalies.

Teamed up by the producers for a special challenge, Sam and Devan bond over family pressures, geek out over fantasy fiction, and learn to rely on each other. In a moment of honesty, Devan admits he may be kicked out of his anthropology program if his team fails and Sam worries about paying for college if she doesn’t win. Before they know it, understanding leads to attraction and a steamy snogging session
. Now, as the competition heats up, Sam must choose between her ridiculous family and Devan. Suddenly, finding Bigfoot is the smallest of Sam’s hairy problems.

First 250 words:
On a good day, my parents were just mildly embarrassing. The day the camera crew came to our house was not a good day.

I squinted at the bright lights illuminating our dingy living room, and turned to my older sister, Sophie. “Hunting Bigfoot in private isn’t bad enough?” I whispered. “Now Mom and Dad have to humiliate us on national television?”
Sophie shrugged. “You’ve been complaining for weeks. It’s time to suck it up.”

Colin, the producer of a new TV show called “Myth Gnomers,” stood behind our scratched-up coffee table shooting pre-interviews with my parents, me, and my two sisters. The awful title of this lame reality show should’ve served as an obvious warning we were about to do something ridiculous, but nope, it sure didn’t.

Instead of running like hell, all five of us were squished together on our stained, saggy brown couch, smiles frozen in place. At least our butts hid the holes in the upholstery.

“Checking. Checking one, two. Your mics should all be on now.” Colin peered over the camera at my parents’ matching neon green shirts that read, “Ohio is Bigfoot Country.”

My mom’s smile tightened. She glared and gestured at me until I put on a Northern Ohio Bigfoot Society hat like my sisters. Each Sasquatch club designed their own logo. My tacky trucker cap had a cartoon footprint and a motto on it in Latin— which probably translated to “We have nothing better to do.”

I pulled the brim over my eyes and slumped down, wishing I could join the pennies and crumbs hiding in the crevices of the sofa.


Entry Nickname: A Cozy for Geeks
Title: The Genuine Fake
Word Count: 75,030
Genre: Mystery Cozy


You'd have to be drunk or crazy to hire Dahlia Moss as a detective, and her client was conveniently both. Drunk was verifiable-- there was a wine glass in his hand. Crazy was self-evident: Dahlia had no experience, no money, and the only thing she'd been reliably good at finding were pink slips. 

The details of the job only make it seem stranger. The client wants her to recover the Bejeweled Spear of Infinite Piercing, a powerful and breathtakingly gaudy weapon from the online game "Kingdoms of Zoth". The pay is insane, a thousand bucks just for looking, and double for finding it. Dahlia thinks the job is certifiable, but pragmatically signs on; two thousand bucks buys a lot of Ramen. 

Her investigation takes her through the student slums of St. Louis and into the on-line jungles of Zoth, interviewing aggrieved gamers, drunken fire-mages, misogynist golems, and an extremely petulant tree. But just when she gets a handle on the case, her client turns up dead-- skewered by a 3-D printed replica of the very spear she was looking for. 

Suddenly, the police are involved, and Dahlia is in the middle of a murder investigation. Gamers are showing at her doorstep, detectives are trailing her, and more 3-D printed spears are mysteriously showing up in the mail. It's exactly the wrong time to learn that her client's decision to hire her wasn't so random after all. 

First 250: 

The only time I ever met Jonah Long he was wearing a fake beard, a blue pinstripe captain's outfit and a toy pipe that blew soap bubbles. He did not seem like someone who was about to change my life. 

"I have a proposition for you," he had told me. Admittedly, that does sound like the kind of thing a life changing person might say. It's right up there with "it's dangerous to go alone-- take this!" and "you are the chosen one." But a plastic bubble pipe really takes the edge off this sort of thing. 

It was a nautical themed party, which partly explained his ridiculous outfit. I'd thought he was hitting on me. “I’m in a non-dating phase," I'd told him. Not entirely true, but I repeat: bubble pipe. 

"A financial proposition, Dahlia." 

I had no idea who he was. I was irked that he knew my name but it was clear from the way Charice was hovering over him that my roommate was involved. She was wearing an over-sized mermaid's outfit that made her look faintly seal-like-- especially with her mugging at me as Jonah spoke. Eh? Eh? I felt like I should throw a fish at her. 

But really: what could I do? I had seventeen dollars and twenty three cents in my bank account at the time of this exchange, with less in savings. I could only use ATMs that dispensed tens. Despite my correct sense that Jonah was 1) ridiculous and 2) trouble, at the phrase "financial proposition" he had my undivided attention.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Query Kombat 2014 Round 4 Tally

Round 4 of Query Kombat is over, and what a tough round it was. Kombatants stepped into the ring with their A-game, but sadly, four were eliminated. We are down to the final four kombatants. From nearly 230 to 4, these entrants have come a LONG way.

Below is the list of those who will go on to the next round. 

A Cozy for Geeks
Girl Destroys World
Tag, You're Dead
Shalom Sasquatch

Red: Team Michelle
Blue Team SC
Orange: Team Mike 

CONGRATS to all who made it. To those who didn't, you fought valiantly. You should be proud of yourselves. Agent requests are posted on your Agent round entry. (Remember to send 100 pages and put Query Kombat in your subject line.)

Round 5 will be hosted on Michelle's blog. It starts on June 28th and will run through June 29th. That's only two days people! FEEL FREE TO CHEERLEAD YOUR HEARTS OUT IN THIS ROUND AS LONG AS YOU DO SO RESPECTFULLY!

Best of luck combatants.

Round 5 match ups are listed below


Tag, You're Dead VS Girl Destroys World

Shalom Sasquatch VS A Cozy for Geeks

Getting the Call with Jessica Kapp

You might remember all the way back to the beginning of Query Kombat. One of my final picks was snatched away by tremendous news! Now I have Jessica here to share her own story! She had the sort of unique plot that stood out from the crowd and the agents agreed!

I love reading about how writers find their agents, and I still can’t believe I’ve been asked to share my Getting The Call story!
After receiving several rejections for my first novel, all with the same “I’m not interested in dystopian” message, I succumbed to the fact that my manuscript needed to be shelved (at least temporarily).

I did what every writer suffering from a broken heart needs to do: I threw myself into a new project, this time a YA SciFi/Thriller. But I was so in love with my first novel, I treated my new manuscript like a rebound boyfriend, pretending to love it, even though my thoughts were always about Manuscript #1.

While working on Manuscript #2, I sent one of my CPs the newly drafted opening pages, and when she requested chapters faster than I could finish them, I looked a little deeper at what I’d written.

I liked it. In fact, I realized I could love this novel just as much, if not more than Manuscript #1.

Encouraged, I sent pages out to two more CPs, and with their help I ironed out rough chapters and developed the characters and world into a story I wanted to query. Wanted to…

I didn’t know if I was ready for the same heartbreak I’d encountered my first go around, so I entered Pitch Madness to see if people outside my circle of CPs and betas would be as excited about my manuscript. I needed validation.

I’ll admit, when I didn’t get into Pitch Madness, I thought about breaking up with my novel for good. Then I received a note of encouragement from one of the slush readers, Rae Chang, who mentioned I came really close to getting in. She insisted I send queries into the Agent World, so I drafted a few and, with a shaky hand, hit send.

The responses came back slow at first, then two full requests came within hours of each other. A week later, an agent requested my manuscript TWELVE MINUTES after I queried her (cue the freakout session).

Despite the good news, rejections trickled in as well. I decided to enter Query Kombat while I waited for more responses. As much as having my query on display scared me, knowing it’d be picked apart by judges, I was determined to get in and combed over my query and first 250 words in preparation for the big day.

Shortly before the submission window opened, one of my CPs convinced me to participate in #RTSlap, a Twitter pitch event I hadn’t planned on entering. I was full of coffee and optimism, so I sent one pitch out into the Twitterverse and called it good. Later that night, I checked my account and saw an agent had favorited my tweet. Eureka! 

That favorite meant I needed to send my query and first 10 pages off, and I was elated when that partial quickly turned into a full. With several partials and fulls out, I turned my attention back to Query Kombat and entered early to secure a spot. As organizers began to rake through the entries, I watched the Twitter feed nervously for any clues about my submission.

On Memorial Day, just days before the top 64 Query Kombat entries were to be announced, I received an email from the agent who’d requested my full following the Twitter pitch event. It was late, and I opened the email expecting to read “I’m sorry, but I’m not the right fit for this project.” But that wasn’t what it said. Instead, she’d written she was glad it was a holiday because she couldn’t put my manuscript down. She loved my story. Better than that, she wanted to set up The Call to talk about representation!

I rocketed out of my chair and am certain my neighbors heard me shriek with joy. Then I called my CPs, betas, friends, family, grocery clerk, first grade teacher, yoga instructor… Okay, so maybe I didn’t call EVERYONE, but I wanted to. An agent loved my manuscript! When I calmed down, I emailed her back to set up a time to talk the next day. As the hours ticked down, I worried we wouldn’t connect. What if she had changes I didn’t agree with? What if there was no spark?

The next evening, my stomach did flips while I waited for her call. I’m super punctual, so when she called promptly at six, I relaxed a smidge. She gushed about my manuscript while I grinned like a fool on the other end of the line, and she answered all my questions without any hiccups. She understood my characters and had great ideas to improve my manuscript. We talked for more than an hour, but I wanted to give the other agents reading my material a chance to respond.

The next day I sent nudges to every agent who’d requested my work, as well as those I’d queried but hadn’t heard from yet. I even emailed the Query Kombat creators to pull my submission just in case I’d made it in. Michelle relayed the bittersweet news to let me know I had been selected to be on her team. I cheered from the sidelines while waiting for agents to respond to my nudging. Some bowed out, others upgraded to the full. In 24 hours, five more agents requested the manuscript. Meanwhile, I scoured the Internet for information about the agent who offered representation and contacted several of the company’s clients. The more I learned, the more impressed I was. I didn’t hear back from the last full request until the morning I was scheduled to give my response to the offer. But by that time, I’d already made up my mind. I wanted to work with Whitley Abell at Inklings Literary. She’s just starting to build her client list and is extremely enthusiastic. She’s confident she can put my manuscript in front of the right people. Best of all, she’s interested in my career, not just Manuscript #2. Heck, maybe that dystopian I tucked away will even get a chance to shine again someday. I wanted an agent that would not only encourage me but push me to become a better writer. And that’s exactly what I got!


Bio: Jessica Kapp went to her first Writers’ Group meeting with her grandmother when she was eleven but didn’t take her love of writing seriously until she graduated from college. With a degree in Broadcast Communication, Jessica started her storytelling career as a television news reporter. After a few years she transitioned to print journalism and eventually scrapped press releases for her true passion: fiction. Jessica enjoys reading and writing Speculative Fiction, especially YA. When she’s not creating worlds or hanging out at the library, she can be found on the soccer field pretending she’s 16 again. Follow her on twitter @JessKapp.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Query Questions with Uwe Stender

Writers have copious amounts of imagination. It's what makes their stories so fantastic. But there's a darker side to so much out of the box thinking. When a writer is in the query trenches, their worries go into overdrive. They start pulling out their hair and imagine every possible disaster.


Here to relieve some of that endless worrying is a new series of posts called Query Questions. I'll ask the questions which prey on every writer's mind, and hopefully take some of the pain out of querying. These are questions that I've seen tossed around on twitter and writing sites like Agent Query Connect. They are the type of questions that you need answers for the real expert--agents!

If you have your own specific query question, please leave it in the comments and it might show up in future editions of Query Questions as I plan to rotate the questions.

I know a few people represented by this agent and they all have book deals. Welcome to Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.

Is there a better or worse time of year to query?

Not really, but I will likely not check emails Thanksgiving and the days right after and between December 23-January 2.

Does one typo or misplaced comma shoot down the entire query?

No, one won’t, but if you send a query that starts with “hello I'm writeing a couple books right now i had a view questions” it will.

Do you look at sample pages without fail or only if the query is strong?

Only if the query is strong.

Do you have an assistant or intern go through your queries first or do you check all of them?

No, I am a bit of a control freak, so I am compelled to read them all and I do!

If the manuscript has a prologue, do you want it included with the sample pages?

Of course!
Do you prefer a little personalized chit-chat in a query letter, or would you rather hear about the manuscript?

It all depends, but mostly I just want to hear about the manuscript.  But if you know a client of mine, or have met me before or whatever, then sure, personalize it. But that won’t make me offer representation if I don’t like the writing.

Most agents have said they don’t care whether the word count/genre sentence comes first or last. But is it a red flag if one component is not included?

I’d prefer to know the genre and word count, because if the writer does not know the genre, that is a red flag.  And if I request a manuscript after a brilliant query and when I get it and then notice it is 199,000 words long, I will reject it and on top of it feel upset that I wasted my time to even request it in the first place.

Writers hear a lot about limiting the number of named characters in a query. Do you feel keeping named characters to a certain number makes for a clearer query?

It probably does, but if you have four important characters in it, you should mention them.  It all depends how organically the query flows.

Should writers sweat the title of their book (and character names) or is that something that is often changed by publishers?

Don’t sweat it, as the title will often be changed.  “The Tragedy Paper” used to be “Blind Love”, “The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy” used to be “The Contracantos.”  Nonetheless, you want a good title that reflects the plot or the protagonist.

How many queries do you receive in a week? How many requests might you make out of those?

It all varies…about 700 a week and some weeks I ask for none and other weeks, I ask to see 12-15.

Many agents say they don't care if writers are active online. Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?

In non-fiction it most likely will, though that is not 100% certain (just 99%, haha.) In fiction I don‘t care, but yes, I will ask them to get on social media as it will be part of the overall promotion once the book is sold.

Some writers have asked about including links to their blogs or manuscript-related artwork. I’m sure it’s not appropriate to add those links in a query, but are links in an email signature offensive?

Offensive, no, just pointless FOR ME as I won’t click on them anyway.

 What bio should an author with no publishing credits include?

Whatever they think is appropriate and helpful, if there is nothing, then nothing is better than something that is not relevant.

What does ‘just not right mean for me’ mean to you?

That it is not right for me, haha. (Sorry about that).  Sometimes it means that I for whatever reason did not connect with it, despite it being a strong project. But, this is a very subjective business, so I would not obsess over what it may mean.  There are plenty of good agents around; what may not be “just right for me” may be perfect for someone else and vice versa.

What themes are you sick of seeing?

Themes that seem too derivative and I am not big into “stepping into portals,” BUT if a writer came up with a brilliant concept, I would be interested in it even if portals were involved.

Do you consider yourself a hands-on, editorial type of agent?

Yes, I am. I believe anything can be improved.  But then there comes a time when I cannot help improve it further and then it is time for the real experts, the publishing house editors, to work their magic once it is sold.

What’s the strangest/funniest thing you’ve seen in a query?

There are so many, I will write a book about those one day when I am retired.

What three things are at the top of your submission wish list?

I always love to see contemporary YAs that break my heart. I would love to see a sci-fi YA thriller based on a classic mystery theme and a humorous MG or YA that makes me laugh to tears because it is so funny.

What are some of your favorite movies or books to give us an idea of your tastes? 

Oh, that is a brutal question, as I have so many and those always change…but, right this minute, movies: Cinema Paradiso, Silver Linings Playbook, Toy Story 3.  Books: The Big Sleep, Eleanor and Park, Wonder Boys.


Our Founder, Dr. Uwe Stender, is a Full Member of the AAR (Association of Authors' Representatives).

Our best known clients are actress Melody Thomas Scott, CNN HLN and TruTV's In Session News Anchor Christi Paul, Eric Deggans,former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan, 4 time Grammy Award winning composer Lalo Schifrin ("Mission Impossible"), Elizabeth LaBan, Stacy Tornio, and legendary NBA referee Bob Delaney.

Uwe was a guest speaker at several major conferences including the SCWC in San Diego, the Crimebake (Mystery Writers of America New England Chapter), CAPA-U in Hartford, Connecticut, the Writers' League of Texas in Austin, Penn Writers, and he spoke on a panel at the Book Expo America in New York City.
We are always open to any strong fiction (our current focus in fiction is YA, middle grade, Women's Fiction, Literary Fiction and Mysteries) and all non-fiction projects.

Query Kombat Round 4 Has Begun. Judges... good luck. You're going to need it. We've got some tough match ups, and they're only going to get tougher.

You'll find it over at Mike's blog

 A little refresher:

Tag, You're Dead VS BingBamBoomBFF

Shalom Sasquatch VS Beauty and the Crazy Kidnapper

A Cozy For Geeks VS Lavender Marriage

Making Boys Cry VS Girl Destroys World

Best of luck kombatants. However the cards fall, you all have done an excellent job