Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Contagion

I’ve been reading a lot more science fiction lately and I find myself gravitating toward YA sci-fi due to the fast pacing. One of my latest reads was Contagion by Erin Bowman. This book was fantastic and I loved the tension and mystery of it. I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a creepy science fiction read and I would especially recommend it if you’re a Riddick Pitch Black fan. Overall this book has great tension and exceptional writing.

When a SOS message is sent from a mining site on a distant planet, a search-and-rescue crew is sent. However when they arrive there appears to be no survivors and not enough dead bodies to account for the missing. A note left behind by one of the dead proclaims “It Got In Us.” With no idea of what the note means they search for answers, but once they find the dead, they quickly wish they hadn’t. Continue reading “Book Review: Contagion”

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Reading · Reviews

Book Review: Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is a few years old (from 2013) and it was one of my first reads of the year. This contemporary book is a great reminder of why it’s so unfortunate that the New Adult category is all but forgotten by publishers. I wish I would have found this book when I was still in college because this is exactly the sort of book I wanted during those years. I always felt like those years are missing from fiction or purely romance, which is bad news for new adults searching for similar experiences in books. This book was great and I highly recommend it.

This book follows Cath during her first year of college and the struggles that come with the transition. Her twin sister Wren doesn’t want to be roommates, forcing Cath out of her comfort zone. And unlike Wren she isn’t as good at meeting new people or making friends, causing her to feel isolated at her new school as she drifts from her sister. She prefers to delve into the world of Simon Snow fanfiction and her popular fanfiction C. College brings new experiences and all Cath can do is rise to the challenges or fail. Continue reading “Book Review: Fangirl”

Reading · Reviews

Book Review: The Royal Art of Poison

Who doesn’t enjoy stories about people dying due to unsavory plots to grab power or wealth? Stories of people being poisoned and dying young are all through history and this book explores the most famous cases as well as the poisons of the day. The full title of the book is The Royal Art of Poison: Filthy Palaces, Fatal Cosmetics, Deadly Medicine, and Murder Most FoulĀ  and that title really is the best descriptor of this book. Let me tell you this book was absolutely fascinating! This is definitely one of my favorite recent nonfiction reads and I highly recommend it. Eleanor Herman has all kinds of interesting books on history.

ThisĀ  book is great not just for those interested in poisons of the past, but any authors looking for information for their writing. This covers everything from how dirty the palaces were (men used to just piss everywhere apparently) to how they used mercury for medicine and in makeup along with arsenic. The makeup of the day was more likely to kill you than keep you beautiful. And if you wanted to die your hair red to be like Queen Elizabeth you might lose it all instead. Sometimes mercury could cure you, but only if it didn’t kill you first. Continue reading “Book Review: The Royal Art of Poison”

agenting · Publishing Life

Work-life Balance in Publishing

I think it’s pretty safe for me to say many if not all of us working in publishing struggle to have a healthy work-life balance. Our jobs can be time demanding so much so that it can feel like there’s never enough time to get everything done. As an editor I had to balance how many projects I accepted at one time. As an agent I keep a close eye on my client list and how many upcoming projects I have when I consider making an offer. My big goal for 2019 is to try to obtain a healthier work-life balance. Thankfully since I live in Pittsburgh instead of NYC, my cost of living is lower which means I can keep my client list smaller. So here’s some cold hard truth about my work-life balance as an agent.

Clients always come first, but because handling work for them takes up my regular work hours, reading to find new clients often gets pushed into personal time. Once you get behind on queries its difficult to catch back up without closing to new queries. I set aside a half hour a few times a week to go through queries. This keeps me on track, but as the number of queries in my inbox rises so does the time needed to get through them and read all the “maybes” I have marked. And really that’s why you really need to grab me with your query and first chapter because there are probably five or more other manuscripts being considered for a full request and I don’t have time to request and read them all. Continue reading “Work-life Balance in Publishing”

Reading

Book Review: This Is Our Story

This Is Our Story is a YA contemporary about a hunting trip gone wrong. Basically when it comes to YA contemporary this is the sort of story I’m searching for in my slush. I enjoyed the mix of mystery and romance. I grew up in a small town and found the small town setting of this to be pretty on the nose. Like any book there were a few spots that could be improved, but overall I really enjoyed the mystery ride this book took me on.

This Is Our Story is about five boys who go on a hunting trip only for one of them to end up dead from a gunshot. No one is willing to confess and the boys band together to protect each other. Kate ends up interning with the district attorney and gets caught up in the investigation and finds herself getting a little too close to one of the boys. With the case heading to trial it’s up to her to help prove who is guilty and who is innocent. Continue reading “Book Review: This Is Our Story”

agenting · querying · Writing

2018 Query Round Up

Sometimes authors have no idea how many queries agents or how we choose projects. I wanted to do a compilation of some 2018 stats and what I saw that I liked and didn’t like in queries along with a few things to keep an eye out for when you query literary agents in 2019 to improve your chances. These stats focus on fiction since fiction dominated my slush. Going into 2019 I plan to hunt down some great nonfiction projects.

First of all, I got hundreds of queries this year even with only opening to queries in September. November was my busiest query month with 252 queries. Things slowed down in December to about 190 queries. This was likely due to many other agents closing for the month and people taking a break for the holidays. This is what makes it hard to stand out in the slush, the sheer number of subs agents receive. Make sure your query is on point before sending it out. I saw a lot of queries that left out stakes or got too convoluted or even focused on themes instead of plot or left out the plot altogether. Avoid these mistakes because they make a project easy to pass on. Continue reading “2018 Query Round Up”

agenting

Keep Your Submission List

By submission list, I mean the submissions your agent sent to editors. A big trend in my query box lately is previously published and previously represented authors. Many books were already out on one or two submission rounds. I personally like to ask about all this and know as much as possible if I’m interested in a full. I’m seeing so much of this lately that I wanted to post a little reminder here about keeping submission info.

I’ve started a habit of asking if the last agent sent the MS to any editors when I request a full from a previously represented author. I take my submissions game plan into heavy consideration when I’m reading a full and if a book has already been sent to just about every editor, I wouldn’t expect to be able to sell it and might ask to see the next book instead. The more editors to have seen a book, the harder it could be for me to sell.

Why keep the list? Past submissions on books can help target submissions on your next book. Maybe an editor asked to see future books or recommended a different editor. Maybe one made it clear they weren’t fond of the author’s writing style, in which case it would be a waste to send the next book to them instead of a different editor at that house or imprint. If editors have already seen one book your next agent won’t want to send the same book to those editors a second time.

If you decide to split with your agent make sure you keep your submission list since it will come in handy to your next agent. And if your current MS has already been given to editors, your agent will need to know who.