When Sangu Mandanna first pitched me her novel, I shared the query with some of my colleagues at P.S. Literary. I even told a few book nerd friends. I was absolutely freaking out. I’d loved Sangu’s debut novel, The Lost Girl, which came out with Balzer + Bray a few years ago. I was such a fan. I’d even blogged about her before.
The response from friends? “Calm down go read the book.” On the agency side of things? My coworker and pal Maria told me to “drop everything and read it.”
So I did.
I mean, of course I did. Not only did I adore Sangu as an author already, but her new book sounded incredible. A YA sci-fi / fantasy mashup space opera inspired by the Mahabharata?! WHAT?! And as I dove in, the prose was gorgeous. The story was heartbreaking. The characters and the world were diverse and lush. And it felt so very important.
Sangu pitched me on December 14th. I requested the full manuscript that day. I sent her a very professional Twitter DM six days later to tell her how much I loved the book. No, really. I did. I am a professional. Read more
Anna Hecker queried me on my birthday last year, with one wonderful gift.
Her next novel.
It was wild to me, to discover that there weren’t any YA novels about EDM… Electronic Dance Music. Considering the current popularity of The Chainsmokers, the easy listening joy that is Owl City, and my absolute favorites, Daft Punk, how hasn’t this been explored?
Well. Enter Anna with When the Beat Drops.
In Anna’s latest novel, she introduces readers to Mira Alden, a teen girl who wants nothing more than to ace her audition to the prestigious Fulton Jazz Conservatory. See, she’s essentially a teen jazz prodigy, writing beautiful music with her best friends as a somewhat band-geek outcast. And then she falls into the EDM scene when her sister comes home… and discovers a surprise gift for DJing.
The book is Pitch Perfect and Save the Last Dance meets This Song Will Save Your Life, with a heavy splash of Daft Punk, as a teen girl has to choose between what she thought was always her passion, and the exciting new world she’s getting swept up in. There’s drugs, toxic relationships, and oh my, so much music.
I fell in love with this book hard, and loved pitching it around while listening to dance music. Some of my favorite YA contemporary reads are music-filled, like Ashley Poston’s The Sound of Us and We Own the Night, Charlotte Huang’s For the Record, Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments, and Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour. I can’t wait to see Anna’s book on shelves and lists with these.
Sometimes, books start in the quirkiest of places.
Like in a Facebook conversation with a friend from back home.
Steve Clark, a storyteller from back in Philadelphia who I’ve seen numerous time at various First Person Arts events, sent me a message one fateful day. He’s one incredibly gifted guy, and my goodness, I look forward to seeing his book in stores one day. And when he brought up his friend, I was happy to take a look at the project, and recommend other agents for it, in the event it wasn’t for me.
Bassey and I exchanged really long emails discussing her work. The essays she’d written. Her poetry and time with Def Poetry Jam. The articles for places like The Root, Essence, XO Jane, and more. She wanted to put together a book that would help push her mission… erasing the stigma around mental health for women of color.
My wife often writes about mental health, on her blog Down to Utopia, so this was something really close to me. I absolutely had to be the agent who worked on this project with Bassey.
We spent a lot of time pouring over this project together. And the resulting book, Making Friends With Giants, is a memoir about living with mental illness, and my goodness, I can’t wait for it to be out there in the world, making a difference. It’s my hope people will pick up Bassey’s story, and feel less alone.
And I’m thrilled to say Making Friends With Giants will be published by Harper Perennial in 2018. Here are the details, from Publisher’s Marketplace:
Go ahead and follow Bassey, her editrix Erin Wicks, and Harper Perennial on Twitter, and wish them all the congrats. And here’s to making books that help make the world a better place.
Me and Erica spent the tail end of the summer touching up her proposals and reviewing her projects, all of which cut me deeply. Her inclusive stories are the kind I’m dying to see more of on bookshelves. They remind me of some of my recent favorites like More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera and Hero by the late, great Perry Moore, in how they give LGTBQ+ teenagers a place to see themselves in genre fiction.
And her next trilogy will continue to do just that.
I’m thrilled to announce that Erica’s sci-fi trilogy, PAX NOVIS, has been acquired by Entangled Teen. The first book, PAX NOVIS, will debut in 2018, with ORIGINS and PLAGUED following soon after.
The series introduces readers to a galaxy at war, and the massive, nearly-continent-sized trade ships that travel between planets. These are neutral vessels that no one would dare attack, as they provide supplies for the planets suffering along the outer rims.
But as political upheaval hits the universe and the desperately needed ships start vanishing without a trace, several teenagers on one of these ships find themselves rushing to save them… and consequently, make their way back across the cosmos home.
It’s very much along the lines of Across the Universe by Beth Revis mashed up with Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek Voyager (the best Star Trek series, sorry everyone), and I’m just so very excited for it.
And hey, it’s my first trilogy as an agent. Squee!
Be sure to send Erica all the congrats, and meet her awesome editor, Kate Brauning, and publisher on social media.
A few months ago, I met Lindsey Smith, The Food Mood Girl at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference.
It was my first time attending my former hometown’s writing conference as a full time literary agent, and I’d been to a number of pitch sessions like this over the past year. It’s the sort of event lots of agents go to, to potentially meet new authors, discuss publishing with people, and network.
When Lindsey sat down and handed me her 40+ page proposal, detailing her platform, biography, publications, and more… it took everything in me not to cry. And ya’ll know I love crying.
The proposal had everything I wanted in a non-fiction author and in a cookbook project, which was something I’d been looking for since I started agenting. During my time working at an actual publishing house, I absolutely adored working on cookbooks and with the passionate food blogging community.
Lindsey’s story is a fantastic one. After being hospitalized for anxiety at a young age, she focused her life on health, happiness, and eating well. Years later, she’s teaching stress management classes to her high school peers. Fast forward a bit more, and she travels the country, inspiring tens of thousands of people to live well and be healthy.
And now, she’ll have a book out with St. Martin’s Press in the Fall of 2017.
I am THRILLED to say that EAT YOUR FEELINGS has been acquired by St. Martin’s Press by Laura Apperson, and will be in stores everywhere next Fall.
Where most books about emotions and eating have to do with academia and diets, Lindsey’s is a cheerful take on all that. I can’t wait for people to read this, and see a positive, fun-filled way to feel good about themselves, with delicious recipes, encouraging words, and her trademark wit and humor.