Tuesday, December 25, 2012



Therapist schedule extra,
To-do lists really vex ya;
But what's to be done?
He's God's only son—
Christmas is a yearly funky time.

Store decor gets a fix-up,
And what's more, now St. Nick's up.
Bright colored lights
With neon now fights—
Christmas is a yearly funky time.

Fraternizing at an office party:
Who said what to whom and who found out?
Satirizing that same office party—
Until our senior colleagues come about.

Later on, lounging boozy,
We'll be drawn to crack a doozy,
Our addled minds fray,
Our hearts want to say,
Christmas is a yearly funky time.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Greedy and Unfair

Penguin is demanding advances be repaid for never-delivered manuscripts* and charging interest

Ha! A hearty laugh in Penguin's face! Whose contract provides for Penguin to pay interests if a royalty underpayment is discovered? Ha! Greedy, unfair Penguin.

This is the way of things today. STNY is biting back!

A lousy experience at Harper resulted when editors asked a pedigreed author/illustrator to revise a dummy thrice, THREE times!, and then declined it. STNY demanded a kill fee**— for our client had invested hours (in other industries, billable hours) working at two editors' behest. Why shouldn't Harper share with the creator a risk that its editors suggestions will not, finally, work?

The editors blanched to be asked to pay for the work. "STNY is happy to appeal to executive management, if your immediate supervisor lacks the say-so for releasing a few hundred bucks," said we.

Three months later, we still have no proper response, despite our follow-ups. Why? Because Harper is greedy and unfair.

Even though STNY is biting back, publishers' skin (always tough) is virtually impermeable today. To test that assertion. . . 

In the coming months, we shall broadcast publishers' greed and unfairness, in all its multiple manifestations, as we slam up against it. 

*      *      *

*For our younger readers, some history: in the distant past (like, ten years ago), advances were paid before work was revised on spec: publishers paid a signature advance intending it to sustain authors while they rewrote.

**This term derives from a standard magazine practice: when an assigned article is cut mid-development, the author is given a kill fee, less than the completed article would earn but recognition of the professional, goodwill effort of an author under contract. 

Monday, October 8, 2012


Hi all! Sharing this post, which appeared originally on my blog. - John
At conferences I’m often asked What do you actually do all day? On camera, my job would look fairly boring: a Warhol-esque single-shot film of me staring at a computer, getting up every few hours to fetch a Red Bull from the office fridge… Truth is, what I get up to varies from week to week. Every book has a different story, from conception to sale to shelf. In my experience, there’s no real “usual way” a manuscript gets rep’d, sold, and published. The best I can offer is anecdotes. So here, for your enjoyment, is one book’s (ongoing) story:
I was sitting on my couch one Saturday afternoon, having just finished a four-hour marathon of the Masterpiece Theater program Downton Abbey. In case you live in a cave, and read this blog on printed transcripts winged to your dark little fissure by carrier pigeons, Downton Abbey is an immensely popular Edwardian soap opera following the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family, their romances, exploits, and financial disasters. It’s smart, sexy, and addictive.
Now, I’m of the opinion that young adult trends follow television and visual media. I’d seen twenty-somethings and teens swooning and speculating online over the Crawley’s romantic entanglements, and thought this needs to be a book, if it isn’t already. Waiting for a brilliant Edwardian y.a. to drop in my lap would take too long, so instead I tweeted I was in the market for a Downton Abbey for teens.
Sometime that evening, a freelance writer and farmer named Sharon Biggs Waller was scrolling through her feed and spotted my tweet. It just so happened she had an Edwardian y.a. she’d not yet been able to sell. In fact, historicals can be difficult to place; Sharon had shopped her manuscript, A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, before there was a swoon-worthy cult hit to compare it to.
Sharon queried me via my agency’s online form. The first line of her cover letter hooked me utterly. I mean, how can you not love this?:
London, 1909. When 17-year-old Victoria Darling poses nude for a forbidden art class, she gets dismissed from her posh French boarding school.
SOLD. I requested the full manuscript and read it overnight. I discovered Victoria was a bold, forthright, talented, passionate protagonist, ahead of her time and yet steeped in the attitudes of her era. The story had romance and high stakes, but on a deeper level, something I hadn’t known I’d been looking for: an examination of women’s suffrage, gender politics, and sexism that would resonate with a contemporary audience. It was a deeply-felt and socially relevant story wrapped in a delectable crust of Edwardian fashion and romance. Smart and sexy. Agent catnip.
The next day I called Sharon and offered representation. She agreed, we popped the metaphorical champagne, and I put together a list of editors I hoped would love FOLLY as much as I did (including a few editors who’d contacted me after I’d tweeted about signing Sharon- Twitter for the win, again). Responses began to roll in. Editors offered notes, some wanted to speak with Sharon directly. Particularly exciting was the afternoon I was away at a conference in Salt Lake City and had to keep excusing myself to “run to the bathroom,” dashing outside to field calls from excited editors, relaying that info to Sharon, then hurrying back to the conference in time for my phone to ring again (I’d switched my ringtone to the Downton Abbey theme song, for luck).
After some back-and-forth, we placed A MAD, WICKED FOLLY with Leila Sales, a brilliant editor (and y.a. author herself) at Viking books, an imprint of Penguin. After so many phone calls and emails, Sharon and I were able to meet in person last month when she came out to NYC for lunch with Leila and me. Afterwards I took Sharon for coffee and she pitched me ideas for future projects (one of which I so wish  I could talk about now. But soon, boy, soon.)
Now, Sharon is revising A MAD, WICKED FOLLY, which will be released by Viking in 2014. Sharon and I found each other via twitter, but I’ve picked up clients at conferences, via their blogs, at parties, and of course, through the slush pile. Every story is different.

A Silly Song!

Jimmy was in Chorus
But for talent he had none.
When he practiced vocalizing
Friends would wince in unison,
And they whispered to each other
"Can't the Chorus teacher hear?"
To which the Spring Assembly
Answered sadly loud and clear.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Don't Be Caught Short!

Buy Yours Today!

A Silly Song and a Half!

Jack and Jill
Start up a hill
But stop at the house that Jack built.
There was a mouse
That hid in the house,
Which terrified Jill,
Who took to the hill—
For Jill was, all-in-all, a responsible girl and she stayed mindful of her commission—
namely fetching a pail of water.
Back at the house,
Still hiding the mouse,
Jack set out to jail
The pest in a pail;
And Jack—
Adept at catching mice, cats, dogs, mammals of all kinds, really—
Looked high and low and caught her.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Silly Songs, You Say?

Red Riding Hood goes on a spree;
Granny ends bad as can be.
She starts off scarcely ill, then
She's landfill.
Red Hood's tale ain't her cup of tea.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reprintings We Love

Debut Ame Dyckman's tour de force (with an assist for DanYaccarino) is racing for its FOURTH printing, giving folks 5ooo more copies to buy!

Meanwhile, Candlewick editor Sarah Ketchersid says Maribeth Boelts's lovely, lovely, NECESSARY book is heading for its TENTH PRINTING! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rick Rocks!

HEY! Which do you prefer? The black and white levels were corrected in the image on the left. Below is the actual cover of   RICK WALTON's next* picturebook (illustrated by West Hargis; edited by Victoria Arms Wells) coming from Bloomsbury on October 16. Better pre-order!  

*Rick is throwing the good ol' one-two punch! Frankenstein only just pub'd (Feiwel & Friends) and  I NEED MY OWN COUNTRY  is smack on its heels. We do not see theses books cannibalizing each other's sales. In case you are wondering.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Silly Song!

Long Hair
And hair nowhere hung
Shaved her head
But she got an 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Loveabye Dragon

We are happy to tout Barb Joosse's upcoming title (illustrated by Randy Cecil, edited by Joan Powers) from Candlewick. PW's starred review likens Barb's "beautifully bubbly" text to no lesser a god than Margaret Wise Brown "at her best"Whoa!
a new *starred* review, from Booklist! Joosse’s poetic, lyrical text is chock full of beautifully cadenced rhyme and repetition... Cecil’s softly textured illustrations have charm in spades...Children will likely ask for this one over and over at bedtime, and may fall asleep wishing they, too, could be snuggled in the curl of a dragon’s tail.


John's Webinar on Writing SciFi & Fantasy

Hi All! John here, and I want to tell you about my upcoming August 9th webinar with Writer's Digest:

Writing and Selling Sci-Fi & Fantasy for Kids and Teens

AUGUST 9th! 1pm EST! Sign up NOW!!!
I personally guarantee this webinar, and the personal query-letter critique that comes with it, will utterly melt your face and blow your mind.
Your brain is Alderaan and this webinar is the Death Star.

A visual representation of the planet-shattering awesomeness of this webinar.
Young adult and middle grade are two of the fastest growing and most robust fiction genres in publishing. These juvenile categories have a tradition of fantasy and sci-fi narratives that continues today with wizards, vampires, and clockwork princesses. The young adult and middle grade markets are rich with imaginative and fantastical stories, worlds, and characters.
What makes some stories stand out, and others unsuccessful, cliché, or—worst of all—left buried in the slush pile? How can you refine your craft to create novels at once lasting and fresh? How does writing for kids and teens differ from writing for adults? How can you capture the attention of an agent in this rich and extremely competitive market? In other words, how can you give your story the best chance to get published?
  • How to write for young people—capturing the voice, narration, story, and style
  • How to use tropes, myths, and archetypal story structures to create striking, unforgettable fantasy & sci-fi tales
  • How to craft detailed, unique, engrossing worlds, full of history and depth
  • How to bring to life layered and compelling heroes, anti-heroes, villains, and antagonists
  • How to avoid cliché and trend-chasing, and create wholly fresh, standout novels
  • How to win the interest of an agent in this competitive market.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Silly Song Sunday

This Little Piggy 
Went to market.
This Little Piggy
Lost his phone.
This Little Piggy
Got a haircut.
And this Little Piggy
Found a bone.
But the last Little Piggy—
Who is always best known—
Went Wee, Wee, Wee
When they left him home alone!

Silly Song Sunday

A dillar, a dollar, 
Hear the baby holler.

A dollar, a dillar,
A bowl of mush 'll fill her.

Janice Repka + Middle-Grade= ZANY!

Math Wiz vs. Baton Twirler!
(Not what you think.)

Now in paperback!

Look who moves to the Dodgeball Capital of the World, litigious-minded four-eyes: Yikes!

In paper on Aug 16!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

perfectly parodic

Rick Walton's Frankenstein with Madeline-y pictures by Nathan Hale is coming from Macmillan's Feiwel & Friends onTuesday. Monsters big and small will yelp with joy! We are pleased to report its first printing: 75,000!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We are not fans.
Giant conjures a relatively specific image quickly, and the hard G sound is hard to beat.
Enormous is used up, applicable to a pancake and galaxy alike.
The combined meaning? Big.
What anemic vocabulary produces Ginormous? Synonyms for big should be within reach, people, please— Jumbo for starters. Ginormous is in the dictionary. So? It will go the way of the hell-a prefix, mark our words. It lacks merit! (see above.)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

John Cusick

All wishing to meet our wildly successful, vastly knowledgeable, and dog-gone dashing agent extraordinaire John Cusick better high-tail it to Utah for the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference next week. We note, immodestly, that John Cusick alone of the assembled dignitaries, will be representing our esteemed profession, representation. Representing representation. . . hmmm, John can do anything.

Now, a Silly Song— by request! (YAY!)

The Queen
Was in the cleaning room,
Beside a mop and pail.
The King
Was with his people,
Toasting slop with ginger ale.
The Queen,
All a-blubber,
Ordered in the Royal Elf:
Why, oh, why
Is no slop for myself?

We Know, We Know. . .

. . . Our six readers are AVID for the juicy BEA gossip we collected last week. As ever, our lips are sealed. (Gossip is like a secret, and secrets are like trading cards— BUT: you can only collect 'em all if you never, ever trade.) We can reveal this mundane buzz: contemporary realism is again permissible!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Yep, Another Silly Song

Jack trades the cow for magic beans
And climbs the strange resulting greens.

A giant comes,
Fee! Fi! Fo! Fum!
I'll chew you into bubblegum!

Not! yells Jack
Who grabs a goose.
Or drink you down with apple juice.

The goose lays gold.
Or Cook can serve you casserolled.

Nothing went as Giant said:
Jack ate frech-toast Giant bread.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Silly Song!

Peas porridge hot!
Peas porridge cold!
Peas porridge in the pot—
I hope you don't mind mold.

Some like it hot.
Some like it cold.
Some like it in the pot—
You don't, do you, mind mold?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

from the Dept. of Believe it or Not

Editor X recently said his/her (we shan't reveal!) big house will use pen names for authors' whose last books tanked. Authors have long asked to use pen names— for multiple reasons (that's the juicy part, but our lips are sealed)— and pub'rs always refused. The problem was promoting a previously pub'd, maybe even known, author while keeping the ruse from booksellers. We cannot say why this is not a problem still.

We think it is a sin that a bookseller's loyalty runs only book-to-book. Steve Ross, the CEO who united Warner Bros. and Time Inc., said that without failure, you are not doing your job, which is to make things (in this case stories) new.

Questions? Comments?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ame Dyckman Debuts Today!

BOY + BOT pubs today. see R-H's Facebook page.

Amazon names BOY + BOT a Best of April book!
for the next two days, see the BOY + BOT trailer here. thereafter, see it everywhere.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Silly Song!

SCIENCE, from our line of educational verses

The prize-winning project
At the state science fair
Was a clay pot of radishes
Growing human hair.

The prize-winning student,
With her parents both in tow,
Shocked those attending
The ceremony show.

The audience could see 
They displayed horrid grooming
Upon all three heads?
Row of radishes were blooming!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stars Apalooza!

hang on to your hairdo! Debut Ame's BOY + BOT (with an assist from Dan Yaccarino) got its third star yesterday! This time from Booklist.

Is any love greater than that between a boy and his robot? While picking pine cones, a boy meets a bright red, rocket-shaped robot and asks, “Want to play? “Affirmative!” the robot responds, and the pair has tons of fun until a rock bumps the robot’s power switch off. Not understanding the bot's unresponsiveness, the boy wheels him home and begins feeding him applesauce, reading him a story, and crafting a makeshift bed. When the boy’s parents, unaware of a robot behind the door, check on their son, the door bumps the robot’s power switch back on. Not distinguishing the boy’s unresponsiveness as sleep, the robot, in a humorous reversal, fears the boy has malfunctioned and carries him back to his laboratory, where he gives him oil and begins to prepare a new battery—when, just in time, the not-evil-at-all invetor shows up to put things right. The spare text (“Boy! You-are-fixed!”) replicates the steady beats of the simple yet comedicstory, while Yaccarino’s expressive, quirky, and humorously geometric gouache illustrations make the boy and robot’s relationship all the more endearing. The final, nearly wordless pages, with snapshots of the friends at play, are priceless. Booklist *starred*


Story by Maribeth Boelts  Pictures by Lauren Castillo
Props for HAPPY LIKE SOCCER! which is not merely a Junior Literary Guild Selection but today also became the proud parent of a glorious PW STARRED REVIEW! (A book gives birth to its review.) We are so proud. This is a vividly heartfelt story, exquisitely conjured by our Maribeth and inspired illustrations from Lauren Castillo. This is a very happy picturebook marriage.

The other girls on Sierra’s soccer team are surrounded by their families on game days, but Sierra’s auntie, a waitress, works Saturdays, and Sierra plays alone: the onlookers “cheer for me by the number on my uniform, not knowing my name.” The plan Sierra comes up with to allow her auntie to see her play—and the courage she summons to put it into action—give Boelt’s (Those Shoes) story unexpected emotional depth. Castillo’s (Melvin and His Boy) quiet ink-and-watercolor spreads make it clear that Sierra’s situation is different from that of the other girls, and that her auntie treasures her niece and keeps her safe. The fenced-in soccer field in Sierra’s urban neighborhood is scruffier than the team’s suburban field, but Sierra’s auntie’s apartment is cozy and welcoming, and so are her words. Class differences (“Then my ride comes, filled with laughing girls who know the jokes I don’t”) and the clash of city and suburban culture are clearly laid out, but softened by supportive adults (Coach Marco asks Sierra if there’s anything she needs, and means it). A thought-provoking read-aloud. Ages 5–9. PW *starred*

HAPPY LIKE SOCCER pubs in May and is Maribeth Boelts's second Candlewick book, again from editor Sarah Kertchersid. their first, THOSE SHOES, is kicking butt on Amazon. (yeah, yeah, anecdotal, blah, blah— but this is eight months running, people!)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

What's the Matter?

why hesitate, Gentle Readers? the time is now to extol (or not, if you're crazy) our picturebook list this spring! it is a bonanza! can't you guys chime in or something?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Manning's pages are exhunberance itself." —PW

ANOTHER star— this one from PW. In addition to the above quote-made-in-heaven, PW called LAUNDY DAY "vivid" and "warmhearted". Happy us, happy we!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

"English" A Silly Song!

for our English teacher followers, and the like . . .

Nouns name things.
Adjectives describe them.
Verbs act up.
Adverbs circumscribe them.


Construct a sturdy sentence
From your toolbox of good grammar.
The rule for if it wobbles?
Smartly smash it with a hammer!

this is copyrighted.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Kiki's Gone Board Book!

You loved her in hardcover and now she's on board(book) in a new format. Especially cool is that Janie conceived the book this way. Meredith Mundy-Wassinger at Sterling pared and repositioned the text and created A RIGHT PROPER BOARD BOOK— not a picturebook gone slumming. Janie Bynum is a graphic designer as well as superlative illustrator— this lady can draw! Kiki's graphic pictures are perfect for babies still learning to focus or learning to move their eyes in a horizontal (text) line.

Joosse + Jutte = OMG! BRILLIANT OR WHAT?!

Appealing illustrations and a cheerful, rhythmic text [create] an entertaining voyage of imagination with engaging, eccentric companions.— Kirkus

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