FEED YOUR HEAD → KidLit, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

By Henry, Josh & Harrison Herz


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Be an Animal to Write a Picture Book

On November 20, 2014, I the following guest post by me was featured on Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo) blog.

Everything I know about writing picture books, I learned from animals.

Animals make great picture book characters. Just ask the Very Hungry Caterpillar. And animals offer authors and illustrators nine B’s of inspiration for creating PBs:

Be a sponge.

sponge

Soak up everything around you. View, listen, sniff, taste, and feel. Watch people (in public, not with a telescope from your house), read books (especially picture books), and watch TV and movies. Take notes. Even the most mundane situations can unexpectedly feed your muse.

Be a sharktopus.

sharktopus

OK, that’s not a real animal, but I’m making a point here, people. Combine elements into unlikely (and therefore hilarious) pairs, as in Doreen Cronin’s Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type. Practice riffing on the things you soak up. I did a classroom reading where this boy had a torn-up sneaker. I thought, picture book title: The Boy With Exploding Sneakers. Let your creativity run free. 

Be a honey badger.

honeybadger

Have no fear. Don’t be scared to put words to paper. Don’t flee from constructive criticism. Don’t be afraid of rejection. They all line the path to traditional publication. Honey badger don’t care, and neither should you! Get outside your comfort zone.

Be a dung beetle.

dungbeetle

Be tenacious, even on crappy days. Becoming published isn’t easy. But it won’t happen if you stop trying. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a one step. Revise, revise, revise. But remember that perfect can be the enemy ofgood enough. At some point, you need to submit! 

 Be an armadillo.

armadillo

You need to be thick-skinned and learn to roll with the punches. Understand that a publisher’s or agent’s rejection isn’t personal, but it is highly subjective. Many great works of literature were rejected repeatedly before being published, so you’re in good company.  

Be an ant.

ants

No man is an island, and no ant is a bridge. Teamwork is your best friend. Take advantage of critique groups to hone your craft. Join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) to develop a support network. Leverage social media to connect with fellow writers. You’re not alone.

Be a hagfish.

hagfish

Be flexible enough to incorporate helpful feedback. But feel free to ignore feedback that doesn’t resonate with your gut. Follow the rules, but recognize that they can be broken when the result is a success. Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit is a picture book with over 1,000 words and inanimate characters. But it’s also a New York Times bestseller.

Be a peacock spider.

Male peacock spiders don’t just have stunning colors. They have a delightfully entertaining mating dance (think MC Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This”). They show the ladies some enthusiasm! They wear their passion on their, er, sleeves. Writing is also an act of passion. Write about what you love. Have fun writing. Write the story that is inside you, trying to get out. But hopefully not like a chestburster from Alien, or Ian Ziering in the final scene of Sharknado.

Be a cat.

cat

Cats are lucky. They always land on their feet, and have nine lives.

There’s an expression, “luck favors the prepared.” Working at the other eight B’s is the best way to earn some luck. Good luck to you!


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Super Flemish – Superheroes Remade for the 17th Century

Sacha Goldberger is a genius, having combined fairy tale, science fiction, and comic book heroes with a 17th century penchant for frills. Well done! Look at those amazing costumes!  http://sachabada.com/portfolio/?portfolio=super-flemish-8

What if Superman was born in the sixteenth century? And what if the Hulk was a Duke? How might Van Eyck have portrayed Snow White?

Sacha’s discovery of these characters, which goes back to childhood, gave birth to a desire to re-appropriate them, to take them back to a time forming the cornerstone of modern western art. Sacha wants to confront these icons of American culture with contemporary painters of the Flemish school. The collection demonstrates the use of 17 century techniques counterpointing light and shadow to illustrate nobility and fragility of the super powerful of all times. It also invites you to celebrate the heroes of your childhood. These characters have become icons to reveal their humanity: tired of having to save the world without respite, promised to a destiny of endless immortality, forever trapped in their character.

The superheroes often live their lives cloaked in anonymity. These portraits give them a chance to « fix » their narcissism denied. By the temporal disturbance they produce, these images allow us to discover, under the patina of time, an unexpected melancholy of those who are to be invincible.

As science fiction meets history of art, time meets an inexhaustible desire for mythology, which is within each of us.

alice Batman capnamerica catwoman darthvader greenlantern hulk ironman Joker leia robin Snowwhite spiderman stormtrooper Superman wolverine wonderwoman yoda


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Facial Hair and Children’s Literature

If you think about it, elaborate facial hair is a great way to add personality to characters in children’s books. But, with a few exceptions (Bridget Heos’s MUSTACHE BABY comes to mind), most kidlit authors don’t take advantage of this potential source of hilarity. Think of the humorous options offered by the following types of facial hair, courtesy of Reference.com.

sideburnsSideburns

Though this retro style is associated with the 1970s, the word sideburns entered English almost 100 years earlier. This eponymic fuzz is named after Civil War general Ambrose Burnside, who sported sideburns, or as they were first called, burnsides, so long they connected to his mustache.

 

 

 

 

 

muttonchopsMuttonchops

Muttonchops are sideburns that resemble pieces of mutton growing out from under the ears, down to the jaw. Though this style is sure to be spotted in any Pride and Prejudice adaptation, the word didn’t come about until the mid-1800s, more than 30 years after Austen died.

 

 

 

 

 

vandykeVandyke beard

The 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony Vandyke is perhaps just as famous for his portraits of the aristocracy as he is for his short, pointed beard paired with a thick, upturned mustache. A true trendsetter, he also lent his name to wide lace collars with scalloped edges, often depicted in his paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

fumanchuFu Manchu

This term describing a mustache with ends that droop to the chin or beyond is named after the character Dr. Fu Manchu, a master criminal from the novels of Sax Rohmer. These novels were made into popular films in the 1920s and ’30s, and the term took off from there.

 

 

 

 

 

goateeGoatee

Goatees first starting growing on human chins in the mid-19th century. This Americanism got its name from its likeness to the tuft of hair that grows from a goat’s chin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

fiveshadowFive o’clock shadow

The five o’clock shadow is the stubble that appears on a man’s face, typically in the late afternoon, if he shaved that same morning. A very short beard is also called a five o’clock shadow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

handlebarHandlebar mustache

The handlebar mustache, often just called a handlebar, is marked by its long curved ends. Its resemblance to a bicycle handlebar gives it its name. Famous wearers include surrealist artist Salvador Dali and everyone’s favorite fictional Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.

 

 

 

 

 

chinstrapChinstrap beard

The chinstrap beard was part of the signature look of Abraham Lincoln, who famously grew out his facial hair at the request of 11-year-old Grace Bedell. She promised Lincoln she would try to get her four brothers to vote for him if only he would grow a beard. “All the ladies like whiskers,” Grace wrote to Lincoln. The chinstrap beard features full sideburns and a beard, but no mustache.

 

 

 

 

horseshoeHorseshoe mustache

This mustache grows down from the upper lips to the chin in two thick vertical lines, thought to resemble a horseshoe. Hulk Hogan wears this style best with a yellow-white ‘stache that seems to almost emit a glow from his lower face.

 

 

 

 

 

pencilPencil mustache

The pencil mustache has graced many famous faces from swashbuckling actor Errol Flynn to musician Little Richard to eccentric filmmaker John Waters. This ultra-thin mustache sits neatly above the upper lip and nose.

 

 

 

 

 

 

toothbrushToothbrush mustache

The toothbrush mustache, over time, has taken on the names of its most notable wearers, including Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler. It first appeared at the turn of the 20th century in the United States, though its popularity has since declined due to negative associations with Nazi Germany.

 

 

 


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The True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales

This fascinating piece is by Valerie Ogden at The Huffington Post.

Fairy tales, gripping, magical and inspiring, are master narratives. Children subconsciously recall their messages as they grow older, and are forced to cope with real injustices and contradictions in their lives. Some fairy tales are based on legends that incorporated a spiritual belief of the culture in which they originated, and were meant to emulate truth.

Numerous fairy tales, and the legends behind them, are actually watered-down versions of uncomfortable historical events. These darker stories might be too terrifying for today’s little lambkins, as well as some adults! Their horrific origins, which often involve rape, incest, torture, cannibalism and other hideous occurrences, are brimming with sophisticated and brutal morality. Their images cannot be dispelled easily and their lessons are more powerful than the present-day, innocuous fables they resemble.

In the early 1800′s Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected stories that depicted the unpredictable and often unforgiving life experienced by central Europeans. These brothers, determined to preserve the Germanic oral story telling that was vanishing, poured over the folklore of the region. Their first collection of stories was based on actual, gruesome events. However, they had to provide lighter interpretations of these factual incidents in order to sell books. Consequently they paid attention to previously printed fairytales, particularly those of Charles Perrault. As early as the 17th century, this Frenchman who is thought to be the father of fairy tales, created some of the most imaginative and delightful stories ever told. His confabulations of a pumpkin carriage and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, for example, are magnificently enchanting. His original Cinderella, based on a true story, contains violent elements as well, since the wicked stepsisters butcher their own feet while trying to get into the slipper that the Prince had found.

Perrault’s tales, albeit charming, were unsentimental; for they were intended for adults, because no children’s literature existed at the time. His suspense story, BLUEBEARD, reads like a crime thriller, with the bloody knives and curious dead wives, his moral, that women should be less nosy, apparent. Perrault based his fairy tale on two accounts of dark depravity in Brittany, France. The earlier of the two accounts dealt with a savage, 6th century ruler. The second detailed the acts of a nobleman, named Gilles de Rais, who tortured, mutilated, raped and murdered hundreds of innocent children. My book explores the life and crimes of this tragic, historic figure.

The almost barbaric episodes that follow are just a smattering of fairy tales, as we know them today, derived from spoken legends which were based on facts. The morals these stories convey are far more important than the events themselves, the circumstances of which are often forgotten. These cautionary tales, where good conquers evil, the wicked get punished, the righteous live happily ever after, offer hope that one can do something positive about changing oneself and the world.

snow white

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
The fairy tale is based on the tragic life of Margarete von Waldeck, a 16th century Bavarian noblewoman. Margarete grew up in Bad Wildungen, where her brother used small children to work his copper mine. Severely deformed because of the physical labor mining required, they were despairingly referred to as dwarfs. The poison apple is also rooted in fact; an old man would offer tainted fruits to the workers, and other children he believed stole from him.

Margarete’s stepmother, despising her, sent the beauty, to the Brussels court to get rid of her. There Prince Philip II of Spain became her steamy lover. His father, the king of Spain, opposing the romance, dispatched Spanish agents to murder Margarete. They surreptitiously poisoned her.

rapunzel

Rapunzel
Rapunzel draws upon an early Christian story. In the third century A.D. a prosperous pagan merchant, living in Asia Minor, so adored his beautiful daughter he forbade her to have suitors. Accordingly he locked her in a tower when he traveled. There is no mention how hair became important, but she converted to Christianity, praying so loudly when the merchant left, her devotions reverberated throughout town. The merchant, informed of her actions, dragged her before the Roman pro-consul who insisted the father behead her or forfeit his fortune if she should refuse to give up her newfound religion. The father decapitated her but was killed by a lightning strike soon after. She became the martyr, Saint Barbara, revered by the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Bluebeard
Perrault wove his story around Conomor the Cursed, the Breton chief who had been forewarned he would be slain by his own son. As soon as one of his wives became pregnant, he murdered her. But Perrault was more fascinated by Gilles de Rais, a wealthy 15th century nobleman, a hero of the Hundred Years’ War, Joan of Arc’s protector on the battlefield. After he left the military he became a notorious serial killer of children. He was given the nickname, Bluebeard, because his horse’s sleek fur looked blue in the daylight. At his shocking trial, he described in detail how he had preyed upon and tortured innocent children. Perrault drew upon these facts to conjure up his own nightmarish character.

hansel

Hansel and Gretel
The tale of Hansel and Gretel could have been told to keep children from wandering off. But during the great famine of 1315-1317 A. D. that crushed most of continental Europe and England, disease, mass death, infanticide and cannibalism increased exponentially. Seeking relief, some desperate parents deserted their children and slaughtered their draft animals.

Or Hansel and Gretel might have stumbled upon the home of the successful baker, Katharina Schraderin. In the 1600s, she concocted such a scrumptious ginger bread cookie that a jealous male baker accused her of being a witch. After being driven from town, a posse of angry neighbors hunted her down, brought her back to her home, and burned her to death in her own oven.

Little Jack Horner
This story matches events in the life of Bishop Richard Whiting of Glastonbury and his steward, who was perhaps named Jack Horner. When King Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and dissolved its Monasteries in England, Glastonbury remained the sole religious home in Somerset. Whiting, trying to keep the abbey, bribed the King by offering him twelve Catholic manorial estates. To thwart potential thieves, he hid the deeds to the estates in a pie crust. But the seventy-nine-year-old Bishop, convicted of treason for serving Rome, was drawn, quartered and hung at Glastonbury Tor overlooking the town. His “good” steward absconded with the plum deed to the Manor of Mells, and Horner’s descendants lived there until the 20th century.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin
In 1264, a pied piper had offered to get rid of the numerous rats in the Germanic village of Hamelin, as long as the town elders gave him a considerable amount of money upon the completion of this task. After he disposed of the rats, the elders reneged on their promise. Furious, the piper enticed the children of the village to follow him. They never returned.

Some believe the Piper led the innocents to the Mediterranean to join the Children’s Crusade leaving for the Holy Land. Presumably children would peacefully convert Moslems to Christianity after the Mediterranean rolled back, allowing their safe passage to Jerusalem. The Sea did not oblige, and many children starved to death waiting for the miracle to occur.

cinderella

Cinderella
That blond, fair-complexioned, but mistreated beauty in Perrault’s tale loosely relates to the history of Rhodopis, a Greek woman, whose name means “rosy-cheeked.” When she was a young girl, she was captured in Thrace, sold into slavery around 500 BC, and taken to Egypt.

Her unusual looks made her a treasured commodity, and her master showered her with gifts, including a pair of golden shoes. These shoes and Rhodopis were noticed by the Pharaoh, Ahmose II. He insisted she become one of his wives. While not his principal, revered partner, born of royal blood, she would still perform ceremonial functions and…mainly be readily available to gratify Ahmose sexually. Did her new found status offer her perpetual happiness? Probably not.

Valerie Ogden is the author of Bluebeard: Brave Warrior. Brutal Psychopath.

Click to Tweet: The True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-Lb via @Nimpentoad


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Children Spell the Funniest Things

Credit for this post goes to the clever folks at Bored Panda.

Kids are a never-ending source of joy – if not for their boundless energy and joy, then for the hilarious and obliviously inappropriate things that they say and do. These 22 images are hilarious because of the fact that the kids probably have no idea just how raunchy they’re being.

The fact that kids say the darnedest thing has already been very well documented – there are hilarious and brutally honest notes or creepy and inexplicable statements.

My Whole Family

Image credits: imgur.com

Best Cook

Image credits: white-orchid

Math

Image credits: odalaigh

Virginia

Image credits: draftermath

Horse

Image credits: laughingninja.com

I Come In Peace

Image credits: twitter.com

My Goat Is In A Pen

Image credits: imgur.com

Tights

Image credits: rbrown34

Santa

Image credits: break.com

Shirt

Image credits: Amanda Da Bast

Peanuts

Image credits: gudatspelling

You Can’t Catch Me

Image credits: deanparry85

Come With Me

Image credits: imgur.com

I Like Pencils

Image credits: buzzfeed.com

Happy Birthday Kurt

Image credits: RhphotoG

Chum Bucket

Image credits: buzzfeed.com

Account

Image credits: buzzfeed.com

The Beach

Image credits: buzzfeed.com

Abraham Lincoln

Image credits: imgur.com

Cute

Image credits: imgur.com

 

Your House

Image credits: twitter.com

 


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Interview with fantasy SPLINTERED series YA author Anita Howard

Anita Grace Howard is the author of the Splintered series. The first book, Splintered, captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers–precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now. When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

HowardAnita

Anita lives in the Texas panhandle, and is most at home weaving the melancholy and macabre into settings and scenes, twisting the expected into the unexpected. She’s inspired by all things flawed, utilizing the complex loveliness of human conditions and raw emotions to give her characters life, then turning their world upside down so the reader’s blood will race.

Married and mother of two teens (as well as surrogate mom to two Labrador retrievers), Anita divides her days between spending time with her family and plodding along or plotting on her next book.

When she’s not writing, Anita enjoys rollerblading, biking, snow skiing, gardening, and family vacations that at any given time might include an impromptu side trip to an 18th century graveyard or a condemned schoolhouse for photo ops.

What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?

Finding time to do it. I’m a mother and a wife, and along with social media, traveling events, and interviews/emails to answer, it’s hard to shut out the world and just write. Before I was published, the hardest part was believing in myself. But now that I have readers who like the stories/characters, a publisher, and a blossoming career, even though it’s validating, it raises a whole new world of challenges.

Henry: There’s always another mountain to scale.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I would have the power to clone myself. As to why, see my answer to question #1. ;)

Henry: That is the most popular answer, along with slowing time, of my author interviewees.

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

  1. Charlotte Bronte, because she introduced me to gothic romance in the gorgeous and heart-wrenching tale of Jane Eyre.
  2. E.B. White, for giving me my first experience with a selfless character in Charlotte’s Web. Also, when Charlotte died, my love for the bittersweet ending was born.
  3. Christina Rossetti, who via Goblin Market, ignited my passion for imagery and sensory through beautiful and seductive prose.

Henry: What? Charlotte the spider dies!? Spoiler Alert next time!

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Unicorns. But I don’t envision them as easily-fettered creatures whose bones are fine and breakable like birds. In my mind, they have the size and musculature of Clydesdales. They’re large and powerful, yet quiet and wise. Introverted but observant. If necessary, they can be vicious, although to the pure of heart, they’re gentle and kind. They’re a study of contradictions, as all the best mythological beasts are. Obviously, I hope to write about these creatures one day. :)

Henry: I appreciate your sentiment, although I feel like unicorns have become a little clichéd, like vampires. I wrote a picture book that features several fantasy creatures auditioning to become a boy’s pet. The unicorn clumsily punctures the boy’s football and soccer ball.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Actually, it’s an epiphany that came to me when I left my first agent, and saved me during my stages of editing the Splintered series.  (This can also apply to unpublished writers, too, via critiquer and agent feedback). If a writer is serious about getting published, they have to be flexible without compromising. I know that sounds contradictory, but there is a way to do it … a formula: Know the difference between pride and vision. If people are telling you to change something in your book that you love, stand back and ask yourself why you love it. Is it personal to you? Something that other people, including your readers one day, are likely not to connect with? Or is it something integral to the characters in your story. Something that’s a part of them? That’s the difference between pride and vision. Pride applies to the glory it brings you. Vision applies to the glory it brings your characters. Never make changes that will compromise your character(s) or their arc, which ultimately IS your book’s vision. But be humble enough to let go of pride and make a change if it will still be true to your character while making your book a more solid read.

Henry: A terrific piece of advice. It reminds me of the well-known “murder your darlings” from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, to wit:

“To begin with, let me plead that you have been told of one or two things which Style is not; which have little or nothing to do with Style, though sometimes vulgarly mistaken for it. Style, for example, is not–can never be–extraneous Ornament. You remember, may be, the Persian lover whom I quoted to you out of Newman: how to convey his passion he sought a professional letter-writer and purchased a vocabulary charged with ornament, wherewith to attract the fair one as with a basket of jewels. Well, in this extraneous, professional, purchased ornamentation, you have something which Style is not: and if you here require a practical rule of me, I will present you with this: “Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it–wholeheartedly–and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.”

Anita offers more advice for writers/authors on her website and in this guest post.

This interview is also posted at the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with fantasy SPLINTERED series YA author Anita Howard at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-L1 via @Nimpentoad


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Interview with literary agent Kathleen Rushall

Kathleen Rushall is a agent with the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. She represents writers for all age groups of children’s literature, including picture books (fiction and non-fiction), middle grade, and young adult novels. Kathleen also represents new adult, women’s fiction, and romance projects.

RushallKathleen

What types of books especially interest you?

First of all—thanks so much for having me on your blog! I’m excited about this interview and really appreciate the opportunity.

I represent children’s literature across all age groups: picture books, middle grade, and young adult.

I’m most interested in books that make me feel something. Whether it’s heart wrenching or something so funny that it makes me chuckle even when I think back on certain passages.

Books make me feel when I care about the characters. I’m especially interested in books with a strong voice, with characters you wish would crawl out of the pages and live in your world (although this doesn’t have to come across as creepy as I’m describing it here…).

In short, I could love a book if it takes place on the western prairie in 1850 or on a space shuttle in the future as long as I care about the characters.

I represent both commercial and literary novels, but character development and voice are always key.

Henry: Note to self: write a picture book about a space shuttle landing in a 1850 Kansas prairie.

How did you become a literary agent?

I found my first internship at the Sandra Dijkstra Agency while I was working on my master’s in children’s literature. That internship hooked me.

Previous to that I wasn’t familiar with what an agent did. Finding out what role an agent plays in the publishing process was thrilling. I admired the merge of the business side with the creative, and knew I wanted to become an advocate for new voices.

From there I went on to work as an assistant (and wear many hats) at another agency, Waterside Productions, and years later I was able to begin taking on my own projects. I joined Marsal Lyon Literary Agency in 2011.

Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?

If a bucket of coffee and two big dogs under you desk count, then yes.

Henry: Sounds good to me. Just don’t let anyone challenge you to dump the bucket of coffee on your head. Even to raise funds for ALS.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Literary Osmosis. For ALL the reasons.

Henry: A nice twist on the more commonly phrased answer, the ability to stop time.

What advice would you offer to writers hoping to become traditionally published?

Read everything you can get your hands on in the genre that you write. Be an avid reader and know your audience and your market as well as your craft.

Remember that as hard as it is to work through, rejection is a natural part of the process. Every book on shelves today has been rejected at some point. Sometimes it’s nice to remember that everyone’s been through it.

This business is subjective. Every agent has turned down a project because it didn’t feel like the right fit for her or him, but many of those “rejections” do go on to sell, and sell well. Remember that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the agent didn’t think the project is in good enough shape or isn’t right for the market. We reject simply because it might not be right for us. Those two reasons are not mutually exclusive.

You may have received a rejection and begin to doubt yourself but you actually have an amazing project on your hands. It’s simply still on its way to finding the right agent or editor—This is a subjective business built on opinion and taste and vision. Just because one agent might not have the right eye for your book doesn’t mean another won’t. Keep in mind that it only takes one “yes”. In short, don’t give up.

Henry: Great advice. Remember, a lion is the product of all the zebras it’s eaten. And many great books were repeatedly rejected. Drew Daywalt told me that his agent took six years to sell the New York Times bestselling picture book, THE DAY THE CRAYONS QUIT.

Do you read for pleasure, or does reading submissions wear out your reading muscle?

I do! I sometimes don’t know how I have the time to, but I do read and I think it’s very important to read for pleasure. I need to know what’s on shelves and what’s working in the current market. Also, I entered this profession because of my love for reading, so it wouldn’t make sense to me to pursue agenting if I sacrificed the original passion that led me here.

I read a variety of books for fun: from middle grade and YA to romance, new adult, and women’s fiction. I particularly love historical women’s fiction and have recently read some really great YA.

I just finished FAKING NORMAL by Courtney Stevens and enjoyed the voice and larger-than-life supportive relationship in that one. I absolutely loved THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski. I savored the writing and admired that it portrayed a cunning calculating heroine with her own moral code vs. society’s. (Actually, it put me in mind of Lyra from the HIS DARK MATERIALS books, which are also some of my favorites).

ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell might be my favorite book I’ve read in the last year (I don’t care what anyone says, that one will always have my heart over FANGIRL, although that’s also amazing). SEX AND VIOLENCE by Carrie Mesrobian was incredible with a killer voice. ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein really got to me—that is a powerful book.

For the younger set, I recently read and loved SPARKY! By Jenny Offill (I am a sucker for sloths…who isn’t?), FLORA & ULYSSES by Kate DiCamillo, and UNDER THE EGG by Laura Marx Fitzgerald (Ah, the sly humor in this one makes it!).

Henry: No one can resist sloths. I wrote an easy reader about a mechanically inclined sloth, Twignibble, who travels the world helping his endangered animal friends. 

If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?

George R. R. Martin, Francesca Lia Block, and Maurice Sendak.

Henry: Most people know Martin (GAME OF THRONES) and Sendak (WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE). Wikipedia helpfully offers the following:

“Francesca Lia Block is an American writer of adult and young-adult literature: fiction, short stories, screenplays and poetry. She is known best for the WEETZIE BAT series — named after its first installment and her first novel, which she wrote while a UC Berkeley student. She is known for her use of imagery, especially in describing the city of Los Angeles. One New York Times Book Review critic said, “Block writes about the real Los Angeles better than anyone since Raymond Chandler.” She won the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 2005 for her contribution in writing for teens.”

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?

Other than Martin’s version of a Direwolf (which, let’s be honest, I pretend my dogs are anyway), I adore the way dragons are portrayed in Susan Fletcher’s DRAGON CHRONICLES. I’d love to meet one of those little guys (preferably as a hatchling).

Henry: One of my favorite fictional dogs is Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound from Kevin Hearne’s IRON DRUID series. But remember Tolkien’s advice, “It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.”

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

Travel, eat, yoga, and spend time with animals and people who make me laugh.

This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.

Click to Tweet: Interview with literary agent Kathleen Rushall at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-KU via @Nimpentoad

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