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Good Times at San Diego Comic-Con 2018

  1. Arriving at the Convention Center
  2. Horrific tooth creature from Channel Zero: Candle Cove
  3. Amazing Lord of the Rings models from Weta
  4. A stylized Gandalf
  5. The Moose from Chappie resin kit by Weta
  6. Alita Battle Angel
  7. One man’s interpretation of Edna Mode
  8. Cuphead figures
  9. Star Wars trooper
  10. Scary creatures from Sideshow Collectibles
  11. Warhammer Space Marine Blood Raven
  12. Terrifying evil Batman and Robins
  13. Alien vs. Predator
  14. With NY Times bestselling fantasy author Todd McCaffrey
  15. Bioware power armor suits
  16. With children’s authors M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin
  17. With children’s editor/author Ed Masessa
  18. Author collaboration panel with Jenni Holm, Matt Holm, M.T. Anderson, Eugene Yelchin
  19. Mars panel with astronaut Leland Melvin and The Martian author Andy Weir
  20. Stargate cosplay
  21. Cosplay knights
  22. Comics panel with Stan Sakai, Cecil Castelucci, and Sergio Aragones
  23. YA/MG Fantasy panel with authors Tomi Adeyemi, Daniel Jose Older, Victoria Schwab, Kiersten White, and Maggie Steifvater
  24. Apocalypse panel with authors Cory Doctorow, Scott Westerfeld, and Andrew Smith
  25. Flame Princess cosplay
  26. With NY Times bestselling authors Peter Clines and Jonathan Maberry
  27. Fearless women author panel with NY Times bestselling fantasy authors Rachel Caine, Seanan McGuire, Susan Dennard, Victoria Schwab, and Laini Taylor
  28. With NY Times bestselling author Nancy Holder
  29. Star Wars cosplay
  30. Giant Boba Fett display
  31. Animatronic Deadpool’s Super Duper Dance Party
  32. South Park characters. Kenny lives!
  33. Pacific Rim
  34. Dragonball Z
  35. Dragon cosplay
  36. Self-deprecating Deadpool advertising on toilet seat covers
  37. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein panel with Jonathan Maberry, Kiersten White, and Merrie DeStefano
  38. Frankenstein takes the cake
  39. Academy Award winner Sir Richard Taylor (The Lord of the Rings) sculpting in clay.
  40. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Laini Taylor
  41. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Livia Blackburne
  42. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater
  43. With co-panelist and NY Times bestselling fantasy author Kevin Hearne
  44. Our fantasy literature panel packed the room
  45. Huge Hot Wheels cars
  46. Life-sized LEGO Aquaman
  47. Life-sized LEGO Thanos
  48. Mantis photobombing the Power Rangers
  49. Personalized Magic the Gathering cards
  50. Dungeons & Dragons panel with Naomi Novik, Delilah Dawson, Kevin Hearne, Ray Feist and R.A. Salvatore
  51. Trump’s Titanz standee
  52. Game of Thrones cosplay Iron Throne wheelchair

53. Children’s Literary Agent panel with Taylor Martindale Kean, Tim Travaglini, Jen Baxter, Kari Sutherland, Thao Le

54. Fantasy Literature panel with Victoria Schwab, Livia Blackburne, Maggie Stiefvater, and Kevin Hearne (Laini Taylor not shown)

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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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Interview with ABLA children’s literary agent Lara Perkins

Lara Perkins is a children’s literary agent at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Lara works closely with Senior Agent Laura Rennert, with whom she jointly represents a number of clients, in addition to building her own list. She is also the agency’s Digital Manager. Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions.

PerkinsLara

What types of books especially interest you?

I represent all categories of children’s literature, picture books through young adult, and I’m open to all genres within those categories. In all categories, I look for fabulous writing–the kind of writing in which every word matters–and a fresh, engaging voice. I’m drawn to intriguing characters who ring true for me and who can make me laugh, cry, and understand myself and others a little more. Basically, I read to have my heart broken, my mind blown by an unexpected twist, and my world opened to a new point of view or experience. For YA, I like stories that feel substantial and have a definite perspective, and my taste runs fairly dark, though humor is always welcome. I love working with author/illustrators and I have a soft spot for absurdist humor, especially in picture book and middle grade.

How did you become a literary agent?

After college, I was an assistant at the wonderful B.J. Robbins Literary Agency in Los Angeles. When I wanted to find a job in publishing a few years later (after grad school and a move from NY back to CA–the wrong direction to seek a job in publishing!), B.J. did me the great kindness of recommending me to her Northern California agent colleagues. Lucky for me, the brilliant Laura Rennert at the legendary Andrea Brown Literary Agency was looking for an assistant. After observing, learning from, and working with Laura, I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and I just hoped I might be lucky enough to find a home with the incredible ladies at AB Lit. I’m so happy and grateful that I have.

Henry: Happily, Andrea Brown is a real person. She’s non-fiction. So technically speaking, she cannot be legendary. 🙂

What are some Do’s (or Don’ts) for writers querying agents?

Do tell an agent where you think your book fits in the market–both why you think it shares some of the strengths of recently successful books, and why you think it is doing something fresh and unique that will appeal to your audience.

Do include the who, what, where, when, and “why should we care” of your story (a rubric I’m borrowing from my colleague and mentor Laura Rennert). This is the basic information that should be communicated in a compelling way in your pitch.

Do think about the details you choose to include. Do they raise productive questions and help capture the mood/tone of your story? Or do they distract from the main hooks of the story? Focus on only the exciting details that help give a clear sense of what your book is about.

Do personalize; there is so much material available online about each agent. A quick google search will give you a lot of information to work with in personalizing your query. (This is for your benefit, too; you want to be sure you really do want to work with this particular agent!)

Do keep it short and sweet. To test this, try reading your query when you’re tired (or ask a friend to read it when he or she is tired) and see if it still feels tight, clear, and compelling. Does it energize you or put you to sleep?

Please share a literary agent horror story with us.

This was only really horrifying for me, but a few years ago, at the beginning of one of my first editor meetings in NY, I got out a pen to take notes and when I opened it, blue ink instantly exploded all over my hands. I had to run to the bathroom to clean up all the ink before it got on me, the table, and everyone else. Despite my best efforts, I had a blue-stained hands the rest of the day. Luckily pretty much everyone working in kid lit has a good sense of humor, and even though that wouldn’t have been my ice-breaker of choice, it did break the ice! Now I somewhat obsessively check my pen before meetings to make sure it hasn’t been transformed into an explosive device by changes in cabin pressure.

Henry: It sounds like you got off pretty easily. I’ve heard horror stories of agents being pitched in restrooms and (if Sara Megibow is to be believed), at the ObGyn!! That’s just wrong.

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

My advice would be to focus on your craft and keep raising the bar for yourself. You can have the best platform or connections, but your work still needs to be strong and original to find a publisher and a readership. As a writer, do your best to produce the strongest, most compelling manuscripts you can–and strive to keep growing and keep challenging yourself, no matter what stage you’re at.

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

The reading muscle only gets stronger with use! I read constantly, for work and for pleasure. Anytime I’m in motion (hiking, driving, doing dishes), my headphones are on and I’m listening to an audiobook. You could say that everything I read in the categories I represent is market research no matter how much I enjoy it, but I also read and listen to a lot of adult market literary fiction, mysteries/thrillers, and narrative nonfiction.

Do you have any favorite quotes?

“Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh.” –W. H. Auden*

*I hope this is properly attributed; it’s one of my favorite quotes, but I haven’t come across an authoritative source. The former lit student in me stresses over this.

Henry: The consensus from a Google search is that you’ve attributed the quote properly. Please don’t stress.

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

I feel like I should make something up to sound more interesting, but I really don’t, other than needing a cup of coffee in my hand before making any phone calls. But I think that might be more “universally human” than “strange ritual.” I clearly need to work on my eccentricities.

Henry: This is an area in which I can offer some modest assistance…

If you could have one superpower, what would it be (excluding speed-reading)?

Always one step ahead of me! If I can’t choose speed-reading, I’ll choose the ability to function without sleep. I’d be like Mr. Beemis in that Twilight Zone Episode. There would be time now!

Henry: It may tickle you to learn that the most common answer that authors I interview give to that question is functionally equivalent – the ability to slow time.

If you could have three authors (excluding anyone you rep) over for dinner, who would it be?

George Eliot, because I’d love to meet the woman behind that great literary brain.

Ellen Raskin, because I adored THE WESTING GAME as a kid and only recently discovered her illustrations and cover designs, and I’m always fascinated by artists who are equally expressive in both media.

Walter Dean Myers, because MONSTER is a book that returns to me frequently, even years after I read it, and I greatly admire the compassion and intelligence that runs through his work.

What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature (e.g., Medusa)?

Medusa, and not just because I’m highly suggestible. I’ve always been fascinated and horrified by stories where the rules are so extreme–where all it takes is one tiny mistake–one glance, one slip–and you’re toast.

Henry: Petrified toast! Highly suggestible, huh? Have you ever considered repping someone who’s first and last initials are both H? Just sayin’…

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

I love to travel and to be out in nature. I’m not even remotely an expert hiker (I love it, but I’m slow as molasses), but I’ve been lucky enough to hike and travel in some amazing places, like Malaysian Borneo, Vietnam, and Patagonia. My husband and I try to sneak in travel and outdoor trips as often as we can.

This was fun. Thanks for the terrific questions!

Henry: Thank you for the opportunity to get to know you better.

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

Click to Tweet: Interview with ABLA children’s literary agent Lara Perkins at http://wp.me/p31Xf4-De via @Nimpentoad