Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview with an Agent: Lindsay Ribar

I’m pleased to welcome Lindsay Ribar of Greenburger Associates to the blog. I think you'll find a lot to like in this up-and-coming agent. Happy reading!

KV: Are you a writer yourself? What do you write?

LR: I am indeed! I write YA paranormal fiction. I only have one book out so far (The Art of Wishing, Dial Books For Young Readers), but its sequel (The Fourth Wish, Kathy Dawson Books) is slated for summer 2014.

KV: Popping in to say it's a darn good thing THE ART OF WISHING is going to have a sequel:) All right, back to the interview!

How long have you been agenting, and how did you get into it?

LR: I’ve been working at Sanford J. Greenburger for a little over six years now, primarily as an assistant to a senior agent. I’ve been doing my own agenting for about half that time. I actually got into it almost by accident; as a graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course back in 2006, I had my heart set on getting into the business on the editorial side. Interview after interview yielded nothing (it’s a very crowded job market), so I started interviewing on the agency side too, and landed a job working for Matt Bialer at SJGA…where I found that editorial work is important on the agency side, too. And since I got into this business so I could work on stories with writers, I’ve found agenting to be very fulfilling indeed.

KV: How would you summarize your personal agenting philosophy? What do you expect from an agent-author relationship?

LR: I don’t think I have a philosophy, per se, but my M.O. is always to get each manuscript into the best possible shape before sending it out to editors--no matter how many rounds of revisions it takes. (My clients are sighing right now; they know this!)

As far as the relationship goes, it varies a lot from client to client. My job is to support my clients and get the best possible work out of them; sometimes that means leaving them alone for months at a time while they work, and sometimes it means reading a few chapters at a time to make sure their work is on the right track. It all depends on what they, individually, need from me.

KV: What client work do you have coming out soon? What drew you to those writers and/or projects?

LR: I’ve got two books coming out later this year from clients that I co-represent with my boss, Matt Bialer:

CLEAN BURN by Karen Sandler (8/27/13, Exhibit A)--A kickass thriller starring a private investigator who must return to the hometown she left behind long ago, to find and stop a series of child abductions, and battle some of her own demons along the way.

FORTUNE’S PAWN by Rachel Bach (11/5/13, Orbit)--A science fiction adventure story starring a female mercenary named Deviana Morris, who takes a job aboard a spaceship that’s just a little bit too notorious for running into, shall we say, interesting times.

And then, next year, two of my own clients have awesome books coming out:

CALL ME GRIM by Elizabeth Holloway (Month9Books)--A YA paranormal adventure in which a teenaged girl must choose between dying a normal death at her scheduled time…and becoming a Grim Reaper in order to save her best friend from damnation.

PREMONITIONS by Jamie Schultz (Ace)--A dark fantasy in which a mercenary, along with her crew of small-time criminals, takes a job from an untrustworthy crime lord so she can continue paying for the rare drug that keeps her from hallucinating slices of the future.

As far as what drew me to these writers…well, it was the same thing every time. Great writing, great characters, and a story that pressed all the right buttons. At the end of the day, it’s really as simple as that.

KV: What genres do you represent? What genres do you definitely NOT represent?

LR: I mostly represent YA and middle grade, with a few adult authors thrown in for good measure. I’m open to considering most things, but genres I don’t represent include religious fiction, picture books, political or legal thrillers, and most non-fiction. Also, I’ll be honest: I’m not terribly keen on elves or dragons.

KV: What query pet peeves and/or pitfalls should writers avoid when querying you?

LR: Oh, all the usual stuff. Don’t put someone else’s name on a query addressed to me. Don’t forget to check your query letter for typos. Don’t spend more than a few paragraphs telling me what your book is about, and for the love of all things holy, don’t waste time telling me how much your parents or your children or your colleagues or your critique partners love your book. Just tell me what the book is about. Let the work speak for itself.

KV: What are you looking for in a manuscript right now?

LR: Right now, I’m looking mostly for YA and middle grade, with an emphasis on fantasy rooted in the real world, horror, mysteries/thrillers, and LGBT books that aren’t “Coming Out 101.”

KV: What’s the best way to query you?

LR: Via e-mail, using the criteria listed on the SJGA website:

Thanks again, Ms. Ribar, for taking the time to answer my questions. It sounds like you’re a busy bee, but that’s definitely not a bad thing.

Have a great weekend, all!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oodles of Winners

And the winners are in! In chronological order:

#13 KIN

Congratulations, winners! Ms. Sciuto would like to see your queries and first 25 pages (or the full text of the PB manuscripts), but feel free to take whatever time you need to revise based on her and others' feedback. In other words, there's no expiration date on these requests. Then when you're ready, please e-mail me at kvandolzer(at)gmail(dot)com for complete submission guidelines (or sooner, if you want to have the submission guidelines in hand as you're revising).

Last but not least, thank you, thank you, thank you for entering, promoting, and critiquing. I really appreciate your support. And the biggest thank-you of all to Ms. Sciuto for taking the time to leave such thoughtful feedback. I'm sure I speak for all of us when I say we really appreciate your participation:)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

August's Round Is Live!

And away we go! Check out the entries, then leave some feedback in the comments if you feel so inclined. (ENTRANTS, PLEASE REMEMBER TO CRITIQUE AT LEAST THREE OTHER ENTRIES!) And I'm sure this goes without saying, but please keep your comments constructive (i.e., not rude or mean-spirited). If you want to think like The Agent, you might consider the question, "How much of the entry did you read, and if you didn't read it all, why did you stop?"

I'll won't be at my computer until later this afternoon, so if there are any problems, please shoot me an e-mail, and I'll take care of it as soon as I get back. I'll announce Ms. Sciuto's winners and prizes at the beginning of next week, but until then, have at it!

(Also, just so you're aware, I always take out profanity when I'm formatting the entries. In other words, any asterisks you see in the entries are mine, so you don't need to point them out to the entrants. I just prefer to keep things as PG-rated as possible on the blog:) )

An Agent's Inbox #25

Dear Sara,

When the little witch Crystal Milk stumbles upon a baby fluffaboo, a rabbit-like farm animal, she takes it upon herself to find its momma. As she makes her way through Farmer Jack’s land she encounters unicorn frogs, flying cows, and milk spiders. But a broken bridge may just make reuniting mother and baby impossible. Crystal will have to muster all her witchy smarts to solve a task this big.

CRYSTAL MILK AND THE BABY FLUFFABOO is a picture book complete at 658 words. Since you have an interest in the quirky and fantastical I thought this may appeal to you.  I am an author/illustrator having studied six years of fine arts under Conchita Firgua at the Art Institute of Weston. I am a contributor at Writerly Rejects and literary agent intern at The Rights Factory. Thanks so much for your time. 

Best wishes,


Crystal Milk loved to SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE her curls as she skipped through the forest.

Every time she shook them, her curls giggled. It was the first spell she’d ever gotten right!

Crystal hoppity skipped through the forest, until she heard a very loud mewing sound.

Crystal peered behind a log, her curls chuckling.

A lonely little fluffaboo glanced from side to side.

“Why you’re just a baby. Have you lost your momma, little one?”

The fluffaboo nodded.

“Well, then I’ll help you find your momma!” The fluffaboo hopped onto her hand.

“Hmm,” she whispered.

A unicorn frog hopped across the path singing its froggy song.

“Oh excuse me, Mr. Frog,” Crystal called.

“RIBBET RIBB--Yes?” he stopped.

“Do you know where I can find the fluffaboos?”

The frog stuck out its tongue and SNAP, SNAP, SNAPPED up a fly.

“Delicious.” He licked his lips. “You can find the fluffaboos at Farmer Jack’s, along the path.”

“Thank you,” Crystal said as she and the fluffaboo made their way toward Farmer Jack’s.

“I’m sure one of the animals here must know where your momma is.”

Crystal gave her hair a shake and shimmy.

As they entered a hutch, some of the mini cows were busy laying eggs while others BUZZ BUZZ BUZZED around the room with their feathery wings.

“Hello,” Crystal said.

“Hello, little witch!” they replied.

A mini cow fluttered up to Crystal’s ear. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m trying to find this one’s mother. Have you seen her?”

An Agent's Inbox #24

Dear Ms. Scuito,

I hope you will consider representing DIVE SMACK, my young adult thriller, complete at 82,000 words. I am pleased to be part of this amazing contest offered by author Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat).

Every family has its secrets; diving into his own might get Theo killed.

Seventeen-year-old Theo Maddox lives the perfect ruse: captain of the high school diving team, great friends, killer grades. But at home, Theo resides under the watchful eye of his father--head psychiatrist at the state facility--a man who uses wealth and manipulation to ensure his son’s obedience. Not to mention the respect and admiration of the people living in Ellis Hollow. For as long as Theo can remember, that’s the way life has been. Him, his dad, and the two little pills he’s given at breakfast. All Theo’s has to do is tolerate his dad’s weekly talk sessions, and he’s home free.

Until a family tree assignment at school forces Theo to question things he’s been conditioned to forget. Like the house fire he survived as a child, the sting of his mom’s abandonment on the same night, and the lack of extended family to which he never gave much thought or consideration. So the unexpected return of his paternal grandfather should be a boon--the long lost branch of the Maddox family tree. But within minutes of their first meeting it’s clear his grandfather has a separate agenda. Covert and suspicious, he begins dropping hints about Theo’s parents that reveals a horrific past. Theo begins to question the purpose of the medication he takes daily--especially the new pill that’s been filling his head with freak-outs and memories in dizzying bits and flashes. Not to mention what, if anything, his dad’s ambitions had to do with his mom leaving. Just when Theo is ready to face an ugly truth, his grandfather vanishes. One day before he plans to reveal the biggest family secret of all. Theo elicits the help of his friends in putting together the clues his grandfather left behind. What they discover sets Theo’s seemingly perfect world on fire--literally. He has to act fast. That night. Before anyone else he cares about disappears at the hands of a father who is far more disturbed than patients he treats.

I am a member of the SCBWI, and hold a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art. I have included the first two-hundred-fifty words as a sample for this contest. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

All my best,


My dad once told me it was Mom who started the fire that took away everything, including my memories. Then she split. End of story. Not like dwelling on that now will help me nail my approach. I have a plan: get in, get answers, and get out. Fast. Before Dad has a chance to turn the tables on me. I’m way overdue for what he likes to call our “talks.” Air quotes needed. But today, I intend to pull a switcheroo that puts him on the receiving end of the shrink’s couch.

Adapt or perish.

That’s what my Sociology teacher said about survival of the fittest this week. And it makes sense, in theory. Truth is taking control isn’t my strong suit. Especially with Dad. Most especially when it comes to Mom. Which is why the tiny hairs behind my neck stand like soldiers as I approach our kitchen, anticipating Dad in his usual spot. Waiting for me. I exhale hard, the way I do before every big springboard dive, then plow forward into surprise.

Our enormous kitchen is empty, and the only trace of Dad is his black leather briefcase, left saving his place at the table.


Every morning, for as long as I can remember, he’s been in here. That’s our routine: me, Dad, and the two little pills I take at breakfast. Give or take the occasional hiccup his work presents. Then he leaves me one of his notes.

An Agent's Inbox #23

Dear Sara Sciuto:

Thank you for taking part in “AN AGENT’S INBOX.” I hope you find lots of stories that whet your appetite, including A ROYAL TREASURE HUNT, a MG fantasy adventure complete at 30K.

Twelve-year-old Princess Cassandra prefers the wild outdoors to her stuffy castle and sneaks out on crazy adventures with the farmer's son, Vance, every chance she gets. When the reckless royal and Vance leave Sun Haven to explore the Falls in search of mythological creatures, a unicorn tramples Vance. His injuries are too severe for the noble healers, so Cassandra turns to goblins, a race known for their powerful healing abilities. Unfortunately, Sun Haven is a poor kingdom, and the greedy goblins refuse to help without gold, and lots of it.

Determined to find a way to pay them, Cassandra "steals" a horse and sets out to find treasure. Convincing a dying witch to give her a treasure map is the easy part. Now she just has to endure weather that's trying to kill her and travel through a dangerous enchanted jungle. Add a bear-dog hungry for her and a baby griffin starving enough to eat her horse, and Cassandra's latest adventure is even more of a misadventure than her previous one.

But time is her biggest enemy. With each passing day, Vance nears death. Not even goblins healers can bring someone back from the dead.

I am the author of a fantasy romance trilogy, Kingdom of Arnhem--Woman of Honor (2009), Knight of Glory (2010), and Champion of Valor (2011)published with Desert Breeze Publishing. Fifteen of my short works have appeared in various anthologies, including Holiday Magick by Spencer Hill Press, and many collections by Pill Hill Press. The first book in another trilogy, Black Hellebore, will be published in October by Desert Breeze Publishing.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,


Princess Cassandra's horse thundered along the green path. With a whoop, she glanced over her shoulder. Her friends never could keep up with her. She stopped her horse. "Come on, Kylie, Vance! You're too slow!"

"It's not fair," Vance grumbled. "Our workhorse has to carry two of us." He tsked with his tongue. "Horse thief."

His sister Kylie covered her mouth as she giggled.

"I'm not a thief! I'll bring the horse back like I always do." Cassandra crossed her arms, still holding onto the reins. Since her parents refused to give her a horse due to her running off, she was forced to "steal" from the pages. "Hurry! We don't have all day."

I wish we did. Ever since the three of them had decided to see all of the creatures in her bestiary up close, they had been sneaking out of Sun Haven every chance they could. So far, they hadn't seen any of the unusual creatures from her book. Cassandra hoped today they'd see one. Or two.

Flicking her wrist, Cassandra urged her horse forward and weaved through the trees. Once she reached the Falls, she pulled back on the reins. The teal water flowed forward as it churned, wild and desperate. Like her. Obedient with her royal duties--most of the time--yet restless for adventure.

Today was far too glorious a day to be sad. She called over her shoulder, "Let’s race to see who can find a magical creature first."

"Yes," Vance shouted.

"Hurry, Vance!"

An Agent's Inbox #22

Dear Ms. Sciuto,

HATE JACKET is a 67,000 word YA contemporary novel of life, love, pain, and one bad-a** jacket.

Seventeen year-old Julius Monroe is filled with hate. His job. His life. School. Everything. He hates his mom for abandoning him and his father for being an alcoholic monster. His patchwork jacket says it all with H-A-T-E embroidered on the sleeve.

Greg, captain of the football team and school bully, has it in for Julius and his eyesore of a jacket. Greg’s plan is simple: break Julius' heart and his face. Publicly. Things get complicated when the bait--Greg's girlfriend--decides to turn the tables on her controlling boyfriend. But when Greg ends up in the hospital, all eyes fall on Julius. Now, Julius must navigate a past shrouded in pain if he wants to change his future and find love instead of hate.

As an unrepentant bibliophile, I should be in a twelve-step program. Instead I found a home as a librarian and fill my days with words and an unhealthy obsession with caffeine.

I have two short stories recently published in the May 2013 issue of Mind’s Eye, a college literary journal, and Issue 11 of Veux Magazine, a Canadian fashion and literary magazine. I am also active on Twitter and my personal blog, where I talk about writing, life, and anything else I can think of, generates an average of 100 hits a day.

Thank you very much for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon.



I should have my own chair in here with bright neon letters that say, “This seat belongs to Julius Monroe, f*** up.”

Ms. Stevens--Sorry, Dr. Stevens, vice-principal extraordinaire--is staring at me with her usual b*****, disapproving look. Word has it she was supposed to be the principal. Guess the good ‘ol boys found someone they liked better and now she’s stuck at low woman on the totem pole. She takes it out on me, her favorite school loser, and anyone else with the misfortune of screwing up.

She stops talking and glares at me. I’m not paying attention and she knows it. The lines around her mouth deepen.

“What?” I ask in my best I don’t give a d*** voice.

If I push it enough, I wonder if I’ll get a vein to pop out of her head. That would be so awesome. Maybe break up the monotony of staring at the pictures of her kids while she rambles on about appropriate behavior and attire. I could have my a** exposed and my pants around my thighs and nobody would care, but wear a jacket with the word hate on it, and I get s*** on. H***, turn on the TV and you’ll see it. Kids getting murdered and raped on the way to school. Bombs blowing up families in war-torn countries. Guess people don’t want to be reminded that hatred is well and alive in the world.

“Mr. Monroe, that jacket is simply unacceptable.”

“It’s a personal expression.”

An Agent's Inbox #21

Ms. Sciuto,

I am pleased to present SILENT VOICES, a 77,000-word YA Contemporary novel with a paranormal twist, for your consideration. Your commitment to children's literature has encouraged me to reach out to you for possible representation. I am inspired by the fact that your agency works with authors in all aspects of their journey. Guidance in editing, marketing and sales is invaluable. My choice has been further validated by reviewing your body of work. 

Ten days after a horrific accident, fourteen-year-old Callie wakes up with a debilitating head injury and no memory of the last month. Unbeknownst to anyone, Callie now has the ability to hear others' thoughts; willing or not. Questioning her own sanity and fearing the reaction of her psychiatrist father, Callie hides the truth from everyone she loves, only to find that their secrets are far more daunting than her own.

In an attempt to shelter her from further pain, Callie’s parents and her life-long friend Jake conspire to keep jarring events of the past month secret. Pushing through a barrage of emotion, she uses her newfound gift to begin piecing together the truth. Realizing that her parents are actually divorced is only the beginning.

Among Callie’s lost memories is the fact that her relationship with Jake began to blossom soon before the accident. Together they continue to dissect secrets that their parents have been keeping from them both; most notably, the fact that Callie's father--her hero--has been having an affair with Jake's mother. For fourteen years. Callie and Jake share more than a special connection....they share a father.

An educator, writer, magazine editor, and member of SCBWI, I look forward to attending the International Winter Conference in NYC. With the teen angst and suspense of Pretty Little Liars and the emotion and moral dilemma of works by Jodi Picoult, this story could be a stand-alone piece or the first of a trilogy. SILENT VOICES combines love, deceit, and inner strength as a teen struggles to find her own path and come to terms with the blessings and curses of her new reality.

Thank you for your time and consideration.




Callie hit send and saw a blaze of sun reflecting off metal...and heard the screeching brakes...and the screams.


Callie could hear mumbled voices, but she wasn’t entirely sure where they were coming from. She held her eyes tightly shut. The light stung through, its brilliance radiating in streaks and flashes. Why wouldn’t it stop? She groaned in pain and shook her head to deny the voices and the light.

Where was she? What was happening?

“” Callie strained to open her eyes against the blaze.

“She’s awake, someone get the Doctor! Callie, Callie…honey, it’s okay, I’m here!”

So many voices. She recognized them then--her Mother and her Dad, but who else? It sounded like a flock of angry crows…voices coming in and out. Screeching and cooing at the same time.

“Callie, Oh Callie, Thank God you're awake.” Her Mother’s voice shrieked with desperation.

Callie clamped her eyes closed again. The voices came louder and faster, then, cutting through the haze. Why were they all screaming so loudly? Please, God, make them stop. She thought. She felt suffocated… crushed beneath the voices and the light.

Is she okay? My G**, she looks so pale, but she’s awake.” It was her Mother again. “Will she know who we are; will she ever be the same? I don’t care, she’s alive. My baby, my baby, God, please help her!”

Her Mother’s voice sounded different now. Like a bad cell phone connection. Flickering... jumping…. like pieces were missing.

An Agent's Inbox #20

Dear Ms. Sciuto,

Twelve-year-old black belt-in-training Luna “Harry” Coventry has a lot of theories about what happened to her missing mom and twin, Celeste. Kidnapping. Brainwashing. Murder. It’s a lifelong mystery she’s almost given up on solving, until a head injury triggers a freaky twin connection that gives Harry a glimpse of Celeste’s life.

Now that she knows Celeste and her mom are alive, Harry will do anything to recreate the twin link and figure out where they’ve been the past twelve years. But when a ritual makes her briefly switch bodies with Celeste, the truth is crazier than she could have imagined. Because Celeste’s world? Definitely not Earth.

A galaxy away, Celeste is reeling from the news that she’s an Earth Dweller--something no one bothered to tell her--but there’s a lot more at stake than her identity crisis. Because Dexelon's number one priority is hiding its existence from Earth, and thanks to her connection with Harry, Celeste just became a serious threat. One Dexelon won’t hesitate to eliminate.

Too bad Harry’s black belt training didn’t cover how to stage an intergalactic search and rescue.

Told in Harry and Celeste’s alternating viewpoints, THE DEXELON TWINCIDENT is a 47,000-word middle grade novel that will appeal to fans of Wendelin Van Draanan, James Riley, and Beth Revis. It’s like “The Parent Trap” with a science fiction element.

A member of SCBWI and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Baylor University. Although I have broken a board, my Tae Kwon Do knowledge is from my mom, who is a fourth degree black belt. My professional background is in public relations.

I’ve pasted the first 250 words below. Thanks for considering!



Mr. Hayes closed the blinds, shutting out the early afternoon sunlight. Everyone knew what that meant. Slide time. Or nap time, depending on who you asked.

“Today we’re starting a new unit,” Mr. Hayes said. “Astronomy.”

Astronomy. Harry drew in a deep breath, way too loud for Mr. Hayes to ignore.

“Is something wrong, Miss Coventry?”

“No,” she muttered, picking at a piece of tape stuck to her desk. “It’s just … that’s what my mom studied.”

Peeking up, she waited for the teacher’s mouth to droop in that you-poor-thing expression adults adopted at any mention of her mom, but all he did was cock his head. “Ah, of course. Luna means moon.”

She cringed at the reference to her given name. Mr. Hayes clicked off the lights, and a boy in the back sang out, “Loony Lovegood!”

She twisted around, scanning the darkness for the culprit who obviously didn’t understand he’d just prodded a sleeping dragon. No one called her that--not since a first grade bully dared and she performed a front kick that sent him flying onto the playground pavement. Then, her best friend, Owen, had sneered down at the bully and said, “Shows what you know. Obviously she’s Harry, not Luna.”

She’d been Harry ever since.

She shouldn’t have done it, though. Her Tae Kwon Do instructor always said you should only kick or punch someone if your life was in danger and you couldn’t run away or call for help.

But it was totally worth it.

An Agent's Inbox #19

Dear Sara,

I believe you may be interested in my picture book manuscript, ADVENTURES OF A BOOKWORM. ADVENTURES OF A BOOKWORM is a story about a little girl named Cora who can't read a book without the book characters coming to life. When Cora has to take her favorite books back to the library, she struggles with saying goodbye to her favorite book friends. It is a story about friendship and a story about embarking on new adventures and trying new things.

I author a relatively new blog called Snugglebug University ( where I blog primarily about DIY projects for kids. Last month my blog had slightly under 9,000 visitors. My projects have been featured on major websites such as Apartment Therapy, Craftgawker, and Cool Mom Picks.

I've created several characters as downloadable paper dolls for my blog. Cora, the Bookworm, is one of these characters (you can view the paper doll here: I expanded on Cora's paper doll bio to create ADVENTURES OF A BOOKWORM, a full picture book manuscript complete at about 500 words. While I do not consider myself an illustrator, I do dabble in illustrations and would be open to the idea of illustrating my story. You can see some of my artwork here:

Below I have included the first 250 words of my ADVENTURES OF A BOOKWORM manuscript.

Unfortunately I cannot offer exclusivity at this time. Thank you in advance for considering my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.



When Cora Jean opens a book, she never knows what will happen next.

She may be swept away by a gigantic wave, surrounded by the funniest of characters, or chased by the scariest of lions.

That's why Cora Jean knows that library day is not to be taken lightly.

"Hurry up Cora! Get your library books together and let's go!" Cora's mom says.

But today, Cora Jean doesn't much feel like an adventure. [Cora is slumped over bed in a state of desperation, with an elf--one of the funniest of characters seen earlier--perched on her bed.]

"You can bring us home again, " [Elf says.] "It's not really goodbye."

[Elf says,] " And just think of all the fun we can have at the library together before you go home!"

Cora Jean slowly gathers together all of her library essentials.

Her swimming goggles, in case she ends up in a wet place,

a change of clothes fit for the most elegant of balls,

and a few critical books.

A book about a circus with a lion tamer brave enough to control the wildest of animals.

A book about a genie who can grant three wishes,

and a book about an airplane, just in case a quick evacuation is needed.

"Cora! Don't you think the library has enough books?" Cora's mom says.

"You can never be too careful, Mom."

When Cora arrives at the library she's surprised at how quiet it is.

An Agent's Inbox #18

Dear Ms. Sciuto,

Since you are seeking YA fiction in a variety of genres, I thought my manuscript would interest you.  The Shadow of Light is a YA sci-fi adventure with a romantic component.

Eighteen-year-old Kira Sinclair hates her absent father.  If he truly loved her mother, like she says he did, how could he abandon them?  It never occurred to her that he didn't have a choice--until now.

After Kira is pummeled by a burst of light from a falling star, she finds herself visiting a mysterious world whenever she falls asleep.  She realizes the dream world is not just a figment of her imagination; it's an Earth-like world--with human inhabitants--that exists inside a black hole.  Kira learns she is linked to the world through a portal of fading starlight.  When the last beams die, she will be trapped in whichever world she inhabits. 

Randomly crossing between worlds and working against time, she fights to return home until she finds out that her father is trapped within the realm of the black hole.  Risking permanent entrapment in the strange world, Kira desperately searches for her missing father.  With help from an attractive stranger, Kira uncovers the purpose of the world inside the black hole and an ancient power protected within its core.  As dark energy threatens to destroy life on planets throughout the universe, Kira must decide if she can return home, ignoring all she has learned, or use the ancient power in an attempt to save them all.  

As an MBA, my work revolves around the altogether un-literary pursuits of writing legal contracts, social marketing and website content, and business plans.  Writing, however, is my true passion.

The Shadow of Light is complete at 50,000 words and could serve as the first in a series.  I am including 250 words and would be delighted to send the full manuscript at your request.  Thank you for your time.  I look forward to hearing from you.



The greeting card fell into the campfire.  I watched as hungry flames reduced it to ash.  There was no point in reading it.

"Kira."  Fingers snapped within inches of my face.

"Sorry, Faye.  I didn't hear you," I said.

"Another fake birthday card from your mom?" she asked as she carefully roasted marshmallows for a S'mores.

Grabbing a stick near my feet, I poked the smoldering embers.  "Yea.  I don't know why she pretends he keeps in touch, let alone remembers my birthday."  

"Isn't it obvious?  She believes you think they're from your dad," Faye answered.  "Why don't you just tell her you know she writes them?"

"I don't want to hurt her feelings.  Maybe it helps her cope."

"Maybe.  Or, I don't know, maybe you guys could just talk about it."

"Yea, right," I said.  "It won't change the fact that he left and it certainly won't bring him back."

"Didn't know you wanted him to come back," Faye said, smirking.

"Very funny.  You know I don't."  I looked up to the moonlit sky.  "Only the stars know where he is.  And I hope it stays that way."

Laughter and cheering erupted on the other side of the fire.  The guys were competing to see who could fit the most marshmallows in their mouths.  Zane held the record with fifteen big ones.  He looked at me and signaled his standing victory with two thumbs up and a marshmallow-filled grin. 

I couldn't help but return a smile; he looked so silly.

An Agent's Inbox #17

Dear Ms. Sciuto,

Keep calm and make it to Prom Night without a legit panic attack. For seventeen-year-old Bree Hughes, it’s easier said than done when gossip, grief, and the opportunity to fail at love are practically high-fiving her in the hallways of Belmont High.

When Bree’s crush, Sean Mills, gives her his phone number, she can’t even leave a voicemail without sounding like a spazz. Then she’s asked to be on Prom Court because the school outcast, nominated as a joke, declined. Ready to spend more time with fellow nominee Sean, Bree accepts the open seat, but feels like a jerk for being a bystander to the prank nomination. She apologizes to the outcast, but it’s too late. After years of torment and an ugly secret shared with the class’s cruel Pageant Queen, the girl commits suicide. Bree is left with a lot of regret…and a revealing letter with a final request.

With Sean by her side, Bree navigates through her guilt, anxiety, and all the Prom Court drama. But when a cheating love triangle secret hits the fan after a night of sex, drinks, and video games, she’s left with new information about Sean and the class Pageant Queen. Bree must now speak up or stay silent. If she lets fear be her guide, she’ll lose her first love, and be heading to Prom to avenge the death of the school outcast--as a "Party of One."

PROM B*TCH, complete at 69,000 words, is a Contemporary YA novel that will appeal to readers of Looking For Alaska and Thirteen Reasons Why. I am a member of the NJ chapter of SCBWI. I have pasted the first 250 words of my ms below. I appreciate your time and consideration.



Two things I’d like to do right now: lean in and kiss the neck in front of me and reach over and give a tiny choke to my BFF's neck on my right. I can’t stop my knee from bouncing all over the place like a dashboard bobblehead. I’ve been looking forward to last period--and dreading it--all day. 

Not having assigned seats in English class is definitely a perk. I super love the days I can sit and stare at the back of Sean Mills’ short brown sexy hair. He’s tall, plays football and the guitar. Which pretty much makes him a triple threat in my book. Thing is, he’s also got these swimming pool blue eyes--the kind you shouldn’t look at for more than a few milliseconds because, if he looks back and there’s eye contact, you’ll drown. Which is why I’m in the seat right behind him. There’s even something about his ears that get me. They stick out a little--not too much--just enough to give him character. They make him more accessible, not so perfect.

Now, if only I could bask in my semi-obsessive fan-girl antics instead of anticipating the lame a** Prom Court Nomination drama that’s about to ensue. I try to ignore my best friend Kallie whose eyes are practically waving a neon “get ready get set” flag in my peripheral.

An Agent's Inbox #16

Dear Ms. Sciuto:

My agent and I parted ways earlier this year when she decided to pursue her own writing, and so I am seeking new representation.  In an online interview, you said that you are very hands-on, and that Full Circle supports authors through the entire publication process. This is exactly the kind of representation I am looking for, and so my picture book, FLOODED: THE TRUE STORY OF A GIRL AND HER DOGS, is pasted below for your consideration.

Six-year old Cadence and her family face a devastating flood. As Cadence fears for the fate of her dogs, she must also accept the destruction of her town and home. When she finally reconnects with her beloved pups, Cadence realizes just how much she still has, and is flooded with gratitude.

There are only a few picture books about floods, and I couldn't find any that focus on the worry a child feels about pets that are left behind. After Sandy struck the East Coast, it became clear that FLOODED would be meaningful to many children. At 704 words, this story will appeal to fans of Jacqueline Woodson’s EACH KINDNESS and Alvaro Villa's FLOOD.

I am an active member of the SCBWI, and my article, “Flopping Frogs” is in Highlights’s September issue. Recently, I received a fellowship to attend the Vermont Studio Center for my adult non-fiction writing. I have been an elementary school teacher and an instructor in Early Childhood and Adolescent Education at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.

Please note that FLOODED is on multiple submission.

Thank you for your time.



I want to play fetch with my dogs.           

Sierra jumps with her ball, and Freud’s got a hopeful grin.

But it’s raining. Again. And the creek looks mean.

“We’ll play after school,” I tell them.  “Promise.”

When Mom says it’s time to go, I grab my backpack.

I don’t want to close the doggie gate, but I do…house rules.

Like always, Sierra leaps at the gate and Freud whines.  

“I’ll be back soon,” I say, wishing I could take them with me. Then Mom and I walk out to the bus. 

The ground squishes beneath our feet.


At school, Lily asks, “Is the creek gonna flood again?”

Ms. Weiss can’t stop talking about the weather.

I twist my bracelets into figure eights. Sierra and Freud like to hide under my bed during storms, but they’re locked in the mudroom. 

It rains during math. 

It rains harder during spelling.

During gym, Ms. Weiss announces early dismissal. I bite my nails until Dad comes to take me home to my dogs.


It’s colder now, and I shiver under my raincoat. We drive slowly past Lily’s house, the gas station, the corner store that sells Freud’s favorite treats.

Suddenly, Dad stops. Water gushes across the road. 

“Sierra! Freud!”

I try to open the door, but Dad stops me. I can barely hear him. “There’s nothing we can do, Cadence.” 

I hug my backpack all the way to Grammy’s.

An Agent's Inbox #15

Dear Ms. Sciuto,
Instead of having a blast at summer camp, twelve-year-old Rebecca is stuck babysittng her cousin in Iowa. Bo-ring. But once she arrives at her family's old farmhouse, a shadowy apparition starts stalking her every move, and her recurring nightmares about a freaky storm grow more terrifying.

Rebecca's scared she's going crazy, but no one seems to care. Her widowed mom is busy dating an old boyfriend on the neighboring farm. His daughter Kelsie has Rebecca's mom convinced she's adorable, but in reality the kid is a spying troublemaker up to something suspicious. Alone but determined, Rebecca follows ghostly whispers to her uncle's off-limits attic, where she finds letters written by her great-great-grandmother when she was Rebecca's age--letters that hint at a tragic family secret.

Desperate to discover who the threatening ghost is and what it wants, Rebecca struggles to piece together the mystery in her family's past. But when the puzzle starts to form a picture, she realizes it isn't her life in danger. If Rebecca can't face the apparition and her terrifying dreams, Kelsie will suffer the ghost's horrible fate.

GHOST FARM is a middle grade mystery complete at 35,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Michael Beil's SUMMER AT FORGOTTEN LAKE and Mary Downing Hahn's ALL THE LOVELY BAD ONES. Your online interviews and agency's website tells me you are actively seeking middle grade mysteries and thrillers, so I believe you may enjoy my manuscript. 
I am an active member of SCBWI and attended the 2013 winter conference in New York. For the past seven years I have served as writer and director for an annual elementary school stage show. I have a degree in Radio/Television/Film from Northwestern University.

Thank you for your consideration.



Car trips were the worst.

Rebecca winced as she shifted position, and her sweaty legs peeled away from the hot leather seat. Out the windshield stretched an endless two-lane road and rolling green cornfields. The eighties music her mom insisted on playing pulsed from the speakers. The smell of french fries lingered in the air and clung to her clothes.

"There in one minute!" her mom chirped from the driver's seat, blazing July sunlight glinting off her sunglasses.

At least this part's over, Rebecca thought. She loved her family and everything, but she wasn't thrilled to spend the rest of her summer in Iowa. She was supposed to be having a blast with her friends at Camp Pinebirch. She slumped down in the seat. 

The car slowed and turned onto a long gravel driveway. Ahead was a sunny yellow frame house with a wrap-around front porch. Tall trees stood over flourishing flowerbeds, and an old red barn towered in back. The familiar scene looked picture-perfect, like something out of a movie, and despite her irritable mood, Rebecca began to smile. Then a shadow flickered past the side window, inches from her face. She flinched and turned, expecting to see a bird flying off, but no bird was there. The blue sky was empty, hanging above acres of harmless corn.

Weird. A shiver skittered down Rebecca's spine.

Her mom stopped the car with a lurch in front of the house and switched off the ignition. "This," she said, stretching her arms above her head, "is going to be fantastic."

An Agent's Inbox #14

Dear Ms Sciuto,

Thirteen-year-old Gary Jones doesn't remember seeing alien abductions on his schedule. That doesn't stop an advanced alien race called the Adviera from kidnapping him. After an alien probing, Gary can move objects with his mind. Unfortunately, his mysterious disappearances don't go unnoticed by his mom and teachers. If only his telekinesis could keep him from flunking the seventh grade.

Ignoring Gary's troubles, the aliens continue to abduct him and other Earth kids whenever they want. With advanced technology that only works on humans, they gift the kids powers ranging from invading people's thoughts to transforming watches into laser shooters. The Adviera secretly plot to turn the superpowered kids into intergalactic weapons hoping to gain an advantage in their impending interstellar war.

Alongside his young alien trainer, Esther, Gary begins to hone his telekinesis. But the aliens pit him against deadly challenges expecting him to take full control of his unpredictable powers. Unless the alien council stops changing the rules, mastering his ability will be impossible. With the increasingly intense training schedule, he's on a fast track to becoming another casualty of the Adviera training program. If Gary doesn't get a handle on his ability and team up with the other kids, he, Esther, and the rest of the Adviera will be turned into space dust. And without the aliens' protection, humanity won't be far behind.

THE ADVIERA ABDUCTIONS, complete at 61,000 words, is an Upper Middle Grade Science Fiction with series potential that blends Sky High and Ender’s Game, with young alien trainers reminiscent of Jedi Masters. I am a member of SCBWI and the St. Louis Writer’s Guild. I have included the first 250 words of my manuscript below per the request of the contest.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.



Walk the dog and stay out of trouble. Should have been easy enough. But the familiar prickle of hairs sticking up on the back of Gary's neck told him it wasn't that simple. Trouble always found him.

His mother's gaze from the living room window bored into him, sending a shudder up his spine. A silent warning he knew all too well. He couldn't escape her radar. Her menacing voice always echoed inside his head. In an attempt to drown it out, Gary grabbed for his earbuds and shoved them into his ears. Bobbing his head to the thundering drums and crashing guitars, he stepped in synch with the music.

Buster, his Golden Retriever, dragged Gary away from the window as if on a mission. The dog stopped at a dimly lit street lamp near the end of the block, barked, and pulled hard on the leash. In an effort to hold him back, Gary grabbed Buster’s collar with his free hand.

“What is it, boy? What are you barking at?”

Gary looked around the darkening street. The dim lights reflected off the parked cars, but no one was outside. A brisk wind beat against his ears raising goose bumps on his skin. Nothing interrupted the continuous drumming of his music.

Following Buster’s gaze, he found the cause of the disturbance--white lights floating across the sky.

“It’s just a plane. Come on.” He tried to yank the dog back toward the house. Buster planted his butt on the ground and whined.

An Agent's Inbox #13

Dear Ms. Sciuto,

Born a Demon Charmer, fifteen-year-old Kin has the ability to speak to yokai, monsters who plague the land. Even though she uses her ability for good, it doesn't undo her secret shame. The people of Kyo have long feared Demon Charmers, after the last one defied the Emperor and chose to side with a dragon. Her own birth parents abandoned her in fear. It isn't until Kin finds a home with Yugao, the girl sent from the Moon, that she feels part of a family.

The Moon returns on Yugao’s seventeenth birthday and tells Kin she has one year left with her sister. Yugao is the first person who loved Kin for who she is despite the risks. Kin can’t bear the thought of losing Yugao, but her sister doesn't see another choice.

Against her sister’s wishes, Kin travels to the tallest mountain in the land to convince the Moon that Yugao should determine her own fate. First, she must face Oni Forest, the yokai’s dwelling place surrounding the mountain. There, Kin must accept her own fate as a Demon Charmer--or lose her sister forever. 

Complete at 82,000 words, KIN is a young adult fantasy inspired by Japanese folklore, as well as my travels to Kyoto and Tokyo. It will appeal to fans who admire a sister’s sacrifice in DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier and the coming into one’s power in Cindy Pon’s SILVER PHOENIX. I have a B.A. in English, specializing in Creative Writing, from Minnesota State University Moorhead. I’m an active member of SCBWI.

Thank you for your time and feel free to contact me with any questions.



Six Years Earlier

The Tsukimi, the moon viewing festival, brought Kin to the grassy edge of the river. It was a yearly tradition ever since she came to live with her family. She and her siblings formed a neat line in front of their uncle while their parents’ laughter faded through the purple silhouettes of leaves rattling in the wind. The sun fell behind the mountains hours before, and now they waited for the moon’s face to break through the last batch of clouds in the sky.

Kin hung the lantern on a pole. A glint of metal caught her eye. Her uncle tucked a scroll into the sash of his kimono. She recognized the scroll right away. It was the one he brought with him year after year, but he never showed them its contents. Her uncle let her read any scroll she wanted in the library. Why hide this one from her?

“Are you going to ask him?” her sister said in a loud whisper.

“Shhh,” Kin replied. She avoided glancing at the scroll. But it called out to her, like it belonged to her “Not now.” Kin sat down, folding her red kimono to cover her dirty feet. She ran her fingers through the tangled dark strands of hair.

“You’re more patient than I.” Yugao flipped her long hair over her shoulders. The silky strands fell like a curtain gently touched by a spring breeze. Yugao’s smoothed the fabric she designed for her birthday kimono.

An Agent's Inbox #12

Dear Sara Sciuto,

I am submitting to you because of your participation in Mrs. Van Dolzer’s “Agent’s Inbox” Contest and because my Contemporary YA novel is set in the Deep South, on the riverbanks in Lower Alabama, which I understand holds special interest for you.

Bea Pearl Montgomery is a sixteen-year-old living with what is left of her family on Lake George, a recreational hot spot near the Alabama/Florida line. When a brief phone call jolts her memories, she becomes determined to prove that her brother is still alive. As her search progresses, she realizes she needs to find him, not just to reunite her crumbling family, but to put herself back together, too.

THE EXISTANCE OF BEA PEARL is a 50,000 word work of fiction that has the feel of paranormal as Bea Pearl questions what really exists and what does not, like disappearing brothers who quote Tennyson, hot boys who only appear near water, and maybe swamp monkeys. I am the author of various articles published in Wiregrass Living Magazine, Good Taste Magazine, Tanning Trends, and have work accepted for publication in Babybug. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you.



I haven’t said my brother’s name out loud in months. Not since Mom threw the catfish she was about to fillet at me and the dorsal spine caught in my forearm. Daddy rubbed the fish’s slime on the puncture wound when he found me. The throbbing dimmed to a dull ache though my throat remained painfully tight, holding back tears. He told me to never mention my brother around Mom again.

And now I say my brother’s name aloud into the phone receiver and it tastes like that sweet moment caramel goes from hard to chewy. “Jim.” It’s a short name but I try to savor the way my teeth click and lips touch.

“Yea, Jim Montgomery. Is he there?”

I don’t recognize the voice but I’m more focused on the echo of his name in my head.

“No.” It comes out as a whisper so I clear my throat. “No, Jim’s not here.” I just want another excuse to say his name out loud. As if saying it will bring him here.

“Can I leave a message? Will he be back?”

I cradle the phone on my shoulder and rub the little scar on my forearm. Even though the surrounding skin is tanned, it remains stark white. “I don’t know,” and then I hang up as the wooden creak of a floorboard behind me makes me jump.

Daddy winks at me as he enters the kitchen with an empty coffee cup in hand. “Who was on the phone?”

An Agent's Inbox #11

Dear Sara Sciuto,

Oh no! Hotdog chases Cheesy Cat smack into the Dark Forest where all the monsters live including the giant, green, bagel eating monster. Finney, a plain bagel, must enter the Dark Forest to save them. Will he bump into the Giant Green Monster and become a bagel kabob platter or  will he return with his pets in one piece to his brown bag house in Plain York City?

FINNEY AND THE GIANT GREEN MONSTER is a picture book. Children will learn to love and not fear people who are different through Finney's dealings with the "monsters" of the Dark Forest.

I am an aspiring writer. I taught preschool and elementary school for ten years.My childhood was spent traveling to and living in different parts of the world. This story is based on my experiences as a student in a small non diverse high school in upstate New York.

I hope Finney finds a brown bag house in your agency's multicultural town. Thank you for your time.



Finney was a plain bagel--crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. He wore a bowtie below his chin and a black hat on his head. He lived in a brown bag house in Plain York City.

One day, Finney rolled to the park with his dog, Hotdog. It was crowded that morning. The whole city was there for the annual celebration parade. Mayor Bagel kept asking bagels to stop tumbling onto the parade route. “Oh dear,” Finney sighed. “There isn’t any space to watch the parade. Let’s go home.”

Suddenly, Cheesy Cat, Mayor Bagel’s cat, jumped through his bagel hole and onto the only empty trail in the park. “Wooof!” yelled Hotdog as he dashed after her.

“Come back! Don't go there.” Finney shuddered. Bagels stayed far, far away from this path. It led right into the Dark Forest where the Giant Green Monster lived and the Giant Green Monster loved to eat bagels!

Finney bravely crept after Hotdog and Cheesy Cat into the Dark Forest, ready to hide at the first sign of the monster. But he didn’t see the Giant Green Monster anywhere. Instead, he saw Hotdog trying to climb up an apple tree to catch Cheesy Cat.

“Hotdog. Cheesy Cat, come here.” Finney whispered.

THUD! Yellow apples crashed onto the grass. “Yikes! The GIANT GREEN MONSTER!” Finney dove behind a lilac bush.  Hotdog yowled as he raced back to the park. Cheesy Cat climbed into a hole in the tree.

The tree shook ferociously and out flipped...

An Agent's Inbox #10

Dear Ms. Sara Sciuto,

Making a wish isn’t a bad thing, until the wrong one comes true.

It isn’t fair Case has to miss out on her basketball tournament because her sister moved up her wedding date. Did anyone even think to ask Case if she wanted to play princess bridesmaid?

No way.

Wishing she could get away from all the lace, cake and blah, blah, blah, twelve-year-old Case hides in her room, sneaking her father’s prized book of fairy tales with her. That’s when all kinds of rose petal crazy blows up. There’s even a creepy voice calling for someone named Fable Ranger. When it all clears, Case still has the book, but she’s far--very far--from everything she knows.

Case finds she’s trapped in the land of Lorealia, a place where make-believe comes to life, Robin Hood can be cranky and worse, there’s no basketball. And in a world where the prince always saves the day, there’s no room for a girl to be a hero…chosen or not. Only one way Case can escape: fix the stories the evil Dovetail’s magic mixed up so she can wish her way back home.

Easy peasy, except for the beady-eyed doves following her. Dovetail’s bounty on her head and a hungry tiger don’t help either as Case tries to save an Arabian Nights legend close to disappearing and a sleepy fairy tale about to end in a never ever after.

ONE WISH ASTRAY is a 30,000 word middle grade fairy tale mash up with series potential.

I look forward to hearing back from you and appreciate you taking the time to consider my novel as you work toward building your MG list.



Mom always told me to check before I answered the door. I really should have listened. Darius and Wynton stood on my porch, eyes wide with surprise.

“Case?” Darius tucked a basketball between his arm and side, snickering.

“In a dress? You’re not turning princess on us, are you?” Wynton added. His forehead wrinkled when he lifted his eyebrows, more confused than curious.

My neck and ears tingled. My freckles probably spelled e-m-b-a-r-r-a-s-s-e-d across my cheeks and nose. Swearing my best friends to a “Don’t you dare tell anyone about this!” was a must.

Mom called out from her studio instead. “Case! Close that door before bugs get in here.”

“Look, guys.” My hands dangled at my sides. I balled them into fists and gave Wynton and Darius my best evil eye. I hoped. “I have to get back so mom can finish the hem on this, ugh, thing, for next weekend.”

“That’s why we stopped by,” Darius said. “We thought you’d want to get in some hoops since, well, you know.”

I knew, alright, but I couldn’t help staring at the basketball, as if the worn leather called to me, tempting me like mom’s fresh baked cookies left unguarded on the cooling rack.