Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Taylor Martindale Kean of Full Circle Literary

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Taylor Martindale Kean is a literary agent with Full Circle Literary, actively acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects.

She is a graduate of The College of William and Mary, where she studied English and Hispanic Studies.

Taylor is looking for young adult fiction, literary middle grade fiction, and young adult and middle grade nonfiction. She is interested in finding unique and unforgettable voices in contemporary, fantasy and historical novels. She is looking for books that demand to be read. More than anything, Taylor is looking for diverse, character-driven stories that bring their worlds vividly to life, voices that are honest, original and interesting. When considering nonfiction projects, Taylor uses much the same approach, and hopes to find authors with fresh ideas and perspectives, with writing that is accessible, entertaining, and compelling. Clients include: Annie Cardi, Emery Lord, Anna-Marie McLemore, Sally J. Pla, Aisha Saeed, Diana Rodriguez Wallach, Lois Miner Huey, Tim Bradley, and more.

Some new releases in 2016 include Emery Lord’s When We Collided (Bloomsbury) and 2016 William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist Anna-Marie McLemore’s second novel, When the Moon Was Ours (Macmillan). When not working, Taylor can be found traveling, cooking, spending time with loved ones, or (surprise!) lost in a good book.

TAYLOR’S WISH LIST

  • Magical realism in middle grade and young adult
  • Young adult fantasy with grounded and compelling world building, diverse casts, and that has smart and savvy heroes and heroines
  • All young adult and middle grade fiction with characters who are engaging, imperfect and diverse
  • Young adult and middle grade nonfiction that explores untold stories and previously unexplored topics
  • A novel that deals with a family living in the aftermath of a serious crime

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Valerie Noble of Donaghy Literary Group

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Valerie Noble is the senior agent at Donaghy Literary Group.  

Valerie loves science fiction and fantasy (think Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins) but reads everything under the sun. For her, it’s more about the writing and less about the genre. In saying that, Valerie is generally not interested in romance or paranormal.

She is actively seeking young adult fiction and adult fiction in the following areas:

  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Historical Fantasy
  • Historical Fiction

While studying chemistry at California State University, Long Beach, Valerie mastered the art of doing proper research, particularly for technical writing. Her love of science and reading merged when she began penning her first novel in the midst of her studies. In true scientific fashion, Valerie researched all there was to know about publishing. She connected with agents, editors, and other writers, and interned for Jessica Sinsheimer of Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jennifer Kim of Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

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Jennifer Kim is a junior agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency

A graduate from the University of California Irvine, Jennifer holds a B.A. in English Literature and Spanish Literature, and spent a year studying Spanish literature and culture at the University of Barcelona. She also works as a bookseller, having done so since 2012.

In YA sci-fi & fantasy, Jennifer is looking for multicultural projects featuring multi-dimensional, even flawed protagonists from diverse backgrounds. She enjoys unique, high concept stories, rooted in mythology or legend, with strong world building and character development. She especially appreciates atmospheric settings.

In contemporary YA, Jennifer is looking for unique, uncommon teen stories with an authentic voice. She enjoys stories that tackle themes of being an outsider, displacement, race, sexuality, and self-discovery, and is particularly drawn to bicultural characters.

In middle grade, Jennifer is drawn to stories that don’t shy away from scary or tough subjects. She enjoys witty, whimsy stories, with a touch of surrealism (think Neil Gaiman) and values tales of friendship, family, and self-reliance.

For adult fiction, Jennifer is particularly drawn to eccentric, unusual stories. She values a distinct narrative voice and memorable characters and settings, and is drawn to travel narratives, historical fiction, coming of age stories, family sagas, stories of displacement, and magical realism.

In general, Jennifer loves literary writing, with challenging themes and characters. She is excited to add writers of diversity (including, but not limited to, all ethnicity, sexual orientation, mental and physical health, and socioeconomic status) to her client list.

Please note that Jennifer is specifically not interested in: picture books, romance, business books, cookbooks, poetry, religious/spiritual books, screenplays, self-help, or mystery/thriller/suspense.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 10.24.14 PM.pngCourtney Miller-Callihan is a literary agent and the founder of Handspun Literary Agency.

Handspun Literary Agency is a boutique, full-service literary agency based in San Diego, California. Founder and agent Courtney Miller-Callihan has nearly fifteen years’ experience in book publishing, first in the contracts and subsidiary rights departments at Penguin Random House, and then at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates in New York, one of the oldest literary agencies in the country. She prides herself on a hands-on, long-term approach to her clients’ careers.

Handspun’s list of authors includes award-winning, bestselling, and critically lauded writers. Hybrid authors are welcomed.

A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz (B.A., Literature), and Johns Hopkins University (M.A., English), Courtney lives in San Diego with her family, and travels frequently for meetings and conferences. She is always looking for stories she can’t stop reading.

For adult fiction, Courtney represents mainstream fiction (including historical fiction and women’s fiction), romance (all subgenres except inspirational), and mystery novels.

For nonfiction, Courtney represents work targeting all age groups (children and adults). Though she will consider nonfiction on any topic, work that deals primarily with issues of religion or spirituality is unlikely to be a good fit.

She is not currently accepting new middle grade, young adult, early reader, or picture book submissions. Novels that strike her fancy often involve one or more of the following:

  • flawed, active protagonists
  • feminist sensibilities
  • LGBTQ+ elements and characters
  • diverse cast of characters
  • differently abled people (including mental illness)
  • dark sense of humor
  • elements of magical realism
  • nerdy pop-culture references
  • food
  • happy or happy-ish endings

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Annie Bomke of Annie Bomke Literary Agency

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Annie Bomke is a literary agent and the founder of Annie Bomke Literary Agency. She has worked with internationally bestselling authors such as Ken Blanchard, Spencer Johnson, John Assaraf, John David Mann, and Bob Burg. She has edited a wide range of projects—from hard-nosed business books to otherworldly historical novels.

Annie has loved the publishing industry since her position as an Editorial Assistant at Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary magazine founded by Francis Ford Coppola. She explored her love of books managing Alcala Gallery, an art gallery and rare bookstore, and even had a brief stint as a technical writer for a Department of Defense contractor. Whether she was reading a 19th century treatise on medicine or a query letter for a high-tech thriller, she has always been fascinated by the way people think and express themselves in writing.

She has worked on a wide variety of genres including mainstream and literary fiction, self-help, business, health/diet, memoir, parenting, relationships, psychology, and humor, but she is most passionate about character-driven literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, and psychology.

Annie spends her free time reading, going for walks in the park, and dancing. Her favorite authors include Haruki Murakami, Margaret Atwood, Ray Bradbury, and Paul Auster.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jill Marr of Sandra Dijkstra Literary

screen-shot-2015-05-28-at-3-22-28-pm.pngJill Marr is an agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Jill is interested in: commercial fiction, with an emphasis on mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense and horror, women’s commercial fiction and historical fiction. She is also looking for non-fiction by authors who are getting their work published regularly and who have a realistic sense of the market and their audience. Jill is looking for non-fiction projects in the areas of history, sports, politics, current events, cookbooks, health & nutrition, pop culture, humor, music, and very select memoir.

Please note that Jill is specifically not interested in: YA, children’s books, sci-fi, romance, screenplays, graphic novels, or anything involving unicorns.

She graduated from San Diego State University with a BA in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a minor in history. She has a strong Internet and media background and nearly 15 years of publishing experience. She wrote features and ads for Pages, the literary magazine for people who love books, and continues to write book ads for publishing houses, magazine pieces, and promotional features for television.

After writing ad copy and features for published books for years, she knows how to find the “hook” and sell it.

Some of Jill’s recent and soon-to-be-published nonfiction includes the Travel Channel’s Nick Groff’s Chasing Spirits (NAL); Maybe We’ll Have You Back (Skyhorse) by actor Fred Stoller; The Chosen Few (Da Capo) by USA Today writer Gregg Zoroya; Break Free from the Divortex (Seal Press) by Christina Pesoli; Teaching Kids to Think (Sourcebooks) by Darlene Sweetland, PhD and Ron Stolberg, PhD; Doulas A. Wissing’s Funding Our Enemy (Prometheus Books); Press One for English (The New Press) by Washington State Senator Pramila Jayapal; Why We Love Serial Killers (Skyhorse) by Scott Bonn; Mission High (Nation Books) by journalist Kristina Rizga; Don’t Lick the Minivan (Skyhorse) by Leanne Shirtliffe; William Jones’ More Than the Dream: The Untold Story of the March on Washington (Norton); and Spitting in the Soup (VeloPress) by Mark Johnson.

Some of Jill’s new and upcoming fiction includes Brain Storm (Thomas & Mercer) by Anthony-and-Agatha-Award winning author Elaine Viets; A Place We Knew Well (Ballatine Books) by Susan Carol McCarthy; Moving Day and The Teller (Thomas & Mercer) by Jonathon Stone; Fishbowl (St. Martin’s Press); and the Jaden Terrell series that includes the Shamus Award nominee Racing the Devil and A Cup Full of Midnight (The Permanent Press).

Tips For Pitching Your Book at the 2017 SDWW

If you are coming to the 2017 San Diego Writing Workshop (May 20, 2017), you may be thinking about pitching our agent-in-attendance or editor-in-attendance. An in-person pitch is an excellent way to get an agent excited about both you and your work. Here are some tips (from last workshop’s instructor, Chuck Sambuchino) that will help you pitch your work effectively at the event during a 10-minute consultation. Chuck advises that you should:

  • Try to keep your pitch to 90 seconds. Keeping your pitch concise and short is beneficial because 1) it shows you are in command of the story and what your book is about; and 2) it allows plenty of time for back-and-forth discussion between you and the agent. Note: If you’re writing nonfiction, and therefore have to speak plenty about yourself and your platform, then your pitch can certainly run longer.
  • Practice before you get to the event. Say your pitch out loud, and even try it out on fellow writers. Feedback from peers will help you figure out if your pitch is confusing, or missing critical elements. Remember to focus on what makes your story unique. Mystery novels, for example, all follow a similar formula — so the elements that make yours unique and interesting will need to shine during the pitch to make your book stand out.
  • Do not give away the ending. If you pick up a DVD for Die Hard, does it say “John McClane wins at the end”? No. Because if it did, you wouldn’t buy the movie. Pitches are designed to leave the ending unanswered, much like the back of any DVD box you read.
  • Have some questions ready. 10 minutes is plenty of time to pitch and discuss your book, so there is a good chance you will be done pitching early. At that point, you are free to ask the agent questions about writing, publishing or craft. The meeting is both a pitch session and a consultation, so feel free to ask whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing.
  • Remember to hit the big beats of a pitch. Everyone’s pitch will be different, but the main elements to hit are 1) introducing the main character(s) and telling us about them, 2) saying what goes wrong that sets the story into motion, 3) explaining how the main character sets off to make things right and solve the problem, 4) explaining the stakes — i.e., what happens if the main character fails, and 5) ending with an unclear wrap-up.