What I’m looking for #MSWL

20476432_10154948543943230_8347023331577600124_n

My wish list…

Last updated: November 15, 2018

Mission Statement:

I look for books that delight readers, that help inspire wonder and imagination, that foster deep empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings, that provide rich character representation of marginalized people groups, that take the reader on an adventure, that uncover fascinating stories from history’s footnotes, that explore issues of faith and how to apply Christ’s teachings to our own life, that celebrate women and the female experience, that ask nitty gritty questions and don’t settle for easy answers, that make people disappointed when they have to close the book and go to bed, and books that add a touch of magic to readers’ lives. 

What I represent, in general:

  1. Picture books
  2. Middle Grade
  3. Young Adult
  4. Lifestyle
  5. Gift books/coffee table books
  6. Adult Nonfiction
  7. Christian Living
  8. Devotionals
  9. Graphic Novels (MG/YA)

In 2018:

  1. In 2018 I’m particularly hoping to build up my list of picture book author/illustrator clients!

PICTURE BOOKS:

    1. Magical feel (See The Night Gardener, The Antlered Ship, Owl Moon for reference.)
    2. Stories that celebrate the ordinary magic of everyday life: moments like capturing fireflies, making bread, watching a bird murmuration, the Northern Lights, planting a seed and having it grow into a living plant, and so on.
    3. Pop science, or exploring something peculiar that happens in nature (unique/quirky animals, plants, etc.)
    4. Nature stories
    5. Food + cooking + recipes (making a family recipe)
    6. A story from history’s footnotes
    7. Natural hair routine: a mother/daughter story
    8. Foster family, adoption, or any sort of blended, non-traditional family structure
    9. Anything that loops in Mexican culture in particular (recipes, traditions, etc.)
    10. Refugee stories told in a unique way
    11. An #OwnVoices piece about a Native American legend from a tribe within Washington state (Especially something from the Puyallup Tribe, Maka Tribe or How Tribe.)
    12. Lesser-known cultural traditions
    13. House-cleansing or blessing ceremonies/traditions
    14. Biography of a lesser-known woman in history (particularly a WOC)
    15. Spooky (See How to Make Friends with a Ghost by Rebecca Green for my spooky book crush.)
    16. Girl power
    17. Humor
    18. Quirky story about cats (very picky on these!)
    19. Creative/artistic process (in the vein of Peter Reynolds’ The Dot, Ish)
    20. Bilingual (esp. Spanish/English)
    21. Something that introduces the concept of different personality types (ex: through the Enneagram)
    22. NF exploration of taste as a sense/taste buds/etc.
    23. A story set in the Pacific Northwest! Perhaps a lyrical ode to our trees + gorgeous environment? Or something about PNW culture, like hiking, camping, etc. I’d like this to be written by someone who currently lives here, please!

MIDDLE GRADE:

  1. Historical fiction
  2. Take me on an adventure! (Trends in PBs + YA are ever-changing, but when it comes to MG, MG readers wanting to go on an adventure seems to be an evergreen priority.)
  3. Anything magic-tinged
  4. Multicultural slice of life
  5. Mystery
  6. Thriller/suspense (esp. in the vein of The Dollhouse Murders)
  7. Graphic novel
  8. #OwnVoices
  9. Epistolary novel between two pen pals

YOUNG ADULT:

  1. Romantic Comedy (esp. a biracial couple!)
  2. Thriller/Suspense (esp. in the vein of One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus)
  3. Contemporary realistic (particularly if it’s an #OwnVoices piece, or if it’s voice-y/in the vein of Robyn Schneider/John Green)
  4. Horror
  5. Anything that could be pitched as being in the vein of Jane the Virgin meets I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez
  6. Anything CREEPY
  7. Mystery
  8. #OwnVoices slice of life
  9. Romance set in the Seattle grunge scene
  10. A teen girl obsessed with true crime
  11. #OwnVoices
  12. Voice-y
  13. Fantasy inspired by mythology/folklore from non-Western countries
  14. Fantasy grounded in reality
  15. Boarding school setting
  16. A teenager with a personal project or mission
  17. A teenager passionate about social justice
  18. Gothic setting
  19. Christian YA novel feat. teenage girl wrestling with the discrepancies between what she reads in the Bible + what she hears preached from the pulpit
  20. Graphic novel
  21. Interactive journal

ADULT BOOKS (PRIMARILY NONFICTION/LIFESTYLE/GIFT BOOKS):

  1. Cookbooks
  2. Anything centered around linguistics
  3. Pop science
  4. Citizen science
  5. Pop psychology
  6. Graphic novels
  7. Photography books (especially would love something funny + clever, in the vein of The Art of Clean Up)
  8. Books that tow the line between lifestyle + cookbook (books like Scandinavian Gatherings, Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, How to Hygge, The Year of Cozy, etc.)
    1. I’d especially love a lifestyle/cookbook based around a concept like Fika/Hygge, except from a non-Scandinavian culture.
  9. Guidebook for how to live a fair trade lifestyle
  10. Guidebook/workbook for self-care
  11. Quirky/novelty gift books/coffee table books
  12. Drone photography book
  13. Interactive journal
  14. Poetry

CHRISTIAN MARKET:

  1. PB that explores joy in a fun, non-preachy way
  2. PB about baptism
  3. PB that explores tangible ways of how we can live like Christ did (without being preachy!)
  4. Christian Living book with a social justice focus
  5. Christian Living book that unpacks the goat + lamb parable in Matthew 25:31-46.
  6. Devotional for dating couples
  7. Devotional for women
  8. Devotional for teen girls
  9. Devotional for kids
  10. Devotional for creatives
  11. Devotional with a social justice focus
  12. Devotional with interactive elements
  13. Anything that loops in the Enneagram
  14. Interactive journals

NOT QUITE MY CUP OF TEA:

  1. Memoirs
  2. Sports stories
  3. Erotica
  4. Space operas
  5. Super hero stories
  6. Amish Fiction
  7. Angel/Demon narratives
  8. Epic Fantasy
  9. Stories with a “dreamscape” element

The art of stress-baking

Processed with VSCO with m5 preset

When I go through busy, stressful seasons, I tend to bake a lot. “Stress-baking” was what one of my roommates in college called it. During final exams my kitchen sink would be full of bowls and spatulas and measuring cups, and the counters would be full of brownies and chocolate chip cookies and lemon lavender shortbread.

Recently, it’s been a busy time in both my professional and personal life, and whenever I get stressed or overwhelmed, I end up in my kitchen with my hair up in a messy bun, just like my younger self did.

Most recently I tried my hand at a classic Swedish cookie called drömmar. The literal English translation for drömmar is “dreams” and the cookie itself is most commonly referred to as the “Swedish Dream cookie.” The recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baker’s ammonia (also called hornsalt or ammonium carbonate.) I had to special order it on Amazon, and when it came in the mail I opened it up and took a sniff and immediately started coughing. It smells terrible. Like high school chemistry class chemicals, or YMCA pool water.

While I mixed together the ingredients—butter and flour and sugar and vanilla and oil, and then added in the teaspoon of hornsalt, I thought, “There is no way these are not going to taste like YMCA pool water.” While they all baked together in the oven, the kitchen filled with the bitter fumes that made my eyes sting, and I again thought: “There is no way these are not going to taste like YMCA pool water.”

But after I pulled them out of the oven, and let them cool, I tried one and felt like my entire body melted into a pile of sugary buttery goo. They’re truly such little dreams come true. Like buttery pillows you want to rest your head on at night. The hornsalt is the crucial ingredient to get the right texture. And, for the record, they did not at all taste like YMCA pool water.

And you know I can’t help but think: this is exactly what writing is like. Right?

When you begin, you have the goal and intention to make something delicious. But as things get going, as you mix things together, things don’t smell like how you want them to. Doubt creeps in and you begin to think: “There is no way this is not going to read like whatever the literary version of YMCA pool water is.” But the beginning is always icky. In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott calls this the “sh*tty first draft. ” But you can’t get to the dreamy final draft without it. And you have to hang in there during the sting and the stink and trust that the editorial process—and perhaps a critique group’s help—will bake out the yuck.

Because you can’t reach your dreams without a little bit of hornsalt.

__________________________________________________________________________

Drömmar Swedish Dream Cookies

(Recipe thanks to “Cultures of the World: Sweden” published by Cavendish Square in 2015)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened.

1 1.4 cups sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp. baker’s ammonia, also called hornsalt or powdered ammonium carbonate

1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl or mixer, beat together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy. Slowly add the oil with the mixer on low speed. Add in the baker’s ammonia and flour and beat until combined. The dough will be on the drier side. Form 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until cookies have just begun to set. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes and then transfer cookies to a wire cooking rack and let cool completely.

Note from Adria: I’ve seen other recipes which include coconut, but I’m not one for coconut. I’ve also seen recipes call for almond extract rather than vanilla, which I’m going to try next time!

Meet Martin Literary’s newest agent

Please welcome Natalie Grazian, our newest agent, who recently relocated to Seattle from San Diego. Natalie is smart, witty, and lovely. She represents Adult Fiction projects, from commercial to literary, and has a special lean toward fiction with speculative elements. You can direct your queries to natalie@martinlit.com. You can read about her submission policies here. Her official website bio is below:

Natalie Grazian, Associate Literary Agent

As the latest on staff, Natalie is eager to build her adult fiction list. She is currently accepting queries for commercial, upmarket, and literary adult fiction.

Natalie has a BA in English and Minor in Spanish from Santa Clara University. Upon graduating, she worked as a sales representative for W. W. Norton & Co. and interned for two literary agencies, including Martin Literary & Media Management. For two years, Natalie was the Fiction Editor of The Santa Clara Review, the oldest literary magazine on the West Coast.

She’s thrilled to join MLM and fully realize her passion for working with authors and bringing their stories to life. She has a knack for collaborative manuscript development, extensive insight into the publishing world, and an irrepressible drive to see her clients’ work at the bookstore.

Natalie would love it if you sent her contemporary fantasy (in the vein of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians). She’s drawn to dark comedy that still carries a beating heart—because at the end of the day, she turns to books to find humanity. She is highly interested in reimagined myths and fairytales from different cultures, historical fiction, and a good quest narrative in any genre. More than anything, she looks for complex characters who make the unrelatable relatable, and for a smart, distinctive narrative voice. At this time, she’s not seeking military thrillers, sports stories, or romance novels. 

Natalie grew up in sunny San Diego, which she recalls wistfully from time to time, but not too often. She’s taken to Seattle like a duck to water. When she isn’t lost in a book, she might be writing stories or doing any number of bipedal activities in the mountainous Pacific Northwest. She is distrustful of any purse that can’t fit a slim paperback. Or two. Natalie tweets at @NatalieGrazian.

In Pursuit of Delight

21078737_10214037768602825_7252263826685040729_n

IN PURSUIT OF DELIGHT

My mission statement, which you can read at the top of my Manuscript Wish List post, specifies that I look for books that delight readers.

On my introductory phone calls with writers, I always read this mission statement so they can get a sense for who I am as a person, agent, and reader. And so they can see why I gravitated toward their work.

On a phone call with a writer recently, I mentioned that I found her work particularly delightful, and I thought readers would too. “Delightful projects are tough to find,” I explained.

Really?” she asked in disbelief.

Yes, really.

It seems that most of the picture book submissions that cross my desk are either too serious, or too didactic. They’re out to teach, inform, or carry out their agenda, and the story gets lost in the lesson. They lack delight. If you’re not sure what delight looks like, it looks like this: kids giggling, cackling at times, kids gasping, kids cheering as the story is being read aloud to them. Delight is NOT watered down commercialism-fueled projects with no substance, or a trend-chasing concept. It’s a story filled with twists and turns and all the good stuff.

I particularly love working with librarians and teachers, because I feel like they have their fingers on the pulse of what kids find delightful. They’re surrounded by kids so they can’t forget what it is that kids like. When they write, they’re not writing with a hypothetical child in mind. They’re writing with specific names and faces in mind. Real life wiggly kids with sticky hands who want to be delighted by stories, rather than scolded by them.

I’m hoping to spend the rest of my career in pursuit of delight.

Good morning, Baltimore!

BALTIMORE

I went to Baltimore for the first time a couple weeks ago because my dad was having a rare heart surgery at Johns Hopkins hospital. We had the weekend before the surgery to wine, dine, and explore the city. And folks? It was glorious. Brick buildings, gorgeous churches, cobblestone roads, amazing restaurants, and the kindest people.

But the most glorious part of Baltimore had to do with books. I mean…

Exhibit A: This Barnes & Noble just a few blocks from out hotel. Amazing. I bought two creepy YA books  that I can’t wait to read.

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 8.20.38 AM

Exhibit B: George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University. Pinch me. 

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 8.20.53 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-11 at 8.21.09 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-11 at 8.21.26 AMScreen Shot 2017-12-11 at 8.21.36 AM

My “5 in 5” Rule

There’s a lot that goes into reading and evaluating a project that shows up in my inbox. One of the tools I utilize is called a “5 in 5 Rule.” This is a tool I use when approaching novel submissions in particular.

My 5 in 5 Rule: if I can’t instantly think of 5 specific names of editors I’d send a project to within reading 5 chapters of a manuscript, I pass.

There’s so much throwing-spaghetti-against-the-wall-and-seeing-what-sticks in publishing. And though I’m guilty of spastically throwing just as much spaghetti as the next agent, I’m striving to—more and more—send out tighter submission lists that are as personal and specific as possible. I want to find the right wall and the right spaghetti. Some editors are brick walls, some are paneled walls, some like whole grain spaghetti, some like gluten free. Okay, this analogy is falling apart. But you know what I mean—hopefully. (Also, going to Olive Garden to carboload real quick. BRB.)

I also use this 5 in R Rule because I only want to take on projects if I think I can be the best advocate possible for a writer. And sometimes, this means I pass on great writing. I did recently, in fact. And, likely, I will again soon. But if I don’t have the right set of contacts for a project, I could be setting up the writer—and myself—for failure or disappointment.

So while I know that a pass from an agent can feel like the worst rejection ever that stings, remember that these is nuance to these decisions. And when one agent comes up empty, there’s another one out there brimming with ideas.

Tasting Cider Book Launch Party – Erin James

My husband Alex and I had the best time at Erin James’ Tasting Cider book launch party at The Woods in Seattle. We did a tasting of some of the most delicious, autumnal ciders from The Seattle Cider Co.

I forgot how amazing craft cider can be. Especially compared to the makes-my-teeth-feel-grimey sugariness of Angry Orchard.

Tasting Cider: The Cider Craft Guide is out now, represented by my colleague Clelia Gore.