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.
Exhibit B: George Peabody Library at Johns Hopkins University. Pinch me.
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.
My client Bailey Welch wrote a really insightful piece on how the Proverbs 31 woman is preached, versus how real women of the Bible were utilized for God’s purposes. It was published with RELEVANT Magazine last week.
Read it here.
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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.
The Green Burial Guidebook by Elizabeth Fournier
Release Date: March 15, 2018
Publisher: New World Library
Despite the widespread attention garnered by Jessica Mitford’s 1963 exposé of the funeral industry, The American Way of Death, the American way of death still includes average funeral expenses of between $8,000 and $12,000. What’s more, every year conventional burials in the U.S. bury 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid, containing carcinogenic formaldehyde; hundreds of thousands of tons of wood, steel, copper, and bronze caskets; and millions of tons of concrete vaults. There is a better way and Fournier, affectionately dubbed the “Green Reaper,” walks readers through it, step-by-step. With green burial and home funeral basics to legal how and what’s; choices in practices (at home, at sea, etc.); and even detours into examples of celebrity green burials; this is comprehensive and compassionate guidance. The idea of a “good death” has been much discussed. Fournier points the way to good post-deaths, ones that consider the environmental well-being of the planet and the economic well-being of loved ones.
Preorder this fascinating book on Amazon now!
Martin Literary’s newest editorial intern joined us yesterday for her training day. I met Madi at the Seattle Writing Workshop and was instantly impressed by her smarts and go-getter attitude. I’m so happy to have her on board for this school year.
Madi will be helping me respond to submissions, evaluate manuscripts, edit actual client manuscripts, research, and so forth.
She’s pictured here, double-fisting my two kittens, Maple and Mulberry.
You can follow her on Twitter at @madeline_seaman
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 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 readers pee their pants laughing, 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.
2018 Conferences, Workshops & Events:
- Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference. Will take meetings, host meal tables, and teach a workshop called The Art of the Query Letter. Mount Herman, CA. March 2018.
- Seattle Writing Workshop. Will take pitch sessions, sit on panel. Seattle, WA. April 2018.
- SCBWI Agent Day. St. Louis, MO. April 2018.
- Northwest Christian Writers Renewal Conference. Bellevue, WA. June 2018.
- SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference. La Mirada, CA. June 2018.
- PNWA Writers Conference. Seattle, WA. September 2018.
- SCBWI-Oregon Fall Retreat. Salem, OR. September 2018.
- Taking meetings in New York. October 2018.
2017 Conferences, Workshops & Events:
Adria accepts queries for picture books, middle grade, young adult, as well as Lifestyle books, quirky gift books, Christian Living titles, devotionals, and everything else under the Christian umbrella.
Please send your queries to Adria@MartinLiteraryManagement.com
I am looking for work featuring diverse characters, nontraditional family structures, and character-driven narratives.
I am looking for Lifestyle books that feature accessible recipes, craft tutorials, gardening basics, with quirky lists or other interactive elements.
For fiction queries, please include a query letter and the text of the first ten pages of your manuscript pasted in the body of your email. Also, please include a link to your Twitter account, if you have one.
For nonfiction queries, such as Lifestyle or Christian Living titles, please include a query letter and the proposal attached as a PDF or Word doc to the email.
I went on a mini-rant on Twitter about how much I dislike reading dream scenes.
I understand that dream scenes are supposed to give you insight into the character’s psyche, but they read as heavy-handed and make the writing feel lazy.
If a character has a fear of their father, for example, I don’t want to read about a dream the character has in which their father is represented by a giant stomping around their neighborhood, yelling in a booming voice and then transforming into a herd of spiders. Okay, in hindsight that actually sounds kind of awesome, but I still would much rather read about a childhood memory that shows why the character is afraid of their father.
Show me a moment from the protagonist’s childhood– that moment in the grocery store where the father kicked a display of cereal boxes and caused the entire mountain of boxes to come toppling down on top of the protagonist. Describe to me the sharp edges of the cereal boxes digging into your character’s arm. Tell me about the grocery store manager trying to calm the father down. Show me something like that.
Dream scenes are almost never enjoyable to read, anyway. They’re confusing and weird and it’s not much different from your spouse or your coworker telling you about the dream they had last night. Dreams are interesting when you experience them, but so boring to hear about.
Cut the dream scene out of your manuscript. Don’t take the easy way out. Your story will thank you, your characters will thank you, and your future readers will thank you.