Friday, December 28, 2012

Monster List of Picture Book Agents--Evan Gregory, Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency

Evan Gregory is an Associate Agent at Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency who is actively looking for clients. You can read his short bio on the agency website:

Writer's Digest has an interview with Evan Gregory on their website.

You can see some response time statistics for Evan on Querytracker.

Evan has a little used but interesting blog: as well as a little used Facebook page. You can also read about Evan's work experience on Linkedin.

The place where you can learn the most from Evan Gregory is on twitter. He's funny and he talks a lot about queries:

Before you submit to Ethan, be sure to go over the agency's very thorough submission guidelines. There are instructions on how to submit by both snail and email. The instructions do say, "if applicable" to include sample illustrations. They say they are open to all genres and no where does it say only author-illustrators so I take it that providing sample illos doesn't apply to non-illustrators. Also if you have read through the links you will see that Evan says he does consider picture books.

The Ethan Ellenberg Agency represents Candace Fleming and Marthe Jocelyn.

This post is part of the Monster List of Picture Book Agents. If you have any changes that you think should be made to this listing, please contact me or leave them in the comments. Thanks!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Choose Your Own Adventure

If you have arrived in the middle of the adventure, you may start at the beginning by going HERE.

Erik chooses the righthand path (after meeting the woodcutter)

Benton trotted willingly along the snowy forest path and Erik kept his eye on the two sets of hoof prints.  They continued side by side, uninterrupted except where they were crossed now and then by deer or rabbit tracks.

The path narrowed as it dropped down between two walls of granite, the cliffs rearing up high on either side, then widened as it leveled out into evergreen woods again.  As they crested the rise, Erik spied a small log cabin with smoke curling from the chimney.  Behind the cabin was an even smaller barn.  The attached pasture held two sturdy brown farm horses.  They raised their heads and nickered a greeting to Benton who nickered back.

Erik sighed with disappointment.  If he needed any more evidence that the hoof prints did not belong to the black horse, the tracks churned up the ground at the cabin gate and did not continue.  They clearly belonged to the two brown horses.  Oh, well.

He was about to turn back the way he had come when he noticed that just beyond the cabin the evergreens clustered together so thickly that little snow had managed to penetrate.  The path was a soft carpet of pine needles that wouldn't hold a hoof print for long.  Although it was unlikely, it was possible that one set of tracks leading up to the cabin belonged to one of the brown horses and the other set of tracks belonged to the mysterious black horse, who had continued on to the pine-needle path alone.

He had come far enough that he thought it was worth investigating, so he urged Benton forward into the deep woods.

It was surprisingly dark.  Like the snow, light had trouble penetrating the dense boughs of spruce and fir.  Erik pulled Benton to a walk, not wanting him to stumble over something he couldn't see.

They came around a sharp right-hand bend and Benton planted his front feet - BAM! - and shied violently into the underbrush where he stood, head up, ears pricked, muscles trembling.

Erik managed to stay on, but only just.

"Benton!" he chided.  "What's wrong with you?"

He peered ahead into the dimness and saw what had spooked his pony: a tiny wizened man standing smack in the middle of the path.  His long hair and beard were snowy white, and fluffed out around him like a cloud.  His back was hunched and he leaned on a gnarled stick, but the brown eyes looking up at Erik were bright and quick.

"None shall pass!" said the old man in a high quavery voice which was nonetheless determined.  "Who goes there?" he demanded.

"'Tis I, Erik," said Erik.  "Who are you?"

The old man shook his head sadly.  "Do you really have to ask?"

"Uh.., yeah," said Erik.

The little man sighed.  "No one knows me anymore.  I used to be famous.  Knights the world over feared to cross my path.  And now... now! you don't even know who I am.  What is the world coming to?"

"I don't know," said Erik, "but you still haven't introduced yourself."

"Oh!  Right!"  The hunched figure bowed even lower and said to his own ankles, because that's where his face was pointing by now, "I am Berwyn.  Berwyn The Bamboozler!"  He straightened up and pinned Erik with his bright brown eyes, waiting for recognition.

"Nice to meet you Berwyn," said Erik.

"It is NOT nice to meet me!" said Berwyn petulantly.  "No one is supposed to want to meet me!  I'm a danger to be avoided at all costs!"

"Uh, okay," said Erik doubtfully.  Really.  The old man didn't look like much of a threat.  "If you'd be so kind, Your. uh, Bamboozlerness, I was wondering if I could ask you a question?"

This sent the little man into a frenzy of howling and stamping in circles and tugging at his wild beard.  "No! No!  No!  No!  NO!" he shouted.  "I ask the questions!!!"

Erik was thoroughly confused by now.  "Fine," he said.  "You ask the questions."

"That's better!" said Berwyn, calming down slightly.  "Now.  You stand over there."  He indicated a spot on Erik's side of a dark line drawn across the forest floor which Erik hadn't noticed before.  Obediently, Erik rode Benton over to the the spot and stood on it.  "That's right," said Berwyn.  "Now.  I stand over here."  He took his place on a mossy rock on his side of the line.  "And now, I ask the questions."

Berwyn straightened up as best he could, drawing himself almost up to his full height of 3 feet 6 inches and said in a dramatic voice, "He who wants to passeth me must answer true these questions three!"

"Oh," said Erik.  "You're one of those guys."

"Shush!  Impudence!  Question 1:  what is the king's mother's sister-in-law's middle name?"

"Betsy?" guessed Erik, who had no idea.  "Gladys?  Edwina?"

"Wrong!" said Berwyn triumphantly.  "You shall perish in the fiery pit!"

"What fiery pit?" said Erik.  "We're in the middle of an evergreen forest."

"DRAT!" shrieked the little man.  "Double drat!  How am I supposed to do my job when they don't supply the fiery pit?  Management will be hearing from me about this, I can assure you.  I mean, budget cuts are all well and good, but you've got to have the basics.  How is anyone going to take me seriously if there are no consequences for wrong answers?  I ask you?!"

The old man continued to dance around and yell, so Erik guided Benton carefully around him and continued down the path until Berwyn's ranting faded in the distance..  After a few minutes he said, "You know, Benton, this looks awfully familiar."

And sure enough, they were back at the woodcutter's clearing.

To return to the woodcutter and choose the left-hand turn instead, go HERE.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Week 26: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

I’ve been asked to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop by the fabulous Cheri Williams! Cheri is the author of the book of essays, HOW TO CASTRATE YOUR MAN IN 7 SIMPLE STEPS & OTHER ODDLY GODLY EPIPHANIES, and if she thinks I might be the next big thing it makes me think it’s possible. I certainly think she’s the next big thing! Be sure to check out her out at

Ginger Kolbaba, editor of says of Cheri's book, "...don't let the title mislead you. It may be edgy, but the content is filled with timeless truth about relationships, faith, and how to grow more mature--even while using potty humor."

My picture book, BEDTIME MONSTER, a story about a little boy who turns into an actual monster, tail and all, was published a while back. But in honor of Cheri and her love of potty humor I thought I'd tell you a little about something new. So, I'm going to answer some questions about a project I’m working on now that may just be the next big thing, if you're into potty jokes, karate, and talking sloths. Hey, you never know.

What is the title of your book?

Well, I'm not sure that I should say. It's kind of weird. Plus I always feel so sketchy talking about works in progress. Ack! This is scary! I will tell you that the title has the word dumpling in it.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was eating dinner with my family one night and misheard something, after which ensued much laughing and joking and possibly some soup spewing out of people's mouths. Potty humor, it always goes over well at the table.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a humorous chapter book. I like to think that reluctant readers might dig it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

If this manuscript was made into a book... which was then made into a movie... it could be animated or they could do it ZOOKEEPER style. Along with the humans there are a few talking animals. Okay, quite a few. I think Will Ferrell would be a good sloth. Maybe Jack Black could be the evil anaconda. The heroic red panda has a really high pitched voice so maybe Rosie Perez? I hadn’t ever thought about this before. Funny how I can come up with the people who could do the animals voices but can’t think of who could play the actual people! I know, Jada Pinkett Smith could be the mom. She’s a totally cool mom. And we'd definitely need to find a fun, and limber, grandmother to play the MC's grandma from China. She is really good at karate.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

While under attack by ninjas at their Chinese Food Restaurant, Clayton’s grandmother forces him to drink the broth of a magic dumpling, throwing him into a sinister plot by an evil anaconda whose plan is to rule the world.

Who is your publisher?

I’m not quite finished with revisions so I haven’t sent it out yet, but I’m getting close!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Well, it’s taken a really long time because I’m easily distracted by my plethora of picture book manuscripts and I just kept rewriting the first four chapters until I could figure out an ending that would work. I’m about at the end of the revision stage now. Hooray! I think I came up with the idea about two years ago.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I just finished reading FAKE MUSTACHE by Tom Angleberger. If I could get somewhere close to that humor I would be ecstatic. That book is awesome! But I'm writing for a bit younger set. My story's more in the age range of the Adam Sharp books by George E. Stanley. I like writing for that age range.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

My little boys and their fabulous funny bones make me want to create fun books they love. My husband and daughter even got in on this in on this one though, and they are the ones I can usually count on to poo-poo the potty talk while the boys and I are cracking up!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There is potty humor, ninjas, talking animals, and Chinese food. What could go wrong?

So, there you have it. Now you know about a little something I'm working on!

We're skipping a week in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop for a holiday break, but the hop will continue! Here is the list of authors who will be joining the hop for week 27 on January 2nd. I hope you’ll visit their blogs and learn more about their books. Maybe one of them will become your new favorite author!

Tiffany Strelitz Haber, author of The Monster Who Lost His Mean

Morgan Shamy, who is repped by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary

and last but definitely not least, my fabulous friend Branli Caidryn, author of Phoenix Splinter.

Friday, December 14, 2012

If a Manuscript Falls in the Forest Does it Make a Sound?

If a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?

I have been in the woods and actually seen a tree suddenly implode and crumble-crash to the ground for seemingly no reason. It was loud. Very loud.

But what about manuscript submissions? If a manuscript sits in a slush pile does it get read? At first it’s just a single tree in a lush forest of envelopes. Okay, it’s probably more like a pebble on a mountain.

Most likely it is there for what seems like forever, at least to the writer. Finally, suddenly, unexpectedly, it is torn from its envelope (or the email is opened, but that’s so much less dramatic.) BOOM! Look at me!

In that short moment the cover letter, the hook, the manuscript, needs to speak loudly. Very loudly. Or it will join the masses of fallen manuscripts.

I do believe that in most all cases, if you have followed submission guidelines, your submission (or query) does get read. Yes, there are many publishing houses and even many agents who don’t respond if they aren’t interested. That’s just how it goes these days. There is too much to do and not enough time to do it. Yes, it can be hard to not ever know for certain when you don’t get the closure of a response. Things can happen. Postal mail can get lost. Emails can vanish. But we can't control that. I like to think that if it is meant to happen it will happen.

It’s best if we just keep moving forward. Keep sending out submissions. Keep trying. Putting all one’s hopes into one submission isn’t a very good plan for publication. Sure, it probably happens one in a billion times or so. But publishing really does have that luck of the draw aspect to it. So don’t worry about those non-responders. Query on and make your own luck!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bran Muffins of Doom? An Interview with Author & Illustrator Marty Kelley

Marty Kelley is a recovering second grade teacher living in New Hampshire. What does one do when recovering from being a teacher? Write and illustrate for kids, of course!

Marty has illustrated a number of books for kids, two of which he has also written. He is represented by Red Fox Literary Agency. Marty is frolicking by to give us the low down on his writing and illustrating. I even asked him how his unique book tour and how he feels about illustration notes.

How long have you been writing and illustrating for kids?
My first book, Fall Is Not Easy was published in 1998, so it’s been a while. Before that I worked as an illustrator and cartoonist for several small newspapers and magazines.

What are some of your favorite things to illustrate?
People, people, people. I love painting them. When I’m not doing children’s books, I actually create commissioned fine art portraits of people.

Do the things you enjoy illustrating affect what you decide to write about?
I have a terrible time with landscapes and tend to try to have my illustrations happen indoors, but that obviously doesn’t always work out. I don’t consciously adjust my writing to what I think the illustrations will be. In fact, it has happened that I’ve had a story written and then realized that I have no idea how I’m going to do the illustrations.

As an illustrator, how do you feel about an author putting illustration notes in a manuscript?
Unless it’s something very important to the story, I prefer that the author sit back and let me do my job. I completely understand how nerve-wracking it must be to not have any control over the look of something that you worked so hard on, but when authors start micro-managing, all the fun of creation gets sucked out of it for me. I’m glad to say that it’s only happened once or twice.

You did a tour of seafood restaurants for CRUSTACEAN VACATION, (which is awesome!) how did that opportunity come about? Do you think alternative venues are a good avenue for authors and illustrators to use when promoting their books?
That was a weird one and while I enjoyed it, I have had my fill of chowder for a while. It actually started because a manager at one restaurant of a local seafood chain called and asked me if I’d like to come in on their kids’ night and sell books. They didn’t ask for a cut of the profits and they offered to feed me. How could I say no? It actually went better than some of the signings I’ve had at bookstores over the years. I went back and did it a few more times and it always went well enough to make it worthwhile.
I mentioned the event to Melissa Kim, the editor at Islandport who worked on Crustacean Vacation with me. She jumped on it and arranged a tour of the 13 restaurants that the author and I split. A few of them went very well and some of them were dreadful, just like any event, I suppose.
I think the alternative venues are a great idea for anyone - not just authors and illustrators. You have to be flexible and willing to try whatever you can if you want to succeed. If nothing else, some of the odder events make good stories to tell your friends later.

You’ve written and illustrated a number of picture books, and your chapter book, FAME, FORTUNE, AND THE BRAN MUFFINS OF DOOM, was recently published by Holiday House. How was it to create a chapter book after previously focusing your work on picture books?
I loved it. It was difficult and the book–because of a long and occasionally unpleasant series of events–took almost 5 years to be published. I worked with Sylvie Frank at Holiday House. She was enthusiastic and full of great ideas. There were parts that were definitely a steep learning curve for me. The illustrations, done in pencil, were a big challenge and I learned the hard way about the difference between full color reproduction quality and black&white reproduction quality.
The book took something of a beating by a few big reviewers, but the feedback from kids has been completely and overwhelmingly positive. They’re the audience, so I’m happy with that.

You are signed with Abigail Samoun of Red Fox Literary, how has your career changed since obtaining representation?
You mean besides the jet-pack and the hot tub and the multi-million dollar advances? Other than that, it’s just about the same.
Abi edited a book I did with Tricycle called Twelve Terrible Things and I enjoyed her slightly twisted sense of humor. She helped hammer out the initial version of the chapter book. In fact, she is the one who kept pushing me in that direction.

It’s nice to have someone to look things over before they go out to publishers. She’s way more in tune with what editors want than I will ever be, so she can help guide the work that I do.

What are you working on now?
I’ve actually got several projects going at the same time. It’s not my favorite way to work, but you do what you have to do. I’m finishing up my final edits on another chapter book that I’m hoping Abi can get me that six figure advance for. I’ve also been working on a few beginning reader books. With 50-75 words and a very concise vocabulary, it’s a fun challenge to try to come up with an engaging, well-crafted story. I also have a few new picture book ideas that I’m still forcing into submission in my sketchbook.

You can find more from Marty Kelley on his website, and at his blog He also has a website for his book, Fame, Fortune, and the Bran Muffins of Doom called Simon's Plans where you can download the first chapter of the book, play the Bran Muffins of Doom Game, watch the book trailer, and more! And don't miss Marty's Free Books for Life offer. It's quite a deal.