Sunday, April 1, 2018

Meet my EDITOR - Alice Jerman

The next in a series which will let me introduce you to the 
most important people in my writing life...

Editor - Harper Teen, HarperCollins

Pocket bio

Where are you from?
New Jersey

Where do you live now?

What genre do you read for pleasure?
YA Fantasy, true crime, graphic novels 

Favorite book ever?
The Winner's Curse trilogy, by Marie Rutkoski

How did you get to where you are now? Did you always want to edit books/work in publishing?
I loved books and writing, but my favorite part was always talking about books. So I knew I had to be an English major in college. It wasn't until my sophomore year, though, amidst generalized "what will I do for a career" panic that I realized "Oh wait, there are people who make the books. I would like to do that!" I got an internship at an agency and after working there for a few years, decided I'd like to be an editor, so I can talk about books and their intricate inner workings and character motivations and everything I loved from English class (minus the tests) for the rest of my life. 

What’s involved in being an editor, that is, how much more to the job is there than just line editing a manuscript?
Ha! Quite a lot goes on behind the scenes. It's always fun to explain to my family and friends that I do more than just fix the commas. Before I actually acquire a manuscript from an agent/author, there is lots of networking, reading queries, and then negotiating dealsplus paperwork, paperwork, paperwork. Then once I’ve acquired the book, there is reading drafts and doing rounds of edits, author phone calls, writing copy (flap copy, internal copy, catalog copy, galley copy, selling copy). In house, I am the author's and the book’s champion, which means I coordinate with various departments about the book, making sure it's in front of everyone it has to be before it goes out into the world. (And then more paperwork). It's a lot, but it's all for really great books I love, so it's all worth it! 

How many queries and submitted manuscripts do you read each month, and what is it that you are looking for?
This number varies depending on the time of year, but in an average month I'd say I read about 50 submissions per month.

I'm looking for primarily diversity, own voices, fantasy, and any sort of forbidden romance. I also love historical fiction, stories about friendship, family, and coming of age. I look for middle grade and YA. 

Of the books you have bought for publication, what key factors made you want to take that particular book over the others you read that week?
It's a combination of a few things, really. On a practical level: will this book work on my list? Will this book stand out on the list at Harper? Will this book be a good fit for the market now? Then there's the technical stuff: how is the writing? Is the plot strong and hooky? Then questions like: do I connect with this book? Does it speak to me in some way? Do I feel passionately about it? Do I love it? Because that leads to the biggest question of all: Is this a book I want to read over and over and over again? We spend hundreds of hours on a single book, so if it's not something you don't see yourself pouring a good chunk of your soul into, even if everything else about it is technically perfect, you shouldn't go for it!

Would you talk us through the process from start to finish – submitted ms to book on shelf – as far as your work is concerned? And which is your favorite part of that process?
For me, once I get a submission that I like, I need to run it by the members of my editorial team and then run it by my department heads. If they also like it, then I can offer on it. If all goes well, I buy it. Yay! Then I go through a few rounds of edits with the author, while I work with design to coordinate a cover. I work on packaging the book--that means coming up with catchy copy. Then I launch the book to my team, telling them the big highlights, how I feel about the book, etc. Then my marketing team is coming up with plans and my copy-editors are copy-editing the book. Then when it's perfect, the book is sent to the printer and turned into a physical book. 

My favorite part is definitely editing! I love working with the book at the text level.

What is on your manuscript wish list?
Diversity! Especially Own Voices. I also am looking for fantasy, forbidden romance, friendship stories, or coming of age stories.

What advice would you give to a teenager who is interested in becoming a book editor?
Make sure you LOVE it! This isn't a job you do lightly, you pour your heart and soul into it at every step: buying the book, editing the book, cheerleading for the book. It requires your everything, so make sure the job is right for you. 

What book do you wish you could have worked on?
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick or Counting By 7's by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Do you write too? Would you every write/have you ever written a novel?
I write only on occasion. Writing takes a lot of time, so I guiltily have to say I don't really have time for it. I love writing, and I have a minor in Creative Writing, so I should put that to use, after all! I suppose there’s always next year to pick up a pen…

Alice and me at the Harper offices in New York
Of all the books you’ve worked on, which did you enjoy the most?
So many of them! I got to help edit Jodi Lynn Anderson's books, and I love her. And I really enjoyed editing Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague, as well as David’s most recent novel How Oscar Indigo Broke the Universe (and Put it Back Together Again). I really loved working on Pretty Little Liars and The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard, as well as Jessica Leake’s Beyond a Darkened Shore, and Laura E Weymouth’s The Light Between Worlds. And, of course, Wait for Me by Caroline Leech is incredibly close to my heart. <3

Alice first came across my WAIT FOR ME manuscript when she was one of the judges for the RWA Emily Contest in 2014. She read the first twenty pages and immediately requested the full manuscript. She was very patient while I finished off some revisions, and was wonderfully enthusiastic when I sent the manuscript to her. Within two weeks, she had offered me a two book deal. I still sometimes read that first email from her to remind myself that this whole book deal is a real thing!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Meet my Agent - Jordan Hamessley

The first in series which will let me introduce you to the 
most important people in my writing life, starting with...

Jordan Hamessley
Literary Agent
New Leaf Literary & Media Inc

Pocket bio

Where are you from? 
     Born and raised in Austin, TX. Followed by twelve years in NYC.

Where do you live now?
The San Francisco Bay Area

What genre do you read for pleasure? 
YA Contemporary

Favorite book ever? 
     The Haunting of Hill House

How did you get to where you are now? Did you always want to work in publishing?
I moved to NYC right after high school to go to school for musical theater and spent several years in NYC performing. Eventually I found myself reading a book a day and wanted to find a way to use that skill, so I started looking for publishing jobs and never looked back. Apparently when I was a kid I told my aunt that when I grew up I just wanted to read all day, so I guess I got my wish. My other dream job as a kid was to be a talent agent, so I didn’t end up too far off from that dream.

What’s involved in being a literary agent? Do you have a ‘typical week’ yet?
There are so many emails! I try to spend my mornings responding to emails from clients and editors. My afternoons are usually spent reading submissions or prepping client projects for submission. I spend a lot of time on the phone, as well, whether it’s talking a client through a revision, getting to know editors, or pitching projects. I squeeze in reading queries when I can, but most of the time I read them after dinner and on weekends.

How many queries and submitted manuscripts do you receive/read each month, and what is it that you are looking for?
I’m getting several hundred queries a month and I request about three manuscripts a week, but it all comes down to selling me in the query and the pages. I’ve had moments where the query is on point and then the pages don’t live up to the promise of the pitch. Those are tough passes. For me, I want to know what the book is about from the query. If all I know is themes and find myself left asking “But what is the plot?” there isn’t much to excite me. Keep in mind what comp titles you are using for you book and that they actually convey the tone or genre of your book.

Of the authors you now work with, what key factors made you want to represent that particular writer over the others who queried you? (It’s fine if you only refer to your new signings, rather than your ‘adopted’ clients)

One of the first clients I signed had two perfect comps in his query and it made me go “I must read this book.” One of the comp titles was in my “top 5 books of all time” listed on my bio and it was a perfect comp.

Once you have taken on an author as your client, talk us through your process from start to finish for selling manuscripts to the books reaching the shelves and then beyond? And which is your favorite part of that process?
Because I spent so many years as an editor, I tend to be a very editorial agent with my clients. I do at least one editorial pass on a manuscript before I put it out on submission, sometimes more! Then the fun part of putting together the submission list starts and I get to start pitching. If all goes as planned and we get a deal, then I switch into more of a management role. I keep up to date to the author’s deadlines and keep in touch with the publisher on all things promotion/publicity. I love when we get cover designs in or find out what illustrators an editor envisions for a picture book. There are fun parts to the entire process, but I’m a big fan of seeing the finished book for the first time.

What is on your manuscript wish list right now?
I’ve gotten quite a reputation for being a horror editor, but my tastes have shifted a bit recently. I’m easily spooked these days, so I’m being very selective about the horror I take on and I’m much more excited to find great contemporary YA and middle grade fiction. Some of my favorite TV shows are Jane the Virgin and Friday Night Lights and I’d love to find stories that bring me the laughs and heart of JtV and the emotional tears of FNL.

I’m always looking for queer stories in the middle grade space, especially for young queer girls.

I’m a sucker for music and theater stories as someone who has spent a lot of my life performing.

What are the biggest mistakes that prospective authors make when they’re approaching you looking for representation?
There are a lot of times I see people trying to fit my bio their query and it just isn’t the best fit for their book. If you are going to reference something in my bio, make sure it’s really connected to your book. I mention that I sing and tap dance in my spare time and as a result I get a lot of queries telling me about the author’s high school musical from 15 years ago. If it isn’t relevant to the book and you as an author, I don’t need to know.

What advice would you give to a teenager who is interested in becoming a literary agent?
Read read read! The books I read as a teen are still the defining books of my life and helped form my tastes.

Do you write too? Would you ever write/have you ever written a novel?
Whenever I’ve thought I had the idea for a book, I sit down and end up writing one paragraph and say “Well, that was all I had to say about that.” So no, I haven’t ever written a novel of my own. Part of what I love about my job is helping authors decide what story to tell next and I get to flex my creative muscles in those moments. There are many books in the world that I’ve edited that have pieces of me in them from the editorial discussions I’ve had with authors and that’s fulfilling for me.

Of all the books you’ve worked on, which did you enjoy the most?
That is like choosing a favorite child! I have an eternal fondness for the first series I ever acquired, Adam-Troy Castro’s Gustav Gloom series. It set me on my middle grade horror for a few years. I’m also very proud of Kaitlin Ward’s Bleeding Earth. The two of us went on quite the journey getting that book published and I’m so happy that it’s out in the world.

Now that I’m on the agenting side of things, I have so many projects that I’m in love with and excited to share with the world.

With nearly a decade of experience working on the editorial side of publishing at Penguin Young Readers (Grosset & Dunlap), Egmont USA, and Adaptive Studios, Jordan Hamessley made the switch to agenting. Jordan had the pleasure of editing many award winning and critically acclaimed authors such as Sara Benincasa, Len Vlahos, Ilsa J. Bick, Adam-Troy Castro, E.C. Myers, Dori Hillestad Butler, Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead, Michelle Schusterman and more.

Visit the New Leaf website for more information about Jordan, New Leaf Literary and its clients, and to find information on how to submit your manuscript.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Newsletter launch - sign up and win!

To mark the first anniversary of WAIT FOR ME's publication, and of me becoming an author, I'll be launching my first newsletter later this week.

Although I will still posting longer reads on this blog, the newsletter will give you a monthly, quick-to-read update on what is happening with me and my books. Each month will include news, events, a writing craft tip, a peek into the history I write about, and last but not least, a book giveaway of my favorite of the new Young Adult releases.

So please, head over to my website at to sign up!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Cover Reveal - Come and meet the Lumberjills - IN ANOTHER TIME

To see the whole cover, please keep reading…

I am so thrilled to be able to share with you the beautiful cover for my second novel, IN ANOTHER TIME, which will be published on August 28th by Harper Teen in the US and Harper Collins Children’s Books in the UK. The fabulous book blog, YA Books Central has today unveiled the cover for me, and to celebrate, we are giving away FREE BOOKS AND OTHER STUFF, including an advanced copy of IN ANOTHER TIME.

IN ANOTHER TIME is set in 1942—half-way through World War Two—and follows Maisie McCall, a Glasgow girl who defies her parents, and volunteers to pick up an ax and saw to become a lumberjill of the Women’s Timber Corps in the Highlands of Scotland. She makes friends quickly, and not only with the other lumberjills. There’s also a handsome Canadian lumberjack . . .

Love is worth the fight
It’s 1942, and Maisie McCall is in the Scottish Highlands doing her bit for the war effort as a Women’s Timber Corps lumberjill. Maisie relishes her newfound independence and her growing friendships—especially with the enigmatic John Lindsay.
As Maisie and John work side-by-side felling trees, Maisie can’t help but feel like their friendship has the spark of something more to it. And yet every time she gets close to him, John pulls away. It’s not until Maisie rescues John from a terrible logging accident that he begins to open up to her about the truth of his past, and the pain he’s been hiding.
Suddenly everything is more complicated than Maisie expected. And as she helps John untangle his shattered history, she must decide if she’s willing to risk her heart to help heal his. But in a world devastated by war, love might be the only thing left that can begin to heal what’s broken.

So now, if you are ready, here comes the full cover . . .


Isn’t it beautiful?

When my lovely Harper Teen editor, Alice Jerman, first sent me a draft of this amazing cover—again designed by the genius that is Harper Collins’s Aurora Parlagreco—I was struck at how beautifully it captured this particular period of the wartime. This girl looks strong and independent just like Maisie, but still, there’s a hint of worry in her expression—it is wartime after all—and there’s also some uncertainty, as if she is searching for the answer to a very particular problem out there on the hillside. And as you will learn once you read the book, that’s all very Maisie too.

And of course, I was thrilled to see again the same title font—“my font”—which Aurora created by hand for the cover of WAIT FOR ME. With the same titling and color palette used for both covers, look how beautifully my two books will sit together on a shelf.

Thank you for sharing this exciting moment with me, but before you head over to YA Books Central to enter my Giveaway, here’s a snippet of the lumberjill action you can expect from IN ANOTHER TIME, just to keep you going until next August, or until you win my advance copy in the Giveaway!

What song would John Lindsay hum as he was swinging his ax? Suddenly a tune came into Maisie’s mind. It was the one she and John had danced to, albeit briefly and disastrously, last night.
Before the music escaped her mind, Maisie lifted her ax. Then, as she began to sing under her breath—“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when”—she brought the ax down sharp into the bark of the log.
Amazingly, it did the trick, and Maisie let out a cry of delight as the ax sliced cleanly again into the flesh of the tree.


To enter this celebratory Cover Reveal Giveaway, head over to YA Books Central for a chance to win not one, but THREE fabulous prizes, including an advanced copy of IN ANOTHER TIME!

  • One winner will receive a signed ARC of IN ANOTHER TIME, as well as a signed copy of Caroline’s 2017 debut, WAIT FOR ME, both nestled in a goody-bag of book swag and Scottish sweet treats.
  • A second winner will receive a trio of the newest Harper Teen historical YA reads (see additional details below) and IN ANOTHER TIME book swag.
  • A third winner will receive a $30 Barnes and Noble gift card and IN ANOTHER TIME book swag.
(The trio of Harper Collins new YA historical novels to be won will be AMONG THE RED STARS by debut Gwen Katz, a thrilling new novel about the WW2 Russian girl pilots known as the Night Witches; THE FREEMASON’S DAUGHTER by Shelley Sackier, another Scottish historical tale dubbed OUTLANDER for YA; and Mackenzi Lee’s THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, a funny and sweet swashbuckling 18th century adventure. Three perfect reads for fans of historical YA fiction.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Edinburgh International Book Festival - I'm coming home!

I am so excited to be part of today’s announcement of the Edinburgh International Book Festival’s programme for August 2017. I’ll be appearing alongside the amazing and prolific Scottish children’s author and Carnegie Medal-winnner, Theresa Breslin, on Sunday August 13th, at 4pm in theBosco Theatre tent on George Street. Theresa’s latest YA novel THE RASPUTIN DAGGER is set in the Russian Revolution, and will be published in August, so we’ll be talking about creating fictional stories around historical events.

I'm also proud be taking part in the free reading on Monday August 14th, to support the important work of Amnesty International. Each day, festival authors will be reading works by authors who have been imprisoned by oppressive regimes around the world.

To see details of my events, and also access the full festival programme, click on the link blue links above. Tickets will go on sale on Tuesday June 20th at 8.30am BST. 

Please come if you can, I’d love to see you in the tent on August 13!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

My Book Launch - see the pics & watch the video!

Tuesday, February 7th 2017 - Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX

Thank you to everyone involved in my fantastic 
WAIT FOR ME launch last month, 
especially Joy Preble and all the staff at Brazos Bookstore
and everyone who came along to listen.

If you missed it, and would like to see a little of what went on, 
watch this amazing little video made by a very talented student at 
Houston's High School for the Visual & Performing Arts, 

Photo: thanks to Taryn Feheley

Photo: thanks to Jennifer Yen

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Radio interview with NPR's Houston Matters

With Houston Matters' Michael Hagerty

I was delighted to have had the chance recently to chat with the delightful Michael Hagerty, senior producer of NPR's Houston Matters program on Houston Public Media.  Below is the interview which aired yesterday, in which I discuss WAIT FOR ME and its historical background, and also about my thoughts on the importance of historical fiction for young adult readers.