Thursday, August 27, 2015

Let me introduce you to my literary agent!

I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I am now represented as an author by Danielle Barthel and Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media, Inc. in New York.

New Leaf is a major force particularly in the Young Adult arena, representing lots of amazing authors including Veronica Roth, who wrote the Divergent Trilogy, and Victoria Aveyard whose debut novel, Red Queen, went straight to No. 1 on the New York Times YA bestsellers list the week it was published in February.

Danielle Barthel and Suzie Townsend

Every author has a story to tell about his or her own distinct path to representation and eventually to publication, and one of these days, I’ll tell you where I am on my path. But in the meantime, my enormous and heartfelt thanks go to Danielle and Suzie at New Leaf for responding almost immediately to my plaintive submission email, for reading my WW2 love story over a sunny weekend when they could have been out enjoying themselves, and then for welcoming me into the New Leaf Literary family with such open and encouraging arms.  

Every un-agented writer harbors a suspicion that agents are all mean people who get a thrill out of saying “No!” to hard-working writers who just want a break. Well, from Danielle and Suzie at New Leaf, I got a whole bunch of "Yes!”.

Nikki Loftin
photo by Rae Dollard
I must also send a huge thank you to the wonderful Nikki Loftin for being so generous in putting in a good word for me with Suzie at New Leaf, who also represents her.  Nikki is an active member of the Austin chapter of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She not only gave me my first ever SCBWI conference critique, back in 2012, later in the day when she also saw me standing alone at a reception, she immediately took my arm and started introducing me to other writers she knew. Some wonderful friendships began with that kind gesture and first introduction, but I could never have guessed that years later, Nikki would make yet another crucially important introduction for me. Thank you, Nikki – I still owe you that cocktail with the pink umbrella.

I can’t wait to tell you more about this roller-coaster journey towards publication, as it all plays out, but for the time being, I’ll try to contain my excitement at having Danielle and Suzie on my team, and try to work out how to round off this post without resorting to some clich├ęd comment about me turning over a New Leaf…

Darn it!

To see the other amazing authors and illustrators represented by New Leaf Literary & Media, visit

Nikki Loftin is the author of three gorgeous middle grade novels, The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy, Nightingale’s Nest and Wish Girl. You can find Nikki at

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Go get a critique group, I couldn't live without mine!

Tobey Forney, Mimi Vance, Chris Cander, me, Penny Linsenmayer and Andrea White 

I am so lucky to be part of a writers' critique group with five fantastic and inspiring women writers. 

My great author friend, Andrea White, suggested a couple of years ago that I might like to meet another friend of hers, Chris Cander. "Chris has one book out already and another heading towards publication," said Andrea, "and I know you'll get on." .

Talk about an understatement! We could have talked for hours, and by the time we met for the second time we were up to five writers, with a sixth added soon after. And although at first we did swap manuscripts around and comment on each other's work, it became apparent that we are all so swamped with our own work, as well as family life etc, that this wasn't really working for us all.  So we decided instead to meet for lunch every couple of months to share our stories, our ideas, our hopes and our panics. I now wonder how I ever wrote anything without them.

When we meet, we go round the table to catch up on what everyone is working on - writing, researching, selling or promoting.  It is wonderful to have friends who are proud to be your cheerleading team, who love to celebrate the triumphs and talk through the disappointments. We build each other up  so we will be better able withstand the next stomach-lurching loop of the roller-coaster career we have chosen for ourselves, and we cheer the loudest when one of us succeeds. We all write such different things, but we all share the joy of telling stories and reaching new people. 

Over the next few months, I would love to introduce you to my critique group friends one by one, but today I wanted simply to share a photo, taken at our lunch today, showing six women writers, some published, some almost-but-not-quite-published, looking happy, relaxed and, if you look deep in their eyes, inspired by each other.

Andrea White, Chris Cander, Tobey Forney, Penny Linsenmayer and Mimi Vance - thank you, thank you, thank you.

And to you, dear reader, if you also like to write (even if you don't yet have the bottle to call yourself a writer - yes, we've all been there), go find yourself a critique group (or one friend who has a friend, who has a friend, etc., so you can form your own group), and even if you never critique each other's work, it's a great excuse for some lunch and some laughs.