Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pinkwater Backlist Bonanza!

I'm delighted to announce that a whole bunch of Daniel Pinkwater books that have never before been digitized are now available in DRM-free electron versions for reading on your magical device. No more will you be forced to suffer the indignity of touching paper to get your Pinkwater fix!

In alphabetical order -- choose your favorites (or heck, buy them all for the low-low price of $2.99 each, I mean really, what a bargain):

Young Adults





 

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Release - GAIJIN: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner

"Amazing art and a moving story drew me into this compelling, historically important graphic novel." -- Graham Salisbury, author of Under the Blood-Red Sun, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

"Matt Faulkner has crafted a beautifully drawn novel that simmers with rage."  -- Matt Phelan, author/illustrator of The Storm in the Barn, winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction

"Powerful. . . Matt Faulkner tells his tale with fierce graphics and moving delicacy." -- George Takei

Based on an episode of Matt Faulkner's own family history, GAIJIN tells the tale of a half-Japanese boy in the 1940's who, along with his white American mother, is sent to an internment camp in Northern California after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

The internment of Japanese-Americans is one of those things we don't really learn enough about in school. . . and it wasn't that long ago. Despite the fact that many of the people affected by the internment had been in America for generations, were home-owners, had businesses and were upstanding members of society, they were thrown into makeshift "camps" with very little warning, their homes and rights stripped from them, and they had no recourse. Could such a nightmare scenario happen TODAY? Spoiler alert: Yeah, absolutely. 

GAIJIN is a beautiful graphic novel, and an important one. If you (or the kid in your life) are at all intrigued by history, this is a must-add to the library. Ages 9+

Buy the book at your local independent bookstore, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or wherever fine books are sold.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to The Grudge Keeper by Mara Rockliff

Ahoy! I've been a bit off the grid for a couple of weeks because I was traveling for the Bologna Book Fair and a mini-Vacay (followed immediately by being ridiculously ill - Boo!) -- but I'm pretty much back at my desk, at least MOST of my brain present now. And so I can bring you the latest from the New Release files:

THE GRUDGE KEEPER by Mara Rockliff, illustrations by Eliza Wheeler, new from Peachtree!

Cornelius the Grudge Keeper is a little old man who collects all the peeves, snits, huffs and imbroglios the people of his village stir up against one another. He stores them all in the nooks and crannies of his crooked cottage, until one day . . . . well, I'll let you read about it yourself. Suffice to say, this picture book is funny, whimsical, and has the look and feel of a modern classic. The heightened language makes it a total delight to read aloud and the beautiful images are worth taking the time to pore over.

I call the GRUDGE KEEPER "The Little Picture Book that Could." It had a long, long path to publication. How long? Let's put it this way, it was originally submitted to publishers before I was even an agent. It sold in Summer of 2010, which I remember distinctly because I negotiated the contract in the passenger seat of my car, driving through Nebraska on a road-trip move from SF to NY. We finally got lucky enough to get the PERFECT illustrator in another ABLA client, Eliza Wheeler, in 2012 (which was JUST before her picture book MISS MAPLE'S SEEDS debut'ed on the NYT bestseller list and she rocketed to fame with the illustrations to Holly Black's Newbery Honor book DOLL BONES -- so great timing, Peachtree!) -- and now, here we are, at long last, I can brag about it to the world!

You can get your own copy at your local independent bookstore, at MY local independent bookstore, at Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, Amazon, or wherever fine picture books are sold. :-)

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Happy Book Birthday to THE VIOLET HOUR

So apparently I am a dum-dum who didn't realize that yesterday was not only a Tuesday, but THE Tuesday -- the day my author Whitney Miller's debut novel THE VIOLET HOUR officially hit shelves!
THE VIOLET HOUR is an intense horror-psycho-thrillride that oh wait also has snarky dialogue and great friendship and, yanno, kissing. It's about a girl named Harlow Wintergreen whose dad just happens to be the charismatic leader of a huge cult called VisionCrest.

Harlow is excited that her father is letting her come along with the other children of the ministry elite on a PR junket to Asia; even more so since her best friend and the boy she has crushed on forever will be with her. 

As the "first daughter" of VisionCrest, all eyes are on her, and she is expected to be perfect... but Harlow has a secret. She hears a voice in her head. A voice that tells her awful things, and shows her visions of a dizzying, blood-soaked alternate reality. From the moment they land in Tokyo, the voice seems to get louder and more insistent. The meds the doctors gave her don't seem to do any good, and the more desperately Harlow struggles to keep her mind and behavior under control, the more completely she is overwhelmed by the terrifying voice. It whispers to her. Shows her the deadly possibilities. Almost as if it has a will of its own.

Harlow is increasingly afraid of what the voice is showing her -- and more than that, what it might might make her do. When the fantasies bleed into reality and people begin to turn up dead, Harlow must expose her secret to the boy she loves and face the monster within, or else be consumed by it. But will it be too late?

Clickity for a fun interview with Miss Whitney (plus a giveaway). Or go peek at Whitney's rad website.

Or just buy the book by tree or e: Indiebound, B+N, Book Depository, Kobo, or Amazon. 

And, if you're near SF, you should totally attend Whitney's launch party at Books Inc Opera Plaza on 3/14. I'm told it is going to be spectacular. Wish I could be there, if you go, you'll have to give her creepy hugs from me!  Xo!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

MG Webinar!

Reminder that tomorrow, Thursday, Feb 20, 1pm E, I'll be revisiting my Writers Digest class Writing and Selling Middle Grade Fiction. This webinar was very popular last year, but I know a lot of people who wanted to attend didn't know about it in time -- so I'm delighted to have the opportunity to teach this again.

Important to note:

---- > If you are signed up, you do NOT need to attend live -- you'll have access to the course materials for a year.

---- > Every participant will get their choice of either a critique of 500 words of their MG novel (complete or work-in-progress) OR a query critique.

---- > ALL questions asked during the webinar will be answered! (If you can't make it during the event, you can email the questions you have to the moderator and we'll get them answered for you)

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about the webinar - and I hope to see you there!

xo JL

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hoppy Valentine's Day!

Every year I send a bookish Valentine created by one of my phenomenal artists. (The tradition started because, frankly, I could never get it together to send Christmas cards on time - but hey, I love pink and red and LOVE, so, it stuck.) The 2014 card is by the amazing Cynthia von Buhler.

To my friends and colleagues, on the internet and off -- and to the lovely readers of this blog -- You're awesome. Have a wonderful rest-of-your-winter, and may spring arrive soon!





Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Three Book Birthdays

Three new YA client releases today! WOW WOW WOW! I'm not going to get into a whole long ramble about them because, frankly, I think these hot covers and titles do more to speak for the books than I ever could. Click the jackets for more info or to buy.

WHITE SPACE by Ilsa J Bick is mind-bending creeptastic horror in the vein of Inception. Click for more...

THE GLASS CASKET by McCormick Templeman is a dark and chilling fairy tale-esque story in which something wicked stalks a forest village. Click for more...

THE TINKER KING by Tiffany Trent is the awesome followup to THE UNNATURALISTS - full of magical steampunky goodness. Yum yum! Click for more...

http://www.oblongbooks.com/book/9781442457591http://www.oblongbooks.com/book/9781606844199http://www.oblongbooks.com/book/9780385743457

Enjoy these reads, and stay tuned, this is just the beginning of 2014's bounty! ;-)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ALA and MARTY McGUIRE x 3!

So this past weekend I spent at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia which, despite freezing slushy weather, was absolutely splendid (of course! BECAUSE LIBRARIANS ARE THE BEST!) -- and which culminated, Monday morning, in the ALA Youth Media Award announcement. The ALAYMA are better known as the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and other shiny medals given to excellent children's books every year. Ever since I was a kid I've been OBSESSED with these awards -- ever since there has been internet capability, I've watched the live stream of the announcement -- and finally, for the first time, I got to actually BE IN THE ROOM!??!

Not gonna lie, I freaked out a bit. Really. I mean, I pretty much started crying the first time one of my friend's books got an award (which was the first award given!) and didn't stop til the end. Happy tears obviously! Just, you know. A lot of emotions floating around the room, that's all. FEELINGS! CATHARSIS! CAPS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!

Now I'm  home again and settling back into the routine. And I realized, even though it feels like a Monday, that in fact today is TUESDAY. Which means it is NEW BOOK RELEASE DAY. Which means it is time to present to you a brand-new book from Kate Messner. Welcome to the  third installment of the Marty McGuire series, MARTY McGUIRE HAS TOO MANY PETS!

The astonishingly talented illustrator of the Marty series, Brian Floca, wrote about Marty here. . . and Brian also just happened to win the Caldecott Medal yesterday for his newest solo picture book (which means, yes, he was one of the folks I was screaming/crying about.) NICE! Here's Kate's blog post on the topic.

You can buy the book from Oblong, Barnes and Noble, or wherever fine books are sold!

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

My Year of Reading Romances

Whenever I read a ridiculous op-ed about the state of YA literature or some such, where the author has clearly read five YA books total, I want to sit them down, give them a stern talking-to and a book list. Whenever I meet a person who "really wants to write for kids because it is so easy," I want to box their ears and force them to read a mighty stack of picture books.

Here's what I think: If you want to consider yourself an authority on any category or genre of book, you have to read at least 100 books in it. 

If you want your knowledge to be about the CURRENT state of the genre, then a handful of "classics" are fine, but the majority should be published in the last 5 or so years. Seriously. Spend a year reading your face off in any one category or genre, and I assure you, you'll end up with favorite authors, pet peeves, a working understanding of tropes, a strong grasp on what is actually being published, and most of all, opinions that are based on something besides conjecture. You'll be, if not a real expert, at least an avid amateur who speaks the language.

So, okay, about Romances. When I was twelve or so, my good friend Pamela and I would raid her mom's romance book library. Pam's mom read a TON of mass market paperback romances (mostly featuring Broad-Shouldered and Smouldering Highlanders), and she made frequent trips to the local paperback exchange to refresh her collection, so we always had something new to read. Then Pam and her folks moved out of state, and I went away to high school, then college -- and while I always read a lot, Romance Novels were utterly forgotten.

Until late 2012, when I bought a romance e-book on somebody's recommendation. I don't know what the title was -- just that it was a good choice because it was nothing related to work, just pure pleasure reading, and relaxing fun during a stressful time of year. And as soon as I finished, I bought another. And another. And my whole Christmas break I devoured them. And somehow, January happened, and I was still reading.

ANYway, I decided to start keeping track of what I read starting Jan 1, 2013. I read about 150 romance novels in 2013. (Of course I also read kids and YA books, and some regular fiction and nonfiction, and books and manuscripts for work -- I'm not counting those.) The vast majority of those (130 or so) were Historical Romances, and probably 100 of those were published in the last five years. So yeah. I'm caught up. I may not be an expert, but I really do know this genre quite well. And while my obsession may have run its course, I'd still be open to repping something of this nature if I found one I loved.

In the meantime, I'll be a fan from the sidelines. Here's what I tend to like: a bit of adventure, a ton of witty banter, preferably a cool brainy heroine who does something besides simper, and if there is cross-dressing or an unusual setting, all the better! In no particular order, these were some of the books that stuck with me during the Great Romance Read of 2013 -- Maybe you'll read some of these and love them too?

Courtney Milan - HEIRESS EFFECT: All of Milan's books are terrific, but I really love this Brothers Sinister series. In this one, an extremely rich girl who is not marriage-minded does everything possible (short of contracting a contagious disease) to get potential suitors to stay the hell away from her. Witty and fun and oh also I totally ugly-cried at a certain point.

Elizabeth Essex - ALMOST A SCANDAL: Ugh I love this book. A girl dresses as her brother and takes over for him in the Navy. She acquits herself well and nobody figures out her ruse. . . well, nobody except the Captain, that is. Too bad they are off at sea and he can't expose her for a fraud OR deposit her back in London . . . she'll just have to keep dressing as a boy and, well . . .  *rowr*

Tessa Dare - ANY DUCHESS WILL DO: All of Dare's books are delightful - most set in the little village of "Spindle Cove" (aka Spinster Cove), a beach community full of ladies who are pretty much off the marriage mart for one reason or another. In this one, a Duke is charged by his mother to get married. She declares she can make any lady into an appropriate Duchess, so he just needs to choose. NOW. So he picks the most inappropriate wench he can find, determined to foil his mother's plan. (Bonus: has a bookselling subplot!)

Meredith Duran - A LADY'S LESSON IN SCANDAL: A girl from the slums breaks into the home of a nobleman and holds him up at gunpoint, determined to right a wrong done to her mother years before. But she finds the little old man she expects is in fact long gone - and her captive is young, hotblooded, naked as a jaybird, and convinced that she is a secret heiress.

Cecilia Grant - A LADY AWAKENED: A widow's estate is about to go to a real jerk. Sooo she conceives of a cunning plan... if she can prove she's with child, she'll get to keep the estate and the people who depend on her will not be harmed. But she only has 30 days... *cue sexytimes*

Sherry Thomas - NOT QUITE A HUSBAND: Actually I've liked all Sherry Thomas's books, but I chose this one because it is set largely in India and Pakistan, and features a tough woman doctor. It wasn't my favorite while I was reading it,  but I've thought a lot about it in retrospect. Pretty much I just think Thomas is a swell writer, who tends to deal in outrageous plots (Another one, BEGUILING THE BEAUTY, is about a transatlantic ocean voyage, a widow disguised as a Baroness, and revenge!)

What have been some of YOUR favorites?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Third-Party Queriers or "Agent-agents", and Sapsuckers

From my pocket:  *ring ring* 

Me: Hi, this is Jennifer.

Some Stranger:  Can I speak to Jennifer Lag-lahr-gg-squ-san?

This is Jennifer Laughran.

OH Hi this is [mumble mumble] from [fake sounding company] in Hollywood and I want to talk to you about a hot new property RANDOM TITLE. 

I'm so sorry . . . I don't know that title. I'm afraid that's not one of mine.

No, no, it's not one of yours . . . this is a SUBMISSION to you. 

Um. . . what?

Yes, my client [mumble mumble] wrote this book and you hadn't responded to my letter about it so I thought I'd follow up. You got the letter a week ago?

I have no idea what you are talking about. Sorry, I get a lot of email. Who are you again?

It wasn't email. It was a paper submission.

[while talking, googles name of company, name of person, comes up empty] I'm sorry, I'm just really confused, this was a query??
[interrupting] Nope, not a query, it's a referral, anyway, this is a medical thriller, you'll be kicking yourself if you don't represent this. So what do you say to a sure-fire moneymaker --

[interrupting] -- but I never got a letter, I haven't accepted snail mail queries since 2007, and I only represent children's books. So . . . Who are you?? Are you the author?

[patiently, as if to a child] I'm not the author, I'm working for my client to send out their work . . . 

. . . So you're an . . . agent?

No no, [long-suffering sigh] I'm sending out their work so they can get a literary agent.

So you're an agent-getting agent? An agent-agent? That doesn't seem like a thing.

Look WE DO THIS ALL THE TIME IN HOLLYWOOD. I assure you, sweetheart, this is a thing.
Welp, first of all, that isn't true --- plus, my agency is open to submissions, any author can just query -- tell him to just query. And listen, this is my cell, how did you even get this number?
No YOU listen: It's really unprofessional that you are acting like this about a REFERRAL. I mean this is ridiculous, I'll report this to your boss!

Huh. Well, a "referral" from a stranger is not really a referral at all. I don't represent people who can't follow simple directions or conduct their own correspondence. I don't represent medical thrillers. And my boss doesn't like bullies any more than I do. Don't call me again.    
*fin*
The preceding was essentially a transcript of an extremely annoying conversation that I have a couple times a year. Oh, the details have been erased and the exact back-and-forth approximated. Much more often -- every couple of weeks at least -- I get the same basic thing but in email form:
Subject Line: AUTHOR REFERRAL!

Hi Agent, I'm Random McNoname, and I'm writing to reffer [sic] my client Author Sapsucker to you. Sapsucker has a pHd in Neurocathology [sic] and 78 followers on twitter so he's the real deal. The manuscript is attached, I look forward to hearing from you by next week.
 So how did these authors get screwed? Let us count the ways:

Note the misspellings, the "attached manuscript", the fact that they don't say what the book is, that they aren't targeting me specifically or if they are, they are submitting something I don't rep, that they are demanding a response by a certain time, that they haven't followed guidelines in the least. That's leaving aside the fact that they aren't even the author -- so who ARE they?

These are what I call "agent-agents" or third-party queriers. They convince authors that their "services" are necessary to query (aka spam) literary agents*. Authors who are totally new and/or desperate will take the bait and pay, in the hopes that it will give them a leg up on the competition. Probably, because this world is full of unscrupulous a-holes who like to take advantage of authors, they'll pay rather a lot.

Instead of getting a fast-pass to easy street, however, these authors paid good money to assure that their work won't be taken seriously. No legit agent I've ever met responds to strong-arm tactics or so-called "referrals" from strangers. Strangers who clearly don't even know anything about the specific book or author they are allegedly working for, let alone about the book industry in a larger sense.

As for the matter of this being a "referral" -- I call shenanigans. A referral means that somebody I know and trust (like one of my clients, an agent colleague, or an editor I've worked with) is vouching for you. A referral from a stranger is pointless. What do I care if  some schmuck I've never heard of thinks you're terrific?

In any case, you generally don't need a referral to submit to most agents. (Some yes, but those agents are probably accepting few if any new clients anyway). You don't need a special key or a magic word to get read by an agent -- you just need to follow directions and have a great-sounding book.

I'm personally closed to queries until January, but every other month of the year, my submission guidelines are quite simple: The subject line needs to have the word "query" in it. The email itself should have a full query letter and ten pages pasted in. I don't accept snail mail submissions, nor do I open attachments.  That's it. Now this might differ a bit from other agency guidelines - - but they are all pretty much alike in that they are simple enough for a literate child to follow.

We WANT to read your work. We WANT to find new talent. Believe it or not, the submission guidelines are not set up to see how cleverly authors can avoid them. The guidelines are just there to make things simpler and easier for everyone, including authors.

You think querying is hard? You wrote an entire book. THAT'S hard work. If you can do that, I promise, you can write a couple of interesting paragraphs about yourself and your book, and do a bit of internet research. Querying is the EASY part.

Sorry if I sound a bit fired up about this, but it just makes me insanely angry how many authors I see getting parted from their money by companies like this. PLEASE, don't be a Sapsucker.

* ETA: It probably goes without saying that, while I get these every few weeks -- there are no doubt MANY scamster companies that don't even bother sending any material out at all. I mean, how would the author know? So these are just the VISIBLE scamsters...