Reading, Writing

How I Found YA

With all of the talk about TWILIGHT today and how it affected the young adult market, I started thinking about how I came to young adult books. It wasn’t through TWILIGHT–although I wouldn’t be ashamed if it was. Despite whatever flaws those books have, I love them because I care about the characters. Plus, I just love vampires. You could ask my parents about all the vampire shows and books I read/watched as a kid well before TWILIGHT. Anyway ….

I wish middle grade and young adult books had been so prevalent when I was growing up. The only MG/YA books I remember reading as a kid were Nancy Drew, The Boxcar Children, The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley High, and the R.L. Stine/Christopher Pike series, and I was a voracious reader. When I ran out of those, I raided my mom’s books, which happened to be romance novels, and I was hooked. I discovered Jane Austen my freshman year of high school–the ultimate romance novel. I went on to study English in college, happily reading my classics interspersed with romance, suspense, and mystery novels.

The first Harry Potter book came out while I was in college, and a few friends told me to read it, but I wasn’t interested. (Crazy, I know.) I didn’t read those until the first couple of movies came out and my husband and I decided to read them together. We’ve just started reading the first one to our kids. So Harry Potter didn’t turn me on to MG/YA, either.

It was a story idea. I had this dream one night for a story about a young boy, and it wouldn’t let go of me. I didn’t know anything about writing for kids, so I started researching. I attended a Writer’s Digest webinar with an agent who listed about a dozen MG/YA books she said aspiring writers should read. I went down the list in order. And as I started writing and researching other agents, I looked up what books they represented and read those. (That’s why I have such a handy list of MG/YA books agents represent.)

Over the past several years, I’ve gotten to the point where it’s rare for me to read an adult book. Usually it’s an author I’ve been reading for years or something an agent or author friend recommends where the premise stands out to me. Although there are exceptions in the adult market, often MG and YA books have more flexibility to move across genres. And I’ve gotten used to the faster pace of the stories. I find myself getting impatient with adult books, wanting them to move more quickly to the climax. Finding MG/YA books has changed my reading habits forever. And I love the conversations I already have with the kids I know about what books they should read :).

So that’s how I discovered the amazing world of MG/YA books. What about you? Was there a gateway book/series that led you to reading MG/YA? Or were you just smart and already knew how fabulous these books are?

Reading

On Giving Up A Favorite Author

I could have titled this post “How Writing Has Changed My Reading Habits, Part 3” because it’s really a continuation of how my growth as a writer has changed the way I read. Part 1 focused on how querying made me switch from reading mainly adult books to middle grade and young adult. (I sort of cringe now when I realize how long I waited to start reading in the category I was writing, but hey, I was a new writer then.) Part 2 was just last summer, when I shared how sometimes my reading is not as much just for fun as for market research or to support authors I know. (Although I enjoy it then, too.)

Well, now I have another topic that’s been brewing for a while. It has to do with how I read these days. I used to be able to pick up a book and immediately get lost in the story. I didn’t notice if the author loaded the opening chapter with backstory or “as you know, Bob” dialogue. I happily breezed through chapters of flowery description and passive voice. I didn’t mind if every character in the book paired off and the ending was tied up in an unbelievable happily-ever-after bow.

Because I didn’t know any better. I was just a reader. But after several years dedicated to improving my craft, it’s impossible for me to turn off that inner writer when I’m reading, and it’s had a rather sad side effect.

You see, I have some favorite authors I’ve been reading for more than twenty years, since I was in my early teens. Their books take up multiple shelves on my book case. Whenever a new book comes out, I add it to my collection. Except … after reading one of those author’s latest books, I found myself frustrated and tempted to stop reading halfway through. I decided I’m not going to pick up her next book, and now I’m a bit nervous about re-reading any of the thirty other books of hers I have on my shelves downstairs. Will I decide I don’t love those anymore? Or will the nostalgia or reading them under my desk during eighth grade Earth Science pull me through?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first of those old favorites I’ve given up on. I’m pretty sure some of them are being published on the strength of their name and twenty (or thirty) years of publishing history. Why fix what’s already selling? In some ways, I wish I could turn off the writer part of my brain so I could enjoy them the way I used to. And I’m glad not every reader thinks like a writer. Because one of those authors I gave up on? I heard her speak once and she inspired me, so even though I can no longer get lost in her books, I will always be grateful for her inspiring me to write.

Now, I should point out that this writer disdain (gosh, that makes me sound like such a snob!) definitely doesn’t include all of my old favorites. Many of them are totally writers whose brains I want to pick and ask, how do you do that so well? It’s just that I’m no longer able to read anything with the same disinterested reader brain I used to have.

Have you had this experience with authors you used to love and aren’t able to read the same way anymore?

Reading

2015 Debuts I Can’t Wait to Read

I saw a few people posting the debuts they’re most anticipating in 2015 and thought, you know, I want to jump on that train! Because I have some writing friends/acquaintances with books coming out this year, and I’m really excited about that. Besides, I’m not going to have any reviews for a couple of weeks because I’m catching up on some adult reading thanks to Christmas gifts :). So, here we go.

First of all, I have to give a shout out to my 2012 Writer’s Voice Team Captain Krista Van Dolzer, who has not one but TWO books coming out in 2015. I’ve already pre-ordered THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING, and you should, too! Here’s the gorgeous cover and description:

The Sound of Life and Everything by Krista Van DolzerTwelve-year-old Ella Mae Higbee is a sensible girl. She eats her vegetables and wants to be just like Sergeant Friday, her favorite character on Dragnet. So when her auntie Mildred starts spouting nonsense about a scientist who can bring her cousin Robby back to life, Ella Mae doesn’t believe her–until a boy steps out of the scientist’s pod and drips slime on the floor right before her eyes.

But the boy is not Robby–he’s Japanese. And in California in the wake of World War II, the Japanese are still feared and mistreated. When Auntie Mildred refuses to take responsibility, Ella Mae convinces her mama to take the boy home with them. It’s clear that he’ll be kept like a prisoner in that lab, and she wants to help.

Determined to do what’s right by her new friend, Ella Mae teaches him English and defends him from the reverend’s talk of H-E-double-toothpicks. But when the boy’s painful memories resurface, Ella Mae learns some surprising truths about her own family and, more importantly, what it means to love.

THE SOUND OF LIFE AND EVERYTHING comes out in May, and Krista’s second book, DON’T VOTE FOR ME, will be out in August. I’m so excited for Krista!


In keeping with the Team Krista theme, one of my Team Krista teammates, who also was so kind as to beta-read one of my manuscripts, will also debut this year. Anna-Marie McLemore’s THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS is about two teenagers from rival families of traveling performers who fall in love despite impossible odds. Doesn’t that sound amazing?? I wish there was a cover for me to share. The fall is so far away! In the meantime, you can follow Anna-Marie on Twitter for updates.


Another author who has encouraged me is Kelly Loy Gilbert, and I’m especially excited about her book because I love to read anything that explores faith. CONVICTION comes out in May, and I’ll be picking it up as soon as I can get my hands on it! Here’s the cover and description:

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host, has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in the upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

I mean, faith, baseball, impossible choices? Right up my alley!


This last one isn’t someone I know personally, but I’m excited because it’s another book I first encountered in a contest. I’ve wanted to read MONSTROUS by MarcyKate Connolly ever since I read the query and first page in The Writer’s Voice in 2012, so I will definitely be picking this up in February. Here’s the cover and blurb:

Monstrous by MarcyKate ConnollyThe city of Bryre suffers under the magic of an evil wizard. Because of his curse, girls sicken and disappear without a trace, and Bryre’s inhabitants live in fear. No one is allowed outside after dark.

Yet night is the only time that Kymera can enter this dangerous city, for she must not be seen by humans. Her father says they would not understand her wings, the bolts in her neck, or her spiky tail—they would kill her. They would not understand that she was created for a purpose: to rescue the girls of Bryre.

Despite her caution, a boy named Ren sees Kym and begins to leave a perfect red rose for her every evening. As they become friends, Kym learns that Ren knows about the missing girls, the wizard, and the evil magic that haunts Bryre.

And what he knows will change Kym’s life.


So there you have it–a few debuts I can’t wait to read this year. Unfortunately I have to wait until fall for two of them! Unless I can get my hands on ARCs … hmm. What debuts are you anticipating in 2015? Or other books?

Reading

My Favorite Reads of 2014

I’m doing this post a week early because I’ll be traveling for Christmas (attention crazies: my house will not be empty!) and I’m sure I’ll be playing catch-up when I return. As of today, I’ve read 104 books. I’ll probably squeeze in a couple more before the end of the year, but we’ll go ahead and call it for the purpose of listing my favorites for 2014 :). So here are my top middle grade and young adult reads, not necessarily published in 2014:

Middle Grade

5. Real Mermaids series by Helene Boudreau – I started reading this series a couple of years ago and finally got back to it. I’m so glad I did! The magic and mystery and teen friendship and first love all blends together so well. I wish there were more!

4. STILL LIFE by Jacqueline West – This was the conclusion to another series I love, The Books of Elsewhere. If you haven’t read it, start with the first book, THE SHADOWS, and read all five.

3. ALL FOUR STARS by Tara Dairman – I had been looking forward to this book for two years, and it certainly delivered. Now I can’t wait to read it to my daughter in a few years. She’s only four, but she’s already decided she wants to be a chef thanks to Master Chef Jr. I have a feeling this book will be a favorite!

2. EVERBLAZE by Shannon Messenger – Anyone surprised? No, I didn’t think so. An excellent third installment in the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, and the best part is: it’s not the end of the series!

1. AT YOUR SERVICE by Jen Malone – I met Jen Malone when I won a critique from her, and then I ended up winning an annotated e-arc of her book on another blog. It was so fun to read a behind-the-scenes version of the story. But even without that, I would have loved AT YOUR SERVICE. Really, check this one out!

Young Adult

So, I’m cheating in more than one way. First of all, I couldn’t quite narrow it down to just five, so I’m giving two honorable mentions. And then, most of these are series anyway, so it’s really like twenty books. Hey, I read more than 100 books this year!

First Honorable Mention: THE LIAR SOCIETY series by Lisa and Laura Roecker – So, the main reason I’m putting this as an honorable mention instead of in the actual list is because I only read the last book in 2014. It was split over the end of the year, but I’ve been using this series as a comp title all year, so it deserves another mention.

Second Honorable Mention: The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare – I had The Mortal Instruments series listed as my top YA read last year, and I did finish that series this year, too, but I loved this one even more. It had one of the best love triangles I’ve ever read in a series with a resolution that just … well, I’m not spoiling anything.

Ok, on to my real top five (or thirteen because I only read five of the Gallagher Girl books this year) YA reads.

5. HEX HALL series by Rachel Hawkins – I loved this series! It was one of those where I was laughing on the first page, and I couldn’t read through the books fast enough. I also started the spin-off series and am anxiously awaiting future installments.

4. THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK and THE OPAL CROWN by Jenny Lundquist – Secret twins who switch places! Princesses! An arranged marriage! Intrigue! Ok, I just love all of these things, so of course I was going to love these books.

3. CRESS by Marissa Meyer – I can’t get enough of this series. A book from The Lunar Chronicles has been in my top five for the last three years. I was privileged to see Marissa in person a second time this fall, so I now have all three books signed. I can’t wait for the last two books in the series, both of which are coming out in 2015.

2. Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter – I don’t know how I was so far behind the curve on this series. I’d read The Heist Society series and loved it and picked up a few of these books at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale last year. Once I finally started reading them, I couldn’t stop. I mean, a secret spy school for girls? Who wouldn’t love that?!

1. THE BURNING SKY and THE PERILOUS SEA by Sherry Thomas – I love it when a beta reader recommends a book to me and it ends up being a favorite. I would never have picked THE BURNING SKY up otherwise, and I’m so glad I did because it, along with the second book in the series, were my favorite YA reads of the year. The blend of romance and tension and magic and a mysterious villain and, well, I could go on, but you should just read them yourself.

What were your favorite reads in 2014? Did any of my favorites make your list?

Reading

How Writing Has Changed My Reading Habits, Part 2

I don’t have a review today because I spent my week of vacation re-reading one of my favorite romance novel series. Yes, I actually returned from vacation last week and had a review then, but that review was written before I left, and unfortunately the book I started reading upon my return that I hoped would be ready for a review today turned out to be one I ended up not finishing–a rarity for me.

Anyway, my week of getting lost in this favorite series got me thinking about how I don’t do that very often these days. I have a whole wall of books downstairs of books that I’ve re-read multiple times. Here’s some perspective. Two years ago I wrote a post titled How Writing Changed My Reading Habits. It was all about how I grew up reading romance novels, thought I would write them, ended up finding my niche in middle grade and young adult, and switched to reading mainly MG and YA.

So here we are in 2014, and I’m faced with a dilemma of my own making, in large part because of this blog. When I wrote that post in 2012, I had just started this blog. I didn’t yet know what I wanted it to be. Soon after that, I started participating in the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday blog hop as a way to network with other MG writers. At the time, I was exclusively writing MG, so it made sense to start reviewing MG books. I’ve since reviewed 47 middle grade books.

I started mixing in YA reviews as I came across YA books I loved, and those have been more frequent in the past year since I’ve been writing YA. I’m up to 27 YA reviews on the blog. I like to set myself goals, and my blogging goal has been to write one review per week, which generally means I need to read one MG/YA book per week, and if one of the books I read doesn’t meet my criteria for a review, then I have to read another one … can you see where I’m going here?

I’ve been getting a little overwhelmed lately. Reading used to be my escape, but when I made writing my career, reading became part of my job, too. Someone asked me the other day how I decide what to read next. Ha! My to-be-read pile is never-ending! Here are a few of the ways I choose:

  • Books I come across on other writer blogs
  • Books by authors I’ve met online
  • Books recommended by critique partners/beta readers
  • Books getting a lot of industry buzz
  • Books by authors I hear speak at a conference and/or signing
  • Books I win in an online contest
  • New books by authors I’ve read before

I read to know what’s out there in the market, to provide review content for my blog, to support authors I know, and to forward a variety of other business-related efforts that go beyond simply getting lost in a book. Now, I’m not saying that doesn’t happen anyway. There are definitely times I do pick up a book for one of these other purposes and fall completely in love, but many of the books I read for work purposes are books I enjoy and want to promote but wouldn’t re-read ten times like the books on the wall in my basement. I think it’s similar to the difference agents cite between liking and loving something.

I guess what it comes down to is that I have to find a balance between the work reading and the fun reading. It’s a challenge when my former favorite past-time is now part of my work, but I’ll figure it out. For blog purposes, it may mean fewer reviews. We’ll see. I’m a pretty hard task-master :).

Has anyone else had this issue? Do you find it hard to read just for fun?

Reading, Young Adult

When Authors Experiment with Time

I like it when authors get creative–whether it’s with format or time. When done well, it can really heighten tension to jump outside a linear story.

And yet, sometimes it goes wrong. A while ago, I had a rather frustrating reading experience, and I’ve since read a couple of other books with non-linear timelines that provide a nice foil to the book that frustrated me, so I decided to share it here.

So, here’s the setup. I read a book that alternated two viewpoints jumping back and forth in time. It wasn’t my favorite book, but I liked the author’s other series, so I picked up the sequel as soon as it was available. The problem was, I didn’t remember everything that had happened in the first book, so when the main character started talking about something that had already happened, I thought it was referring to something I didn’t remember from the first book. (I could have really used an online summary!) Anyway, it turned out that MC No. 1 wasn’t talking about something I should have known about after all. It was just something the author was planning to uncover from MC No. 2’s viewpoint later in the story.

Maybe if that story had still been fresh in my mind, it wouldn’t have been an issue, but with the distance, I was left feeling confused for much of the book, like I’d missed something. I’m not sure how the author could have avoided this. For her and everyone else who worked on the series, the events would have been a clear progression. But for someone who’d only read the first book once and it was a while ago, it didn’t work. I think it was a problem specific to it being a sequel, and I’m kind of sad about it.

Ok, but on to a more positive note. Here’s a book that I think handled a non-linear timeline well in a sequel–THE UNBOUND by Victoria Schwab. Now, this one is different, as it only has one viewpoint, so Ms. Schwab wasn’t juggling quite as much. She handles the past by referencing a past event the reader hasn’t yet seen and then flashing back to it immediately after. As a result, no questions are left unanswered, and it’s always clear that it isn’t something you’re supposed to remember from the previous book. So much clearer!

And I also have an example of a book with two viewpoints jumping backward and forward in time–SIDE EFFECTS MAY VARY by Julie Murphy. Interestingly, with this one, I felt less like I was going through the journey with the characters and more like the author was directing what information I could know, but that was ok. There’s a constant tension between knowing what has already happened and what’s going to happen now, and yet I didn’t feel confused. Once again, I think much of the confusion with that sequel stemmed from the fact that I kept thinking I was supposed to remember something from the first book rather than the format itself.

And since I just read it, I’ll throw in another non-linear book for good measure. In WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart, the main character is struggling to remember an incident that happened two years earlier. She returns to the scene of the incident and the memories begin to return in bits and pieces, so the story jumps around quite a bit. The non-linear timeline works in this story because she is trying to unravel the mystery within her own mind to answer the question: What happened two summers ago? Ms. Lockhart masterfully unwinds the story for the reader, unlocking the clues as the character herself discovers them. While there are twists in the story, the reader never feels tricked because the character herself doesn’t know what’s happening either. That is a fine line to walk, and she walks it well.

So, what other books have you read that use a non-linear format and do it well? Do you ever feel tricked by it? Confused? Impressed?

Reading

My Favorite Reads of 2013

This year I read 115 books. 115! Although I didn’t set a specific goal for 2013, I expected I would end up at a similar number to 2012, which was 83. Imagine my surprise when I realized I had read 32 more books than last year. At first I was puzzled as to how I had read that many books without scheduling more time specifically for reading. Then I realized there was a very logical reason. 2013 has been the year of activities for my kids–gymnastics, dance, soccer, Tae Kwon Do–and during all of these things I have time to read. Now it all makes sense. But you didn’t stop by here to learn about my reading habits. You want my list of favorites for 2013, right? Well, here they are, my top middle grade and young adult reads of 2013, not necessarily published in 2013:

Middle Grade

I read more young adult than middle grade this year, but I still had a good list from which to choose my favorites.

5. WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME by Kimberley Griffiths Little – I first learned about Kimberley’s books when she stopped by my blog to comment on an MMGM review. I loved the way her 2014 MG book took the mean girl from a previous book and let us see her story. So well done!

4. RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff – I have an interesting story for how I discovered this author as well. She critiqued my query and first page as part of The Writer’s Voice contest in 2012, so I was anxiously awaiting her book this year, and it absolutely met my expectations. I loved the way she took a familiar fairy tale and gave it new life.

3. DESTINY, REWRITTEN by Kathryn Fitzmaurice – A book about an eleven-year-old who wants to write romance novels? It’s like me 25 years ago. Plus, there was a mystery/scavenger hunt. Go read it!

2. EXILE by Shannon Messenger – This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to my readers. The first book, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, was in my top five middle grade reads last year. The second in the series delivers on the promise of the first, answering just enough questions to keep readers wanting more.

1. HALF UPON A TIME series by James Riley – This series grabbed me from the first page of the first book and wouldn’t let me go until I’d devoured all three books. I loved them enough to review the first and third books within a few weeks. This series is going in my permanent library.

Young Adult

I read a ton of YA this year. I haven’t counted them all up, but it was a challenge to narrow this list down to my top five, and even at that there are a few series, so it’s really more like eleven books …

5. BABE IN BOYLAND by Jody Gehrman – As I mentioned when I reviewed the book earlier this year, I’m a sucker for stories where a girl pretends to be a boy for some purpose. I might even be writing one … anyway, I especially enjoyed the character growth in this story.

4. DIVERGENT series by Veronica Roth – I didn’t start this series until September, so I fortunately didn’t have to wait long for the conclusion. I love it when a series makes me think, and DIVERGENT definitely delivers.

3. SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY series by Susan Dennard – I’ve read the first two books in this series, plus the novella from the love interest’s point of view, and I can’t wait for the final installment. I love the setting, the monsters, and the romance.

2. SCARLET by Marissa Meyer – I almost put this one first, like its predecessor CINDER last year. I loved the way Ms. Meyer wove together Cinder and Scarlet’s stories. I almost wish I’d waited to read these books until they were all out because it’s killing me to wait for the others, but it’s worth it!

1. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare – I don’t have a review for this series because I haven’t read all of it yet, but it still makes the top spot on my list.  I devoured the first three books, and if I can’t put something down, it deserves to be here. I’m a little nervous about books four and following because I was satisfied with the way book three ended, so I’m waiting until they’re all out to read the rest. I do, however, have a post with my reactions to the movie.

What were your favorite books in 2013? Do any of mine make your list?

Reading

The Scholastic Warehouse Sale AKA Heaven on Earth

This must be heaven, I thought as I walked into the Scholastic Warehouse Sale in suburban St. Louis.

Tables piled high with picture books, middle grade, young adult, and even adult best-sellers.

Shelves lined with books and activities marked with stickers as low as $1.

Long aisles with three or four levels of boxes filled with copies of popular titles.

I didn’t take a picture of the actual warehouse because I never found a view that could really capture what it was like. I did, however, take a picture of my haul at the end of the day:

IMG_0778I ended up with 31 books at about $2.50 per book. They tempted me with getting more as I only needed to spend $24 more to reach the threshold where my coupon would have gotten me $25 off instead of $10, but I’d already been there for two hours, plus I was starving, so I resisted. Some of the books are for me, some are for my kids, and some are for YOU. Yes, you, my blog readers.

My favorite part of the book sale was the shelves of bruised and battered books. These were the books with the $1 and $2 stickers on them. I love the thrill of a good bargain. I picked up a number of books I’d been wanting to read anyway and probably would have gotten from the library. Instead, I can now pass them on to you once I read and review them. I do love giveaways! And the best part is, on most of them I can barely tell they’re bruised. My best deal of the day was THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy in paperback for $5–all because the plastic on the back was ripped.

I will definitely be making this an annual trip, and I wouldn’t have known anything about it if it weren’t for Carla Cullen, who alerted me after I tweeted about the book fair at my son’s school. I could have gone crazy that day–and I did buy books for both of my kids there to support the school–but the warehouse sale was the jackpot. Now, I should warn you it’s not something that’s open to the general public. I signed up as a school library volunteer. It’s also open to teachers, librarians, home schoolers, and book fair volunteers. If you fit into one of those categories, you should definitely check it out.

Here are some tips if you do:

  1. Check out the shelves of bruised books first. There may only be one copy of the book you really want. I had other people eying THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy in my cart.
  2. Next go to the bargain alley section.
  3. Reach high! There are boxes of books on the upper shelves. The labels on the shelves themselves usually tell you what they are.
  4. Snack before you go. I probably would have gone back for that extra $24 if I hadn’t been so hungry :).

I’m anxious to start reading. I hope to do my first giveaway after the holidays. Be ready!

Agents, How to Research Agents, Querying, Reading, Writing

How to Find Books Agents Represent

Last week’s post about middle grade books agents represent was astronomically more popular than I anticipated. I’m so glad many of you found it helpful, and in light of that, I’m adding a permanent page to my blog listing agents with middle grade and young adult books they represent. I’ll give a few more details about that at the end–including a call for any similar lists you might have–but the post also brought up a question. How do you find out what books an agent has represented? So today I’m going to share how I researched them. These tips will apply no matter what category or genre you’re writing.

I’ll preface this by saying that I was researching this information for my agent spreadsheet, so I already had a list of agents. My purpose was to find books they’d represented so I could read them. I highly recommend doing this if you can as it gives you a feel for the agent’s tastes.

Agency website

Oh, how I wish you could just go to an agency website and see a breakdown of agents with books they’ve represented, separated out by category and genre. The more common practice is to give a list of agency clients, sometimes with links, sometimes not. Or the agency might show a bunch of book covers. Often the client list/book cover display doesn’t specify which agent represents that client, which I can sort of understand. Sometimes multiple agents work on a client, or maybe the agency is protecting itself in case an agent leaves. But even if the agency does list the agent who goes with the client, if there are no books listed, you still have to research those clients to find out what kind of books they write. And then you have to verify that the agent represented a particular book. Don’t assume that just because an agent represents a client, he/she represented all of that client’s books. Authors change agents, and it’s very possible earlier books were represented by a different agent.

Agent blogs

Agent blogs are a much better bet. Often they will post a list of their deals or covers of their clients’ books, making it much easier to tell the category and genre than just a client list or even a list of titles.

Publishers Marketplace

Not all agents have PM pages, but if the one you’re researching does, it can be gold. From what I can tell, agents still personalize these themselves, so there’s no guarantee of what information will be included in the sales/client lists, but it’s more likely to include the category than an agency website. If it doesn’t, it often lists the publisher, and you may be able to deduce the reader age that way. As a side note, I don’t have a PM subscription, so I don’t have access to the deal listings. I believe you can get even more information if you do. You also can track deal announcements, although that won’t find you books you can read right away.

QueryTracker/AgentQuery

I’m more of a QueryTracker girl for tracking my submissions, but AgentQuery has better information on the side of researching what books an agent has represented. AQ pulls the information from Publishers Marketplace, complete with category and book description. QT, on the other hand, has a tab listing the agent’s clients, so you still have to click through to see what they write.

Google Books

A simple search for an agent’s name in Google Books will pull up where the agent is mentioned in an acknowledgements page. Be sure to put quotes around the name, or it will pull up any book that has both names somewhere in the book. You’ll also get some agent guides in the search, but if the agent has been working for a while, you’ll get a nice sampling of his/her clients. You might even find some books on which he/she worked as an assistant.

Twitter

You’re most likely to hear agents talking about their clients when they have a book coming out, so this is a great way to discover their current clients. I’ve found a number of books for my TBR pile this way.

Internet Search

I left this for last because it requires more digging to find books agents have represented through a general Internet search. But it can yield links to author pages where they’ve listed their agent, and then to the books they’ve published. Agent interviews also can be a great resource. Often the interviewers ask the agent about recent books/books they have coming out soon, and you can add those to your list.

If you don’t find any books for an agent using the methods above, they’re either too new to have client books out, or you should rethink querying them. If they’re established agents, they should have published clients.

So, in the spirit of continuing to make this process easier for everyone out there, I’m adding a permanent page to my blog listing MG/YA agents and the books they’ve represented. I want your input, too. If you have a list similar to mine, please send it to mfaszold(at)hotmail(dot)com and I will add it to my list. A note: I only want to include books you can verify the agent represented, whether through the acknowledgments in the book itself, a PM listing, the agent and/or author’s website/blog, etc. As I stated above, just because an agent represents a particular author doesn’t mean they represented all of that writer’s books. I’d hate to list something that’s incorrect and have a writer query one of these agents citing a book they didn’t represent. So, I’m trusting you here :). I’ll continue to update the list as I read and as others send me theirs.

Agents, Querying, Reading

A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read

Note: This post was so popular I have since added a post on How to Find Books Agents Represent and a page listing MG/YA Agents and the Books They Represent.

I was surprised when I started researching agents that it was so hard to find a list of their clients. As someone getting ready to query, I wanted to read their clients’ books, both to get a feel for what they liked and to be able to reference them when I queried. So I added a “Books I’ve Read” column to my agent spreadsheet and have been tracking it ever since. It occurred to me that others might benefit from this information, so I’m going to share it today.

A few notes: These are all books I’ve read and could verify the agent at the time. I’ve organized them by agency since some agents work together to represent an author. I can’t guarantee that the agents still represent these authors. There are at least a couple I know have changed agents, so their more recent books might be represented by the new one. If I’ve reviewed the book, there’s a link in case you want to know more about it. I read a number of these before I started reviewing, so if there isn’t a review, it’s not a reflection of how much I enjoyed the book. This also isn’t a complete list of all the MG books I’ve read. Often it’s impossible to figure out who the agent is, and some of my favorites were represented by agents who left the industry :(. Anyway, on to the list …

Adams Literary (Tracey and Josh Adams, Quinlan Lee)

  • MIDNIGHT FOR CHARLIE BONE by Jenny Nimmo
  • AMONG THE HIDDEN by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • THE FUNERAL DIRECTOR’S SON by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
  • CIRCLE OF SECRETS and WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Andrea Brown Literary Agency

  • SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner (Jennifer Laughran)
  • THE HARD KIND OF PROMISE by Gina Willner-Pardo (Jennifer Laughran)
  • ADVENTURES OF A CAT-WHISKERED GIRL by Daniel Pinkwater (Jennifer Laughran)
  • KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES by Shannon Messenger (Laura Rennert)
  • THE STRANGE CASE OF ORIGAMI YODA by Tom Angleberger (Caryn Wiseman)
  • THE YEAR THE SWALLOWS CAME EARLY and DESTINY, REWRITTEN by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Jennifer Rofe)

Bookstop Literary Agency (Minju Chang)

  • THE SQUIRE’S TALE by Gerald Morris
  • HOME AND OTHER BIG, FAT LIES by Jill Wolfson

Curtis Brown Ltd.

  • THE 39 CLUES: STORM WARNING by Linda Sue Park (Ginger Knowlton)
  • SAMMY KEYES AND THE HOTEL THIEF, SAMMY KEYES AND THE NIGHT OF SKULLS by Wendelin Van Draanen (Ginger Knowlton)
  • JEREMY FINK AND THE MEANING OF LIFE by Wendy Mass (Ginger Knowlton)
  • LOVE, AUBREY and EIGHT KEYS by Suzanne LaFleur (Elizabeth Harding)
  • ON THE RUN series by Gordon Korman (Elizabeth Harding)

DeFiore and Company (Meredith Kaffel)

  • EDISON’S GOLD by Geoff Watson
  • DARKWOOD by M.E. Breen
  • FLIRT CLUB by Cathleen Daly

Dunham Literary Inc. (Jennie Dunham)

Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner (Edward Necarsulmer IV)

  • MISSING ON SUPERSTITION MOUNTAIN by Elise Broach
  • THE WITCH’S GUIDE TO COOKING WITH CHILDREN by Keith McGowan

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (Michael Bourret)

Eden Street, LLC (Liza Pulitzer-Voges)

  • THE GENIUS FILES by Dan Gutman

Erin Murphy Literary Agency (Ammi-Joan Paquette)

Faye Bender Literary Agency (Faye Bender)

Flannery Literary (Jennifer Flannery)

  • HATCHET by Gary Paulson

Folio Literary Management (Emily Van Beek, although I believe these were at her previous agency)

  • SHUG by Jenny Han
  • THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt

Foreword Literary (Laurie McLean)

  • UNCLE PIRATE by Douglas Rees

Foundry Literary + Media (Stephen Barbara)

  • THIEF OF DREAMS by Todd Strasser
  • THE BIG SPLASH by Jack D. Ferraiolo
  • LIESL & PO by Lauren Oliver

The Gernert Company (Sarah Burnes)

The Greenhouse Literary Agency (Sarah Davies)

  • JUST ADD MAGIC by Cindy Callaghan (I believe she’s now represented by Mandy Hubbard)
  • PRINCESS FOR HIRE, THE ROYAL TREATMENT and A FAREWELL TO CHARMS by Lindsey Leavitt

Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency (Carrie Hannigan)

  • WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU OJ by Erica S. Perl
  • RASCAL: A DOG AND HIS BOY by Ken Wells

Harvey Klinger Inc. (Sara Crowe)

  • IT’S RAINING CUPCAKES by Lisa Schroeder
  • THE REINVENTION OF BESSICA LEFTER by Kristen Tracy

ICM Partners (Tina Wexler)

  • ANY WHICH WALL By Laurel Snyder
  • HOW TO SURVIVE MIDDLE SCHOOL by Donna Gephart
  • BREADCRUMBS by Anne Ursu

Inkwell Management (Catherine Drayton)

  • JACOB WONDERBAR AND THE COSMIC SPACE KAPOW by Nathan Bransford

Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency (Alice Tasman)

  • SLOB by Ellen Potter

Jill Grinberg Literary Management (Cheryl Pientka and Jill Grinberg)

The Knight Agency (Melissa Jeglinski)

KT Literary (Kate Schafer Testerman)

  • POWERLESS and THE DEAD GENTLEMAN by Matthew Cody
  • OPERATION REDWOOD by S. Terrell French
  • THE UNNAMEABLES and SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS by Ellen Booraem

Laura Dail Agency (Laura Dail)

  • DRIZZLE by Kathleen Van Cleve

Laura Langlie Agency (Laura Langlie)

  • THE PRINCESS DIARIES (complete series) by Meg Cabot

Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (Kerry Sparks)

Liza Dawson Associates Literary Agency (Caitlin Blasdell)

  • THE MAGIC THIEF by Sarah Prineas
  • KID VS. SQUID by Greg van Eekhout

The McVeigh Agency (Mark McVeigh)

  • THE DRAGONS OF SPRATT, OHIO by Linda Zinnen
  • SIMON BLOOM, THE GRAVITY KEEPER by Michael Reisman (worked as publisher)

Nancy Gallt Literary Agency

  • NIGHTSHADE CITY by Hilary Wagner (Marietta Zacker)
  • CITY OF EMBER by Jeanne DuPrau (Nancy Gallt)

Nelson Literary Agency (Kristin Nelson)

  • SPELLBINDER by Helen Stringer
  • THE SHIFTER series by Janice Hardy

New Leaf Literary and Media Representation (Suzie Townsend)

Pippin Properties (Holly McGhee)

  • SHUG by Jenny Han
  • THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt

Regal Literary Inc. (Michelle Andelman)

  • PETER NIMBLE & HIS FANTASTIC EYES by Jonathan Auxier
  • RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff

Stimola Literary Studio Inc. (Rosemary Stimola)

The Strothman Agency (Lauren MacLeod)

  • REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS and REAL MERMAIDS DON’T HOLD THEIR BREATH by Hélène Boudreau

Susan Schulman Literary Agency (Susan Schulman)

  • HOLES by Louis Sachar

Upstart Crow Literary (Ted Malawer)

  • VIOLET RAINES ALMOST GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING by Danette Haworth

Waxman Leavell Literary (Holly Root)

  • THE RISE OF RENEGADE X by Chelsea Campbell

Wolf Literary Services LLC (Kirsten Wolf)

  • THE PRICKER BOY by Rheade Scott Whinnem

Writers House

  • SAVVY by Ingrid Law (Dan Lazar)
  • THE LAST INVISIBLE BOY by Evan Kuhlman (Dan Lazar)
  • BILLY BONES: TALES FROM THE SECRETS CLOSET by Christopher Lincoln (Dan Lazar)
  • ALVIN HO by Lenore Look (Susan Cohen)
  • THE BRIXTON BROTHERS by Mac Barnett (Steven Malk)
  • THE FOURTH STALL & THE FOURTH STALL PART II by Chris Rylander (Steven Malk)
  • VANISHED by Sheela Chari (Steven Malk)
  • THE MELTING OF MAGGIE BEAN by Tricia Rayburn (Rebecca Sherman)
  • SCONES & SENSIBILITY by Lindsay Eland (Rebecca Sherman)

I hope this was helpful! I know I would have appreciated a list like this when I first started out. These days I just pick up books as they catch my interest and add them to my agent list after the fact. Happy reading!