Saturday, February 15, 2014

0 Agent-Judged Pitch + First Page Writing Contest Opens Today for YA, MG & NA Lit

Hi, Everyone! No Pick & Mix today, and no giveaway, but check the sidebars for what's current (including the full DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE trilogy signed by Laini Taylor!!!), and come back tomorrow because a very good friend of mine is doing a giveaway and cover reveal of epic awesomeness.

In the meantime, here's our first writing contest of 2014, coordinated and managed by our very own Lisa Gail Green.

Are you ready?

At noon ET today we will start accepting entries. Check our contest website for more info, the official start of our contest, resources, and PLEASE read the rules first (hint: it's the only way to get the correct email).

Prizes? You want to know what you can win other than valuable feedback from professionals?
  • The first place winner will receive a three-chapter critique generously donated by agent Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis.
  • One second place winner will receive a two-chapter critique generously donated by agent Kent Wolf of Lippincott, Massie, McQuilkin.
  • Two third place winners will receive a first chapter critique generously donated by agents Susan Hawk of the Bent Agency and Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Agency.
In case you need MORE incentive, here are the AMAZING judges for each round:


Angela often writes about mythology in the real world, but twists everything so that it's much darker and interesting. Bad things happen, but her teen and pre-teen characters always rise to the challenge in impossible situations.

Another passion of Angela's is helping writers succeed. She enjoys working with writers on strengthening their craft and helping them find the tools and resources they need to take their writing to the next level. She teaches workshops on writing and social media, belong to SCBWI and is a strong believer in paying it forward. Along with Becca Puglisi, she is the author of popular brainstorming tool, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide To Character Expression.

Natalie Aguirre is an aspiring middle grade and YA fantasy writer. She’s an attorney by day, a wife, and a mother of one child. She is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. She joined Casey as a blog partner on March 7, 2011. She interviews authors, many who are debut and/or middle grade authors, and spotlights their books with ARC or book giveaways on Mondays.

Rabid reader of young adult and middle grade books, all genres. Love to analyze books from a writing perspective. Somewhat deluded that writing at high altitude (Laramie, Wyoming, 7200 ft) gives me an edge.

Also suffer from the delusion that mythical creatures are real. Because a pendragon isn't just a medieval surname but a tiny dragon that sparks flames when you write with it.

Carrie daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market.

Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.

Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—one of the first websites dedicated to the category. A year later, she started a design business specializing in graphics for the publishing industry, called Forward Authority. Her Mark of Nexus series has appeared on Amazon bestselling, top-rated, and hot new release lists in various genres.

An avid reader since she was young, Stacee started blogging in 2011 after going to 4 author signings in 5 days. Since then, she has traveled all over [even flying from SoCal to Chicago] to see her favorite authors in person. Her blog, Adventures of a Book Junkie chronicles the different events she attends.

When she's not battling the TBR stacks in her apartment, she is a: NOH8 Campaign supporter. Book boyfriend hoarder. Whovian. Road trip taker. London lover. MINI driver. Tattoo getter. Concert goer.

Young adult writer represented by Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary.

Treehouse builder. Mom to two boys. History and Spanish major. Former teacher. Former grant writer. Amateur designer. Intermediate quilter. Fan of list-making.

Angelica R. Jackson, in keeping with her scattered Gemini nature, has published articles on such subjects as gardening, natural history, web design, travel, hiking, and local history. Other interests include pets, reading, green living, and cooking for food allergies (the latter not necessarily by choice, but she’s come to terms with it). Ongoing projects include short fiction, poetry, YA novels, art photography, and children’s picture books.

In 2012, she started Pens for Paws Auction, which features critiques and swag from agents and authors to raise money for a no-kill, cage-free cat sanctuary where she volunteers, Fat Kitty City. This year's auction will run July 14-19. She blogs at Angelic Muse and as an operative at the group blog Operation Awesome, and also volunteers at the regional conference for her local SCBWI chapter (which she recommends as a great way to get involved in the writing community). She can be found on Twitter at @angelicarjaxon and onFacebook .

It should be noted (and perhaps celebrated) that Angelica successfully restrained herself from writing a satirical bio this time around.

S.A. Larsen began creating quirky worlds at an early age, more attracted to telling stories through illustrations (elementary scribblings >_<). Her deep love for writing children’s literature pushes her to explore the joys and angst of the young adult years, the awkward middle grade years, and the curious and sweet younger years of picture books. She lives in the land of lobsters, snowy winters, and the occasional Eh’ya, with her husband of over twenty years, their four children, and a playful bich-poo Gracie.

I have a master's degree in Education and teach high school English in Montana, where I live with my husband and three children.

On the writing side of things, I am the author of two picture books and a middle grade novel and am represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary. While seeking the right 'home' for my stories, I continue writing and working with young writers in my community.

Candace is a wife and mother to two. She’s blogged at Candace’s Book Blog since November 2008.

She's an eclectic reader who enjoys a variety of genres. She's also the owner and operator of CBB Book Promotions.


I’m a 29-year-old reader, writer, lover of animals, and eater of cookies. I used to be a marine biologist, but now I write novels. And not novels about fish either, but novels about kick-butt heroines and swoon-worthy rogues (I really like swoon-worthy rogues).

My debut, Something Strange and Deadly, is now available from HarperTeen along with its sequel, A Darkness Strange and Lovely.

                                                                                                   Janet Gurtler

Young Adult Author. Cranky before coffee intake. Books to date include, I'M NOT HER, IF I TELL, WHO I KISSED and HOW I LOST YOU! I'm a board member of WGA and member of SCWBI, CANSCAIP. I eat too many carbs. I love socks. Little kids crack me up but mean adults are on my naughty list.
Maurissa is represented by Ted Malawer of Upstart Crow Literary Agency

I write edgy Young Adult and New Adult stories with hot guys, strong girls…and emotionally banged-up characters. My New Adult contemporary romance TELL ME WHEN releases January 20, 2014 from Carina Press (Harlequin imprint)

Born in Brighton England, I have lived in a number of countries, including England, the U.S, Finland, and Canada. In addition to writing fiction, I love photography, especially the close-up variety, and currently live in Calgary, Canada, with my husband and three kids.

I'm a writer who captures the pulse of adolescent confusion in my Young Adult fiction, Sliding on the Edge and The Princess of Las Pulgas. Of course, I often reveal a lot of my Old Adult confusion while doing that.

My first Middle Grade fantasy titled Alligators Overhead is out to good reviews, so that's making me happy.

Gretchen McNeil is an opera singer, writer and clown. Her YA horror POSSESS about a teen exorcist debuted with Balzer + Bray for HarperCollins in 2011. Her follow up TEN - YA horror/suspense about ten teens trapped on a remote island with a serial killer - was released September 18, 2012, and her third novel 3:59 - sci fi doppelganger horror about two girls who are the same girl in parallel dimensions who decide to switch places - released Fall 2013. Gretchen's new YA contemporary series Don't Get Mad (Revenge meets The Breakfast Club) about four very different girls who form a secret society where they get revenge on bullies and mean girls begins Fall 2014 with GET EVEN, followed by the sequel GET DIRTY in 2015, also with Balzer + Bray.

YA author represented by Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary Agency. I'm wife to my high school honey, and the mother of three amazing sons. When I'm not shuttling my boys here, there, and everywhere, I'm either tapping away on my keyboard, researching for nonfiction, or keeping up with writing tips and markets. My debut YA novel, THE BOY WHO LOVED FIRE, is now available.

i’m addicted to twitter and bad reality television. and some good ones too, like Project Runway. Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix, my two young adult fantasies from Greenwillow Books are available now! my first published short story, “Blue Skies”, is also available in the Diverse Energies anthology (Tu Books). a children’s picture book with my chinese brush art is also in the works! i’m represented by bill contardi of brandt & hochman. when i’m not writing or painting, i like to read, daydream, travel, eat and watch films in the theatre. and i love pastries, americanos and taiwanese food! =D

I am the author of The Celestine Chronicles, a fantasy series for middle grade readers. Book I: The Rock of Ivanore came out in 2012, Book II: The Last Enchanter came out in 2013. Book III: The Seer of the Guilde will be released in 2015. My debut young adult novel, a sci-fi thriller called Contact comes out in June 2014 with Hallowed Ink Press.

In addition to writing, I am also a book editor with Hamilton Springs/Xchyler Press and the Editor-in-Chief of Middle Shelf: Cool Reads for Cool Kids, a magazine for middle grade readers.

Kimberly Sabatini is a former Special Education Teacher who is now a stay-at-home mom and a part-time dance instructor for three and four year olds. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and three boys. Kimberly writes Young Adult fiction and is represented by Michelle Wolfson of Wolfson Literary Agency. TOUCHING THE SURFACE is her debut novel.

Sarah Skilton is the author of Bruised, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and which Horn Book called "nuanced and honest." Her second book, a YA mystery called HIGH AND DRY, comes out April 15 from Amulet. She lives with her husband and their son in Los Angeles.


Martina Boone 

Martina is the founder and principal blogger at Adventures in YA Publishing. She loves reading and writing books about beautiful, vicious, magical worlds that intersect our own, and about the monsters of myth and folklore that sometimes show more humanity than we do.

She is the author of COMPULSION, the first of her HEIRS OF WATSON ISLAND trilogy, available Fall 2014 from Simon and Schuster/Simon Pulse. It's a Southern Gothic full of romance, mystery, and a hint of magic all wrapped up in a haunting setting on three beautiful low country plantations.

Jan Lewis 

Jan recently left her day job to become a full-time Author's Assistant. She is Martina's assistant and the Workshop Coordinator at Adventures in YA Publishing. Martina finally admitted that she's better than valium, so her new goal is to become SuperWoman.

She lives in Oklahoma with a husband, two kids, two cats, two dogs, and a mother. She loves ladybugs, fairies, blue roses, cats, musical theater, and pretty much all things geek. You can find out more about Jan and her services at


Christa Heschke, McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade, young adult and new adult projects and is currently building her list. She is a fan of new adult and young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. In young and new adult, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. She’d also like to see any steampunk and fantasy (urban and high), that pushes the boundaries of what's currently on the shelves, perhaps a new take on these genres that has yet to be seen. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys humorous contemporary, adventure and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, character driven stories.

Kent Wolf began his publishing career in 1997 at Dalkey Archive Press. He then moved to Harcourt Trade Publishers where he headed the Subsidiary Rights Department, handling rights sales for many acclaimed authors, including Nobel Prize winners Octavio Paz, G√ľnter Grass, and Jose Saramago and novelists Umberto Eco, Yann Martel, and Michel Faber. Kent represents a number of New York Times bestselling authors and is on the lookout for literary fiction, upmarket women's fiction, memoir, pop culture, all types of narrative nonfiction, and select YA. He is a member of the Association of Authors' Representatives and PEN. He's also Martina's agent. (And yes, he's awesome!)

Susan Hawk, The Bent Agency

Before agenting, I spent over fifteen years in children's book marketing at Penguin, Henry Holt and North-South Books, where I was lucky to work on many different books ranging from Eric Carle's Baby Bear, Baby Bear to Betsy Partridge's This Land Was Made for You and Me, to Nancy Werlin's Black Mirror, as well as the work of Mary E Pearson, Richard Peck and Joan Bauer. I also worked as a children's librarian and bookseller, and remember still the satisfaction of putting just the right book into a child's (or teenager's) hands.

While at Penguin, I also worked for a time in Dutton Editorial, acquiring select picture book and YA projects for that list. My favorite part of that time was reading new submissions -- finding something wonderful and imagining where it can go was thrilling to me then and remains so now.

I handle books for children exclusively: picture books, chapter books, middle grade and YA, fiction and non-fiction. The projects I represent share powerful and original writing, strong story-telling and a distinctive, sometimes off-kilter voice. In middle-grade and YA, I'm looking for unforgettable characters, rich world-building, and I'm a sucker for bittersweet; bonus points for something that makes me laugh out loud. I'm open to mystery, fantasy, scifi, humor, boy books, historical, contemporary (really any genre). In picture books, I'm looking particularly for author-illustrators, succinct but expressive texts, and indelible characters. I'm interested in non-fiction that relates to kid's daily lives and their concerns with the world. I'm actively looking for diversity in the stories and authors that I represent. My favorite projects live at the intersection of literary and commercial.


I'm interested in authors who have a unique story to tell and are dedicated to building their platform and reaching their audience. I like narrative nonfiction, select memoir, science (popular or trade, not academic), history, religion (not inspirational), travel, humor, food/cooking, and similar subjects. I'm also interested in fresh, modern self-improvement that not only inspires but energizes readers to strengthen and empower themselves in this rapidly evolving world.


I'm looking for strong literary fiction that emphasizes craft and style equally, and doesn't sacrifice plot and character for beautiful sentences; young adult of all genres; very selective middle grade that connects me to a strong main character; science-fiction and fantasy; and smart detective novels (more Sherlock Holmes than cozy mysteries).

Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary

California native KAREN GRENCIK makes her home in Shell Beach, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. A court reporter by training, Karen initially launched her own literary agency in 1999 to champion writers and manuscripts she discovered on the Central Coast of California.

The opening chapter of The Karen Grencik Literary Agency was an astounding success, propelled largely by Karen’s major sale of the middle grade memoir Double Luck: Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White. Karen quickly found herself on the New York publishing circuit and in regular contact with editors and publishers, while also finding time to be a favorite presenter at several West Coast writers’ conferences.

Karen signed new clients and sold award-winning titles. Among the awards garnered by her authors are the Parents' Choice Gold Award for Best Nonfiction, the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Best Picture Book, and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Fiction.

Karen regularly consults with Emma D. Dryden, former children’s book publisher and founder of the children’s editorial consultancy company, drydenbks. Karen’s mentor, San Francisco agent Linda Allen, will partner on special projects with Red Fox Literary as needed.

Karen’s philosophy is simple: “When you choose to write children’s books, it’s just that—it’s a choice. You do it because you love it. You do it because it fills you with passion. You do it because it brings you joy. You are among the lucky ones who live life with purpose. But you also must do everything you can possibly think of to achieve your goals.

“And you must be nice.”

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