What Agents Want: To Be Taken to a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Querying Song of the Day: “So Far Away” by Crossfade
What Agents Want is a series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We’ll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.
If you’re like me, when you hear science fiction you automatically think aliens, space ships, Star Trek, and Star Wars. I need to educate myself, and in the mean time–why not educate the few of you who also aren’t aware of the Sci-Fi (or “sf” to true science fiction lovers) genre just like me??
A lot of agents have been adding science fiction to their wish list. So, those of you who have already been wise to the genre and have written that fascinating science fiction novel, you’re on the right track! The rest of us??? Read on, you might already be working on a sf novel and not even realize it.

So, what the heck is science fiction?
Science Fiction is not a new genre by any means. However, it is becoming highly sought after in Young Adult fiction. So, what is it?
The SF Site describes it as: A genre that extrapolates from current scientific trends. The technology of a science fiction story may be either the driving force of the story or merely the setting for a drama, but all science fiction tends to predict or define the future.”

In laymen terms, a good science fiction novel should have the following elements:

* Technology
* Futuristic elements OR
* Predictions for what may occur in the future
* Explores What If questions
* Usually a new or exciting reality is the background

There are various subgenres and overlapping genres that lie within the realm of science fiction. These include: speculative fiction, dystopian, utopian, apocalyptic, time travel/warp, alternate and parallel universes, and cyberpunk amongst other things.

To learn more about the genre check out these sites:

What books can I read for research?

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Uglies (Uglies Series) by Scott Westerfield
Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
Finally, tell me about one of the awesome agents in search of this galaxy:

Amy Boggs joined Donald Maas Literary Agency in 2009. She keeps a twitter account where she shares how much she loves science fiction YA. Amy Boggs is looking for novels (not just science fiction–she wants other genres as well) that include diverse characters–not just in terms of race, but religion, gender, sexuality, and disability as well.

If you are thinking of querying Ms. Boggs check out the sites below:
**DISCLAIMER** We are BY NO MEANS telling anyone to follow trends or to try and hurry to write novels based on these features. This is for people who have written, or have been thinking about writing, on the topic presented.

Were you thinking about writing a science fiction novel before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP in this genre???
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What Agents Want: To Be Scared Sh*tless!

Querying Song of the Day: “Is it Scary?” by Michael Jackson

What Agents Want is a series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We’ll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.
It’s the week of Halloween, and although the day has past, we are still trying to hold on to the spookiness of it all with today’s post. If you know me and Pam, you know we love us some scary stuff. At one point we had a goal of watching every scary movie ever created (but we had to draw the line after seeing a trailer for a movie about a killer Thanksgiving turkey). Anyway, we love all the scary things…and so do a lot of agents!
A number of literary agents and editors are searching for a great edge of your seat, scary as sh*t YA horror. And just in case you don’t truly know what makes a book fall under the horror category, or what agent is currently searching for said project, we’re here to help! SIDEBAR: We’re aware that more than one agent is looking for horror works, but we wanted to make this post as short as possible.
So, what the heck makes a novel fall in the horror genre?
The Bing Dictionary will tell you the following are the definitions of a horror story:
1. frightening fictional tale: a story that is intended to frighten people, usually by describing gruesome or supernatural events
2. report of horrifying experience: a true account of something very unpleasant or shocking
So, what does that mean in laymen terms? It means your story has to have something in it that makes people jump, bite their nails, or possibly gasp/scream while reading your work. That means your sensory words have to go into overtime. You have to describe what the villain is doing in vivid details– that way the reader can really see and hear the torture that your poor victims are enduring.
Also, horror stories either have a supernatural or paranormal element that instills fear (zombies, ghosts, demons etc.) OR a real life type of villain, a story that will make the reader wonder if this could really happen to them, i.e. serial killers.
Go here for some interesting horror writing tips (the site brags that it’s only for the “serious horror writer”, so it must be good).
What books can I read for research?
Finally, tell me about this awesome agent in need of being scared sh*tless!
The agent we speak of has been very vocal about her longing for a good YA horror novel. Victoria Marini of Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency makes it no secret that she wants to be scared and is looking for an awesome novel that will do just that. Victoria Marini began working as an associate agent with Gelfman Schneider in 2010 and is extremely excited about building her list of authors. She is on the lookout for ALL YA, but she loves dark, edgy, and mysterious novels. Also, she is looking for the “quadruple threat: voice, character, story, world-building”. To query Ms. Marini and learn more about what she is interested in, see her page on the Gelfman Schneider website and Querytracker.net through the links below.
For more information on Victoria Marini, check out the links below:
**DISCLAIMER** We are BY NO MEANS telling anyone to follow trends or to try and hurry to write novels based on these features. This is for people who have written, or have been thinking about writing, on the topic presented.
Were you thinking about writing a horror before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP in this genre???

What Agents Wants: The Fractured Fairy Tale

Querying Song of the Day: “Somewhere Out There” from An American Tale

What Agents Want is a new series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We’ll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.

This week we are looking to a land not so far, far away…that was horrible, but it will all make sense. We noticed that a few people are buzzing about fairy tales around the interwebs. And normal fairy tales are not what’s being buzzed about–it’s the FRACTURED fairy tale that’s getting attention.

There are a few agents who are always looking for re-worked fairy tales. Among them is Sarah LaPolla of Curtis Brown LTD. (yes, Pam’s super agent!). In fact, she recently blogged about the topic here.

So, what the heck is a fractured fairy tale?

A story that takes the fairy tales we know and love and literally “fractures” them. Some of the characters, settings, key plot points, and points of view are changed but the general story remains the same.

According to Marilyn Kinsella a fractured fairy tale is “…a fairy or other folk tale that has been modified in such a way as to make us laugh at an unexpected characterization, plot development or contrary point of view.”

Of course, some fractured fairy tales are not humorous (what’s so funny about a witch trying to eat two little German children??) but the point is the same as the description above–elements of the tale are changed to give a fresh spin to the material.

Go here to have fun making your own fractured fairy tale!!!

What books can I read for research? (Books that include a fractured fairy tale)

The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (illustrations by Lane Smith)

Ash by Malinda Lo

Finally, tell me about the agent who is seeking fractured fairy tales!

Sarah LaPolla began working with Curtis Brown LTD in 2008 after receiving her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. She is seeking new clients (and took on Pam this past December!!!). To query her and learn more about what she is interested in, see her page on the Curtis Brown LTD website and Querytracker.net through the links below.

For more information on Sarah LaPolla check out the following links:

Curtis Brown LTD

Glass Cases (Sarah LaPolla’s blog)

Querytracker.net

Agent Interview: Sarah LaPolla on our blog

Agent Interview: Sarah LaPolla on Janet Johnson’s blog

Agent Wishlist: Sarah LaPolla

**DISCLAIMER** We are BY NO MEANS telling anyone to follow trends or try to hurry and write novels based on these features. This is for people who have written, or have been thinking about writing, on the topic presented.

Did you know about fractured fairy tales before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP in this genre???

What Agents Want: Steampunk!

Querying Song of the Day: “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend

What Agents Want is a new series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We’ll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.


This week, we are gonna discuss a topic in YA that is picking up steam…pun intended. Yes, we’re delving into steampunk. A few of our bloggy pals have already discussed this topic, helping me and Pam to better understand it. Holly broke down exactly what the steampunk genre is all about here. She explains that steampunk is generally novels that are set around the nineteenth century and Victorian-era Britain where technology and fictional or magical elements are incorporated. And Alicia took us inside a steampunk museum here. She got to see a steampunk pinball machine AND she gives some good steampunk music suggestions.

There are several agents that are looking for steampunk novels. Amongst them is Kathleen Ortiz of Lowenstein Associates. It even says on their website that steampunk is one of the genres that Kathleen is desperately seeking.

So, what the heck is steampunk? (Info taken from Wikipedia.org)

  • It meshes science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction
  • It involves an era where steam is still used (as a source of energy)
  • Usually set in the 19th century and Victorian era Britain
  • Science fiction and fantasy are prominent features
  • It is influenced by Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Mark Twain, and Mary Shelly
  • Usually features technology and innovations in the style that Victorians would have seen them
What Books Can I Read for Research? (Books that fall in the steampunk category)

The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century # 1) by Cherie Priest

Leviathan (Leviathan # 1) by Scott Westerfield
Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices #1) by Cassandra Clare

Finally, tell me about the agent who wants steampunk novels!

Kathleen Ortiz was an editorial assistant and interactive media designer for the young adult section at Ballinger Publishing before becoming a literary agent with Lowenstein Associates. At Lowenstein, Kathleen represents Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA), and adult novels as well as being the Foreign Rights Manager. Some of Kathleen’s clients (according to QueryTracker.net and Kathleen’s blog) include: Jamie Reed (Kathleen just sold her YA Paranormal Soul Impulse!!!), Dawn Rae Miller, Jennifer Walkup, and Sarah Fine.

Good news for you? She is definitely looking for more clients!

So…if you have already written and polished your steampunk novel, OR if you are planning to write one (and you swear to polish, polish, polish it) then query Ms. Ortiz. How? Send an e-query to: assistant@bookhaven.com . Include the word QUERY and the title of your novel in the subject line. Address the query to Ms. Ortiz and paste the first ten pages into the body of the e-mail. DO NOT ATTACH your pages. The agency responds to all queries and usually does so in two to four weeks. For more detailed information on submissions, go here.

To find out more info on Kathleen Ortiz, check out the links below:

Neverending Page Turner
Twitter
QueryTracker.net
Interview: The Punching Bag Fights Back

Agent Wish list: Kathleen Ortiz

**DISCLAIMER** We are BY NO MEANS telling anyone to follow trends or try to hurry and write novels based on these features. This is for people who have written, or have been thinking about writing, on the topic presented.

Did you know about steampunk before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP in this genre???

What Agents Want: Selkies!

Querying Song of the Day: “Watered Down” by The Used

What Agents Want is a new series in which we will research what trends/topics agents are looking for right now. We’ll give you information on the trend/topic and the agent that is looking for this specific type of project. The better to query with, my dears.
This week, we are gonna go into a territory that freaks me the BLEEP out. I HATE mermaids–they are the weirdest creatures EVER! And this creature that is featured here today is in the family of “sea people”.
Ginger Clark (Curtis Brown, Ltd.) mentioned in an interview that she is looking for novels that feature supernatural creatures that are not overused. In her example of said creatures, she listed something called a selkie.
So, what the heck is a selkie?

1.)They are creatures from Faroese, Irish, Icelandic, and Scottish mythology

2.) They can be referred to as a silkie, or selch
3.) They are a form of shapeshifters (they can be either male or female)
4.) They are seal/human creatures that can shed their seal/human skin when needed
5.) They are handsome/beautiful and seductive (aren’t they all??)
Male selkies look for females who are unsatisfied with their romantic life (we can assume that female selkies do the same)
6.)They are supposed to be found on the Orkney and Shetland islands
7.) Selkie comes from selch/selk which is the Scottish word for seal
8.) Without their seal skin, selkies are stuck in their human form
What Kind of Legends/Stories Make the Rounds About Selkies?
* They are usually tragic romance tales where either the selkie lover is gone without a trace (and the human did not know they were a selkie), or the human lover hides or burns the selkies seal skin.
* Selkie females: They make good wives, but they long to return back to sea. They are usually staring at water and being miserable in their human lives.
* Selkie males: They are said to be responsible for problems at sea like shipwrecks and storms.
* Selkie and human lovers are only supposed to spend short bursts of time with each other before the selkie must return to sea. Then they can see each other again in seven years, unless the human gets a hold of the selkie’s seal skin.
* If a woman wishes to see a male selkie, they need to cry seven tears in the sea.
* Some folklore says selkies are the tortured souls of drowned humans.
What Books Can I Read for Research?
Water Shaper by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Seven Tears Into the Sea by Terri Farley
A Kiss of Shadows by Laurell K. Hamilton
Finally, tell me about the agent who wants novels featuring selkies!
Ginger Clark has worked at Curtis Brown, Ltd. since 2005. She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and young adult and middle grade fiction. Ginger also represents British rights for the agency’s children list. Some of Ginger’s clients (according to QueryTracker.net) include: Patricia Wrede, Richard Kadrey, and most recently: Scott Tracey!

Once you write this awesometastic novel on selkies (or if you already have!) then query Ms. Clark with just your query letter and contact information. She prefers e-mailed queries which can be sent to: gc@cbltd.com She will respond only if interested in seeing more material.
Find more info on Ginger Clark here:
Find more info on selkies here:
Did you know about selkies before reading this post? Or better yet, have you already started a WIP featuring them??? Just researching this, we’re getting a few ideas ourselves…