YA

SCBWI Metro NY and The New School Agents Panel 2016

By Leah Heilman Schanke

For the third consecutive year, SCBWI Metro NY and The New School’s Writing for Children MFA program co-hosted an agents panel held at The New School. Linda Camacho of Prospect Agency, LLC, Susan Hawk of The Bent Agency and Andrea Somberg of Harvey Klinger Inc. were the featured agents. Adria Quiñones, a 2015 winner of SCBWI’s Emerging Voices Award, was the moderator.

The panel discussion began with what each agent is looking for. Linda Camacho said she doesn’t want to rule out any category but picture book representation is limited. Andrea Somberg also expressed a preference for MG and YA and emphasized that “diversity is a key word.” Susan Hawk is very open, joking that “you never know when you’ll read that amazing sports book.” She represents all categories of books for children and is “drawn to writing that is emotional.”

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First Pages with Heather Flaherty and Maggie Lehrman

By Orel Protopopescu

Heather Flaherty, a Literary Agent at the Bent Agency, and Maggie Lehrman, a Senior Editor at Abrams Books for Young Readers, (as well as a YA novelist) addressed a rapt crowd at the Huntington Public Library on October 16, 2016 as part of SCBWI Metro NY’s On-the-Road series.   Rapidly making their way through a pile of first pages, ranging from picture books to YA fiction, they were in remarkable accord, zeroing in on what made (or detracted from) an opening that worked.  Published writers and beginners benefited from their expertise.

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We Need Diverse Books: Diverse Sci-Fi/Fantasy Authors Panel with WNDB

By Leah Heilman Schanke

Jennifer Baker, panel organizer for We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) and 2013 winner of the SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award, led a panel discussion on craft and world-building. She asked whether outlining played a role in establishing the rules of the world and fantastical elements. Do you outline or not?

Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere, said she outlined a little, then wrote, then outlined again, going back and forth. She shared that her musical theater background provided training in setting rules that it’s okay to have singing in a scene. She had to have rules for her novel to put restrictions on characters’ powers, otherwise all powerful characters would be boring. “It’s good to know where the boundaries are and to play with them.”

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SCBWI & The New School Agents Panel 2015

by Ellen Raskin

Agent Panel 2015Heather Flaherty of the Bent Agency, Alexandra Penfold of Upstart Crow Literary, and Alec Shane from Writers House were the featured agents at this year’s Agents Panel, co-hosted with the New School’s MFA writing program and held in November at the New School. The event was introduced by Caron Levis from the New School’s creative writing program and moderated by Gina Carey, a steering committee member of Metro-NY SCBWI, and Co-Regional Advisor Bridget Casey. Questions came from both the audience and the moderators. Here are some highlights:

Is an agent necessary?

All three agents: Yes! It’s a tough business and the complex contracts are usually familiar only to those in the industry. Agents also have unique relationships with publishers and editors. Agents protect writers’ rights so that writers may concentrate on writing.

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Finding Your Own Unique Voice

By Mackenzie Reide

Nova Ren Suma 2Award-winning YA author and writing instructor Nova Ren Suma spoke about voice at the final SCBWI Tuesday night professional series lecture of the season in June 2015. She emphasized three important tasks for writers: finding your own unique voice, taking risks, and being true to yourself.

The journey of being a writer is not an easy one. Suma explained how voice is deeply connected to that journey and often develops from hitting a low point, such as failing to find an agent or publisher or feeling your career has stalled.

She described a low point in her own career when she doubted her place in the YA publishing world. She no longer felt connected to her readers or her publisher. So in her next book, 17 and Gone, she tried to please everyone. This only created a feeling of more distance and she began to question everything.

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The Ins And Outs Of The Graphic Novel: Calista Brill, Judy Hansen and Andrew Arnold in Conversation About Graphic Novels, From Concept to Published Book

by K. Marcus

Judy Hansen of the Hansen Literary Management, LLC, a literary agent specializing in graphic novels, strongly recommends that “if you want to learn how to create graphic novels and comics, both known as ‘sequential art’, the best resources to begin with are:”

Understanding Comics by Scott Mcloud

Making Comics by Scott Mcloud

Comics and Sequential Art by Wil Eisner

Then move on to “cutting edge” graphic novels and focus on their lettering and ballooning:

Amelia Rules! (series) and The Dumbest Idea Ever by Jimmy Gownley to look at paneling, ballooning & lettering and Hereville (series) by Barry Deutsch to see paneling & ballooning. And continue to read, read, read. Calista Brill, senior editor at First Second Books, added, “Sometimes people think of comics as ‘books light’ but they are very sophisticated and kids who read comics learn to pick up on these flourishes.”

Andrew Arnold, designer at Roaring Brook Press/FSG and a comics/graphic novel author/illustrator has “learned to never underestimate how smart kids are.”

Judy Hansen went on to say that “kids comics have commercial viability and have a great possibility for ancillary rights development.”

But graphic novels aren’t only for children. There is a market for adults as well. In both age groups, Calista Brill said, “the text and art should combine to make something greater than itself.” “A panel in a comic book doesn’t want to be perfect, something should be missing so it then directs you to the next panel.” The author/illustrator needs to think about text placement and how that leads the reader through the story.

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