Friday, March 6, 2015

Donor Intros: Day Three!

It's the final day of the first week of donor introductions and I've just come to a realization. We have a lot of donors whose last names start with "B." The bulk of this week's donors were "B"s and they'll be taking us into next week. It's got me wondering, do folks with "B" names just have a natural proclivity for generosity? Somebody more survey-oriented than I is going to have to look in to this. In the meantime, if you meet anybody with a "B" name this weekend, give them a high five. They're probably pretty cool.

But, first - check out these awesome "B"s!

Jenny Bent

While getting a BA/MA with first class honors from Cambridge University, Jenny Bent began her career in publishing as an undergraduate, with jobs at Rolling Stone and Ladies Home Journal. She then worked with prominent agent Raphael Sagalyn and with Michael Cader, the force behind the website Publishers Marketplace, before establishing a successful career at several boutique agencies. In 2003 she joined Trident Media Group, where she was promoted to Vice President before leaving to found the Bent Agency in 2009. Jenny represents literary and commercial adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. She also represents nonfiction in the areas of memoir, humor and select narrative nonfiction.

Learn more about Jenny on the Bent Agency website and follow her on Twitter!

Donation: Query Critique

Laura Bradford

Laura Bradford established the Bradford Literary Agency in 2001. She considers herself an editorial-focused agent and takes a hands-on approach to developing proposals and manuscripts with her authors for the most appropriate markets. During her own misadventures as a writer, Laura came to understand the importance of having a friendly but critical eye on your side, a career strategist in your corner and a guide who can lead you through the travails of publication.

Her recent sales include books placed with Berkley, Grand Central, Harlequin, Kensington, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, Random House, Sourcebooks, Hyperion, Flux, Macmillan, Adams Media, Egmont USA, John Wiley and Sons and Mira Books. She continues to actively build her client list and is currently seeking work in the following genres: Romance (historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, category, contemporary, erotic), urban fantasy, women’s fiction, mystery, thrillers and young adult as well as some select non-fiction.

She is a member of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) and Romance Writers of America, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and she is an RWA-recognized agent.

Learn more about Laura on the Bradford Agency website and follow her on Twitter!

Donation: Query Critique

Mackenzie Brady

Mackenzie joined New Leaf Literary as an agent in 2014. Previously, she'd been an agent at Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and before that an intern at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and FinePrint Literary Mgmt.

She was a microbiologist in her pre-publishing life, so she's always on the hunt for projects that bring new facets of science to light. She is endlessly fascinated by the human body, especially the heart. Her taste in non-fiction extends beyond science books to memoirs, lost histories, epic sports narratives, and gift/lifestyle books. She's looking for non-fiction for all ages. She is particularly interested in projects with a strong narrative and a female bend.

Mackenzie does not accept middle grade fiction or picture books, but she represents select adult and YA fiction projects. Her favorite novels are almost always dark, visceral reads focused on the complexities of being a human. Think Breaking Bad and The Wire but in book form. She also represents illustrators (with or without book projects of their own).

In the end, all she wants is to be told a good story.

Learn more about Mackenzie on the New Leaf Literary website and follow her on Twitter!

Donation: Query Critique

Make sure to check back in next Wednesday for the last of our fabulous "B" donors and the rest of our impressive alphabet!

Until then, have a great weekend. Read, write and be merry!

Want more information on the fundraiser? Visit my RAINNmaker page!
T-shirts for both writers and book lovers supporting this campaign are now available on Tfund!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Donor Intros: Day Two!

*Moonwalks in. Strikes a pose.*

It's time for more donor intros! That makes this a pretty fantastic day. Fantastic enough that I'm just going to ignore the fact that we've gotten more snow and ice, which is easier to do than you might imagine because introducing all these great people gives me plenty of warm and fuzzies.

Danielle Barthel

Following her completion of the Denver Publishing Institute after graduation, Danielle began interning at Writers House. While there, she realized she wanted to put her English degree and love of the written word to work at a literary agency. She worked as a full-time assistant for three years, and continues to help keep the New Leaf offices running smoothly in her role of Coordinator of Team and Client Services.

In her downtime, she can be found with a cup of tea, a bar of chocolate, or a really good book...sometimes all together.

Follow Danielle on Twitter!

Donation: Query Critique

Veronica Bartles

Veronica writes children's books, from picture books to YA novels. Her debut, TWELVE STEPS, was released in March 2014 and her debut picture book THE PRINCESS AND THE FROGS is coming soon from Balzer & Bray. She is represented by Jessica Sinsheimer (Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, LLC), and is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

Learn more about Veronica on her website and follow her on Twitter!

Donation: Query/First Chapter Critique OR Query/Picture Book Critique

Brooks Benjamin

Brooks Benjamin lives in Tennessee with his wife and their dog. His first novel, MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS will be released by Delacorte/Random House in Spring 2016. He is represented by Uwe Stender of TriadaUS Literary Agency.

Learn more about Brooks on his website and follow him on Twitter!

Donation: Query and First Chapter Critique

Stop back in tomorrow as we finish up the first week of donor intros!

Want more information on the fundraiser? Visit my RAINNmaker page!
T-shirts for both writers and book lovers supporting this campaign are now available on Tfund!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Donor Intros: Day One!

Hello all and happy Wednesday! Today I get to begin the reveal of this year's AMAZING Writers For Hope donors. There are so many great and generous people to introduce so, to keep things organized, I'm going alphabetically.

While I could go on and on here about how awesome all these donors are, you didn't come here to read my incessant gushing - especially if you're someone who has spoken to me at any point in the past two weeks, because you've been listening to it nonstop - no, you're here to actually meet these fabulous people. So, I won't take up anymore of your time.

But they are all awesome.

There, I got that off my chest. Feeling much better. And now on to our donors!

Dahlia Adler

Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a writer for the B&N Teen Blog at every spare moment in between. She is the author of Behind the Scenes, Last Will and Testament, and the upcoming Under the Lights. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.

Learn more about Dahlia on her website or follow her on Twitter!

Donation: Query Critique

Ronni Arno

Ronni Arno writes middle-grade and young adult novels, because she thinks kids are cool, and so are the books they read. Her debut, RUBY REINVENTED, publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in Fall 2015. Her second book, POPPY SEEDS, publishes with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin in Summer 2016. Ronni lives on the coast of Maine, where she stalks her kids for story ideas, kayaks and eats chocolate...but not usually at the same time.

Learn more about Ronni on her website or follow her on Twitter!

Donation: First Three Chapters Critique

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Lauren Baratz-Logsted is the author of over 30 books for nearly every age group and in nearly every genre imaginable, including The Bro-Magnet (adults), Little Women and Me (YA), and the nine-book series for young readers, The Sisters 8, which she created with her husband and daughter. Before being published, she was an independent bookseller, a freelance editor, a book reviewer, a sort-of librarian, and a window washer.

Learn more about Lauren on her website or follow her on Twitter!

Donation: Signed copy of THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER

That's all you're getting today, my friends, but check back in tomorrow and Friday for more donor intros!

Want more information on the fundraiser? Visit my RAINNmaker page!
T-shirts for both writers and book lovers supporting this campaign are now available on Tfund!

Friday, February 27, 2015


Hello again! I have returned, with many fun things to report.

Next week I'll be beginning donor introductions. It's going to be exciting - there are so many amazing (and generous) folks! A bunch of our beloved donors from last year's auction, as well as many new faces. It's been absolutely amazing receiving emails from people saying that they heard about the auction from someone else and would love to donate something. My inbox right now is a constant stream of proof that book people are phenomenal people.

If you're looking for updates on Twitter over the next month, check out #WritersForHope. And if you're interested in talking about the auction, please use that hashtag as well! The more people participating in the auction on April 1st, the more sexual assault survivors we can support.

April 1st is going to be here in no time, I'm sure. But there's no reason for us not to have some pre-auction fun. To that end, I've added a new component to this year's event - t-shirts!

I don't know about you, but pair either one of these with some cozy sweats and you've pretty much got my writing uniform. With options for both writers and book lovers, they'll be on sale through Tfund for the next month - which means you'll be able to buy yours up until the Sunday before the auction. Proceeds from these t-shirts will also be going to RAINN.

And again, for any super-cool people who want to donate to RAINN, but not participate in the auction, you can do so at any time through my RAINNmaker page.

All right, now be gone with you! Go have a wonderful weekend.

And then check back in for the start of DONORMANIA next Wednesday!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Exciting News!

Happy Friday, all!

I'm in a turning-cartwheels-even-though-I-don't-know-how-to-turn-a-cartwheel type of mood this morning. Not even the fact that the snow drifts now officially have more height than I and flakes are once again falling can make me feel angsty. Nope. I may not be able to see it, but the sun is shining all over the place.

You know how I know this? The 2nd Annual Writers for Hope Online Auction is officially off the ground!

As you may remember, last April I had the first Writers for Hope Auction here on the blog in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Editors, agents and agented & published authors donated work critiques (ranging from queries to FULL manuscripts!), consultation calls, and signed books. All the proceeds went straight to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network to support survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

And we're doing it all again this year!

I figured we should start off Sexual Assault Awareness Month strong - so the auction will be held here on the blog on Wednesday, April 1st. Like last year, it will be a one day auction, running from 12:00am to 11:59pm.

You want to know what's an amazing feeling? Nervously sending out requests to all the donors who participated last year and asking them if they're up for another round and almost immediately having my inbox fill with positive responses. In case you missed my Tweet the other day, I'll repeat - people who love books are the best people.

We're currently at 21 (and counting) donors for this year's auction - including some of the extremely generous folks of last year, as well as new faces!

In addition to work critiques and consultation calls, it looks like we're going to have more signed books this year - which is great news! So, if you're reading this, but are not a writer who's ready to have your work critiqued or are not a writer at all - there will still be items for you to bid on. Definitely stop by on April 1st!

Auction items will not be open for bids until midnight on April 1st, but if you're a person who doesn't plan on participating in the auction, but would still like to donate to RAINN - first of all, THANK YOU - you can do so on my RAINNmakers page at any time.

Over the next month there will be many updates, including donor introductions and auction item reveals - so be sure to check in! And spread the word! Last year, we raised just over $2000, ensuring that over 200 survivors of sexual assault had access to the help they need. It was absolutely amazing, but I think this year, together, we could blow that number out of the water.

Guys, I'm really excited about this. Like I could throw up - but in a great way.

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend and I'll be talking to you again soon!

Friday, February 13, 2015

In Which I Get to Happily Annoy My Heroine

Sometimes one needs a break from endless unpacking. Or, at the very least, sometimes someone named Kelly needs a break from endless unpacking.

Which makes it quite fortuitous that I'm at my absolutely favorite stage of writing a book. Revising. Sweet baby monkeys, I do love revising.

None of that dull panic that goes hand in hand with a blank page. Instead what lays before me are pages full of words that I can make better. It's like I'm a superhero, flying through the world of my creation zapping out villains like the overuse of the word "just." Filling up plot holes before the characters can trip into them. Providing stirring, inspirational speeches to my heroine when instead of taking action, I find her sitting on the couch, watching TV.

That last one was one of my more recent catches. I'm reading through - red pen at the ready - and find a scene as the climax of the story approaches, where my heroine is vegging out. I can no longer speak to the mindset of past Kelly that thought this was the point in the story that everyone should put their feet up and wait for the plot to unfold around them, but I can only assume that past Kelly really wanted to take a nacho break - or maybe to stop for pizza - regardless, I'm sure that some sort of carb covered in some sort of cheese was the real culprit here.

Thankfully, present Kelly's stomach was full during these revisions, and therefore saw that this was an insane story choice. Now, maybe my heroine really did need a break. First off, too bad. She can't have one, not until the end of the story and maybe not even then. Secondly, even if she did manage to sneak a quick rest past me, who wants to read about that? Not me. I'd much rather see her actually go out and get answers, rather than waiting for them to show up magically in her lap.

Ah, the beauty of revisions. Offering me the opportunity to be a greater pain in the ass to my characters. It's a wonderful thing.

And when that inevitable time rolls around where I need a break from both unpacking and revisions. Well, that's why the dance break was invented.

Now, break out your dancing shoes....and, all together now!

You're welcome.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Working Titles

I knew when I opened up the the moving truck and saw the solid wall of things inside - this was going to be a marathon, not a sprint. And so the unpacking continues!

My new place is definitely starting to look like a home instead of the box fort of a deranged lunatic, but I've some distance to go before every evening isn't spent building my severely lacking upper body strength lugging boxes from one room to another.

One thing I can say for myself, I'm a very specific label-er. When I start clawing past the packing tape, I know exactly what I will find there.

The labels can not, however, tell me why I packed my 
Polaroid camera in a different box from the film. 
But, hey, at least I know where my '80s jacket is. 

Looking at all the labels, I started wondering what my possessions say about me, which lead to other existential quandaries revolving around the art of unpacking. My thoughts all solidified in book titles (naturally) and now, at the very least, I have the title of my future memoir.

  • "Pillows & Books:" The Rests and Ruminations of Kelly Johnson 

Too many boxes were labelled this way for me not to take the hint. And then, of course, there was the expression I kept seeing on the faces of all the lovely friends and family hauling my things out of the moving truck.

  • Fill the Box Entirely With Books; and Other Ways to Get Rid of Those Well-Meaning Loved Ones

Why, Past Kelly, why?

I've taken to just issuing blanket apologies before anyone starts to move anything, despite the wary looks that puts in everyone's eyes.

Once, I started actually getting things out of their cardboard prisons, things really got fun. Going through all the things I've stored for the last two years is like a mix of Christmas and some weird kid's time capsule. Some things I'm so excited to find again, others I'm truly puzzled as to why I ever thought they were worth saving. I'm looking at you 95% empty jar of lotion.

  • Home Stylings for the Nerd Chic

That tome will definitely include the best placement for one's Death Star cookie jar and how to incorporate one's troll dolls in with one's living room decor to form a cohesive decorative theme. Or something along those lines. Furniture construction has also been a fertile ground for future book ideas.

  • They Found Me Crushed: Improperly Fastened Book Shelves and Other Real Physical Threats to Your Average Avid Book Collector

I'm not saying that I've ever been the victim of shelving upheaval. I'm also not not saying it. Make of that what you will.

And finally, there is the piece that I must get back to working on right this second:

  • Never Ending: One Woman's Story of Unpacking

I already know how that one turns out. Spoiler alert: She never finishes unpacking, just gets sucked into a labyrinth of boxes.

Now, if you'll excuse me, it looks like there might be a Minotaur coming around that corner.

Where the hell did I pack that sword?

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Great Return

My time in limbo is coming to a close! My new apartment is ready as of this weekend, which means no more temporary housing. I've been staying in a lovely place, but I'm definitely ready to stop living out of a suitcase.

But not even having my own space again can compete with the real glory of this coming week, because...I'm getting my books back! *cartwheels down the street, flipping into a snow bank to make the mother of all snow angels*

With all of my traveling, the bulk of my worldly goods have been in storage for almost two years. And the bulk of my worldly goods are, of course, books - much to the dismay of any kind-hearted person who has ever offered to help me move.

To say I'm excited to be in the same room as my tomes again seems both unnecessary and insufficient - BUT I CAN'T HELP MYSELF.

I have undoubtedly fallen in love with my eReader over the last couple years of motion. It's an amazing invention and, also, a dangerous one. The temptation to buy a new book, regardless of how many new books I already have, has always been overwhelming. But once I used to have to put on real pants, get in a car and get myself to a book store. Now, I only have to hit a button. So, whereas 50% of my income used to go towards books, now it's been raised to about 99%. Because I have found that the opportunity to simply hit a button erases all memory of from where the money for said buttoned thing is coming.

So, eReader = awesome + bank-account-draining. Naturally, I love it.

But, I have missed my hard covers and paperbacks - my very first loves. And they are now returning to me. I have already allocated a room in my new place to be their new home and while not everyone will understand the thrill of setting up one's home library, I'm pretty sure all of you reading this can.

Tomorrow shall be spent on the wondrous task of putting together all my new bookcases. My apartment must be ready for the glorious book arrival of Sunday. Whatever else is floating around in those boxes will just have to wait. Thankfully, I know I'll be able to find the books easily. After all, they were packed by Stage 3.

When all the books have been safely tucked away, ready yourself for some pictures as I play that age-old storage game: "I Forgot All About This Exciting Thing!!/Why Did I Ever Think This Was Worth Saving??"

Friday, January 23, 2015

Traveling today...come join me!

Hey everyone!

I'm being interviewed today in my new position as Development and Communications Director with Opera House Arts. Come join me on OHA's blog!

Have a wonderful (like 2-or-3-books-read-wonderful) weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Writers for All Seasons

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but it’s quite chilly in these parts – like two sets of pajamas worn simultaneously each night chilly.  

It is absolutely beautiful, looking out the snow covered rooftops and the boats floating over the (I’m sure) frigid water. But actually going outside is the thing of nightmares. Just the thought of it prompts a chill to set in my bones.

Which was perfect for this past weekend. Why, you may ask, do I so appreciate that it feels like I’m breathing in icicles the moment I step out the door?


There is nothing like being afraid of frostbite to get me to buckle down and get to work. Sure, I have to wear glittens* as I do, but that just adds to the fun. It's one of the many reasons that winter is my favorite writing season. 

Which got me wondering about other writers and their weather preferences. So, out I went into the swirling snows of the Internet and conducted a very scientific (read: completely informal) survey.

Here are the results:


Ava Jae
"Few things beat being huddled over my keyboard during a blizzard with a steaming cup of tea beside me."

“My favorite writing season is winter because I feel really guilty when I stay inside and write on gorgeous days (which doesn’t mean I don’t still do it). But when it’s cold out, then it seems like the best thing to do is put on fuzzy socks, drink tea, and disappear into a blanket and worlds I make up.

“I have to say that I love winter the best for writing, because my kids are busy with school, we take long hockey trips where I can plot in the car, and the sun sets earlier, which is great for this night owl! Not to mention the snow keeps us cozied up inside!”


“My imagination comes out of hibernation in spring and I have my best ideas as the world comes back to life.”

Gail Nall
"Fall is my favorite season, but as far as writing goes, I'd have to pick spring. There's something about the newness of everything in spring, the hope in the air, and the fact that the mosquitoes aren't out yet makes me feel as if I can write anything!"


“Summer is my favorite writing season by far. Nothing stokes the muse like the sun and a warm breeze through open windows.”


Molly Lee
"My favorite season to write is in the Fall. I'm a Midwest girl and once the air gets the crisp scent of Fall, my creative juices start flowing at full speed! I've written most of my novels in between the months of October and January for this exact reason."

Fiona McLaren
"My favorite season to write is in Autumn (the Fall), because it's a moment of metamorphosis...the world starting to enter a deep sleep, waiting for the following years' seasons to bloom with something new. The quiet and change, the period of waiting and preparation, all of these help spur my creative muse into life."


Brooks Benjamin
"Mine would have to be spring and fall. Maybe it's the way the weather sort of wiggles back and forth between warm and cold, but something about that time keeps my writing senses all tingly and alert."

Jessica Cluess
“Fall is undoubtedly my favorite season to write. Not because of the wether, since I live in always-sunny Los Angeles, but because Starbucks has great seasonal drinks. I often write in Starbucks. Actually, my favorite season to write is Starbucks.”

Scarlett Cole
"I have a terrible habit of writing books that occur during the opposite season to the one I am in. Writing books set in summer during the winter, and fall books during the spring. My favorite season to write in would be the one that matches the book I'm working on. Otherwise I end up playing Christmas carols in June to set the mood."

Lauren Grimley
"For me, there isn't a magical season. All my books were written during different seasons and all had magical writing moments, most of which occurred late at night. Like reading a good book, I know my creativity is at its peak when it can keep me up past midnight, obliterating all thoughts of the morning's obligations. I guess I never outgrew that rush of staying up past my bedtime, because I feel there's something special, empowering even, about writing down your dreams and fantasies while the rest of the world are sleeping through theirs."

In conclusion, with the same certainly that you can know that somewhere an episode of Law & Order is on, you can be sure that no matter what the time or weather, somewhere someone is writing. 

*Warning: The wearing of glittens while
writing will undoubtedly increase
your number of glitten-related typos.
But they're so cozy!