The 2023 Philadelphia Writing Workshop: April 22, 2023

Screen Shot 2016-12-25 at 10.34.26 PM.pngAfter successful 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022 events in Philadelphia, Writing Day Workshops is excited to announce The 2023 Philadelphia Writing Workshop — a full-day “How to Get Published” writing event in Philadelphia, PA on April 22, 2023.

This writing event is a wonderful opportunity to get intense instruction over the course of one day, pitch a literary agent or editor (optional), get your questions answered, and more. Note that there are limited seats at the event (225 total). All questions about the event regarding schedule, details and registration are answered below. Thank you for your interest in the 2023 Philadelphia Writing Workshop! We are very proud of our many success stories where attendees sign with agents following events — see our growing list of success stories here.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next PWW is an in-person event happening in Philadelphia on April 22, 2023. See you there.)

WHAT IS IT?

This is a special one-day “How to Get Published” writing workshop on Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the Philadelphia Convention Center. In other words, it’s one day full of classes and advice designed to give you the best instruction concerning how to get your writing & books published. We’ll discuss your publishing opportunities today, how to write queries & pitches, how to market yourself and your books, what makes an agent/editor stop reading your manuscript, and more. No matter what you’re writing — fiction or nonfiction — the day’s classes will help point you in the right direction. Writers of all genres are welcome.

This event is designed to squeeze as much into one day of learning as possible. You can ask any questions you like during the classes, and get your specific concerns addressed. We will have literary agents onsite to give feedback and take pitches from writers, as well. This year’s agent and editor faculty so far includes:

  • literary agent Ramona Pina (BookEnds Literary Agency)
  • literary agent Pam Gruber (Irene Goodman Literary)
  • literary agent Lindsey Smith (Speilburg Literary)
  • literary agent Eric Smith (P.S. Literary)
  • literary agent Amy Giuffrida (Belcastro Agency)
  • editor Allison Cohen (Running Press Kids)
  • literary agent Maria Alcantara (Arthouse Literary)
  • literary agent Kelly Peterson (Rees Literary)
  • literary agent Eva Scalzo (Speilburg Literary)
  • literary agent Larissa Melo Pienkowski (Jill Grinberg Literary Management)
  • literary agent Michelle Jackson (Olswanger Literary)
  • editor Sean deLone (Atria Books / Simon & Schuster)
  • literary agent Marie Lamba (Jennifer De Chiara Literary)
  • literary agent Caitlin McDonald (Donald Maass Literary)
  • literary agent Michelle Lazurek (Wordwise Media Services)
  • and many more to come.

By the end of the day, you will have all the tools you need to move forward on your writing journey. This independent event is organized by coordinator Brian Klems of Writing Day Workshops. E-mail him to register for the event at WritingDayWorkshops@gmail.com.

EVENT LOCATION & DETAILS:

9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday, April 22, 2023 — at the Philadelphia Convention Center.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next PWW is an in-person event happening in Philadelphia on April 22, 2023. See you there.)

THIS YEAR’S SESSIONS & WORKSHOPS (APRIL 22, 2023):

What you see below is a quick layout of the day’s events. The topics below are mostly set, but subject to change. You can see a more detailed layout of the day’s classes on the Schedule Page here.

Please Note: There will be 2-3 classes/workshops going at all times during the day, so you will have your choice of what class you attend at any time. The final schedule of topics is subject to change, but here is the current layout:

8:30 – 9:30: Check-in and registration at the event location.

BLOCK ONE: 9:30 – 10:30

1. The Paths to Publishing. Understand the differences between traditional publishing and author-owned publishing (aka self-publishing). Be able to make a decision on which path is best for you and your book. Feel excited to take the next steps and move your project forward.

2. Wrangling With Plot: How to Pace Your Story. This session will lead you on a step-by-step course for plotting a storyline that balances the need for fresh ideas against the need for meeting reader expectations.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 1.44.34 AMBLOCK TWO: 10:45 – 11:50

1. Overcoming Failure—How to Keep Striving for “Yes” in the Face of a Hundred “Nos.” In this talk, you’ll hear stories of accomplished people who have weathered terrible defeats, and you’ll come to see that “failure” is not the opposite of “success” but is actually the pathway to it.

2. 2. The Agent-Author Relationship. Getting a literary agent to represent your work is a big step, but it’s only the beginning. What happens after an agent says yes?

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN: 11:50 – 1:15

Lunch is on your own during these 85 minutes.

BLOCK THREE: 1:15 – 2:30

1. “Writers Got Talent”—a Page 1 Critique Fest (room). This is a chance to get your first page read (anonymously — no bylines given) with attending agents commenting on what was liked or not liked about the submission.

2. 2. How to Sell a Nonfiction Book. This session is completely devoted to nonfiction that is not memoir. So if you are trying to create an awesome nonfiction book proposal, this presentation is for you.

BLOCK FOUR: 2:45 – 3:45

1. Open Agent Q&A Panel. Several attending literary agents will open themselves up to open Q&A from PWW attendees. Bring your questions and get them answered in this popular session.

2. How to Market Yourself and Your Books: Talking Author Social Media, Blogging, and Platform. Whether you’re traditionally published or self-published, everyone could use some helpful guidance on how to effectively market themselves and sell more books.

(What you see here is a quick layout of the day’s events. See a full layout of the day’s sessions, with detailed descriptions, on the official Schedule Page here.)

BLOCK FIVE: 4:00 – 5:00

1. 1. Everything You Need to Know About Agents and Query Letters. In this class, attendees will understand the basics of query letters, synopses, the difference of pitching fiction vs. nonfiction, agent submission pet peeves, and more.

2. 10 Things I’ve Learned by Editing 1,000 Manuscripts (and What Writers Can Take Away from My Experience). Thinking like a developmental editor can help you mold your book for success even as you write; it can eventually help you edit yourself so that the book you submit is the book an editor is looking for. In this seminar, we will discuss developmental vs. line- or copy-editing, what dev editors consider when editing and exercises that can help you dev-edit yourself.

SESSIONS END: 5:00

At 5 p.m., the day is done. Speakers will make themselves available by the workshop’s bookstore for a short while to sign any books for attendees.

Agent & Editor Pitching: All throughout the day.

————-

PITCH AN AGENT OR EDITOR:

Ramona Pina is a literary agent at BookEnds Literary Agency. Ramona is interested in carving a space for and elevating underrepresented voices. She’s currently interested in contemporary YA that carves a space for those stories. She is also seeking fiction for middle grade, young adult and adult/crossover stories, and is not taking on picture books or nonfiction projects at the moment. Right now, she wants magical realism/fabulism themes in the YA and Crossover Adult space like Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova, & The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. For middle grade, lore her into magical universes with lush world-building in the vein of anime Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Overall, Ramona is open and looking for character driven stories that are relatable to real-life struggles however fantastical or realistic. Learn more about Ramona here.

Marie Lamba is Senior Literary Agent at Jennifer De Chiara Literary.  “I’m currently seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, especially with diverse points of view, or a STEM tie-in. I also want general adult fiction and women’s fiction. I’d love to find an original women’s novel that would inspire the next smart and funny chick flick. I also represent a select number of established illustrators and picture book authors. I’m a huge fan of folklore and fairy tales, and, while I wouldn’t want a retelling, I always enjoy those elements woven into a story in a unique way. Overall, books that are original, moving and/or hilarious are especially welcome. I represent nonfiction for children and for adults. For children’s, I’m open to most nonfiction subjects, especially ones that fit into my interests (see above). In the adult nonfiction realm, I want memoirs with strong voices and unique, inspiring stories (including foodie memoirs, or ones with a celebrity or pop culture connection). I’m seeking narrative nonfiction, pop culture, history (little known or unique view of well-known), science and technology for the rest of us, art, biography (especially unknown/little known sides of well-known people), parenting, cooking and food, health and wellness, lifestyle, advice and relationships, and personal finance.” Learn more about Marie here.

Sean deLone is an associate editor with Atria Books, part of Simon & Schuster. Fiction Areas of Interest: Literary Fiction, Upmarket Fiction, Mystery, Psychological Suspense. Nonfiction Areas of Interest: Narrative Nonfiction, Pop Culture, Sports, Film/TV, Music, Sociology/Current Events, History, Business/Economics, Politics/Current Affairs, True Crime, and Humor. Learn more about Sean here.

Maria Alcantara is a literary agent with Arthouse Literary Agency. Maria is looking for New Adult upmarket fiction, either character-driven or plot-driven. She loves to cozy up with a good mystery full of complicated characters and page-turning plot twists. If these novels are contemporary with Millennial leads then that’s even better. Maria is also looking for women’s contemporary or commercial romance and horror with inclusive voices of Latinos and the LGBTQ community. Maria loves reading stories of marginalized voices in modern-day settings that are relatable and swoonworthy. She also loves reading whirlwind escapist stories à la Emily in Paris. Learn more about Maria here.

Amy Giuffrida is a literary agent with The Belcastro Literary Agency. “I am especially seeking stories written by diverse creators—BIPOC, LGBTQ+, neurodiverse, and disabled creators are encouraged to query me. Send me your stories of joy, where your characters and their worlds can be celebrated by the reader.” In nonfiction, she seeks: business, social media, tech, cookbooks, and also anything by an author with a strong platform and a love for their subject. She seeks upper middle grade fiction. In young fiction, she seeks fantasy, horror, sci-fi, contemporary, contemporary romance, mystery, thriller, historical, and novels-in-verse. In adult fiction, she seeks women’s fiction, book club / commercial fiction, non-political thriller, horror, contemporary romance, and rom-com. Learn more about Amy here.

Pam Gruber is a literary agent with Irene Goodman Literary. Pam is looking for adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction with literary voices and commercial hooks. She is particularly interested in layered fantasy, speculative fiction, fantastical realism, rom-coms, and coming-of-age stories with a twist. She is also open to middle grade and YA graphic novels, as well as select narrative non-fiction on lesser-known subjects. Pam would not be the best fit for prescriptive nonfiction, anthologies, potty humor, paranormal, or erotica. Learn more about Pam here.

Eric Smith is a literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency, with a love for young adult books, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction. Eric is eagerly acquiring fiction and nonfiction projects. He’s actively seeking out new, diverse voices in young adult (particularly sci-fi and fantasy), middle grade, and literary and commercial fiction (again, loves sci-fi and fantasy, but also thrillers and mysteries). In terms of non-fiction, he’s interested in cookbooks, pop culture, humor, middle grade, essay collections, and blog-to-book ideas. Learn more about Eric here.

Lindsey Smith is a literary agent with Speilburg Literary. Lindsey is excited to work with first-time authors as well as those who are established. She is seeking nonfiction only, specifically prescriptive nonfiction that is compelling, and voice-driven, with the ability to shed light on a topic that might be unknown. She especially loves projects and people that bring humor to serious situations. Lindsey is interested in cookbooks, lifestyle, health, pop culture, gender issues, self-help, true crime, and current events. She is especially interested in podcast-to-book ideas, journalists who specialize in specific research, and cookbooks that have a niche and/or narrative voice. Please do not pitch diet books. Learn more about Lindsey here.

Eva Scalzo is a Literary Agent with Speilburg Literary. In Adult Fiction, Eva represents Romance novels (all subgenres except inspirational) and Science Fiction/Fantasy novels. She also represents all subgenres of Young Adult Fiction. She is interested in submissions from diverse authors. Learn more about Eva here, as well as her specific interests and what is seeking from writers.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 7.18.06 PM.pngAllison Cohen is an editor with Running Press Kids. She is currently seeking: Picture books (fiction and nonfiction, with a focus on conservation / environmentalism, mysticism, mindfulness, and social justice); Middle grade nonfiction (anthologies, light/humorous history, STEAM-themed books, books for enthusiasts/hobbyists, etc.)Middle grade and YA fiction (contemporary stories only—no fantasy or sci-fi—and anything with an interactive component; lighthearted [not too edgy]); Middle grade and YA fiction (contemporary stories only—no fantasy or sci-fi—and anything with an interactive component; lighthearted [not too edgy]). Learn more about Allison here.

Michelle Jackson is a Literary Associate with Olswanger Literary. “I look forward to bringing adult fiction and select non-fiction of new authors work out there, especially BIPOC and underrepresented authors.” In fiction, she seeks: Commercial, Historical, Humor, New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Thriller, Women’s Fiction. Her fiction subgenres include: Contemporary Romance, Multicultural, Psychological Thrillers, Romantic Comedy, Romantic Suspense. In nonfiction, she seeks: Biography, True Crime, Self-Help, Relationships, Cookbooks, Narrative, Spirituality, select Memoirs. Learn more about Michelle here.

Larissa Melo Pienkowski is a literary agent with Jill Grinberg Literary Management. She is focused on centering BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, neurodivergent, and other historically excluded voices across all genres. In adult fiction, she is looking for voice-y, real stories of diaspora and migration; sweeping, multigenerational family sagas and dual timelines; enchanting magical realism and quirky light fantasy; atmospheric queer, feminist, and non-Western horror with subtle social commentary; heists, cons, and scams with high personal stakes; smart, steamy, laugh-out-loud rom-coms and women’s fiction with unique twists on tropes; BIPOC-centered reinventions of “classics”; historical fiction with rebellious, society-defying protagonists; and stories based in South and Central America, including titles in translation (ela está procurando representar mais autores brasileiros em particular). Larissa also represents middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, and adult nonfiction (narrative nonfiction that blends personal experience with investigative reporting; cookbooks that feature diverse and authentic cuisines; food writing that weaves together culture, society, and the food we eat in community; essay collections that chronicle contemporary life through the lens of social justice, decolonial thinking, and liberation; and cultural history and analysis of niche topics (bonus points for topics like fragrance, beauty, and poison). Learn more about Larissa here.

Kelly Peterson (she/her) is a literary agent with Rees Literary. Kelly seeks books in various genres within Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult age ranges. She is very interested in representing authors with marginalized own voices stories, witty and unique characters, pirates, witches, and dark fantasies. In Middle Grade, she’s looking for: Fantasy and sci-fi; Contemporary that touches on tough issues for young readers. In YA, she’s looking for: Genres from contemporary, to high fantasy, to sci-fi (not the space kind) to paranormal (all the ghost stories, please!) and historical all the way back to rom-coms. In Adult, Kelly represents: Romance, fantasy, and sci-fi. Learn more about Kelly here.

Caitlin McDonald is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency. Caitlin represents: All science fiction & fantasy categories for adult and young adult, especially secondary world fantasy or alternate history; Genre-bending or cross-genre fiction, and stories that examine tropes from a new angle; Diversity of all kinds, including (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality, and ability, in both characters and worldbuilding. Learn more about Caitlin here.

Michelle S. Lazurek is a literary agent with WordWise Media Services.  Michelle is taking pitches on behalf of herself as well as her WordWise co-agents. They seek books that are both secular as well as Christian/CBA titles. In fiction, the agency seeks: Picture books, Science fiction, Fantasy, Historical fiction. Action/Adventure, Children’s, Crime, Fantasy, General, Graphic Novel, Humor, Middle Grade, Military, Mystery, Religious, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult. In nonfiction, the agency seeks: Theology, Bible studies, Professional, Church Issues, Social/Cultural Issues, Career, Reference. Biography, Cookbooks, Crafts/DIY, History, Humor, Illustrated, Pop Culture, Psychology, Science, Sports, Travel, True Crime. Learn more about Michelle here.

 

ADDED ONLINE PITCHING: To ensure that writers have a robust and diverse lineup of agents & editors to pitch, 2023 Philadelphia Writing Workshop attendees will have the ability to also pitch literary agents at the Writing Day Workshops *online* event that follows the 2023 PWW on our event calendar.

That event is the 2023 Online Florida Writing Workshop, May 12-13, 2023, which will have 30-40 agents taking one-on-one Zoom virtual pitches. 

This means that 2023 Philly attendees can have access to pitching all those online FWW agents — pitches still at $29 each — without being a formal registrant for the online May 2023 FWW. (That said, if you want to formally register for the FWW and have access to all classes and panels, let us know, as there is a discount for confirmed Philly attendees.)

If you are interested in this added pitching opportunity, the first step is to get formally registered for Philadelphia. Following the Philly one-day conference on April 22, 2023, we will be in touch with all Philly attendees and ask them if they want to partake in pitching online agents at the 2023 FWW (May 12-13). At that time, you can communicate your pitch requests and purchase meeting time.

* * * * *

* * * * *

        More 2023 agents to be announced as they are confirmed. You can sign up for pitches at any time, or switch pitches at any time, so long as the agent in question still has appointments open.

These one-on-one meetings are an amazing chance to pitch your book face-to-face with an agent, and get personal, individual feedback on your pitch/concept. If the agent likes your pitch, they’ll request to see part/all of your book — sending you straight past the slush pile. It also gives you an intimate chance to meet with an agent and pick their brain with any questions on your mind.

(Please note that Agent/Editor Pitching is an add-on, separate aspect of the day, for only those who sign up. Spaces are limited for these premium meetings, and pricing/detail is explained below.)

———

PRICING:

$199 — EARLY BIRD base price for registration to the 2023 PWW and access to all workshops, all day. As of fall 2022, registration is now OPEN.

Add $29 — to secure a 10-minute one-on-one meeting with any of our literary agents or editors in attendance. Use this special meeting as a chance to pitch your work and get professional feedback on your pitch. (Spaces limited.) If they wish, attendees are free to sign up for multiple 10-minute pitch sessions at $29/session — pitching multiple individuals, or securing 20 minutes to pitch one person rather than the usual 10. Here are four quick testimonials regarding writers who have signed with literary agents after pitching them at prior Writing Day Workshops events. (Our bigger, growing  list of success stories an be seen here.)

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.11.29 AM.png“I met my client, Alison Hammer, at the Writing
Workshop of Chicago and just sold her book.”
– literary agent Joanna Mackenzie of Nelson Literary

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 11.47.54 PM.png“Good news! I signed a client [novelist Aliza Mann]
from the Michigan Writing Workshop!”
– literary agent Sara Mebigow of KT Literary

Screen Shot 2018-11-05 at 12.56.10 PM“I signed author Stephanie Wright from
the Seattle Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kathleen Ortiz of New Leaf Literary

Screen Shot 2018-05-17 at 9.07.44 PM“I signed an author [Kate Thompson] that I
met at the Philadelphia Writing Workshop.”
– literary agent Kimberly Brower of Brower Literary

Screen Shot 2016-10-16 at 2.54.50 PM.png“I signed novelist Kathleen McInnis after meeting her
at the Chesapeake Writing Workshop.”

– literary agent Adriann Ranta of Foundry Literary + Media

Add $69 — for an in-depth, personal critique of your one-page query letter from Chuck Sambuchino, one of the day’s instructors. (This rate is a special event value for Philadelphia Writing Workshop attendees only.) Registrants are encouraged to take advantage of the specially-priced critique, so they can send out their query letter with confidence following the workshop. Also, if you are meeting with an agent at the event, you’re essentially speaking your query letter aloud to them. Wouldn’t it be wise to give that query letter (i.e., your pitch) one great edit before that meeting?

Add $89 — for an in-depth personal critique of the first 10 pages of your novel. Spaces with faculty for these critiques are very limited, and participating attendees will either 1) get an in-person meeting at the workshop, if the faculty member is attending the live event, or 2) get a 10-minute phone call with the faculty member, and have notes passed along via email, if the critiquer is not attending the live event. Options:

  • Young adult and middle grade (in-person critiques): Faculty member Julie Eshbaugh, an author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you at the April 22 event in person for 10-15 minutes to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the in-person meeting.
  • Mystery, thriller, general fiction, literary fiction, science fiction, fantasy, romance, women’s fiction (virtual): Faculty member Tara Yilmaz, a writing coach and author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 10 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting.
  • Young adult, middle grade, children’s picture books, adult romance (virtual): Faculty member Gabrielle Prendergast, an author, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting. If you are submitting a picture book, make the submission 1000 words maximum, and it can or cannot include illustrations.
  • Psychological thrillers, horror, mysteries, suspense, general contemporary adult fiction; and lastly some romance and women’s fiction (virtual): Faculty member S.Z. Estavillo, a writing coach and former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting. 
  • Adult contemporary and historical fiction, romance, women’s fiction, mysteries, thrillers, middle grade, young adult contemporary/historical (virtual): Faculty member Jennifer Johnson Blalock, a writing coach and former literary agent, will get your work in advance, critique the first 10 double-spaced pages of your book, meet with you online (Zoom, etc.) or by phone for 15 minutes sometime before the workshop to discuss her thoughts, and pass along written critique notes before or after the meeting. 
  • More possibly forthcoming

How to pay/register — Registration is now open. Reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WritingDayWorkshops@gmail.com, and he will provide specific instructions for payment and registration to get you a reserved seat at the event. Payment is by credit card, PayPal, or check. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Philadelphia workshop specifically.

REGISTRATION:

Because of limited space at the venue (Philadelphia Convention Center), the workshop can only allow 225 registrants, unless spacing issues change. For this reason, we encourage you to book sooner rather than later.

(Please note that this is an in-person event. We at Writing Day Workshops plan both online/virtual as well as in-person events. This next PWW is an in-person event happening in Philadelphia on April 22, 2023. See you there.)

Are spaces still available? Yes, we still have spaces available. We will announce RIGHT HERE, at this point on this web page, when all spaces are taken. If you do not see a note right here saying how all spaces are booked, then yes, we still have room, and you are encouraged to register.

How to Register: The easy first step is simply to reach out to workshop organizer Brian Klems via email: WritingDayWorkshops@gmail.com. Brian will pass along registration information to you, and give instructions on how to pay by credit card, PayPal, or check. Once payment is complete, you will have a reserved seat at the event. The PWW will send out periodic e-mail updates to all registered attendees with any & all news about the event. Because Brian plans different workshops, make sure you note that you’re inquiring about the Philadelphia workshop specifically.

Refunds: If you sign up for the event and have to cancel for any reason at any time, you will receive 50% of your total payment back [sent by check or PayPal]. The other 50% is nonrefundable and will not be returned, and helps the workshop ensure that only those truly interested in the limited spacing sign up for the event. (Please note that query editing payments and manuscript editing payments are completely non-refundable if the instructor has already edited your work.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 4.10.21 PM

Thank you for your interest in the 2023 Philadelphia Writing Workshop.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Marie Lamba of Jennifer De Chiara Literary

Marie Lamba is Senior Literary Agent at Jennifer De Chiara Literary.

Marie Lamba (www.marielamba.com) is author of the young adult novels What I Meant… (Random House), Over My Head and Drawn, and of the picture books Green Green: A Community Gardening Story (Farrar Straus Giroux), and A Day So Gray (Clarion). Her articles appear in more than 100 publications, and she’s a frequent contributor to Writer’s Digest. Marie has worked as an editor, an award-winning public relations writer, a book publicist, and has taught classes on novel writing and on author promotion. 

In fiction, she seeks:

I’m currently seeking middle grade and young adult fiction and graphic novels, especially with diverse points of view, or a STEM tie-in. I also want general adult fiction and women’s fiction. I’d love to find an original women’s novel that would inspire the next smart and funny chick flick. I also represent a select number of established illustrators and picture book authors. I’d love a fresh non-gory ghost story for any age. I’m fascinated with hidden treasures, artifacts and with discovering ancient civilizations right beneath our feet. I’m a huge fan of folklore and fairy tales, and, while I wouldn’t want a retelling, I always enjoy those elements woven into a story in a unique way. Overall, books that are original, moving and/or hilarious are especially welcome.

I’m NOT interested in Christian fiction, horsey books, thrillers, genre science fiction or high fantasy (though I enjoy fantasy and speculative elements, especially in middle-grade fiction), erotica, category romance (though romantic elements are welcomed in novels), or books that feature graphic violence.
 
Some favorite titles on my reading shelf include One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London, Searching for Caleb by Anne Tyler, Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger, The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Shug by Jenny Han, Little Bear’s Big House by Benjamin Chaud, and Dogzilla and Hallo-weiner by Dav Pilkey. I’m also a big fan of the shows Veronica Mars, The Crown, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Queen’s Gambit, and Bridgerton, and the flicks Never Have I Ever and Lovebirds. For more insight into my tastes, check out the books I’ve authored, as well as the works of the authors I represent, and visit marielamba.com for my Agent Monday blog posts

In nonfiction, she seeks:

I represent nonfiction for children and for adults. For children’s, I’m open to most nonfiction subjects, especially ones that fit into my interests (see above).

In the adult realm, I want memoirs with strong voices and unique, inspiring stories (including foodie memoirs, or ones with a celebrity or pop culture connection). In nonfiction, I’m seeking narrative nonfiction, pop culture, history (little known or unique view of well-known), science and technology for the rest of us, art, biography (especially unknown/little known sides of well-known people), parenting, cooking and food, health and wellness, lifestyle, advice and relationships, and personal finance.

Overall, I’m especially looking for nonfiction that is inspiring and hopeful. I have a special interest in social justice, in titles that elevate and celebrate women and diverse people, and in books that aim to improve our society and help our environment.

Some nonfiction favorites on my reading shelf include: Educated by Tara Westover , Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb, Rush by Stephen Fried, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine, and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I also loved the movies Green Book, RBG and Hidden Figures, and I’m a sucker for International House Hunter, The Great British Bake Off and Queer Eye.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Larissa Melo Pienkowski of Jill Grinberg Literary Management

Larissa Melo Pienkowski is a literary agent with Jill Grinberg Literary Management.

Larissa grew up outside of Boston and attended Simmons University, where she earned her degree in Social Work and Sociology, performed poetry competitively and recreationally, and edited a number of literary magazines. Larissa later went on to receive her MA in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College, where she worked with the likes of Beacon Press and Barefoot Books before becoming the assistant publisher of an independent feminist press. She joined JGLM as an agent in 2020 and represents a wide range of adult and children’s fiction and nonfiction, with a deep-rooted passion for championing the stories of authors from historically excluded backgrounds. The daughter of Brazilian and Polish immigrants, Larissa speaks Portuguese and Spanish. She lives in Philadelphia with her fiancée and very fluffy husky, Olaf, and when she isn’t curled up with a good book or traveling the world, she can be found in her ceramics studio, where she makes wheel-thrown and hand-built porcelain pieces.

She is seeking:

Larissa gravitates toward books with an emotional pull, unforgettable characters with propulsive desires, unique voices that leap off the page, lush and lyrical writing, and underexplored themes. She is focused on centering BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, disabled, neurodivergent, and other historically excluded voices across all genres.

In adult fiction, she is looking for voice-y, real stories of diaspora and migration; sweeping, multigenerational family sagas and dual timelines; enchanting magical realism and quirky light fantasy, especially if it takes place in a bookstore, library, or seaside village; atmospheric queer, feminist, and non-Western horror with subtle social commentary; heists, cons, and scams with high personal stakes; smart, steamy, laugh-out-loud rom-coms and women’s fiction with unique twists on tropes; BIPOC-centered reinventions of “classics”; historical fiction with rebellious, society-defying protagonists; and stories based in South and Central America, including titles in translation (ela está procurando representar mais autores brasileiros em particular).

In middle-grade and YA fiction, Larissa holds a soft spot for ragtag misfits-turned-best friends in mystery-adventures; stories that incorporate family, friendship, and strong cultural elements without being exclusively issues-driven; magical realism and light fantasy grounded in the experiences and insecurities that are part of growing up; non-Western folklore; and emotional, lyrical stories that explore heavier emotions and experiences in ways kids relate to.

On the adult nonfiction side, she is seeking narrative nonfiction that blends personal experience with investigative reporting; cookbooks that feature diverse and authentic cuisines; food writing that weaves together culture, society, and the food we eat in community; essay collections that chronicle contemporary life through the lens of social justice, decolonial thinking, and liberation; and cultural history and analysis of niche topics (bonus points for topics like fragrance, beauty, and poison).

Right now, she’s not the best fit for: stories exploring issues of identity written by authors who don’t share that identity; apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, or dystopian novels; space operas and deep sci-fi; angel/demon, heaven/hell stories; pro-military, pro-detective, or pro-police books; anything having to do with Nazis or terrorists; fantasy featuring elves, aliens, robots, fae, dragons, vampires, werewolves, or unicorns; WWII historical fiction; COVID memoirs; and nonfiction centered on business, economics, or politics. She is temporarily putting a hold on poetry and children’s picture book submissions.

In the spirit of uplifting the work of those historically excluded from publishing and bringing more widespread representation to bookshelves everywhere, Larissa is primarily focused on representing marginalized voices and experiences in all genres.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ramona Pina of BookEnds Literary Agency

Ramona Pina is a literary agent at BookEnds Literary Agency.

She is seeking: Ramona is interested in carving a space for and elevating underrepresented voices. She’s currently interested in contemporary YA that carves a space for those stories. She is also seeking fiction for middle grade, young adult and adult/crossover stories, and is not taking on picture books or nonfiction projects at the moment. Right now, she wants magical realism/fabulism themes in the YA and Crossover Adult space like Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina by Zoraida Cordova, & The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. For middle grade, lore her into magical universes with lush world-building in the vein of anime Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke. Or, charm her with a Brother’s Grimm or Alice in Wonderland/Wizard of Oz retelling.

Overall, Ramona is open and looking for character driven stories that are relatable to real-life struggles however fantastical or realistic.

Ramona is a second-generation Jamaican, and third-gen. Cape Verdean, born and raised in Boston. A lover of fall and all things cozy, she is true to her New England roots. She is obsessed with teas, seafood, and Afro- Indo- Caribbean food. Growing up, she was the odd kid who wished she could write like Langston Hughes and read encyclopedias all day. Yes, pre-internets!

Her creative journey has been influenced by Jim Henson productions, Hayao Miyazaki anime, and similar works. She constantly lost and found herself within those stories, identifying with characters who didn’t look like her. This lack of representation led Ramona to explore abroad, and other marginalized cultures. While in Chile and Guatemala, she studied, volunteered, and gained fluency in the Spanish language, applying her cultural anthropology degree to understand the richness of the mythology and folklore of mainstream and indigenous groups.

Being a spoken word poet, Ramona knows that her voice is her strongest weapon and continues to highlight that as a BookEnds literary fellow in her capstone podcast, Hollow Moon. As a literary agent, she wants to champion underrepresented voices in literature to elevate them to an even playing field. When she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s a busy mom of 2 (and two fur babies, Rambo & Criminal (cats)), an avid baker, candle-maker, and DIY enthusiast/“Mona Stewart.” Otherwise, she’s watching movies featuring The Rock or other absurd action films. She’s overjoyed to have found her agenting home at BookEnds with equally compassionate fellow humans and looks forward to midwifing more diverse books into the world.

 

 

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Caitlin McDonald of Donald Maass Literary Agency

Caitlin McDonald is a literary agent with Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Caitlin McDonald joined DMLA in 2015, after five years at Sterling Lord Literistic. She represents adult and young adult speculative fiction, primarily science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and related subgenres. She is also seeking graphic novels along the same lines as above. Caitlin looks for diversity in all projects, and is most drawn to unique, evocative narratives and cross-genre works, with an emphasis on high-impact stories that have something powerful to say. Some of her clients include C.L. Polk, Caitlin Starling, A.J. Hackwith, Lara Elena Donnelly, and Emma Mieko Candon.

Submissions:

Looking for:
– All SF/F fiction for adult and YA, especially secondary world fantasy or alternate history
– Genre-bending or cross-genre fiction, and stories that examine tropes from a new angle
– Diversity of all kinds, including (but not limited to) race, gender, sexuality, and ability, in both characters and worldbuilding

Do not send:
– contemporary women’s fiction
– crime or military fiction
– picture books or young reader chapter books
– poetry, screenplays or short stories
– memoir and nonfiction

 

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kelly Peterson of Rees Literary

Kelly Peterson (she/her) is a literary agent with Rees Literary.

Kelly is a West Chester University graduate with a B.S.Ed in English and Literature. She worked as a Junior Literary Agent for two years before moving to Rees Literary Agency, continuing to champion her authors and the manuscripts she loves. Kelly seeks books in various genres within Middle Grade, Young Adult, and Adult age ranges. She is very interested in representing authors with marginalized own voices stories, witty and unique characters, pirates, witches, and dark fantasies.

In Middle Grade, she’s looking for:

Fantasy and sci-fi

Contemporary that touches on tough issues for young readers

In YA, she’s looking for:

Genres from contemporary, to high fantasy, to sci-fi (not the space kind) to paranormal (all the ghost stories, please!) and historical all the way back to rom-coms.

In Adult, Kelly represents:

Romance, fantasy, and sci-fi

Kelly is excited to expand her client list and find new authors who have a strong story to tell.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Pam Gruber of Irene Goodman Literary

Pam Gruber is a literary agent with Irene Goodman Literary.

Pam is looking for adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction with literary voices and commercial hooks. She is particularly interested in layered fantasy, speculative fiction, fantastical realism, rom-coms, and coming-of-age stories with a twist. She is also open to middle grade and YA graphic novels, as well as select narrative non-fiction on lesser-known subjects. Pam would not be the best fit for prescriptive non-fiction, anthologies, potty humor, paranormal, or erotica.

Pam began her career in publishing as an editor, working for over ten years at Hachette Book Group with a number of acclaimed authors and illustrators. From there, she went on to serve as the Editorial Director at children’s media startup Rebel Girls, where she saw first-hand how a great book can expand into other entertainment mediums.

Pam joined Irene Goodman in 2020 after she realized her favorite part of the publishing business was working directly with authors and artists, helping them to shape not only their stories, but also their careers. She looks for work that is gripping from page one, whether it makes her break out in a smile or gives her goosebumps (from excitement, not fear!). She loves complicated female protagonists, innovative twists on old tropes, and getting swept away by fully realized worlds—be they portraits of the next town over or an imagined universe unlike our own.

Originally from Philadelphia and raised by two artists, Pam knew she wanted to work in publishing from a young age. She brings an inscrutable eye for detail to every book she gets her hands on, and her experience at a publishing house gives her insight into how editors think, and what they’re looking for.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Eva Scalzo of Speilburg Literary

Eva Scalzo is a Literary Agent with Speilburg Literary.

Eva  was born in New Jersey, but has lived in Houston, Buenos Aires, San Juan, and Boston before settling down outside of Binghamton, New York. She has been reading romance since the fifth grade when she discovered the Sweet Valley High series. On inheriting her grandmother’s collection of vintage Harlequin Romances, she set a goal to someday finish reading them all on top of her already massive TBR.

Eva has a B.A. in the Humanities from the University of Puerto Rico and a M.A. in Publishing and Writing from Emerson College. Since graduating in 2002, she has spent her career in scholarly publishing, working for Houghton Mifflin, Blackwell Publishing, John Wiley & Sons, and Cornell University in a variety of roles. She has been with Speilburg Literary since 2013, and started accepting clients in 2017. Eva is a member the AALA (formerly AAR), RWA, and SCBWI.

In Adult Fiction, Eva represents Romance (all subgenres but inspirational) and Science Fiction/Fantasy. She also represents all subgenres of Young Adult Fiction.

Fun Fact: My name is not pronounced with a long E sound. I’m of Puerto Rican, Lebanese, and Spanish descent.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Michelle Lazurek of WordWise Media Services

Michelle S. Lazurek is a literary agent with WordWise Media Services.

Michelle is taking pitches on behalf of herself as well as her WordWise co-agents. They seek books that are both secular as well as Christian/CBA titles.

In fiction, the agency seeks:

Picture books. Science fiction, Fantasy, Historical fiction. Action/Adventure, Children’s, Crime, Fantasy, General, Graphic Novel, Humor, Middle Grade, Military, Mystery, Religious, Romance, Science Fiction, Thriller, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult.

In nonfiction, the agency seeks:

Christian nonfiction. Theology, Bible studies, Professional, Church Issues, Social/Cultural Issues, Career, Reference. Biography, Cookbooks, Crafts/DIY, History, Humor, Illustrated, Pop Culture, Psychology, Science, Sports, Travel, True Crime.

ABOUT HER:

“In 2009, I felt a calling on my life to start writing. Apart from some poems in high school, I had never written anything before. As I studied and wrote down my thoughts, I soon published my first book. Today, with nine titles in print and hundreds of articles (and a few awards along the way), I teach aspiring authors at writers’ conferences. Now I get the privilege to journey with them more closely, and help them achieve their dreams. I have a Master of Arts in Counseling and Human Relations from Liberty University. When not occupied with literary pursuits, you can find me sipping a hot latte at Starbucks, reading a good book, or collecting records from the 1980s and 90s. I live in Pennsylvania with my husband, two children and our crazy dog, Cookie.”

 

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Lindsey Smith of Speilburg Literary

Lindsey Smith is a literary agent with Speilburg Literary.

Lindsey Smith got her start in the publishing industry as an author. After her own publishing success, she started working with other writers to help launch their books and shape their careers. To date, Lindsey has worked with over 1,000 authors and negotiated book deals even before becoming an agent. Her unique perspective helps shape her passion for the industry and her role as an advocate for her clients. 

Formerly a publicist and hailing from the world of self-publishing, Lindsey understands the importance of branding, and she works with each client not only to sell a book but to build a career. 

Lindsey is excited to work with first-time authors as well as those who are established. She is seeking nonfiction only, specifically prescriptive nonfiction that is compelling, and voice-driven, with the ability to shed light on a topic that might be unknown. She especially loves projects and people that bring humor to serious situations. 

Lindsey is interested in cookbooks, lifestyle, health, pop culture, gender issues, self-help, true crime, and current events. She is especially interested in podcast-to-book ideas, journalists who specialize in specific research, and cookbooks that have a niche and/or narrative voice. Please do not send diet books.