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.”