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Top 10 Middle Grade Novel Agents

Check out this list!


My goal is to query each and every one of them by the summer of 2013.

It’s good to have goals.


News from the New Yorker Hotel – Tesla Memorial Conference 2013


This past weekend I attended the Tesla Memorial Conference including the Spirit Award Benefit and Reception.  For more information visit http://teslasciencefoundation.org/iTesla/index.php/en/.

I have also been asked by Nikola Lonchar, president of the Tesla Science Foundation, http://teslasciencefoundation.org/iTesla/index.php/en/home/meet-our-president, to be a board member at large for the Tesla Science Foundation.

While at the conference at the New Yorker Hotel in NYC, I met some wonderful people who are helping further the cause of bringing recognition to the vital accomplishments of Tesla.  I met the executive director of the Tesla Museum in Blegrade, Serbia, Vladimir Jelenković. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikola_Tesla_Museum.  He wants to stay in touch in hopes that I can sell my book there.

I also met Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/tesla.  Please also see his very successful campaign at http://theoatmeal.com/blog/tesla_museum where he successfully helped raise over a million dollars for the purchase of Tesla’s last lab at Wardenclyffe to turn the property into the first National Tesla Museum! 

Then, I met Jane Alcorn, President of the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Science_Center_at_Wardenclyffe.  She even knew who I was, took my card, and said they’ll need some books to sell in their gift shop once the museum is completed!

It was a terrific weekend! I just could not wait to share this with you.  Your support (kickstarter backers) really made it possible for me to take this important trip.  Thank you again for believing in this project and I will keep you posted!

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SCBWI Eastern PA Fall Critique Fest 2012 Success!

The annual Eastern PA SCBWI Fall Critique Fest in Lancaster, PA, at the Manheim Township Public Library was everything I’d hope it would be and more.  I met some terrific writers, editors, and agents.  The workshops were helpful and informative.

I thoroughly enjoyed Edie Hemingway’s workshops A Look at Setting Through the Eyes of Your Characters and Read as a Writer to Improve Your Own Writing.  Author Mara Rockliff shared some wonderful pointers in her workshop Finding the Story in History.  

My peer-to-peer critique partners on Saturday were amazing, offering some wonderful advice and suggestions!  I appreciated everything they had to say and I can’t wait to incorporate their ideas into my story.  They were obviously talented and I truly enjoyed reading their pieces.


Aubrey Poole, Shauna Rossano, Jennifer Laughran, Linda Rose, Marie Lamba, Brianna Johnson

One aspect of the event that I found very beneficial was the First Pages Session with Editors and Agents.  We witnessed the knowledgable critiques of submitted manuscripts with honest feedback of the texts.  As writers, we were able to hear firsthand exactly what agents are looking for in submissions.  We heard about what works, what makes a piece stand out, and what will send a manuscript straight to the slush pile.

Sandy Asher, author of twenty books for young readers and more than three dozen plays, critiqued my first ten pages.  It was an honor to speak with her and she offered sincere feedback of my work.

In addition, I was able to meet with Agent Jennifer Laughran of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and Aubrey Poole, Associate Editor for Sourcebooks.  Both really liked the premise of my book, Emic Rizzle, Tinkerer, and offered some suggestions on how I could make it even better.  They each said they’d like for me to submit my MS to them in the coming months.

Big thanks to Marilyn Hershey and Francesca Amendolia of the SCBWI Eastern PA Chapter for organizing this fantastic event!

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Joel Levinson’s New Book, The Reluctant Hunter




It can be ordered through iUniverse, Amazon, or Barnes&Noble.

In addition to the information below, please visit


Click here to learn more about the book, The Reluctant Hunter by Joel Levinson.

More about the author as quoted from the dust jacket of his book:

“Levinson is a Philadelphia architect whose designs have been published nationally and internationally.  The Architectural Archives at Penn, his alma mater, is preserving his drawings for future study and will be publishing a book of his houses.  He writes a column on design for The Chestnut Hill Local newspaper and The Reluctant Hunter is his first novel.  It is based loosely on what his “adopted” Muslim daughter and her friends told him about the war in Bosnia.  Levinson is also the founder of SpaceGroup, a salon that discusses issues related to science and philosophy.”

Who is Joel Levinson? Read about him here.

He is an artist, writer, philosopher, architect, and really good human being.

To visit his new author’s website, visit joellevinsonauthor.com.

I am anxious to get my hands on a copy of his new book.  As soon as it is available on Amazon, I will post the link right here so stay tuned!


What is your view of the changing state of the publishing industry?  

Seems to be in quite a bit of turmoil.  I learned for instance that my publisher, iUniverse, was acquired by the Penguin Group, which in turn is owned by Pearson, one of the largest publishers in the world.  I’m not really a student of publishing, just picking up tidbits of info as I crash through the mystifying darkness of trying to publish and promote my novel.

Do you have plans on writing another novel, and if so, can you tell us anything about it?

There are several novels I plan to write, the most pressing is one called That Fire in His Eyes.  Your kid’s book about Tesla reminded me that I made a note to myself about a year ago to write a fictionalized account of the life of Tesla, but if you were planning on that, I’ll hold off.  But of course that one is low on my list of priorities.  I have a non-fiction work that I must finish called The Daring Diagonal – Architecture, Geometry, and the Impact of Revolutionary Thought.  I have several other non-fiction works as well I want to write and have already started.

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Writer’s Digest “Dear Lucky Agent Contest” LIVE for Writers of Middle Grade Novels!

Check out this terrific contest for authors of middle grade fiction!  I’m going to enter!  Are you?


to find out what you have to do to submit your work.

You only have until August 27th to enter this contest, so hurry!

Wish me luck, and I wish you luck, too!

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Illustrator Mark Mattson’s Post about my Emic Rizzle Kickstarter

by Illustrator Mark Mattson

Emic Rizzle

Check out Mark Mattson’s Blogspot!


I was a fan of Mark’s work long before I met him and now I am fortunate enough to have him as a part of this project.  We have a terrific character here and we want to share her with the world!


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Interview with Writer Justin Kramon, Author of Finny (Random House 2010)

On June 20, while attending Arcadia University’s MFA level Creative Writing Institute, I had the opportunity to hear Justin Kramon read from, and talk about, his book Finny.  On writing, he said, “It’s more like being in a mental institution.  You spend a lot of time thinking about imaginary people, things they might say, and their goals.”  He also shared that, “Fiction at it’s best is truer than real life.”  He talked about his philosophies on writing, on the editing process, and on the importance of discipline through a self imposed schedule.  He explained that, “Your material is your own fenced in piece of property,” but he challenged us to, “jump the fence,” and “jump out of your little backyard.  Write about the property next to yours.”  In other words, I think he meant that, as writers, we should not be afraid to write about that which is unfamiliar.  As a perfect example, his main character is female and he wrote this novel in first person.

Below is my interview of Justin Kramon.


How long did it take you to write Finny, from first draft to final manuscript?

The whole process took about three years, including editing.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I try to work on new writing in the mornings. Actually, let me back up. I have a bowl of cereal and then I start working on new writing. In the afternoons, I work on revising, outlining, character development, any writing business stuff (submissions, work emails, talking to my agent or editor, any teaching work I need to finish, etc.), and if possible, doing some reading. I find it really helpful to have some kind of schedule, since that’s the main thing you don’t have when you work at home. So when I’m working on a book or story, I try to make writing a part of my routine, like buying groceries or cocaine… I’m totally kidding about the groceries…

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

That’s hard to say. If it’s truly a quirk, then I’m probably not aware of it. Readers could probably answer this question better. My novel is in a very different style from my short stories, so I’m not even sure that people would think they were written by the same author. But some things about simplicity in language, focus on characters and relationships, some oddball humor, exploration of psychology and loss and time passing — those are things that are pretty consistent in most of the work I’ve published so far.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

In writing Finny, I discovered that I could write a different kind of book than I ever expected to write. I didn’t think I’d be writing a big coming-of-age adventure about a head-strong young woman, with all the comedy and romance and plot turns of a nineteenth-century novel. But it was good to see that setting boundaries for myself as a writer didn’t make sense. I expected to write a certain type of book, because of the stories I’d written, but my reading interests took me in a different direction, and I’m glad I followed along and gave this book a try. It would have been easy to say, “That’s just not me,” but I would have lost this book if I’d done that.

What would be your top advice for new writers in their search of an agent?

Well, one thing I’d say would be that it might be helpful not to be too “new.” For fiction, most agents seem to want a completed manuscript from a new client, because that’s what they’ll try to sell. So it doesn’t make sense to get too caught up in the whole agent thing before you finish the book. The best thing is to make the book as good as it can be. And then try to find someone who loves what you’re doing, whom you get along with, and who seems to be very competent at the business side of agenting. (A good website to get acquainted with the business side of agenting is agentquery.com.)

What do you think makes a good story?

I don’t think there’s one rule, but I do believe that novels are a confluence of three main elements: plot, character, and language. I think a good story tends to be strong in all these areas. It makes us care about its people, want to turn the page to see what’s going to happen, and it tells us about the world in language that strikes us as beautiful and leaves lasting impressions. Or maybe it just does an amazing job in one of these areas. But a brilliant novel usually has this other umami element you can’t quite figure out. There’s something behind the language that feels almost timeless, that touches on something so deep it seems personal. That’s the mystery of great writing, which I think keeps it alive and fascinating for so many people.

And lastly, how do you think the publishing industry is changing?

There’s such a long answer to that, and I’m really not at all an expert. An agent or editor would be able to say much more about this. Obviously, it’s getting much tougher for novelists, especially literary novelists. I was really lucky to find a publisher and a set of editors who were excited about what I was doing in Finny. It’s getting extremely rare and difficult to have many worthwhile literary novels published in a way that can reach a wider audience, and that’s a shame, as far as art goes. There’s all kinds of stuff happening with bookstores and ebooks and publishing models and media competition and the economy and on and on. But I should also mention that I visited well over 100 book clubs when I was touring for my novel, and I got a very encouraging message from doing that, which is that there’s a large and enthusiastic audience out there for good books. The question is just how to reach them.

Justin Kramon, Author of Finny


Here’s the link to buy the book on Amazon: