August 23rd, 2016

thumb_SteeringTowardNormalThis is just the greatest. KT Literary author Rebecca Petruck recently shared an awesome letter she received from a reader of her debut novel Steering Toward Normal, which was published in May 2014 by Abrams/Amulet. Rebecca gave me permission to share it here for your enjoyment. In case you’re wondering why I love middle grade books… this is it, right here. From Libby:

Hello, I loved your first book, you have no idea how many books I try to find about showing cows at the fair that really bring the whole real fair experience together, trust me I would know I show too! But I would really like a second book to go along with your first book Steering towards normal. It ended and I have so many unanswered questions! What happens to Jason and Crystal? Will they make Diggy the third wheel and leave him? Will Wayne sow next year and move back in with his dad or maybe Graf moves in with Pop, Wayne, and Diggy. And What about July, what happens to her and that guy she was with, and on top of that will Diggy take over the State Fair title that he lost this year? And personally I think that maybe if July goes away and doesnt really show up in the next book the next love interest for Wayne AND Diggy should be a girl who shows dairy cows, is the same age as them, and is a huge tomboy. I mean July was kind of tomboy but I would have rather have seen her hunting or fishing or have a chevy truck :). Just ideas, my brother and I both read it and we can’t wait for you to hopefully make another one! Just some ideas and thoughts, thanks Libby P.S. I thought the book sounded so much like my 4-H experiences in the cattle barn and besides it would be different for the beef and dairy to cross, like a Romeo and Juliet thing where it is almost forbidden in 4-H to go out with the other cow people.

How cool is that? Rebecca’s next book, Will Nolan Eats Bugs, i will be published by Abrams/Amulet in Fall 2017. And in her response to Libby, she revealed some teasers! “Though a sequel is not yet planned, I do continue to think about how Diggy and Wayne are doing. In fact, they make a few short appearances in my next book, Will Nolan Eats Bugs. Will Nolan lives in the same town, though Will is in middle school while Diggy and Wayne are now juniors. And Diggy did win Grand Champ his sophomore year with a steer named Luckminster Fuller because of something Wayne said.”

Authors love these notes, and we’re always happy to pass them along, if you can’t find another way of contacting the author. I still remember writing to some of my favorite authors as a kid, in the wayback days before Twitter and Facebook or even email. Handwritten letters mailed c/o the publisher, to Francine Pascal and Susan Kay. And while I can’t remember a response, I loved reaching out nonetheless.

Did you even write to an author when you were younger? Get a cool response? Leave a comment!

Filed Under: Slushpile


Slightly shoe-obsessed YA and MG superagent Kate Testerman (aka Daphne Unfeasible) blogs about her books and authors, answers your questions, and talks about publishing industry gossip. , subscribe to this blog, or check out her Writer's Resources.

For more information about her About My Query posts, please click here.


SeventeenHuge round of cheers to Karen Fortunati and her amazing publicity staff at Delacorte/ Penguin Random House – THE WEIGHT OF ZERO was featured in Seventeen Magazine this month!

THE WEIGHT OF ZERO is Karen’s debut young adult novel – an intense yet hopeful story about a young woman struggling with bipolar disorder and the amazing family, doctors, friends and therapists who help her combat her thoughts of suicide.

Kirkus said, “An honest, informative, and ultimately optimistic novel about living with mental illness.”

Flannery Fitch of Bookshop Santa Cruz gave this stunning review, “This book absolutely floored me. It tore me apart and rebuilt me, in the best possible way. It is by far the best depiction of depression that I’ve read in a very long time. I spent the last half of the book in grateful tears, filled with a deep recognition that gave me hope for life and love for Catherine. I cannot express enough what this book meant to me. Read it. It’ll change you.” Flannery’s review was one of the ones that got THE WEIGHT OF ZERO listed as an ABA Indies Introduce title this fall.

Seventeen-year-old Catherine Pulaski knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disorder, almost triumphed once; that was her first suicide attempt.

Being bipolar is forever. It never goes away. The med du jour might work right now, but Zero will be back for her. It’s only a matter of time.

And so, in an old ballet-shoe box, Catherine stockpiles medications, preparing to take her own life before Zero can inflict its living death on her again. Before she goes, though, she starts a short bucket list.

The bucket list, the support of her family, new friends, and a new course of treatment all begin to lessen Catherine’s sense of isolation. The problem is, her plan is already in place, and has been for so long that she might not be able to see a future beyond it.

This is a story of loss and grief and hope, and how some of the many shapes of love—maternal, romantic, and platonic—affect a young woman’s struggle with mental illness and the stigma of treatment.

Follow Karen’s debut journey on her website:

Say hi and congratulations on twitter @KarenFortunati

WeightofZero_front cover new12.indd

18 August 2016


2016-08 headshotHuge round of congratulations to debut author Spencer Ellsworth whose space opera, A RED PEACE, sold to TOR!

Spencer is the first client I’ve signed from a conference – huge round of applause to the Cascade Writers Conference and cheers to a whirlwind summer for this talented new author!

In the deal announcement at, Spencer says, “This story’s first scene barreled into my head years ago: a galactic empire has fallen, celebrations ring outside, and the order rings out in the new corridors of power: “Kill all humans.”

Read Spencer’s interview as well as an introduction and announcement from acquiring editor, Beth Meacham, here: Announcing the Starfire Trilogy!

From Publishers Marketplace:
Fiction: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Debut author Spencer Ellsworth’s A RED PEACE, first in the STARFIRE trilogy – an action-packed space opera in which the oppressed half-Jorian Crosses have risen up to supplant humanity and dominate the galaxy, to Beth Meacham at TOR, in a three book deal, in a nice deal, for publication in 2017, by Sara Megibow at kt literary. (World English)
film/TV: Kim Yau at Paradigm Agency,

Congratulations Spencer!

Follow Spencer’s debut adventures on his website:

Say hi and congratulations on twitter @spencimus

16 August 2016


TruthIt’s an exciting time to be in children’s publishing. The readership is expanding– and expanding their reading lists! Engaging, teen-friendly nonfiction is a huge area for growth in the industry, and of perennial interest, especially for students doing book reports who want to read more than boring biographies . So kt literary is putting out the call for YA nonfiction!

A few specific things we would love to see:

  • Exciting, untold historical stories, especially of #BygoneBadassBroads. Renee would love to see biographies of female scientists, warriors, and pirates.
  • Celebrity memoirs or nonfiction by social media stars. Kate adds “And gymnasts! Laurie Hernandez, call me!
  • Teen-leaning true crime. Hannah especially would love to see stories of teens put through the wringer of the justice system, ideally with hopeful endings.
  • Sara is on the lookout for positive nonfiction about religious observance, LGBTQ+ narratives above and beyond “coming out” and mental health discussions that include research on the medical side. 

Some recent YA nonfiction we love include POPULAR by Maya Van Wagenen, THE NOTORIOUS BENEDICT ARNOLD by Steve Sheinken, and BEYOND MAGENTA by Susan Kuklin.  For more about some great nonfiction for teens, check out this article on Stacked. YALSA also gives an award for  Excellence in Nonfiction (not annually, alas, but it’s a wonderful list of some amazing titles), and B&N has a nice list of some of their favorites.

12 August 2016


RebeccaRoanhorse200Please help us welcome our newest KT Literary client, Rebecca Roanhorse!

Rebecca came to me via the query slush pile with an incredible fantasy about a reluctant heroine who must chase down a witch whose flesh-eating monsters threaten all of Dinétah (the ancestral name for the Navajo homeland).

Rebecca is Black/Native American (Ohkay Owingeh) currently living in Santa Fe, a VONA/Voices workshop attendee and a Yale grad.

This book is absolutely amazing and I can’t wait for readers to dive in! I’m honored to be working with Rebecca and so pleased to welcome her aboard!

Be on the lookout for book news on Rebecca’s blog here:

Say hi and congratulations on twitter @RoanhorseBex

11 August 2016


MaggieWells200Congratulations to Maggie Wells on the sale of her new contemporary romance series – The Silver Foxes – to Sourcebooks!

FULL COURT PRESS is near and dear to my heart as it stars a heroine and a hero who are older – no blushing virgins here folks! As a 40+ year old myself and as a feminist I’m SO excited that we’ll be seeing more middle-aged protagonists in the romance aisle of bookstores! Thank you, readers, for asking – over and over again – where are the foxy silver-haired men and women? You’ll love this series!

From Publishers Marketplace:
Fiction: Women’s/Romance
Maggie Wells’s FULL COURT PRESS, the first book in her Silver Foxes series, a modern-day battle of the sexes set in a small Southern university town, and featuring two hyper-competitive coaches who discover they’re clueless when it comes to the game of love, to Cat Clyne at Sourcebooks, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, for publication in 2017, by Sara Megibow of kt literary (World English).

Learn more about Maggie’s wonderful contemporary romance books on her website:

Say hi and congratulations on twitter @MaggieWells1

10 August 2016


2011-06 High Res Roni Loren HeadshotCongratulations to New York Times bestselling and RITA award-winning author Roni Loren whose new romance series, THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY, sold to Sourcebooks!

Smexy Books reviewed OFF THE CLOCK (Roni’s most recent full length romance) saying, “Fair warning. I am writing this review with fingers contorted to the brink of fracture, as I am a hairsbreadth away from spontaneous combustion, due to barely leashed excitement courses with the power of a hydrogen bomb, through. my. friggin. body! Readers, I really, enjoyed this novel.”

How awesome is that? And now Roni will be launching another series – filled with characters delicious enough to devour, steaming sexual tension and an intense story.

From Publishers Weekly:
New York Times bestselling and RITA award-winning, Roni Loren’s THE ONES WHO GOT AWAY, a contemporary romance series following the survivors of a school shooting twelve years later, damaged souls who discover they are worthy of receiving and giving love, to Cat Clyne at Sourcebooks, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2017, by Sara Megibow of KT Literary Agency.

Follow Roni’s book launch as well as details on her previous books at:

Say hi and congratulations on twitter @RoniLoren

5 August 2016


bourbon-coverHuge congratulations to Tiffany Reisz whose Southern gothic THE BOURBON THIEF has been awarded the Seal of Excellence by RT Book Reviews!

“beautifully written and delightfully insane” – RT Book Reviews

Betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150–year–old mystery

When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen—a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it’s property of the Maddox family who owned and operated the Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War, until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.

In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.

Read an excerpt of THE BOURBON THIEF here!

Learn more about Tiffany’s books, including the award-winning and international bestselling ORIGINAL SINNERS series on her website:

Say hi and congratulations on twitter @tiffanyreisz

5 August 2016


Please join me in congratulating Jessie Hilb on her forthcoming debut with Clarion! Available early 2018, THE CALCULUS OF CHANGE is a beautiful, honest look at the complexities of friendship, family, and first love. Below is the Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf Announcement.

Jessie Deal 1

Follow Jessie on Twitter! Or check out her new website!

5 August 2016


Hannah FergesenHilary HarwellIn case you missed the big news yesterday, I’m delighted to welcome Hannah Fergesen and Hilary Harwell to the KT Literary team! From our press release:

Hannah Fergesen, formerly of Colorado and now based in Brooklyn, will give the agency an East Coast presence. She joins owner and agent Kate Schafer Testerman and agents Sara Megibow and Renee Nyen, representing speculative adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. Hannah most recently was a literary assistant at Trident Media, has interned for Brooks Sherman at the Bent Agency, and worked as a bookseller at NY’s Books of Wonder. She is a current contributor to the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog as well as a podcaster and writer.

Simultaneously, Hilary Harwell has joined KT Literary as a literary assistant. A writer and former intern with several literary agencies, Hilary brings an editorial eye and writer’s perspective to the slush pile.

Associate Agent Renee Nyen has also been promoted to full Literary Agent. Her clients include YA authors Rebekah Crane, Jessie Akos, and more.

Congrats to everyone! You can find Hannah’s query address and our full submission guidelines on our submissions page, and more about Hannah’s specific tastes on yesterday’s What I’m Looking For post.

And please feel free to send them all the best on Twitter as @HannahFergesen, @HilaryHarwell, and @Renee_Nyen!

3 August 2016

Get to Know

HannahFergesen300I am a geek and a total TV junkie. I love TV shows because they often have fantastic ensembles and character arcs that can be savored over long periods of time. My favorite shows work so well for me because of impeccably-written characters and/or ensembles, people struggling with big emotions, and gut-busting comedy or perfectly executed snark.

So what am I looking for? In the less specific, I’m looking for stories that capture everything I’ve mentioned above, as well as stories that scare me, awe me, thrill me, and sentences that give me chills. I love adventure, women in the lead, weird stories, diverse and QUILTBAG characters, and dark and twisty stories with enough light to keep me hoping and rooting for the characters.
Less abstractly, I’m looking for YA and MG, as well as some select adult fiction.

In YA and MG, I’m looking for speculative and contemporary stories, running the gamut from fantasy, mystery, horror and magical realism, to family-oriented dramas, historical fiction, and stories dealing with contemporary issues, such as mental health or addiction.

For both YA and MG, I’m very interested in finding a good, twisty mystery or suspense. If they’re historical (I’d love to find an Amelia Peabody-esque YA historical mystery), or have a speculative bent, even better. And if anyone has the novel-version of BRICK, please send it to me!

I love dark, complex fantasies like SIX OF CROWS by Leigh Bardugo, or THE IMPOSTER QUEEN by Sarah Fine, especially if they have a non-Western setting. If there’s a historical aspect, like THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE by Heidi Heilig, I’m sold.

I am into contemporaries with light Sci-Fi elements like MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera, as well as pure Sci-Fi with politics and an edge like Battlestar Galactica, or a bold re-imagining of another time (like FIREFLY did with the Old West).

I’d love to see historical fiction in both YA and MG like SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys and IVORY AND BONE by Julie Eshbaugh. Anything with a Gothic or Art Deco setting makes me tingly, but I’d also love to see something about a little-known event or era, particularly if it has present-day relevance.

In MG, I would love to find something that I loved as much as REDWALL when I was a kid. Fantasies with some whimsy and darkness are wonderful, like THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND IN A SHIP OF HER OWN MAKING by Catherynne Valente, or THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL by Soman Chainani. Fun, fast-paced adventures and and mysteries appeal to me as well.

In adult, I want weird and/or lyrical fantasies and speculative mysteries ala anything by Neil Gaiman and Chuck Wendig, as well as Lev Grossman’s THE MAGICIANS, VICIOUS by Victoria Schwab, DEATHLESS by Catherynne Valente, or KRAKEN by China Mieville. I’d also love something with a good twist, like DARK PLACES by Gillian Flynn (GONE GIRL less so, but the idea is the same).

What I’m looking for, above anything else, is something that keeps my eyes glued to the page, reads beautifully, and curls my toes. And anything that sets my editorial Spidey-senses tingling! I’d love to find a book in a genre or category I didn’t know I wanted. That is to say, if you write YA or MG and you didn’t see your genre on this list, but you think we’d be a good fit, send it anyway! More than anything, I want to represent and work with writers whose books I love, and that could very well be you.

2 August 2016


briggs_elizabeth_1488I’m delighted to share the wonderful news that a third and final book in the FUTURE SHOCK series will be coming from author Elizabeth Briggs! From PubLunch this morning:

Elizabeth Briggs’s FUTURE LOST, the third book in a trilogy, following FUTURE SHOCK and the forthcoming FUTURE THREAT, in which a girl must return to the future one last time to save the person she cares about most and prevent the end of the world, to Wendy McClure at Albert Whitman, in a nice deal, for publication in Spring 2018, by Kate Schafer Testerman at kt literary (World English). Film rights: Mary Pender at UTA

FUTURE SHOCK is available now in hardcover, with a paperback to come next month. The second book, FUTURE THREAT, will be out in March 2017.

Please join me in congratulating Liz on Twitter, or stop by Liz’s blog, and add the book on Goodreads.


2 August 2016


Congratulations to Matthew Cody, whose second novel in the Secrets of the Pied Piper trilogy just got a lovely review from Kirkus! The full review is online, or check out an excerpt below:

Following the events of The Peddler’s Road (2015), 12-year-old Max is desperate to return to the Summer Isle where her brother, Carter, is trapped with the children the Pied Piper led away from the town of Hamelin. However, the only path between the lands is through a hidden and locked door. Thankfully, the white girl possesses a magical map. The key, however, proves more difficult to find. An evil magician claiming to have a Key of Everything is her only hope, but dealing with a man who employs a zombie as his butler and steals people’s souls seems like no hope at all. Max and Carter can count on the aid of trolls, goblins, and elves as well as the children of Hamelin. But the most surprising and dangerous friend is the Pied Piper himself. Chapters feature multiple story threads on both sides of the locked door… The intersection of magic and modernity provides an interesting forum for the discussion of racial profiling, disenfranchised individuals, and the effects of evil in the world. Able writing and storytelling weave these themes into a story that won’t disappoint. Depth and complexity are added to great effect in this second installment.

You can pre-order the book at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite local bookstore. And don’t forget to pick up The Peddler’s Road as well! And feel free to send Matt some congrats on Twitter.


28 July 2016


AmySpaldingHeadshotTallI’m thrilled to share the good news that Amy Spalding’s next YA novel, THE SUMMER OF JORDI PEREZ (AND THE BEST BURGER IN L.A.) will be published in Spring 2018! JORDI is a fantastic no-angst lesbian romantic comedy set in LA, in which a plus-size fashion blogger and her fellow summer intern, a photographer and artist, attempt to keep business and pleasure separate when they fall hard for each other and soon find themselves on opposite sides of a debate about representation of self in art and reality.

We’re excited to be working with Sky Pony Press for this book, and look forward to sharing more news as the pub date approaches. The full PW announcement is below, and please join me in congratulating Amy on Twitter.

Screenshot 2016-07-26 19.54.54

27 July 2016


Here is the cover for Rebekah Crane’s forth coming YA contemporary romance! I’m in love with the dreamy, summery feel!

“According to sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne, nowhere is an actual place—and she’s just fine there. But her parents insist that she get out of her head—and her home state—and attend Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens.

Zander does not fit in—or so she thinks. She has only one word for her fellow campers: crazy. In fact, the whole camp population exists somewhere between disaster and diagnosis. There’s her cabinmate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, odds being what they are. And Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar.

But amid group “share-apy” sessions and forbidden late-night outings, unlikely friendships form, and as the Michigan summer heats up, the four teens begin to reveal their tragic secrets. Zander finds herself inextricably drawn to Grover’s earnest charms, and she begins to wonder if she could be happy. But first she must come completely unraveled to have any hope of putting herself back together again.”

Preorder here! And follow Rebekah on Twitter.

25 July 2016