PitchSlam Team Obi-Wan and the Wookies

Team Obiwan2.jpg

This morning I woke up and found I made the PitchSlam Kimberly Vanderhorst team Obi-Wan and the Wookies and I immediately began shaking and crying tears of happiness.

Thank you Pitch Slam Jedi masters for taking the time to create this contest, for reading and critiquing all the entries sharing your feedback and rocking the Force in general.

And congrats to everyone who entered because that’s a huge deal. You were brave and you put yourself out there. I hope your books all find an audience.

happy to be included with these fine #OWW writers.


Kimberly VanderHorst
#TeamOww@WritingIzzy @jessikafleck@IrateJabberwock

@shaunaholyoak@hgirlla @N_Poindexter @anomisting

@DebraSpiegel @ABusico <3 #PitchSlam

DYK there are mean girls in elementary school?

I walked through my daughter’s elementary school yesterday morning and saw how children’s faces changed after they said goodbye to parents, the subtle shift of anxiety, how they pulled down an invisible mask to get through the day, and a clump of mean girls giggling and making every other girl feel uncomfortable.

I thought this wasn’t going to happen until middle school. Wish I could tell each child I saw they are perfect the way they are, they matter and don’t be what others think you should be, be yourself.

I wish I could be a fly on the wall in the mean girls’ houses to see what is creating the meanness and I wish I could slap it out of them. (I know it’s not PC it’s an expression.)

I wish my child didn’t have anxiety and worry about her friendships about how many she has and all of the ways her mind quantifies her popularity.

I hope my love sinks in and forms a protective layer. I hope she feels her parents’ unwavering love and support when she is not near us. I hope she develops the sense of self I’m working hard to instill. I hope her heart doesn’t shrink. I hope she stays exactly who she is and I will love her always.


Scarymommy posted something similar.

6 Things I Want My Perfectly Unpopular Middle School-Aged Daughter To Know by

Miscarriage, hysterectomy, and healing oh my!

I never pulled an embryonic sac out of my body before. It wasn’t on my to do list or my bucket list. But that’s what happened.

I had two miscarriages before. Neither was like this.

The first time I lost my baby, I was lying on the OBGYN’s exam table. I was nearly done with my first trimester. I was there for an ultra sound– the one where I get to keep the pretty picture of our future child. I imaged placing it next to the one we have of our daughter framed and on our dresser.

My doctor pointed out the embryonic sac told us how it looked good and we could see the tiny person inside, but we couldn’t hear the heartbeat. He maneuvered the device trying to find the heartbeat.

Then gently said, “I’m sorry.” He explained that my baby was dead inside me and I was a walking grave.

Of course that’s not how he spoke to me.

He was kind and gentle and explained I would be okay. This happens and it didn’t mean I couldn’t have another baby. He suggested I make an appointment for a DNC.

I couldn’t make the appointment. I couldn’t believe the baby inside was dead because my breasts ached, were sore and my stomach was twisted with nausea. I wasn’t ready to let go. I needed time to process the information and believed my body would take care of itself.

I waited two weeks for my body to do what was necessary. But it didn’t. It didn’t let go of my unborn child. It didn’t release me from grief. It didn’t believe it no longer held a living soul.

I hated my body for betraying me, for pretending to be pregnant when it wasn’t. I called the doctor and had my DNC.

A few months later I was pregnant, again. I was scared and happy. The doctor kept a watchful eye over me. I came in weekly for blood test to make sure my hormonal levels were doing what they were supposed to.

I found myself on the table once again, with the ultrasound machine’s wand inside me. My loving and nervous husband stood next tome. I was probably crying. The doctor pointed out the sac and my tiny fluttering grain of rice. Did you know that embryo’s look like a grain of rice with a heartbeat the first time you see them?

We had proof. I was pregnant. Relief didn’t rush through me. The doctor told me to come back next week.

We came back. The doctor examined me again. My embryonic sac was growing. It looked good but no matter how he searched he couldn’t find an embryo or heartbeat.

My doctor explained how my body reabsorbed the pregnancy. I had the DNC the following day. I wanted it out.

I wanted death out of my body. I wasn’t going to cradle it. I wasn’t going to hold death inside my womb. I wasn’t going to let it get any more comfortable with me.

It took me five years to get over my inability to keep a pregnancy.

It was a pain I couldn’t explain to my husband, the feeling of loving someone who didn’t love you back. I had guilt about losing those pregnancies. I thought perhaps the unborn child knew how much I loved my daughter and didn’t think I could love him or her enough. I had a million emotional pains and one by one I coped with them all. I healed.

Then seven years after the last miscarriage I began to bleed. After a week long menstrual cycle the blood began rushing out of me. The toilet filled with blood. I grabbed a towel and ran into the shower leaving a trail of blood behind. There was blood on my feet. It was bright red.

I got into the shower hoping to wash it away. The shower floor was stained red. I stayed in the shower hoping it would all wash away. I was scared. I didn’t know what was happening. When it didn’t stop after ten minutes I got out. I used a super tampon and a pad and when I stood up blood rushed out of me soaking through the tampon and pad.

I was shaking. I locked the bathroom door. I didn’t want my daughter to see all the blood. I didn’t want to scare her. I wasn’t sure what I should to.

I reached for the trash bag and removed the tampon from my body. On it was a bloody jellyfish. I stared at it and the world around me vanished. My hand shook. My legs were unsteady. I ran to the toilet. My body purged more blood and blood clots.

I didn’t know what was going on. I called my husband. I called my neighbor to come get my daughter. I was crying.

“I’m so scared. I don’t know what’s going on.”

Three years ago I was told I would never have any more children. It was impossible because I had the hormones of an eighty-year-old woman. But seeing the bright blood and the mass convinced me I was in the middle of a miscarriage.

My neighbor got my girl and sat with me calming me down until my husband got home. I went to the doctor and he told me I was presenting as pregnant.

I sat on his table and looked at him. How is that possible?

He didn’t have an answer.

I was in shock. I couldn’t wrap my head around what he said. I took a pregnancy test at the doctor’s office. Negative. He asked if I was ever told if I have fibroids. I said yes.

They put me on hormones. The hormones kept me bleeding for two more weeks.

I went back. The ultrasound tech was kind. She made sure I was comfortable being examining my body.

I didn’t need to be a tech to know something was very wrong.

“Is that it?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. I had a 9 cm fibroid taking up my entire uterus. “You’ll lose ten pounds when that comes out,” she said. I got dressed and ushered into another office. My doctor was on vacation so another came in. He rubbed his bearded face in his hands. This gesture did not instill confidence. He looked sympathetically at me. I hate sympathy.

“Say it.”

He took a deep breath. Emoted more sympathy.

“I need to hear you say it,” I said.

“You need a hysterectomy.”

“Thank you.”

“Can I do anything else?”

“Leave.” I was crying before his back was out the door.

I walked to the front desk to schedule another appointment with my doctor when he returned from vacation the following week in order to schedule the hysterectomy. I really tried to keep it together but all the years of trying to have a baby and losing babies and bleeding non-stop for a month got to me. My very brokenness eviscerated me.

I miscarried, again. My body expelled the embryonic sac. I held it. And it grew a fibroid instead.

I shook from trying to keep my tears inside. “I have to…” I began ugly crying. My lips quivered and my nostrils flared- I needed a tissue. I felt a warm soft hand on my back. It held me up and comforted me.

“Last year I was the woman crying at reception. You’ll be okay.” I saw her full round belly, but not her face. I saw all the bellies in the waiting room like eyes judging me for my inability to conceive. I felt as if I lost my woman card.

A week later my doctor went over the finer details and all the options. The best option for me was a full hysterectomy including removal of my cervix and fallopian tubes. I got to keep my ovaries. The bad news was I had to wait another six weeks for an available operating room.

Six weeks of bleeding. Six weeks of pain. Six weeks of mourning for myself. Six weeks of coming to grips with my new reality. Six weeks of emotional ups and down. Then five days before the beginning of the school year it all came out.

At first it felt as if someone took a cheese grater to my insides then a baseball bat before running me over with a truck. I was exhausted. I was in pain. I couldn’t get from my bed to the bathroom without having to rest. I slept most of the day and watched Dr. Who when I wasn’t asleep. My husband made sure I kept up with my pain meds because if I didn’t the pain was RIDICULOUS. Friends brought food. I got up- high as a kite on Percocet and was glad for the company.

My stomach was bruised and swollen. Despite having a laparoscopic hysterectomy my recovery wasn’t easy.

“You had major surgery,” my doctor reminded me during my one-week post op appointment.He told me I was healing well. I told him about my exhaustion. He told me I’d feel like that for about a month.

I felt my internal organs searching for the mass that once was- for the organs that used to touch my intestines. It all hurt, it felt weird and as if synapses were longing to fire with ones that were cut out.

I had to go slow and be mindful.

Three weeks post op and I have a bacterial infection growing around my belly button incision in a two-inch red, blotchy rash around it. It’s so gross and it itches like I have poison ivy inside my abdomen and out. I’m on a new prescription to kill it. I’m a little more tired again.

Healing takes time. I’m not so patient with myself. But I do recognize despite the need to take a hardcore nap during the day and go to bed early, I am doing well. I am healing. I will be healthy one day soon. I will be whole despite the hole I felt a few weeks ago.

I am healing a body that betrayed me. But it’s my body and I love it and its new scars. Scars are cool. They tell a story.

And I’m a storyteller mind, body and soul.

Fickle Muse

Creativity is fickle. I wrote for eight hours yesterday- inspired thoughts rambled then lined up, my fingertips dutifully tapped away on my keyboard then I replaced my mouse’s batteries and finished writing a story. I felt good about myself. Went to bed exhausted and satisfied.

Today, I’m revising a story I wrote a week ago and it’s all hard work. Nothing feel right. I try to massage it, make it more compelling and print worthy. But my creative muse vanished she’s mute and no matter how hard I type nothing works. Or at least it’s not working for me. I’m sure you can tell- even this post is awkward.

You ever have days like that?


Promising Pages

I wanted to pass along some information about Promising Pages upcoming “Bookie Awards” where they will be honoring literacy efforts in the Charlotte community.

They have categories for local author and local children’s author among others. I hope you can help spread the word and perhaps even nominate a deserving person or two.

Promising Pages is a Charlotte, NC based 501(c)(3) non-profit  that takes books others have outgrown and gives them new life. They partner with Social Service Agencies, Title I Schools, and other organizations to get books and revolutionary programming to kids who need it! Our mascots, Erm the Bookworm and Erma the Bookworma, place these books directly into the hands of children.  Our books and programs have the potential to turn ordinary children into enthusiastic bookworms!


I remember the first time I saw Ben Affleck. I was living in LA and at an IFP West screening of Chasing Amy. The director, Kevin Smith, spoke after the movie. I liked him. Liked the movie- it was pure independent feature and a slice of 1997 saved to film.

poster227x227   I remember liking Jason Lee and Joey Lauren Adams and the whole idea of falling in love with what you can’t have and the heartbreak that must happen. I was curious about comics- had my favorite characters like Wolverine and the Tick back then. Kevin used comics as setting and character in the movie.

I wanted to be a Producer who made films like this. What I never thought was, I’m going to be part of a comic book team.

crwj_kzw8aabfpm            But guess what happened to me? After working eighteen years in film and television I left the business to be a full time writer and stay-at-home mom. (because for me raising a good person is the hardest and most rewarding job)

And eight years after that I got a tweet from Jim Zub saying he read an essay of mine and wanted to know if I was interested in writing back matter for his comic book GLITTERBOMB. We tweeted back and forth then emailed- he sent me the first book and I was like HELLS YEAH! SIGN ME UP.

I became part of an amazing creative team. A creative team that is encouraging and talented and kind. It’s all very different than LA creative teams and I’m really liking it.

Here’s the team:

Creator/Writer: @JimZub

Co-Creator/Line Art/Cover



Back Matter Essay


Today, GLITTERBOMB launches- and I’d love for you to see what serendipity looks like as a horror comic.

18 years film production + 8 years of writing + one of my published essays= GLITTERBOMB back matter

Back Matter are my stories of life in LA and sets the real life backdrop for Farrah and the horror of a fading Hollywood actress. #whodoesn’tlikerevenge?


If you’e not sure where you can buy GLITTERBOMB click here.



A few months ago Jim Zub reached out to me via twitter. Now you never know what you’re going to get when a stranger flatters you but he is 100% professional and we soon traded emails. He read one of my xoJane essays and was curious if I was willing to reprint it with him.

He sent me a PDF of Glitterbomb and I fell in love with the story and art. And I loved his professionalism and the fact Glitterbomb was his passion project. He put his own money on the line and pitched it to Image Comics and the rest will soon be history.

What thrills me more than being asked to contribute to the back matter in each of the upcoming 4 issues, is the talent associated with this comic.

So if you’re curious about what the truth about Hollywood looks like via comic books, this is the one to read.

GLITTERBOMB launches September 7th.

Here’s a Comic Shop Locator site for anyone to find where one is in their area:



SEPTEMBER 7 / 40 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99

Farrah Durante is a middle-aged actress hunting for her next gig in an industry where youth trumps experience. Her frustrations become an emotional lure for something horrifying out beyond the water…something ready to exact revenge on the shallow celebrity-obsessed culture that’s lead her astray.

Fan favorite Jim Zub (Wayward, Thunderbolts) and newcomer Djibril Morissette-Phan tear into the heart of Hollywood in GLITTERBOMB, a dramatic horror story about fame and failure.

The entertainment industry feeds on our insecurities, desires, and fears. You can’t toy with those kinds of primal emotions without them biting back…

“A gut-punch of glitz and blood and starf**ked culture. You want to read this.”
– Chuck Wendig (Blackbirds)

“Taut, human, creepy s**t. Finding a new angle on the Hollywood meat factory is hard as hell, but this is all kinds of neat.”
– Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine)

“Sharply written and drawn, with deft insight into the trappings of celebrity culture, Glitterbomb just might be the ultimate Hollywood horror story.”
– Karen Berger (Founder of DC’s Vertigo Imprint)


check out some of the reviews:

• Newsarama: 10/10 “With its creature-feature hook and its blunt focus on the dark things women are subjected to in Hollywood, Glitterbomb #1 is a triumph.”

• Nerdist: 5/5 “Zub and Morrissette-Phan nail it. Glitterbomb #1 looks and reads great..”

• Adult Podcast For Kids“I cannot recommend this book enough. A fantastic read.”

• Comic Buzz“The art style is detailed and realistic, with a dash of the surreal, creating an eerie atmosphere befitting the material.”

• Comics Grinder“Glitterbomb provides a clever horror vibe as well as great biting social commentary.”

• Critical Threat“Farrah is one of the most instantly relatable characters I’ve read in comics, or any other media. I think it speaks to both Zub’s skill as a writer and Djibril Morissette-Phan’s talent as an artist.”

• Impulse Gamer: 4.9/5 “Overall, this new series has the potential to be the next sleeper hit from Image Comics. The story by Zub is intense, and it will grab the reader’s attention right from the start.”

Jim is incredibly generous. His blog is full of tutorials. Check back for more updates.


Resurrecting Sunshine

I met Lisa A. Koosis in a MediaBistro YA class. I’d just moved cross-country and was jacked up on hormones desperately trying to convince my body to stop having miscarriages. So obviously I was stable and a pleasure to meet virtually.

I was working my way through my first YA story WHAT DEATH HAS TOUCHED and despite my desire not to be clumsy I was and Lisa looked past my flaws to the writer I hoped to be. She became my friend.

Since meeting on-line she has written at least five books, queried lots, entered contests and received many No’s. She confessed to me she was going to quit writing. But I just couldn’t let her. You know why? She’s freaking talented! 

We corresponded and traded heartaches. She dazzled me with her ability to NaNoWriMo and her imagination. Her creative lens is unique and tasty to read.

But the very best news she ever shared was when Brianne Johnson Literary Agent at Writer’s House took her on as a client and sold her book. The road was not easy, but that’s Lisa’s story to share.

I’m telling this version of the friend of the woman who never gave up, who kept getting better, who continued to write and be kind and generous because I want everyone to know being an author is hard work. Lisa did all the hard work and put years into it and I never doubted she’d find her place in the world.

And today, 5 days post-op for me, as I’m feeling a little sorry for myself and in pain, my husband retrieved this from the mail. My own personal ray of Sunshine. And I started to cry, as if it was my accomplishment. This is how much her success means to me.

Then I picked the book up, smelled the freshly printed pages, checked out my book mark and flipped to the back. And to my total surprise she thanked me in her Acknowledgements. The tears came out and I’m in disbelief.

Here’s to you my long-distance friend. I am so proud of you for crossing the finish line to publication. I will always be your cheerleader!

To everyone else, this book is good. Please read it. Order it. 




Jennifer Johnson-Blalock, Associate Agent, Liza-Dawson Associates

Johnson-Blalock Headshot
Jennifer Johnson-Blalock joined Liza Dawson Associates as an associate agent in 2015, having previously interned at LDA in 2013 before working as an agent’s assistant at Trident Media Group. Jennifer graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in English and earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Before interning at LDA, she practiced entertainment law and taught high school English and debate. Follow her on Twitter @JJohnsonBlalock, and visit her website: www.jjohnsonblalock.com.
Q: Have you always read your own queries?
JJB: Yes! I’m a newer agent–it’s been a little over a year now–and while I have an amazing roster of clients, I’m still looking to grow my list. It’s important to me to read my own queries so that I know I’m not missing anything. Occasionally, I’ll request something I didn’t know I was looking for or even something I thought I didn’t want because something about the letter just seemed too appealing not to take a look.
Our first priorities as agents have to be to our existing clients, so I think most agents reach a point where they have to let someone else do at least the first sift through the query inbox. But I hope to read my queries for as long as possible.
Q: Why did you want to be an agent?
JJB: I love books–that’s why we’re all here, right? More specifically, though, I love how varied agenting is. Since my relationship is with the client rather than a specific aspect of the publishing process, I get to follow a book through from start to finish, helping my client with tasks from contracts to editing to publicity. Every day is different, and every situation is a unique challenge. (I love being challenged.) And there’s nothing more exciting than being one of the very first people to read a truly great book.
Q: Have you fallen in love with any stories but passed because you know they are difficult sells?
JJB: No…ish. If I really fall in love with something, I take it on. That doesn’t always mean the book will sell (I’ve had one so far that didn’t; I’m sure I’ll have more–that’s part of the business), but if I’m head over heels for the book, I have to try. However, I’ve definitely LIKED books that I haven’t taken on because I thought they might be tough to sell. Publishing is competitive, and the reality is that I work for free until a book sells. I like to have a reasonable belief that a book will have a good chance in the market. You never really know for sure, though, so all I can do is go with my gut and hope that if I love something, I’ll find a publisher that does, too.
Q: How do diverse books impact your selection?
JJB: I definitely seek out diverse books, and I’m always happy to receive queries for them, especially if they’re #ownvoices. I recently signed a client through #DVpit, and my first sale was for a YA book with a biracial protagonist. I really love how the conversation about diversity in publishing has expanded recently, and I think it’s so important that we keep talking about how we can better represent more readers. Everyone should be able to see her or himself in a book. That being said, the quality of the book and my love for it is still paramount, and I do consider and acquire books that don’t feature diversity as well. But it is a bonus factor for me.
Q: What’s the most exciting thing about discovering a new writer?
JJB: Oh my goodness, everything. I love when I’m reading a submission, and I start to get that “don’t want to put it down” feeling, and realize it may be something I want to represent. And it’s such an amazing feeling when I’m on the first call with a writer, and they can barely speak because they’re so excited to get an offer of representation. And then getting to call an author and tell them you got an offer on their debut book? THE BEST. I love everything about being on the front lines with an author, helping to achieve their dreams and to bring a new book into the world.
Q: Is the #MSWL helpful for you or are you flooded with one genre because of it?
JJB: #MSWL is incredibly helpful! I think agents get more flooded with genres because of sales; we definitely build reputations for success in certain areas, so it makes sense that writers would query us with those projects. MSWL allows us to say, I know I’m a great fit for this, but I’m ALSO really looking for that. I’ve found that writers are really responsive to that. I think it’s helpful on both sides.
Q: If you could change anything about agenting-what would it be?
JJB: I don’t know that this is something that ever COULD be changed, but one of the toughest things about agenting for me personally is a lack of objective benchmarks. I could always be doing reading more, there could always be more offers, the advances could always be higher. It’s difficult to feel like you’re doing and have achieved enough, and it’s tough to set boundaries. I’m really having to learn to figure out what my limits are and to celebrate achievement milestones along the way.
Q: How intimidating are conferences for you? Many writers attend conferences hoping to make an impression, is that overwhelming?
JJB: Most of the time, conferences are exciting. So much of my work gets done in front of the computer. Even phone calls are becoming less frequent than they used to be, thanks to email. (I’m okay with that, for the record!) But it’s really nice to be able to talk to writers in person, have a conversation about their work, and connect a face and a personality with the manuscript.
They can be tiring, however–many agents, including myself, are introverts, and conferences involve between one and three days of nonstop peopling. But I know how excited and nervous writers get about meeting me at a conference, and frequently I leave conferences invigorated by their energy.
Q: Do you consider yourself an editing agent?
JJB: Absolutely. Publishing is competitive, and I want to help writers get their work in the best shape possible before we go to market. I usually send my clients an editorial letter and potentially a round of line edits soon after signing them. We do at least one round of edits and potentially one or two more. I don’t send a manuscript out until it’s as good as we can make it. And when I offer representation to a writer, I always discuss my broad thoughts for revisions so they can decide if our visions for the manuscript are a good fit.
Q: What’s the process for a writer after they sign with you? Do you typically ask for revisions before submitting to publishers? Is there an estimated timeline you could share about the process after you say yes! I want to be your agent.
JJB: Yes–as discussed above, I almost always do at least one round of revisions with my clients. That process depends on how quickly I can get them edits and how quickly they revise–I’d say generally it’s a few months before we go on submission. (Obviously if something is time sensitive, we’d move much faster.) Once the manuscript is ready, I typically send it out within a week. Then it takes editors a while to evaluate, to get colleagues to read, to decide to pass or present to the acquisitions board. I’ve heard of offers being received in anywhere from a day to a year–I’d say a few months is typical for fiction. Nonfiction can go a bit faster, since they only have to read a proposal. While we wait for a response, I encourage my clients to keep writing and working on the next project because we’ll need that no matter what happens with the current one.
If you enjoyed this interview, you may also enjoy: Sarah Davies, Tricia Skinner, Alan Gratz, Lisa Mantchev, Monica Hoffman, Betsy Thorpe,  and Karen McManus
Michelle4Laughs posts great interviews too.
To Query Jennifer:

Jennifer is acquiring both narrative and prescriptive nonfiction. She is looking for seasoned writers with strong platforms and is excited by works that use a unique story to explore a larger issue. Particular areas of interest include current events, social sciences, women’s issues, law, business, history, the arts and pop culture, lifestyle, sports, and food, including cookbooks and health/wellness.

Jennifer is also seeking commercial and upmarket fiction, especially thrillers/mysteries, women’s fiction, contemporary romance, young adult, and middle grade.

While she’d be happy to receive queries for works in any of those broad areas, Jennifer is especially interested in the following:

  • highly readable books rooted in psychology or sociology that use memorable research (the kinds of details you’d whip out at cocktail parties) to explain why we act and think the way we do
  • politically minded issue books that put hot-button items like education into a realistic, holistic context or Washington insider narratives
  • history that’s quirky (THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN) or has particular relevance to today’s issues (ON IMMUNITY)
  • works situated in the classical dance world, indie/alternative music world, contemporary art world, or Hollywood at any point in history–working in the entertainment industry didn’t manage to squelch Jennifer’s enthusiasm for it
  • books that help you figure out how to do life better (THE HAPPINESS PROJECT; THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP)
  • all things football and basketball–Jennifer graduated from UT the year Vince Young brought home the National Championship, and her family in Oklahoma City never misses a Thunder game
  • chronicles of unique communities like competitive Scrabble players
  • cookbooks that tell a story about the person writing the book or the food itself, research-based health/diet books with programs that sane people would actually follow, or accessible books about wine or cocktails that strive to make reading about it as fun as drinking it
  • food memoirs or novels that take the reader behind the scenes in a fresh way like SOUS CHEF–being VIPed at French Laundry is a recurring fantasy of Jennifer’s
  • thrillers with a literary bent à la Tana French, with an outsider protagonist who stumbles into a conspiracy like THE PELICAN BRIEF, or with a psychological focus and an unreliable protagonist (SISTER)
  • smart, upmarket women’s fiction in the vein of J. Courtney Sullivan or commercial women’s fiction like Emily Giffin’s that subverts common tropes
  • contemporary, realistic young adult with a strong voice and compelling characters (Nina LaCour; Stephanie Perkins; Leila Sales)
  • middle grade or young adult nonfiction, particularly narrative history books about lesser known women or people of color
  • absolutely any sort of book with a strong feminist slant

To submit to Jennifer, please send a query letter only in the body of the email to queryjennifer[at]lizadawson[dot]com.

If you enjoyed Jennifer’s interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Tricia SkinnerSarah Davies, Nancy Handy, Alan GratzLisa Mantchev, Monica HoffmanBetsy ThorpeKaren McManus and  Nicole Ayers.

Nancy Handy, Assistant Director of Mooresville Public Library

Nancy Handy, Assistant Director of Mooresville Public Library, North Carolina worked in public libraries for past 17 years. She received her MLIS from Queens College in Flushing, NY and was a Children’s Librarian in NY for 12 years before moving to NC to be the Head of Children’s Dept. for 5 years.before transitioning to the Assistant Director of the Mooresville Public Library.

Q: Why did you decide to enter the field of library and information science? OR What motivated you to seek a library degree?

NH: My undergraduate is in Elementary Education.  I always knew I wanted to work in libraries. I’ve loved books and libraries ever since I was a little girl. My decision was whether to go into school libraries or public. I chose public libraries.

Q: What surprises you most about your work?

NH: The thing that surprises me most about my work is the constant change. People thought that libraries would no longer be relevant in the digital age. That is so far from the truth. Libraries are needed more than ever. They are the portals to information beyond actual walls. The internet is filled with tons of information. It is the forte of the librarian to decipher and find the valid and authentic information. The library I work in sees 1000 citizens a day walk through our doors. These faces change daily, the information they are looking for changes, their needs and wishes change daily. The library is much more than an archive of books. It’s a place for children to attend storytimes, a student to study for their GED, a homeschooler to check out learning material, a meeting place for seniors, a Pokemon stop for teens, a bridge between the digital divide. My job changes daily, but it’s relevance is never questioned!

Q: What are you responsible for at the library?

NH: My responsibilities: Assists Library Director in the management, supervision, and administration of the library to provide maximum services to the library patron in accordance with library policy.  Performs managerial duties and oversees all aspects of the Adult and Youth Services Departments. Directs the library in the absence of the Director.

Q: When is the library busiest?

NH: The library seems to be busiest in the summer; however, it is a busy place year round.  Summer brings lots of patrons in for the summer reading program, beach reads, and as a pleasant escape sometime from the heat. In any given day, we have 1000 people walk through our doors and have seen upwards of 1500 in one day!

Q: What were the last 3 books you read?

NH: The last three books I’ve read:  Every 15 Minutes by Lisa Scottoline; I re-read the classic A Separate Peace by John Knowles (one of my favorites) and I’m currently reading Different Seasons by Stephen King (a collection of four novellas).

Q: How many events do you have at the library? 

NH:Before I was Assistant Director I was the Head of Youth Services. My experience is strong in library programming. We currently have 30-40 children’s programs offered each month. We’re currently increasing our programming for Adults and have recently added a new book club, an adult coloring club (new trend) and a program for adults with special needs. We have a full calendar of events offered each month and it’s only growing.

Q: If you have author readings, what is your best advice to them for a successful event?

NH: Yes, we have had local author showcases and have had local authors come to share their new book. The biggest advice I can give is to make sure you market for the event. The library will advertise in-house and electronically on our website and social media, but if the author also advertises the event is sure to have a greater turnout. I like events to draw the most interest they possibly can, especially for an author who is just starting out.

Q: How many new books does the library get per year?

NH: That’s a number I would need to look up, however I can tell you it’s thousands! We order consistently and year round all books are processed through technical services. We review professional journals, bestseller lists, and will honor most patron requests.

Q: Does the library carry self-published books?

NH: Yes, I have personally ordered self published books that were written by local authors.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception about being a librarian?

NH: Haha, seriously that we wear our hair in a bun and our glasses on a chain and that we read all day. I cannot tell you how many people still have a stereotyped notion of who librarians are. Sometimes, it is hard to find the time to even review a good book let alone read it at work. Our day is filled with various duties and we wear many hats (librarian, teacher, psychologist, event organizer/planner, boss, author, facility maintenance employee etc.) Librarians are modern-day information specialists who must know their community and the needs and interests of the citizens.

Q: How influential are librarians over book choice for young readers?

NH: If the librarian is engaging and is well versed in reader’s advisory they can be very influential. It’s best to know great books from all of the genres and a few gripping must reads for the reluctant reader. Know your books for the sports fan, the fantasy guru, the graphic novel reader, dystopian reads, classics and sci-fi to name a few. Never let a child who asks for good book suggestions walk out empty-handed!

If you enjoyed Nancy’s interview, you may also like to read my interviews with Tricia SkinnerSarah DaviesAlan GratzLisa Mantchev, Monica HoffmanBetsy Thorpe, Karen McManus and  Nicole Ayers.