Tag Archives: J.M. Rinker

2015: It’s a Wrap!

end title 590.jpgLooking back on 2015 to see what I’ve done on this blog, trying to take stock, assess and reassess…

  • I did a lovely series of interviews with some of the top children’s book editors in the business called Quick Questions, where we heard from Stacey Barney of Penguin/Putnam; Lisa Yoskowitz at Little, Brown; Nancy Mercado at Scholastic; Joy Peskin at Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and Rotem Moscovich at Disney Hyperion. Thank you for your generosity, ladies!
  • When the beautiful, new JDLit website launched, you all were some of the first to see it, because I highlighted it here.
  • I posted a beautiful nugget on writing, by one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
  • We did a couple of book giveaways and gave lots of writing and publishing advice, on topics ranging from breaking through writer’s block, to how to write an effective query letter, to the benefit of going to writing conferences.
  • My former intern (hi Kimberly!) wrote a terrific monthly series, Inside Scoop: Dish from a Literary Agent Intern, sharing her experience of interning.
  • Some of my clients stepped up and blogged for me over the summer, giving me a break. Thank you, Jodi McKay, M-E Girard, Jessica Rinker (Cooper), Joe McGee, R.L. Saunders, Katherine Sparrow, Elaine Kiely Kearns, and Natasha Sinel! And then when I was at a loss for words at the end of the year, Jodi, Jessica, Joe and Elaine stepped up again.
  • By far, my most-viewed blog post though, was by the inimitable Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest. If you’re one of the very few people left on the planet who didn’t read Chuck’s post, check it out here.

What will 2016 hold in store for me? Who knows?! Here are some things I do know though…

  • I’m very much looking forward to seeing the publication of a couple of client books, announcing a few deals that are done but not fully executed, finalizing deals for some other clients, selling a bunch more client manuscripts, and finding and welcoming new clients.
  • I’m starting off the year doing something I love, going to the Miami SCBWI conference. Then in the spring I’ll be at the Pike’s Peak Writer’s Conference. I so enjoy meeting authors and trying to make a bit of a difference for them.
  • I’m making a commitment to finish the first draft of a middle grade manuscript I’ve been writing (by July 1st). I’m outing my writing self here. Hold me to it, friends!

What are you looking forward to in 2016? What are you committed to?

(Scroll down to the comments section. I really want to know!)




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On Writing: Why Story is Necessary (1)

Why I Write in a Fucked Up World…

by J.M. Rinker

fbbe04_3ba5103c973f462e999810199d104ab9My partner and I were talking about our favorite books the other day and he has a well-rounded list while mine resembles that of a twelve year old: Charlotte’s Web, Little Women, Secret Garden, Bridge to Terabithia, and Tuck Everlasting. I actually do read grown-up books as well, but they never stay with me the same way as those titles, perhaps because childhood is much more impressionable.

But there’s something that links these books together which is the real reason they impressed themselves upon me and remain close to my heart. I read to understand. To know that I wasn’t the only one. To know it was possible to survive. As a child, I clung to those stories because by the end the kids were okay.

I write for the same exact reasons. It’s as though I don’t know anything until I’ve written it, whether it be a journal entry, a blog post, or a new novel. I can’t figure things out without writing about them. I feel alone more often than not, but when I am writing, I know exactly where I belong and which part I play. Illogical things suddenly make sense. I script scenes I will never experience so that I can experience them. So that I know, by the end, I will be okay.

So why is telling stories important in a screwed up world that we will never understand? Why should we bother?

Because when we write from that most confused, grievous, joyous, personal place, we create works of art that can significantly enrich people’s lives. These authors did exactly that for me.

EB White wrote Charlotte’s Web as he struggled with reconciling his love for animals with the way livestock meets its end. This endearing cast is unforgettable.

Louisa May Alcott was asked to write Little Women, but the characters are based on her life and the death of her own sister is mirrored in the pages. Beth becomes beloved to us all.

Frances Hodgson Burnett began The Secret Garden after she lost her son and said her characters “came to her” rather than the other way around. These are some of the richest characters ever drawn.

Katherine Patterson wrote Bridge to Terabithia after the death of her son’s friend. A poignant story that reminds us to hold close our loved ones.

Natalie Babbit wrote Tuck Everlasting because her daughter showed a fear of death that Babbit didn’t want her to carry throughout her life. Because that fear will prevent you from living.


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On Writing: Why Story Is Necessary

0527_story-800x480Perhaps the horrific events in Paris last month were just the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I’ve simultaneously felt like crawling in a cave to ponder my loss for words, and clambering up on a soap box to scream and yell at the world. I wasn’t even able to write a simple submission advice blog post for picture book writers without spurting out a micro-rant first. So I asked the Twitterverse for blogging suggestions and my client Katherine Sparrow (hi Katie!) responded with “Hmm… why story is necessary and what it does in these terrible times? At least, that’s what I want answered.” I’m with Katie. I want that answered, too. So, I’ve been thinking about it. And then I did some Googling (of course).

Here’s something from Psychology Today suggesting that storytelling is necessary to human survival. Here’s something lovely from the always interesting Brain Pickings site: Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last (I can listen to Neil talk forever.) And here are some tasty short videos on Why Stories Matter (not surprising that I particularly like the one with the typewriter the best).

I put the question to my clients and some of them had time to answer. So for the rest of the week I’m putting up posts from clients who were kind enough to delve into the question and had time to get stuff down on paper about it. Stay tuned for posts by J.M. Rinker, Jodi McKay, Elaine Kiely Kearns, and Joe McGee.

Please share in the comments below why you feel stories are necessary and what they do in these terrible times.



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