Thursday, September 24, 2020

The Call with Melody Dean Dimick

After Joyce Sweeney and I met at a Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) conference in Miami, she became my content editor. Through her wise guidance, I found my voice and a traditional PAL publisher,Taylor and Seale Publishing. At a subsequent SCBWI conference in Orlando, Joyce bestowed one of her coveted Magic Bean Ceremonies on me. We continued working together. She knew I was seeking an agent, and she loved my novel in verse. Joyce suggested I submit What Lies Beneath to her.


About Melody Dean Dimick:

Melody Dean Dimick is an award-winning author, the president of the Florida Writers Foundation—a not-for-profit organization promoting literacy—and a member of the Florida Writers Association (FWA), the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), the Daytona Writers Guild, the Florida State Poets Association, and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. She draws on her experiences teaching at Northern Adirondack Central School and the State University of New York at Plattsburgh to write YA fiction and poetry. Dimick leads the Lake Helen Villa Writers.

Nine of Melody’s short works appear in (FWA) collections. Both her Backpack Blues and What Lies Beneath won First Place in the unpublished general category of the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palm Literary Awards. Blame and Backpack Blues: Ignite the Fire Within won Daytona Writers Guild Excellence in Arts awards. Taylor and Seale recently published Ain’t It a Shame, a three-act play based on Backpack Blues: Ignite the Fire Within. Her poem, “Ysobel Gomez,” captured Second Place in an FWA Royal Palm contest. Her No Parents Allowed is a semi-finalist for this year’s RPLA Young Adult Novel of the Year.

Other books by Melody Dean Dimick include Silent Screams, Sinister Silence, Cat Girl, No Parents Allowed, and the three-act play Ain’t It a Shame. She is represented by Joyce Sweeney, literary agent with The Seymour Agency.

Melody conducts poetry workshops, served as a speaker on the First Books Panel at a Miami SCBWI conference, participated in a panel discussion at the Museum of Arts & Sciences as part of the Volusia County National Endowment for the Arts NEA Big Read, visits and speaks for writers’ groups and at schools and libraries. She has conducted workshops at conferences in Altamonte Springs/Orlando, and Port Charlotte. Local radio host, Mary Flynn interviewed Melody and her husband, Barry, on Orlando’s 1520 WBZW. To learn more about Melody and her books, readers can follow her blog under: My News at

In her spare time, Melody loves to read, play pickleball with her husband, Barry, attend and judge poetry slams, and play pinochle with her son and his wife.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Call with Joel Shulkin, MD

Since I'd found Lynnette on Twitter, I was already following her, when I saw her tweet about a thriller manuscript she was really enjoying & hoped it would hold her interest through to the end. Naturally, I was hoping it was mine, but there was no way to be sure. A day or two later, she again tweeted how much she loved the manuscript. I "liked" the tweet. A few minutes later, she followed me back. My heart jumped. Okay, I thought, don't get your hopes up. I'd been close to getting an agent before, but after 80 rejections it was hard to think she was really talking about my manuscript, right?

An hour later, an email appeared in my inbox. Again, I tried not to get overly excited, but my body didn't want to listen as my hands started to sweat and my pulse accelerated. I opened the email and read, "ADVERSE EFFECTS is AMAZING!!! I would love to talk to you..."

I had to wait until the next day to talk to her on the phone, so overnight the adrenaline had ebbed but the exhilaration remained. By the time we finally spoke, I could barely think straight. She talked about what she loved about the book and asked me about other projects I had written or had in the works, and then she said, "So, I'd like to offer you representation." Since I had already read through her MSWL & profile and decided she was the perfect one to advocate for my book, and her enthusiasm only confirmed my decision, it took less than a second for me to say yes. With the help and support she's provided over the past two years, I haven't regretted that decision for a single moment.

About Joel Shulkin, MD:

Joel Shulkin, MD, is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician and United States Air Force veteran with a master’s in public health. Having been lucky enough to be mentored by the legendary Michael Palmer, his short stories have appeared in various print and online journals, and he has won several national and local writing awards for fiction and poetry. He lives in Florida with his wife and twin daughters.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Query Tips from Tina Wainscott

Things to Consider When Querying:

Always make sure the important information is in the body of your query: genre of book; pitch line/hook; then a paragraph about the book and its strengths; your credentials and most importantly for non-fiction, your platform. If I only have a few minutes to consider your query, and I have to go hunting for your stats via your website, I may just save it for later. You don't want me to save it for later, trust me. 

 Additional tips: 

--Don’t just attach your proposal without any letter. And a letter does not mean: “Hey, check this out!” Yes, I did get something like that once. 

--Please spell my name right. And make sure it’s actually my name. I won’t pass for that reason, but it shows that you’re paying attention to details. 

--Please make sure I rep what you’re pitching. If you haven’t done your homework by reading my bio, I’m less likely to suggest another agent or send it over for you. 

--Make your subject line catchy. I have read queries out of order simply because the subject snagged my attention. But make sure it’s relevant to the material and not clickbait. 

--Try to format your letter so it’s not a huge paragraph. White space—nice. In fact, it’s a great idea to email yourself your letter. Some emails come in with different fonts and spacing, which makes it look like a mess. 

--For me, you can attach a proposal that includes one or two sample chapters. Saves me time if I’m interested. 

As always, best of luck to everyone looking for the perfect agent!

About Tina Wainscott:

Tina Wainscott is the USA Today bestselling author of over 30 novels with romantic thrills and suspenseful chills. She’s been published with houses such as St. Martin’s Press, Harper Collins, Hachette, and Random House since 1995, so she understands the business from the author’s perspective. As an agent, she’s looking for self-help non-fiction that inspires people to reach for their best and overcome life’s challenges.

Twitter: @TinawainscottS

Thursday, September 3, 2020

The Call with Lauren H Brandenburg

I knew I wanted an agent who was more than business. It had to be personal. Because writing is personal. That’s why I totally stalked Julie Gwinn. Her online presence revealed her love of the craft and her authors. I researched her, read bio’s, followed her on social media, and even wore an Ohio State sweatshirt the first time I met her, hoping she would pay a bit more attention to the person in the room with a shared a mutual support for OSU football. 

At the time, Julie was president of the Middle Tennessee chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. I had never attended a meeting before or any type of writer’s group for that matter. But she was going to be there, and I knew I had to meet her. I don’t know exactly what I was hoping to get from our first encounter as I had already indie-pubbed three middle grades and had found my niche in the homeschool market. I guess I just knew I needed an agent to take my writing to the next level, to help me sort my thoughts, add a wrung to my invisible ladder of literary expectations. Because at the core, my personality was bent towards the structure a traditional publisher would bring, and I couldn’t get there on my own. 

But it wasn’t until a year or so later, after many chapter meetings, shared conversations, and a publishing company reaching out to me that I knew it was time to make the ask. I needed help and Julie was willing. However, I didn’t sign with her. Through a series of events and connections, I signed with a family friend – a fabulous agent with quite a few big names under his belt. But six months in, next to no communication, and feeling super uncomfortable in asking for updates, I remembered why I had sought out Julie in the first place. It had to be personal. With the blessing of the agent, I had another conversation with Julie.

Her words: “I believe in you. It doesn’t matter what you write. I believe in you. I always have.” And with forgiveness and grace for ditching her, she signed me, and I have never looked back. 

It has to be personal. Julie knows me and my writing. She knows the ins and outs of my life that affect not only the words that go on paper but the highs and lows in my marketing. She also knows when it’s time to refocus, and in my case rebrand. I had an idea, but in my mind, it wasn’t time. There were other books to write. But Julie, knowing the industry and knowing what I needed to get what my heart longed for – the coveted traditional contract – encouraged me to write what would become my dearest work, the story that helped me find my voice – The Death of Mungo Blackwell. In October of 2018, I signed with Lion Hudson.

With Julie Gwinn, it is personal. And I am so thankful that she knows me not only as a writer but as her friend. 

The Marriage of Innis Wilkinson
The Death of Mungo Blackwell

About Lauren H. Brandenburg:

Lauren H. Brandenburg is a mentor, speaker, and author who happily blurs the lines between traditional genres in both middle grade and humorous family fiction. She has currently written six of the ten books in The Books of the Gardener series — Orlo: The Chosen (#4) was a finalist for the Selah Award middle grade novel of the year. The Death of Mungo Blackwell, a humorous family fiction (Lion Hudson publishing) is a finalist for The People's Book Prize in the United Kingdom as well as an American Christian Fiction Writer's Carol Award Finalist in Contemporary Fiction. Lauren is a former junior high and high school English teacher who stepped away from her profession to raise and homeschool her two children. She currently lives with her husband, Jamie, and their two children in a lovely little town just south of Nashville, Tennessee where they eat and laugh a lot.