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This month, Agent Kristin talks agent credibility, Angie gives tips on backstories, and author Jonathan Messinger gives insight into writing for a younger audience.

March 2021

In This Issue Kristin Chats Publishing |  NLA in the News |  Writers in the Know |  Angie Chats Story Craft |  From the Blog  |  Kristin's Book Club  |  New Releases


Kristin Chats Publishing

One Easy Way to Verify if An Agent is Legit

Kristin Nelson

With so many stories emerging of agents behaving badly, if only there was a quick and easy way for aspirating writers to verify a literary agent’s legitimacy. What a boon for new writers navigating a complicated publishing landscape. In good news, there is. 

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NLA in the News

In a high-six-figure deal, Ecco’s Helen Atsma won North American rights at auction to Shelby Van Pelt’s Remarkably Bright Creatures.


Stephanie Lurie at Rick Riordan Presents has acquired in a six figure dealWinston Chu Versus the Whimsies by award-winning author Stacey Lee.

In a significant deal, NYT bestselling authors Stephen King and Richard Chizmar‘s Gwendy’s Final Task, the last installment of the trilogy, to Ed Schlesinger at Gallery.


Celia Lee at Orchard has bought world rights, in an exclusive submission, to the picture book The Little Old Lady Who Ate Leftovers by Melissa de la Cruz and illustrated by Primo Gallanosa.

In an announcement that would make Alexia Tarabotti swoon, Frederator Studios (Castlevania) is adapting Gail Carriger’s popular Parasol Protectorate books for animated series.


The Bird Box universe is expanding with a Spanish-language spinoff. Production to start by end of year.

Writers in the Know

Interview with Jonathan Messinger

Jonathan Messinger gives insight into writing for a younger audience and creating a platform before publishing a book.

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Angie Chats Story Craft


The Making of Meaningful Backstory (Part I)

Angie Hodapp

I was working with a client recently who had spent quite a bit of page-time developing a complex backstory for their protagonist. Their agent and I, looking for ways to tighten the plot and reduce the word count, saw all this backstory as an opportunity to trim. Since it never had any effect on the story as it was currently structured, it felt not only superfluous, but also unnecessarily complicating. Yet the author was reluctant to cut it…

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From the Blog

The Pesky Scene Break
Creating An Editorial Road Map
5 Qs Authors Don’t Ask but Should When an Agent Offers Rep

Kristin’s Book Club

Buy Now

With 126,000 reviews on Amazon (yes, you read that correctly), 132 consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, and ten million copies sold and counting, this is a juggernaut hit of a book—with many, many fans. Also soon to be a movie with Reese Witherspoon adapting. Given all that, this one should be on your must-read list just so you can see what all the fuss is about.

In the story, late 1969, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast is rocked when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead; the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is sensitive and intelligent and has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life—until the unthinkable happens.

Reviewers have called the book haunting, lyrical, nature-infused, and evocative, and all that is accurate. Book Club was in love. Despite the improbability of this character actually existing in the real world, the immersive nature of the story, the writing, and the story world create a propulsive read that each member savored. I’m a bit of an outlier on the novel. I enjoyed it but definitely agreed with reviewers who noted points of absurdity—such as a girl raising herself alone in the marsh (having no access to health care, dental care, or even a shower) growing up to be an incredible beauty with such a sharply developed intellect. Still, this is a murder mystery told in a hugely unique way. And in the world with so few truly unique storytellers, this is a remarkable achievement. 

And it’s fiction—it’s meant to be enjoyed. I think my newsletter readers will do just that, so give it a whirl. 

New Releases

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