I could not be more excited to share with you the inaugural post in the Debut-to-Debut Interview Series. Interviews will be posted sporadically throughout 2017, 2018, and 2019—the year leading up to, during, and following my own debut. I hope to connect with a wide-ranging group of debut young adult novelists through this series and to share their books and experiences with you: fellow writers, fellow debuts, fellow readers, fellow YA enthusiasts.

This month, I corresponded with Katie Bayerl about her debut young adult novel A Psalm for Lost Girls (Penguin / Putnam, 2017).

From the jacket:

Tess da Costa is a saint—a hand-to-god, miracle-producing saint. At least that’s what the people in her hometown of New Avon, Massachusetts, seem to believe. And when Tess suddenly and tragically passes away, her small city begins feverishly petitioning the Pope to make Tess’s sainthood official. Tess’s mother is ecstatic over the fervor, while her sister Callie, the one who knew Tess best, is disgusted—overcome with the feeling that her sister is being stolen from her all over again.

The fervor for Tess’s sainthood only grows when Ana Langone, a local girl who’s been missing for six months, is found alive at the foot of one of Tess’s shrines. It’s the final straw for Callie.

With the help of Tess’s secret boyfriend Danny, Callie’s determined to prove that Tess was something far more important than a saint; she was her sister, her best friend and a girl in love with a boy. But Callie’s investigation uncovers much more than she bargained for: a hidden diary, old family secrets, and even the disturbing truth behind Ana’s kidnapping.

Without further ado…

KIT FRICK: A Psalm for Lost Girls is told through three voicesThe novel’s primary narrator is Callie, who must navigate the aftermath of her sister Tess’s tragic death and her hometown’s fervor to petition for Tess’s sainthood. But we also get pieces of the story through the diary entries that Tess left behind and through an omniscient voice privy to the experience of Ana, a local girl who is—possibly miraculously—found after six months missing. Tell us a bit about your writing process for developing a first person primary narrator, a second narrator who speaks to us only through her journals, and a third-person omniscient point of view. Did you always know your book would include all three, or did any evolve through the revision process?

KATIE BAYERL: I’d like to say it was all part of my master plan. The novel began as a (third person!) short story in the voice of Callie, the skeptical, grief-stricken sister. Once I realized it was a novel, I knew I wanted to include Tess’s voice too, but it took a few drafts—and a failed attempt—before I found a way to make it work. (She’s dead at the outset of the story, after all.) Ana Langone, the missing child, appeared in early drafts as a nameless child who’d been miraculously healed, and as the novel took shape, I realized there was more to her story.

I can see now that the three voices were all there in the beginning, but writing this novel felt like carving a statue out of stone. It took a lot of chipping away before the story emerged in its full form. In the end, I think the three girls provide important, complementary perspectives. Callie is the raw emotion and grit, Tess offers heart and humor, and Ana’s third-person narration adds an ethereal, suspenseful layer. I’ve come to think of them as a holy trinity of sorts, a metaphor that feels appropriate.

KIT: Religion—particularly Christianity and the phenomenon of sainthood—plays an important role in the novel. For some in the book’s setting of New Avon, Massachusetts, including Tess and Callie’s mother, religion provides both a comfort and a sense of purpose following Tess’s death. But for others, particularly Callie, the town’s zeal to petition for her sister’s sainthood is a source of pain and outrage. Tell us a little about your interest in saints, psalms, and miracles, and the research you did when writing your debut.

KATIE: I grew up Catholic in an era when the saints were hardly discussed, and I was pretty fed up with the Virgin Mary as the only available female role model. (The way her story was told, it seemed like the poor woman never had a unique thought of her own!) I began combing through other faiths for more spirited female icons. That search—and the friction it caused with various adults—was a huge part of my teen years.

It was my study abroad semester in the Dominican Republic that put sainthood into a new light for me. I encountered another conception of sainthood there—a blend of Catholic and West African traditions known as santería—that knocked me flat. That’s when I first realized that lady saints didn’t have to be bland or docile. They could be powerful, flawed, complex. I was hooked. From that point on, everywhere I’ve traveled I’ve hunted for images and stories of lady saints. The idea for this novel was born during one of those trips—to the site that commemorates the “child saints” of Fátima, Portugal.

I read quite a bit about saints and miracles as I worked on the novel—most of it for inspiration or to sort out specific details. The two books that most influenced my thinking were The Miracle Detective by Randall Sullivan, a journalistic dive into how miracles are investigated by the Catholic church, and Muses, Madmen & Prophets by Daniel Smith, an historical take on voice hearing and its many interpretations.

KIT: Tell us something about A Psalm for Lost Girls that isn’t apparent from the book cover or flap copy. We want the inside scoop!

KATIE: I became a ruthless cutter and shed many favorite scenes along the way. The darling I mourned most was Tess’s visit to a psychic named Miss Edna who tries to help her come to terms with her gift. It was a tragic scene in a lot of ways but also cracked me up.

KIT: What gives you the most joy about your life as a YA writer right now? What is bringing you satisfaction at this moment in time?

KATIE: I’m really enjoying how enthusiastic my family and friends are about this book! For so long, writing was this weird thing I did that I really only talked about with other writers, but now that the book’s out there, my parents, aunties, cousins, and friends are all out hitting the streets, telling everyone who will listen about my book. It’s adorable.

KIT: The publishing journey is unique for every author, but it’s safe to say that the road to book publication is filled with surprises, twists, and turns for all of us. What has surprised you most about the process of putting a first book into the world?

KATIE: The time it took? If anyone had told me how many years lay ahead of me when I first started pursuing writing seriously, I might have given up on the spot. In hindsight, I needed that time to develop my craft . . . but I truly had no idea how much I had to learn or what a strange, winding process it would be—at every single stage.

KIT: Drawing from your own unique experience, what advice would you to give to future young adult debut authors, or debut novelists in general?

KATIE: Throw away your timelines. Time is irrelevant. You’ll get to where you need to be. Just focus on the step ahead of you, and do the work that your story is asking of you. Do your story proud.

When Katie Bayerl isn’t penning stories, she coaches teens and nonprofits to tell theirs. She holds an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has taught creative writing in schools and a variety of community settings. She currently leads the VCFA Young Writers Network and teaches classes for teens at GrubStreet. Katie has an incurable obsession with saints, bittersweet ballads, and murder. A Psalm for Lost Girls (spring 2017, Putnam) is her first novel.



Kit Frick is a novelist, poet, and MacDowell Colony fellow. Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, she studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. When she isn’t putting complicated characters in impossible situations, Kit edits poetry and literary fiction for a small press, edits for private clients, and mentors emerging writers through Pitch Wars. Her debut young adult novel is See All the Stars (Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2018).

A Psalm for Lost Girls released on March 14, 2017 and is available wherever books are sold. Allow me to recommend your local indie, in addition to Amazon.

Stop back for future posts in the Debut-to-Debut Interview Series in the coming months!


On getting my first book deal and kicking imposter syndrome to the curb

For years, I wasn’t brave enough to admit I was a writer.

I went to college to study the craft. Five years later, I returned to school for my MFA. I gave readings and attended writers’ conferences and residencies. I wrote. For all intents and purposes, I was a writer. But when chatting at parties, when introduced to friends of friends, when asked that inescapable, horrible question, So, what do you do? I would say, “Oh, I work in [insert day job here]. I also write.” Writing was a tacked-on thing, although really, it was everything.

There were a few reasons why it was hard for me to disclose my writing life to anyone outside of my family, close circle of friends, and network of writers who “got it.” For one, it didn’t pay the bills, and isn’t that what people are really asking at parties? Oh, you’re a writer who doesn’t make money? Fascinating. So, what do you really do? For another, I dreaded the inevitable follow-up questions. Have I read you? Where can I find your books? It felt exhausting to explain. “Yes, I have poetry published in literary journals you’ve probably never heard of. I have two chapbooks out with fantastic small presses you probably haven’t heard of either. No, the books aren’t on Amazon. No, a chapbook isn’t the same as a chapter book. No, my poems do not usually rhyme.”

It was on me, 100%. Imposter syndrome loomed large, and I was not ready to take ownership, especially over my fiction. Poetry was hard enough to explain to the world at large, but at least I had poems out there to prove my existence. See, I write! I am! In prose, I had zero publication credits in a genre wherein it is actually possible (if rare) for a writer to become a household name. When it came to my creative identity, I was a little bit lazy and a little bit distrustful and a little bit shy. But I kept writing.

Then this spring, something amazing happened. After a year of writing and revising and three months of querying my first contemporary young adult novel, I signed with my agent, Erin Harris at Folio Literary Management / Folio Jr. Over the course of the spring and summer, Erin and I worked on three full rounds of revision and then several more “lightning rounds” of touch-ups, and when we both felt the manuscript was ready, Erin put it on submission to publishers. As summer turned to fall, another amazing thing happened. Ruta Rimas, a Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster’s Margaret K. McElderry imprint, acquired my debut novel and a second novel in a two-book deal:

Deal Announcement

Finding a home for my books with Simon & Schuster is especially meaningful because my career began with that very NYC publishing house. My very first [insert day job here] was with S&S, where I interned during college, and then worked as an editorial assistant for a year and a half. So this book deal is a special kind of homecoming.

No, you probably haven’t read me yet, although you can find some of my poems right here. And yes, while in deed my young adult books will be on Amazon, I hope you’ll consider supporting your local bookstore, too. For the moment, you can add See All the Stars on Goodreads, which is pretty exciting!


It took leaving my day job to throw myself into writing and editing full-time, which also happened this spring. It took some external validation from fantastic people with careers representing and publishing books. And most of all, it took a big vote of confidence in myself. I can do this. I am doing this.

Hi, I’m Kit. I’m a writer.

More specifically, I’m the author of See All the Stars, which will be out from S&S/McElderry in 2018, and a second young adult novel, also forthcoming from S&S/McElderry, in 2019.

For those who know me already, consider this our re-introduction. For everyone else out there, I look forward to getting to know you! You can find the very occasional blog post here, as well as book news as it happens, and I hope you’ll also follow me on Twitter @kitfrick for regular posts about writing, editing, reading, and being alive.


The thank yous:

My fiercely talented agent, Erin Harris, has been the best guide a writer could ask for throughout this strange and wonderful process. I’m so lucky to have landed with my editor, Ruta Rimas, whose enthusiasm for my debut nearly had me in tears, and I cannot wait to work with the entire McElderry team.

An endless world of thanks to the beta readers, writers, and friends who provided invaluable insight, encouragement, and cheer along the way: Nora Fussner, Brittany Cavallaro, Rachel Lynn Solomon, Karen McManus, Lily Ladewig, Ivy Blackman, Tabitha Martin, Elle Jauffret, Kayla Olson, Rachel Simon, Stephanie Kuehn, and the entire PitchWars mentor group, Ladies Social Wine Club, and Black Lawrence Press families. And finally to my family, especially my husband Osvaldo Oyola, my parents Pat and Tony Frick, and to Sally, Sonia, Lissette, and Angel, who believed in me and my creative path. I’m excited to see where it leads.

Hello from MacDowell

I’m writing tonight from Savidge Library at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire, where the leaves are turning to fire and the turkeys roam free.

These three wild turkeys strutting across the field are a regular fixture of my morning bike ride to Colony Hall.
The eponymously named MacDowell Studio, my writing space for four weeks.









During my month-long residency, I am revising a novel and working on a group of poems. I knew my time at MacDowell would be special, but it’s hard to fully capture the magic of this place in a few words and pictures. I honestly feel like the luckiest writer in the world.

My writing desk in MacDowell Studio.
My writing desk in MacDowell Studio.
Picnic lunch, every day.
Yes, it’s true. Lunch really is delivered to your studio in a picnic basket every single day. Hi, Blake!








The Lodge, where you'll find me when when I'm not in my studio.
The Lodge, where you’ll find me when when I’m not in my studio.
I'm in the Thornton Wilder Room.
I’m in the Thornton Wilder Room.









My ride around the 450 acre property.
My ride around the 450 acre property.
The display of books by current colonists in Savidge Library. That's ECHO ECHO LIGHT and KILL YOUR DARLINGS, CLEMENTINE to the center right!
The display of books by current colonists in Savidge Library. That’s ECHO ECHO LIGHT and KILL YOUR DARLINGS, CLEMENTINE to the center left!










It hasn’t been hard to tap into the creative energy buzzing all around this place. Thank you, MacDowell. Looking forward to the rest of my stay.

In my studio, no makeup, good hair day, stone chimney wall.
The "tombstone" plaques in my studio signed by the amazing previous colonists who have written and composed music here before me.
The “tombstone” plaques in my studio signed by the amazing previous colonists who have written and composed music here before me.

#PitchWars: The Day Before the Sub Window Opens…

It’s almost here! The day you’ve been waiting for…finally! You’ve nipped and tucked and tweaked your query. You’ve polished your opening chapter ’til it shines. You have your revised and polished full manuscript and a synopsis lying in wait, just in case. The sub window is opening in a matter of hours…now what!?

First, don’t panic!


No, Ron, we cannot! Or rather, there’s no need to, so let’s all take a deep breath and not let panic take over, shall we?

The submission window is set to open just after midnight on Wednesday, August 3rd. In past years, Brenda has sometimes cooked up a surprise, and the sub window has opened a little early. That may or may not happen this year. Brenda’s little elves aren’t telling. But whether it happens as the clock hits midnight or even earlier, there is no advantage to being the first to click send.

Let me repeat that: there is NO ADVANTAGE to being the first to click send.

So, take your time. The 2016 #PitchWars submission window will remain open until 10:00 PM EDT on Saturday, August 6th. That’s oodles of time to enter. Mentors will read every single submission: last, first and in between. When the window opens, you’ll see a blitz on the hashtag of excited mentee hopefuls rushing to enter. That’s totally fine. If you’re calm and ready at the start of the window, go for it…Or, do what I’d do. Get a good night’s sleep. Get your morning cup of coffee. Enter when you’re fresh.


Everything’s clearer after that first cup, am I right?

As you may already know from my mentor bio, I entered #PitchWars as a mentee hopeful in 2015. For those of who who are new to #PitchWars, let me tell you a little story about what happened when Brenda opened the submission window early last year. Here’s the short version:

First, there was a mad rush to enter.

Then, there were regrets and tears.

Yes, there was also much celebrating on the hashtag, but in the general excitement to click submit, some hopefuls selected the wrong mentors from the drop-down list. Some had copied the wrong text into the query field. One memorable regretful hopeful had misspelled his own name.


Friends, do not let this be you.

When you do open up the submission form — ANY TIME during the August 3rd – August 6th, 10PM EDT submission window — Take. Your. Time. There’s no prize for rushing. There’s only the cone of shame. And no one wants to wear that! Instead, do like your 3rd grade teacher told you, and check your work.

Here’s a little checklist I’ve put together for all of you PitchWarriors. When you open up the submission form, keep this post handy. Here we go:

  1. Have you selected the correct mentor names from the drop-down? Don’t do it from memory; cross-check the list on the sub form against the list you have prepared on your spreadsheet or in your notebook or on the back of your grocery list. Whatever works for you.
  2. Have you entered your name, genre, email address, title of your manuscript, category, and genre correctly? Are they spelled correctly? Is your manuscript title in ALL CAPS? Appearance counts; get it right.
  3. Have you entered the complete, correct text of your query letter into the submission field?
  4. Before you upload the first chapter of your completed manuscript, check the following things:
    1. Is it the CORRECT document? (Obviously, this is key.)
    2. Is it saved in Word .doc or .docx format?
    3. Is the file name as follows: Your Name_Manuscript Title (ex. John Green_THE FAULT IN OUR STARS)? It will make our jobs as mentors so much easier if you title your document using these guidelines, or a similarly easy-to-follow variation. Receiving 100+ submissions all titled “Chapter 1” is not helpful to our organization!
    4. Is your sample chapter in standard manuscript formatting? (12pt font, double-spaced)
  5. Yes? Okay. Upload that first chapter!

That’s it, PitchWarriors. Your five-step plan to a sweat-free submission experience.


Congrats, you kept your cool. You entered #PitchWars. You did it!

Still have questions? Look first at the official entry guidelines on Brenda Drake’s blog: You may be surprised to find your question answered right there! Still have questions? Just #askmentor on the hashtag. Someone will respond, or we’ll get answers behind the scenes if we don’t know off-hand. We’re here for you.

Now, breathe. Celebrate! You wrote, revised, and entered your book into #PitchWars. You rule!




#PitchWars 2016: Mentor Bio + Wish List

Welcome, Pitch Warriors! You’ve found the wish list of the mighty YA co-mentoring duo, Rachel Lynn Solomon and Kit Frick. Which means, you’re in the right place if you want to work with the most kick-ass mentoring team on the planet. *Throw furtive glances at other awesome YA mentors.* *Get super soakers ready.*


Rachel Lynn Solomon

Rachel LS

Hi there! This is my third year as a Pitch Wars mentor, and I love this contest so, so much — I look forward to it all year! I’m also very excited to be co-mentoring with Kit, a majorly talented writer and editor. I’m the author of two upcoming contemporary YA novels from Simon & Schuster/Simon Pulse. My debut, Fingers Crossed, will be out in spring of 2018. You can add it on Goodreads here! I’m represented by the brilliant Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.

My own road to publication has been rocky (you can read more about that here), and I find so much joy in working closely with other writers. I love passing on what I’ve learned so far, both about writing and the publishing world in general. This is a tough business, and I want to support my mentee through all the ups and downs. If you end up working with us, our relationship doesn’t end after the contest. We want to build lasting connections with other writers. That’s what this community is all about!

Speaking of community, that’s my favorite part of Pitch Wars. Many of my closest friends are mentors — though I’m ready to throw down if we want the same manuscript! And I’ve been so lucky that my past mentees have become more than mentees; we’re now critique partners and close friends. Both my 2014 mentees received multiple offers of rep just days after the contest ended, and one mentee’s Pitch Wars novel will be published by Penguin in early 2018!

Fun facts: I’m a tap dancer, a former NPR producer, and a Guinness World Record holder for the most natural redheads in one place! I’m a Seattle native, which basically makes me required to love rainy days (which I do). I’m slightly obsessed with my adorable 8-pound rescue dog, Wally. In high school, I fronted an all-girl punk rock band, but these days, I only sing karaoke. My go-to songs: “Surrender” by Cheap Trick and “Train in Vain” by The Clash. You can follow me on twitter @rlynn_solomon.

Kit Frick


Well, hello! This is my first year as a Pitch Wars mentor, and I am so thrilled to be co-mentoring with YA bad-ass Rachel Lynn Solomon! We met through this very contest last year: she was a mentor and I subbed to her as an entrant. I didn’t make it into the contest (*loud, pitying sobs*), but then I picked myself up and dove into revisions with my Pitch Wars manuscript. Even though I did not become a mentee, I did meet an awesome group of people through the 2015 contest–mentors, mentees, and fellow mentee hopefuls like myself. At first, I totally didn’t get what everyone was talking about on the hashtag last year about “the community.” I thought, “OK, maybe I’ll make a few new Twitter friends. It can’t be that big of a deal.” Wrong! When I finished revising my manuscript and was ready to query in December, I didn’t enter the trenches alone. Because of Pitch Wars, I had a whole group of new writer friends who were right there with me, and believe me it made the ups and downs of querying SO much easier!

In March, I signed with my agent, Erin Harris at Folio/Folio Jr, on the YA contemporary psychological suspense novel I’d entered into Pitch Wars. I’m currently writing my second YA psych thriller.

When I’m not writing, you can find me editing chapbooks for Black Lawrence Press and editing for private clients through Copper Lantern Studio. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and have studied with book editors, copyeditors, and literary agents through NYU’s Center for Publishing. I also write poetry (I have two chapbooks published through Slope Editions and Rye House Press), love to cook (the slow cooker and microplane are currently my two favorite kitchen tools), get really into Eurogames (Seven Wonders and Dominion are my two current obsessions), and spend a lot of time snuggling with my two adorable cats. You can follow me on twitter @kitfrick.



We are looking for YA in the following genres: contemporary realistic, contemporary magical realism, contemporary suspense/mystery/psychological thrillers, and contemporary with speculative elements.

Here’s a sampling of things we love!

  • Anything that makes you wonder, “can I do this in YA?”
  • Complicated, flawed characters who make mistakes
  • Female characters who could be called unlikable
  • Characters with unique or unusual hobbies/interests
  • Artistic characters and art in general
  • Diverse main characters, diverse casts of characters, #ownvoices. Racial diversity, LGBTQ+ characters, characters with disabilities
  • Realistic high school relationships and sexual experiences
  • Romances with tons of delicious tension and chemistry
  • Toxic friendships
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Complex family dynamics
  • Books that play with structure/timeline in any way; any kind of nontraditional narrative structure. We LOVE nonlinear books!
  • Moral gray areas, books that take risks, books that aren’t afraid to mine the dark depths of the human soul. We love dark and gritty.
  • Twists and turns we didn’t see coming; sophisticated suspenses; thrillers that use emotion, character, and setting to create page-turning tension
  • Gorgeous writing that reels us in
  • A voice that grabs us and won’t let go
  • Transportive settings
  • Bittersweet endings

Obviously, your manuscript doesn’t need to contain every single element on the above list. That would probably be impossible! But this should give you a good sense of our YA interests–and what we’d love to find in our inbox!



  • Favorite authors: Nina LaCour, E. Lockhart, Courtney Summers, Hilary T. Smith, Corey Ann Haydu, Amy Reed, Morgan Matson, Katie Cotugno, Emery Lord, Lauren Strasnick, Rachael Allen, Jenn Bennett, Abigail Haas, Jandy Nelson, Jennifer Mathieu, Aisha Saeed
  • All-time favorite books: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld, Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara, Hold Still by Nina LaCour, Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers, Forever by Judy Blume, Even When You Lie to Me by Jessica Alcott, One Day by David Nicholls, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • Favorite movies: Rushmore, Sixteen Candles, Before Sunrise, Roman Holiday, Sabrina, Ghost World, Groundhog Day, You’ve Got Mail
  • Favorite TV shows: Gilmore Girls, The Fosters, Felicity, Party Down, Veronica Mars, Parks and Rec, Jane the Virgin


It’s probably not a shocker that my list has a lot of overlap with Rachel’s! So, I’m going to challenge myself to not repeat favorites TOO MUCH. But hint hint, I also love E. Lockhart, Courtney Summers, Prep, Before I Fall, Felicity, Before Sunrise–and about 15 other things on here. See, I already cheated!

  • Favorite authors: Stephanie Kuehn, Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Curtis Sittenfeld (I would read ANYTHING by these four rockstars)
  • All-time favorite books (in YA): Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn, Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul, More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera, Made You Up by Francesca Zappia, Far From You by Tess Sharpe, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, and If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  • Favorite movies: Reality Bites, Zoolander, The Princess Bride, Romeo + Juliet, Father of the Bride, Back to the Future, Labyrinth, When Harry Met Sally, Can’t Hardly Wait
  • Favorite TV shows: My So-Called Life, Dawson’s Creek, Alias, The OC, The Americans, 30 Rock, Orange is the New Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine


There are a few things that we definitely know aren’t right for us. You have a limited number of mentors to sub to, so if you’d describe your book in one of the following ways, it’s best to know upfront that it’s not going to be right for Team Rachel + Kit. Fortunately, you have a long and awesome list of YA mentors to choose from! We are not looking for:

  • Plots that revolve around sports as the book’s central focus. (We know of at least a few YA mentors that are dying for sports books, so send them their way!) Athlete MCs are great if sports are secondary to the main plot. We’d happily consider a book about dance, though, since dancers are both artists and athletes.
  • Light, humorous fare (which can of course be fantastic, but we wouldn’t be the best mentors for those projects)
  • Anything involving violence toward animals


If you work with us, here’s a sneak peek at what your next couple months will look like:


Kit and I will split up your edits, so definitely plan on two rounds of work! Round one will be big-picture notes and an edit letter, and round two will be line edits. As a mentor/editor, I’m tough but extremely encouraging! I never tell someone, “change this” or “I don’t like this.” Rather, I give suggestions, ask questions, and turn it into a discussion. You can expect novel-length emails, chats, Skype calls, telegrams, Morse code messages — whatever works best for you! We WILL push you because we know you can take your amazing book to the next level.


My agent likes to say — and I agree — that editing is a collaboration, not a dictatorship. That said, Rachel and I will absolutely push you to do the work necessary so that your manuscript is the best version of itself and ready for the agent round / querying. You’ll have a great team behind you, providing guided feedback and encouragement.

That’s it! If you submit to us, feel free to include a line about why you picked us. It can go at the end of the query. We’re SO excited to see all your awesome, gritty, risk-taking YA books in our inbox this year!

And don’t forget to check out the wish lists of the other amazing 2016 YA mentors. (I mean, don’t do that, they’re the competition!) But really do:



































































Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.

YA Thriller Round-Up

I’ll admit it. I was way too chicken to read Lois Duncan when I was a teen. I was the kid who made my mom hide a beloved (but scary!) picture book in the closet so the Yeller Belly Swamp monsters couldn’t get me. I kept my eyes closed through the entirety of Jurassic Park in the theater. (It was 1993. I was eleven. It’s still embarrassing.) I had to secretly ask my fifth grade teacher to stop reading an R.L. Stine novel out loud to the class because it was giving me nightmares. By the time I was in high school, my tolerance for all things scary wasn’t much higher. The only Stephen King I could read was Carrie. I still haven’t seen Nightmare on Elm Street or even Silence of the Lambs. (To my credit, I did check the latter out of my college library for an entire semester. It sat on top of my TV/VCR mocking me for months.)

But here’s the twist: I’m all grown up now, and I love thrillers. Don’t get me wrong—I still can’t watch a horror movie without freaking myself out every time the floor creaks for a solid week. But give me a good suspense novel or psychological thriller, and I’ll be turning the pages so fast you’d think my fingers were racing my heart. I love an unreliable narrator and a toxic friendship and a plot twist I didn’t see coming. I especially love a young adult thriller, so in honor of Lois Duncan, a master of YA suspense who passed away on June 15th of this year, I’ve pulled together a round-up of some of my favorite character-driven, suspenseful, and psychologically thrilling YA novels from the past two years.



We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte 2014)

After her accident, Cadence Sinclair Eastman suffers from migraines and the stubborn shadow eclipsing her memories of what happened the summer she was sixteen. In this lyrical, riveting suspense novel, Lockhart masterfully steers us through the spectrum of trauma, recovery, and letting go and delivers an ending that will make you flip back to page one.


Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Disney-Hyperion 2014)

Armentrout spins a compelling “whodunit” about a girl suffering from total amnesia following a traumatic incident that left her damaged and her best friend Cassie missing, presumed dead. Samantha’s new life is a puzzle, but she’s not sure she wants to put the pieces back together if it means returning to the person she used to be. But Cassie is still missing, and someone wants Samantha to know the truth about what happened.


Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn (St. Martin’s Griffin 2014)

Jamie’s sister Cate went off the rails two years ago, and now that she’s been released from juvie, Jamie isn’t sure he wants his big sister back in his life. Now that she’s out, bad things have started to happen all over again, just like they did before Cate was locked away. Cate’s reappearance stirs up memories from Jamie’s past, and he’s not sure how much remembering he can take. In this compelling, character-driven psychological thriller, Kuehn tugs at the threads that tether the human psyche until everything comes undone.


Far From You by Tess Sharpe (Disney-Hyperion 2014)

After almost dying for the second time, Sophie resolves to find her best friend’s killer, even when it means endangering herself all over again. In this suspenseful murder mystery with an intricately wrought non-linear structure, Sharpe presents readers with an alluring, unexpected love triangle, a compelling voice, and a heart-thudding race to a conclusion that doesn’t disappoint.



We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean (HMH Books for Young Readers 2015)

Alice Monroe is doing time in a mental ward, but it’s her twin sister Cellie who set the fire that killed Alice’s boyfriend and endangered Alice’s life. Fed up after spending years as her twin’s protector, Alice resolves to get revenge. But as she puts her plan in motion, Alice begins to realize she may only know a fraction of the truth.


Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul (Balzer + Bray 2015)

Mattie swore off Jolene and her dangerous, intoxicating brand of friendship the summer after sophomore year. But now that high school’s almost over, Mattie finds herself tempted by the revelry of senior year and by the former best friend she could never really quit, no matter how toxic their relationship might have been. Drawn back into Jolene’s web, Mattie struggles to draw the line between reality and delusion, devotion and poison.


The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (Algonquin Young Readers 2015)

In this thrilling, contemporary ghost story, Suma takes us deep inside the very different worlds of Violet, Orianna, and Amber. Violet has clawed her way to the brink of breakout career in ballet. Amber has been locked inside the walls of a juvenile detention center for years on a manslaughter charge. Ori is the girl who touches both of their lives, whose own story may be over before it’s even begun. With justice holding a mirror to each girls’ face, questions of guilt and innocence become tangled and unwound in the resolution of their three stories.


Damage Done by Amanda Panitch (Random House Books for Young Readers 2015)

Lucy Black used to be Julia Vann. She used to be a lot of things: a twin, a girlfriend, a “normal” high school girl. But then 22 seconds in a locked band room with her twin brother and a loaded gun changed everything. Now, 11 people are dead, her brother is behind bars, and Lucy has a new name and a new life. As Lucy is compelled to confront the darkness in her past, her new identity begins to unravel, revealing all the secrets she’s tried so hard to keep hidden.

What to Read Next

There’s a fresh crop of delicious-sounding YA thrillers that have just been released or are coming out soon! Here’s what’s on the top of my reading list for 2016:

 Mirage by Tracy Clark (HMH Books for Young Readers 2016)

With Malice by Eileen Cook (HMH Books for Young Readers 2016)

Never Missing, Never Found by Amanda Panitch (Random House Books for Young Readers 2016)

How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler (Simon Pulse 2016)

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas (Delacorte 2016) 

Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten (Doubleday Canada 2016)

The Smaller Evil by Stephanie Kuehn (Dutton Books for Young Readers, forthcoming August 2016)

Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig (Feiwel & Friends, forthcoming October 2016)

Shelfie: 2015 in review, 2016 up ahead

Shelfie_10.20.15 Happy 2016! I don’t have any big reading resolutions for the new year aside from diving into a bunch of great books. Here a little year-end round-up of a few faves from 2015 and a preview of the titles that are lighting up my TBR pile in 2016.

2015 in YA (in reading order):

Far From You by Tess Sharpe

This suspenseful murder mystery, presented nonlinearly, has a great, unexpected love triangle and a compelling voice. The first best thing I read in 2015 (and re-read a few months later!).

Winger by Andrew Smith

He may have had a rough year on social media, but it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of this moving boarding school contemp. Smith takes the story to a really powerful, unexpected place.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

This was my introduction to the inimitable Courtney Summers, and I want more! Now! This book was a dirty, vicious, and spot-on take on bullying. But it’s not like an issue book, OK? It’s just really well-done.

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

Great contemporary realistic about a likable girl making some unlikable decisions during her last year of high school.

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Voice, voice, voice! Really engaging, character-driven look at a girl facing the beginnings of mental illness during a summer spent housesitting for her parents.

Don’t Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Compelling “whodunit” about a girl suffering from total amnesia following a traumatic indecent that left her damaged and her best friend missing, presumed dead.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby 

With one foot in the real world and the other firmly lodged in the realm of the fantastical, Ruby’s novel is mysterious, literary, and unlike anything I’ve read before.

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

A riveting and fun exploration of reality, delusion, and high school relationships with a killer twist.

The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman

Beautiful magical realism set in a world where a spell can be bought to cure just about anything, but sometimes the cost is unbearable.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma

More beautiful magical realism exploring innocence, guilt, dance, juvie, and a final gesture toward redemption or revenge.

George by Alex Gino

This is middle grade, but I’m squeezing it in with the YA crowd because it’s the only MG I read all year. Equal parts sweet and provoking story of transgender George’s quest to play Charlotte in the school production of Charlotte’s Web and show everyone what she knows to be true–that she’s a girl.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

Raw and suspenseful story of what happens to Minnow after an extremist religious cult takes her childhood–and her hands.

2015 in Adult (in reading order):

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

I loved this novel, which follows a creative group of teenagers that meet at a summer art camp through the successes, jealousies, and struggles of their adult lives.

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani

This could easily fall under YA (it’s a classic coming-of-age story), but I’m pretty sure DiSclafani’s literary debut has been shelved under adult. Either way, it’s a suspenseful and taughtly-written drama about a girl sent away to a special private school after disgracing her family in the 1930s.

Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China by Fuchia Dunlop

I’ve been pretty YA-centric so far this year, but I did squeeze in this great food memoir. Mouth-watering and thoughtful writing on an English student’s experiences eating, traveling, and cooking in Sichuan provence and elsewhere in China.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

I finally read Fun Home in anticipation of seeing the musical on Broadway this summer. (High marks to both!) Bechdel moves seamlessly between family drama, coming of age discovery, and literary criticism in this artful graphic memoir.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Memoir of Jessop’s escape with her eight children from her oppressive and abusive life in the FLDS cult.


The 2016 TBR Pile — here’s a sneak peak!

Non-Fiction (mostly creepy cult stuff)

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenna Miscavige Hill (currently reading)

Off the Grid by Nick Rosen (currently reading)

Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs by Elissa Wall

Seductive Poison: A Jonestown Survivor’s Story of Life and Death in the Peoples Temple by Deborah Layton

Not Without My Sister: The True Story of Three Girls Violated and Betrayed by Those They Trusted by Kristina Jones

A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story by David Thibodeau

Jesus Land by Julia Scheeres

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Fiction (mostly all YA)

Life By Committee + OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Pointe by Brandy Colbert

On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Fig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

Like It Never Happened by Emily Adrian

Me Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

The List by Siobhan Vivian

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

How to Love by Katie Cotugno

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

The Art of Not Breathing by Sarah Alexander

I Was Here + Where She Went by Gayle Forman

The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

I COULD GO ON! But I’ll stop there and see where the year takes me. 2016 is shaping up to be a year of change, some uncertainty, and some exciting new starts, but one thing’s for sure–I’m really looking forward to all the hours ahead with a cat in my lap and my nose in a book.