#DVpit, updated submission guidelines, and my #MSWL

Today is #DVpit on Twitter, which is an event in which writers post pitches for their books on the hashtag and agents who like those pitches and are requesting submissions favorite the pitches as a way to say “send that to me!” and editors who like something either retweet it to say “I like this! send it to me, agents!” or favorite it if they take unsolicited submissions. To that end, I’m linking to this post for anyone whose pitch I favorite.

Recently, Cheryl Klein joined the Lee & Low team as editorial director, and that means that we’re shifting a few things around. Tu Books continues to be the middle grade and young adult imprint publishing all genres of fiction for those age groups, but because Cheryl also is interested in novels, I won’t be the sole editor acquiring for the imprint anymore. However, Cheryl and I have different interests and tastes, and she’ll also be acquiring picture books and nonfiction for the Lee & Low imprints, and older nonfiction for Tu.

Also, I’ve tweeted my #MSWL (if you don’t know, that’s a manuscript wish list) on both my own Twitter and on @tubooks from time to time—most recently being yesterday on Tu’s account:

Also:

So if you’d like a better sense of what I’m looking for, my Twitter and the Tu Books Twitter are your best resources, as I’m terrible at keeping up my blog nowadays.

We have new submission guidelines that have not yet gone up on the Lee & Low website, so for anyone looking for whether to send a MG or YA to me vs. Cheryl, some guidelines here. Obviously your first sign is whether Cheryl or I favorited your tweet. But if you’re still not sure, this is what will be put up on the Tu Books submission guidelines when we update the site:

At TU BOOKS, an imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, our focus is on young adult and middle grade fiction and narrative nonfiction centering people of color. We look for fantasy set in worlds inspired by non-Western folklore or culture, contemporary mysteries and fantasy set all over the world starring POC, and science fiction that centers the possibilities for people of color in the future. We also selectively publish realism and narrative nonfiction that explores the contemporary and historical experiences of people of color. We welcome intersectional narratives that feature LGBTQIA and disabled POC as heroes in their own stories.

We are looking specifically for stories for both middle grade (ages 8-12) and young adult (ages 12-18) readers. Occasionally a manuscript might fall between those two categories; if your manuscript does, let us know.

Stacy Whitman and Cheryl Klein both acquire titles for Tu Books, and we ask that you identify which of them you wish to consider your submission. As loose rules of thumb, Cheryl has a more literary bent and does not acquire graphic novels, while Stacy takes a more commercial focus and does not acquire narrative nonfiction. You can learn more about each of them through their websites, linked above, and the interviews here.

Novel Manuscript Submissions:

  • Please include a synopsis and first three chapters of the novel. Do not send the complete manuscript.
  • Manuscripts should be typed doubled-spaced.
  • Manuscripts should be accompanied by a cover letter that includes a brief biography of the author, including publishing history. The letter should be addressed to either Stacy Whitman or Cheryl Klein, and should also state if the manuscript is a simultaneous or an exclusive submission.
  • We’re looking for middle grade (ages 8-12) and young adult (ages 12 and up) books. We are not looking for chapter books (ages 6 to 9) at this time.
  • Be sure to include full contact information on the cover letter and first page of the manuscript. Page numbers and your last name/title of the book should appear on subsequent pages.

Graphic Novel Submissions:

  • Please include a synopsis and first three chapters (or equivalent—up to 20 pages of script) of the graphic novel script. Do not send the complete manuscript.
  • If you are also the illustrator, please include art samples with a sample storyboard in PDF or JPG format.
  • Do not include illustrations unless you are a professional illustrator.
  • Manuscripts should be accompanied by a cover letter that includes a brief biography of the author, including publishing history. The letter should also state if the manuscript is a simultaneous or an exclusive submission.
  • Be sure to include full contact information on the first page of the manuscript. Page numbers and your last name/title of the book should appear on subsequent pages.

Tu Books accepts submissions electronically. Please go to our Submittable page to submit your manuscript electronically.

If you would rather send your submission via snail mail, you may address it to: 

Submissions Editor, Tu Books
LEE & LOW BOOKS
95 Madison Avenue, Suite 1205
New York, NY 10016

ALSO NOTE that for new writers of color, our New Voices Award (for picture books) and New Visions Award (for MG/YA novels & graphic novels) writing contests are opening soon for submissions! If you’ve never published a picture book before, New Voices opens May 1. If you’ve never published a MG or YA novel or graphic novel, New Visions opens June 1. Information for both contests’ submission guidelines will be updated on the L&L website soon, so check back.

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Highlights of 2016 reading

Thanks to audiobooks, I read 144 books in 2016. (If you look at that list, some are still in progress—the problem with relying on the library; when I can’t finish an audiobook in the rental period, I have to wait months on hold for it to come back to me again. I’ve been waiting for The Passion of Dolssa to come back for something like 3 months.)

OBVIOUSLY, this list doesn’t include the books I’ve edited. OBVIOUSLY, you should read all my books! Check out the sidebar under Books I Edited, or go here for more info on Tu Books.

In more than a year of my outside-of-work reading being mostly on audio, I’ve found that audiobooks have an even worse diversity problem than print books. I’m not surprised by this; most of the books I publish haven’t gotten audio versions made, and that’s likely similar to the audiobook market as a whole. So my outside-of-work reading isn’t as diverse as I’d like it to be, but I’ve been able to read a lot more than I would have otherwise, given my aversion to reading finished books outside of work lately. (I work such long hours that I need a change-up when I’m off—I was reading maybe five books outside of work before picking up audiobooks.)

Here are some highlights, in no particular order, of my reading in 2016:

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Adventure, magic, and traveling to alternate worlds and timelines. So much fun. Looking forward to the sequel this year.

 

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

Clever, funny, and just what I needed to escape in November…

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

The last volume in the Tiffany Aching series, and Pratchett’s last book. It moved me. Pratchett had an ability to make you laugh at human foibles and poignantly appreciate the death of a character—and the author!—in such a unique way. This is a series I’ll return to again and again in the future, I think.

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Historical fiction, set in San Francisco, 1906. If you don’t know why that’s significant, you need to read the book even more. Beautiful.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Listening to this hybrid book on audio made me not even realize what I was missing in the print version–a comic-with-the-book! But Mary Robinette Kowal’s narration created an audio experience of the comic parts that translated well from the page—I knew from the change in narration that it was was a story-within-a-story, and it all came together perfectly.

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

One of the few audiobooks in which the narration by the author enhances the book rather than detracts from it. Few authors have a good reading voice, I’m sorry to say. (Few audiobook narrators are good in general, honestly.) So this excellent story was made even better via Tim Federle’s voice.

 

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Speaking of excellent narrators, this narrator sounded like she was a Latina from Queens. That made this fascinating story about a teen girl in Queens just trying to make ends meet while worried about the Son of Sam murders even more fascinating. And man, I felt for Nora in her worries about her brother.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I didn’t realize till MONTHS later that this was narrated by Lin Manuel Miranda. And it didn’t stand out to me because his voice was seamlessly Aristotle’s. A beautiful book with top-notch narration.

 

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

This book is HILARIOUS, especially if you know the real history of Lady Jane Grey. And the audiobook’s narrator REALLY gets this book. She’s great at all the accents, and growls and emotes and simpers and everything perfectly.

Starflight by Melissa Landers

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen some good space SF in YA. This was an enjoyable read.

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#WeNeedDiverseBooks kicks off today!!

I’m sure you’ve seen me talking about this EVERYWHERE else, but I’m posting this here too just to be sure. If you don’t know what #WeNeedDiverseBooks is, check out the original post on Tumblr. Then share YOUR picture that completes this prompt: “We need diverse books because ___________.”

Simple, right? But it’s not all talk. There’s another step: recommend great diverse books, then go out and #DiversifyYourShelves (more at the link above). This weekend we’re heading out en masse to buy diverse books at our local bookstores and online. If the book you’re looking for isn’t in the store, ask for it! Booksellers pay attention to books they’re not carrying get requested a lot over time. If you don’t have the money to buy a book right now, ask for more diversity (request specific titles) in your local library.

Follow all the discussion—and there’s a LOT, as it’s trending right now!—on Twitter, and check out the pictures that have been submitted to the Tumblr starting at 1pm EDT.

Then today at 2, join us for a #diverselit chat on Twitter with Shannon Hale, discussing diversity, specifically writing “specific” vs. “neutral” characters.

Another review roundup

Awakening Final cover low resThe Horn Book Guide reviews have come out for several of Tu’s recent books. Thought I’d share a couple of the highlights.

Review of Awakening by Karen Sandler

“The innovative premise, detailed world-building, and ethnically diverse cast make this a must-read for science fiction fans.”—Horn Book Review

Review of Diverse Energies edited by Tobias Buckell and Joe Monti

“Riveting protagonists—many LGBT and/ or characters of color—in eleven short stories by authors including Paolo Bacigalupi, Malinda Lo, and Ursula Le Guin grapple with agency, exploitation, disDiverse Energiescrimination, and familial tensions in impeccably built dystopian worlds. With robust treatment of an array of topics (global warming, robotics. mythology, etc.) this is compelling YA social science fiction.”—Horn Book Review

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ACat Girl's Day Offnd then the other day I discovered a short but sweet review of Kimberly Pauley’s Cat Girl’s Day Off on Amazon by Geography Club author Brent Hartinger: “Pauley, who’s been pretty good at reviewing books for years, has turned out to also be very good at writing them. Who knew? A breezy delight.

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The prices from our Friends & Family sale are slowly changing back (it takes time for these things to process, even though the sale ended on Friday), but so far they’re still reduced on several vendors, so if you haven’t had a chance to check out Cat Girl or other books published by Tu, you might still be able to snap up a deal on the e-book versions. Only, be quick about it—they’ll go back up soon.

If you’ve already taken advantage of the sale—or have already read our books—please consider leaving a review on one of the online booksellers, or on your own blog. We’d love to hear what you think!

Fantastic yet realistic Columbus Day reading

Columbus Day is a complicated holiday—after all, we really shouldn’t be honoring a man who introduced the slave trade to the Americas for “discovering” the New World. His legacy includes the decimation of native Caribbean and American populations, a greedy search for gold that involved horrendous atrocities, and all sorts of other terrible things. Love him or hate him, though, Columbus’s first journey marked a huge turning point in history, and it’s one that young readers should know the true history of (at a developmentally appropriate level).

If you’re looking for a book for teens or mature middle readers that explores the complexity of the year 1492 in a fantastic setting, you should be reading Hammer of Witches by Shana Mlawski. The book is about a boy’s journey with his half genie friend to find his father, but he boards Columbus’s ship as part of that quest. And it includes a thorough author’s note detailing what we know and don’t know about that era, and what the author made up—a handy reference for use in schools. The only content warning I’d note for young readers is that the book doesn’t flinch away from the truth of what happened on Ayiti to the Taino—though it doesn’t show it in detail, there is reference to rape and other atrocities.

On the back cover of the book, we printed a short quote from award-winning and prolific Abenaki author Joseph Bruchac, but that isn’t all he had to say about it. Here’s his full review (my emphasis added):

This is a truly enjoyable energetic tale, a hero’s journey that is filled with as much magic—and wry humor—as I’ve ever seen crammed into one story. The narrator is intelligent, engaging, and grows throughout his New World voyage of personal discovery in as way that should make him truly sympathetic to any young adult  reader.

A more or less historical fantasy, it’s an altogether original take on one of the most important events in human history—the first voyage of Columbus. In fact, with its emphasis on a totally different point of view—that of a converted Jewish Christian in late 15th century Spain who finds out his father is actually an infamous Moorish warrior and magician—it turns history and storytelling upside down.

Interesting, though this is an action-packed fantasy filled with everything from genies and giant monsters to magical caves, it is grounded in real history.

In fact, anyone who reads this may end up learning more about this period than is taught in most classrooms—including about the complex Taino cultures of Ayiti.—Joseph Bruchac, author of Killer of Enemies and Code Talker

Read it today in e-book or hardcover! (Links to online booksellers on the book page I just linked, or you can ask your local bookseller to order it.)

Or sign up for our e-news, because there will be an announcement later this week about an upcoming sale on the hardcover…

 

 

New books!

The Monster in the Mudball by S. P. GatesJust in case you haven’t been paying attention in every other social media stream, Tu’s fall 2013 books are OUT in the WILD, just in time for Halloween!

For anyone with a young reader in your life, be sure to check out The Monster in the Mudball by S.P. Gatesthe perfect read for your third and fourth graders, and any reader looking for his or her first real middle grade book now that they’ve mastered chapter books. It’s a Junior Library Guild selection, as well—funny with a lot of heart, about a boy who teams up with an artifact inspector to save his baby brother from the monster Zilombo. It’s kind of like Warehouse 13 for the very young middle grade set.

For older readers, check out Joseph Bruchac’s postapocalyptic Apache steampunk Killer of Enemies—it’s been getting a lot of great buzz, and you need to pick it up.

The books are orderable on the Lee & Low website right now, and should be available for order from Amazon and BN.com and other online vendors within a few days to a week (it takes some time for the books to get from our warehouse to theirs and to be processed, so just keep pre-ordering until it’s available via your preferred vendor).

Killer of Enemies by Joseph BruchacE-books will be available in another couple of weeks. We always try to time version releases to be close to each other, but it’s not always perfectly aligned. Keep an eye on your favorite e-book vendor, and I’ll post here with links when they’re up.

If you love Tu Books and want us to publish even more awesome diverse science fiction and fantasy, one of the best ways you can support us (or any small press you favor) is to be sure to walk into your local indie bookshop and ask for the book by name. If they don’t have a copy, ask them to order it. Indies are very happy to be sure their customers have the books they’re looking for, and the more demand they see for a particular book, the more they’ll pay attention to ordering stock to keep in the store. And at the same time, you’ll be supporting a local business that works to serve your community.

DragonCon and WorldCon

If you’re going to be at DragonCon, be sure to say hi! I’m going to be around all weekend, mostly haunting the YA track, though I will be wandering around the exhibit hall and other tracks as well. Such a lot to fit in one weekend, even if it is a long weekend. If you really want to catch me, let me know that you’re going to be there and let’s try to set up a time to catch up. It’ll be my first DragonCon, so I welcome advice, friendly hanging out, introductions, and so forth.

Summer of the MariposasIf, instead, you’re going to be at WorldCon/LonestarCon 3 in San Antonio, be sure to say hi to Guadalupe Garcia McCall, author of Summer of the Mariposas, who will be on several panels (check your program, though, to make sure these times haven’t changed). Her books will also be available in the Larry Smith, Bookseller booth. I’m sure she’d love to sign a book for you!

  • Mexican Folklore Saturday 10:00 – 11:00
  • Magic Realism Saturday 11:00 – 12:00
    Magic Realism, Science Fiction, Fantasy. How can you use these terms to describe the varied work of Angélica Gorodischer, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and Laura Esquivel?
  • Poetry Inside Out: Bridging Cultures through Language Saturday 12:00 – 13:00
    Can you translate extraordinary poems from their original language and still reach a new audience in a different language with the same impact and images?
  • Mexican Female Writers of the Fantastic Saturday 15:00 – 16:00
  • Using YA SF to Boost Interest in Science Sunday 11:00 – 12:00

 

Awesome blurbs for fall list of Tu Books!

We’re going to be doing a cover reveal for both of my fall titles soon, but to tide everyone over till we see those AWESOME images, we have some AWESOME blurbs from authors who have had a chance to take a look at the books a little early.

mim_jacket_06First up, our middle grade title The Monster in the Mudball by S. P. Gates, which was just named a Junior Library Guild selection. It’s a funny adventure for young middle graders that is a great fit for your 3rd and 4th graders. It’s been described as “Nerds if it had been written by Diana Wynne Jones.” Here’s the flap copy, to give you an idea of what a fun book it is:

A MONSTER IS LOOSE IN LONDON! And it’s kind of Jin’s fault that Zilombo the monster got loose.

Jin tracks the monster, but he can’t figure out how to get her back into the artifact from which she hatched. Then Jin meets Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts A. J. Zauyamakanda—Mizz Z, for short—who has arrived to inspect the artifact. She and Jin team up to find Zilombo.

Joining them is Frankie, Jin’s older sister, who has lost their baby brother—and Zilombo is the most likely culprit for his disappearance. Zilombo gains new, frightening powers every time she hatches. Now the monster is cleverer than ever before . . . and she likes to eat babies!

Will Jin’s baby brother be next on Zilombo’s menu? As the monster’s powers continue to grow, Jin, Frankie, and Mizz Z must find a way to outsmart Zilombo!

And the enthusiastic review:

Monster in the Mudball is a light-on-its-feet adventure full of surprises, humor, and heart!—Jessica Day George, New York Times bestselling author of Wednesdays in the Tower

Next, our other fall title is Joseph Bruchac’s follow-up to Wolf Mark (not a sequel or in the same world—just his next YA title for Tu Books). This is Joseph Bruchac’s first foray into steampunk (or at least, steampunk-adjacent), and we’re all VERY excited about it. In fact, it’s postapocalyptic Apache steampunk about a hunter named Lozen. The book can best be described as a science fiction retelling of an Apache legend, combined with a reimagining of a real historical figure, Lozen, who fought for Apache freedom in the late 1800s. Oh, let me show you:

This is not a once upon a time story.

Years ago, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen and her family lived in a world of haves and have-nots. There were the Ones—people so augmented with technology and genetic enhancements that they were barely human—and there was everyone else who served them.

Then the Cloud came, and everything changed. Tech stopped working. The world plunged back into a new steam age. The Ones’ pets—genetically engineered monsters—turned on them and are now loose on the world.

Fate has given seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities that she uses to take down monsters for the remaining Ones, who have kidnapped her family.

But with every monster she kills, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is meant to be a more than a hired-gun hunter.

Lozen is meant to be a hero.

The gushing review:

Killer of Enemies is a wild teen adventure-fantasy that starts fast, gets faster and never touches the brakes. A mind-bending fantasy that smashes across genre lines to tell a story about survival, courage, and lots of monsters. Joseph Bruchac brings serious game. Highly recommended!”—Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Fire & Ash and Extinction Machine

Latest Tu honors, and a new review

Tu has had several cool things happen lately, which I’ve tweeted and shared on Facebook, but I’d like to round them all up here. First let’s start with a cover reveal and some insight into the design and illustration process for Hammer of Witches! And I linked this later in the last post, but just in case you missed it, here’s also the cover reveal for Awakening, which is the sequel to Karen Sandler’s Tankborn. Both books are coming out this April!

Hammer of Witches

Hammer of Witches final coverHere’s the awesome Kirkus review for Hammer of Witches, which will be posted on their site soon:

An engaging, magical adventure set against the historical backdrop of Columbus’ westward voyage.

Young Baltasar, a converso (a Spanish Jew converted to Catholicism), relies on his wits to distract the village bully by telling an amusing tale. Soon after, Bal discovers his storytelling has magical properties when he summons a monster to ward off the Malleus Maleficarum, witch-hunting Inquisitors after Bal’s father. Intent on escaping and finding the father he thought dead, Bal is hired as translator on none other than the Santa Maria, captained by Columbus himself. The voyage takes Bal on the uncharted seas of Columbus’ famous voyage and into adventures that include sea beasts and secrets from Bal’s own past. Though keeping track of all the Spanish-named seamen can be a challenge, Mlawski’s central characters—Jinniyah, a genie Bal summons, and Catalina, a fellow storyteller, in addition to Bal himself—are imaginative and well-developed, and her swashbuckling pace and intriguing plotting keep readers at seat’s edge. This story is told entirely from Bal’s perspective, but by placing him on the Santa Maria and inside the Caribbean villages the expedition visits, Mlawski invites young readers to see the familiar Columbus story from another perspective—and to consider the power of stories to shape perception in everyday life. Backmatter includes a helpful author’s note and pronunciation guide.

Though set in the 1490s, this provocative blend of fantasy and history offers loads of contemporary appeal.—Kirkus Reviews

And you’ll see several of the blurbs for this book on the cover reveal post, but here are a couple more great quotes we got from Victoria Strauss and Lesley Livingston:

“This rollicking historical fantasy has it all—nail-biting adventure, exciting mystery, fabulous magics, and characters you can really root for. I enjoyed every word.”—Victoria Strauss, author of Passion Blue and co-founder of Writer Beware

Hammer of Witches is everything I crave in a story—magic, adventure, danger, depth, a rich historical setting, and an irresistibly charming hero. What a fantastic voyage!”—Lesley Livingston, author of Wondrous Strange

Awakening

AwakeningAs I said, you probably have already seen the cover reveal, but in case you missed it, here it is again! We’ve also got a good Kirkus review to share, as well as some Tankborn news.

[T]he second Tankborn entry presents exciting new mysteries about genetic engineering, illness and rebellions.

As a GEN (Genetically Engineered Non-human), Kayla ranks lowest in this caste-based society. The slightest insubordination on her part could prompt a trueborn to reset her—wipe away her soul and give her body a new personhood—or recycle her body for DNA. Driving around by lorry under the authority of a lowborn named Risa, Kayla uses her genetically strengthened arms to haul goods in and out of warehouses; she and Risa also carry information for the Kinship, a secret rebel network. This information travels inside Kayla’s annexed brain, a section inside every GEN’s brain that is accessed by hooking a datapod (painfully) to the tech-tattoo located on every GEN’s face. Sandler’s strength is suspense, elements of which include the medical mystery of a disease striking only GENs (Scratch is fatal and has bizarre properties), explosions in warehouses storing GEN food, wispy hints of a second revolt (even farther underground than the Kinship) and the web connecting it all. . . . [F]ans of genetic engineering and shadowy rebellions will find much to like.—Kirkus Reviews

In other news, I just found out that Tankborn was a finalist for last year’s Golden Duck Awards in the YA category (the Hal Clement Award). This is a good award that we don’t see very much coverage of—in fact, the award was given in September and I just heard about Tankborn being a finalist just this week. This one is given the same weekend as the Hugo awards. In addition, Galaxy Games: The Challengers by Greg Fishbone was a finalist in the middle grade category (the Eleanor Cameron Award for Middle Grades). I’d love to see more librarians and teachers paying attention to this award!

Summer of the Mariposas

Summer of the MariposasAnd let’s round up this good news report with some news about Summer of the Mariposas, which was just nominated for the Andre Norton Award! This makes me very excited. It’s actually a career first for me, to be able to have an author nominated for this award. And Guadalupe Garcia McCall is in some very good company for nominees. Whoever wins, what an honor to have Guadalupe’s wonderful work recognized.

*happy dance*

If you’re in the Arizona area, here’s your chance to meet Guadalupe and have her sign your book. She’s going to be in Tucson next month, March 9-10, for the Tucson Festival of Books on the University of Arizona campus. Check out the site for more information, such as schedule, etc. The festival is free and open to the public!

SLJ gives a star to SUMMER OF THE MARIPOSAS!!

We’re celebrating here at Tu Books today, because one of our fall books, Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, has received a starred review from School Library Journal. Our first star as an imprint, in fact! Celebrate with us and get a peek at part of the review:

“Written in the style of magic realism, this is an enchanting look at Mexican mysticism, coupled with the realistic celebration of the true meaning of family. The sisters’ relationships are believably drawn, and the juxtaposition of modern realities and ancient Aztec mythology elucidates the importance of the spiritual side of life in Latin cultures. The plot is well paced, with the illicit nature of the girls’ entry into Mexico adding drama to their adventure. While some readers may find the interweaving of the magical elements somewhat unsettling at first, they are sure to be intrigued by both the unusual qualities of the mythical characters and the sense of adventure that lies behind every twist and turn of the girls’ revelatory journey. As with McCall’s Under the Mesquite (Lee & Low, 2011), this is a peek into Mexican American culture, but its ties to the supernatural add an interesting dimension.”

YAY!