Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Hannah VanVels of Belcastro Agency

Hannah VanVels is a literary with Belcastro Agency.

She is seeking:

“First and foremost, I’m building an inclusive list with a variety of voices and genres. I love working with #OwnVoices authors, and I’m looking for voices from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds, regardless of genre.

In a nutshell, I am looking for fresh voices and fresh takes in the following categories:

Picture Books

  • Funny and quirky books!
  • I’m a sucker for puns and clever rhymes. Kids want to laugh, and I do too!
  • Family
  • Cultural and family traditions and how they shape us
  • Celebrating the messiness and complexity of family
  • Creative books that pique curiosity and imagination
  • Think Ish or The Book with No Pictures
  • Author/illustrators

Middle Grade

  • Fantasy — Give me a story with a magical school where the MC is a POC. Something with humor and heart and, of course, magic! Stories inspired by myths, folklore, or legends, particularly those that are non-western in origin
  • Adventure — I would love to find a MG version of The Mummy (the Brendan Frasier version, of course). Characters that are on the spectrum, but their story is not centered on that; it’s just who they are. Because characters on the spectrum can fight dragons and save the world too!
  • Horror or paranormal. Give me the ghosts, creepy crawlies, and witches.
  • Animals. I’m a giant animal lover and a total sucker for beautiful emotional stories that involve animals like Pax and The One and Only Ivan

Young Adult

  • Fantasy. My first love is character-driven fantasy (urban, contemporary, high—all of it!). A new retelling of an old trope? A mythical setting inspired by a non-European culture? A reluctant hero who inevitably shouts, “I never asked for any of this!”? Sign me up! I’m looking for strong world-building, strange magic, empathetic villains, morally gray heroes, and subversive fantasy tropes.
  • Thrillers/horror/paranormal. Creeptastic thrillers with a tightly-knit, well-paced plot, clever and nuanced characters, and a twist that readers will never see coming. I generally steer clear of excessive on-page violence. Ghosts, vampires, witches, and the otherwise macabre are very much welcome in my inbox
  • Contemporary. High concept contemporary fiction aimed at all genders. Bonus points if it makes me laugh and/or cry. Evergreen themes: self-love, coming-of-age, girls supporting girls, friendship and friendship breakups, and slow-burn romances. Topical contemporary fiction addressing real issues that teens face
  • Science Fiction. Accessible science fiction. Think Star Wars or superhero movies. I’m looking for a strong grounded story in which you do not need to understand the ins and outs of time travel and quantum physics in order to follow along
  • Young YA. Fiction aimed at younger YA audiences to fill the space where MG ends and traditional YA begins. Great writing is a must. Great character development and an unforgettable voice really drive it home

New Adult/Adult

  • Horror. Dark and devious stories like Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House. Paranormal aspects welcome! Stories that are gothic and witchy.
  • Fantasy. The key for adult fantasy for me is accessibility and intrigue. More Patrick Rothfuss than J.R.R. Tolkien. I am not a good fit for epic fantasy. I’m looking for a well-developed world and magic system with very real stakes. Bonus points if your MC isn’t the typical “Chosen One”
  • Commercial women’s fiction and chick lit. I’m particularly interested in the adventures of twenty-something women navigating the start of professional life after college. Think a slightly younger version of Sex and the City
  • Romantic comedies! A story that will make me laugh and swoon at the same time

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Linda Glaz of Hartline Literary

Linda Glaz, a literary agent with Hartline Literary, is also a member of AWSA, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association which takes her speaking from libraries to ladies teas, churches, and conferences. Linda understands writers, because she IS a writer.

List of specific wants: As well as a timely piece of nonfiction as an expert in your field, if you’ve got a great romance, either contemporary, suspense, or historic, you’ll probably make me happy. Please no works that include any graphic sexuality or profanity. Please no children’s. And any other genre, if well-written, will certainly get my notice. Well-written…well-written…well-written. I’m not choosy as long as it’s …well-written. And please, if you haven’t begun work on your platform (social media presence), you might want to wait to send to me once you have. The most important thing being whether or not I have a place I can take it to. Just because I say no doesn’t mean it isn’t a great work!

Hartline is one of the most established literary agencies serving the General and Inspiration book markets with years of building editor relationships that will get your book in the right hands at the right time.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kayla Cichello of Upstart Crow Literary

Kayla Cichello is a literary agent with Upstart Crow Literary.

Kayla brings to Upstart Crow Literary nearly a decade of experience in children’s publishing. A former Conference Coordinator for the International Summer and Winter Conferences for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, she most recently logged several years as assistant to Senior Agent Jennifer Rofé at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

She is open to a wide range of children’s books, from picture books through young adult novels, and is especially keen to discover unique voices and champion new creators of tomorrow’s classics.

In her own words: “I’ve always been a voracious reader. From the time I could read, I would spend summers staying up late with a flashlight reading, making my way through each Nancy Drew mystery and the Little House on The Prairie series. I would often imagine myself as a new character in the stories; a kind friend to Laura or Nancy’s sassy sidekick (move over, George). For me, reading has never felt like an escape from reality, but rather an invitation to run alongside the author’s imagination, and strengthen my own. Weekends always included a trip to the library with a list of books to check out and back up selections in case my first choices were currently checked out.

“Hailing from Texas, I did not take the traditional path into publishing. After majoring in English at the University of Texas, I found my way to California and into the generous and welcoming tribe of SCBWI. I owe my education in children’s books to Lin Oliver, Kim Turrisi, and Jennifer Rofé, each of whom imparted on me their knowledge of and passion for this industry.

“I may have upgraded from a flashlight, but I’m still on the lookout for those stories that will make me stay up late turning the next page.”