The Beauty of Rejection, by Julia Walton

You might be sitting in your tiny cubicle, working on a spreadsheet you don’t care about, in an industry you don’t belong. Your coffee has gotten cold while listening to your boss tell a long boring story about her mother-in-law who hates her (with good reason). Then you might click on your personal email to check in on your actual life and your heart lifts for a moment then falls out of your chest as you read. Three literary agents from three separate agencies have gotten together to reject your latest novel attempt because they thought it would be fun to collectively call you a loser on the same day.

But the thing is, that’s not what they’re doing.

They are rejecting you because they do not love your story.

And, in the same way I would never encourage a loveless marriage, I cannot stress this enough: YOU WANT AN AGENT WHO LOVES YOUR STORY.

It really is a romantic endeavor: The awkward encounter through the query letter, the initial phone call that gives you butterflies, and then finally the sale. None of this would be possible if the relationship hadn’t been founded in a genuine love for your work.

An agent might think you are a good writer. They might see the market appeal of your idea. They might even connect with your story on a personal level. But if they do not love it, the chances of finding a publisher who will are not good. That is why rejection is a necessary (albeit painful) thing. It demands humility, but it also guides you down the path to revision if the work you’ve created needs more time to develop so someone can truly love it.

The hardest lesson to learn from the query process was that there were only two things I could control: the writing and my attitude. My writing grew stronger the moment I stopped looking at every rejection as a slap in the face. My attitude became more positive because I realized that nothing was going to stop me from writing.  I was able to keep moving forward because I used every rejection as an opportunity for growth, which sounds like a fortune cookie, but I promise it’s true.

Drink your coffee. Smile and nod at your idiot boss. Write on your lunch break. And do not give up. For me, the patience eventually paid off and I am grateful for every NO I received because it ultimately led to the YES that changed my life.

Julia.jpgJULIA WALTON received her MFA in creative writing from Chapman University. When she’s not reading or baking cookies, she’s indulging in her profound love of Swedish Fish, mechanical pencils, and hobbit-sized breakfasts. Julia lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter at @Jwaltonwrites.



Her debut novel Words on Bathroom Walls is now available for pre-order on amazon.








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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Danielle Burby, by Lindsay Bandy

At last, we come to the close of our exciting faculty spotlights for Fall Philly! Last but not least, we meet Danielle Burby, agent at Hannigan, Salky, Getzler Literary.
Welcome, Danielle!
What’s on your wish-list?
Right now, I would love a YA fantasy that really blows me away. Contemporary YA with a great voice is always on my wish list and I am particularly DYING to take on a modern version of Forever. I’m also always looking for feminist stories and books that push against the status quo. On the middle grade side, I would love something whimsical and filled with adventure.
What’s your best advice for crafting a strong pitch?
A strong pitch really establishes the main conflict right off the bat. I want to get an immediate sense of the meat of the story. I also love to know the story behind the story i.e. why did you write this particular book? What inspired you? What drives your writing? If you can do those things, you’ll usually have me hooked!
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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Carrie Howland, by Lori Ann Palma

Today, our faculty spotlights continue with Carrie Howland, literary agent at Empire Literary.
Welcome, Carrie! What’s on your wish list right now?
I am always looking for beautiful writing and strong voices. Who isn’t, right? But my background is in poetry, so I am drawn to really beautiful sentences. For YA, I’d love a good literary thriller. Think Marisha Pessl for teens. Or even something a bit more commercial leaning, like Gillian Flynn. I do tend to like darker subject matter, so these books really speak to me. For middle grade, and maybe it’s just the season for it, but I’d love a good horror or mystery. The fall has me thinking about a good ghost story! I’m also from Michigan originally, so I always love a book set in the Midwest. And I LOVE animals. I volunteer for a dog rescue, and grew up with everything from rabbits to horses, so if your main character loves animals, I’ll probably love him/her.
What’s your best tip for creating a strong pitch?
Practice! No one sits down and writes a brilliant elevator pitch on the first try. I know I don’t! Write down whatever comes to mind, then edit. And involve your friends. Practice on them! If they’re fellow writers, great, but they don’t have to be. Just anyone who will appreciate hearing about a good story. Really watch their reactions. Do they seem like they’d want to read your book? Have you been talking for ten minutes and their eyes have begun to glaze? Then ask them for their honest feedback! I also think bringing in other writers/readers is a great way to think of your comp titles. Describe your book to friends. Does it remind them of another book, or even a movie or television show? I bet they’ll tell you! Again, it won’t be perfect the first time, it takes some work but writing that strong hook, and using great comp titles will make a huge difference in your submission.
Thanks for all your advice, Carrie!
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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Charlie Olsen, by Lindsay Bandy

Fall Philly is this weekend! Hooray, hooray! I can’t wait to see you all, and meet our fabulous faculty. Speaking of faculty, today we are shining the spotlight on Mr. Charlie Olsen of InkWell Management…..

Hi Charlie!


What’s on your wish list right now?

A YA novel with a solid hook, a confident voice, and tight prose. A graphic novel with art and storytelling that shows the artist knows how to edit—something that distills the noise and detail of the world down to what’s important—and a viewpoint/insights that makes me feel something. In both, diversity is important. I’ve always enjoyed fantasy but there is so much amazing fantasy on the shelves that the core conceit needs to be really fresh. I’m always looking for compelling non-fiction.

What’s your best tip for creating a strong pitch?

Write your pitch like flap copy. You have two paragraphs – sometimes two sentences – to catch someone’s attention when they’re browsing at the bookstore and pick up your book. Treat your query the same. Don’t reveal everything, don’t over-promise. Reveal what’s important. Entice.

Thanks for stopping by, Charlie! We’ll see you soon🙂

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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Kelly Peterson, by Lindsay Bandy

Today, we’ve got the spotlight on Kelly Peterson, agent at the Corvisiero Literary Agency! 
Hi Kelly! Super excited to see you in just about a week! Can you tell us what’s on your wishlist right now?
I’m really looking for YA tribal fantasy, a YA or NA fantasy that centers around a strong group of girls/women, contemporary YA with a story that hasn’t been done before, a slightly unconventional adult romance, a truly creepy ghost story, and steampunk. I’m always looking for powerful, diverse characters with their own stories to tell. I love a strong, quirky central voice, and am usually taken with empowered female main characters who don’t need a significant other to help them become who they’re meant to be.
What’s your best tip for a strong pitch?
Be confident. This is your story to tell, and your voice coming through the pages. I want you to be able to sit down in front of me, tell me your story like we’re having a normal conversation, and let me in a bit on who you are and who your main character is. Remember that agents need you as much as you need us, and many times it’s your quirks and personality that can give us a good enough feeling about you to request more. Don’t let nervousness stand in the way of showing who you truly are and the wonderful story you’ve written.
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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Christa Heschke, by Lori Ann Palma

Our roll call of fabulous Fall Philly faculty continues with literary agent Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis.
Hi Christa! What’s on your wish list right now?
My wish list is in detail on my blog, located at
What’s your best tip for creating a strong pitch? 
A strong pitch is focused, and to the point. You should know your book’s hook, which is generally 1-2 lines describing what makes it stand out. You can use other books as comparative titles i.e. My novel, TITLE, is Gone Girlfor young adults. Or My novel is The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets The Breakfast Club, etc. With both of these examples I get a clear picture of what the novel could be. Don’t describe your entire novel in a pitch. Keep it short and sweet. Get across the most important bits of the story and your characters. Don’t reveal the ending, or twists and turns. You don’t want to spoil the story for me when I read it! Of course, tell me the basics too such as genre, title and intended audience.  
Thanks so much, Christa! See you at Fall Philly!
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Check Out NJ-SCBWI Fall Craft Weekend!

REGISTRATION IS OPEN For NJ-SCBWI Fall Craft Weekend at the Princeton Theological Seminary on Nov. 12 & 13. Right in the heart of Princeton. A jam packed writer’s and illustrator’s weekend with workshops, editor/agent panels, one-on-one manuscript critiques, First page sessions, round tables and an illustrators intensive.
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A Cafe Chat with Diana Rodriguez Wallach, by Lindsay Bandy

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Today we’re hosting YA author Diana Rodriguez Wallach, who we’re lucky enough to have at Fall Philly later this month! Be sure to say hi to Diana in the comments, and hop on over to her web site to learn more about her and her books, too.

Ooh, I just heard the door jangle….she’s here!


Hi there, Diana, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our cozy booth, can we get you something to drink?

Well, it’s fall, so I’ll have to get a salted caramel mocha.

I’m so happy it’s fall…I even decorated the cafe! See? HNNe2T3l.jpg

Okay, now how about a little something to nibble on?

While I don’t like pumpkin spice lattes, I do like pumpkin bread. So break me off a slice of that.

A thick slice comin right up!

First off, congrats in advance on the upcoming release of your Anastasia Phoenix series! Tell us a little bit about it!


The first book in the series, PROOF OF LIES, comes out in March 2017! I can’t wait. I like to think of the Anastasia Phoenix series as The Bourne IdentifyThe Da Vinci Code, and Taken all rolled into one. Essentially, after a wild party, Anastasia’s sister, Keira, disappears and everyone—from the cops to her roommate—believes Keira is dead. Anastasia is the only person who thinks her sister is alive, and when new evidence surfaces, she sets out to follow the trail through Italy—and lands in the middle of a massive conspiracy rooted in history. Everything Anastasia thought she knew about her family may be a lie, and the only person helping her make sense of it all is Marcus, a bad boy with a sexy accent whose own family may be as twisted as hers. Nothing is as it appears, yet Anastasia must believe in one impossibility.

She will find her sister.

Can’t wait to read it! Conspiracy theories + Europe + sexy accents works for me😉

We’re so excited to have you as a speaker at this year’s Fall Philly. What are you planning on talking about?

It took many years of writing, revising, rejection, and flat-out perseverance to get to PROOF OF LIES to publication. Through all of that time, I learned a lot from rejection. So I’m going to talk about getting to a magical place where you can develop a thick skin yet still accept constructive feedback and remain true to your vision. It’s not an easy place to find, but you can get there.


When did you realize you wanted to write books for young readers?

After I woke up from a dream. Literally. About ten years ago, while I was still working in PR for a nonprofit, I had a dream that I was a young adult author, and I dreamt the concept for an entire series of books based on my bullying experience in middle school. The dream was so vivid and real, I decided to actually attempt to write that book. I had never considered becoming an author before that moment.

Ultimately, that novel landed me my first agent, but it has yet to sell to a publisher. Maybe one day. Like I said, I’m big on perseverance.


Diversity in YA literature is such a hot topic right now. Do you have any words of wisdom for writers trying to be more inclusive and sensitive in their work?

My first published novel, Amor and Summer Secrets, is greatly based on my multicultural background; I’m half Puerto Rican and half Polish. When I set out to write that novel, I wanted to create a character who was like me—a girl who had a Latina last name but looked nothing like the stereotype, who didn’t always identify with her roots, but who’s put on a path where she’s forced to learn more about where she came from. So my advice for writers would be this: think of your own experience, your own background, and treat any cultural group you’re writing about with the same sensitivity you would give your own. Then look at your life, your neighborhood, and make sure the faces of everyone you see are represented in your books. We live in a very diverse world, so it’s only logical that the worlds of our characters would be just as diverse.


And now, for rapid-fire favorites! Name your favorite….

Eagles player—Of all time? Brian Dawkins. Hands down. Currently? Carson Wentz. Come on, even Vice President Biden is on the Wentz Wagon.


Snowy-day activity—sledding with my two kids.

Place to write—I go on writing retreats to my best friend’s shore house in Sea Isle City, completely by myself for entire weekends. Last time I went away, I wrote 30,000 words in three days. It’s amazing what you can accomplish with no kids around.

Form of exercise—I do Stroller Strides! It’s an exercise class along the Schuylkill River where I push my two-year old in a stroller while jogging and doing burpies.

Travel destination—Europe. I studied abroad in Madrid in college and have been to many countries since then. Up next, I’ll be in England in November researching Book Two in the Anastasia Phoenix series.

Line of writing advice—There’s only one way to write a novel: BIC, Butt In Chair. So sit down and force yourself to write, even when it’s hard, even when you don’t feel inspired. Write every day.


Thanks so much, Diana! Can’t wait to meet you in just a few weeks!


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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Agent Sean McCarthy, by Lori Ann Palma

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Fall Philly Faculty Spotlight: Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Literary Agency, by Lindsay Bandy

We’re excited to welcome Jordy Albert to Fall Philly this year! Jordy is the co-founder of the Booker Albert Literary Agency, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
Hi Jordy!! What’s on your wish-list right now?
Diverse PBs (and PBs with animals are a plus). MG/YA contemporary/realistic, sci fi and fantasy. I like YA that has a strong romance subplot. I’m also always looking for contemporary and historical (especially regency) romance.
What’s your best advice for creating a strong pitch?
I’ve seen pitches that are rather long (a page or more), so try to be concise. Remember, your pitch isn’t a summary.
Thanks so much, Jordy! We’re looking forward to seeing you soon. 
If you haven’t signed up for Fall Philly yet, just click here to register.
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