We are excited to be hosting a FREE webinar series this summer dedicated to those all-important first impressions. We call it “First Page Center Stage.” In this webinar series, industry professionals will provide live feedback of participants’ First Pages (for manuscripts) or First Looks (for illustrations). Each webinar in the series will focus on a single category: PB, CB, MG, YA, and NF. The first webinar in the series will be led by Feiwel & Friends Associate Editor Foyinsi Adegbonmire, who will be giving first pages feedback for middle grade novels on August 12. To find out more about the webinar series and to register, go to https://epa.scbwi.org/events/webinar-series-first-page-center-stage/ and for information about our critique giveaway, keep reading!
In preparation for the webinar, Eastern PA SCBWI’s Assistant Regional Advisor, Kristen Strocchia, was able to chat with Foyinsi recently at our virtual café. Here’s what they had to say!
A Café Chat with Editor Foyinsi Adegbonmire, by Kristen Strocchia
Kristen: Welcome to the EasternPennPoints Café. Before we get started, I think I’d like a pistachio muffin and some ginger-peach-turmeric tea. Would you like something to drink or munch on?
Foyinsi: Thank you, and I’m fine :). I always keep snacks in a basket perfectly located between my bed and desk.
Kristen: Your MSWL bio really gives a lot of insight into you as both an editor and a person. Your love for bullet journaling sounds fascinating. Can you tell us a little about it and if/how you think it shapes you as an editor?
Foyinsi: I’m so glad to hear that! Bullet journaling, at least the way I use it, is basically a method of creative planning where instead of buying a ready-made planner, you create your own using a dotted notebook/journal. I love it because it allows you to create/design each page (aka spread) for your exact needs, and it can look as artistic or as bare-bones and minimal as you want! I love organization but never really used traditional planners, and since learning about bullet journaling, I realized it was because the planners I came across never fully fit my needs. But with my journal, I can keep track of important dates, books I’ve read, expenses/spending, random thoughts, etc., all in a way that makes sense to me. Plus, it can be fun to have a specific theme/color for the month, even though I’m not a good artist at all! I’m going to try to stop rambling now, but I highly recommend watching AmandaRachLee or TemiDansoArt on YouTube to get a better idea (or reach out to me on Twitter because, as you can see, I love talking about this).
In terms of being an editor, I think bullet journaling helps me more with keeping track of what I need to do or submission(s) to read on any given day, especially because I assist two editors along with doing my own stuff. It makes it a lot easier to see my day laid out and plan for the future so that I don’t miss deadlines and such. Plus, sometimes I’ll write updates about certain auctions I’m in and I imagine it’ll be fun to read over those years from now. (Hopefully the sting of losing some would have worn off by then . . .)
Kristen: That sounds like such a powerful organizational tool for a creative. I’ll have to check that out. We’d love to know a little about your journey. What got you interested in children’s publishing?
Foyinsi: Since like middle school, the goal was to be an author (my reason for majoring in Creative Writing & Literature). Sometime during my senior year of undergrad, I realized that my plan of being an NYT-bestselling author by the time I graduated college was woefully off track. (I didn’t have even half a novel drafted by that point.) I can’t remember what made me realize publishing was an actual industry, but thank goodness I eventually did! I’d briefly thought about becoming a copyeditor because I was like, do I know enough about stories to help people actually develop them?? Gotta love imposter syndrome :). That’s clearly not a good reason for pursung a career path, and I also didn’t actually know much of what a copyeditor did, but it seemed within reach for me. Now that I do know more of what they do, I realize I would not have made a good one at all. They are superheroes who catch so much that you never even think about! Anywho, I thought about how I enjoyed helping people with their stories during my workshop classes, so I decided to give editor a shot. I’d always loved reading children’s books (particularly YA), and those were still what I gravitated to, even in college, so I knew I wanted to work with them in some way. It seemed like the logical next step was trying to get an internship in children’s editorial. I always tell people that I’m so glad I loved the work because I had no back-up plan!
Kristen: It’s always amazing how experience can make our core desires more clear as we move through life. I wish I had realized that author was an actual career path way back when. As an editor who leans toward MG and YA, how do you feel about the Upper MG and Young YA spaces?
Foyinsi: I think there definitely needs to be more stories in and about that in-between age of MG and YA, not only because so many people read up and may not be ready for certain things, but because every group deserves representation. I’ve heard it can be a tough market, but that’s not reason enough not to pursue them, and hopefully I can help with that!
Kristen: Thank you for your openness about that tricky niche! That’s super encouraging. Is there something in particular—a trope, an opening scene, a character trait, or a plot device—that you see all the time in your inbox?
Foyinsi: One of the really great things about my inbox is that I get sooo many different types of stories so that very rarely do any begin the same way or use the same kind of tropes in the same way. Probably the most they have in common is usually having a really intriguing opening sentence that’s funny and/or drops you right in the middle of things.
Kristen: That’s a fantastic nugget to reach for in each of our submissions. Okay, a few lightning-round questions before we go.
Lightning Round: Answer in a sentence or less.
Kristen: That sounds amazing! I’m definitely going to have to give that a try. Thank you, Foyinsi. It has been such a pleasure to have you here in the café with us today. We hope you have a fantastic rest of your summer, and we’re looking forward to First Page Center Stage—Middle Grade Night with you on August 12.
Foyinsi Adegbonmire is an Associate Editor at Feiwel & Friends, under the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. She acquires Middle Grade and Young Adult fiction, from contemporary to mystery to grounded science-fiction, and enjoys stories with lighthearted and/or conversational narrative voices. She’s in love with romance and forever searching for fluffy YA contemporary romances that will give the same feels as the To All the Boys series. When not reading or thinking about her very large TBR pile, she can be found watching Black sitcoms from the 1990s/early 2000s and crime shows like Criminal Minds, or obsessing over journals and bullet journaling.
To find out more about our First Page Center Stage FREE webinar series and to register, go to https://epa.scbwi.org/events/webinar-series-first-page-center-stage/.
Eastern PA SCBWI is giving away a free written critique with literary agent Serene Hakim (Ayesha Pande Literary) for a middle grade or YA manuscript (first 10 pages plus 1-page synopsis; fiction or nonfiction) to one lucky Eastern PA SCBWI member! To enter, please comment on this blog post before 9:00 p.m. EST on Monday, July 12, 2021. We will choose the winner at random from those who comment. Must be a current Eastern PA SCBWI member to be eligible. Please include your full name as it appears in your SCBWI membership. If you’d like to comment on this blog post but not be entered to win (e.g., if you are not an Eastern PA SCBWI member or if you are not interested in a critique), simply state that along with your comment.) Materials for the critique are due August 13, 2021. The winner will be announced in the comments section of this blog post, so check back after the deadline to see if you’re our winner! Instructions for submitting materials will be sent to the winner.
And be sure to keep your eye on our blog in the coming weeks for more critique giveaway opportunities for this series!