Pitch Fiesta Update: 15 Writers Matched with Mentors to Prepare for the Event

We’re excited to provide an update on Latin@s in Kid Lit’s first Pitch Fiesta. The deadline for submissions was October 3. We received 21 entries and reduced that number to 15 viable contenders representing middle grade and young adult–realistic, science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, LGBTQ, and Southern Gothic.

So, here’s the thing. We had no idea how many entries to expect. I (Cindy) thought we’d get maybe a half-dozen, which the LiKL crew could easily manage to review and prepare for pitching. So, when we ended up with 15!! viable entries, we flashed the bat signal at our kid lit writer friends. For those of you who don’t know, the kid lit community is awesome, and in no time, we had enough people ready to mentor our writers.

Here’s the process: Each mentor has been matched with a writer. The mentor will review the writer’s query and first pages with a critical eye. The mentor will email comments, thoughts, questions, concerns, suggestions, etc. to the writer. The two will work to make the query and first pages as clean and agent-ready as possible. Polished queries will be posted on our site on November 12-13 for the agents’ review. We hope “I’ve got to have it” type sparks will fly and matches will be made between writers and agents! These sparks of love over a manuscript will eventually lead to more books by and about Latin@s!

For now, though, there’s work to be done. Still, we wanted to publicly say, THANK YOU!!! to the authors who stepped up to help! Many are members of the Fearless Fifteeners, the Diversity League, and/or the We Need Diverse Books Team. They all support diversity in children’s literature and want to “pay forward” the help they received on the path to publishing. Below are all of the mentors. Names and titles match with photos going lef to right. If you click on the photos, you will be taken to the authors’ websites for more information.

Cindy L. Rodriguez: WHEN REASON BREAKS (Bloomsbury)

Ashley Hope Pérez: WHAT CAN’T WAIT and THE KNIFE AND THE BUTTERFLY (Carolrhoda Books)

Zoraida Córdova: THE VICIOUS DEEP trilogy (Sourcebooks Fire) and LUCK ON THE LINE (Diversion Books)

Heather Marie: THE GATEWAY THROUGH WHICH THEY CAME (Curiosity Quills Press)


Erin Entrada Kelly: BLACKBIRD FLY (Greenwillow Books)

A.L. Sonnichsen: RED BUTTERFLY (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers)

Anna-Marie McLemore: THE WEIGHT OF FEATHERS (Thomas Dunne)

Ronald L. Smith: HOODOO (Clarion)

Kerry O’Malley Cerra: JUST A DROP OF WATER (Sky Pony Press)

Dhonielle Clayton: TINY PRETTY THINGS (HarperTeen) and THE BELLES (Disney-Hyperion)

Holly Bodger: 5 TO 1 (Knopf Books for Young Readers)

Kristy Shen and Bryce Leung: LITTLE MISS EVIL (Spencer Hill Middle Grade)

Carrie Firestone: The title of Carrie’s debut novel hasn’t been finalized, but she will be published in 2016 by Little Brown & Co.

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Heather-AuthorPhotos-3-WEBSIZE  Kelly Jones  Erin Entrada Kelly A.L. Sonnichsen Anna-Marie McLemoreRonald L. SmithKerry CerraDhonielle Clayton Holly Bodger Kristy and Bryce  profile photo






A New Year = New Goals and Features

Happy New Year, Feliz Año Nuevo, Feliz Ano Novo from Latin@s in Kid Lit!

We’re excited to begin our first full year online. With this new year, we have added features and ambitious personal goals. First, though, let’s recap our last few months.

We launched on Sept. 16,2013,  to coincide with National Hispanic Heritage Month. Since then, we have published 20 posts, which included our “Road to Publishing” series, guest posts, and Q&As.

We gave away 12 awesome books during our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway, and we’ve had more than 4,000 hits from visitors all over the world. Our top 10 countries are: U.S., Canada, Philippines,UK, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Uruguay, Spain, and Ireland. Our single best day was when we posted a Q&A with illustrator Juana Martinez-Neal, and our most popular post overall was about our 2014 Reading Challenge.

The Reading Challenge will be a year-long project. We’ll check-in on our participants and post links to reviews of books by/for/about Latin@s. So far, we have 22 official participants, although many others have spread the word and given us positive feedback. We’d love for more people to join us, which you can do any time during the year.

We were planning to craft a post about why it’s so important to support diversity in kid lit not only in general, but specifically through our purchasing and reading choices. But, then Kayla Whaley did it so well, we reblogged her post. If you haven’t read it, you should. She makes the point so well. We can SAY we support diversity in kid lit, but we should also DO something about it. What we all can do is be more conscious of what we buy, borrow from the library, read, and review/share.

To further celebrate Latin@ kid lit, we are adding a new feature on Thursdays called “Libros Latin@s.” These will be “book talks” of children’s, middle grade, and young adult books that are written by or feature Latin@s. The book talks will include: information about the book and author, teaching tips, Lexile level (if available), other books by the author, and links for more information.

Sujei Lugo, our newest member and a children’s book specialist, will handle the picture book “book talks.” She is also beefing up our Children’s Book Lists with English, Spanish, and bilingual titles. Because of her additions, we have split the category into two sections! We encourage authors, editors, and publishers to alert us about titles we should add to any of the lists.

In addition to working on the site, we each also have personal and professional goals. Here they are:

Yoda WisdomZoraida: In 2014 my motto is “Do or do not, there is no try.” It’s a reminder to myself to do my very best. Plus, wisdom from Yoda never hurt anyone. I’m going out with an adult contemporary romance proposal, as well as a YA urban fantasy that centers around a family of Brujas. If there is time (*has a Jesse Spano moment*) I want to revisit the first YA I ever wrote, about a rebellious Ecuadorian girl who turns her quinceañera upside down.

Then there’s the non-writing stuff: have a six pack (the ab kind, not the beer kind), go to the beach, visit Disney for my birthday, learn to play the ukulele (I already bought one), make more art (the painting kind), and you know, fall in love.

Also, Zoraida’s The Vast and Brutal Sea (The Vicious Deep 3) comes out July 1, 2014!

Stephanie: My resolution is to write a picture book for my daughter.

Ashley: Writing goal: take 15 minutes a day to plant and water seeds for novel #4. Personal goal: cook a wider variety of foods (using menus from “The Fresh 20”). Academic goal:  finish and defend my dissertation.

Cindy: Writing: I will do whatever’s needed to support my debut novel, which will be in production this year! I’ll also revise my second book and get it ready for submission. Reading: I’ll read 12 or more Latin@ kid lit books and as many debuts from the OneFour KidLit crew and ARCs from the Fearless Fifteeners. Personal: I’d like to lose 10-20 pounds, and as Zoraida said, you know, fall in love.

Lila: My resolutions are to finish the middle-grade novel I’m working on, to read 12 or more Latin@ kid lit books, and to lose ten pounds. Guess which will be toughest?

Quote for 2014

Best wishes to everyone this new year! May you reach all your goals and may all your dreams come true!