An interview with MEGAN MIRANDA – author of both adult and YA fiction

1 Megan, congratulations on ALL THE MISSING GIRLS – your debut adult novel! Can you give us a quick synopsis of the storyline? Thank you! ALL THE MISSING GIRLS is about a woman named Nic who returns to her small hometown ten years after the unsolved disappearance of her best friend, Corinne, when they were […]

Reflecting on 2016

I’ve never been a big fan of the traditional New Year’s Eve. The bonhomie, the yelling of Auld Lang Syne with people you often hardly know, the feeling that if you’re not whooping it up at a party then you must be pretty lame. But I do like some aspects of the year change. Sending […]


I often get asked, “What problems do you most often see in queries and manuscripts?” That’s a big question, so let’s narrow it down a bit and focus on openings. Are there any kinds of beginnings to manuscripts that I frequently see and which tend to turn me off? Yes, there are! Here are six […]

Sarah’s quest

It’s out there. The idea that because an agent’s been around, doing their thing for a few years, then they aren’t looking for new talent, new writers. Not true – or at least, not for me. I always have room for that special new author who sets my world alight. And there’s nothing more exciting […]

What the heck!

What the heck! I agree. What the heck! isn’t exactly a profound philosophy for life – or writing. But it’s as near as I can get to the kind of carefree “Give it a shot” mindset that I love to see in authors. Because that’s the attitude that takes risks, that doesn’t mind giving it […]

2015, the unwritten story

Welcome to 2015, and welcome to Greenhouse! I love a good quote, and this one has inspired my last few months: “Just because it’s never been done, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”* Those words make me stand taller. They fill me with confidence and courage. And they help me to think in new ways […]

The view from my desk – Fall 2013

It’s been a busy Fall. Three conferences and many client manuscripts (hurrah!) have made it hard to find time to blog. But I’ve missed it, so thought I’d do a little ‘state of the nation’. Or, I guess you could say, ‘the view from my desk’. There’s been much food for thought this year. 2013 […]

An interview with Annemarie O’Brien

Annemarie O’Brien’s debut middle-grade novel, LARA’S GIFT, publishes this month with Knopf, an imprint of Random House. She’s currently in the middle of a blog tour publicizing the book, so I’m delighted to welcome her to my blog today and ask her a few questions about her writing career and her gorgeous book. When did […]

The thing about change

There’s been a lot of change in my life over the last few years. As some people know, five years ago I took the huge decision to move to the USA, marry an American guy, and create the Greenhouse. It was heart-stoppingly scary. I had everything in place back in London: a great job, a […]

The Greenhouse Funny Prize 2013

We’ve just opened the doors on the Funny Prize for 2013. Last year was so much fun, and we found such a star in Pip Jones and her young series SQUISHY McFLUFF (pictured celebrating her deal with Julia), that this year we’re running it again, and opening it up to the US and Canada. It’s […]


This is the second in a series of posts in which I share a talk I’ve given widely around the USA over the last year or two. I hope you’ll find the posts useful, and before I begin you might like to read the first extract if you haven’t already: Here, I talked about […]

Guest post from Sarwat Chadda

I’ve invited London-based Greenhouse client Sarwat Chadda to write a guest post for my blog today. This week sees publication in the USA of his middle-grade epic Indian adventure, THE SAVAGE FORTRESS (Arthur Levine Books, Scholastic), which also has a sequel – THE CITY OF DEATH – publishing in 2013. Both books are also published […]

The pounding of hooves

It’s Fall. A new school year. There’s a freshness in the air and an itch to find The Talent. Who is The Talent? It’s YOU! All of you people out there labouring over your laptops, revising and doodling, swearing loudly at the wall and lobbing screwed-up manuscript pages into the trash; talking to yourselves as […]


No blogs from me for a while now (thanks to those who said they missed me!). Vacation, catch-up, a bad cold, then busy with three deals – and counting. Those babies take time and priority! I’ve taken on two new clients in the last month or two and have gone through literally hundreds of submissions. […]

When life throws you rotten eggs … make lemonade.

I shouldn’t be sitting here at my desk right now. I should be making sure my seat back is upright, my tray table is put away, and my bag is safely stowed under the seat in front of me – prior to taking off for London. Seven precious days in my British pad, crowned by […]

You mean I’ve got to write ANOTHER one?

[Please note: since chocolate is a well-known healer of woes in the writing community, this post is entirely illustrated with images of chocolate products. It should help.] For most of us the problems of writing just one book can seem insuperable. First, there’s the basic idea that’s got to be knockout. Then there’s all that […]

The (Literary) Spirit of Normandy

The schools are back, the traffic’s a nightmare, yesterday I wore my first pair of ‘proper’ shoes since May, and it’s pouring outside as I write this. Yes, it’s Fall! And yet my head is still partly in Normandy – northern France – where I spent time this summer. It’s an area I love and […]

Internet perils (especially regarding underpants)

So it seems that the moral of the week (in the US, at least) is this: if you are going to send pictures of your undergarments around the internet, make sure they aren’t grey and distinctly unstylish. I’ve found myself transfixed by this very contemporary, cautionary tale of personal and professional disaster. When we pass […]

The buzz of summer

Firstly, I should say – for the avoidance of doubt – that this photo has nothing to do with anything bookish. I just wanted to give you an image of summer coming; a young Greenhouse dachshund enjoying himself. We have to keep things in perspective, right? Just back from nearly a week in New York, […]


It has been a silent time in blog-land. Sorry about that, but I’ve always taken the view that blogging/social networking has to take second place to the obligations of client representation. How can one justify musing and pontificating in cyberspace when a client’s waiting for editorial notes or progress on their deal? Doesn’t seem right […]


EXTRAORDINARY is a big word today. Everyone wants to be it. Whether that means unicycling while doing the splits on America’s Got Talent, or walking alone around the world, or being the very first person to ride a rhinoceros up the DC Beltway – many of us will do what it takes to be different. […]

A fine line

It can be a very fine line between ordinary and extraordinary; the submission that stands out, that goes on to achieve a great sale – and the one that just doesn’t quite make it. I’m thinking a lot about this at the moment as I start preparation on my speech for SCBWI Florida in January. […]

By the people and for the people

I’ve made a decision. It is time. Time to take back the books industry for the people. Time to produce books by the people and for the people. We’ve had enough of superior beings sitting in New York offices telling us what is going to get published. Now it is time for US to decide. […]

A Kipling moment

It’s been a lean couple of weeks, blog-wise. Too much going on to write, given I’ve had the SCBWI Montana conference over in Bozeman, followed by just two days in the office before leaving crack of dawn last Thursday for a hectic time seeing publishers in New York. All aspects of this business covered in […]

Cheep at the price

I struggle with banality. I struggle with reading it; I struggle with writing it. I struggle constantly with how to avoid it so that everything I write is interesting, crisp, original and effective. I fail constantly, I know. In the week that I became a fully feathered member of Twitter, the challenge is there on […]

Just the two of us

It’s summer time, and the livin’ is easy. Well, sort of. Actually, Julia and I are very hard at work, with record numbers of submissions, lots of interesting projects circling, and, as you know, some fine deals under our belts in the last few weeks. This is a business that never sleeps! But just for […]

Holiday snaps and revision questions

Sarah’s in deepest Cornwall on holiday this week, so I’m taking over blog duty. I thought I’d pose some revision questions to help with any self-editing that some of you might be doing. I’m just back from holiday myself, so as a treat, I’ll cut my questions with some snaps from the Canaries. Does your […]

A peach of an agent

Is this how the agent search makes you feel? Like a rather bruised ‘second’ – a soft fruit just a little past it sell-by date? Maybe you’re even tempted to include a PS in your latest query: ‘Please, please buy me. I won’t cost much, honest!’ Finding an agent for your work must be like […]

The big, big sky of craft

Last summer I ate pancakes with Jandy Nelson. We were staying at Betsy’s, a delightfully eccentric guest house down the road from Vermont College of the Fine Arts in Montpelier. A group of us were round the homespun table, laden with Vermont-style breakfast goodies. I’m kind of rough that time in the morning, but raised […]

HOW TO WRITE THE BREAKOUT NOVEL: Part 2 – Larger-than-life characters

Last week was monumentally insane for a variety of agently reasons, so sorry it’s taken longer than I hoped to write the second chapter of our masterclass series on Writing the Breakout Novel. Part 1, last week, was on AN INSPIRED CONCEPT. This second episode focuses on CHARACTER and is aptly portrayed by today’s image […]

HOW TO WRITE A BREAKOUT NOVEL: Part 1 – An Inspired Concept

OK, enough messing around! It’s time to roll up our sleeves, sharpen our pencils, and get down to business. So have a strong cup of coffee standing by as we enter the classroom this week in the first of a series of (probably five) posts titled HOW TO WRITE THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. These are based […]

In the roll of an eye

Ah, so a note has just appeared in the mail saying it’s that time again. Time to make an appointment with the eye doctor. Perfect – I’ve been having some problems with my baby-blues for a while now, so not a bad idea to get them checked out. You see, I have a bit of […]

The Italian Job

So, it was wonderful. It was better than wonderful – it was full-on, fabulous, up-to-the-brim great, from day one of the Bologna Book Fair through to the final moment of my subsequent Tuscan mini-vacation. In fact, you can see just how great it all was from this photo of me at the fair . . […]

Spring time is Bologna time!

It’s gradually coming back. I can feel it approaching. My mojo is just around the corner! Mojo – aka zest, energy, life force etc etc – and I parted company about a week ago in a storm of sneezing, tissues, DayQuil and thumping headache, mixed with all the dreariness of jetlag after my London visit. […]

The agenting Olympics

Agenting has a lot in common with the Olympics. A sometimes cold and hostile environment, other times boiling heat; a lot of standing around, then you’re off – slaloming your way around poles in the fog or belting round the short track on one skate. There’s the leaping around with shining delight at the foot […]

February is the cruellest month . . . .

Snow! Ice! Madness and mayhem! A-P-O-C-A-L-Y-P-S-E! Welcome to the past 10 days in Washington DC/Northern Virginia. A land of snowbanks four feet high, whipping whiteout winds, strange gnarly icicles hanging like sharpened troll’s teeth. And the slow sliding trudge back and forth down skating-rink streets where only the sound of snowblowers breaks the silence. It’s […]

The short and the mainly sweet

Weekly inspirational blog post: Not written. Reason: Insanely busy. See below. So this photo: Irrelevant, but ain’t it cool! Submissions: Cascading. More so than ever before. Will we always be open to general submissions? Yes in UK. Don’t know about USA – we’re hanging in there for now. Narrowly. What would make that easier: a) […]

Meeting Miep Gies

Tens of thousands were wiped out in Haiti last week, and because of that you may have missed one other quiet, dignified passing. Miep Gies, aged 100, died on Monday in a nursing home in the Netherlands. I have kept half an eye open for that announcement for some years – ever since I met […]

2010 – the year of the bulldog

Deep beneath Westminster, in the heart of London, is a complex of rooms that were a hidden secret for many years. They are the Cabinet War Rooms from where Winston Churchill and his team masterminded Britain’s response to the Nazi threat of World War II. From here, in austere, uncomfortable rooms full of pin-holed maps, […]

What we saw and what we did

So here it is. The last post before Christmas, and the last of 2009. And here’s a photo taken just before the great Greenhouse UK lunch, which rounded off the year in London. (Bookended by Sarah and Julia, see if you can spot the authors in the middle.) With Julia nestled in her remote Undisclosed […]

The Christmas interview

Two utterly disparate thoughts are in my head as we launch into one of the busiest weeks of the year. The first: A gentleman whose work I recently turned down, emailed me back (very kindly) and said. ‘It’s nice to think there’s a real person out there.’ Which reminded me again how agents must often […]

It came upon a midnight clear

Which is the title of one of my favourite Christmas carols, because it perfectly expresses the mysterious, ethereal beauty of falling snow. And fall it did, yesterday. Snow isn’t easy if you’re a Dachsund, so Lucy and The Wee Man [see The view from under the desk] are disappearing up to their axles every time […]

The Skinny

Skinny. What I used to be, but am no longer. Which makes my mom very happy. My favourite jeans. Especially the new Gap cords (excellent with boots). The cappuccino I must remember to ask for but frequently forget. The muffin that is apparently going to reduce you rather than expand you. (What is this thing […]

The good, the bad and the hopeful

I’m constantly thinking of topics I must blog about. Sensible topics, which will be instructional, functional, knowledge-enhancing; the growing toolkit into which you will be able to delve as writers. ‘Ah, here’s just what I need,’ you’ll say – ‘a leaf blower, a power-saw.’ (You’ll understand, of course, that I’m talking in metaphors here.) And […]

Nearly but not quite

This photograph of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken on the way down from the Marin Headland, was judged last week in my very first photographic competition. Judged – and found wanting. The verdict? Nearly Good Enough But Not Quite. Which is a generous way of saying – it was bumped off in the first round. […]

A muffin moment

It’s been a cross week (and more) in the books industry. Wal-Mart, Amazon and Target slashing prices in a bestsellers war (with potentially dire effects on independents who can’t drop prices like that), and now Sears joining in to reward customers who buy from those companies. Accusations at Frankfurt of advance-fixing among European publishers. Heated […]

17 things for sure

There are so many things that I don’t know. For example, anything about chemistry. Or how someone could shoot a sea lion for fun. Or what would be the best solution in the Middle East. Or where the last twenty years just went. So it’s reassuring to realize that there are some things I DO […]

The view from under the desk

I know you all like to be kept up to date with exciting new developments in the Greenhouse. And what could be more thrilling than to tell you that we have a new intern at the agency! He arrived a few weeks ago and here’s one of the very first shots of him hard at […]

A Letter to Anonymous

Dear Anonymous It’s been a while since we were in touch, but this time I thought it should be me who initiated a conversation. Because while we are old acquaintances, I have never before sought you out or told you bluntly how I feel about our relationship. Firstly, let’s refresh our memories with the details […]

Sarah goes to Hollywood

My first West Coast visit, and I’m with Randy Newman – ‘I love LA!’ I headed out west with all the excitement of an early pioneer – in search of film agents, movie makers, blue skies, beautiful people, and all the star-studded cast of SCBWI’s massive summer conference. And was I disappointed? No! Fold back […]

Summer time, and the living is . . .

It is summer, and in the mist of early morning the boat sways silent as a lily pad. It is summer, and the heat fragments me to so many summers past. The filthy shack in Brittany, the silent Rhynnog mountains, the shooting star over a Sicilian amphitheatre. Time concertinaed at the scent of sunblock. It […]

Some things that I know for sure

1 Even a cod can be sacred I must admit that I wouldn’t have been convinced had I not gone to Boston for the first time last weekend and seen the Sacred Cod with my own eyes. For those who don’t know, the Cod hangs in splendour in the Massachusetts state house—and is now, for […]

The heron and the fish!

This photograph may look like it’s a picture of a lonely heron holding out for a fish amid the tumult of Great Falls (Maryland), after a Spring of incessant rain. It’s actually a picture of me (and Julia – you’ll have to imagine there’s a second little heron) watching the Greenhouse submissions pour into our […]

Shooting for the moon

Last Saturday night I sat outside a diner on New York’s 7th Avenue, eating cheesecake and smiling up at the moon. It has been one of the best weeks in the short history of the Greenhouse – packed with progress, excitement, and affirmation that we’re doing some things right and are truly on our way. […]

Living La Vida Loca

‘I enjoy reading your blog because it never lacks adventure,’ said someone who wrote to me recently. Adventure? I thought. Moi? But over this past week I’ve been thinking about it – and perhaps she’s right! Starting an agency, from scratch, in another country, has been the most extreme, exciting, challenging, back-against-the-wall thing I’ve ever […]

Feeling the love

Just back from a gorgeous weekend in the Shenandoah, where the sun shone, the flowers were brilliantly lovely, and I clumped around in shorts and hiking boots taking endless photographs in my quest to master light meters and variable exposures. Come anywhere near me and I’ll bore you to death with shutter speeds, F-stops and […]

The view from my desk

I quite often read about the mystery of literary agents. That to many aspiring writers, agents appear to inhabit some arcane universe, entered only by secret handshakes, coded and cryptic messages, insider knowledge. And that their decisions are unfathomable and capricious, if not downright cruel. A bit like the election of a Pope by the […]

The old world and the new

It’s a good thing President Obama married Michelle when he did, because otherwise one of my two sons would have whisked her away. Or possibly both. Never mind that they are only 22 (yes, both of them) and spend most of their time in London; age and distance are no object when it comes to […]

Up, up and away

I think I’m going to make it. It was touch and go at times, but I prevailed. The fog has cleared, I’ve climbed up the tree and can almost see the plain below . . . Yes, there’s scope for metaphor in the hectic days leading up to the Bologna Book Fair! Some of you […]

All go at the Greenhouse

What do you get when you take one very busy trip to London (including a talk to about 50 SCBWI members on ‘writing the breakout novel’), add an upcoming Bologna book fair (complete with schedules to fix and decisions to be made on work to be pitched), throw in a large pinch of eye problems […]

My life in a box

It was there waiting for me when I got back. A vast, sprawling, filthy tip of mess, piled in heaps around the pristine spare bedroom of my English home. Exploding trash bags of notes from my schooldays; dust-laden boxes of yellowed books; mouldering suitcases stuffed with ancient cards and letters. The abandoned detritus of the […]

Last minute excitements

I don’t know why, but deals always seem to come to fruition just as I’m about to go off travelling. Take today, for example. I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow evening (back August 26) and have done virtually nothing to get ready. The suitcase is still in the basement, the socks are still in the dryer, […]

Home from Bologna

Here’s a travel recipe to have your head flying off somewhere in space: sleep for 4 hours (waking in panic at intervals, sure you’ve missed the plane), get up at 5.45am, fly from Bologna to Munich, then from Munich to Washington DC – seated next to a three-month-old baby, and attended by two evil stewardesses […]