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 […]

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 […]

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 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 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 […]

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 […]

The things I love about Adele

There are a few ways in which the singer Adele and I are similar. We both come from the London area. We both like to sing. We are both female. There are more ways in which we are not similar. She won 6 Grammys the other night. She is currently one of the most feted […]

Welcome to 2012

Happy New Year to you all, and here’s wishing you everything you wish yourselves in 2012. Sorry for the long blog silence. Just before Christmas I went down with the worst cold I’ve had in years, which turned into bronchitis once I got back to London for the holidays. Incredibly annoying, as I felt too […]

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 […]

My Life in the Spotlight: Part 2

It’s taken me more than two and half years to return to this theme – first visited in My Life in the Spotlight: Part 1, posted on October 11, 2008. Sadly, because of the way this blog is set up, I can’t directly link to the earlier post, but you can find it easily via […]

Keeping it positive

It’s been a crazy Spring – tons of travel, arguably too many conferences (despite all three being very good), and a succession of deals coming from the Greenhouse both at home and abroad. It’s all great, we are awash with opportunity, but it’s taken a toll on blogging. I’m very happy to have a period […]

Welcome to the adventure

I love New Year! It’s a long look from a great height. A journey up an unknown river. A flower about to unfurl. At New Year, anything can happen – it’s all to play for, all to risk! A large Post-It note has just been stuck on my family bulletin board. I bet you’ve all […]

Have yourself a merry little Christmas!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Here in Virginia the snow is just the right amount to be pretty and festive, without going crazy (though a lot more is coming!). The sky is blue and the air crisp. The turkey is purchased and chilling out with a mighty pile of sprouts and spuds. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Through my eyes . . .

It’s 6.15 – still early, but too many ideas and things to do, and I’ve lost all taste for languishing. A quick cup of coffee, a glance at the Washington Post. (Go on, guys, just bail us out, stimulate us – before the blood of more publishers stains our words.) On with an ancient pair […]

There ain’t no Don – without a John!

You can learn a lot of things from an Inauguration. Things like the unique wonder of the Constitution. The colourful weave of centuries of history. The truth that you can usually reach your destination in the end – if you try hard enough, and wait long enough. And that life is big and amazing, and […]

Life’s rich tapestry

Welcome to my very first blog of 2009 – and welcome to the Greenhouse. If you haven’t visited us before, I do hope you’ll continue to drop in and enjoy keeping up with news of the agency, which now enters its second year – after a fairly storming start. But first, I have some very […]

My Life in the Spotlight: Part I

The case is black and heavy. I snap open the catches and raise the lid. There it is – my old friend; the sweetest guitar you ever will see. The golden wood is satin under my fingers, the piney aroma still magical. I pick it up, lay it across my legs, and my left hand […]

4 of the best

There are good reasons why I normally do a blog post on Saturday nights – because if I don’t, it just doesn’t happen once the week gets underway. And this week is especially busy, with lots of reading, a submission, contractual stuff, and thinking towards (a.k.a. worrying about/prevaricating) the various upcoming speeches, on both continents, […]

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 […]

Ode to a tea shop

On Friday I had a sudden strong urge to jack it all in and run a tea shop. Let me explain. ‘Running a tea shop’ is British shorthand for considering a change of career. Because somewhere, in the recesses of most of our minds, is the notion of skipping away into a bucolic setting, acquiring […]

OK, so go ahead and laugh

Well, I thought I’d give you all something to grin about at the start of your day, whether it is spent glued to a corporate chair or hard at work on the manuscript which you hope will change your life. There was once a literary agent who had various anxieties in her life: the biggest […]

The Mini Cooper School of Writing

So I’m safely back at my desk, with 14,672 submissions to read and an inbox that’s emitting radioactive sparks (actually, just kidding about the number of submissions: it’s really 14,671). One email, however, has particularly stuck in my mind, and I’m hoping my correspondent won’t mind me mentioning it (in the interests of the Higher […]

Because reading can change a life

There was a fascinating article in the Washington Post this week – the author (appropriately enough, Thomas Washington) an upper-school head librarian in nearby McLean. Quoting the usual dire statistics about literacy and reading (less than a third of 13 year olds are daily readers; the percentage of ‘non-readers’ at age 17 has doubled in […]