Author: johnmcusick

Agent with Greenhouse Literary, representing children's books and young adult. Author of GIRL PARTS and CHERRY MONEY BABY. Mostly harmless.

Win a Ticket to the WE ALL LOOKED UP Release Party at Joe’s Pub!


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WE ALL LOOKED UP drops March 24th. Now you can win a chance to celebrate with author Tommy Wallach at Joe’s Pub in Manhattan on Friday, March 27th. Hobnob with the y.a. literati and see Tommy perform with his band live on stage.

How you can win a free ticket: Between the 24th and noon on the 27th, head on down to your local book store and tweet a picture of yourself with a copy of WE ALL LOOKED UP, and tag it #WeAllSelfie. Best picture wins a ticket and universal admiration and acclaim.

(Just a reminder, Joe’s Pub is 21+, so you gotta be of age to get into *this* end-of-the-world party.)

You can also buy a ticket here. Seating is limited, so click it now!

Check out WE ALL LOOKED UP on Goodreads. Pre-order now at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Indiebound.

Happy Pub Day to Hannah Moskowitz and NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED!

A few years ago Hannah described to me a new story she was working on, about “a girl who gets kicked out of her lesbian clique for not being a big enough lesbian.” She’s always had a knack for pitching her own work… When I read the first draft I discovered Etta, a girl defying categories, finding the strength to simply be in a world crowded by others’ expectations.

Today, NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED hits shelves…

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From the award-winning author of Break and Teeth comes a raw and honest exploration of complicated identities in a novel about a girl living on the fringe of every fringe group in her small town.

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.HannahMoskowitz_pic

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere—until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca might be Etta’s salvation…but can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

In addition to the many lists featuring this book, today Kirkus also placed NOP on its list of “11 Books That Grab You From Page One,” — of which Hannah’s is one of only three y.a. titles featured!

Check out NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED on Goodreads and order it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound. Find out more about Hannah’s award winning novels on her website.

Moskowitz and Wallach on Bustle’s 17 Best of March 2015

Debuting this month are Tommy Wallach’s WE ALL LOOKED UP and Hannah Moskowitz’s NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. So proud to see them both on Bustle’s

17 of March 2015’s Best YA Books!

Check out WE ALL LOOKED UP (Simon & Schuster, March 24th, 2015) on Goodreads. Pre-order now at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Indiebound.

Check out NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED (Simon Pulse, March 3rd, 2015) on Goodreads and pre-order it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.

Debut Deal for Amy Brashear and her Y.A. Retelling of In Cold Blood

Now, Truman Capote’s classic non-fiction novel In Cold Blood is one of my favorite books of all time. It explores the murder and aftermath of the Clutter family in 1959 Holcomb, Kansas, the search for their killers, and the eventual trial and execution (um, spoilers). So when author Amy Brashear queried me with a y.a. retelling of ICB from the point of view of Nancy Clutter’s teenage best friend, I requested immediately. Today I’m thrilled to announce that haunting coming-of-age, CONDEMNED, will be published by SoHo Teen!

Amy Brashear Author Pic

Greenhouse: When and how did you start writing?

Amy: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I was always scribbling something down on paper. I blame my mom. We would watch a lot of murder shows growing up, especially Murder, She Wrote. We would sit in front of the TV and try to figure it out before Jessica did. I wanted to be a writer like Jessica Fletcher. I wanted to write about murder and solve crimes. I was a weird little girl.

Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. I was in the fifth grade and we had just moved from Garden City, Kansas to Nacogdoches, Texas. My class went on a field trip to Stephen F. Austin University to see a production of The Diary of Anne Frank. I had never read the book before seeing the play. But after school my mom took my brother and I to the bookstore at the mall and bought a copy. I still have that worn paperback.

Growing up I read a lot and that’s due to my mom. She would always tell my brother and I stories. She would always make them up. Though they would often be about us— what we were like as kids. When I started reading on my own I would read the Little House on the Prairie books, the Boxcar Children, the Babysitters Club books, Goosebumps, really anything by R.L. Stine, Caroline B. Cooney, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, and Lois Duncan. I couldn’t get enough of those books.

Can you talk us through the writing of your first book? What were the key moments?

I grew up in Southwest Kansas and knew about the Clutter family murder way before I read imgres by Truman Capote, which is one of my favorite books. I was always fascinated about the case. Truman focused on Dick and Perry but I was fascinated with what it would be like to live during that time in that small town and what happens when everyone is looking at everyone else as someone who could have done something so violent. I wanted to answer the question of what happens if you’re best friend was murdered and your father ends up having to represent one of the suspects. I did so much research for this book. Newspaper articles were my saving grace.   

Was it hard to get an agent? Can you talk us through the process?

Yes. Yes it was. I’m a product of the slush-pile. I didn’t know anyone in publishing. Being published has been a dream for a very long time. I’ve queried many a book. But I guess this book was different. I researched many agents and queried many that I thought would be a perfect representative of my book but I ultimately signed with John, an agent that wasn’t just the perfect agent to represent this book but hopefully my future career.

Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?

I like to write historical fiction so I spend a lot of time researching. I like to read old newspaper articles, looking at vintage photographs, old magazines, anything and everything can make a good story. I write anytime I can. I use the note app on my phone throughout the day, whenever inspiration strikes.

Can you tell us about your next book?

I’ve finished another YA historical. It’s set in 1969. I’m drafting a YA alternate history novel set in 1984 and a MG historical fantasy.

Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?

I know it sounds silly but never number your chapters until the very last minute. Trust me it will save you a lot of hair pulling. Always backup your work in many different places. Trust me. I’ve been there. And even though it’s easier said than done try not to worry and have patience.

Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you’ve developed as an author?

1. Have an outline but don’t stick with it. Let the words take you where they want to go.

2. Don’t be afraid to cut characters during revisions.

3. When you get “stuck” don’t be afraid to step away and work on other things.

Which favorite authors would you invite to a dinner party? What fictional character do you wish you’d invented?

Truman Capote. I think it would be a fun dinner party. Though he’d be doing all the talking and gossiping. But there would be laughing. And I think many secrets would be spilled.

Luna Lovegood and Amy Dunne. Two of the most different but amazing characters ever written.

WE ALL LOOKED UP on Indiebound’s Indie Next Top Ten

WALU front cover finalTommy Wallach’s debut has already made some great lists. Proud to announce today he’s also made Indiebound’s Kids’ Indie Next List! And in some great company too.

Check out WE ALL LOOKED UP on Goodreads. Pre-order now at Barnes & NobleAmazon, or Indiebound.

Two Book Deal for Courtney Alameda

Congrats Courtney! From Publishers Weekly:

courtneyalamedaphotoLiz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends has bought the next two YA novels by Shutter author Courtney Alameda. The first, Pitch Dark, is set against a future of marauding space scavengers and deadly aliens who kill with sound. Publication is scheduled for fall 2016, with the second book to follow in fall 2017. John M. Cusick at Greenhouse Literary negotiated the deal for North American rights.

(For the record, PITCH DARK is going to be *insane*. And I get to read it before allllll y’all. Be jealous :) )

Visit Courtney’s website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

Check out SHUTTER on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Goodreads.

A MAD WICKED FOLLY on YALSA’s 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults List

MWF Paperback CoverI’m so excited to announce that Sharon Biggs Waller’s A MAD WICKED FOLLY has been chosen by the Young Adult Library Services Association for its 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults List!

FOLLY’s already received some great acclaim, featured on *three* of Booklist’s Top Tens. And on the heels of the YALSA Best FIc announcement, Sharon’s debut novel has made the 2015 Amelia Bloomer list as well!

Sharon has a pretty rad “how’d you find your agent?” story, which you can read here. (We had internet kismet.) Her next novel, a y.a. historical from Viking Books, is due out next winter.

Meanwhile, you can find Sharon at her website, on Facebook, and on twitter.

Check out the critically acclaimed A MAD WICKED FOLLY on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Goodreads.

Congrats Sharon!

Happy Pub Day! Interview with Courtney Alameda, author of SHUTTER

Happy Pub Day to Super-Writer Courtney Alameda, whose debut y.a. SHUTTER is out today!

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I met Courtney three years ago at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers conference in Utah. There I was fortunate enough to read a ten page sample of SHUTTER and meet with Courtney for a critique.

And you know what? I loved her and her writing so much, I signed her in the room.

Well…sort of. I offered representation in the room. And told her to think about it. Because it’s a big decision.

Then the next day…I signed her in the room.

(Actually the paperwork took a few weeks but YOU GET THE IDEA.)

SHUTTER”S on all sorts of most-anticipated lists for 2015 (including B&N and Huffington Post), and just today on Bustle’s 15 of February 2015’s Best YA Books to Get You Through the Snowy, Cold Weather.

Seriously, if you’re a horror fan, go and buy SHUTTER now (on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indiebound, for instance). And while you’re waiting for it to download, check out Courtney’s piece, today at Tor.com:
Everything I Needed to Know About Writing Monster Horror I Learned from Alien. 

Courtney_Author_Photos2013_032_thumbGHL: When and how did you start writing?

COURTNEY: When I was a child, storytelling came as naturally as breathing, and I had a penchant for both expository and creative writing as an adolescent. However, I didn’t start writing regularly until college, where I discovered YA literature quite by accident.

I don’t recall what I was actually looking for, wandering in the university library that day—but I stumbled into the children’s section and blinked stupidly. Children’s literature? In a university library? My classics-saturated brain couldn’t comprehend the explosion of colorful spines in all different shapes and sizes, picture books heaped beside the novels, their titles bouncy and enticing. But a copy of Garth Nix’s SABRIEL stuck an inch too far off one of the shelves, catching my attention. Something about the girl with the bells on the cover beckoned to me; or more likely, the shadowy creature behind her sank its claws into my imagination. I took SABRIEL home, read it in one sitting, and swore I’d found my calling. I’d always planned on writing dark fantasy/horror for adults, but Nix’s work gave me permission to write it for young people, too.

I also swore to myself that, in ten years’ time, I’d have a book deal of my own—and most everything I did for those years was in pursuit of that goal, including writing every day.

Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you? Who were your childhood storytelling heroes?

The first novel that made a significant impact on me was Michael Crichton’s JURASSIC PARK. I was eight, and the moment I finished it, I turned right back to the beginning and read it again. It gave me the confidence to try other novels, including J.R.R. Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS (at age ten), and Stephen King’s THE STAND (at twelve). I believe these works fused in my subconscious and created the foundation for the writing I do today—one part thriller, one part horror, with a dash of fantasy. (Though I do wish those authors were not also all white, male, and two-thirds dead!)

On rare occasion, children’s works like Robin McKinley’s THE BLUE SWORD and Patricia C. Wrede’s DEALING WITH DRAGONS made it into my hands, head, and heart. To be honest, McKinley and Wrede may have been the only children’s authors I read by choice before my discovery of SABRIEL! I have always been drawn to strong female leads, and I attribute that affinity to McKinley’s Harry Crewe and Wrede’s Princess Cimorene. And if I had to name a forerunner for my protagonist, Micheline, I would certainly point straight to teen girl warriors like McKinley’s Harry or Nix’s Sabriel.

Can you talk us through the writing of your first book? What were the key moments?

My process is organic, with plots marked only by waypoints stretching from beginning to denouement. I ask my characters to design their own destinies and don’t tell them how to get from one point to the next; ergo, when the writing’s going well, characters’ choices often shatter my preconceived waypoints to build up their own.

SHUTTER was no exception: I threw out two or three drafts of the novel before Micheline accidentally called herself a Helsing, and her world and woes came spilling out so rapidly I hardly kept up with her. These accidental moments are the most inspiring—and frightening—part of my process. I can’t count on the happy accidents, but can only hope the “cock-eyed creative genius assigned to my case*” tosses a bread crumb my way, and that I’m present enough to catch that crumb and run with it.

MeandCourtneyWas it hard to get an agent? Can you talk us through the process?

Yes and no. Yes, because I refused to submit my work until I thought it worthy of an agent’s time and consideration—I wrote for years without submitting anything. Patience is one of my stronger suits. No, because I’d never even sent a query letter upon meeting (the Amazing—yes, he deserves a capital letter) John Cusick at the 2012 Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Conference. You can imagine my shock when he offered me representation!

I couldn’t have been luckier, because not only is John an awesome agent, but when I said, “I like weird monsters,” he asked, “Ever played SILENT HILL?” And right then and there, I knew there wasn’t anyone else who could represent my work the way John would.

Describe your writing day. Where do you write? How do you organize your time? Where do you look for inspiration?

Day? My best writing comes out between the hours of eleven p.m. and four a.m., when the world (and the internet) is quiet and my cock-eyed genius is loud and caffeinated. I shut everything out while I work, blocking auditory distractions with headphones. Working alone and completely disconnected is a must if I want to get anything substantial done.

As for inspiration: I believe life experiences make the best pulp for fiction, and in order to create dynamic characters, writers must live dynamic lives. I aim to do something frightening every day. Also, I find the adage “you are what you eat,” applies to my creative life in regards to the media I consume. Books, music, documentaries, videogames, art, news stories, graphic novels—everything gets tossed into the primordial fires of my subconscious. As for what emerges, well…it usually has teeth.

Can you tell us about your next book?

Suffice to say I’m writing a first draft, have already had one false start, and am working toward a crumb big enough to run with!

tumblr_nilnqxG09O1qm7imdo1_500Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?

Just this—aspiring writers should write every day, even if it’s just a few sentences scribbled down before collapsing in bed. Writing every day allows “the child in the cellar**” of your creative subconscious to breathe and stretch. Leave her cooped in the dark too long and she suffocates, taking your work with her.

And to quote Churchill: “Never, never, never give up.”

Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you’ve developed as an author?

Hands-down, peer critiquing has been the most important aspect of my development. Nothing has helped my hone my skills as has the careful, sensitive critique of another writer’s work. Also, having the opportunity to listen to how other readers interpret—and misinterpret—unfinished manuscripts has always been illuminating and an education in itself.

Secondly, the active deconstruction of published novels taught me what professional writing looks like, from big things like theme down to the word-by-word nitty-gritty. I have a few authors who consistently provide excellent fodder for this process—Maggie Stiefvater for characterization and beats, Holly Black for magic systems and tight plotting, Rick Yancey for lush prose and symbolism, and Neal Shusterman for voice.

Finally, nothing could replace the act of sitting down every day to write. Nothing.

Which favorite authors would you invite to a dinner party? What fictional character do you wish you’d invented?

I should say something brilliant like Michael Chabon, Cormac McCarthy, or Neil Gaiman, but really, I want a chance to shake Garth Nix’s hand and tell him thank you. And if I had to choose one character to wish to have invented, it would be his Sabriel.

*Elizabeth Gilbert, Your Elusive Creative Genius, TED 2009
**Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, Anchor 1995

Visit Courtney’s website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook. You can also check out SHUTTER on Goodreads.

SHUTTER on Epic Reads 15 Most Anticipated

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Congrats to Courtney Alameda, whose debut SHUTTER (Feiwel & Friends, February 3rd) is on Epic Reads’s 15 Most Anticipated YA Books Publishing in February!

Visit Courtney’s website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook.

Check out SHUTTER on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Goodreads.