IELTS test in Nepal – March 2018 (Academic Module)

When P took the IELTS test in Nepal, he got the following questions in the Writing and Speaking sections:

Writing testIELTS test in Nepal

Writing task 1 (a report)

We were given a graph showing the percentage of dependent population in four countries in year 2000 and a projection for 2050.

Writing task 2 (an essay)

Nowadays the importance of teachers is diminishing due to increased availability of alternative resources to students. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement?

Speaking test


– What is your full name?
– Can I see your ID?
– Where are you from?
– Do you work or study?
– What do you do?
– Can you describe your job?
– Do you like presents?
– What do you like the most about presents?
– Describe a gift you didn’t like.
– Why didn’t you like it?
– What are the places where children and adults can spend leisure time together in your city?
– What are public transport options in your area?
– What are the problems in transport service there?

Cue Card

Describe a recent development undertaken in your area. Please say

– What is it?
– What are the advantages and disadvantages of it?
– Do you like the idea behind it? Why?


– What is your opinion about using public funds to build sports centres?

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  3. IELTS test in Sydney, Australia – January 2018 (General Training) Our friend S took the IELTS test in Sydney, Australia…
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from IELTS-Blog


Literary Agents of Color: Empowering Authors & Agents to Succeed

Penny Moore has always had a love of books, especially young adult and middle-grade. While completing degrees in linguistics and Japanese language & literature at the University of Georgia, she spent time studying comparative literature at top universities in Japan and South Korea. She then worked as a middle-school TESOL teacher, which is where she solidified her passion for publishing and kids lit in particular.

Penny joined Empire in 2016 as an agent after working at FinePrint Literary. She represents Morris Award Finalist Akemi Dawn Bowman, author of Starfish; renowned Instagram illustrator Beth Evans/@bethdrawsthings, author of I Really Didn’t Think This Through; Nicki Pau Preto, YA fantasy author of Crown of Feathers; hit Instagram illustrator and author husband and wife duo, Chan Lee & Marina Ahn, of Drawings for My Grandchildren; and popular Instagram teen poet, Caroline Kaufman/@poeticpoison, of Light Filters In.

Moore’s brainchild is the new online directory Literary Agents of Color—which includes bios and submission guidelines for around 50 such agents, and growing.

 Can you tell us a little bit about how Literary Agents of Color came about? What is the inspiration behind it, and who is involved in making it happen?

The inspiration came from seeing writers of color on social media expressing their disappointment over how there were no agents of color to query with their projects. But we [literary agents of color] see each other at events and on social media all the time, so we knew there had to be a better way to respond to that need than an individual ‘I’m here!’ It’s common for a person-of-color (POC) writer to feel that a POC agent would better understand the challenges facing them in a predominantly white industry, so the fact that our numbers are few just increases the importance of letting authors know we’re here and we want to see their work.

The numbers are out there: Publishing largely favors white authors and white professionals, and this has even more of an affect on the agenting side. Because of the unique pay structure of agenting (where things are almost entirely commission-based), it can be incredibly hard to sink 5-plus years into building your list and income without a wealthy background or extensive support system. As a way of pushing back against this and building up a support network to retain those agents we do have in the industry, we saw the need for a place that both increases visibility for agents of color and encourages and supports their careers.

The people involved in making it happen have been: Kurestin Armada (P.S. Literary), Linda Camacho (Gallt & Zacker Literary), Quressa Robinson (Nelson Literary Agency) and myself. This brilliant group of POC agents has been key to helping me get things off the ground.

What has the response been so far, from colleagues as well as from writers? Is there any one conversation that stands out as especially meaningful or affirming?

The response has been amazing. There wasn’t [merely] one single meaningful conversation, but we’ve had so many writers and other publishing professionals across social media express how they’ve been waiting for such a site, and what a great resource it’ll be! That wave of support has been incredibly affirming, and it lets us know that the passion is there, it just needs to be organized. We’ve had several interview requests and offers from other organizations to help spread the word about our directory, so we’re hoping that more writers discover it every day.

Your website [currently still in progress] lists two collective goals: To advocate for and protect the interest of creatives, and to support and promote the careers of POC agents. Can you speak a bit to how you hope to strive toward each, and where you’d like to be a year from now?

In the rising tide of focus on diversity, we want to ensure that publishing continues to publish and promote writers and illustrators of color in the long term. In order for it not to be just another passing trend, we’ll need literary agents of color in the industry to keep the momentum up, to keep selling those books and protecting POC creatives’ interests. Of course, that won’t be possible if we can’t keep agents of color in the industry. It’s reciprocal, really—we support writers and they in turn support us.

We’re currently focusing on visibility, just getting the word out that we’re here and slowly increasing in number, and that POC creatives now have a resource to better find us. We’ll also be partnering with the People of Color in Publishing Group to supplement their efforts, as our goals are one and the same. In the end, retaining POC professionals across publishing is the only way to support long-term shifts in the demographics of the industry. Instead of just constantly turning over new hires that quickly burn out, we want to support the people already here and build opportunities for future mentorship.

At present the website consists of a helpful and growing directory. Do you foresee expanding your site to include other elements—a social media presence or an active community, perhaps—or is that central directory resource your primary focus?

Right now we are taking it one step at a time. There certainly is the possibility for more active engagement within the literary community in the future, but we don’t want to rush things. At present our focus is making sure the directory is a solid and complete resource for writers as well as other publishing professionals. Moving forward, we’ll be touching base first with the professionals within our directory to see what would best help them connect with future clients, and then see what other possibilities lie in store. In the meantime, we hope that anyone who has suggestions and additions for the directory will contact us through the site. And please, query away!

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

Subscribe to Writer’s Market to get everything you need to know about selling your work.

The post Literary Agents of Color: Empowering Authors & Agents to Succeed appeared first on

from Writing Editor Blogs –

Extended Interview with WD’s Popular Fiction Awards Winner

Writer’s Digest would like to congratulate the winners of the 13th Annual Popular Fiction Awards. Each year, writers submit their very best short stories in one of six categories: crime, horror, romance, science fiction, thriller, and young adult. The winners of this year’s awards were chosen from over 875 entries and represent the very best in genre fiction. Please join us in congratulating our winners!

For complete coverage of the awards, see the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. To see a complete list of winners and read the first-place winners in each genre, click here. For a selection of advice and inspiration from the winners, click here.

Ami Cameron is a writer living in Vancouver, Canada with her husband, four small kids, and two playful kittens. She did the responsible thing and got a degree in criminology and has worked in group homes, transition houses, and social work. These experiences bleed into everything she writes. Her first novel, Hard Love, is the story of three foster teens that run away from their group home to find the truth about their pasts, and the families that left them behind. This is the first competition she’s entered, and the first award she’s won. Visit her at

Can you write a one-sentence summary of your story, describing it for someone who hasn’t read it yet?

During a Christmas visit to her Grandmother’s, a young girl helps cover up the shooting of her aunt’s abusive husband.

What do you think are the biggest benefits and challenges of writing a successful short story?

Writing a successful short story … it’s a feeling of completion—of instant gratification—to get that story out, start to finish. The challenge is to make the inciting incident strong enough and sharp enough to create drama and interest, and yet be resolvable in a few pages.

What do you think are the biggest benefits and challenges of writing a successful crime story? How does the short form affect that?

 I’m fascinated by criminal motivations, especially when you start with a law-abiding citizen and they turn. A successful crime story for me is going to draw a line in the sand, take the character to a moral decision (no matter how their moral compass reads) of, “This is wrong, this is why, and this is how to make it right.” A form of justice has to be there, and for a moment, the reader understands, and maybe even agrees with, the characters actions.

Writing the short form, you have to build your characters, from the very start, in a way that the reader knows them, knows (or at least can guess) where that line in the sand is, and why. And of course, the conflict and motivation must make sense … and always, always, be believable.

Describe your writing process for this story.

I grew up with a large extended family, and we would meet back “home” every few years for Christmas. My memories of that time are so vivid. I originally set out to write a creative non-fiction piece in honor of my amazing and crazy family.

However, this story had a mind of its own, and evolved into a fictional story of domestic abuse and murder. Once I understood where it was going, it tumbled out pretty quickly.

How did you choose the title of this story? What do you think makes for an effective story title?

I love story titles, and you know when you’ve hit the right one. It has to be powerful, catchy, and intriguing. I hate to admit it, but I pick books based on their titles, and even the fonts! The title for “Snow. Blood. Love.” came a few weeks after the story was complete. I couldn’t figure out what to call it, but I looked at the bones, and there it was.

How long have you been writing? How did you start? Do you write full time?

I’ve been writing since I could string letters together. My first story was called, “Ami’s Terrible Horrible Very Bad Day.” Even at age 6, I was a more interested in the macabre. No happy endings for me! In seventh grade my teacher read one of my stories to the class. I realized I had a bit of talent, and decided I was gonna be a writer.

Balancing life/work/family is tricky, but I write as much as I can. I do schedule my writing time and that helps. It’s all about priorities.

Who has inspired you as a writer?

D.H. Lawrence and Shirley Jackson have written short stories that still haunt me. They’re insanely good! Zsuzsi Gartner has really unique ideas. For my novel writing, I’m inspired by Agatha Christie, L.M. Montgomery, and Dodie Smith … Among the living: Kim Edwards, Mette Jacobsen, Lisa Jewell, and Ann-Marie MacDonald. I study authors who combine strong writing, a unique story, and great pacing.

Which genres do you write in? Do you generally just stick to short stories?

I am finishing revisions on my first novel, Hard Love. It will probably be plugged into YA, but I’d love it if it could crossover, or just be Adult Fiction, because I put my characters into some pretty adult situations. But I just love writing from the perspective of a younger character. There’s so much to discover and process through a younger character’s eyes.

For my short stories, I’m all over the place. What I write is as eclectic as what I read, but I’m passionate about examining psychosocial issues and their trickle-down effect.

Describe your typical writing routine.

My writing time is limited. I try to write in the evenings if I have enough energy. This type of writing usually involves a glass of wine and popcorn.

Then once a week I have a sitter so that I can work undistracted. That’s when I get most of my work done. I grab a coffee, my writing sweater, and get serious.

How would you describe your writing style?

I’m a pantser.

For my short stories, I rely a lot on the initial story spark to take me where it wants to go.

For my novels, I loosely outline via chapter headings, and I’ll do some brief character sketches. I spend a lot of time daydreaming though. The Notes on my phone are full of things I don’t want to forget to put in.

What are the keys to a successful short story?

Everything has to move the plot forward. The inciting incident has to be set up and occur at the right time. The hook needs to be unique. The arc needs to complete and be satisfying.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without in your writing life?

My writing sweater! I have to be warm while I work. A hot drink is also necessary. I just can’t think when I’m cold.

Where do you get ideas for your writing?

Music stirs my creative juices. A lot of ideas come from song lyrics. Art begets art and all that. Just one great line of imagery in a song can stir a whole slew of story ideas. I’m an avid people watcher, and (like every other writer) I’m a shameless eavesdropper. I also spend much of my thought life wondering, “What if…?”

What do you feel are your strengths as a writer? How have you developed these qualities? 

There’s nothing new under the sun. I do my best to stay away from clichés, and try to write in a way that’s unique and fresh. I like twists, I like the unexpected. As a writer, the challenge is to find a distinctive voice, a new angle, a compelling perspective that makes the story worth telling again.

Being a strong writer takes practice, it takes getting people to read your work, and being willing to take feedback. It takes a lot of reading, and learning from other writers. And, it takes instinct. It’s a lifelong journey I think, and I’m just beginning.

What are some aspects of writing you’ve struggled with? How have you worked to strengthen yourself in these areas?

Definitely procrastination and discipline. Writing is hard work. I have to make it a priority, and that can be hard. Life is so full of distractions.

Being in a writing community certainly creates accountability to get your butt in the chair. That’s been the most important thing for me. If you have someone else waiting to read something new from you on Monday, you better show up ready.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Trust your audience! We can all picture how mountains look at sunset. You don’t need to write in every. bloody. detail. Your readers have imaginations too. Trust them. That’s part of the joy of reading.

Also, join a writing group/community. It doesn’t have to be a big group (you want to feel safe enough to share), but get connected somehow. When I began meeting with other writers, my writing hit fast forward.

What’s your proudest moment as a writer?

My proudest moment so far, was when Larry Brooks (author of Story Engineering, Story Physics, etc.) read the first chapter of my novel, sat back in his chair, and said, “Wow … I’m flustered.” Yeah, that was pretty cool.

What are your goals as a writer?

My immediate goal is to find a home for Hard Love. After that, I have three more novels that are waiting patiently to be written. I’ll keep writing short stories too. I love them too much. Maybe I can get those into a collection one day. My goal is to just keep writing, keep getting better, and to always be proud of what I’ve written, whether it gets accolades or not.

Any final thoughts or advice?

Don’t wait for someone else to care about your dreams as much as you do. No one else ever will. Believe in yourself. Be willing to fail. The writing friends I admire most are the ones that have a stack of rejection letters, because they’ve put themselves out there. You’re a writer, and you can only get published if you submit.

The post Extended Interview with WD’s Popular Fiction Awards Winner appeared first on

from Writing Editor Blogs –

James Han Mattson: LGBTQ Literature, Finding Your Voice and Addressing Gun Violence in Fiction

In Iowa Writers’ Workshop–graduate James Han Mattson’s first novel, The Lost Prayers of Ricky Graves, the cyber-bullying of a gay teen leads to a multi-victim shooting. The book turned heads upon its release in 2017 as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, a Publishers Lunch Bookseller Pick and a Kindle First Pick, and landed him a guest spot on NPR’s “Weekend Edition.” Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in North Dakota, Mattson has taught writing at the University of Iowa, the University of Cape Town, the University of California-Berkeley and others. He’s also lent his talents to international organizations dedicated to language and literacy. In 2009, he traveled to Korea and reunited with his birth family after 30 years of separation. Here, he discusses topics integral to his devut novel, including LGBTQ literature and writing about gun violence—as well as finding your voice.

The plot of your debut—in which the cyber-bullying of a gay teen leads to a multi-victim shooting—seems ripped in part from too many headlines. You’ve said it was initially inspired by the 2010 suicide of Tyler Clementi and informed by the isolation you felt as a gay teen, but the book delves into so many complex, hot-button themes. In the years you spent shaping this story, how did your focus evolve, and what was most empowering about seeing it come to life on the page?

When I first started writing the book, I found the rapid rise of social media alarming: I very much agreed with Craig Martinez when he called it a “digital tapestry of unanswered prayers” showcasing an “enormous wall of human misery.” As time progressed, however, my feelings evolved, became more nuanced. I saw how technology could inspire actual connection and evince altruism without geographical limitation, and while my reservations never fully faded, I began seeing digital relationships as an integral and important part of modern life.

Another theme I explored—and one I particularly loved rendering—was culpability. While writing the book, shootings happened so often that time to mourn or ponder flattened to near nothing. Because of this, reactions became everything, and conversations reflected emotional responses, sometimes devolving into blame. Though I understood the desire to assign fault (it allowed us to direct our collective anger at a distinct institution or group of people), I thought because of the rapid succession of incidents, we weren’t having the complex conversations necessary for such a complicated issue. In the novel, Claire, a high school student who kept a distance from Ricky in person but chatted with him online, says that she thinks maybe everyone is at fault and nobody is at fault, and that pretty much sums up how I feel. No single person or institution is at fault, but all of us, collectively in our myopia, are to blame.

You’ve taught writing at quite a few well-regarded schools. What’s the most important thing do you think those studying the craft can do in trying to find their voice?

Finding your voice, to me, means shutting off your voice and hearing the voices of those around you. Writing fiction requires a deep sense of empathy, of imagining the minute details of others’ lives, of envisioning how a character perceives the world and how the world reacts to the character. If you spend too much time searching for some personal writerly voice, you’re missing out on opportunities to hear other realities. The world is made up of billions of constantly shifting experiences, and it’s your responsibility, as a writer, to tap into a few of those to the best of your imaginative ability.

Do you think labels such as “Gay/Lesbian Literature” and “Asian-American Literature” [both of which have been used with Ricky Graves] are helpful in terms of connecting books with the right audience? Or do you find them as exclusionary?

I find those designations a bit mystifying, to be honest. I understand that they help connect a book to a particular audience, but I don’t quite understand what makes a book fall into these categories. Is it simply that the author personally inhabits the category? Or is it that the characters in the book reflect those particular lives? Or perhaps it’s a bit of both? Is Michael Chabon’s book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay considered gay/lesbian literature because of its prominent gay characters? I doubt it’s ever cast that way in stores. But is Chang-rae Lee’s book Aloft considered Asian-American literature even though Asian-Americans play little-to-no role in the book? Probably—simply because the author is Korean-American. That leads me to believe that the content of the book is much less important than the background of the author, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about that. I certainly wouldn’t classify my book as Asian-American literature based on the content (there’s only one Asian character), but I understand as an Asian-American author, my books will probably always be categorized as such.

I’d like to see more cross-pollination; I’d like to see people embrace literature that perhaps won’t personally resonate with them but will enlighten them to a reality outside themselves. I feel this way about cultural studies programs at universities as well: Why, I’ve often wondered, do you rarely see Asian-Americans in African-American Studies courses, and vice versa? Part of understanding ourselves—and particularly our marginalized selves—is understanding ourselves in relation to others and their marginalization, and while we interpret the world through our own cultural and demographic lenses, to promote more empathetic discourse, I think it’s important to be curious about the cultural and demographic backgrounds of others.

What are some of the most exciting things you see happening in the realm of LGBTQ literature today?

The answer here relates to my answer in the previous section. If LGBTQ literature is to be defined as literature by and about LGBTQ people, I’m excited about its increasing visibility, its penetration into mainstream markets, and its multi-dimensional portrayal of LGBTQ lives.

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

The post James Han Mattson: LGBTQ Literature, Finding Your Voice and Addressing Gun Violence in Fiction appeared first on

from Writing Editor Blogs –

Embrace the Power of Imagination: Ashley Hope Pérez Talks Latinx Literature and Contemporary Global Issues

The author of three novels for young adults, Ashley Hope Pérez’s most recent work, Out of Darkness, was described by The New York Times as a “layered tale of color lines, love and struggle,” and was named one of Booklist’s “50 Best YA Books of All Time.” Pérez teaches world literature at Ohio State University and regularly offers writing workshops at the Highlights Foundation. She is at work on her fourth novel, Walk It Down. 

What are some discussions you lead in your world literature classrooms that you’d love to see carried out more broadly in the reading and writing community at large?

For some time now, I’ve dedicated the first weeks of my undergraduate classes to helping my students learn to talk about privilege, racism, class, gender dynamics, colonialism, cultural difference, and other so-called tough topics. We approach these ideas with the expectation that we will continue to grapple with them as we engage with texts and one another. Building this framework provides context for the discomfort that often accompanies students’ experiences as they read challenging texts that call for shifts in perception, understanding and feeling. They aren’t alone with that challenge; over the course of the semester, the class becomes a community. Together, we work to understand our initial responses as provisional and to re-route them imaginatively in light of new perspectives and interpretations. Discomfort is often the horizon of new possibilities; our reading and writing communities would be richer and stronger if all of us were to embrace that discomfort fiercely.

We’re writing in a politically charged time, specifically with respect to immigrant communities and other marginalized groups. How do you see literature—particularly Latinx literature—making an impact on the current political conversation?

Latinx authors have been writing path-shifting literature for decades—think of the work by Tomás Rivera, Gloria Anzaldúa, Helena Viramontes, Rolando Hinojosa-Smith and Ana Castillo, among many others. For Latinx voices in young adult and children’s literature, the Tomás Rivera and Américas book awards have wonderful lists of winners and recommended titles. Two recent favorites of mine are Isabel Quintero’s Gabi: A Girl in Pieces and Daniel José Older’s Shadowshaper series. The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos made me want to remake the world with a ferocity that I haven’t felt since back when I was teaching high school in Houston.

What’s new, then, is not Latinx talent but rather the will to elevate these voices and the awareness that Latinx authors can and should impact broader conversations. Latinx communities have dealt with exclusion and oppression for centuries now, and they house a wealth of wisdom, resilience, resourcefulness and tactical knowledge. Those who care about the recent assaults on immigrant communities and the marginalized in America can find fuel and focus for their action by engaging with what Latinx authors have said and are saying now.

In fact, let’s not limit ourselves to those who already care: When we figure Latinx and other diverse experiences as a given in American literature, we embrace the power of imagination. The reader’s mind rises to meet the author’s, and the result can be a profoundly expanded sense of the world as a place where people of color matter as voters, citizens, friends and lovers. Literature humanizes readers by inviting them to humanize others.

[Online Course: Advanced Novel Writing with Terri Valentine]

Out of Darkness has garnered such wonderful accolades. Is there one particular reader interaction or industry recognition that has stood out to you as the most meaningful?

Each of the recognitions has come with unique opportunities. The Printz has fantastic visibility with teachers and librarians, the Américas Award meant speaking at the Library of Congress, and the Tomás Rivera Book Award foregrounded my connection to the Mexican American community in Texas and beyond—not to mention the fact that it honors a writer I hold in great esteem. Having a book reviewed in The New York Times was a bucket list item I assumed I’d have to wait much longer to have happen.

But the most gratifying response to Out of Darkness has come from the ordinary readers who feel deeply for my characters and connect the struggles depicted in the novel to the marginalization and discrimination that still afflict many in our world. I remember in particular speaking with a young white woman who, through her tears, described how the novel allowed her to feel, in her heart and in her body, the physical vulnerability endured by black and brown Americans in public spaces, a vulnerability that her privilege had previously kept her from experiencing in any personal way. I credit much of the way the novel has landed with readers to the fact that we are finally having a sustained national conversation about racialized violence and police brutality. Readers of Out of Darkness see the connections between present inequities and an often-disavowed past characterized by the systematic devaluing of black and brown lives. And when they are willing to reckon with discomfort, they can turn those connections into grounds for action.

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

The post Embrace the Power of Imagination: Ashley Hope Pérez Talks Latinx Literature and Contemporary Global Issues appeared first on

from Writing Editor Blogs –

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bookshelf: 9 Under-Read Book Recommendations from Literary Agents

We asked publishing insiders to share book recommendations that they hoped more people would read, period. Here is a selection of their recommendations, beyond those of the authors profiled in print in our May/June 2018 issue in the “ROAR” roundup.

Narrative Nonfiction Book Recommendations

My Soul Looks Back by Jessica B. Harris (memoir)

A lesser-known voice from inside the 1970s New York social circle of Maya Angelou, James Baldwin and Toni Morrison reflects on friendship and love in a bygone era of activism, groundbreaking literature and growth.

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety by Sarah Wilson (memoir/self-help)

Already making strides in Australia in advance of its U.S. release in April 2018, this title confronts cultural perceptions of mental health in a way that prompted No. 1 New York Times bestseller Mark Manson to call it “probably the best book on living with anxiety that I’ve ever read.”

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla (memoir)

A New York Times Editors’ Choice book that made 2017 “Best of” lists from The Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly for its portrayal of one family’s rise out of India’s caste system, its India-born author studied physics at the Regional Engineering College of Warangal and works as a subway conductor in New York City.

Adult Fiction Book Recommendations

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly (science fiction)

The first book of this sci-fi spy series, 2017’s Amberlough, was heralded by Book Riot as “Exploring the roots of hatred, nationalism and fascism, while at the same time celebrating the diversity, love, romance, fashion and joy the world is capable of producing.” Barnes & Noble named it one of the genre’s best books of the year, and Book 2 releases in May 2018.

The Girl Before by Rena Olsen (psychological thriller)

“Rena’s thoughtful suspense fiction engages very directly with the disempowerment, violence and abuse that far too many women experience,” her agent, Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret, wrote to WD. “In a time when we’re taking a new, harder look at these issues in our society, her gripping stories provide an opportunity to have important conversations in the ‘safe’ context of fiction.”

The Last Place You Look by Kristen Lepionka (mystery)

Introducing Roxane Weary, a private eye who True Crime Addict author James Renner noted has “little concern for her own safety (or the gender of her shifting sexual partners). The Last Place You Look riffs off Raymond Chandler and Mickey Spillane but finds a way to make detective fiction relevant again, in 2017. I have never read a more confident debut.”

Book Recommendations for Young Readers 

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed (YA)

A Muslim author’s powerful fictional portrayal of a Muslim teenager who experiences Islamophobia in her small town.

[Discover everything you need to publish children’s books in Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market 2018.]

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (MG)

A fresh take on Caribbean folklore that inspired Foreword Reviews to write of the protagonist: “This girl’s got guts.”

Stolen Words by Melanie Florence (picture book)

In this emotional Canadian bestseller, a granddaughter gently helps her Cree grandfather rediscover the language that was taken from him in the name of cultural assimilation.

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

The post You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bookshelf: 9 Under-Read Book Recommendations from Literary Agents appeared first on

from Writing Editor Blogs –

#DVPit Showcases Pitches from Historically Underrepresented Voices in Publishing

With Twitter-based pitch events such as #PitchWars and #PitMad so immensely popular, it’s only fitting that #DVpit has now joined their ranks. Created in 2016 by agent Beth Phelan, now with the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency, the hashtag aims to “showcase pitches from marginalized voices that have been historically underrepresented in publishing.” (Details on how it works— and when the next event is scheduled—are kept up to date at and on Twitter @DVpit_ and @beth_phelan.)

In its short tenure, Phelan counts more than 60 successes in the form of #DVpit authors landing representation and/or book deals—and that number is growing. “I wanted to see the industry follow through on supporting diversity by also giving the money and opportunity to people behind the books—as well as the characters within them,” she tells WD. “Every success empowers me, and I hope it empowers every marginalized author, illustrator, industry professional and reader, too.”

This includes (but is not limited to): Native peoples and people of color; people living and/or born/raised in underrated cultures and countries; disabled persons; people living with illness; people on marginalized ends of the socioeconomic, cultural, and/or religious spectrum; people identifying within LGBTQIA+; and more. Any decisions regarding elibility are yours to make. Authors are not obligated to disclose anything they do not feel comfortable with, and are not required to pitch only #ownvoices work, though that is certainly welcome. (You can find more success stories on the #DVpit website.)

[Don’t miss the Pitch Slam at the 2018 Writer’s Digest Conference!]

Want to Participate in #DVpit 2018? Check out the details below.

In April 2018, #DVpit will occur over the course of two days.

  • April 25 will be for Children’s & Teen Fiction/Nonfiction (picture books, chapter books, graphic novel, middle grade, young adult).
  • April 26 will be for Adult Fiction/Nonfiction (all genres, commercial and literary).

The event will run on each day from 8AM ET until 8PM ET using the hashtag #DVpit on both days.

To participate, you’ll want to make sure your pitch fits the 140-character maximum, includes the hashtag #DVpit, and includes at least category or genre hashtag. Agents and editors will favorite your Tweet if they want to see more material from you. For more rules and guidelines, check out #DVpit’s official website.

Interested in seeing the agents and editors who will be participating in the event? Click here for a list of over 50 literary agents, and here for a list of participating editors interested in non-agented material.

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent – Online Boot Camp

How do you hook an agent right away, keep them hooked, and make the most of your new publishing relationship? In this Boot Camp, “How to Find and Keep a Literary Agent,” you’ll learn how to get a literary agent’s attention through a great submission, and also how to navigate the process of working successfully with an agent. You’ll also work with an agent online to review and refine your all-important query letter and the first five pages of your novel.
Learn more and register.

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ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world.

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

One night in early January, my wife and I were watching Oprah Winfrey accept the Cecil B. deMille Award at the 75th Golden Globes. This quote captured perfectly the essence of the evening, filled with influential stars using their platform to highlight the “Time’s Up” and #MeToo movements. As we watched and admired the individuals taking the opportunity to speak their truths and to amplify the truths of others, it struck me that as writers, we have a similarly unique opportunity—a responsibility, even—to voice our own truth and to help others do the same. The stories we choose to tell are the stories that define us, capture the sentiment of our time, reflect our experiences and ultimately evoke change.

Writer’s Digest May/June 2018 — Coming soon to newsstands | Subscribe Today

Last fall, as heinous revelations began to seep out of the dank recesses of every industry, news broke that a well-known writer we’d slated for a WD Interview had been accused of sexual misconduct. We canceled the interview, but simply replacing this author with another seemed, quite frankly, wrong. Instead, we approached WD Editor-at-Large Jessica Strawser, whose new novel deals with issues of domestic violence, about using the WD Interview’s normally reserved space to make a more powerful statement. Our goal: To turn the volume up on underrepresented voices—voices that have historically been stifled.

The result is “ROAR,” a showcase of talented authors from traditionally marginalized communities making waves in writing, as well as editors and agents who are quite literally changing the face of publishing. Individuals like Kellye Garrett, whose cozy mysteries that feature a black female protagonist are earning rave reviews in a genre notoriously scarce in diversity; Mindy McGinnis, whose book The Female of the Species confronts rape culture in an unblinking fashion; and Empire Literary’s Penny Moore, founder of the online database Literary Agents of Color. Find un-truncated interviews with all of our subjects in this complement to the feature that appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest.

This is not a new mission, but the reaffirmation of a long-standing one: Just last October, former WD Editor-in-Chief Kirk Polking passed away at age 91. “Kirk” was, in fact, a woman—she adopted a pseudonym beginning in the 1940s to avoid unjust scrutiny reserved for females in positions of power. Dorothy “Kirk” Polking was a legend, and we seek to carry on her legacy.

The May/June 2018 edition of Writer’s Digest serves as just that—a vocal “roar” of support for underrepresented voices formerly shunned by industry gatekeepers that are finally getting their due; an elegy for the smothered stories from decades past that we never got to read; and a re-avowal that WD will continue to champion those difference-makers like the ones featured in these pages.


Tyler Moss
Editor-in-Chief, Writer’s Digest

Explore extended features from ROAR, in the May/June 2018 Issue of Writer’s Digest

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Industry Spotlight: Literary Agent Eric Smith on Conference Scholarships

The following article first appeared in Writer’s Digest’s May/June 2018 issue. 

When writing conferences invite Eric Smith of P.S. Literary to join their roster of attending literary agents, he’s usually happy to comply, pending one request: a guest pass, so that he can bring along a marginalized writer from the surrounding area.

“These conferences and workshops can be expensive,” Smith says. “Not everyone can drop $100 on a one-day workshop, or several hundred on a weekend conference. And forget about being able to afford it as a teenager or college student.”

In response—wouldn’t you know it—conference coordinators have readily agreed. And writers have jumped at the chance to take advantage of opportunities like this and other conference scholarships.

Smith puts out the calls on his blog, then weighs responses from interested applicants. In 2017, he brought writers from historically underrepresented groups to events in Pennsylvania and Indiana, and so far in 2018 he’s securing free registrations to conferences in Boston, Minneapolis and beyond.

“In the end, it costs the conference zero dollars. It costs you, the person bringing the writers, zero dollars. It’s a lot less work than it seems for something that has the potential to make a real difference for a writer.”

Enabling conference scholarships is an approach worth noting—both for its impact and for the sentiment behind it. “I’ve been lucky. Others haven’t. It’s a really easy way to give back.”

Learn more about agents who might be open to hosting conference scholarships in the Guide to Literary Agents 2018.

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

Live Webinar: How to Find (and Hook) the Perfect Agent for You | April 5, 2018

Finding an agent who shares your vision for your career can be a challenge, but it’s nowhere near impossible. Many agents are currently looking for new authors they can start on the path to success. Regardless of what you write, there’s an agent out there for you, and this live webinar will help you learn what to look for and what to do when you want to sign with an agency.

Literary agent Carlisle Webber works with both debut and established authors and will guide you through the process of finding an agent. Making the match is about more than saying yes to the first person who offers representation. It’s also about sharing a vision, having realistic expectations, and knowing you’re working with a trained professional (or a professional in training). Learn more and register.

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From CBS’s Cold Case to Kick-Butt Cozies: Kellye Garrett Discusses Screenwriting and Black Women in the Mystery Genre

Kellye Garrett’s writing experience is varied: She began her career as a magazine editor, spent eight years as a Hollywood screenwriter (with the CBS drama Cold Case among her credits) and is now a communications pro for a Manhattan-based media company. Her debut novel, the cozy mystery Hollywood Homicide, was a Library Journal Debut of the Month in 2017 and was nominated for an Agatha Award. The second book in her Detective by Day series is forthcoming in August. She is one of the very few black women publishing mystery, not just now but ever,” Fuse Literary’s Michelle Richter gushed to WD. “Being her agent and getting her books into the world is one of the proudest accomplishments of my career.” Garrett’s work can also be seen on the “kick-butt cozies” blog Chicks on the Case, where she is a regular contributor.

You’re very active in the writing community, and are incredibly generous with your time, helping to found the debut author group 17 Scribes, serving on the national Board of Directors for Sisters in Crime, and mentoring aspiring writers through #PitchWars. Why is that outreach so important to you?

From my freshman year of college, I learned the value of having a supportive community of like-minded people. At Florida A&M, it was my fellow journalism students who also worked on the school newspaper and magazine. I’ve been lucky enough to find communities like that ever since, including when I started my publishing journey. I got my agent through Pitch Wars when I was a mentee in 2014. One of my fellow mentees created a mentee Facebook group so we all could support each other. Three years later, that group is still one of my first destinations when I log into Facebook. Their support has been essential to my success and, more importantly, my overall well-being. We alternate acting like cheerleaders, therapists and sounding boards for each other.

When I first got my deal, I was excited but I was also scared because I didn’t know what to expect. I searched out a community of debut Adult and New Adult authors and was surprised when I couldn’t find any groups. That’s why I created 17 Scribes with a few friends who I met through Pitch Wars so we could support each other.

There’s been much talk lately about the treatment of women in Hollywood, but little (yet) about how that extends to the writers’ room. Can you speak to any meaningful differences between your experiences in the screenwriting community versus those in publishing as a novelist?

When I worked in television, I was lucky to work on shows with a good number of women on staff. Of course, there were still things that shocked me. I remember going to a meeting for women writers at the Writer’s Guild of America and essentially being told, “There’s no set maternity leave, so if your showrunner wants to fire you because you’re pregnant, there’s nothing you can do.”

There’s been a concerted effort to have more diversity in TV writing longer than in publishing, which has focused on boosting marginalized voices and stories just in the last few years with the “We Need Diverse Books” movement and other great things like that. There are programs in place in TV to ensure there’s at least one marginalized voice on staff. On the publishing front, young adult is making great strides, whereas mystery is farther behind—which is probably why I’m so vocal about lack of diversity in mystery writing. I’m happy that groups like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America are addressing the issue.

What has it been like finding your way in a genre that still has such a need for diverse voices?

I know of at least five black mystery writers with their first books either out or coming out with traditional publishers [in the time] since I got my deal in 2016. So I do think it’s getting better. That said, we have a long way to go. When I first met Rachel Howzell Hall [author of the Detective Elouise Norton series], she said meeting a fellow black woman mystery writer was like seeing a unicorn. Sisters in Crime reported that prior to 2016, there were only 69 black mystery writers who were traditionally published—ever. And we have a much higher number than other marginalized groups. Of the five other debut mystery writers I know, none of us are with Big Five publishers.

A high has definitely been the support of my publisher, Midnight Ink. When we got the offer, my editor, Terri Bischoff, noted that she was surprised she couldn’t find a comp title of a cozy with a black main character. (Having loved cozies since I was a preteen, I was not.) Midnight Ink has fully embraced the diversity aspect of Hollywood Homicide. For example, putting my main character front and center on the cover was their idea. They see Dayna in all her #blackgirlmagic as a selling point, which is a dream come true for me.

You’ve received some wonderful starred reviews for Hollywood Homicide and its series launch. Is there one particular take that stands out to you as a favorite?

I’m a first-time author so they all stand out! I was walking in Manhattan when my publicist sent the Publishers Weekly review and I literally cried in the middle of Fifth Avenue when I saw it was starred. Then I cried again when I found out Hollywood Homicide was Library Journal’s August Debut of the Month. (Luckily, I was in my office when I got that email.) If I had to pick one, it would be Book Riot’s Unusual Suspects newsletter. The writer, Jamie Canaves, summed up the book as “Day is hilarious, smart, has a great group of friends—and my favorite part is she puts the amateur in amateur sleuth!” I love it because it captured my goal with the book. I wanted a self-deprecating main character with a group of friends who loved her enough to yell at her for doing dangerous things because that’s definitely what I’d be telling my best friend if she decided to solve a hit-and-run she witnessed. (And I hope my friends would be trying to talk some sense into me as well!) At the same time, Dayna isn’t Veronica Mars. I wanted her to stumble and make a lot of mistakes because—again—that’s likely what would happen if you or I decided to play detective.

ROAR: Writer’s Digest Turns Up the Volume on Underrepresented Voices in the Writing World

Read more from this extended series, entitled “ROAR,” which appears in the May/June 2018 issue of Writer’s Digest. Feel the thunderous reverberations of authors and industry pros working to broaden our perspectives—as writers and readers alike. Plus, learn how underrepresented voices are rising in the writing world, all in these articles:

  • Fearless Fiction: Mindy McGinnis on Rape Culture, Universal Emotions and Strong Female Protagonists
  • Industry Spotlight: Literary Agent Eric Smith on Conference Scholarships
  • Curation & Community: Inside the Literary Magazine Women Writers, Women’s Books 
  • You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bookshelf: Under-Read Book Recommendations from Literary Agents
  • #DVPit Showcases Pitches from Historically Underrepresented Voices in Publishing
  • James Han Mattson: LGBTQ Representation, Finding Your Voice and Addressing Gun Violence in Fiction
  • Mental Health, Feminism and the Future of YA Fiction with Kelly Jensen
  • Embrace the Power of Imagination: Ashley Hope Pérez Talks Latinx Literature and Contemporary Global Issues
  • Literary Agents of Color: Empowering Authors & Agents to Succeed

4th Annual Mystery & Thriller Virtual Conference

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