Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for September, 2009

Interview with agent Holly Root

Today my special guest is agent Holly Root from the Waxman Literary Agency.

Shelley: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you become an agent?

Holly: I actually had no idea that “agent” was a job until after I’d already landed in publishing. When I moved to New York I knew I was interested in trying something a little different than the editorial work I’d been doing, and that led me to make my way to the agency side. Agency work allowed me to work with authors shaping their books but also shaping their careers.

Shelley: What are the most recent books you’ve sold?

Holly: This summer was busy with renewing contracts for clients at Pocket, Grand Central, Harlequin and elsewhere, and that’s always fun, seeing an author’s series continued. I have some great debut fiction heading out on submission soon too.

Shelley: You’re going on holiday. What books do you take with you for your reading pleasure?

Holly: If I were leaving tomorrow I’d take the four books at the top of my TBR pile, and these are books everyone should read: Jennifer Weiner’s Best Friends Forever, Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl, Malinda Lo’s Ash and James Dashner’s The Maze Runner. Unfortunately there are no holidays planned soon!

Shelley: A query letter is very important these days. What mistakes or problems do you see in the query letters you receive?

Holly: Most are just not quite ready for prime time—clear first drafts, or letters that lay out the entire plot to less than stirring effect. I also see many letters that say, “Writing this was very therapeutic.” I find most authors feel that way, but it doesn’t affect the market appeal of the work so it doesn’t belong in your query.

Shelley: How would you describe your ideal client?

Holly: Crazy talented as a writer, thoughtful as a person, and cool-headed enough for the wild ride we’re about to go on together. Ideally we’d also have similar communication styles; nothing is harder than working on a subjective endeavor like fiction with someone who doesn’t speak your language editorially.

Shelley: Do you offer editorial advice for your clients?

Holly: Yes. We do at least some editing before every submission. Once there’s an editor involved, I defer to that person so as not to have extra voices whispering in the author’s ear while writing, but I am always available for advice, even if the advice is just “write it and see.”

Shelley: A lot of aspiring authors struggle with high concept and the fact agents and editors are looking for a high concept in submissions. What is your advice to writers with regard to high concept and how would you define it?

Holly: I actually did a blog post on just this question, so I’ll refer readers here:

Shelley: For authors who live outside America, one problem that comes up is setting. Is a US setting necessary or does it depend on the genre?

Holly: That’s an excellent question. For contemporary genre fiction I think a setting outside of America is a bit tougher sell, but of course historicals (mystery, romance, general fiction) have often, even primarily been set outside our borders. If you’re in the more upmarket fiction market there’s more openness to settings beyond the US as well.

Shelley: What is your best craft tip for aspiring authors wanting to submit to an agent?

Holly: 90% of writing is rewriting. I don’t know that it ever gets easier, but I know that the more you learn to self-edit and polish, the stronger you’ll be at those skills.

Shelley: Thank you very much, Holly!

For more information about the Waxman Literary Agency, and up-to-date details of genres they represent or would like to see in the future, check out their website and blog.

Scootin’ Along

When we were in Phuket the first thing we noticed was the large number of bikes and scooters. They were a very popular mode of transport and it was a common sight to see the entire family–father, mother and two kids–all loaded up on the bike and scootin’ off to their destination.

Students used them to travel to school. Parents picked up their kids after school. Workers used them to travel to work. I even saw a man and his dog off to conduct their business with the dog calmly sitting on the front. They even ride them when it rains, wearing cheap blue raincoats to keep off the worse of the water. The parking areas were always full of bikes.

Bikes and scooters are also popular in many of the Pacific Islands and you’ll see some quite large people squeezed on them, their bodies sort of overflowing…

Here are some of the photos I took while in Phuket.


Father and daughter on bike


Mother, father and daughter.


Modified bikes for trade.


Bikes for hire.


Pretty Pink!

Have you ridden a bike/scooter?

Newsflash: Tomorrow I have an interview with agent Holly Root from the Waxman Literary Agency. I hope you’ll stop by and visit.

Seeing Stripes

Camera Critters

These are both older photos taken during our overland trip through Africa. They’re scanned, hence the black around the edge of the photos.


Zebra and Wildebeest in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania


Zebra, Zimbabwe.

To visit other Camera Critters go here.

Fake Friends

I always find intriguing human interest stories when I buy the New Zealand Herald, and the one I found this week has given me some great ideas for a new plot.

The story is about young professional people in Japan. They’re so busy working that they don’t have time to make friends. The new trend is to hire actors or fake friends to fill out party numbers and make themselves look popular. When a man or woman is getting married, and they don’t have a large family, they hire people to swell family numbers. Here’s a link to the story in the Telegraph.

Our Prime Minister John Key is currently in New York for the United Nations summit. Today he’s been on Letterman and he also rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange. I really like our Prime Minister. He’s very down to Earth and has a real gift for chatting to people. He’s also doing a good job.

Do you think you’d ever hire fake friends? Did you see our Prime Minister on the telly?

Telling Titles

Thursday Thirteen

After a long break, I’ve started reading category romances again. I’ve been enjoying the Blaze, Presents and Desire lines. I know some people scoff at the titles, but I have to say it’s a quick way of knowing which classic plots a book contains without having to read the blurb. I can grab them off the shelf and think – yeah, I’ll like that one, and have them in my shopping basket so quickly no one notices! :grin:

Here’s a list of some of the Desire titles I’ve been reading…

Thirteen Desire Baby Titles

1. One Night, Two Babies (Silhouette Desire) by Kathie DeNosky

2. Claiming King’s Baby (Silhouette Desire) by Maureen Child

3. The Oilman’s Baby Bargain (Silhouette Desire) by Michelle Celmer

4. Billion-Dollar Baby Bargain (Silhouette Desire) by Tessa Radley *

5. The Magnate’s Baby Promise (Silhouette Desire) by Paula Roe *

6. Having the Billionaire’s Baby (Silhouette Desire) by Sandra Hyatt *

7. Valente’s Baby (Silhouette Desire) by Maxine Sullivan *

8. Secret Baby, Public Affair (Silhouette Desire) by Yvonne Lindsay *

9. The Tycoon’s Pregnant Mistress (Silhouette Desire) by Maya Banks

10. Quade’s Babies (Silhouette Desire) by Brenda Jackson

11. Baby Bequest (Silhouette Desire) by Robyn Grady *

12. Pregnant On The Upper East Side? (Silhouette Desire) by Emilie Rose

13. Baby Benefits (Silhouette Desire) by Emily McKay

Note: All the authors marked with a * come from Australia or New Zealand.

What do you think of these descriptive titles? Like them or hate them?

Wakey, Wakey!

I’ve had problems sleeping recently. I go to bed tired, read a little and go to sleep only to wake up in the early hours of the morning. I lie awake for ages, tossing and turning. I must have fallen asleep at some stage this morning only to have the birds wake me again. BTW – what do they have to be so chirpy about at that ungodly hour of the morning?

I’ve spent all day yawning, which isn’t exactly an attractive look.

Do you have problems sleeping? How do you make sure you get a good night’s sleep?

Bird’s Nest Soup

While we were in Phuket we did a day trip to PhiPhi Island and motored past PhiPhi Lei shown in the photos below. The locals harvest the bird’s nests to make the famous bird nest soup. The nests are made by swifts using saliva and you can see them hanging down from the cave ceilings.



The soup supposedly has many health properties such as aiding digestion and improving the immune system. Here’s a link to a recipe for the soup.

I’ve never tried bird’s nest soup, and I’m not sure I want to. It’s meant to be a gelatine-like substance and is full of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Have you ever tasted Bird’s Nest soup?

Animals: Custer State Park

Camera Critters

Today I’m posting two shots I took during our visit to Custer State Park in South Dakota. The first is a praire dog and the second is of a wild burro. The burros were released by miners once they were no longer required. This park also boasts the largest free-roaming herd of buffalo in the US.

Prairie Dog


To visit other Camera Critters go here.

Cattle Call

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Breeds of Cattle

1. Charolais – a very old breed from France. Animals are cream or white in color.

2. Angus – an English breed. Black in color.

3. Brahman – Very hardy and adaptable cattle. Hair color varies from light grey to red or black. The animal’s dark skin acts as a filter to the sun and this makes it suitable for the hot areas in the USA.

4. Hereford – one of my favorites with their white head and red bodies. They are an English breed, are docile with a high fertility rate and good mothering skills.

5. Limousin – a very old breed originating in France. They’re very hardy. They come in red to gold shades.

6. Maine Anjou – Another French breed. They are large animals, well-muscled animals with red coats.

7. Shorthorn – this is the breed my father had when we were growing up. They’re an English breed and can be red, white or roan (sort of a speckled mixture). They’re quiet and easy to handle.

8. Simmental – They can be traced back to Switzerland. They are a large, docile breed and are red and white or gold and white.

9. Texas Longhorn – It’s an American breed that traces its origins back to the first cattle imported into the country. They have massive horns and come in lots of different colors.

10. Scottish Highland – a breed that originates in Scotland. They have shaggy coats to keep them warm, horns and come in red, black or blonde. I have it on good authority that they’re good to eat.

11. Belgian Blue – They come from Belgium and are primarily milking cows. Their colors range from white, blue-roan to black. The breed is well-known for its impressive muscling.

12. Galloway – A Scottish breed. They are mainly black and have a soft and wavy coat, which serves to protect it from wind and rain. It’s a maternal and hardy breed, naturally lean and an excellent forager.

13. Murray Grey – this breed developed in Australia and are grey in color. They are maternal and good milkers. The calves are small at birth and the breed is known as a docile one.

My father has a house cow called Donna. Donna is big and black and comes when my father calls her. She likes to eat carrots and if you’re not quick feeding her, she slimes you with her tongue. It’s also not good to have carrots in hand when she comes running. A fence between is a good idea. My father says that sometimes when he’s milking her (by hand) she’ll turn around and lick him on the face.

I have milked a cow before – it was one of our jobs when we were kids. I was very slow and the cow would grow impatient and start kicking at the bucket. My brother and sister were better at the job and took over, delegating a different job to me.

Have you ever milked a cow by hand? If not, would you like to try?

Cabin Fever!

I have a special guest today–Alisha Rai who is celebrating the release of her new book Cabin Fever. Like many writers Alisha is an avid reader and this started her journey to published author. Today she’s talking about weather, seasons and yummy treats. I definitely want to try this recipe!


I recently moved to the Midwest from Florida, where one of my chief complaints was the utter lack of seasons. Yeah, sunshine is awesome, but after a few years of nonstop heat and humidity (and sometimes hurricanes, but for the sake of my remaining property value, I’m not going to bring that up again), I found myself starting to long for some cool weather.

Let’s not get crazy. As fond as I am of the time I lived in Buffalo, I’m not exactly chomping at the bit to experience that kind of a winter again. But right now, the weather’s going through that lovely shift from summer to fall. There are too many wonderful things that make this time perfect for me: the cool mornings, the colors of the changing leaves, the slight smell of smoke in the air…and the flavors.

Heck, yes. The flavors of fall. It’s a full section in my recipe box. September’s here, people! It’s socially acceptable to eat pumpkin pie! Not to mention a whole bunch of other tasty things which just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, even as the weather turns chillier.

So what’s cozier than a good cup of hot cocoa? To keep my hero and heroine warm—not that they really needed help—I featured the following drink in my new release, Cabin Fever.

By the way, the name of the drink is, you guessed it: Cabin Fever. Because I’m just that big of a nerd. I can’t help it, I must sprinkle corny, obscure inside jokes into my stories. Forgive me.

One shot of Baileys
One shot of crème de menthe
Whipped cream
Cup of hot chocolate (or to taste)

Mix the Bailey’s and crème de menthe, pour in the hot chocolate and stir. Garnish with whipped cream, shaved chocolate and a cherry. Enjoy and stay warm!

Alisha Rai
Cabin Fever Now Available!

Do you have any questions for Alisha? Do you like to have different seasons? Do you like the change of seasons? Do you like a kick to your hot chocolate?