Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Madison Moore of Albert Whitman Books

Madison Moore is an editor with Albert Whitman Books.

Madison is an artist, writer, and editor. She’s a graduate of the University of Chicago. Her first book, More Than Just a Game: The Black Origins of Basketball​, is publishing in 2021, followed by Bonnie’s New Old Outfit in 2022.

She works by day as an Associate Editor at Albert Whitman & Company and loves working on thoughtful and emotional picture books that explore underrepresented voices.In her free time, you can find her swimming in Lake Michigan or playing professional ultimate frisbee. Visit her online at

She is seeking pitches for picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels. We are open to most genres, and there are some more specific wishes here:

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Chris Combemale of Sterling Lord Literistic

Chris Combemale is an associate literary agent at Sterling Lord Literistic.

He represents primarily adult fiction and a broad range of nonfiction. In nonfiction, he looks for books that take an unexpected view of the familiar (in any subject), from food to economics to science. In fiction, he is drawn to intimate writing with a sense of rhythm, prose written by poets, and writing that makes the trivial feel urgent. As a Singaporean/French/American born and raised in London, he is particularly open to international voices, translation, and South/East Asian writers. He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain scholar.

He is seeking:

  • Adult literary & upmarket commercial fiction, including sci-fi/fantasy, psychological suspense, thriller. I’m less likely to be a fit for war stories or historical fiction. I am not seeking horror.
  • Literary memoir, narrative non-fiction from experts and journalists in any topic (special focus: technology, food, pop economics/pop science & psychology), cultural criticism/essay/pop-culture. I’m less likely to be a fit for self-help/prescriptive.
  • Tender middle grade fiction with lovable characters and a warm heart. And MG fantasy.

“I am not seeking YA or picture books.”

Get to Know an Editor in Attendance: Gwen Hawkes of St. Martin’s Press

Gwen Hawkes is an editor at St. Martin’s Press / St. Martin’s Essentials.

“I’m looking to acquire adult fiction, particularly book club fiction, historical/period fiction, and women’s fiction. I have particular soft spot for magical realism (even occasionally tiptoeing into fantasy). I love stories that are transporting, that shake you loose from the everyday, whisk you into a different world, or offer a new angle on the familiar. If it can make the din of the subway fade away, I want to read it. I read for both strong characters and propulsive plotlines. Best of all, I like books and characters that are brave enough to tangle with big ideas.

“I’m also in search of narrative nonfiction that reveals stories and places every bit as engaging as fiction. Untold histories, environmental and nature writing, and memoir are all favorites. Within SMP Essentials, I’m looking for body, mind, spirit titles that are geared to a younger, millennial audience—how to build a life (relationally, financially, spiritually, vocationally, etc.) that you love. Books that are direct and practical in their approach are ideal. I’m also interested in narrative nonfiction that could fall into the body, mind, spirit category.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Madison Scalera of Olswanger Literary

Madison Scalera is a literary agent with Olswanger Literary.

Madison reviews general fiction, romance, and young adult books for Publishers Weekly and recently joined Olswanger Literary, where she is excited to represent a variety of fiction and nonfiction, including domestic fiction, historical fiction, romance, and memoirs.

With years of editorial experience and a journalism background, she appreciates a writing style that teeters between the factual and the flowery, particularly something poetic without tortured metaphors.

Madison is looking for fictional narratives that reflect postmodernism—books that have an awareness of realism and delight in being self-reflexive. She loves reading multilayered stories that challenge conventional ways of storytelling. She is interested in coming-of-age memoirs with quirky undertones like What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir or To Shake the Sleeping Self, as well as romance comprised of gothic, contemporary, and erotic fiction.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ella Marie Shupe of Belcastro Agency

Ella Marie Shupe is a literary agent with Belcastro Agency.

Ella Marie has been a literary agent since 2008. She was drawn to helping authors achieve their dreams after she studied English at Youngstown State University. She realized her biggest joy was recommending new books to fellow college students. She turned her dream into a career when she became a junior agent with the Belcastro Agency. As an agent, Ella Marie has discovered many new authors and she soon became a senior agent. She continues her hunt for new manuscripts with a voice that jumps off the page and a colorful plot. Her main goal is nurturing a collaborative relationship that will lead to publication and long lasting writing careers.

In adult fiction, she is seeking:

Science Fiction
Women’s Fiction

in young adult fiction, she is seeking:


“I am always looking for #OwnVoices authors. I love fast-paced stories that keep me on the edge of my seat.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Pam Gruber of Irene Goodman Literary

Pam Gruber is a literary agent with Irene Goodman Literary.

Pam is looking for adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction with literary voices and commercial hooks. She is particularly interested in layered fantasy, speculative fiction, fantastical realism, rom-coms, and coming-of-age stories with a twist. She is also open to middle grade and YA graphic novels, as well as select narrative non-fiction on lesser-known subjects. Pam would not be the best fit for prescriptive non-fiction, anthologies, potty humor, paranormal, or erotica.

Pam began her career in publishing as an editor, working for over ten years at Hachette Book Group with a number of acclaimed authors and illustrators. From there, she went on to serve as the Editorial Director at children’s media startup Rebel Girls, where she saw first-hand how a great book can expand into other entertainment mediums.

Pam joined Irene Goodman in 2020 after she realized her favorite part of the publishing business was working directly with authors and artists, helping them to shape not only their stories, but also their careers. She looks for work that is gripping from page one, whether it makes her break out in a smile or gives her goosebumps (from excitement, not fear!). She loves complicated female protagonists, innovative twists on old tropes, and getting swept away by fully realized worlds—be they portraits of the next town over or an imagined universe unlike our own.

Originally from Philadelphia and raised by two artists, Pam knew she wanted to work in publishing from a young age. She brings an inscrutable eye for detail to every book she gets her hands on, and her experience at a publishing house gives her insight into how editors think, and what they’re looking for.


Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary

Barb Roose is a literary agent with Books & Such Literary.

Barb represents nonfiction and adult fiction exclusively to Christian publishers. She loves partnering with authors to achieve their publishing career goals. With experience as an author, award-winning pharmaceutical sales representative and executive leader in the megachurch environment, Barb embraces the challenges and opportunities that agenting in Christian publishing offers.

Barb began writing books as a child because she fell in love with the characters and stories created by her favorite author, Beverly Cleary. Yet, as a little brown-skinned girl with pop-bottle glasses, Barb never dreamed that becoming an author was a real possibility for someone who looked like her.

After a multiple-award career in pharmaceutical sales and non-profit management, Barb spent 14 years on staff at her local church as part of the executive leadership and teaching teams. During that time, Barb attended her first writers conference and received her first writing contract. The dream she hadn’t dared entertain as a child became reality.

In 2016, Barb transitioned from her duties at church to full-time speaking and writing. Her goal is leading and teaching people to overcome their fears so they can live strong, courageous lives and experience God’s great adventure of faith for them. She speaks at conferences and events in the U.S. and abroad, including on multiple national platforms.

Barb became a part of Books & Such in 2014 as a client represented by Rachelle Gardner. Barb saw herself as an author who didn’t know anything about the publishing industry other than being thrilled someone wanted to publish her book. Fast forward several years and a growing library of books with her name on the cover. Barb now wants to help other writers achieve their publishing dreams. The thrill of partnering with authors compelled Barb to say “yes” to joining the Books & Such Literary Management agent team in 2020. Her desire is to come alongside hopeful and established authors to create the most marketable, appealing manuscripts that will build lasting careers and influence readers.




Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Laura Strachan of Strachan Literary Agency

Laura Strachan is a literary agent and principal of the Strachan Literary Agency, which she founded over 20 years ago.

She specializes in literary fiction and narrative nonfiction, although she will consider anything that’s interesting and beautifully written.

She is especially looking for narrative nonfiction “single topic” history books (think SALT or COD or MAUVE).

She is seeking:

  • Fiction: Primarily literary fiction and upmarket commercial. In general no genre fiction unless it is highly literary.
  • Nonfiction: Narrative nonfiction, including memoirs and travel writing.

Laura isn’t interested in:

  • Genre fiction (romance, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers) that is not highly literary
  • Children’s picture books
  • Poetry
  • Screenplays

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Karly Dizon of Fuse Literary

Karly Dizon is a literary agent with Fuse Literary.

Karly has a deep love for characters with a strong voice and seeks out stories she can get lost in. Diversity in genre fiction is a major bonus. She specializes in picture book, middle grade, and young adult genre fiction (fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary).

Associate Agent Karly Dizon was born in the Philippines and immigrated to Northern California as a child. She obtained her Business Marketing degree and has been a Freelance Graphic Designer for over 10 years. In addition to designing a wide range of print and web promotional material for clients, Karly creates book covers for Short Fuse and promotional graphics for Fuse authors.

Professionally, Karly began her career in the publishing industry as a reader for Tricia Skinner at Fuse Literary. Her responsibilities quickly grew and she was promoted to Literary Assistant, a role that also included a spot on the production team of Short Fuse.

In her spare time, Karly is an Adobe Technical Trainer, freelance graphic designer, Young Adult author, video game geek, and art noob.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Jamie Vankirk of Rainbow Nerds Literary

Jamie Vankirk is a literary agent with Rainbow Nerds Literary.

Jamie is looking for young adult novels in the below genres. She is particularly interested in LGBT, POC, and other marginalized groups. #OwnVoices are encouraged.

  • Contemporary Fiction—in the vein of Nicola Yoon (The Sun Is Also a Star), Sandhya Menon (When Dimple Met Rishi), Ashley Herring Blake (How to Make a Wish), and Brandy Colbert (Little & Lion)
  • Fantasy—think Audrey Coulthurst (Of Fire and Stars), Sabaa Tahir (Ember in the Ashes), Dhonielle Clayton (The Belles), and Libba Bray (The Gemma Doyle Trilogy)
  • Science Fiction—similar to Corinne Duyvis (On the Edge of Gone), Marie Lu (Warcross), and Cindy Pon (Want)
  • Historical Fiction/Fantasy— like Justina Ireland (Dread Nation) or written within the Tudor period (bonus if centered around Anne Boleyn) or Victorian period
  • Thriller—either with an unreliable narrator or in the vein of Kendare Blake (Anna Dressed in Blood)
  • Mystery—such as Maureen Johnson (Truly Devious) and Karen McManus (One of Us is Lying)

About her agency: “This is not about us. This is about you–the authors and the readers. This is about the trans girl who longs to see herself in stories. This is about the black boy who yearns to be the hero. This is about the disabled child who wishes for someone to relate to. This is about every marginalized community being heard. Founded in 2017, Rainbow Nerds Literary is an advocate for diversity. We work with first-time authors or long-time veterans to better hone their craft and reach broader audiences. We adhere to the AAR Canon of Ethics.”