Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Monica Rodriguez of Context Literary

Monica Rodriguez is a literary agent at Context Literary.

Monica is looking to uplift underrepresented voices, including, (but not limited to) authors who identify as People of Color (BIPOC), disabled, neurodiverse, and LGBTQ+. In children’s literature, she is actively looking for PB, MG, YA & Graphic Novels. She is also open to adult and nonfiction submissions.

“I run the official book club for Find A Lovely Life, our IG is @findalovelybook. I’m a contributing writer at Latina Media Co. where I cover TV Shows and Movies. I am the Director of Brand Management at Context Literary, where I help authors promote their books before and after they’ve hit the shelves.I’m currently bilingual, learned Spanish & English at the same time & I’ve been learning French and Portuguese!”

Across all genres & age groups, she’d love to find: stories about identity, specifically first-gen stories or immigrant experiences; stories about self-love with coming-of-age themes. (I believe we are always coming-of-age, regardless of age!); stories about family relationships, messy/dysfunctional families or found families; stories about sibling relationships or cousin relationships, specifically navigating adult sibling relationships or cousin relationships with cultural differences. (i.e. first-gen themes); stories about travel, where the book is set outside the U.S. or even traveling to the U.S.; stories with messy characters who are trying their best; stories with characters who are curious about therapy or where mental health is advocated for; stories about badass women doing badass things; stories about cultures that are rarely explored.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Matt Belford of New Leaf Literary + Media

Matt Belford is a literary agent with New Leaf Literary + Media.

Matt is primarily looking for nonfiction projects with unique takes and fresh ideas to be explored. In the adult science fiction and fantasy realm, as well as the adult graphic novel space, he is looking for character-driven works that get to the heart of emotionality; he wants to laugh and cry with your characters. No matter the genre, Matt is looking for under-represented voices.

Matt received his MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, back when he thought he wanted to be a writer. He’s since learned the error of his ways and is thrilled to instead be working with authors to help bring their ideas to life. Prior to joining the team at New Leaf, Matt has worked at several literary agencies and publishers and joins the team with a decade of experience across formats and genres.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Ksenia Tserkovskaya of The Deborah Harris Agency

Ksenia Tserkovskaya is a literary agent with The Deborah Harris Agency.

Ksenia is interested in literary and upmarket fiction and creative non-fiction, with an occasional children’s book. She works with titles in English, Russian, and Hebrew.

Now based in Israel, Ksenia has received her BA in Jewish Studies and Philology from the Moscow State University and her MA in Publishing and Language from the Oxford Brookes University. After graduating, she spent one year with the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature in Tel Aviv, then moved to Moscow for five years to work as Acquisitions and Rights Manager at the Knizhniki Publishing House. Ksenia has experience working as a bookseller and social media manager. She has also been translating and editing as a freelancer throughout her career, with 13 of her translations of Hebrew and English children’s and MG titles already published.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Paula Weiman of Ash Literary

Paula Weiman is a literary agent with Ash Literary.

In middle grade contemporary, I’m looking for literary stories that touch on grief and/or queer identity and don’t rely heavily on a school setting. I want books that are lush with metaphor and lyricism in simple, cutting prose. If you have Bridge to Terabithia for Gen Alpha, I want to see it. Some recent favorites include King and the Dragonflies, The Best Liars in Riverview, The Probability of Everything, and The Hunt for the Nightingale.

I also want clever middle grade adventures that operate on multiple levels at once with narrators so voicey they direct the plot; think of the spectrum between Lemony Snicket and Catherynne M. Valente.

I am open to a narrow range of historical middle grade if and only if it tackles children’s labor rights. It can be realistic or fantastical as long as the labor struggle is based in historical fact – both Newsies and Sweep do this beautifully. I would love to see something that touches on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.

In YA suspense, I want to see cerebral plots with beautiful prose, following teenagers who tackle systemic injustice and corrupt power systems. I’m looking for books like Sadie, A Long Stretch of Bad Days, Where There’s Smoke, and The Wilderness of Girls.

For YA thrillers I want heists, either contemporary or historical. Assemble a hypercompetent crack team who are each a mess outside of their area of expertise; even better if they’re fighting injustice from behind the scenes. Recent favorites are Thieves Gambit and Medici Heist.

For YA contemporary, I want to see joyful teen rom-coms about girls and queer protagonists with a growth arc that connects to a larger social or cultural topic. My favorite tropes are fake dating and rivals-to-lovers where one character is way more into the rivalry than the other. I’d love something in the vein of Felix Ever After, TJ Powar Has Something to Prove, This May End Badly, or Today Tonight Tomorrow.

In YA fantasy, I look for rich atmosphere and a propulsive plot, whether the stories are high fantasy or contemporary with a dash of magic. I’m excited to see second-world settings that aren’t based on medieval Europe with religions that aren’t inspired by Christianity. I gravitate toward intuitive magic systems that don’t require learning much vocabulary. I’m fascinated by stories that show familiar tropes from a new perspective, like the way So Let Them Burn looks at what life is like for the chosen one years after their prophesied epic battle. I want to see books like A Magic Steeped in Poison, Skin of the Sea, The Isles of the Gods, Our Crooked Hearts, Little Thieves, A Deadly Education, Curious Tides, and Wink, Poppy, Midnight.

Across these genres and age categories, I welcome stories about marginalized characters and stories written by marginalized authors. I especially invite Jewish stories.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Sophia M. Ramos of New Leaf Literary + Media

Sophia M. Ramos is a literary agent with New Leaf Literary + Media.

Sophia is a Cuban-American literary associate based in South Florida.

She represents commercial to upmarket genre-blending fiction for adult, YA and select middle-grade projects. Sophia loves intentional, lush prose combined with propulsive plots and thoughtfully complex family dynamics. She gravitates toward speculative books rooted in history or culture that have elements of romance, mystery, and horror. She strives to build a list that speaks to traditionally underrepresented voices and intersectional identities.

Prior to joining New Leaf, Sophia graduated from New York University with a Masters of Science in Publishing. Her career began in the international sphere, where she worked as a literary scout as well as in foreign rights and international sales. She continues her work at New Leaf with top author brands and has a wide-open list she’s ready to fill. She is a Diet Coke enthusiast and champion axe-thrower, but mostly enjoys hanging out with her dachshund, Sunny.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Keir Alekseii of Azantian Literary Agency

Keir Alekseii is a literary agent with Azantian Literary Agency.

She is an educator and anti-GBV activist born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, a twin island country in the West Indies. Keir is a writer, gamer, lover of folklore, and former research scientist. As a neurodivergent, queer woman of color, Keir is invested in discovering engaging work with similar representation, and is passionate about creating space for voices not often recognized. She is especially interested in stories from BIPOC who are born and raised in the Global South.

Please DO NOT pitch:

Novelizations of your tabletop campaign
Books with gratuitous gore
Splatter or slasher fiction
Books that employ fridging
Military science fiction
Literary fiction
Adult contemporary
Middle grade


Keir is seeking YA & Adult sci fi / fantasy / horror and YA contemporary novels. She is ONLY open to taking pitches from writers who identify as belonging to a marginalized or underrepresented community.

Keir’s favorite traits and tropes include:

Found family
Protags that are too smart for their own good
Stories about embracing your identity
Friendship is magic
Stories that center BIPOC and queer happiness
Enemies to friends/unlikely friendships
Nonbinary MCs tasting power and choosing chaos
Grump & sunshine/stabby & cinnamon roll pairings
Femme villains corrupting cinnamon rolls/himbos
Non-white power couples/non-white love interests
Sapphic everything
Enemies to lovers & friends to lovers
Slow burn & second chance romance

Keir’s hobbies, background and identity deeply inform what they love. Some examples of how this influences their taste include work that:

Burns down the patriarchy and/or destroys colonizers
You’re reversing or reimagining colonialism
DnD or other TTRPG Easter eggs, or inside jokes for games like Hades, Devil May Cry, or Final Fantasy.
Your story has the emotional resonance of games like Gris or Old Man’s Journey
Has the political complexity and ethical realities of anime like Gundam or Full Metal Alchemist

Keir is currently craving (in no particular order):

Kink- and poly-positive work
Sapphic power couples. Think Korra & Asami (The Legend of Korra) or Michiru & Haruka (Sailor Moon)
The sweet slow burn of Mitsuri & Obanai (Demon Slayer) but with a happy ending
The powerful sibling love of Tanjiro & Nezuko, or Daki & Gyutaro (Demon Slayer)
Anything that gives her the same rollercoaster of emotions as Demon Slayer
Queenmaker as a sapphic political fantasy
A book that feels like Poker Face or Knives Out
A YA protagonist of any gender identity or orientation who can be comped to Miles Morales
BIPOC vampires
All the feelings of the moment Angelus became Angel again and then Buffy had to run him through with a sword (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Dark academia, but replace “academia” with e-sports or tabletop gaming
Contemporary or contemporary SFFH that engages deeply and authentically with the gaming, anime, cosplay, streaming, or convention communities (within one or multiple fandoms)

In YA contemporary, , Keir prefers books where the romance is secondary but identity and self-love are primary, like TJ POWAR HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE. Keir would also love work like ICEBREAKER, with queer love and found family, or HUNGRY GHOST where strength is not about being perfect and alone but flawed and surrounded by community. They are looking for diverse representations of queerness and love that runs deep even without a romantic element. Keir prefers coming of age stories that do not include romance.

In fantasy, they love immersive worlds that are based outside of western cultures like THE JASMINE THRONE, IRON WIDOW, KAIKEYI, or RAYBEARER. In general, Keir would love to see books with BIPOC leads that use fae and folktales from non-western cultures. She’s particularly excited to see West Indian culture and mythology. Keir accepts all sub-genres of adult and young adult fantasy.

In science fiction, Keir is primarily interested in seeing SF that forces us to explore the human condition, like the XUYA UNIVERSE or THE SPACE BETWEEN WORLDS. Though Keir’s SF tastes do lean toward Adult, they would welcome YA work that explores such ideas and makes her crave adventure. Keir accepts all subgenres of adult and young adult science fiction, except military science fiction. DO NOT send them military science fiction.

In horror, she prefers work that makes her feel disturbed or unsettled rather than gore or jump scares. If your book reads like a Black Mirror episode, she probably wants to see it. Keir accepts all subgenres of adult and young adult horror except splatter and slasher. DO NOT send her splatter or slasher horror.

Across all genres, Keir loves complex, smart, emotional characters and they would love to see more books with morally gray, unapologetic characters.

Genre blending and/or bending books are welcome.

Retellings or re-imaginings that match this wish list are welcome.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Kate Davids of Arc Literary Management

Kate Davids is a literary agent with Arc Literary Management.

Kate joined Arc Literary in 2022 after 3 years working at Simon & Schuster as part of their Organic Growth Initiative. She uses her background in market research and digital marketing strategy to help her clients find new audiences and better appeal to the audiences they may already have. Prior to working in publishing, Kate worked in marketing strategy and research in a variety of industries for brands like Weight Watchers and Unilever. She loves exploring different cultures, including subcultures. For her, books enable readers to explore new and different perspectives, with authors as the all-important guides and gateways.

Born in Arizona, Kate moved to New York City after first studying and living in Toulouse, France, and then London. She has always loved international cultures and travel, visiting her family based in Rome as often as possible. She has become an expert on traveling on a budget. She currently speaks French and Italian, and has also studied Japanese and Spanish. When she is home, she can be found reading comic books, watching anime, or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

Kate is looking for nonfiction projects, particularly practical nonfiction, in cooking, personal finance, business, pets/animals, gardening, mental health, and new age. She also enjoys history books that delve into interesting subcultures, like anime or tabletop RPGs.

In fiction, Kate has a soft spot for science fiction and fantasy that has great action and world building that leverages real world cultures or histories. She loves fiction that represents diverse cultural backgrounds in their settings and characters.

For children’s books, Kate is looking for titles that can help both parents and their children explore the world together. This includes bi-lingual books and books about travel and multi-culturalism. She also likes a good laugh and an “aww” moment or two.

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Trinica Sampson-Vera of New Leaf Literary & Media

Trinica Sampson-Vera is a literary agent with New Leaf Literary & Media.

Trinica is accepting children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction. Across age groups, she loves adventurous, character-driven stories with largely emotional stakes. Trinica is passionate about championing diverse and marginalized voices.

She is seeking:

  • Speculative fiction (especially horror, cozy-to-high fantasy, hopepunk, and near future science fiction)
  • Romance and romcoms (especially featuring sapphic/queer relationships)
  • NA campus stories (especially dark academia)
  • Caribbean (especially Trinidad & Tobago) characters/settings
  • Reality TV premises
  • Unreliable narrators
  • Stories that support women’s wrongs
  • Found family (give me the intensity of the Fast & the Furious franchise)
  • Messy, doomed, heartbreakingly passionate tragic romances featuring people who make each other worse (I want the intensity of the relationship between Will/Hannibal, iykyk)
  • Retellings – I prefer retellings that are “inspired by” rather than faithful retellings. I love to be surprised by a twist or a new way of imagining an old story.

Fun facts about me:

  • I play online Survivor (like the CBS show!) and have won twice.
  • My name comes from Trinidad and California, where each of my parents was born.
  • I’ve cooked my way through two cookbooks and am always looking for new recipes to try!

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: James Mustelier of The Bent Agency

James Mustelier is a literary agent with The Bent Agency.

“I’m looking for a range of commercial and literary fiction and nonfiction. In all genres (but particularly in literary fiction) I prize economical prose, complex characters, steadily building tension, narrative gravity, and the momentary relief of dark humor, even (or especially) amid dire circumstances.

“In commercial fiction I’m looking for compact horror and mysteries with big hooks and intricate plotting. In sci-fi and fantasy I’m drawn to stories that are grounded in reality and have high stakes that touch on contemporary issues — more speculative fiction and alternate histories than high fantasy or space opera.

“In nonfiction I’m looking for books that give me a vivid look into subcultures and events I might not otherwise have had the chance to explore. Much of my favorite nonfiction melds a distinct narrative voice with rigorous research.

“In young adult and middle grade I’m interested in epic fantasy, grounded sci-fi, and irreverent retellings of fairy tales, classic myths, and historical events. I’m specifically seeking stories written from diverse perspectives that draw from underrepresented cultures.”

Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary

Maria Vicente is a senior literary agent at P.S. Literary Agency.

Maria represents bold and innovative books for kids, teens, and curious adults. Her favorite books to work on show readers something new about the real world or invite them into new worlds they never want to leave.

In her 8 years at PSLA, Maria has launched the careers of many authors and illustrators and is known for being an early advocate of the growing graphic novel market in trade publishing. With a B.A. in English from Carleton University and a B.Ed. from Western University, she puts her teaching background to use hosting workshops about the publishing industry and supporting her fellow agents at PSLA. Maria lives in New Brunswick, Canada, reading and selling books from the Atlantic Ocean shore.

Maria is acquiring fiction and nonfiction for readers of all ages. She is looking for: literary fiction and upmarket speculative fiction (fantasy, magical realism, horror); young adult novels; middle grade novels; illustrated picture books; illustrated graphic novels, graphic memoirs, and graphic nonfiction; and narrative nonfiction for kids, teens, or adult readers about culture, arts and entertainment, history, and science topics. She welcomes and encourages submissions from BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and disabled creators.