Interview with Marilyn Pappano On Priming the Create Pump by Nephele Tempest
The Knight Agency Newsletter: Write. Read. Repeat.

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Top Announcements

» NK Jemisin's upcoming THE FIFTH SEASON is both an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and one of Publisher Weekly's top ten picks for science fiction and fantasy.

» NIGHTWISE by R.S. Belcher earned a Kirkus Star

Top Sales

» R.S. Belcher's BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL, to Audible, in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver

» German language rights to Ramez Naam's CRUX, to Random House Germany, in a nice deal by Thomas Schlueck Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver.

In this issue

» The Informer

» Agents of the Roundtable

» New Clients on the Block

» Sales Roundup

» Agency News

» Author Interview

» Author Tip of the Month

» New Releases

The Informer

On Priming the Create Pump
by Nephele Tempest

Discussions of creativity, and writing in particular, seem to spawn water-related metaphors. We talk about drowning in ideas, about creative flow, about priming the pump or filling the well. There’s a certain primal logic to it. As water is the most basic necessity of life, a foundation, so are ideas the starting point for creative endeavors. You need other things to survive, but without this primary substance, you will never make it. But how do you keep your creativity from drying up?

Maintaining a healthy creative flow is not the same thing as tackling a bout of writer’s block, though the two things can overlap. Writer’s block comes in fits and starts, when you’re unsure where to take your story next or you’re having a difficult time getting a new project underway. But your overall creative health is an ongoing concern and it affects how you function as a writer on a daily basis.

Ideas tend to birth more ideas. Over time, writers develop their own systems for generating ideas, looking at mundane circumstances from fresh angles, questioning how things came to be, or wondering how a scenario might have played out if a few key constants were altered. Allowing the imagination to roam freely can lead to more story sparks than a writer knows what to do with. And that’s fine, because not every idea has the chops to continue on to full-blown story-hood.

But even the most bizarre idea that pops into your head comes from somewhere. It might not be obvious to your conscious mind, but somewhere deep inside your brain, something you’ve seen or heard or smelled or remembered helped to formulate that idea. You are always going to be the sum of your experiences, which serve as raw material for your imagination to mix and splice and knead into new ideas. And though a finite set of memories can generate a nearly endless supply of new ideas, you can aid that process by taking the time to add new experiences to your stockpile.

Author Nova Ren Suma recently blogged about the importance of taking time after she’s finished writing a book to refill her own personal well. Upon completing a large project that has required all her creative attention, she often experiences a certain sense of depletion, and therefore she must reenergize herself to tackle whatever is next on her to-do list. As with a runner at the end of a marathon, an author completing a novel needs to rehydrate. And that’s not just true at the end of the race: even daily workouts, whether as an athlete or as a writer, require some refueling when you’re done.

So what can writers do to keep their creative energies and ideas flowing? The obvious answer is to read: writers must read constantly, not only in their own genre but in other genres and in formats ranging from poetry to short stories to nonfiction. Writers read to see what they like, to understand what works and what doesn’t work, to know what is being published today, and to realize what has come before. But beyond that, the answer is to get out and really live life. Walk away from the desk, give your brain a break, and experience something for yourself.

It’s tempting, in today’s busy world, to devote all your free time to writing. This is especially the case for writers who have day jobs and families and other responsibilities vying for their attention. And of course, anything that happens in the writer’s life outside of writing qualifies as experiencing the real world. A strange day at work, your child’s funny comment, the way the dishwasher has started to shake—it’s all grist for the mill. But every once in a while, it’s important to make a conscious decision to find something that will inspire you and remind you why you want to write. Go for a hike and allow yourself to be amazed by the natural world around you. Visit a museum and stare at a couple of masterpieces. Hit up a science center and play with the exhibits meant for kids. Go to the symphony, or curl up with your headphones and listen to some jazz or classical music or a film score—something without words. Sketch something or try your hand at watercolors.

Every creative person needs time to regenerate. Writing takes brainpower, and it pulls on your reserves. If you spend all of your free time writing, eventually your mind will rebel, and even if you don’t suffer from writer’s block, your output will be less fresh, less creative. Writers trying to work through burnout produce stale stories that lack the spark that brings them to life. So take an hour or two, or a day, and remember what the world looks like. Experience something creative outside your chosen field. Take a day off and enjoy some other art form or physical activity. Don’t wait until you have trouble writing to pay attention to your creative health. Instead, add an occasional creativity break to your schedule. Even a periodic mini-adventure will help to keep those ideas flowing.

Agents of the Roundtable

Question: Aside from queries and conferences, what are some other interesting ways you’ve found clients?


We all have stories about being approached by aspiring authors. Friends of neighbors, family members—even the plumber. Truly everyone has a story to tell, and over the years I have found a few clients this way. Some have been referred by existing clients and some have come from editors at publishing houses, as well as from freelance editors. I have had an attorney refer me a few times. I have also contacted writers I’ve seen in the newspaper or magazines when I’ve read something that I thought might make an interesting book if more developed. I guess we are always on the lookout!


I find most of my clients via referrals, actually, whether from clients, editors, or other authors I know.  I’m not sure that I actually have an interesting story outside of conferences or queries, though a few of my clients I first met through publishing. You see, back in my early days, I used to meet up with a group of publishing people for lunch every week at the Malibu Diner (claim to fame only that it was convenient for the people from Tor/Forge/St. Martins, who started the gathering). Some of my clients and many, many people I’ve worked with over the years came out of that group. One, Keith R.A. DeCandido, was working at the time for Byron Preiss Visual Publications. Another, David Mack, worked for Nation’s Restaurant News, and had just sold his first co-written script for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, as well as an un-produced story to Star Trek Voyager.


The majority of my clients these days come via networking—perhaps someone I met at a conference many years ago, or an author who remembers hearing me on a panel, or a friend of a friend. I have said it a million times, but I believe that, aside from simply writing a good book, the best thing an unpublished author can do is to build and foster great relationships with other authors and industry professionals, both online and through any in-person opportunity that arises. Attending a local conference? Volunteer to pick up the industry professional from the airport. The car ride probably isn’t the best time to pitch your work, but it’s a great chance to build a relationship that may eventually open a door for your work.

I have found clients from Twitter—following the #PitchMadness hashtag or having them respond to my manuscript wish list posts (#MSWL.)  And I’ve signed many clients through referrals, either from my clients or other clients at the agency, as well as from other agents who think we might be a great match. But the best way I’ve found a client is by being stranded at a regional airport.   

Cecil Murphey

New Clients on the Block

» Rose Ross Zediker

Website | Twitter | Facebook

For a complete list of Knight Agency clients, visit

Sales Roundup

» R.S. Belcher's BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL, to Audible, in a nice deal by Lucienne Diver

» Traditional Chinese rights to Rachel Caine's INK & BONE and PAPER & FIRE in the Great Library series, to Ecus, in a three-book deal by Whitney Lee of The Fielding Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver.

» German rights to Steven Harper's IRON AXE, to Random House Germany, in a nice deal by Julia Aumueller of Thomas Schlueck Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver

» German-language rights to Ramez Naam's CRUX, to Random House Germany, in a nice deal by Thomas Schlueck Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver

» Czech rights to Rachel Caine's LORD OF MISRULE and CARPE CORPUS, books 5 and 6 in the bestselling Morganville Vampires series, to Brokilon, in a nice deal by the Kristin Olson Literary Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver

Sales Roundup is a selective sampling of TKA's deals for the past month. For more info on our recent sales, visit

Agency News
» NK Jemisin's upcoming THE FIFTH SEASON is both an RT Book Reviews Top Pick and one of Publisher Weekly's top ten picks for science fiction and fantasy. It also received a starred review from Library Journal.

» The re-release of Gena Showalter's EVER NIGHT made USA Today's bestseller list, and her latest novel,THE CLOSER YOU COME, received a great review from BookPage. Gena was also mentioned on a recent episode of Orange Is the New Black.

» Shirlee McCoy's upcoming THE ORCHARD AT THE EDGE OF TOWN received an excellent review from Publishers Weekly.

» NIGHTWISE by R.S. Belcher earned a Kirkus Star, as well as a Top Pick and amazing review from Romantic Times.

» BACK TO US by Christi Barth received a fabulous review from Library Journal.

Amanda Sun’s RAIN has been nominated for the Aurora Award for Best English YA Novel. Voting, which takes place here, will run through the summer, with the winner announced in November.

» Amazon chose Ramez Naam's APEX as one of its Best of the Year So Far in SF/F.
Interview with Marilyn Pappano

Marilyn Pappano writes both contemporary romance and romantic suspense, and is best known for her richly textured character development. In her latest novel and the third book of the Tallgrass series, A PROMISE OF FOREVER, she uses her experience as a military spouse and mother to bring to life stories about military widows who help each other grieve, live, and learn to love again. She's won every major award in the romance genre, and her novel SEASON FOR MIRACLES was adapted as a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie.

TKA: Tell us a little about your new series, including the upcoming A PROMISE OF FOREVER. What inspired you to write this novel?
Marilyn: The Tallgrass series came about, oddly enough, around the 4th of July. An editor had previously asked if I was interested in writing a military series for her, then just before the 4th, I saw two news segments on TV about military widows. Everything for the first book, A HERO TO COME HOME TO, just came together on the morning of Independence Day. The series deals with the choices, difficulties, and sacrifices military spouses face, along with the effects of combat on service members themselves. In A PROMISE OF FOREVER, I wanted to look at wartime service from a woman's point of view. Sergeant First Class Avi Grant is home from Afghanistan and dealing with all the losses she's suffered, including the death of her mentor, whose widow lives in Tallgrass. Avi falls fast and hard for the colonel's stepson, but duty calls. Avi can't stay in Oklahoma, and Ben won't leave.
TKA: With such an amazing backlist, stunning reviews, and an incredible career, how do you continue to find new, fresh ideas?
Marilyn: Probably the truest statement I've ever heard about writing is "Everything is fodder." I get ideas from songs, movies, news stories, other books; from watching a storm, listening to strangers in the store, standing in the rain on a dreary day. All it takes is one word, one thought or emotion or smell, and my brain can race off in a dozen "what-if" directions.

TKA: When did your career begin to take off? What do you attribute your success to?

Marilyn: I think it all started with my first rejection. The editor (whose name I've forgotten—finally!) wasn't kind in her rejection letter. It boiled down basically to "You have no talent. Don't bother me again." Honestly, that was the first time I realized I had a stubborn streak running through me. I guess I'd never wanted something enough, but I wanted to do this writing thing very badly. I promised myself I would prove her wrong, and I did. Sheer stubbornness can take a person a long way!
TKA: Who are some of the authors you look to when seeking inspiration?
Marilyn: I know this sounds weird for a writer, but I don't read for inspiration. Reading is more a reward for finishing whatever writing work I have each day. When I need inspiration, I go for a walk, refinish a table, mow the yard, or cut some firewood. Not thinking about stories, mine or anyone else's, refills my creative well.

TKA: Finally, for new writers, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from your own journey as an author?

Marilyn: My impulse is to say "Never give up," but if you're truly a writer with a passion for storytelling, you don't need to be told that. I think today, with indie publishing so incredibly easy, I'd say "Don't publish too soon." I've read dozens of books that had such potential but fell short because of the impatience to see them published. And "Don't be afraid to try something different." And "Never give up," because if you think the voices in your head drive you crazy now, wait until you stop listening to them. That's when they get really demanding.

Visit Marilyn's official website, follow her on Twitter, and join her fans on Facebook.

Author Tip of the Month

P.N. "Pat" Elrod is the author of 24 commercially published novels, including her latest release, THE HANGED MAN.

P. N. Elrod's tip:

After I began reading submissions for a fiction magazine and doing critiques, I soon noticed many aspiring writers obsessing on EYES. I blame TV watching for that one. Actors get their point across with eye contact, meaningful looks, etc., with the cameras right in their face to catch every nuance. Authors forget that long meaningful looks, winking, glares, and eye-rolling just don't have the same impact on a page of print as they do on screen. We have to remember we're wordsmiths, not film directors, and adjust.

I'm sure I'm guilty of overuse of The Eye Thing in past books, but now I'm paranoid about avoiding it. When an aspiring writer read my blog (okay, it was more of a rant) on the topic, she did a global search of her work in progress and found eyes used more than 300 times, with the words look-looking-stared-staring close behind. After a cup of calming tea to deal with the shock, she vowed to rewrite and be more aware of what she was writing. Brava to herwe should all have the guts to do that!

For more information about P. N. Elrod, be sure to visit

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