New York Pitch Conference Faculty
Workshop Leaders and Director
Publishing House Editors
Ibrahim Ahmad is senior editor at Akashic Books. He has acquired and edited dozens of titles for the completely independent Brooklyn-based company, which is dedicated to publishing urban literary fiction, upmarket/general fiction, fantasy (YA and adult), crime fiction, and political nonfiction by authors who are either ignored by the mainstream, or who have no interest in working within the ever-consolidating ranks of the major corporate publishers. Akashic's enduring commitment to seek out and publish fresh voices is reflected by the diversity and eclecticism of the twenty-five or so books released annually by the company. In addition to its regular publishing program, Akashic hosts a number of other imprints including the Little House on the Bowery experimental fiction line; Chris Abani's Black Goat poetry imprint, which seeks to provide a proportional representation of female, African, and other non-American poets; and the Akashic Noir Series, showcasing original short crime fiction from around the world.
Adrienne Avila is an Editor at Berkley, a division of Penguin, where she acquires a range of fiction and nonfiction. She is interested in general fiction, multicultural fiction and quirky women's fiction, and she has acquired and edited award winning Lorraine Lopez's THE GIFTED GABALDON SISTERS, a [Border's] National Latino Book Club pick. She also acquires in the areas of memoir, women's issues, and lifestyle, among others. Recent non-fiction titles include the New York Times Bestseller and Wall Street Journal Bestseller WILL WORK FROM HOME by Tory Johnson and Robyn Spizman, 365 NIGHTS by Charla Muller with Betsy Thorpe, and the essay anthology IT'S A WONDERFUL LIE: 26 Truths About Life in Your Twenties.
Stephanie Bowen is an editor at Sourcebooks, Inc., one of the largest independent publishers in the U.S. For fiction, her main focus is historical fiction set in an unusual time period or place, historical adventure fiction, contemporary women's fiction with a fresh, distinctive perspective on women's lives, as well as commercial literary fiction. For nonfiction, she specializes in history, memoir, current affairs and women's issues, and practical, prescriptive nonfiction with a unique hook and strong science/psychology element. Recently published and forthcoming fiction authors include: award-winning authors Cathie Pelletier and Kenneth Cameron and international bestseller C.C. Humphreys. Prior to joining Sourcebooks, she worked at Doubleday (an imprint of Random House) for five years on fiction and nonfiction, including David Hoffman's Pulitzer Prize-winning, THE DEAD HAND.
An editor at Del Rey Books (Random House Publishing Group) Mike is currently acquiring science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and thrillers. He loves genre fiction in any form, and his favorite books are the ones with a well-realized world, iconoclastic characters, and new twists on well-loved themes and ideas. Mike has been lucky enough to work with the likes of Kevin Hearne, Jason M. Hough, Pierce Brown, Richard K. Morgan, Alan Dean Foster, Matthew Stover, Ted Kosmatka, and newcomer Alan Smale, among many other talented authors.
Jackie Cantor is an Executive Editor at The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin. Prior to joining Berkley in August 2005, she was a Vice President and Executive Editor at Bantam Dell, where her list included a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction titles in all formats. She is proud to have discovered the New York Times bestselling authors Diana Gabaldon and Eloisa James. Other major authors whose work she has acquired include John Grisham, John Lescroart, and Hope Edelman (MOTHERLESS DAUGHTERS). At Berkley, her list includes the nationally bestselling authors Kate Furnivall (THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE, THE WHITE PEARL), Kate Quinn (MISTRESS OF ROME, EMPRESS OF THE SEVEN HILLS), Laura Brodie (THE WIDOW'S SEASON, ALL THE TRUTH), Lucy Dillon (LOST DOGS AND LONELY HEARTS, WALKING BACK TO HAPPINESS) and Lucy Ferriss (THE LOST DAUGHTER).
An Executive Editor at Penguin, Tom has worked in publishing for over twenty years in publishing. His specialties are general fiction, category fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and just about any high-concept marketable tale. Authors he has worked with include Tom Clancy, Ed McBain, Clive Cussler, W.E.B. Griffin, and Jack Higgins.
Brendan Deneen is a former development/production executive for Scott Rudin and Bob & Harvey Weinstein (Miramax/Dimension Films/Weinstein Company), and a former literary and film manager, where he closed dozens of publishing and movie deals. Deneen is currently an Editor at Thomas Dunne Books (a division of St. Martin's Press/Macmillan), where he also launched a film division (Macmillan Films' first project, TEMPEST, was pre-empted by Summit Entertainment, producers of the TWILIGHT movies, and Deneen is an Executive Producer on that film). Additionally, he teaches Writing for Film & Television at Hunter College, teaches How To Write Young Adult Novels for MediaBistro.com, and is also independently producing a number of film and television projects. He is looking for high concept projects in a variety of genres including science fiction and YA fantasy, mysteries, suspense and thrillers, and just about anything that sounds fresh and commercially viable.
Claire Eddy is a Senior Editor at Tor Forge Books and has been with the company for close to thirty years. Starting in the science fiction and fantasy field, she has worked with Jacqueline Carey, Juliet Marillier, Jane Yolen, and Jack Vance; as well as newcomers Beth Bernobich and Ian Tregillis. In addition, she also does projects in the historical, thriller and mystery fields, working with Carole Nelson Douglas, Sharan Newman, and newcomers such as Tony Hays.
Emily Griffin is an associate editor with Grand Central Publishing (formerly Warner Books), where she began her publishing career in 2003. She edits a wide range of fiction and nonfiction; on the fiction side, her authors include Claire LaZebnik (KNITTING UNDER THE INFLUENCE, THE SMART ONE and THE PRETTY ONE), Zoey Dean (bestselling author of the A-LISTSERIES), and Sally Beauman (THE SISTERS MORTLAND). In terms of nonfiction, she has a special fondness for memoirs with distinctive voices, and will be publishing CORKED, author Kathryn Borel's account of a French wine trip with her father, and a memoir by Michelle Au, MD, about medical residency and motherhood. Emily graduated from Harvard College with a degree in history and literature.
Michaela Hamilton, executive editor at Kensington, acquires and edits commercial fiction including thrillers, mainstream mysteries, cozy mysteries, women's fiction, true crime, platform-driven memoirs, and nonfiction and fiction involving animals. Highlights of her publishing career include DONNIE BRASCO by Joseph D. Pistone, SMALL SACRIFICES by Ann Rule, JFK HAS BEEN SHOT by Dr. Charles Crenshaw, and AN UNEXPECTED GRACE by Kristin von Kreisler.
Brent Howard is a senior editor at New American Library, a division of Penguin Group USA, where he focuses on narrative history, military, sports, mystery/thriller, general/upmarket, and men's fiction. Recent books include Gregg Jones's HONOR IN THE DUST, Jonathan W. Jordan's BROTHERS, RIVALS, VICTORS, R.V. Burgin's ISLANDS OF THE DAMNED, and Lew Paper's PERFECT. His upcoming titles include Rachel S. Cox's INTO DUST AND FIRES, Timothy M. Gay's ASSIGNMENT TO HELL, John C. McManus's SEPTEMBER HOPE, and Steven James's OPENING MOVES.
Dana Isaacson, Senior Editor at the Random House Publishing Group, has worked in the book publishing industry for nearly twenty years in various capacities: as abridger, literary agent, writer, online editor and acquisitions and content editor. Prior to Random House, he edited at Pocket Books, St. Martin's Press, and ReganBooks. At Random House, he has worked on a wide variety of titles -- from bestselling commercial fiction (Tess Gerritsen's THE MEPHISTO CLUB, Dianne Emley's THE FIRST CUT) to literary biographies (TOO BRIEF A TREAT: THE COLLECTED LETTERS OF TRUMAN CAPOTE, Jonathan Reynolds' WRESTLING WITH GRAVY) to historical narratives (Gerry Adams' A FARTHER SHORE, Michael Kauffman's AMERICAN BRUTUS).
Peter Joseph is an executive editor at Thomas Dunne Books, an imprint of St. Martin's Press, where he acquires fiction and nonfiction. His nonfiction list covers narrative nonfiction, memoirs, biographies, nature, science, history, politics, and humor. His fiction list includes literary, general fiction, crime, and historical novels. He has edited notable and bestselling authors such as Patrick J. Buchanan, Senator Robert Byrd, Mayor Buddy Cianci, Dario Fo, Steve Guttenberg, Steve Hamilton, Robert Littell, Lt.Col. Anthony Shaffer, William Shatner, Wilbur Smith and Senator Arlen Specter. With Anne Hillerman, he co-founded the annual Tony Hillerman Prize for debut mystery set in the Southwest.
Silissa Kenney is an editor at St. Martin's Press, where she is vigorously seeking high-concept, marketable fiction, including book club fiction, literary fiction, unique women's fiction, and historical fiction, as well mysteries, thrillers, and psychological suspense.
Executive Editor Lyssa Keusch acquires primarily commercial fiction for the William Morrow/Avon imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Her main focus is on rich, textured, thought-provoking commercial women's fiction, contemporary upmarket or historical fiction, and high-concept thrillers, mysteries and suspense. She has launched the careers of New York Times bestselling authors James Rollins and Julia Quinn, with whom she is thrilled to continue to work. Among her other authors are New York Times bestsellers J. A. Jance, Jefferson Bass, Samantha James, and Elizabeth Boyle, award-winners Jamie Freveletti, Sean Chercover, Robin Burcell, and Mary Daheim, and international bestsellers Kathryn Fox and Glenn Cooper. While her list is generally comprised of commercial fiction, she enjoys editing the occasional narrative nonfiction project as well, keeping an eye out for books in which the reader learns something fascinating, on topics ranging from popular science and nature to history to cultural explorations to memoir.
Amanda Ng is an Assistant Editor at Penguin Group USA working with senior editor Tom Colgan. She is developing her own list and actively looking for general fiction, SF/F, mystery and suspense, high-concept thrillers, and just about anything that will sell. Among her clients from the New York Pitch is Luke McCallin, author of THE MAN FROM BERLIN.
Leis Pederson is currently an editor at the Berkley Publishing Group. She acquires commercial fiction, including romance and women's fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and general fiction. Forthcoming titles include THE SHADOW WALKER by Michael Walters, LA VIDA VAMPIRE by Nancy Haddock, and THE DANGEROUS DUKE by Christine Wells.
Michelle Richter is now an agent at Foreword Literary Agency. A former editor, she has worked with bestselling authors including Tom Perrotta, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, and Ian K. Smith, MD and with authors well-known in other media such as Paul Anka; Albert Brooks; and Kourtney, Kim and Khloe Kardashian on fiction and on nonfiction topics. She's seeking book club fiction, literary fiction, and well-crafted women's commercial fiction, as well as thrillers and mysteries, specifically amateur sleuth, police procedurals, and smart cozies. She loves memoir and biography: the subjects don't have to be famous people but do have to have a story that needs to be told. She also has a soft spot for books in and about Boston/Massachusetts, Ireland, and Russia. Michelle has a Masters of Science in Publishing from Pace University.
Peter Senftleben is an Assistant Editor at Kensington Publishing. He is interested in a wide variety of fiction and actively looking for mainstream and women's fiction, mystery, suspense/thriller, urban fantasy, paranormal and contemporary romance, romantic suspense, as well as erotic romance, gay fiction, and new adult fiction.
Kristin Sevick is an editor at Tor/Forge where she has worked for more than seven years, acquiring a wide range of commercial fiction, including romance, crime, historical, upmarket and women's fiction. Before coming to Tor, she spent a few years working at a veterinary journal which was both good editing experience and also made her a hypochondriac about her dog. Kristin's list includes New York Times bestselling author W. Bruce Cameron, Boston Globe bestseller Hank Phillippi Ryan, award-winning authors Rebecca Cantrell and Carrie Bebris, and many others.
Hilary Rubin Teeman
Hilary is an editor at St. Martin's Press. She acquires commercial and literary fiction, historical fiction, thrillers, mainstream romantic suspense, and chick-lit as well as social and cultural histories, narrative non-fiction, popular sociology, playful self-help, and memoir. Recently published and forthcoming titles include: Lenore Hart's BECKY, a novel of the "true life" of Becky Thatcher; Tamar Yellin's THE GENIZAH AT THE HOUSE OF SHEPHER, an award-winning novel of four generations of a Jerusalem family; Lea Jacobson's BAR FLOWER, a gripping memoir of the decadent, destructive life of a Tokyo nightclub hostess; and Lori Uscher-Pines's BUYING THE COW IN THE AGE OF FREE MILK: HOW TO GET YOUR MAN TO PROPOSE; and star of VH1's The Pickup Artist, Mystery's THE MYSTERY METHOD: HOW TO GET BEAUTIFUL WOMEN INTO BED.
Shannon Jamieson Vazquez
Shannon is an editor at Berkley Books/Penguin. She was previously an editor at Bantam Dell/Random House, and before that worked with a literary agency and at a university press. She acquires mysteries, women's fiction, true crime, and commercial nonfiction (including pop culture).
Michelle Vega is an Editor with the Berkley Publishing Group, an imprint of Penguin Group, USA. She has a Master's degree in British and American literature and began her career with Berkley in 2005. She is interested in cozy, paranormal, traditional and historical mysteries. She also loves urban fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, and some YA, but she'll read anything with intriguing characters and a compelling plot. Her mystery authors are published under Berkley's New York Times bestselling Prime Crime imprint and she has also acquired for the Berkley, Ace, and Jove lines.
Abby Zidle is a senior editor at Gallery and Pocket Books acquiring commercial fiction and nonfiction, including romance, suspense, general fiction, women's fiction, memoir, and popular culture titles. Her authors at Pocket include everything from New York Times bestsellers to debut novelists. Prior to working at Pocket, she was an editor for Harlequin's HQN line. She began her career in publishing at Bantam Dell, after abandoning the glamorous life of a Ph.D. student (the only job that pays worse than editorial assistant).
A literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, Katharine has worked with a varied list of authors who publish a diverse array of books. She is the agent provocateur of Making the Perfect Pitch: How to Catch a Literary Agent's Eye--a collection of pitching wisdom from leading literary agents. Actively building her client list, she likes books that have a clear benefit for readers' lives in categories of food, travel, lifestyle, home arts, beauty, wisdom, relationships, parenting, and fresh looks which might be at issues, life challenges or popular culture. For compelling reads in faction, memoir and femoir, she like to be transported to a world rarely or newly observed; for fiction, she wants to be compelled and propelled.
Susan Schwartzman has been in the publishing field for more than 20 years. She began her career in book publicity in 1992 as a freelance in-house book publicist, working for major publishers, including Workman Publishing, William Morrow, Penguin-Putnam, Harcourt Brace, Villard, Wiley, Avon Books, Simon & Schuster, Warner Books, Red Dress Ink, New American Library, and Downtown Press. As an independent book publicist, Susan has promoted a wide variety of literary and commercial fiction and nonfiction titles. Her business,
Susan Schwartzman Public Relations, has provided major media placements for her clients in major media throughout the country.
Pitch Workshop Leaders
Caitlin Alexander is freelance editor in New York, also an editorial consultant for Author Salon. As a senior editor at Random House Publishing Group she acquired and edited a variety of projects including New York Times bestsellers Michelle Richmond (THE YEAR OF FOG), David Gibbins (THE LOST TOMB), Andy McDermott (THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS), and Gwen Cooper (HOMER'S ODYSSEY); Angela Davis-Gardner (PLUM WINE), and International Thriller Writers Award winner Tom Piccirilli (SHADOW SEASON).
Susan Breen is the author of the novel THE FICTION CLASS, discovered at the New York Pitch and published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Group. Her novel was also published by Headline Review (in the UK), Wheeler Publishing (large print) and is a selection of Reading Group Choices. Susan has been a finalist for the Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel and the James Jones First Novel Fellowship Competition. Her stories have been published by a number of literary magazines, among them North Dakota Quarterly, The Chattahoochee Review and American Literary Review. Susan teaches beginning and advanced fiction classes at Gotham Writers' Workshop; she is also a contributor to The Writer and Writer's Digest.
Ann Garvin is the author of ON MAGGIE'S WATCH (Berkley Penguin November 2010) that was published as a result of the New York Pitch. She is an award winning short story writer with a host of fiction and nonfiction publications ranging from The Potomac Journal to Health Psychology. A compelling and humorous speaker, Ann is a literary crowd-pleaser and an accomplished teacher.
Senior Literary Agent and Content Strategist at Talcott Notch Literary Services, Paula boasts broad experience creating and marketing exceptional content in all formats across all markets for such media giants as Disney, Gannett, Greenspun Media Group, and Quayside. Her specialties include mystery/thriller, SF/fantasy, romance, YA, memoir, and humor. Paula is very involved with the mystery community, having served four terms as President of the New England chapter of Mystery Writers of America as well as on the MWA board. (She's currently VP of that organization.) She's also served as both co-chair and Agents and Editors chair on the New England Crime Bake committee for seven years and counting. And she's an active member of Sisters in Crime.
Michael Neff - Director
New York Pitch and Algonkian Writer Conferences director, Michael Neff, now an associate with AEI Films and Books in Los Angeles, is not only workshop-leading in New York, but also on the search for high-concept SF/F, mystery/thrillers, historicals, and generally darn good fiction, upmarket or otherwise. Michael is the creator and director of WebdelSol.Com, a literary and cinema arts community, and one of the largest publishers of periodical contemporary lit on the WWW. He edits and publishes several highly acclaimed national literary magazines including 5_Trope, In Posse Review, La Petite Zine, Perihelion, and The Potomac, as well as the "Paris Review of the Internet," Del Sol Review. His own work has appeared in such classic literary publications as The Literary Review, North American Review, Mudlark, Quarterly West, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Conjunctions, and American Way Magazine. His upmarket political novel, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, was published in 2009.
NOTE: New York Pitch Conference faculty are subject to change as circumstances dictate, however, new editors and/or workshop leaders will be substituted who are just as qualified and diverse in taste.
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