Category Archives: Authors

New Client: Jamey Stegmaier signs with Penumbra Literary!

Jamey Stegmaier is the co-founder and president of Stonemaier Games, a strategy board game startup in St. Louis. Following a lifelong passion for game design and a more recent interest in the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Jamey successfully funded his first publicly released game, Viticulture, in the fall of 2012 to the tune of $65,000. Jamey applied his research and experiential knowledge of Kickstarter to a blog series on called “Kickstarter Lessons,” which quickly grew in number and popularity.
Jamey also applied his expertise to a new Kickstarter campaign in May of 2013 for a game called Euphoria, raising just over $309,000 in 28 days. He continues to write Kickstarter Lessons to benefit other project creators, and now he is applying that content to a book to expand his current readership.

Jamey works full time at Washington University in St. Louis. He writes a daily personal blog as well as dystopian fiction, and he is just as avid of a reader as he is a writer. He is excited to be represented by Jennifer Chen Tran.


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New Clients: S. Gregory Boyd and Brian Pyne sign with Penumbra Literary!

S. Gregory Boyd and Brian Pyne, both prominent attorneys in the interactive gaming industry, have signed with Penumbra Literary!

S. Gregory Boyd

S. Gregory Boyd

S. Gregory Boyd is partner and chairman of the Interactive Entertainment Group at Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz.  He represents a wide variety of interactive entertainment and new media clients, counsels brands, media companies and advertising agencies on a variety of digital issues, and is co-author and editor of Business and Legal Primer for Game Development (Charles River Media).  Gregory also serves as an Adjunct Professor at New York Law School, where he teaches a seminar in advanced intellectual property.  The Legal 500 has praised him for his work with media and technology companies, and he is frequently quoted in articles in publications such as: Gamasutra, Edge-Online, CNN, Fortune, Forbes and the New York Law Journal.

Brian Pyne

Brian Pyne

Brian Pyne is the Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement for the Entertainment Software Rating Board, where he investigates enforcement matters, negotiates agreements, maintains a trademark portfolio, and assists in policy development.  Prior to joining the ESRB, Brian was Associate Counsel to Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., the parent company of Rockstar Games and 2K Games, where he negotiated agreements, reviewed game assets and advised on a variety of issues pertaining to game development and publishing.

Gregory and Brian are currently co-authoring a new book on video game and interactive entertainment law.  Jennifer, a former gamer, is very excited to work with both Gregory and Brian on such a cutting-edge subject.  Stay tuned for updates.

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Authors Lyn Di Iorio and Pamela L. Laskin Sign with Penumbra Literary!

Penumbra Literary is delighted to welcome two more authors: Lyn Di Iorio and Pamela L. Laskin.

Lyn Di Iorio

Lyn Di Iorio

Lyn Di Iorio is the author of Outside the Bones, a novel that won the ForeWord Review’s 2011 Silver Book of the Year Award for literary fiction, was Best Debut Novel on the 2011 Latinidad List, and was a finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Prize.  She was second on 2012’s Top Ten Authors to Watch and Read List.  She has also written Killing Spanish: Literary Essays on Ambivalent U.S. Latino/a Identity (2004), co-edited Contemporary U.S. Latino Literary Criticism (2007), and Moments of Magical Realism in US Ethnic Literatures (2012).  Lyn received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, a master’s degree from Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program, where she was a Patricia Harris fellow, and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.  She is currently a professor of English at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  Lyn is also writing a second novel entitled The Sound of Falling Darkness, an excerpt of which was a runner-up for the 2011 Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Novel-in-Progress Award.

Pamela Laskin Photo of Joe Zarba

Pamela Laskin
Photo by Joe Zarba

Pamela L. Laskin is the author a memoir, My Life in Shoes (2011), and also wrote several poetry chapbooks including, Grand Central Station, which won the Millennium Poetry Prize, Remembering Fireflies, Secrets of Sheets, Ghosts, Goblins and Geodes, Van Gogh’s Ear, Daring Daughters/Defiant Dreams, The Plagiarist, and The Bonsai Curator.  She has also published several children’s books, such as, A Wish Upon a Star, Historical Heroic Horses, Music From the Heart, and The Buried Treasure, short stories, including two young adult stories.  Her young adult story, “Visitation Rites”, originally published in magazine format, was expanded on and published in 2012 by Diversion Press.  She has also co-edited two anthologies: The Heroic Young Woman, a book of original feminist fairy tales, and Life on the Moon: My Best Friend’s Secrets, a collection of young adult fiction. She has received a SEED grant for Poetry Outreach, Research Foundation CUNY grants for completion of creative work, and is a Colin Powell Fellow.  Pamela is currently a lecturer in the English Department at the City College of New York, where she directs the Poetry Outreach Center.

Jennifer is excited to work with Lyn and Pamela, both co-editors, on an anthology about women’s relationships with their shoes.

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New Client Alert: Tabitha Blankenbiller Signs with Penumbra Literary!

We’re excited to announce that Tabitha Blankenbiller has signed with Penumbra Literary!

Tabitha is a Pacific Northwest native born in Seattle and raised on the Mt. Rainer Plateau.  She graduated from the Pacific University MFA Writing program in June 2012, where she was chosen Imageto be a student commencement speaker.  She is a staff writer for the PDXX Collective and Spectrum Culture, and writes the “The Wordstalker” column for Barrelhouse Magazine. Her personal essays have been published in journals including Owl Eye Review, Sliver of Stone, and Brevity. Her essay “Two Pieces to Perfection” was selected for the All That Glitters nonfiction anthology.

After a recent move from Portland, Oregon, Tabitha is currently residing in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and two cats. While there, she is plotting exit routes back to Portland.  For more information and links to her columns and essays, visit



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New Client Alert: Rebecca Kelley Signs with Penumbra Literary!

Penumbra Literary loves Portland and Portland-area writers!  Rebecca Kelley, a Portland area writer and teacher of creative writing, has signed with Penumbra Literary.

Rebecca Kelley

Rebecca has taught writing at Oregon College of Art & Craft for nine years. Her      work is infused with the sensibilities of the young creative class that uses the Pacific Northwest as its way station for earnest, well-meaning adventuring to the world at large. At home, her fiction turns to the quiet dramas of urban domestic life: growing tomatoes, making pancakes, examining the nature and validity of love and marriage in the context of our modern world.
She started the Green Baby Guide in 2007 along with Joy Hatch. Their book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, was published in 2010. Rebecca’s work has appeared in Scholastic Parent and Child, Metro Parent, Stealing Time magazine, and xoJane.

She lives in northeast Portland with her husband and daughter.


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Sold: Heart Bones to be Published by Marshall Cavendish Fall 2013!

Great news!  Audrey Chin’s novel, Heart Bones, has been sold to publisher Marshall Cavendish (world rights, excluding North America)! The novel will be published this Fall 2013 and Audrey Chin will be a featured writer at the Singapore Writer’s Festival, occurring in November 2013.

The novel provides “a unique perspective on the impact of American Vietnamese involvement on South Vietnamese men and the complexities underpinning the quest for country, survival, love and self-acceptance.” (from  The narrative centers around Thong, a Viet-Cong spy, and his relationships with various father figures, including his blood father, his adoptive father, and a charismatic and mysterious man named Chu Hai, amidst the backdrop of war, intrigue, and secrets.

We are very excited to work with Marshall Cavendish on this important and gripping book.  For current news on the book, please visit and sign up for updates at  


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Penumbra signs new author Yvette Hyater-Adams!

Yvette Hyater-Adams, a highly sought after business coach and writing facilitator for leaders and artists ready for transformative change, has signed with Penumbra Literary! She is a dedicated writer and leads others to write creative non-fiction, poetry, and fiction.  Yvette graduated from Goddard College with a MA in Transformative Language Arts (Writing for Personal and Social Change) and from the University of Denver with a Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing. 

ImageAs a long time practitioner in applied behavioral science, her skills are honed in understanding human behavior, action, and impact in organizations. Today, Yvette runs Narratives 4 Change with a diversified use of writing and coaching including: 1) her own writing, 2) facilitating writing workshops, 3) coaching women who lead businesses and coaching writers.  In continuing her advocacy for social change, she writes grants for non-profits.  Yvette is the developer of the renowned transformative narratives methodology.  Yvette is currently working on her first book on leadership for women.

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Singaporean Author Audrey Chin Signs with Penumbra Literary!

Singapore-based author, Audrey Chin, has signed with Penumbra Literary!  Audrey Chin has been writing since she mastered her alphabets.  She is currently working with literary agent Jennifer Chen Tran on her novel entitled Heart Bones, a searing and mysterious story about a Vietnamese man’s struggle to balance the many facets of belonging and loyalty in a Vietnamese family torn asunder by war and unresolved peace.  Audrey Chin Portrait.jpg

Audrey’s first book, published by the RAND Corporation, was a study of jury verdicts in Chicago courts, a story of discrimination crafted with numbers and words. Subsequently, other studies on the American socio-legal system, a Ph.D. dissertation on financing the US social security system have been published by RAND.

In 1999, Landmark Books Singapore published Audrey’s first novel, Learning to Fly, which was shortlisted for the 2000 Singapore Literature Prize.  In 2004, Landmark released, Singapore Women Re-Presented, a social history she conceptualized, co-edited and contributed to. Audrey has also contributed various fiction and non-fiction pieces to women’s magazines in Singapore and US literary journals. A short story, “The Pearl” was recently published in Cobalt Review’s December 2012 edition.

She holds a Ph.D in Public Policy Research from the RAND Graduate School of Public Policy, an M.SC. in Research Methods and Public Policy from Oxford University and an LL.B. from Manchester University.

When not writing, Audrey spends her time exercising financial stewardship as a board director.  She’s married to Minh and has three children.


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Caveat Scriptor: What Writers Should Truly Be Wary of When Looking for a Literary Agent

I read an very interesting article published in the Huffington Post the other day (written by the Writer’s Relief staff), that I would like to address.  You can read that entire article here, but basically the three major red flags that the Writer’s Relief staff addressed were ineptitude, advertising, and fees.

Ineptitude.  This is stating the obvious, but you want a literary agent that knows what he or she is doing.  As the article states, “Some agents are not necessarily dishonest, but are merely clueless.  These agents submit your work to editors without doing the proper research…”  I have to agree with the article here.  Doing research and getting to know editors, what projects they’ve acquired, and what they are looking to acquire is critical, as is knowing the marketplace.  Also, knowing the internal politics and how each imprint acquires books (because they are all different, some imprints are smaller and associate editors have a lot more power, others are bigger and the books have to be pre-approved by the marketing department) etc., is important.  It’s pretty obvious what ‘bad agents’ look and feel like when it comes to having no strategy, foresight, or deep knowledge of the industry.

Advertising.  I take a bit of issue with this point highlighted in the article.  The Writer’s Relief staff admonishes not to “trust an agent who approaches you without any previous contact,” and frowns on practices such as trolling writers forums or purchasing subscription lists from writer’s magazines.  Yes, if a literary agent is just a troll, with no real interest or connection to your work, you should worry.  Given the information that is out there in the digital space however, being pro-active and thinking of multiple ways of reaching writers is not a bad thing.  I attend conferences and meet writers in person and I have also reached out to writers over the internet, based on something I read off their blogs.  These e-mail communications are the start of a conversation that can develop organically into something more.  Last week I Skyped with a potential client so it was almost like having an in-person meeting, complete with our faces, over the internet.  So although I agree that trolling for the sake of trolling is not good, thinking broadly and brainstorming more than the old-school ways of connecting with writers, is a good thing.

Fees.  The Association of Author’s Representatives has a Code of Ethics, that I fully abide by, even though I am not yet a member.  I do not charge any of my clients for fees or readings.  You should be wary of any agencies that charge so-called ‘reading fees.’  Agents obtain the fee if and when they sell your manuscript, and they shouldn’t charge for expenses unless they are extraordinary and only then, with your prior consent.

I’d like to add a few of my own ‘caveats’ to the list provided by the article:

Gut Check.  What does your intuition say about the literary agent you’re interested in?  Have you had a chance to sit down and meet with the agent in person?  What were your feelings?  Did you feel comfortable?  A lot of us in the literary world are introverts, so any sort of ‘forced interaction’ can feel uncomfortable, but if, after a hour of talking, something feels off, pay attention to that feeling and proceed with caution.  Sometimes the chemistry isn’t right but don’t be discouraged, keep on sitting down with literary agents that you are interested in and see if it feels right in your gut.


Receptivity & Responsiveness.  Is your literary agent available, responsive to you and a good listener?  I’m not saying that your agent has to e-mail you back right away (they have lots of reading and other clients to attend to), but it’s always a good sign if your agent treats with you with enough attention and is quick to respond.  I even know some agents that text and tweet with their clients regularly, I think that’s great and if that works for you, even better.  Find an agent who meshes with you in terms of communication.

Manner.  Luckily, most people in the publishing industry are  polite and patient.  I think having a pleasant demeanor doesn’t hurt.  Not everyone has a sunny disposition, but those agents that can remain calm, diplomatic, open to suggestions, and work well with others, I think, tend to go far.  Maybe I’m being a bit idealistic here, but I know this is also true for our doctors.  Would you rather spend time with a doctor that actually listens to your concerns seriously and has a pleasant demeanor or one that is more gruff, even if an excellent doctor?  Courtesy costs nothing.

What other red flags do you look for as a writer seeking an agent?  Are there any non-negotiables on your list?


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A Slice of the Literary Life: Self-Publishing is no longer a Dirty Word

This past Friday and Saturday, I attended the 2nd annual Slice Literary conference, held by Slice Magazine, in illustrious Brooklyn, New York.  Coincidentally, this is my second time at a literary conference.  I was not disappointed.  Not only did I meet with some incredibly talented writers, but I also had a chance to meet editors and agents and listen to some of the brightest minds expound on all things literary.

The first panel I attended was the Self-Publishing Panel.  I am fascinated by the world of self-publishing, which is quickly shedding its stigma as the new kid on the block. One of the panelists, John Fine, Director of Author Relations and Associate General Counsel at Amazon, indicated that in 1999, self-publishing was merely vanity publishing but due to the ‘democratization of the means of production,’ self-publishing, print-on-demand and other forms of self-publishing have become increasingly used and accepted.  Penguin’s recent $116 million acquisition of e-publisher Author Solutions and Random House UK’s distribution unit’s acquisition of ePubDirect, are strategic moves that indicate a sea-change in the publishing industry’s perception of self-publishing and e-publishing.

One of the upsides of self-publishing, as pointed out by Associate Editor Hana Landes of Spiegel & Grau, is that self-publishers have a tremendous amount of data about the end-user or reader.  Landes mentioned Anthropology of an American Girl, which was originally self-published (not digitally but rather hand-created) in 2003 and contained a note from the author that she had lost faith in the  traditional publishing world, only to garner a cult-following, which eventually led to a traditional publishing deal.

Indeed, many authors have turned to e-pub and e-distribution platforms such as CreateSpace and Kindle Direct, in an effort to dictate their own terms of success.  There are countless stories of authors who have garnered a following through self-publishing.  Genre-specific categories are particularly successful as e-books (i.e. romance, sci-fi, thrillers).  Additionally, so-called ‘interstitial works,’ those works that are not long enough to be a  book, yet too long to constitute a magazine, may fit perfectly within the $2.99 pricing sweet spot that is so popular on Amazon.

The relative upsides of self-publishing are however, tempered by the advantages that traditional publishers still have: stronger distribution channels in real markets such as bookstores, editorial support, marketing and publicity.  The author may feel a little spread too thin as a one-person publishing powerhouse and publishers still play an important role in supporting the author in these related yet critical ways.

Instead of fearing change, publishers are finally starting to fully embrace it.  Although it didn’t really start picking up until the Kindle hit the market, due to wholesale changes within the publishing industry (publishing has shrunk, editors are freelancing, there’s more competition, authors, noise, competing forms of entertainment, etc.), self-publishing is here to stay.

As Mr. Fine pointed out, ” The smartest authors today are those who are trying everything.”  Or, if I may comment, the smartest authors are those who are not afraid of trying new things and experimenting with different approaches to their work.  The dream of obtaining the six plus figure advance still lives on, but the reality may be something more attainable.

What do you think about self-publishing?  Is the stigma really gone or does it lurk in the shadows still?  Are more publishers going to embrace self-publishing or do they only seem to be doing it because of the adage ” if you can’t beat the competition, join them?”


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