Kathleen Ortiz (or if you have no idea who I'm talking about she has been known to go by KOrtizzle or That-agent-with-the-T-Rex-avatar) is an Associate Agent and Foreign Rights Manager at Lowenstein Associates. If you'd like to read more about her she always has interesting tweets and blogs over at Neverending Page Turner.
I had e-mailed a few agents asking them to do an interview for my blog, but Ms. Ortiz decided to present me with a challenge and wanted some creative questions. What? The typical "What are you looking for in a manuscript? How did you get into agenting" wont do? So, I had to get creative and within a few hours of sending her the questions I got the responses. They are some of the most fun questions and answers I have done with this blog and Ms. Ortiz' emails have been cracking me up all day and anyone is lucky to have this lady as an agent! BUT not only did these answers crack me up, they gave me a real view into who Ms. Ortiz is as an agent, a person, and really what she is looking for in her queries and manuscripts. I can safely say that I've been KOrtizzled!
(Note: Yes, in the picture above Ms. Ortiz does resemble Reptar! Thanks for noticing!)
Magan: What is your reaction to people that say you don't need a literary agent? How do you convince them otherwise?
KO: I point at Janet Reid and let her put them in their place.
No, seriously. I’ll only do so much to explain to someone why they need an agent. Life’s too short to argue and beat a concept into someone if they’re not willing to see the whole scenario. If they educate themselves by looking at agent blogs, success stories, horror stories and more, then great. If not and they choose not to go the agent route, I salute them and truly wish them the best of luck.
Magan: Not that I'm a stalker of your tweets, but you talk about going to classes, agenting, and having a social life. How do you balance all of these things?
KO: Red-eye chais are my bff. I tend to look like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sGlETQIMUo). When you have the ability to stop time after consuming caffeine, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish.
I’m lucky to have amazing friends, family and clients. I’m very transparent with everyone, so friends and family know that I take my job very seriously and so I’m not always available to go out on a whim. On the flip side, I know the importance of taking time out to be social and just chill. I’ve found a balance that, while busy, is comfortable for me. I wouldn’t take on a client or project unless I know I can dedicate 110% of my time and effort into it.
Plus I graduate in May. Peace out, grad school.
Magan: Proudest moment and most stressful moment as an agent?
KO: Proudest moment was definitely making my first deal. I may have shot out of my chair and danced a happy dance (and no, I refuse to tell you what that looks like).
Most stressful moment was the day I had to make a decision on which ereader to buy (I know, tough gig, right?). (hey! It was a tough choice! P.S. iPads rule)
Magan: Why the T-Rex? Is there some inside agenting story to it?
KO: Oy. I knew this would come up one day. And if it wasn’t for the fact that Jaime already shared this story in this video (http://kortizzle.blogspot.com/2011/01/happy-birthday-to-me.html), I probably wouldn’t share it.
So a while back, I was up late at night, working on some emails, and I saw Jaime pop online. I knew she’d probably have a cow that I was up at 3 a.m. on a work night (apparently my clients are convinced I never sleep *snickers*), but I decided to IM her and ask a Q anyway.
After getting chewed out, she asked for my thoughts on a blog post. Kinda went like this:
Jaime: “What do you think about a blog post on
Me: *pauses* *reads IM again* *rubs eyes, convinced I’m seeing things* *reads again* *types* “Tyrannosaurus rape? I don’t get it.”
Jaime: *pauses* “LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL”
Me: *reads again* “Oh. Thesaurus rape. Like when writers abuse large words. Oops.”
20 min later my avatar was a TRex as an inside joke between us.
2 min later, I went to bed.
Almost a year later, it’s still a TRex. And if I change it, people will come after me with pitchforks.
Lesson here: don’t change your avatar. You’ll be stuck with it. And people will make fun of your short arms.
Magan: Now for the dreaded query questions... What is the most overused or cliched thing that you are seeing in queries?
KO: Girl meets boy…boy has supernatural / paranormal powers / creature…girl falls for boy even though he’s too ‘dangerous’ for her…girl doesn’t care and hooks up with him anyway.
Magan: Are there any certain characters you are dying to see come into your slushpile like a teenage alien or non-brooding vampire?
KO: I’d loveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee to see a male POV romance – especially contemporary. But something real, in a true teen voice. Guys (especially teens) do not look at a girl walking down a hall and think, “and her hair rustled in the wind like corn in a field.” (Sounds tacky right? Like corn in a field? What? Exactly. No matter how you spin it, it’s so not what a guy would think.)
I really want to see a girl who’s A) not ‘plain’ and doesn’t understand why every guy falls over himself to be with her (aka -- has a clue) and B) doesn’t have a hardcore chip on her shoulder and hates everyone except ‘the one’.
*Note: this doesn’t mean I don’t like ANY book with these elements. I’m just saying that I see a lot of it and want to see something different.
Magan: If there was any character (whether literary or from TV or cinema) that you would like to hang out with in real life who would it be and why?
KO: Oh man. I’m about to break my own rule.
Damon from VAMPIRE DIARIES. *droooooools* Though I think it’s more so Ian Somerhalder himself. He’s just ah-may-zing.
I think I’d love to chill with Bennett from DECEPTION by Lee Nichols (DROOL); Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s NIGHT HUNTRESS series (though he’d never leave Cat for me – sigh); Jennie McGrady from the Jennie McGrady mystery series (small house book; but I was addicted when I was 7 and 8 – she’s smart, not whiney, and kick ass); the MCs from my clients’ books (which I wish I could spill here, but I can’t – but can I just say that if we got together and had a party, I would probably never leave because it would be THAT much fun); and Magnus from Cassie Clare’s MORTAL INSTRUMENTS series (um, glitter + warlock = amazing).
Oops…you said ‘one’ character…well…..
Magan: Favorite book, movie, TV show?
KO: Too many to list. Seriously. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.
Magan: Words to live by?
KO: For writers: “You can't just have your characters say how they feel! That makes me feel angry!" --The Robot Devil (Futurama)
In general: “It’s hard to fail, but it’s worse never to have tried to succeed.” –Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks again Ms. Ortiz! And I hope everyone else is as KOrtizzled as I am!