The Newest Crow in the Roost

Hello! I’m thrilled to join the Upstart Crow Literary family. For my inaugural post, I’d like to introduce myself and discuss a little about what kinds of projects I’m looking for.

I hail from Austin, Texas, and even though I’ve been based on the West Coast for a decade, I stay connected to my southern roots through cooking and wearing cowboy boots. I started my career in children’s books working for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), where I had the privilege of working with numerous award-winning writers and illustrators, before moving on to work with Jennifer Rofé at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

I’m currently representing books for children: picture books, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult, along with some nonfiction. I’m also representing illustrators, and am drawn to painterly style with a distinctive voice. I’m searching for stories that I cannot get out of my head; books that demand every spare moment of my time. I love stories that make me think “how is this going to end?” I gravitate toward flawed, multifaceted, lively characters who make me laugh out loud or hold my breath in anticipation at what they might do next.

If there’s a murder or a mystery to solve, I am in. I devoured Nancy Drew mysteries as a kid, and now can’t get enough of thrillers like Girl on the Train or The Guest List. If there is a prep school involved, even better. (Think The Swallows.) Give me a plot that draws me in and makes me turn the page.

Speaking of plot… twists and turns are fantastic, but plots don’t have to be complicated to be compelling. Give me a satisfying resolution that makes sense with the rest of the story. Whether the plot is character-driven or high concept, I’m looking for smart, imaginative storytelling that feels authentic.

In YA I’m searching for:

  • Thrillers or mysteries and rom-coms with a unique hook. I gravitate toward contemporary YA, yet I delight in stories with a fantastical twist or magical realism. I am also interested in historical fiction, especially World War II era stories that haven’t been told before. I would love to find a YA about the African-American experience during World War II.
  • I devour a good family story, dysfunction and all, especially sibling relationships. I have a penchant for Wes Anderson films, and would be smitten to find a Royal Tenenbaums-type literary tale.
  • I want vibrant, authentic world-building. A world doesn’t have to be high-fantasy or magical to require exceptional world-building. If the setting is a small Texas town, I want to feel like I live in that town, and I know the neighbors.
  • Gutsy, smart characters, with a bit of wit and snark. I’d love to find a fantasy in the vein of Carry On by Rainbow Rowellor the charm of a Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.
  • A sharp, sexy, honest, diverse romance.
  • Some of my favorite recent YA reads: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Dumplin’, Girl in the Blue Coat, The Diviners, The Cheerleaders, Parachutes, Felix Ever After

For MG I’m interested in:

  • A funny, honest protagonist with a passion for (fill in the blank). Maybe it’s a passion for painting, cooking, inventing…
  • Edgy, sophisticated MG that pushes the boundaries of “upper MG.”
  • Contemporary stories with cultural flavor and family history. I love to learn about different cultures and family dynamics.
  • A taste of magic! A misunderstood witch, a family curse, an unwieldly power. The same YA notes apply to world-building for MG.
  • Some of my favorite recent MG reads: Merci Suarez Changes Gears, The Last, Last Day of Summer, His Dark Materials, Amal Unbound, Moving Target

For Picture books:

  • Texts that make me laugh out loud or have an unexpected twist.
  • Tug-at-my-heartstrings stories with an unforgettable protagonist.
  • Perennial stories that will spark a passion or open a child’s worldview.
  • STEM stories or stories with multiple hooks/concepts for developing little brains.
  • Illustrators with a bold, individual style. I’m a fan of the painterly esthetic, but am open to all styles. Some of my favorite illustrators include: Mike Boldt, Vashti Harrison, Eliza Wheeler, Amber Ren
  • Some of my favorite recent PB reads: Bad Dog, After the Fall, I Don’t Want to Be a Frog, Strictly No Elephants, Penguin and Pinecone, I Want My Hat Back

I’m an editorial agent, and relish in helping a client fine-tune their work. I love to be surprised, so if you’re unsure whether your project fits any of the above descriptions, please still feel free to submit to me. Sometimes I don’t know I love something until I see it.


  1. I LOVE the Royal Tannebaums! And Lin Oliver! I’d like to query with a MG fantasy, but can’t seem to find your email. If you’d forward it to me, that’d be great. Thanks, ST


  2. Congratulations, on your new position, Kyla!


  3. Welcome to the roost, Kayla! I’ll send you a query soon so that you’ll have something to read in your new nest — KKM


  4. how soon is it kosher to send you a query that i sent to another crow the nest and haven’t heard a caw from?


  5. Welcome Kayla, Its very good to see you, I will send you a short story The magic soap , its about covid 19 but word count is 300 words. Is it a good fit for you. Its for young children. Can I inquire you for more then one picture book manuscripts.



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