Get to Know an Agent in Attendance: Colleen Oefelein of Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Colleen Oefelein is a literary agent with Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Colleen is an author of YA, picture books, and author promotion guides, a devourer of books, and the owner of the book review site North of Normal. Formerly an Associate Agent and PR Manager with Inklings Literary Agency, Colleen has hosted numerous “Pitch Perfect” and “Rejection Correction” workshops on Facebook and at conferences nationwide, and she’s mentored several authors one-on-one through online pitch contests such as Pitch Wars. Prior to her career in the publishing world, Colleen was an engineer in the Air Force who launched satellites, played with lasers, and flew helicopters. Now retired from the military, she lives in Alaska with her husband, son, and boerboel. She holds a BS in chemical engineering/biotechnology and a separate BS in German, both from Penn State. A former 911 call taker and dispatcher for Alaska troopers, she has a soft spot for veterans and law enforcement families. She represents picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult books in many genres.

She is seeking:

“​I love plot-driven, commercial stories with unforgettable characters and gritty character dynamics. I adore writing that has a great cadence and natural rhythm, which like a dance, flows and stutters in a gorgeous motion that worms into my brain and reverberates there for days. I love a fresh premise (or a fresh twist on a familiar story line) coupled with a strong, genuine voice. Just plain weird is right up my alley, and dark, quirky characters make me sit forward. Clean writing with plenty of white space and story-telling full of subtle nuances that give my brain room to imagine will pique my interest. I like a strong hook. Make me laugh, gasp, sigh, smile, sit forward, hold my stomach, or read through my fingers on page one please. Cliffy chapter endings are perfect for me and I prefer characters who take a book by the balls and yank it forward. An antagonistic protagonist, an unreliably evil villain, flawed characters, and antiheroes are definitely my favorite, as is a high-adrenaline plot. I love anything unexpected, dark, edgy, weird, funny, or so wrong it’s right.

“I’m weary of politics, school shootings, dragons, vampires, faeries, and werewolves, and I usually don’t enjoy high fantasy, sword and sorcery, lyrical tales, heavy/spacey sci-fi, literary fiction, or women’s fiction.

“Lastly, I enjoy working with authors who show social media savvy and who haven’t alienated one half of the nation or the other with intolerance.

“Picture Books: I’m looking for fun, funny, adventurous, or touching stories with that magical mix of novel simplicity and a surprise ending that will have my 6-year-old asking to read over and over. My favorites are The Kissing Hand, The Good for Nothing Button, Parts, the There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a… series, the Llama Llama series, and the Pigeon series.

“Middle Grade: I’m looking for mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, low fantasy, paranormal, all with a thread of subtle or not-so-subtle humor.

“Young Adult and Adult: In YA, I badly want a Faust retelling. In general, send me unusual re-tellings and heart-rending love stories, harsh and sobering contemporary, romantic suspense, romance in all subgenres except erotic, mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, comedy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, and anything fast-paced.”

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