Rebecca Stead

MG & YA Contemporary

JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
June 5, 2018

I am a children’s writer based in the lower Hudson Valley where I live with my husband and two children. I have an MFA in screenwriting and I write content for interactive toys, ebooks, and apps for iconic brands like Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer, and many others. My debut novel for middle grade readers, JUST UNDER THE CLOUDS, will release in the summer of 2018 from Knopf Books for Young Readers.

I’ve been writing since I was a little girl and always knew I wanted to pursue writing as a career. My path was a little windy as I studied to be a journalist in college and then went to graduate school for screenwriting. The entire time I was also writing short stories and trying to get them published. When I graduated I began writing scripts for interactive preschool toys and in 2007 I decided to write my first novel. I queried it and received numerous rejections so I wrote another and experienced another batch of rejections from agents. I didn’t want to give up on that novel so I rewrote it and re-queried just one agent. She offered to represent me. That novel went on two rounds of submission and didn’t sell. I wrote another book and just when I turned it over to my agent, she announced she was leaving the business to become a teacher. I was back in the query game. After another rewrite, I had two offers of representation. The novel sold in just a few days at auction in a two book deal!

I have a background in journalism and screenwriting. I also work with writers editing their book reviews for Cleaver Magazine. Many of my critique partners have gone on to get agents and major book deals.

I am looking for voice-driven, contemporary middle grade stories. I love stories with a strong sense of character and place and I prefer stories that are about girls. I love books with a more classic or literary feel (bonus if you like to craft pretty sentences.)

Writing can be such a lonely endeavor and the journey toward publication can be heartbreaking. I would have never survived it without the support of other writers, who became my mentors and friends. I’ve been lucky to work with writers I’ve long admired. They’ve guided my heart and my writing through some really difficult times. I just want to pay it forward.

  • Contemporary
  • #ownvoices

I love voice-driven, heartfelt contemporary middle grade stories; particularly those about friendship and family. I don’t love dramas that are totally set in school. I don’t like “issue” books. I like books that blend humor/drama. I like novels in verse.


  • Edit Letter (Big Picture developmental feedback)

I work through e-mail best. I prefer to write down my thoughts rather than talk through them. Some critique partners have remarked at how in depth and professional my edit letters are. I like to focus on characters, plots, and pacing. I don’t like to proofread or edit within the manuscript line by line but I may point out particular sections that need work or those that are working really well.

I am looking for someone who loves books and literature and respects the intelligence of young people. I’d love to work with someone who might be at their wits end trying to get published and ready to throw in the towel. Goodness knows I’ve been there. Maybe you’ve been told over and over “your writing is beautiful but…”

Random things I love to read about: sisters, twins, New York City, the ocean, the outdoors, small, sleepy towns, road trips, Antarctica, Iceland, gymnastics, tennis, birds, trees, natural disasters, feminism, girls, girl bands, music, piano, guitar, poetry

I am not looking for YA. There’s not much I won’t read but I prefer books that do not deal with cancer, terminal illnesses, or the death of an infant or child.

MG books I love: The Thing About JellyFish, One Crazy Summer, When You Reach Me, Because of Winn Dixie, The Penderwicks series, Roller Girl, Brown Girl Dreaming, Real Friends, Amina’s Voice, Ghost.