Guest Edition

Lori Steel–What Was on Her . . .

Lori Steel

A very warm welcome to Lori Steel, the talented and most recent addition to Raven Quill Literary Agency!

Before taking on the role of agent, Lori wore many hats relating to children’s literature. She worked as an educator/school librarian for over 20 years and as a freelance editor for the past 10 years. All this adds up to Lori having a keen ability to spot just what is needed to make a manuscript sparkle. A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts with an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Lori approaches every manuscript with a writer’s eye and works editorially with her clients. What is more, due to all of her years working in schools, she has an acute awareness of what children connect to the most.

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Lori represents the full panoply of fiction creators—picture book writers, young adult novelists, and everything in between. She is a strong advocate for diversity and believes in the power of story to reassure, empower, and inspire young readers. When Lori doesn’t have her nose in a manuscript or a book, she’s dreaming of travel and how to perfect her chocolate chip recipe.

Lori joins us from Washington, D.C., where she lives with her family and their loveable golden/chow, Juice, to tell us What Was On her …

First Sale: There’s nothing I like better than to dive deep into a new experience, so the fact that my first sale was a trial by fire fit the bill! Jilanne Hoffmann’s lyrical nonfiction picture book, RIVER OF DUST, blew my socks off when I first read it, so I knew it would get interest. But an auction between three coveted picture book Houses was a steep learning curve for first book sale negotiations! It’s exciting to watch the project develop under the skilled editorial eye of Ariel Richardson (Chronicle) and Eugenia Mello’s stunning artistic storytelling. Since then, my client list has grown and they’ve had great successes. Most of my book deals have not been announced so I can’t share yet, but watch this space for some exceptional books to come your way!

Twitter Feed: @Bookishsort

Playlist: We own a monograph and an eclectic collection of vinyl records but it’s digital music that gets me through most days! I’m also a fan of the podcast Song Exploder on Radiotopia, where I discover new artists. A random selection of recent listens:

“Can’t Fight,” Lianne La Havas

“Groove is in the Heart,” Deee-Lite

“Relaxer,” alt-J

“Rookie Dreaming,” Courtney Marie Andrews

“Shining in the Distance,” The Stray Birds

“So Afraid,” Janelle Monae

“Tarab Dub,” Hello Psychaleppo

“Waves,” Mr. Probz

Recent Reads:

Picture books: How to Solve a Problem, by Ashima Shiraishi & Yao Xiao, and Swashby and the Sea, by Beth Ferry and Juana Martinez-Neal

Middle Grade: Twins, by Varian Johnson and Everything Sad is Untrue, by Daniel Nayeri

Adult: The Night Watchmen, by Louise Erdrich (audio is wonderful)

NF: Upstream: Selected essays, by Mary Oliver

Craft: Scott McCloud’s Making Comics: Storytelling secrets of comics, manga, and graphic novels

Also on Lori’s desk

Desk: While many enjoyed more time during the pandemic to pursue creative endeavors, I actually found my days overbooked with work and little time – or headspace – to approach creative projects. This summer, my aim is to change that! I’ve pulled out dusty manuscripts and my idea box with an aim to play, create, and dream daily. Reconnecting with my characters and stories feels like coming home!

Garden: The two raised beds we built during early months of the pandemic are even lusher this year…now that I’ve learned not to overcrowd. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and cucumbers are growing faster than we can harvest them! Caprese salad makes a frequent menu appearance to gobble the produce up. And my newest recipe of ‘zoodles’ with shrimp and vegetables is on deck tonight. There are few things I find more satisfying than eating what we grow!

Juice, hoping for some pie

Mixing Bowl: We recently went on our first road trip since summer 2019 to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday, meeting up with his grad school lab partners for the first time in years. Not only was it a lot of fun, but we were treated to our friends’ cooking skills which blew our socks off! While at the Chicago Botanical Gardens gift shop, I came across The Hoosier Mama: Book of Pie by Paula Haney. Pie is one of my all-time favorite desserts and this book has them ALL. Sweet pies, savory pies, even Desperation Pies! I’ve got fresh peaches and blueberries ready for this weekend’s mixing bowl. Looking forward to baking my way through this book of stories and pie, which are the same thing in many ways once you dive in!

Mind: Travel! Summer of 2019 was the last time we traveled across the pond to see our UK family. We missed a lot of milestones – some joyous, others heartbreaking – so it’s been really hard to be so far away from them all. And while it’s still challenging to travel to Europe, we’re hopeful that visiting will recommence in autumn. In the meantime, we’re elated to once again be able to hop into the car and journey to see stateside family and friends. Zoom was an essential means of connection during the pandemic, but nothing can replace being in the same room–eating, drinking, and laughing together!

Thanks so much, Lori! It’s always a pleasure talking with you. Pie is one of my favorite foods too. I’m hoping your Twitter feed will be filled with your successes and recommendations. 


You can stay in touch with Lori on Twitter @Bookishsort, learn more about her at PublishersMarketplace, and submit to her at Raven Quill Literary Agency.


Join us again on July 29, when Rosie Pova joins us for National Rain Day. She’ll be talking about picture books and inspiration and, of course, her most recent book, Sunday Rain.

If you would like to know more about me and my writing, please visit sandranickel.com.

13 thoughts on “Lori Steel–What Was on Her . . .

  1. Great interview! I really appreciate getting to know authors and agents since we can’t get together in person right now. And, Juice is simply adorable! I wouldn’t be able to resist that sweet face. He would get all the pie!

  2. Not sure what I love more…the playlist you shared or the fact that you named your pup Juice!! Hope you get to have those autumn travels overseas (I can relate!) & dive into some mushy peas and chips, LOL! Thanks so much for sharing your time w/ this post!

    • Thank you! I do love all kinds of music, especially as it was my first entry into storytelling. And I wish I could take credit for Juice! Our son named him after JUICE the rapper – so he comes with is own soundtrack, as well! And, oh, fish and chips. The REAL kind. Let’s hope that autumn brings me greasy newspaper packages – watch this space!

      • I thought I was “up” on music, but there’s a rapper calling themselves “juice?!” Ok… 😉 And there’s nothing quite like a full English breakfast; don’t get me started on cream tea recipes because I’ll never finish my WIP, LOL! Pls do share if you get back overseas 🙂

      • His stage name was actually Juice World, but since passed away at a very young age. He was a rising star with a genius for rap. As for cream teas…nothing beats Jersey cream and strawberry jam on scones with Darjeeling. Now I’m even more homesick!

  3. Thank you for the interview, Sandra and Lori! I enjoyed seeing your playlist! Classics have dominated mine these days. That’s what happens when writing historical fiction, not to mention seeing the awesome new documentary Summer of Soul.

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