Emmy Nordstrom Higdon

Westwood Creative Artists

My Manuscript Wish List®

I grew up on fantasy novels and 90’s kidlit horror like Bunnicula and Goosebumps. These days, I spend a lot of my recreational reading time with slice of life manga, sometimes with speculative elements, like Laid-Back Camp and I Am a Cat Barista. I can never resist an offbeat thriller, like Good Rich People, or learning something new, like I did in The Betrayal of Anne Frank.

Communication Style

Please note that while I am happy to hop on the phone when needed, I have a strong preference for written (Email or text) communication in my work with my clients.

What I Love

I represent across age categories and genres, including graphic and illustrated works in both fiction and non-fiction. I am seeking:

  • High concept hooks
  • “Trojan horse” books underpinned by progressive social themes
  • Propulsive pacing
  • Three key elements in each project: craft, story, and platform
  • Compact, efficient manuscripts
  • Standalone books

You know that feeling when you have to go somewhere, and you’re reading, and you have to close the book, but it is just the tiniest bit physically painful to do it? That’s my aim, with every book that I have a hand in. I want it to be just a little bit devastating to put down.

My list is comprised of stories that reflect the real diversity of our world, mostly drawing on first-hand lived experiences of people traditionally underrepresented in traditional publishing.

  • LGBTQ2S+
  • disability, physical and/or psychiatric, and/or chronic illness, CripLit
  • BIPOC voices
  • autism spectrum and neurodivergence, including plurality/multiplicity/DID
  • Deaf/deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind
  • polyamory, consensual non-monogamy
  • sex work
  • addiction, substance use or abuse, sobriety
  • fat characters, body positivity (no weight loss or diet narratives or themes!)
  • experiences of poverty
  • rural voices

Please note that although it is not my only focus, I am interested in faith-based works, and would like to see queries from authors who are interested in working with Christian publishers. I also love working with poets who are transitioning into working on prose projects.

Fiction

My favourite thing to read is progressive, observant, upmarket fiction, with exquisite but accessible line-level writing. I am most delighted when I get books that are so weird I could never have predicted them – I love the feeling of being unsettled. Murder is my comfort read.

Please note that I am not seeking romantasy.

Genres that I am seeking across age categories:

  • contemporary
  • speculative
  • book club
  • character-driven twisty thrillers
  • high-concept, single title, LGBTQ2S+ romcom or romantic contemporary novels, HEA required
    • favourite tropes: grumpy-sunshine, “he” falls first, right person wrong time, workplace, SUPER small town, love a resort setting
  • contemporary and neo Gothic
  • campus novels and dark academia
  • contemporary Westerns
  • literary novels with no holds barred – poetic, biting, sharp, and whip-smart
  • graphic novels by author/illustrators

I have a strong preference in SFF for cozy fantasy, in the vein of LEGENDS AND LATTES, THE TEA DRAGON SOCIETY, the Skyjacks: Courier’s Call podcast, or Sousou no Frieren manga or anime – but I absolutely adore titles like these, and would love to see them in my inbox!

Favorite themes across age categories (not all in the same book!):

  • formulaic, read-it-over-and-over comfort stories
  • quirky weirdos doing their best
  • morally ambiguous feminine characters
  • friendship stories, the messier the better
  • strong sense of place, setting-as-character
  • descriptive food writing
  • “zero-proof”/sober narratives
  • traditionally feminine sports (think ballet, cheerleading, roller derby, gymnastics, figure skating, equestrian, etc.)
  • rich people problems, particularly if they come with a healthy dose of glamour
  • subcultures of any kind – the more insular, the better (think Wasteland, think unicycling) – including (maybe especially) cults
  • unconventional hobbies
  • workplace drama
  • coming of age and “on the verge of adulthood” stories (characters of any age, this is more of a vibe)
  • could-have-beens

Weirdly specific asks:

  • all ages: low-conflict, “no plot, just vibes”
  • all ages: books by Newfoundland authors that engage our culture
  • adult: retelling of the story of St. Werburgh
  • adult or YA: fiction that explores the unique friendships between gay men and lesbians
  • adult or YA: fictionalized accounts or fictional stories about survivors of family “reunification” programs (like Building Family Bridges)
  • YA: a book with a character who has interaction with the prison industrial system written by someone with lived experience
  • PB: books with smart and sharp word play humour

Non-Fiction

All non-fiction submissions should include a book proposal rather than a completed manuscript. I love storytelling reminiscent of a high production podcast miniseries. I listen to a lot of them in my downtime, and when that experience is replicated on the page, it’s fantastic.

Interests, across age categories:

  • deep dive journalistic accounts
  • untold or lesser-known recent histories, filling gaps in the history books
  • elevated and investigative true crime, especially missing persons cases, identity theft, and cults
  • culture, food, and cooking, especially “zero-proof”/sober approaches
  • subcultures of any kind – the more insular, the better
  • religion, faith, and spirituality
  • specific niche or special interests

Weirdly specific asks:

  • picture book: the red umbrella as a symbol of solidarity and support for sex workers
  • the violence and corruption in the Ontario tow truck industry
  • Anabaptist communities, culture, and history, especially if you go down the quilting rabbit hole (Mennonite, Amish, Hutterite, etc.)
  • 1990’s daytime talk shows (Montel Williams, Ricki Lake, Maury Povich, Jenny Jones, Jerry Springer, etc.)
  • CTE and traumatic brain injury, contact sports, capitalism, identity, and culture, ideally by someone who is both an expert on the subject and a contact sport athlete (would love for this to be a WFTDA skater)
  • the mysterious death of Lynn Messer and the broader social context around her story
  • memoir from former residents of the YFZ Ranch, Rajneeshpuram, or other closed religious communities in rural North America
  • anything about the global shipping, supply, distribution, logistics industries – would love to hear the story of a worker on a container ship, especially someone who has had to live on an abandoned boat
  • by an author who has lived in one and knows the culture, a story of how gentrification, urbanization, and development are impacting the residents of mobile home parks
  • a memoir or essay collection by a person who has experience navigating and/or living with FASD
  • traditional Ukrainian embroidery and vyshyvanka
  • accounts from survivors of family “reunification” programs (like Building Family Bridges)

I am not the right fit for…

  • works with protagonists or major themes surrounding law enforcement of any kind, including military – the only exception to this is if your book is explicitly abolitionist regarding the prison industrial system, particularly in the US
  • reproductive narratives as the central theme, ie, particularly focused on conception, fertility, pregnancy, or childbirth experiences
  • books with COVID as a central organizing feature of the book
  • depiction of violence toward animals
  • works written by white authors with BIPOC POV characters
  • stories with chronically ill or disabled protagonists or themes written by authors without first-hand, lived experience (including healthy, able-bodied parents, siblings, partners, and/or caretakers of sick or disabled people)
  • coming out narratives or stories centred on drag
  • grief stories or plotlines that center on death and processing tragedy (I am too soft for them!)
  • zombies
  • novellas, comedy/humour, erotica, or poetry
  • epistolary or novels in verse
  • series, including duologies or trilogies
  • previously published works (including self-publishing through Amazon)
  • submissions over 100K words

Fun facts about me:

  • I’ve been vegan since I was 11 years old.
  • I hold a PhD in social work in which I specialize in social justice and human-animal relationships, focusing on working animals in therapeutic environments.
  • I’m an academic and freelance researcher with expertise in LGBTQ2S+ health and wellness.
  • I spent 7+ years working as a front line social worker, mostly in emergency shelter and mental health settings.
  • I went to college for circus arts, and spent nearly a decade performing and coaching at a professional level.
  • J’ai appris le français quand j’étais très jeune, et j’ai vécu la grosse majorité de ma vie l’en parlant comme langue principale, alors que je me considère comme francophone.
  • I attend a progressive Mennonite church and have been a religion nerd my whole life.
  • I have over 100 house plants, including a relatively large collection of marimo moss balls.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions should be emailed to submissions@wcaltd.com

While Westwood has historically specialized in working with Canadian authors, I am always open to queries from authors who live or are from the US and elsewhere. I prioritize queries from authors who are Black and/or BIPOC, trans and/or non-binary, and/or who are disabled or chronically ill. Querying authors: don’t feel pressure to disclose your identities, however you are invited to if you are comfortable. Please note that I only accept queries for unpublished, complete, and revised works under 100K words.

  • MG: between 30 and 60K words
  • YA: between 50 and 80K words
  • Adult: between 70 and 90K words
  • Graphic (any age, author/illustrator only): between 10 and 30K words
  • PB: industry standard 32 pages, and about 600 words

For non-fiction, please submit a book proposal if you have one available. For graphic queries, please provide:

  • a completed and revised outline (or script) or a writing sample of 10-20 pages
  • an art sample

Please see the Westwood Creative Artists submission page for more details!

Please note that we ask for six months to consider queries.

As of June 17, 2024, I am currently reading submissions that arrived in our inbox on April 23, 2024. 

Guidelines & Details

Vital Info