RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 10 Literary Agent Sally Apokedak

 RhyPiBoMo Rhyming Party
This Friday, 8:00 CST sharp! It is one hour of crazy, rhyming trivia!!!
Study this week’s blog posts for the answers! 
Congratulations to Lynn Alpert who won a rhyming picture book manuscript critique! Did you missed our Rhyming Party last week?  Well, here are a few funny comments posted from last Friday’s mania…
“Debbie Smart  – I made it in the nick of time … to Angie’s party to get on my rhyme!”
“Pj McIlvaine  – Should be working on my book, but here I am, procrastinating and on the lam.”
“Mona Pease – Illustrator you say. Don’t look at me or I’ll run away!”
“Karen Affholter  – Hello to all my rhyming friends, I’m checking in while nursing. I’ve got a newborn on my lap so keep it clean, no cursing!”
“Vivian Kirkfield  – Oh Karen needs a special prize, for rhyming makes a baby wise. “
 “Linda Staszak A glass of wine makes rhyming fine!”
So you get the idea…silly rhyming fun! There was no cursing, but I am certain the wine was flowing and the beer was cold. Cheers to all who played last week! I’ll see ya Friday!


Rhyming Critique Groups

Due to huge numbers of folks interested in our Rhyming Critique Groups, the last day to register in our Facebook Group is today, Wednesday, April 13th at Midnight CST. You will be placed in a group only if your name is on the Master Registration List.

Thank you for understanding as we manage almost 10 groups.


I had the opportunity to meet today’s guest blogger last summer at a writing retreat. She is such a nice person and would be a dream agent for anyone who likes to work hard and write beautiful, clever, one-of-a-kind rhyme! I feel blessed that we are friends and I appreciate her words of wisdom today.


 I’m pleased to introduce

Literary Agent Sally Apokedak

Sally Apokedak headshot

Literary Agent Sally Apokedak


Move My Soul to Dance

Sally Apokedak image 1

Angie, delightful editor that she is, assigned me a topic for this post:

Why multi-syllabic ending rhyming words are gems.

Well, then.

Well, well.

Isn’t that a mouthful?

I have no one but myself to blame.

I have said on my website that if you are writing rhyming picture books, and you are employing end rhymes, and all the rhyming words are one-syllable, then the work is probably not for me.

Sally Apokedak image 2

by Hannah C. Hall Illustrated by Bill Bolton

And I get a lot of questions about this. Why do I rep Hannah C. Hall, who uses single-syllable words as end rhymes? What about all the books on the shelves that do the same? What about Dr. Seuss, for pity’s sakes?

So here’s what I mean when I say single-syllable end rhymes are not for me: if you want to sell me on your rhyming picture book, you’re going to have to be better than 99% of the people who submit to me. And most people can rhyme single-syllable words pretty easily.

It’s not hard to say,

The cat sat on the mat.

Then he ate the rat.

And he got really fat.

It’s not even hard to say,

I love to walk beneath the trees,

to wander in their shade.

I love to feel the gentle breeze

and rest in mountain glade.

It took me under two minutes to write those two little rhymes. Those were not hard to do.

So my saying that you have to have more than single-syllable end rhymes is kind of shorthand for, “You have to stand out with your rhymes if you want me to love your rhyming books.”

It’s not really about single-syllable rhyming words. It’s about not sending me plodding little ditties that don’t move my soul to dance.

You need so much more than multi-syllabic words, though.

For one thing you need to never use the word syllabic in a work you send me. Isn’t that a horrid word? Fill your poems with words that are fun. Syllabic sounds slimy to me or like something a cat would cough up. I guess you could use it if you were being funny:

Send only multi-syllabic rhymes,

Full of saliva and phlegm,

Do not wail or send hate mail,

Just give me a rhyming gem.

But really what you need to do is delight the ear and stir the soul if you want to break in with your picture books.

Let’s look at a stanza of poetry that uses some single-syllable end rhymes.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,


Do you see how many figures of speech John Masefield employs?


More Information on Figures of speech


He’s got alliteration, assonance, consonance, personification, and anaphora. He’s creating a mood with his words. He’s calling to our souls, filling us with longing. All in four short lines.

Alright, you’re writing a picture book, not poetry. But that’s my point:

Picture books, even the simplest ones for the smallest children, ought to be more poetry and less advertising jingle.



Sally Apokedak is an associate agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency.

She’s been studying, reviewing, and marketing children’s books, as well as giving writing instruction for 15 years. As the manager of the Kidz Book Buzz blog tour she was privileged to work with best-selling and award-winning authors such as Jeanne DuPrau, Ingrid Law, and Shannon Hale. She is currently working with her own best-selling and award-winning clients: Hannah Hall, Taryn Souders, Mark S. Waxman, to name a few. She teaches at writers’ conferences across the United States as well as teaching writing, online, to students in over 90 countries through her Udemy courses.

Sally is interested in children’s books written from a Christian worldview, but aimed at the general market. She loves picture books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels.

Find out more at

Submit to Sally at submissions@sally-apokedak.com

What Sally is looking for . . . in her own words 😉

Picture Books:  I’m looking for quirky, fun, characters and delightful language, with lines that roll and rhymes that rock. Conflict and growth for characters always helps.

Middle Grade Books:  I’d love some funny boy books. Boy scientists and boy geniuses are great. I love fantasies, and I’d really some sci-fi, but really want anything with a strong voice.

YA Books:  Fantasy is my favorite, and if there’s romance, I love it even more. I’m a huge contemporary fan. I do like sci-fi and mystery.

What Sally is not looking for

Any picture books that rhyme where all the rhyming words are one or two syllables, are not going to be right for me, I’m pretty sure.

I am also not a huge fan of issue books and preachy stories. Supernatural books, with angels, demons, or any mix thereof, will probably not catch my fancy. I’m not salivating for werewolves, vampires, ghosts, fairies, or zombies. I’m not into dark and angsty books. I like endings that are full of hope.


Novel Writing Course



 Thank You Sally!

PLEASE like our guest bloggers on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, go to their websites and express your appreciation for their time and wisdom! Many have generously donated multiple prizes and this event would not be successful without their support, so please support them! Oh…and buy their books too!!


To be eligible for today’s prize drawing by Random.org you must comment at the bottom of the page where it says “Leave A Reply” AND add your FIRST and LAST name in the comment. If I don’t have your name or how to contact you via email, you can’t win.

You must be a member of the RhyPiBoMo Facebook Group and if you haven’t officially registered, you are not eligible to win.

Please follow the pledge rules daily to get the most out of this challenge!


The drawings will be done daily and announced on Saturday of each week.




88 thoughts on “RhyPiBoMo 2016 Day 10 Literary Agent Sally Apokedak

  1. Thank you Sally for your pearls of wisdom. It was a pleasure meeting Sally last year at the summer conference – lots of wisdom to share and her blogs are packed full of gems and beautiful literary technique that move the reader’s soul to dance 🙂
    aimee haburjak

  2. Jill Proctor – Thank you, Sally, for your helpful post. You have inspired me to work harder on achieving more multi-syllabic words. I especially love, “Delight the ear and stir the soul.” I’ll put that next to my computer.

  3. Sara Gentry
    Thank you for giving me much to think about. “More poetry, less advertising jingle” – I like that!

  4. Thank you, Sally, for the wisdom and examples to perfecting rhyme. I’m still chuckling over syllabic sounds slimy…something a cat coughs up-LOL

  5. I really enjoyed meeting you at WOW last summer, Sally. You struck me as a kind, thoughtful, and pretty darn smart lady. I’m totally looking forward to seeing again this year. And I love that you love rhyme! The verse you chose is one of my favorites…a perfect example of how a seemingly simple rhyme can delve so deeply. Vivian Kirkfield

  6. Deborah Allmand
    Sally thanks for the post. I love books that reach into our soul and keeps us wanting more. So wonderful to read but so hard to write. Thank you for your inspiration and examples.

  7. NATALIE LYNN TANNER: Hi Sally! Your post inspired me to look up the courses you teach on online through Udemy. What a WONDERFUL avenue to teach people all over the world how to make their manuscripts “SING!” I am definitely intrigued!!!! THANK YOU!!!

  8. Anita Jones
    Thanks Sally! I am amazed that I have truly always underestimated the power of rhyme…quality rhyming! I always thought my little snappy single syllable rhyming stories were cute (since I illustrate, I let my pictures carried a lot of the weight, I admit!) but I was WRONG and I always knew that I needed more! Your post has really made me think about pushing myself to a different level…as you said, “More poetry and less advertising jingle!” I think your analogy about “syllabic” sounding like “something a cat would cough up” really made me think. I definately don’t want that image stuck in my mind when I submit my work!! I love how you said that rhyme should, “delight the ear and stir the soul”…That needs to be on a poster and hanging above my computer!!!

  9. Sally,
    “Sea Fever” is one of my all-time favorite poems! I especially love to read it when I’m feeling stressed and just need some soul soothing! It was wonderful to meet you at WOW last summer, and since I am in Southern Breeze, I’m sure I’ll be seeing you again. Thanks for the great post!
    Randi Sonenshine

  10. Thanks, Sally! I love your assessment of the word syllabic ( sorry…I promise to never again use it while in correspondence with you. 😊)

  11. Ingrid Boydston- Well, I laughed out loud AND got the shivers while reading that post, so I guess that must be what I must aim for. Or should I say, that for which I must aim? I specifically wondered what Ms. Apokedak meant by that as I have read her description multiple times. Now I feel enlightened and inspired. Thanks very much for caring enough to clarify! 🙂

  12. Chris. Clayson – thank you Sally Apokedak for your informative thoughts on what makes really good rhyming writing. Very interesting post.

  13. Linda Hofke

    Great advice. I think multisyllabic rhymes are more fun because they are more unpredictable/surprising. That’s one of the things I admire in What about Moose? The rhymes are awesome.

    And thank you for posting what you want and don’t want. I’ll keep that in mind.

  14. Michele Katz Grieder

    Still laughing about “Syllabic!” Cat puke, indeed!!!
    I got your message loud and clear in this one quote:
    “It’s about not sending me plodding little ditties that don’t move my soul to dance.”
    And it will stick with me. Thank you for that!!

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