Michael Stearns, a former editor at HarperCollins Children's Books who recently left his agent position at Firebrand Literary, is starting a new endeavor called Upstart Crow Literary. Chris Richman and Danielle Chiotti, who worked with Stearns at Firebrand, are joining him in the new venture. (The company's Web site, www.upstartcrowliterary.com, has just gone live.)

Upstart Crow started taking submissions this week, and the three agents are bringing all their clients to the new venture. Stearns and Richman will focus exclusively on representing children's book authors while Chiotti will handle a range of fiction and nonfiction authors; Stearns said Chiotti will focus on women’s fiction, women’s interest nonfiction and YA.

Stearns said the agency's list "runs the gamut" from new writers such as Jacqueline West and Matt Myklusch (deals for whom recently closed) to more established names like Deb Lund and Kurt Cyrus.

Asked why he struck out on his own, Stearns said he left Firebrand because he and the agency's founder, Nadia Cornier, "had different ideas about how the ideal literary agency should be run." Stearns wanted to create "a more author-focused, editorially minded, artisanal sort of agency, and so I set up my own shop."