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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Natascha Morris here. She is a literary agent at BookEnds Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Natascha! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Natascha:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

SO, I’ve been an agent for a little over a year now. After working at Simon & Schuster, I started to feel creatively stifled by the need to “buy on brand”. As an agent, I could just follow my passion and represent a range of books and creatives.

As to what I have been doing? What haven’t I been doing. As an agent, I have to wear many hats and keep a lot of plates spinning. From getting manuscripts out the door to editors, to helping my clients plan for the next book, to find the next client; there are just a lot of hats to be worn.

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

Since opening its doors in 1999, BookEnds Literary Agency has never strayed from the original goal: Achieving dreams and doing what we love. Representing fiction and nonfiction for adults and children alike, BookEnds agents continue to live their dreams while helping authors achieve theirs.

As for working with me specifically, authors can expect to enter a community. I set the bar high, but I am very much in the trenches, working along side my authors so that we all can achieve success.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I represent all areas of kid lit. The only area I am no longer looking for is sci-fi in MG and YA. But I love picture books and young adult novels the best.

Right now, I am looking for more historical fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romances. I am looking for diverse characters living their lives, and authors I can champion.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

MERMAIDS!!! I am dying for a contemporary about professional mermaids or a creepy mermaid book that feels like Neil Gaiman.

I also love court intrigue in fantasy so that is a perennial love. Basically, check out my #MSWL to see what I am currently hoping to find.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

Sci-fi is really not my thing. I am also very picky when it comes to novels in verse. And dark, graphic abuse books are never going to be right for me. 

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

My philosophy is that literary should not be boring. To that end, a lot of my authors have “upmarket commercial” books, a literary style writing with a commercial hook.

When it comes to my authors, I want people who understand this is a business. They write with an awareness of the market, and when times are hard, don’t give up. After 6 months on sub and 40 rejections, that is when you need grit to keep going.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I would say I am an editorial agent. Probably more editorial than I should be. 😊 When a manuscript first comes in, I start editing. Authors usually get a marked-up manuscript and an edit letter for their first round, and then I spot check. That is why it is so important authors have CPs. I’m the final gatekeeper before the editors see something, but at the end of the day, my job is not to do intensive editing. I only polish.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

BookEnds uses Query Manager and authors can query me at http://QueryMe.Online/1067. The form has all my requirements, but I will say this: don’t just phone in the letter. That is your sales pitch.

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

I really hate the phrase “standalone with series potential”. Also if you are comping to Harry Potter, Twilight, or The Hunger Games, I can tell you are not current on your YA reading.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

Ideally, I am for 4-6 on a query and 10-12 on a full manuscript. Sadly, I don’t always make that. But BookEnds policy is that you will always get a response so don’t assume no answer means no.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I’m fine with that. I will say I am not going to be looking at book 2 for the self pub series or the book that is published. It needs to be a brand-new thing. Self-publishing doesn’t change how I evaluate.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

I don’t see the role changing that much. Publishers uses agents because we are the first line of gatekeepers. I can say from experience that I was unprepared for the wave of manuscripts. With all that editors do, they need me. 😊 As for smaller presses and self-publishing, that is really a conversation that I have with my clients. Agents are author advocates, first and foremost. Just because an author wants to go to a small press, doesn’t mean they don’t need an insider who can fight for them.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

So a lot of my authors are debut, and some of my sales must remain SECRET for the time being. 😊 But here’s a few of the awesome people I was blessed to find:
Raissa Figueroa: http://rizzyfig.com/ Debut picture book: SOPHIE AND LITTLE STAR coming October 2018
Viviane Elbee: http://vivianeelbee.com/index.html Debut picture book: TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI coming November 2018
Katrina Moore: https://www.katrinamoorebooks.com/books.html Debut picture book: ONE HUG coming December 2020
And many more to come!

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.


My Pinterest, for a better look at the time of books I am looking for:  https://www.pinterest.com/nataschamorris/

Links and Contact Info:

15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.


Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Keep learning and working on your craft. As the Gatorade commercial said: “If you want a revolution, the only solution: gotta evolve.”

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Natascha.

­Natascha is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through June 2nd.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.

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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Megan Bannen here to share about her YA fantasy THE BIRD AND THE BLADE. I am super excited about this because of the Chinese setting, which I always love because my daughter is adopted from there, and the impossible love. Can’t wait to read it! But first I have some follower news to share.

FOLLOWERS NEWS

C
. Lee McKenzie's new MG SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC is being released. Here's a blurb: Pete’s stuck in medieval England! Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Timelock. But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found. There’s only one solution—fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. He travels to 1173 England accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar. But what if the page remains lost? Will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the dukes’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones, and Pete quickly realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again. 

And some links:

Now onto today's interview!

Here’s a blurb of THE BIRD AND THE BLADE from Goodreads

As a slave in the Kipchak Khanate, Jinghua has lost everything: her home, her family, her freedom … until she finds herself an unlikely conspirator in the escape of Prince Khalaf and his irascible father as they flee from their enemies across the vast Mongol Empire. On the run, with adversaries on all sides and an endless journey ahead, Jinghua hatches a scheme to use the Kipchaks’ exile to return home, a plan that becomes increasingly fraught as her feelings for Khalaf evolve into a hopeless love.

Jinghua’s already dicey prospects take a downward turn when Khalaf seeks to restore his kingdom by forging a marriage alliance with Turandokht, the daughter of the Great Khan. As beautiful as she is cunning, Turandokht requires all potential suitors to solve three impossible riddles to win her hand—and if they fail, they die.

Jinghua has kept her own counsel well, but with Khalaf’s kingdom—and his very life—on the line, she must reconcile the hard truth of her past with her love for a boy who has no idea what she’s capable of ... even if it means losing him to the girl who’d sooner take his life than his heart.

THE BIRD AND THE BLADE is a lush, powerful story of life and death, battles and riddles, lies and secrets from debut author Megan Bannen. 

Hi Megan! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer. 

Hi, Natalie! Thanks for inviting me to interview. I’m a children’s librarian in the Kansas City area, and I was also a middle school English language arts teacher for a few years. I always had it in the back of my mind that I would write a book someday, but I didn’t actually get around to doing so until, in my late thirties, it occurred to me: “Hey, Megan, you’re never going to write a book unless you sit down and write a book.” So, I started writing. Six years later, I sold The Bird and the Blade. It’s never too late to try something new or go after a dream, people!

2. I'd love to be a librarian. Where did you get the idea for THE BIRD AND THE BLADE? 

I was listening to Puccini’s opera Turandotand stewing for the millionth time over the rather unsatisfying ending when it occurred to me that retelling the story from a different point of view had potential to be a good YA novel. As I researched the possibility, I read several versions of the story, many of which give the slave girl character a meatier backstory than the opera gives her. I decided to create my own version of this character (Jinghua) and to tell the story, based on François Pétis de la Croix’s version, from the slave girl’s point of view.

3. Tell us a bit about your world building process and your research into China as you developed your world. 

There’s some scholarly evidence that links the Turandot tales to the Mongol Empire, which is how I chose my setting. So my early research focused on learning as much as I could about the Mongols of the thirteenth century. Additionally, the slave girl’s backstory in “Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China” has an interesting link to the demise of the Song Empire—the last emperor, a six-year-old boy, was thrown overboard a ship to drown rather than fall into the hands of the Mongols—which is why the protagonist, Jinghua, comes from Lin’an, the capital city of the Southern Song Dynasty (modern day Hangzhou). Consequently, I needed to learn as much as I could about the Song as well. I wrote and researched concurrently, so that as world-building questions arose, I could track down the answers through research. Once I had the book as close to finished as I could get it, I worked with my publisher to have a combination of sensitivity readers and academic scholars read the manuscript and offer feedback on authenticity and historical accuracy. Their thoughts and suggestions were invaluable, and the book is much better as a result, in my opinion. My favorite sources of information, however, were two friends who were incredibly generous in answering my many, many questions regarding the representation of a Muslim character (Prince Khalaf) and best practices in the use of Pinyin (Romanized Mandarin Chinese), respectively. When it comes to research, books and articles are great, but people are even better.

4. Yes, that's great you had friends that you could ask. I read that longing is an important emotion for the three main characters in your story. Did you plan that out or did it evolve as you wrote the story? How did you weave it into your characters’ stories?

Personally, I love character-driven novels that make me feel something emotionally, so when I set out to write The Bird and Blade, that idea went without saying. I don’t visualize world or action or even characters very clearly when I write. I tend to feel my way through the creation of a story. Because the focus of the writing is on the characters’ internal lives, their hopes and desires drive the plot (I hope!), which leads to the reader experiencing the characters’ deep sense of longing (I hope!).

5. Your book has gotten great reviews as a beautifully written book that is heartbreaking and makes you cry. Share how you really delved into your characters to make your story pull so much at readers’ hearts. 

The characters’ evolving wants and needs drive the action of this story, so I think it’s only natural that it hurts when things don’t pan out the way the reader might want. Both Jinghua and Khalaf have opportunities to make choices that would greatly improve their personal happiness, but frankly, they both kind of suck at the whole personal happiness thing for different reasons. That can be painful for a reader to watch (read?). And, quite honestly, my favorite scenes to write are the ones that I design to make readers ugly-cry. Sorry, all, but I’m drinking your tears with a heart full of joy. Mwah-ha-ha!

6. You are also a librarian and have a family. What has your writing schedule been like and how have you stuck to a writing schedule that keeps you productive? 

I’ve spent the past five years supporting a family of four while my husband has been working on his Ph.D. (You may all call him Dr. Mike now.) Between work and soccer practice and basketball games and music lessons, it’s been tricky carving out time to write. When I’m on deadline, my alarm is set for 4:45 am. I preset the coffee pot the night before and I have a half-pint jar of oatmeal waiting for me in the fridge when I get out of bed. I write until about 6:30 at which point I have to walk the dog and get ready for work. Since I work Wednesday evenings, Wednesday mornings are a time when I can get a lot accomplished. Unless I have to work a weekend shift or take my kids to a soccer and/or basketball game, I write until noon on Saturdays and Sundays as well. Depending on my writing workload, I put in anywhere from 20-30 hours a week toward my writing career. This schedule is so thoroughly engrained that 7:00am is now “sleeping in” for me, and I turn into an anxious, cranky person when I’m not actively working on a writing project.

7. Sounds like you are incredibly discipline. Your agent is Holly Root. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like? 

My agent is Holly Root! How fantastic is that?? I queried nineteen agents between April and June of 2016, and Holly was the first to ask for more pages. I was over the moon when she offered representation. (Because, seriously, Holly Root.) I signed with her in mid-July of 2016. We went on submission at the beginning of August that year, and right after Labor Day, we had an auction and a book deal. So while the book took me a bajillion years to write, querying and selling didn’t take long at all. I consider myself extremely fortunate in that regard. (By the way, my editor is Kristin Daly Rens! How fantastic is that??)

8. What are your plans for marketing your book and what advice do you have for others who are hoping to debut in terms of the planning they should do in the year leading up to their book release? 

My advice to fellow debuts is to do whatever makes you happy. At the end of the day, unless you’re some kind of marketing guru, I suspect that it’s unlikely that your own marketing efforts will tip the needle on sales. Find your jam and stick to that. And don’t do stuff you don’t want to do. Some people love making swag and running pre-order campaigns, and more power to them. Personally, I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick. I’m sticking with marketing and promotion that I enjoy, particularly public speaking and meeting people. I’m a recovering theater nerd, so I plan to find as many opportunities as I can to talk to readers in person through classroom visits, book signings, panels, etc.

9. That's great that you are comfortable with public speaking. Okay, here’s another librarian question. How can authors connect more with libraries around the country to help get the word out about their books?

Just walking into your public library and saying hi to the librarians is a good start. Of course, library conferences are a way to meet a lot of librarians all in one place, so if you have the funds to send yourself to ALA, PLA, etc. have at it. One avenue I think a lot of authors fail to explore is investigating their state library association. Most, if not all, states have an annual library association conference that is like ALA but on a smaller scale. That’s a great opportunity to interact with librarians on a local level, and it’s usually easier on your pocketbook, too.

10. What are you working on now? 

I have a several projects going. My primary focus is on revisions for a young adult fantasy novel, but I’m also puttering away on a humorous middle grade fantasy between edits, and I’ve started research on a possible young adult historical fiction novel as well. I’d really like to write down the bones of a new project sometime this year if I can swing it.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Megan. You can find Megan at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megan.bannen

Megan has generously offered a signed hardback of THE BIRD AND THE BLADE. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 26th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.t

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Monday, May 28th I'm off for Memorial Day

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 6th I have an interview with debut author Adrienne Kisner and a giveaway of her YA contemporary DEAR RACHEL MADDOW

Monday, June 11th I have an interview with debut author Kit Frick and a giveaway of her YA contemporary thriller SEE ALL THE STARS

Wednesday, June 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Gabrielle Piraino

Thursday, June 14th I'm participating in the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop 

Hope to see you on Monday!

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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Amanda Ayers Barnett here. She is a literary agent at Donaghy Literary Group

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Amanda! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Amanda:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

Hi, it’s great to be here—thanks so much for having me. I became an agent about a year and a half ago, but I’ve spent my entire career in publishing. I first worked at Random House, then as an editor at Pocket Books/Simon and Schuster before freelance editing on my own. I decided to join Donaghy Literary Group after reading that they were specifically looking for an agent with editing experience from a major publishing house.

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

The Donaghy Literary Group provides full-service literary representation to all of our clients and prides itself on guiding and supporting our authors through every stage of the publishing process. We specialize in commercial fiction of all kinds and have represented a number of New York Times and USA Today best-selling authors.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I am currently representing MG and YA authors and am looking for MG’s of all kinds and contemporaries, historicals, and mystery/thrillers in YA.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to see in the genres you are interested in?
I love coming of age stories, especially those that feature gifted (traditionally or uniquely) characters looking to rise above their circumstances. I am drawn to magic realism and the occasional fantasy in MG and mysteries in both categories.

What She Isn’tLooking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

While I say I’m interested in MG’s of all kinds, I am actually NOT interested in those that feature animals as main characters. I love animals, I just don’t want to read stories from their point of view!

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

Any author that I offer to represent will tell you that one of the first questions I ask them after discussing their current project is what else they’ve written or want to write in the future. I am interested in the depth of an author’s career and shaping it in the best possible way for them. I don’t believe in encouraging authors to write according to current trends but to write what they truly want to write. Publishing can be a long, arduous process so it’s imperative that their hearts be in the projects they put out there.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I like that description—editorial agent—because it’s exactly what I am. I read every query like an editor and love tackling revisions and going through this process with authors. Any of my clients will tell you that I am happy to go through as many rounds of revisions as needed and don’t believe in rushing a project or submitting one until it is as ready as it can possibly be. I am an editor at heart and love shaping and perfecting a story.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

The best way to query me is through my page on the Donaghy Literary Group website. It’s important that writers follow our guidelines—I’m not likely to consider a query if it’s lacking one of our requested components. Obviously a query letter is very important—writers should focus on including those elements that make their project stand out—but I know from experience how hard they are to write so I sympathize!

9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Query letters should include a paragraph or two of description but not more; we request that you include a synopsis so further details can be included there. Don’t make the mistake of turning your query letter into a synopsis!

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I’m responding to this question with chagrin.:)  When I first started as an agent, since I was new and unfamiliar to people, I felt like I should accept every category, and that was a big mistake. I was completely overwhelmed by thousands of queries! As a result, I closed for a time being so I could catch up. But when I reopened, I was far more selective in my categories and hope to be much timelier in my responses going forward. The one good aspect of reading so many queries is that the process made clear to me those projects I gravitated toward, which is when I decided to represent MG and YA projects only.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?
I know what a jungle it is out there so I am open to representing authors who have previously self-published or been published by smaller presses. But I’m not interested in representing those projects themselves. I’m only interested in reading their new projects since they give us a clean slate from which to start.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

With all of these changes—and there will only continue to be more of them—I think the role of the agent is more important now than ever. Writers need someone to help them navigate all of these options, someone they can count on to give them good advice. I think it’s great that there are so many ways for writers to get their work out there; it’s all about finding the right fit. But if I’ve offered to represent someone, it’s because I think they have real commercial value so we will always try traditional publishing houses first and go from there.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

My first client was Léonie Kelsall, who wrote an enchanting contemporary/historical YA set in rural Australia. She is very prolific and has written three other projects since then! My first MG client was Scott Taft who wrote a wonderful story about a boy who is obsessed with Charles Darwin and uses his theories to help him adjust to a new school; Scott is currently working on an MG fantasy. Maya Creedman writes lovely contemporary YA’s—the kind I would’ve loved to read as a teen! Emma Nelson’s novel is set in Salem, Massachusetts and features a ghost tour guide who can commune with the witches of the town’s past. And Jennifer Dillard and Tom Kowitz write fun MG’s featuring precocious and heart-warming main characters. I feel blessed to work with each one of them!

Links and Contact Info:

14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.


Additional Advice:

15. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

The best advice I can give any author is to persevere! Publishing is constantly changing so, while they might need to adapt, they should have faith that they will ultimately find their place. Oh, and when searching for inspiration, read read read! It will feed their craft at the same time that it feeds their soul.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Amanda.

­Amanda is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through May 26th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.
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Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have Kristina Pérez here to share about her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES. It’s gotten great reviews as a real heartbreaker with a fantastic but hard-in-a-good-way ending. It sounds fantastic.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them.

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved.

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance. 

Hi Kristina! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I was born and raised in New York City. As an only child, I often told stories to myself and my many stuffed animals. The first “book” I wrote was in second grade about a time traveling stamp.

2. Your book is a retelling of Tristan and Eseult, but you write the story of the princess’ cousin, Branwen. Why did you decide to tell her story?

I’ve been fascinated with Branwen since graduate school. In the medieval legends, it’s Branwen who is responsible for the safeguarding the infamous love potion and it’s her fault that Tristan and Eseult drink it! I wanted to know how she felt about the chaos she causes––and I may have added an extra gut-wrenching twist. In life, I find that we often learn and grow the most from our biggest failures. I wanted the chance to explore that through the character of Branwen.

3. So agree that this is true in life about our failures. Share a bit about your world building process. What advice do you have for other fantasy writers about creating their worlds?

The world is perhaps the most important character in my fantasy novels. I consider the topography first: is it mountainous or by the sea? What kind of agriculture and economy would that lend itself to? The economics lead inevitably to political power structures, i.e. who controls the wealth, and why?

Simultaneously, I think about what the people believe in––if they live by a river, for instance, they might have a river goddess. The next question is whether these beliefs give rise to an organized religion or not, and how the religious power structure interacts with the political one. Once I have all of these basics worked out, I know the framework in which all of my characters will operate!

4. So interesting that you see your world as a character. You’ve written a non-fiction book for adults, THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY. What drew you to write YA?

THE MYTH OF MORGAN LA FEY is a non-fiction title based on my PhD thesis that analyzes
Morgan la Fey’s devolution in Western culture from a Celtic Sovereignty Goddess to a wicked witch. The legend of Tristan and Eseult has also become attached to the Arthurian canon, so I drew on a lot of the same folklore and mythology in the creation of my magic system for SWEET BLACK WAVES.

I read The Mists of Avalon as a teen and it left a huge impression on me. I suppose, in a way, I wanted to give Branwen a voice in the same way that Marion Zimmer Bradley brought a young Morgan la Fey to life.

5. You also have a career as a journalist. How has that helped you when making the leap to writing fiction?

The discipline of writing to tight deadlines has been a very useful skill. Especially this year, when I’m juggling multiple projects. First drafts don’t have to be perfect. You just have to get them done!

6. I have a lot of deadlines too as a contract writer. You're giving me hope that I can apply the skill to a book contract if I ever get one. Your book sounds like it has really compelling characters and a plot that makes you want to turn the page. How did this come together so well for you?

My starting point was to reread and compare all of the most important medieval versions of the Tristan and Eseult legends. I looked at how many overlapping plot points they had and then I tried to think of them from Branwen’s perspective. From there, I began to craft Branwen’s story and it just really flowed.

7. Your agent is Sara Crowe. Tell us how she became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

Sara fished me out of the slush pile a number of years ago and I’m so lucky that she did. She’s a fierce and loyal advocate for her clients. If I can mix my Shakespeare quotations, the course of publication, like true love, never did run smooth––but all’s well that ends well!

8. Ha! Ha! What are some of the things that you are learning about debuting and releasing your book that you think would help other aspiring authors?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to keep your eyes on your own paper. Your path to publication won’t look the same as anybody else’s. The only thing you can truly control is the writing itself. Just focus on that. If you believe in your story, eventually somebody else will too.

9. That's great advice. What else are you working on?

Writing as K. K. Pérez, my first YA Sci-Fi, THE TESLA LEGACY is coming from Tor Teen in March 2019. LEGACY follows a precocious young scientist named Lucy Phelps whose fateful encounter in the Tesla Suite of the New Yorker Hotel unlocks her dormant electrical powers. As Lucy struggles to understand her new abilities, she is thrust into a centuries old battle between rival alchemical societies. One wants to help her. The other wants her dead.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kristina. You can find Kristina at www.kristinaperez.com as well as Instagram and Twitter: @kkperezbooks.

Kristina has generously offered an ARC of SWEET BLACK WAVES for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 19th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I have a fantastic interview with debut author Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen to share about their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING. It sounds like a real page turner that has gotten great reviews. Before that I have my IWSG Post and awesome Follower News!

Follower News

I'm excited to share about Tick Tock: A Stitch in Crime, the new IWSG anthology. Many followers have stories in the anthology. A special congrats to Gwen Gardner, Rebecca Douglass, Jemi Fraser, Yolanda Renée,  and C. Lee McKenzie who are followers and everyone else in the anthology!
Here's a blurb:

The clock is ticking...
Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a
killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?
Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglass, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...
Release date: May 1, 2018
And here's Buy links: 
IWSG POST

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are:  E.M.A. Timar, J. Q. Rose,C.Lee McKenzie, and Raimey Gallant!


I'm going to skip the question and just say that I know that I am going through those frustrating times when you have to take care of your family and accept there isn't time to write. My mom just moved to her apartment in independent living from Florida the end of last week. And I've just had to focus on all the details of her move and now getting her adjusted. 

It's frustrating because my contract writing job is slower but all my extra time is sucked up with the details of my mom's move. Soon, soon, I tell myself, I will have time to write. That's my mantra this month. What about you? Are you getting lots of inspiring time to write?

Now onto my interview with Laurie and Cordelia.

Here’s a blurb of EVERY SHINY THING from Goodreads


In this beautifully constructed middle-grade novel, told half in prose and half in verse, Lauren prides herself on being a good sister, and Sierra is used to taking care of her mom. When Lauren’s parents send her brother to a therapeutic boarding school for teens on the autism spectrum and Sierra moves to a foster home in Lauren’s wealthy neighborhood, both girls are lost until they find a deep bond with each other. But when Lauren recruits Sierra to help with a Robin Hood scheme to raise money for autistic kids who don’t have her family’s resources, Sierra has a lot to lose if the plan goes wrong. Lauren must learn that having good intentions isn’t all that matters when you battle injustice, and Sierra needs to realize that sometimes, the person you need to take care of is yourself.

Hi Laurie and Cordelia! Thanks for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourselves and how you became writers.

Cordelia: Thanks for having us! I have always been a writer. I wrote lots of stories and poems growing up and then majored in Creative Writing at Kenyon College, where I mostly wrote poetry. After working with kids as a counselor, I decided to try writing stories for young readers. This led me to Vermont College of Fine Arts to earn my MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and there I worked on a manuscript that became my first published book.This is also how Laurie and I met!

Laurie: I always loved to read, but I didn’t think of myself as a writer until I was in my twenties. During my first year of teaching middle school English, I re-read a lot of the books I’d loved as a kid and discovered some wonderful new MG and YA novels. Over my summer break that first year, I was inspired to try writing a middle grade novel of my own, and I’ve been writing ever since. I was eager to develop my writing craft since I’d never really studied creative writing, so I went to VCFA, where I grew so much as a writer and made some incredible friends, including Cordelia!

2. Where did you get the idea for EVERY SHINY THING and what made you decide to write it together?

In 2015, Cordelia was on a panel for her first novel, and two of the other panelists had co-authored their book. Laurie was at the event, and Cordelia remembers looking into the audience and thinking, “Laurie and I could write a book together!” Laurie thought that sounded amazing, and, just a few days later, we had come up with an idea and had written the first chapters. Our characters came to us first: Cordelia envisioned Sierra and then Laurie worked off of that vision to create Lauren. We already both lived in Philadelphia, shared the same agent, and were great friends and critique partners, so all of that helped to make the process run smoothly. 

3. That's just such a great story of how you started writing together and getting the idea for your book. Your book is told in alternating POV and in both prose and verse. Did you always plan to write the story in prose and verse and what were the challenges in writing your story this way?

We always planned to write the story this way, in part because Cordelia was already a verse novelist
and Laurie writes in prose, and in part because those styles fit our two characters. Sierra is going through a hard time emotionally, and verse is a great form to gently guide readers through a character’s intense emotional journey. Lauren’s chapters carry the bulk of the plot of the story and it made sense to give her as many words as possible! Using these two forms helped us make the girls’ voices easily distinguishable from each other, but in early versions we did have trouble making the transitions between sections smooth enough. They were kind of jarring in places, so we had to work hard to finesse them.

4. I’m always curious how co-authors write a manuscript together. Share what that process was like for you.

Well, Laurie wrote Lauren’s sections and Cordelia wrote Sierra’s sections. We wrote in chronological order in a shared Google doc. One of us would write a chapter and then the other person would write and so on. We had some big brainstorming and planning sessions throughout, so we knew which plot points would come up in each chapter. And each time we revised, we made a plan together but then took turns making the edits to our individual character’s sections,.

5. Sounds like a really organized way to work together. Tell us a bit about your two main characters—Lauren and Sierra. They both sound like compelling characters that have really drawn readers into your story. What are your tips for developing characters that make the reader want to turn the page?

Lauren is a compassionate, determined seventh grader who is just beginning to examine her own privilege and see the injustice in the world. Her new neighbor and classmate Sierra is a loyal daughter and friend who is resilient and used to being a caretaker for her mom and, now, her new friend. In terms of developing characters that will draw in readers, one thing we recommend is to think about the situations that would be hardest for your characters and put them in those situations and see how they react. At the start of our novel, both of our girls have temporarily lost someone they care about greatly, and these losses fuel their emotional journeys and lead readers to feel empathy for them. It also helps to give characters a clear desire, even if that desire is misguided, so that readers will understand what’s driving them.

6. That's great advice to put your characters in challenging situations. Your agent is Sara Crowe. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Cordelia: Sara became my agent soon after graduating from VCFA in 2012. Although she was the first agent I queried, acquiring an editor for my first book took ten months. It also took about that long to find the right editor for EVERY SHINY THING. Being an author means being patient!

Laurie: I signed with Sara in 2013, soon after I finished the novel I’d started during my time at VCFA. Cordelia recommended that I query Sara, and Sara immediately requested my full manuscript and then very enthusiastically offered representation within 24 hours of my query. I was so excited and so hopeful that my book would soon sell after what seemed like such an auspicious start! But unfortunately that book didn’t sell, and neither did the next two books I wrote. EVERY SHINY THING was the fourth book I had on submission to editors. I was basically on sub for two and a half full years with three different books before I got my first book deal! So, yeah. Being an author means being patient...and persistent!

7. Awesome how you both had separate journeys to the same agent. Cordelia has a YA book in verse, SKYSCRAPING, that was published in 2015 and was an ALA best book for young adults in 2016. Congrats! How have you drawn on Cordelia’s experience as a debut author in terms of planning the release of this book and your marketing?

Thanks! Cordelia knew some about event planning and swag and social media, and we were able to get the ball rolling on things like ordering bookmarks and reaching out to bookstores pretty early on thanks to her prior experience. But a lot has changed in just three years, and some things are different for MG than YA. Laurie also learned a lot from participating in her own 2018 debut group and could draw upon her experiences and connections from teaching middle school for ten years, so she does a lot of social media outreach with educators and librarians.

8. What are your marketing plans for EVERY SHINY THING and what advice do you have for other authors debuting about marketing their 

We’re doing a lot of interviews, guest posts, bookstore events, and school visits! We also made an educators’ guide and some fun swag that we love sharing with readers. Through the Electric 18s debut group, Laurie has connected with some other MG debuts, and those connections have led to some great opportunities for us. Our book is part of an exciting 2018 MG Scavenger Hunt that we’re just beginning to share with kids, librarians, and teachers, and it’s also the May selection for the Middle Grade at Heart book clubThat means the MG @ Heart team, which Laurie is part of, is creating a newsletter with some great content about the book, posting about the book on mgbookvillage.org, and hosting a Twitter chat about the book, and we’ll also be guests on Corrina Allen’s Books Between 

Our advice is to develop a strong network of other writers. They are your best allies in this business that is quite competitive but also can be quite supportive. Also, decide what’s most rewarding and important to you, and prioritize those things. For us, that’s been anything that connects us directly with teachers, librarians, and kids.

9. You both have other books that you are writing alone that have been just released or will be released in the next year. Share a bit about them and how you worked on them while also working together on EVERY SHINY THING.

Cordelia: My second YA verse novel, THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS, just came out in March. It is a bit dizzying having the books come out almost simultaneously. Fortunately, however, in terms of the editing process I managed to not have to work on them both at the same time very much. Mostly (by some stroke of luck) it would flip flop and I would have to work on one and then turn it in and work on the other. THE WAY THE LIGHT BENDS was also sold on proposal, so I was starting with a first draft from the beginning of the editorial process. So, overall, that project was more time consuming than EVERY SHINY THING. 

Laurie: I have a middle grade novel called UP FOR AIR coming out in spring 2019. It’s about Annabelle, a thirteen-year-old struggling student and swimming star, who is thrilled when she gets called up to swim on the high school team and gets a lot of attention from older teens, but has to navigate some social situations she isn’t quite prepared for. I wrote some of it before EVERY SHINY THING sold and some of it between rounds of edits for EVERY SHINY THING. The only tricky part has been working on edits for that book right around the launch time for EVERY SHINY THING, but I’ve mostly been able to spend some days focused on one and some days on the other, and it’s energizing to be doing two very different types of work (revising one while promoting the other). As you can imagine, after all those months on submission with close calls and kind passes but no book deal, I’m extremely excited and appreciative to be juggling two books now!

Thanks for sharing your advice, Laurie and Cordelia. You can find Laurie here: https://twitter.com/LaurieLMorrison

And you can find Cordelia here:

Cordelia and Laurie have generously offered a hardback of EVERY SHINY THING for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 19th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 7th I have an interview with debut author Kristin Perez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!



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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to be participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop hosted by StuckInBooks. I'm especially excited because this blog hop falls on my regular Monday blogging day (because we're encouraged to post a day early). There's a lot of new books that have recently released or will be published soon, and I'm excited to share them with you.

I hope you find a book you like for yourself, a family member, or a friend in the choices offered. Don’t see a book you like? You can win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card instead. I hope you'll all enter to win a book or gift card for yourself or as a gift for someone.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA and one adult anthology that I'm looking forward to reading. If you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead as long as it doesn't cost more than the book here. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 



 


 


 

 

 

 


 


 



If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through May 15th telling me the book you want to win or if you want to win the Gift Card instead. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, May 2nd I have an interview with debut co-authors Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and a giveaway of their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING and my IWSG post

Monday, May 7th I have an interview with debut author Kristin Perez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:






















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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Jennifer March Soloway here. She is an associate literary agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Jennifer! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks! I’m thrilled to be here!

About Jennifer:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.



Before I joined ABLA, I worked in public relations and marketing in a number of industries, including banking, health care, and toys—and except for banking, there was always a focus on kids. When I worked for the toy company, in addition to managing public relations and producing the catalog, I was the toy inventor liaison, which meant several times a year I would travel around the country to meet with toy inventors, who would pitch their toy ideas to me. It was the coolest job!

Selling an invention to our company was tough. We had a very strong internal design team, and we almost never bought outside ideas, so it was difficult to place with us. But every once in a while, I would find an invention that was perfect for our new line. It was my job to then negotiate the terms and the contract with the inventor. 

Sounds a bit like agenting, doesn’t it?
Not long after, I decided to pursue my passion for literature and got an MFA in English and Creative Writing with an emphasis on young adult literature. I was first introduced to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency at the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop, and later, I got the opportunity to be Executive Agent Laura Rennert’s assistant. I found the publishing industry fascinating. I enjoyed reviewing contracts and thinking strategically on behalf of the clients. I had fun writing pitches. I even liked reviewing royalty statements. Most of all, I loved editorial. I discovered it gives me great joy to help writers find their story. I love to champion others.

In mid-2016, I was promoted to Associate Agent. Laura has been an amazing mentor and teacher, and our entire agency is incredibly collaborative and supportive. I feel so fortunate and grateful to work with such a dynamic group of women.

Today, I represent a handful of clients—picture book author/illustrators and MG/YA novelists, as well as a few adult writers—and I’m actively looking for new clients to add to my list.

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

The Andrea Brown Literary Agency is a mid-sized literary agency headquartered in Northern California with offices in Southern California, Chicago, and New York. Our is to make sure clients are not only published, but published well. Most recently, two of our clients were longlisted for the National Book Award: Mitali Perkins for YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR (FSG/Macmillan, 2017), and Meg Medina for BURN BABY BURN (Candlewick, 2016), and Neal Shusterman won the 2017 Michael L. Prinz Honor for SCYTHE (BFYR/S&S, 2016). Our agency invests a great deal of care and time into each project and client. We seek long-term relationships with our clients and work with clients at every stage of the writing process, from editorial to submission and beyond. We handle everything from domestic deals to foreign rights, plus film and TV, etc.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I represent authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and young adult stories, as select adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and horror projects. (I like to be scared!)

For picture books, I am drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but I especially love funny, interactive read-aloud’s with some kind of surprise at the end. When it comes to middle grade, I like all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasies grounded in reality.

Young adult is my sweet spot. I adore high-concept commercial page-turners of any genre, full of unexpected twists. I’m a huge fan of scary, psychological suspense that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as I love a good thriller, my favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction.

Regardless of genre, I am actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature. I love literature that allows me to see the world in a way I would never experience on my own.

That’s my wish list, but an author might have something I have never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for me. I am open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise me!

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

I would love to find a magical MG fantasy with friendship and/or family themes; a spooky-but-not-too-scary MG ghost story; or a YA about good teens making bad decisions that lead to dire consequences. (Cheating? Check! Bad girlfriends or boyfriends? Check! Shipped off to summer reform camp? Yes!)

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I am not the right agent for chapter books or novels in verse. I like both, but neither area is my editorial strength. Also, as much as I love a good, gritty story (I will go very dark and violent), if it’s misogynist or gratuitously abusive against women and/or children, I’m out. I’ve passed on numerous projects for that reason.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

First, I look to fall in love with a project. I want to represent stories and art that explore universal truths and evoke strong emotions: joy, sadness, fear, compassion, excitement, or better yet, all of the above. Then, I talk to the creator. Do my editorial suggestions for the project resonate with them? Is it easy for us to talk to one another? Are we aligned in our goals for the working relationship? If the answer is yes, yes, and yes, then I will offer representation, and if I’m lucky, they will accept.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

My goal is to help my clients revise and polish their manuscripts for publication and make their project the best it can be, so I spend a lot of time reading client manuscripts and providing editorial feedback. In other words, if you sign with me, I’m going to make you work, but only because I want to put our very best foot forward.

I believe giving good feedback is an art. I try to give editorial suggestions worded in such a way that the author not only understands the issue but also feels inspired and encouraged to revise. My style is detailed and encouraging; I don’t like to be harsh or blunt. If that’s the style you want, I am not the right agent for you.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

I like to see the following in a query letter:
  • A simple salutation, and perhaps the reason why you think I’d be a good fit for your project;
  • A description of the project (category, genre, word-count, and comparable books in the market);
  • A 1-2 paragraph pitch (or a 1-2 sentence pitch for a picture book project); and
  • A brief bio, and contact information (email, Twitter handle, etc.)
Per our submission guidelines, authors can query me at soloway@andreabrownlit.com. Please put “Query” in the subject of the email and include the following in the body of the email text:

  • ​A query letter; and
  • The first 10 pages of the manuscript​ or the complete text of a picture book project copied into the body of the email text.
  • Please no attachments, except for illustrations (in jpeg format), or picture book dummy (either a PDF or a Dropbox link, etc. works well)
9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

I think the biggest mistake I see is authors submitting work too soon. I see potential in almost every submission, but most projects I receive are at too early a stage for me to offer representation. The drafts tend to be too raw and in need of more work. Often, I can tell the author is still writing to discover, or if they have discovered the end, they have yet to rework the beginning and middle.

I am looking for something with potential, something I think I can sell. I want to read the story and have a vision for how the work could be elevated and polished. A manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but at the same time, it has to be really good.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I am grateful for the opportunity to consider all submissions. I read every query carefully, and I wish I could respond to everyone personally. Unfortunately, as we state in our submissions guidelines, because of the high volume of material that we receive, we are no longer able to respond personally to every submission. If an author has not heard from me within six weeks, the author can assume that the material submitted is not right for our agency at this time.

If I request a manuscript, my goal is to read and respond to the author within 6-8 weeks, or sooner if possible. Sometimes, I am able to respond quickly, but unfortunately, I occasionally fall behind in my submissions. When I do, I try to reach out to the author to let them know I’m behind.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I am open to authors who have self-published or have been published by smaller presses, as long as they are submitting new, unpublished projects for my consideration. My advice to previously published authors is to be honest about their past publication history. It’s helpful for me to know everything up front, so I can best support and strategize a client’s career moving forward.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

It is really difficult to get published traditionally without an agent. Many houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, although there are exceptions like Chronicle Books, for example. A good agent will have strong working relationships with many editors at the various houses and will help devise a strategy to find the best editor/house in terms of fit.

It can be especially helpful to have an agent who knows and understands what terms to negotiate for an author, considering the stage of their career and future projects, etc., as well as the best terms such as advance, royalty percentages, rights, future options, etc. A good agent will also be thinking about a client’s career long-term and what kinds of projects will best support that client’s brand, etc.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

Stories Unbound Podcast, Part 1: http://chrisoatley.com/su17/
Stories Unbound Podcast, Part 2: http://chrisoatley.com/su18/
Manuscript Wish List: Persevering Through the Process, by Jennifer March Soloway: http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/2017/10/persevering-through-the-process/

Links and Contact Info:

14. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

Please query me at soloway@andreabrownlit.com
Andrea Brown Literary Agency: www.andreabrownlit.com
For my latest conference schedule, craft tips and more, follow me on Twitter at @marchsoloway.

Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Please have a complete manuscript that you’ve revised extensively before you query. Revise and polish it as much as you can, then revise and polish one more time before you submit. Send queries in rounds; don’t hit everyone at once. Give yourself time to rethink and regroup after each round. If someone gives feedback, listen. If you don’t hear anything, take a look at your query letter and your opening pages. Look for ways to make both more enticing and engaging. Then send out another round of queries.

Most importantly, don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep revising. And as your preparing to submit, please keep me in mind. I love a good story, and I’d love to read yours.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jennifer.

You are so welcome. Thank you again for having me!

­Jennifer is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through May 5th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com
Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.



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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author Jerry Mahoney here to share about his new MG humorous science fiction BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE. It sounds like a hilarious science fiction story that would be great to read when you need a laugh. Jerry also has a number of other funny MG fairytale-based stories.

Here’s a blurb of BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE from Goodreads

The buttheads have landed--and they're trying to wipe us out!

My best friend Lloyd and I had the perfect plan.

We started a blog to invite aliens to come to Earth and hang out--but only with us. That way, they wouldn't have to meet any boring world leaders or get cut open by scientists or anything like that. We'd just chill out, eat junk food, and play video games together. Sweet, right? And it worked! Two aliens showed up one night in the bathroom of my favorite restaurant, and we snuck them home to my room.

The problem is, they're total buttheads! Literally. They have butts on their heads, and they talk in farts. They're rude, disgusting, and they love Earth so much, they just invited 70 billion of their friends to join them here.

Oops.

Now it's up to us--two sixth graders with B-pluses in science--to save the planet from the sickest extraterrestrials in the universe. (Preferably without my parents finding out.)

Sorry, everyone. Better get used to talking out of your butts, because we're all probably doomed...

Hi Jerry! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I've been writing since I was a kid, back when I had to type up my stories on a typewriter and make my own "books" by stapling stacks of paper together and coloring in the illustrations with magic marker. I never had the self-confidence to be a class clown or make wisecracks out loud, but I discovered that I could make people laugh by writing funny stuff down and showing it to them in the cafeteria or at recess. I was such a quiet kid that my weird sense of humor would always surprise people. They'd laugh and then go, "You wrote this?!" That was always the highest compliment!

Once my kids were born, I rediscovered children's books, and I found a whole new bunch of writers I admired, from Mo Willems to Chris Grabenstein, Lemony Snicket, Tom Angleberger and R.J. Palacio. (My all-time favorite is still Judy Blume.) I thought back to all the crazy stuff I wrote as a kid and realized I had a whole new audience I could try to entertain with my writing. Instead of my classmates, now it was my own kids and their friends! So I started writing middle grade, and it's been the most fun, most fulfilling writing I've ever done.

2. I can remember those typewriter days too! Where did you get the idea for BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE?

The first time I went to another country, I was in my 20's, and I took a trip to London with my friend
Greg. London is a beautiful city, rich with culture and history, full of amazing restaurants and wonderful people… but what was the first thing we did? We found an arcade to see what kinds of video games they had there, and we ate all the weird foreign candy out of the vending machine.

When I was trying to imagine how a 12-year-old would think about aliens, I thought back to that trip. If aliens traveled all the way across the cosmos to visit our planet, how would they want to spend their time here? By doing all the things people typically make aliens do in books, like meeting with boring world leaders and submitting to invasive scientific experiments? No way! They'd want to have fun!

So I sat down and wrote "An Open Letter From Two Cool Earthlings to any Extraterrestrials Who Want to Visit Our Planet (but Not Kill Us)." It was just a creative writing project at first, but as I wrote it, the characters really came to life for me, and I wanted to spend more time with them and send them on a fun adventure. That open letter ended up in Chapter One of the book pretty much as I wrote it that day. The idea that the aliens had butts on their heads was just a random joke I threw in. The kind of wacky detail my characters would come up with. Originally, I didn't intend for the aliens' anatomy to match Josh and Lloyd's description. But as I started writing, I thought, "Why not?" And I couldn't resist the title BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE.

3. Your story about your trip to London made me laugh. It's really funny. This sounds like a hilarious but also plot-driven story that will appeal to boys as well as girls—not always easy. How did you balance humor and plot in this story?

Nothing bums me out more than reading a book that's really funny but that goes nowhere. If a book doesn't have a good story, I won't finish reading it, no matter how much it makes me laugh. So I knew I could write some funny jokes about aliens, but I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to go somewhere with the plot. After I wrote the open letter, I put it aside and did a ton of outlining. I thought of all the different routes my story could take. At one point, Josh and Lloyd were going to be the ones who betrayed the Earth and helped aliens take over. I tried it lots of ways to see what would work the best.

I'll be honest -- plot is hard. It's harder than comedy, at least for me. But it's so much more important than jokes. I have dozens of ideas on my computer that I think would make really funny books, but I just can't crack the story. I won't start writing something until I know where it's going and I can be sure the reader will be surprised along the way.

4. I'm too serious to be funny so I'd say that is harder than plot for me. Josh and Lloyd are the two main characters. I can’t tell from the blurb if you tell your story from both character’s POV or just one of them. Share about this and what you like about both characters in general.

The story is all told from Josh's point of view. He's the more level-headed and rational of the two kids, and yet he's never the one who gets his way. So it was fun describing everything from his perspective, knowing what the right choice would be and then seeing how Lloyd would manipulate him into doing the opposite.

I love that Lloyd is so charming and self-confident that he can get people to do things they wouldn't normally do. What I love about Josh is that he knows Lloyd is manipulating him, but he goes along with it anyway, because ultimately, when they do things Lloyd's way, it's more fun. Lloyd is always taking Josh down the road less traveled, which Josh would never have the guts to do on his own.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Lloyd admits that he couldn't do all the crazy things he does without Josh by his side. They're two characters who complement each other perfectly, and neither one would be who they are without the other as his buddy.

5. Sounds like a very interesting friendship. This is not your first book. Tell us a little bit about your My Rotten Stepbrother series.

I had so much fun working on the My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Fairy Tales series. The books are about a girl named Maddie who loves fairy tales, but she has an obnoxious stepbrother named Holden who keeps pointing out the plot holes in them. Things like "Wouldn't Cinderella's glass slipper have fit a lot of women?" and "If the Beast was cursed for being too shallow, how come he gets to break the curse by marrying a total babe?" He actually makes some good points -- so good that he breaks the stories, and the two feuding stepsiblings have to go into the books to try to fix them from within.

I loved writing for Maddie and Holden. They have such an interesting dynamic as step-siblings. Most siblings fight, but they also have so much history together that there's a foundation of love underneath. Maddie and Holden have only recently come into each other's lives, through their parents' marriage. So they fight like siblings, but they have no idea how to relate to each other or get along in any way. And they never might, either, except that they're thrust into this adventure that forces them to work together, and through that, they become the siblings they were meant to be. They still fight, of course, but ultimately, they love and respect each other, too.

I wrote the books in a way that you can start with any one of them, but if you read them all, you're rewarded with some extra plot and character detail, and you really feel like you've gone on a fulfilling journey with them.
  
6. Your agent is Laurie Abkemeier. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like? What was the submission process like for this book?

I queried Laurie back in 2011 with a memoir. She wrote back 7 minutes later, and then she
immediately tweeted that it was the fastest she'd ever replied to a query. That was obviously a great sign that she connected with my writing. After that book, I decided I wanted to write middle grade fiction, and she stood by me through what was obviously a very big shift.

I only wish the submission process for the book had gone as quickly as finding an agent did. My experience there was far more typical, I'd imagine. Lots of waiting, plenty of rejections, me constantly doubting myself and wondering if I'd ever write another book… and then Sky Pony came in and loved it. When I talked to my editor, Becky Herrick, it was all worth it, because I knew that Becky "got" it. She told me where she laughed out loud, she had some great suggestions and she knew just how she wanted to market the book.

So, it was a long process for sure, but thankfully it all worked out in the end. 

7. That's great that your agent could guide you through the changes in what you write. You have been writing and publishing books for a number of years. How have you built your readership and spread the word better about your books as you publish more books?

My first published book was a memoir about how I became a dad. It grew out of a dad blog I wrote called Mommy Man. The blog was a great way to build a readership, because it connected me with people who were interested in my writing and my parenting advice. They'd help share my posts, and I built up a good base of subscribers who would read everything I wrote. Then, when my book came out, they were a natural audience to reach out to.

I've been fortunate to hold onto that audience as I've branched out into writing for kids. Those blog followers are still there, so even though I don't write about parenting as much as I used to, I'll always make sure to let those readers know when I have a new book coming out!

8. What are some of the most effective ways that you’ve found to market your books?

To be honest, I'm still learning the ropes of marketing kids' books. Middle grade readers are too young for social media and too young to collect email addresses from. So to the extent I can market myself online, it's usually to parents, teachers, librarians and adult fans of kids' books. The best way I've discovered to reach kids is to actually go meet them. Do school visits, book fairs, readings, anything to meet kids in person. Of course, that's a lot of work. A blog post might reach tens of thousands of readers a day, but the most kids I can meet in person is a few dozen at a time. So I'm just starting to build my readership. I have a lot of work ahead of me! The good thing is, I love meeting kids and introducing them to my writing, so I'm in this for the long run.
  
9. Great advice. And I'm sure your blog has connected you to some of the parents at least. What advice do you have for aspiring writers about building their social network through Twitter or, if you don’t use it much, through your favorite social media site?

Twitter is great, because so many people I admire are on there. I follow a bunch of authors I like, just to keep up on what they're doing and what they have to say. I also follow a bunch of agents, editors, librarians and book bloggers to see what people in the kidlit world are talking about. There's so much information out there, there's no excuse these days for writers not studying the market.

My advice for tweeting is first of all, to be yourself. Tweet about what interests you, even if it's unrelated to the kinds of books you write. These days, almost everyone tweets about politics, so don't shy away from sharing your views if there's something you feel strongly about. As I like to say, you can't please everyone, but you can bore everyone. Take a stand, and more people will pay attention.

That being said, Twitter feuds will get you nowhere. I've learned that lesson the hard way. When you engage with people, be respectful and constructive. If you don't think you have something positive to add, just move on and find something else to tweet about. I know that can be hard when there are actual Nazis on Twitter, saying things that will get you all riled up if you let them. But shouting at crazy people over the internet is a waste of time, and it only makes you feel crummier. Boost the messages you agree with, and you'll feel better and connect with more people at the same time.

Also, don't sell too hard. Remind people when you have a book coming out, and let people know when there's a new article about your work or you have a positive review to share. But if people think you're only tweeting to sell your books, it's a big turn-off. You have to find other interesting things to discuss, too. At the very least, say nice things about other authors' books. (Again, avoid being overly negative. If you don't like a book, don't trash it, because there's a chance the author will see it herself or himself. It doesn't make you look cooler than other people if you hate something that's popular. It just makes you look petty. Ignore it and find a book you CAN say nice things about.)
  
10. What are you working on now? 

I have a few different book ideas I'm working on, and I'm just finishing up a scripted podcast for kids. It's called THE WEIRDNESS, and it's for a company called Gen-Z media, which did THE UNEXPLAINABLE DISAPPEARANCE OF MARS PATEL and THE GHOST OF JESSICA MAJORS. It's about a couple of kids who meet Bigfoot and go on an adventure around the world to help him save other mythical creatures from a creepy monster who's kidnapping them all. It's going to be really fun -- scary, wild and funny, too. I can't wait until it's done and everyone can hear it. Look for it soon wherever you get your podcasts!
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jerry. You can find Jerry at

Twitter: @WhyJerryWhy
Instagram:@jerrymahoney

Jerry has generously offered a hardback of BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through April 28th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S. and Canada.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 23rd I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with associate agent Jennifer March Soloway

Monday, April 30th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, May 2nd I have an interview with debut co-authors Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and a giveaway of their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING and my IWSG post

Monday, May 7th I have an interview with debut author Kristin Perez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Arnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Hope to see you on Monday!


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Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great start to spring. Today I'm excited to have debut author Alexa Donne and her agent Elana Roth Parker to help celebrate the release of Alexa's YA science fiction BRIGHTLY BURNING. It's a retelling of Jane Eyre, one of my favorites when I was a teen, so can't wait to read this.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

Now here's Alexa ad Elana interviewing each other.

Questions for Elana

AD: I find the story of how you got into agenting really fascinating! You’ve come to agenting via a unique pathway, which lends you particular strengths as an agent. Do you mind sharing a bit about where you started to how you ended up where you are now?

EP: So yeah. I feel like my entire career is a roundabout path...though the focus has always been in children’s books. In college, I interned at Nickelodeon Magazine, which was a dream come true. But my first real job out of college was as an editorial assistant at a book packager. I didn’t know what that was when I interviewed, and I bet most people still don’t know what it is, even though packagers create some of the most successful books in the industry.

Packagers are independent producers...coming up with concepts, hiring writers, and selling the
“package” to a publisher. They’re like creative think-tanks that are also ways for publishers to outsource a lot of work. I got my start at a packager that focused on licensed properties for kids, so I got to learn every part of the business from concept creation to production. I spent 5 years there before wanting to do something that had me working more directly with authors, and I made the leap to agenting. I had no idea how helpful all those pieces of my education would be. But I entered agenting with a solid list of editors at different houses that I already had relationships with, and I knew how a book was made start to finish.

AD: What was it that drew you to BRIGHTLY BURNING when the query landed in your inbox?  At what point did you know you were going to offer?

EP: First, the query was excellently written, and the pitch was a total no-brainer: Jane Eyre in space! I’ve seen a lot of bad adaptations float through my inbox over the years (if I never see another Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, or Alice in Wonderland retelling it’ll be too soon). But I don’t get much by way of the Brontes, and hadn’t seen that spin yet. Plus the sample pages were really good, so I requested it. I started reading it on a train ride to upstate New York where my husband and I were going for a weekend away. I ended up reading it the whole train ride, and the bulk of the trip. That’s when I knew I’d be giving Alexa a call.

AD: What is something you wish more authors asked you on offer calls?

EP: A lot of authors come into the call so shocked or nervous that they haven’t often thought sincerely about what they want in an agent or the relationship. And not everyone has the luxury of fielding more than one offer of representation in order to have points of comparison—I worry that people just take the first offer that comes along. Or sign with someone they just think is really great on Twitter. So what I wish more authors had ready was a list of questions about working style based on THEIR OWN preferred working style. And then do due diligence. Ask to talk to other clients. Get into the thick of it to find out how you’re REALLY going to be working together. You really want to feel comfortable signing with someone who is going to be a great partner with you.

AD: Can you talk about how you approach your relationship with editors, both with regard to submission and with how to act as a buffer between client and editor post-sale?

EP: Since being an agent is like being a matchmaker, a middle-man, and a therapist sometimes, I have to be a rational, helpful teamplayer between the editor and my client. First, keeping good, friendly relationships with editors is really important, as I need them to trust my judgment in the projects and authors I send their way, but my primary responsibility is to my client. After a book is sold, we’ve changed the dynamic and added a new relationship that I need to honor. My client is still my primary responsibility, so I will be that advocate and save the author from having to have tough conversations about any business stuff. I can play the bad guy for them. But it’s also my job to know when to step back and let the editor and author do their thing. While I’m always still making sure things are running smoothly, I want my clients to have trusting, supportive relationships with their editors, because I want the books to be as successful as possible. So I get out of the way when the real editorial work is happening as not to gum up the works.

AD: What is the number one thing you see writers doing wrong in your query inbox? (other than calling you Elena)

EP: Just plain not following directions. It feels like everyone thinks they are an exception to the rule these days. The rules aren’t there for me to be a jerk. They’re there so I can read queries easily and get to everyone in a timely matter. When people try other methods, assuming that’ll get them noticed, it does the opposite.

AD: You’re currently closed to queries, but what will you be looking for when you reopen? You are, of course, always looking high concept, commercial kidlit, but are there any particular types of projects you are looking to add to your small but mighty client list?

EP: That’s kind of it, really! I really do want more middle-grade to go with my YA. High-concept. Commercial. Big stories. Broad range of characters. Fun. Enjoyable. I read for pleasure and to escape. I want to give kids those kind of “get you out of your world” kind of books. I have a great selection in my YA list right now, but would love to get more for the middle-grade audience.

Questions for Alexa

EP: I think you have one of the best “persistence and hard work” stories in the business. Do you want to give readers a short run-down of your path to getting published?

AD: I am terrible at keeping long stories short, so I will point anyone who wants the long version to a YouTube video I made about this! [hyperlink: https://youtu.be/iVhmjUB2su0] And so my short-ish version:

I completed my first YA novel in early 2013, when I was 29, and was lucky to get into two contests--Pitch Madness and The Writer’s Voice that spring. After some full requests, and a few revisions for one particular agent, I got an offer! I was with my first agent for about two years, during which time I spent 1.5 years on submission without selling (and received about 30 rejections). During that time, I wrote a second book--my dream project, and what I considered the book of my heart--which my agent at the time just didn’t connect with and wasn’t sure how to pitch. It was heartbreaking, but I was heading firmly in the direction of SFF YA, and the fit was no longer perfect--it happens! We parted ways summer 2015, I queried book #2, but could tell from early query response that it just wasn’t going to work for the market.

I’m a generally pragmatic and positive person, but honestly I felt like giving up! I was so sure my second book was the best I could do, and no one wanted it. At this point I was 3 years and 2 novels into my journey, and approaching 32. Losing my agent felt like the end of the world! And then on the third day of NaNoWriMo 2015, I got really annoyed at myself and at the industry, and decided to say “eff it” and write an idea I’d been sitting on for years because I was sure I couldn’t do it justice. That idea was Jane Eyre in space. I wrote every single day for 3 months straight, and finished the 105K draft in early February 2016.

I queried later that month, and it was like night and day, re: my querying experience of the second book. So many amazing agents requested the full, and I was so grateful. Still, it took two months to get an offer (not complaining, but nothing in this journey has been overnight or fast!), and I ended up lucky enough to choose between two fantastic agents. I actually queried you (Elana) on a whim--I saw your MSWL tweet and took a chance, and THANK GOD I did!!!

Then… submission again, which we went on in the fall of 2016 after I revised the book over the summer. We got really close during first round submission, including going to acquisitions at a fantastic publisher, but ultimately received 13 “No”s by February 2017. But, I was determined, and my agent a consummate pro who was able to interpret our rejection feedback and help me formulate a revision plan. I knocked it out in 10 days, you read the manuscript in 3, and then I was back out on submission not even 3 weeks after our final rejection from round 1. And the revision worked like magic--HMH offered 4 weeks later, it turned into a pre-empt, and a year later my book will be on shelves. Which is BONKERS FAST!

I want to say (sorry, this is not short at all!), that I was 100% wrong about my second book. I could and did write a much, much better book, that I love with all of my heart. And every book I’ve worked on subsequently has gotten better. Push through disappointment and setbacks, even when it’s hard, because your next book can always be better, and be “the one.”

EP: You’re my most “in the know” client, always keeping up on deals and new releases and networking with other writers. While that’s not for everyone, what do you find has been the most helpful part of that habit? Also...what’s the biggest downside?

AD: I get incredibly anxious when I don’t have enough information, so knowing ALL THE THINGS actually calms me--more data is good, for me (also why I read all my rejections!). Keeping up on deals, trends, industry moves, and new releases keeps me grounded in the realities of the industry--how random it can be (and tied to pure luck), who’s buying what and for how much, who is good to work with and why, etc.--all of this data helps me to remain pragmatic, and as positive as possible. It’s also just amazing to connect with so many writers, and forge new friendships. I feel less alone and neurotic and odd for all the relationships I’ve formed. I also was able to get a good sense of what to expect from the murkier parts of publishing by supporting friends who were published before me.

Biggest downside is that all of this requires a lot of emotional energy! Keeping up can be exhausting, and it’s also easy to get swept up in things that take you away from the writing. Also sometimes it can invite serious imposter syndrome, especially when you see a deal that is similar to one of your ideas, or you know the particulars of someone’s deal or marketing plan. But, again, knowing all of this stuff, I remind myself: so much of this is out of my control, and comparing yourself to others doesn’t help anything! Collect the information, but don’t let it eat away at or define you. (And then I love to use my knowledge to help others!)

EP: What’s been the most surprising part of the process post-book deal for you?

AD: How overwhelming and emotional it would be + exactly how much would be completely out of my control! Even knowing a lot of this ahead of time--I’d heard from so many people to expect lots of highs and lows and to be overwhelmed, and that publishing was madness--I was and am still surprised actually going through it. And specifically, balancing promotion for the book coming out against drafting the next book has been incredibly difficult to manage, even harder than I had anticipated. You’re juggling so much during your debut year, and nothing could accurately prepare me for what being crashed would feel like. I feel like I’m on a high speed train or a rollercoaster, so even though it’s fun a lot of the time, I’m also hyper aware of being on a very fast thing.

EP: What piece of advice would you give writers who are just starting on the querying process?

AD: Be selective with who you query! I don’t think enough emphasis is placed on carefully curating your query list. You should never query anyone you wouldn’t be happy to accept an offer of representation from. This sounds like common sense, but I have advised far too many writers who don’t do their research until after they have an offer from someone that they don’t actually want to work with. There’s a fantasy of getting an offer from someone you don’t really want, and using that to leverage “better” agents into counter-offering, but this can seriously backfire! And often the writer will feel bad or guilty or desperate--especially if it’s the only offer they receive--and say yes, ending up locked in a bad relationship that wastes years of their career. It’s better to shelve a book and move onto a new project than to accept representation from a lacklustre agent or from one who is a poor fit.

EP: What about writers who are currently on submission to publishers?

AD: Surround yourself with writer friends who understand what you are going through! This can be other writers on sub at the same time (though beware of jealousy that may arise if/when they get a splashy deal before you do), or writers who already have deals and who had a variety of sub experiences. You need someone to vent to privately, or cry with, or even a buddy to read your rejections for you. CPs who have read your book are particularly invaluable, because they will remind you why they love your book and why you should keep going! Your agent is also there to shore you up, but I don’t advise venting too much to them--writer friends are invaluable!

EP: Writers are always asking me how I think they should handle social media to help promote themselves. But I’m curious what you, someone who’s very active on several channels, would suggest.

AD: For aspiring authors, my top recommendations are Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is the best place to be to stay “in the know” of the industry, and also to engage organically with fellow authors, industry professionals and readers. You can demonstrate your personality and passions, and organically slip in a bit of book promotion every so often. It’s my favorite social channel for forging connections and staying on top of things. Twitter is often the first place people search for authors now, so it’s important to be on there.

Instagram is the best place to be for fun, positive book/brand promotion. You do have to be decent at photography and typing on your phone though! That said, you don’t have to be an Instagram maven by any means with a carefully curated aesthetic. But you should post semi-frequently, with well-composed/dynamic images and should write interesting captions--giving a snapshot of your life, writing advice, etc. And use Instagram Stories! Readers love seeing fun little bits from your life.

And then if you aren’t afraid of video as a medium and are willing to put in the work, I do recommend taking the YouTube plunge! I’ve been shocked at how much I love it, and there’s a vibrant reader and writer community there who are interested in hearing from more authors. It can actually help a lot with public speaking, and just talking about your book/yourself in general. I’ve gained a lot of confidence filming and editing videos, and it’s been a great tool for reaching new readers!


Elana Roth Parker has specialized in children's publishing from the beginning of her career, from her very first internship at Nickelodeon Magazine followed by 5 years as an editor at Parachute Publishing. She's been an agent since 2008, joining LDLA in 2016 after running her own agency, Red Tree Literary.
Elana is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, with degrees in English literature and Bible. It all adds up to her loving books that expertly combine the timely and the timeless. 
Elana is currently closed to queries, but look for updates on Twitter at @elanaroth.

Alexa Donne is a Ravenclaw who wears many hats, including teen mentoring, college admissions essay consulting, fan convention organizing, YouTube-ing and podcasting. When she’s not writing science fiction and fantasy for teens, Alexa works in international television marketing. A proud Boston University Terrier, she lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. Visit her at www.alexadonne.com or on most social media spaces @alexadonne. Brightly Burning is her debut novel. Look for it on May 1, 2018 everywhere books are sold.

You can find Elana at:


And Alexa can be found at:

Alexa is generously offering an ARC of BRIGHTLY BURNING and Elana is offering a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through April 21st. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The ARC giveaway is U.S. and Canada and the critique giveaway is international.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 16th I have an interview with author Jerry Mahoney and a giveaway of his MG science fiction BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE

Monday, April 23rd I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with associate agent Jennifer March Soloway

Monday, April 30th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, May 2nd I have an interview with debut co-authors Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and a giveaway of their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING and my IWSG post
Hope to see you on Monday!
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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I've got a great guest post by author Corrina Austin and a giveaway of her MG historical CORNERS. It sounds like a fantastic story to transport us to the late 1960's. But before I get to Corrina's guest post, I've got my IWSG post and Follower News.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are:  Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Renee Scattergood, and Tamara Narayan!

Optional Question: When your writing life is a bit cloudy or filled with rain, what do you do to dig down and keep writing?

Well, since I am a contract writing with 15 or more articles that I must write each week, I have learned to write through the good times and bad. I don't pick all my topics and don't always love them. But once I get into my writing, I just plod through. And writing is actually comforting, sort of like comfort food, when times are tough.

When I can get to my own writing, I find going back and editing the last chapter I wrote can help me get back into it even if I'm struggling. I'm more willing to follow my critique partners' advice and just change things lately, so that is making less rainy times for me. Not that I've been writing much for me. But I'm in heavy-duty planning for my mom's move from Florida to independent living next month. I have to do all the work of it, so I just can't do anything about the lack of time for me right now.

What about you? How do you get through your rainy times.

FOLLOWER NEWS

Rebecca Douglas recently released DEATH BY ADVERB, her new adult cozy mystery. Here's a
blurb: JJ MacGregor doesn’t actually want to kill her annoying boss, but someone did, and now JJ needs to find the killer before more people end up dead. And here are a few links:


And the first two books in the series are on sale for 99 cents through April. Here's a few links:


Now, let's get onto Corrina's guest post.

    

I knew that I was a writer when I was eight years old. I was outside, sitting in the lower branches of a willow tree. It occurred to me that I was “in the willow’s lap.” It was such a cool thought that I had to write it down. Once I connected to the thrill of the written word, I wrote constantly. I would write on coloured pads of newsprint, the backs of old calendars my mom saved for me, and in the left-over pages of the used school notebooks the teachers let us take home in June. I was writing novels by the time I was twelve. I would go to the Homework Room at school during recess and work on a story rather than go out to play. As a teenager, I would write in the evenings after homework and I would often look up from my notebook to discover that it was very late and I should have been in bed hours ago. Even now, that is something I love about writing—getting lost in it until I’ve lost all track of time. It is escapism at its finest.

I write for myself first. If it becomes something marketable, that’s a great bonus. I’ve tried to write to specific markets before and it can be done, but there is an element of forcedness to that. I far prefer the natural flow process of writing a story that is begging to be told, as though writing it isn’t even a choice.

I received an acceptance for a children’s picture book when I was eighteen years old--the very first press I’d submitted it to. I wrote the story as part of a project I was working on in a Canadian Literature course I was taking in high school. I even received an advance for that book. Unfortunately, the press went under before they could publish it. The title of that story was “Marbles, Puppy Tails, Nose Trees and Bubbles.” I don’t have the original manuscript any more. After that first acceptance, I learned that my easy success had been a complete fluke! I was doomed to decades of rejection. I wish I had kept track of all the rejection letters and emails I have received from publishing companies. There were several times where my hopes were lifted after learning that my work had made it to editorial review. I sincerely appreciated the editors who found time for some feedback in those “we thought your book had merit, but we will have to take a pass” responses. I learned that my writing was often perceived as strong and engaging, just not “the right fit” in most cases. If not for

those comments, I might have come to believe that my writing skills fell short of “published author” material, and I would likely have given up. I did persist and had some short stories and articles published. I also won a short story contest in my community. I received two grants from the Ontario Arts Council for a novel in progress. My “real” job in the school library made it possible for me to advance my resume as a book reviewer for School Library Journal. These small successes helped to fire my drive to push on and publish a novel. I took a sabbatical for one year when I was teaching and devoted my days to writing and submitting. My novel “Corners” was born out of that year off. Once the final draft was complete, I started shooting it off regularly to different publishers. It took a few years to find success with that particular manuscript and I was delighted to receive an offer from Dancing Lemur Press. I have several other completed manuscripts I’m still trying to find homes for. I should be focusing on that task, but as per usual, I would much rather be writing and I’m presently spending my afternoons on another novel-in-progress.

Researching and submitting to presses is tedious work. Many writers have an inherent talent for this
process, but I am not one of them. The legwork of finding a publisher is a crucial aspect of being a writer, and the challenge is that every press has different requirements and expectations for author submissions. Writers who want to be noticed by a publisher must respect their submission guidelines and follow them in order to be considered. I have learned to pay attention to what presses are asking for when submitting. If they ask for a synopsis and three sample chapters, then that is exactly what I will need to send. I have come to realize that I will make a good impression when it is obvious that I have read and respected submission guidelines. I also try to write solid proposals and synopses for my manuscripts. Most publishing companies will ask for one or both of these things. I try to keep proposals and synopses on the brief and concise side, at the same time ensuring that what I do write is interesting and engaging enough to capture an editor’s attention.

It is important to carefully record submissions, including dates, rejections, and feedback. If a writer doesn’t do this, it is entirely possible to send a manuscript back to someone who has already rejected it a year or two before. As a writer (as in any job), I want to make an impression as a professional. I keep a simple chart in my computer files and update it with each submission. It can be something as simple as that, or just a ruled notebook. Just commit to recording everything that goes out and comes in. And be prepared to wait for responses. They can be a year or more in coming. Some presses won’t even respond at all if they are not interested in a manuscript. Be aware that some presses will not read simultaneous submissions, which means they do not want to consider work that is being considered elsewhere. If you can’t live with that (and I personally cannot), refrain from sending your work there.

I’ve learned the importance of accuracy when writing from a historical perspective. “Corners” wasn’t as challenging in that regard because I drew from my own experiences as a child growing up in the 1960’s. I have written stories set in more distant time periods, using old yearbooks and manuals and archives to ensure that my information is correct. If I want to be credible as an author, then my facts must follow suit. I have had that unpleasant experience of reading a book, becoming engrossed in the story and then being jerked out of the book’s world by an obvious historical error. A writer should avoid disengaging his or her readers like this. For the time we are reading, we want the book’s landscape and characters to be real.

Another thing I learned from working with an editor on “Corners” is that although song titles can be referred to in a novel, lyrics cannot—unless you are prepared to pay songwriters hefty sums. I was not prepared to do that. I imagine most writers aren’t. I was disappointed when I had to weed through the first draft and take all the song lyrics out. I had researched them carefully and tied them in directly to what was happening in the story.

One thing I have grown accustomed to is to not to take rejection personally. Initially, it stings. It’s hard to read a two-sentence form letter after the monumental effort of writing an entire novel. Rejection gets easier with practice, and I advise prospective authors to accept that you may very well have plenty of practice! Persistence will pay off, somewhere along the line. And if you are fortunate enough to receive some feedback, implement those suggestions. It is important to be open to helpful criticism. These people know their business.

In this age of social media, the author must be ready to take on a substantial role in promoting his or her work. Gone are the days when the publishing company takes all of the marketing on. It’s become more of a partnership now. Authors are expected to use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to promote their work to their followers. They are expected to organize signings, readings, book launches, write guest blog posts—anything that can improve sales. There are countless opportunities to promote your book and sell more copies—which is a win/win for everyone!

My novel “Corners” was released in print and electronic versions on March 6, 2018 and is classified as “Middle Grade Fiction.” I did not write the book with this audience in mind, but Lesley at Dancing Lemur had the expertise and experience of judgement to target this age range. The characters in the flashback scenes of the story are children and so the age designation makes sense. I do hope that adults will find the novel engaging, too. Set in 1969, it has a lot of nostalgia as well as themes present in a difficult childhood that many will relate to. An adult looking for a book without gratuitous violence and graphic content would enjoy the book. Look for it on Amazon in the U.S. and Chapters/Indigo in Canada.

Here is the blurb on the back cover:

Everyone needs their own special corner...

It's 1969 and ten-year-old Davy is in a predicament. With two weeks remaining of the summer holidays, he's expelled from the public pool for sneaking into the deep end and almost drowning. How will he break the news to his hard-working single mother? She's at the diner all day, Davy has no friends, and he's too young to stay by himself.

The answer lies in his rescuer, mysterious thirteen-year-old Ellis Wynn. Visiting her Grammy for the summer, Ellis offers to babysit Davy. She teaches him about "corners"-forgotten or neglected areas fixed up special. Together, the kids tackle several "corners" and Davy learns what it means to bring joy to others.

Davy begins to wonder, though. Why does Ellis want to be his friend? Why doesn't she ever smile? And is Davy just one of Ellis' "corners?"

You can find Corrina at:

Twitter (@corrinaaustin)
Instagram (@readingcorners)
Corrina Austin Author (Facebook)
My blog https://trustcake.wordpress.com/
Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Corrina-Austin/e/B071ZZJ7NW

Corrina and her publisher, Dancing Lemur Press, have generously offered a hardback of CORNERS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through April 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 9th I have a guest post by debut author Alexa Donne and her agent Elana Roth Parker and a giveaway of a query critique by Elana and BRIGHTLY BURNING, a YA romantic science fiction by Alexa

Monday, April 16th I have an interview with author Jerry Mahoney and a giveaway of his MG science fiction BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE

Monday, April 23rd I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with associate agent Jennifer March Soloway

Monday, April 30th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop!

Hope to see you on Monday!


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