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Happy Saturday Everyone! I couldn't resist participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop sponsored by Bookhounds because the official start date of the hop is my birthday. What a perfect way to celebrate my birthday--give away a fantastic book or gift card to purchase a book. I'll be having a fun birthday too. My daughter, her boyfriend, my boyfriend, and my mom are all going out to dinner with me to celebrate. It will be a big family party, something I haven't had in a long time.

Anyway 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 books that I hope you're looking forward to reading. This first batch is from the last giveaway hop I participated in. 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.


 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sorry, but I couldn't resist adding some new books that I heard of. 

 
 

 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 July 30th 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 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is international as long as Book Depository ships to you for free.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm on my summer schedule.):

Monday, July 23rd I have an interview with debut author K.A. Reynolds and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAND OF YESTERDAY

Wednesday, August 1st I have an interview with debut author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy/fairytale retelling A TOUCH OF GOLD and my IWSG Post

Tuesday, August 14th I'm participating in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, August 20th, I have an interview with debut author Brigit Young and a giveaway of her MG contemporary mystery WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS

Hope to see you on  Monday, July 23rd!

And here are the other blogs participating in this blog hop:


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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Bree Barton here to share about her YA fantasy HEART OF THORNS. It sounds like a real page turner with a strong female character. Can’t wait to read it. Before I get to my interview with Bree, I have follower news to share.

FOLLOWERS NEWS


Carol Kilgore's new book BLUEBONNET BALLERNIA is just being released. Here's a blurb: Murder, mayhem, and ghosts. Follow Gracie Hofner’s adventures in Bluebonnet Ballerina, Book 2 of The Amazing Gracie Trilogy. And here's a few links:
Bluebonnet Ballerina at Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07DYSHBNnks:



Now here’s a blurb of HEART OF THORNS from Goodreads

In the ancient river kingdom, touch is a battlefield, bodies the instruments of war. Seventeen-year-old Mia Rose has pledged her life to hunting Gwyrach: women who can manipulate flesh, bones, breath, and blood.

Not women. Demons. The same demons who killed her mother without a single scratch. 

But when Mia's father suddenly announces her marriage to the prince, she is forced to trade in her knives and trousers for a sumptuous silk gown. Only after the wedding goes disastrously wrong does she discover she has dark, forbidden magic—the very magic she has sworn to destroy.

Hi Bree! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me, Natalie! I started writing in third grade. I’d always loved escaping into a story, and once I began arranging words on a page, I was hooked. In fifth grade I wrote my memoir—a very short memoir, since I was ten. The following year I penned a story about a group of enslaved girls who flee an evil kingdom and create their own magical coven in the woods. 

Considering the plot of HEART OF THORNS, I guess I’m still writing that story twenty years later!

2. Love the idea of that early story. Where did you get the idea for HEART OF THORNS?

The book I was working on before HoT—which never saw the light of day, thankfully—was a sci-fi/near future dystopian, so fantasy offered an appealing change of pace. I had this idea of a physical magic where you could subtly tweak a person’s body by proximity and touch. Then I met my editor, who’d been developing an idea about magicians who could manipulate a person’s blood. We just clicked.

3. Share a bit about the Gwyrach and the magical system in your story. What was your world building process like?

Like every published book, this story has been through so many stages. The first two drafts had no Gwyrach whatsoever. There were no gloves and no Hall of Hands; no half-god half-human mythology; and women and men could have magic. So basically everything that now forms the backbone of the novel didn’t exist at all for a solid year.

It wasn’t until the 2016 presidential election that the other elements snapped into focus: sealed borders, ruthless dictator, violence against women and other marginalized groups, etc. That was the true birth of the fierce feminist novel as it exists today. I also drew on my own travels through England, Iceland, and Peru, though sometimes I felt like my “world building” was a three-prong process: read the news, shudder in horror, then write it into fantasy.

4. So interesting to hear how your world really changed through the story's drafts.Mia has been described as a strong feminist character. Did she come to you that way when you started drafting your story or did her character develop her strength over time?

Mia Rose has always been smart and headstrong, but she definitely had some kinks that needed ironing. I feel like I finally unlocked her character when I realized she’s a know-it-all . . . who doesn’t actually know it all! So much of Mia’s arc is about recognizing the lies she’s been told, acknowledging she’s been a pretty bad feminist, and finding a better way.

5. What was a challenge you faced in writing or editing HEART OF THORNS and how did you overcome it?

To piggyback on the previous question: in early drafts, some of my readers found Mia obnoxious. That cut me to the core—if you aren’t with the main character from the get go, there’s no book. But
as is often the case with hard-to-hear notes, it ended up being so helpful, because what I think I hadn’t grappled with was Mia’s privilege. Even if she does live in a patriarchal, misogynist society, she’s the daughter of a powerful man and has had a relatively easy life, especially compared to other girls in Glas Ddir. One of my readers was like, “Um, she’s marrying a hot prince. Why is she complaining?”

The challenge was to keep Mia fiery and opinionated, but hopefully less obnoxious. That’s when I doubled down on how much she loves her sister. Instead of whining about her boo-hoo circumstances, Mia emerged from those revisions with one overarching goal: to protect Angelyne at all cost. Her devotion to her sister feels so crucial, I can hardly remember the story without it.

6. Yes, creating a strong character that remains sympathetic can be challenging. You also are a ghostwriter for other writers, and some of these books have gone on to be bestsellers. How did you get into this day job and how has it affected your own writing?

At twenty I had a “quarter-life crisis” about how I was going to pay the bills. I queried a handful of alumni from my college, asking if I could shadow them, and a man who ran a ghostwriting company offered me a job. I still freelance for that man today.

Ghosting has put so many tools in my writer’s toolbox: it taught me how to finish a manuscript, meet a deadline, etc. It also gave me a killer bio blurb when I was querying agents. Of course sometimes the last thing I want to do after spending three hours writing a book for someone else is spend three hours writing a book for myself. Learning how to strike the right balance has been an ever-evolving process. And I don’t always get it right!

7. That's so cool how you got into ghostwriting. Your agent is Brianne Johnson. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Brianne is a magical unicorn wrapped in shimmery butterfly wings baked into a cinnamon cupcake. Back when I was still on Twitter, I really loved her tweets. I mean, her handle is @SecretAgentBri. How could I not love her? After I parted ways with my first agent, Bri was the first and only agent I queried. I wrote her an (embarrassingly long) email structured like a multiple-choice quiz, and the rest is history.

8. I’ve noticed on your website that you are mostly connecting with readers and other authors through Instagram, YouTube, and your newsletter. Why did you decide to use those social media outlets? How are you increasing your readership of your newsletter?

I have a love-hate-love relationship with social media. It’s such a wonderful way to connect with other writers and readers . . . and such an intoxicating way to procrastinate when I should be writing . . . and such a fun way to engage with my stories in a different way. Instagram is great because I get to share lovely things: I’ve been showcasing character art that’s way more beautiful than anything I could create. YouTube is a blast because I get to be a goofball; I used to be an actor and an improv comedian, so the videos let me express that part of myself. My newsletter gives me a forum to speak honestly about all parts of this process—including my own ongoing journey with depression—and is some of the writing I’m proudest of.

I’ve been growing my mailing list by doing giveaways: every month I give away one of my ARCs, then buy three or four YA books I’ve been reading and loving and let the winner choose which one they want.

9. Great how you are growing your newsletter. How are you planning to market HEART OF THORNS? Have any of your decisions been influenced by watching other debut authors go through their own book release and marketing process?

I’m relying mostly on my newsletter and Instagram to get the word out, and I just launched a preorder campaign where you can win cool stuff (hint wink nudge). I also set up a book tour with fourteen stops across the country—you can find the complete schedule here. If you’re in the area, please stop by! And yes, I’ve learned a LOT from other debut authors. I’m one of the facilitators of the 2018 debut group, and talking to other debuts about their process has been invaluable.

10. Yes, I saw your tour. It sounds awesome. What are you working on now?

Thanks for asking! I’m hard at work on the sequel to HEART OF THORNS. Most of book two takes place in Luumia, the mysterious snow kingdom. Look out for ice leopards, silver sorcerers, and all sorts of frosty dark magic in 2019. J

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Bree. You can find Bree at www.instagram.com/speakbreely, www.youtube.com/breebarton, or www.breebarton.com.

Bree has generously offered an ARC of HEART OF THORNS 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 July 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. The book giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm on my summer schedule.):

Saturday, July 14th I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop.

Monday, July 23rd I have an interview with debut author K.A. Reynolds and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAND OF YESTERDAY

Wednesday, August 1st I have an interview with debut author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy/fairytale retelling A TOUCH OF GOLD and my IWSG Post

Tuesday, August 14th I'm participating in the Lazy Days of Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, August 20th, I have an interview with debut author Brigit Young and a giveaway of her MG contemporary mystery WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Hope to see you on Saturday, July 14th!


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Happy Tuesday Everyone! Hope you are going to have a fantastic holiday. Today I’m excited to have debut author Cindy Baldwin here to share about her MG contemporary WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW. It sounds like a fantastic story that will pull at your heart.

But I first want to share that Literary Rambles made the Top 50 Writing Blogs by Best Value Schools. I'm honored to be included with the other fabulous blogs listed. You can see the complete list on their website.

IWSG POST

Before I get to my interview, I have my IWSG post, which we're all posting today due to the holiday.

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 (Tuesday this month)of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are: Nicki Elson, Juneta Key,Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!


Optional Question: What are your ultimate writing goals and have they changed over time?

This is a great question that I think about a lot. And yes, my goals have changed. When I started writing when my daughter was four (she's now 21), my goal was to get published, and I was super excited about it. My first manuscript got a full request from a publisher at Little Brown and went to acquisitions, where it was not quite strong enough. But I was so happy because I knew it wasn't ready.

Over the years, my writing progress has been slow due to a full-time job as an attorney, care giving to my late husband, and being a dedicated mom. Then this blog took more time. And as I watched other author's careers, I saw how up and down it can be, which tempered my excitement. Since I lost my husband four years ago, many of my dreams slipped away, and I am still trying to find my way.

I am grateful that I have a writing job where I sort of support myself and make at least $2,000 a month. I love the writer's life and writing every day. But as I am now taking care of my mom, my own writing time is limited. Hopefully at some point in the future (it's awhile away), I'll have grandkids to help my daughter take care of. So I don't know if I'll ever have enough time to produce a book on a regular time schedule, which is necessary if you want to be published. Plus I'm worried about the marketing. I'm okay with online promotions, but don't really want to travel much to market a book. 

So, with all this, I'm not sure I have the desire and goal of getting published anymore. I'll just have to see how it goes over the next years and plan to enjoy the process. Plus my writing job will be a great part-time job to pick up money when I retire so I don't plan to quit writing.

What about you? Have your goals changed over time?

Now onto Cindy's interview.

Now here’s a blurb about WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Della Kelly has lived her whole life in Maryville, North Carolina. She knows how to pick the softest butter beans and sweetest watermelons on her daddy’s farm. She knows ways to keep her spitfire baby sister out of trouble (most of the time). She knows everyone in Maryville, from her best friend Arden to kind newcomer Miss Lorena to the mysterious Bee Lady.

And Della knows what to do when the sickness that landed her mama in the hospital four years ago spirals out of control again, and Mama starts hearing people who aren’t there, scrubbing the kitchen floor until her hands are raw, and waking up at night to cut the black seeds from all the watermelons in the house. With Daddy struggling to save the farm from a record-breaking drought, Della decides it’s up to her to heal Mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville for generations.

Hi Cindy! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I have honestly been writing for as long as I can remember! I always thought I started in upper elementary school, but a few years ago I found a story that I'd written and illustrated at age seven. It was a very dramatic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, which even had a series title, so I guess at one point I intended to retell and illustrate more fairy tales! I really got serious about writing, though, as a teenager. I participated in NaNoWriMo when I was sixteen and seventeen, and it was a really transformative experience. It taught me that I could write and finish a whole novel, which I think is often the most difficult part of getting started! Later, after college, I started to query a novel in hopes of finding an agent. I ended up querying two books before WATERMELONS, neither of which landed an agent. I was actually about to give up trying to get published for good when I got the offer of representation for WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW!

2. Where did you get the idea for WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW?

A few years ago, when my daughter (now five) was about one, I was singing "Down By The Bay" to her when I started wondering what the backstory of that song might be. The idea of this child who's so distressed by their mother's mental illness that they run away from home really stuck with me, and spoke to some of my own deep insecurities and worries as a disabled parent. I knew very early on in the planning process that I wanted this to be a disability-positive book, where a kid comes to recognize that disability in her family doesn't prevent them from having a happy, loving, positive life, and that her mother's disability is a part of who her mother is and not something to be "fixed" or "cured." As a disabled reader and writer, it's really important to me that books capture the complexities and difficulties of disability honestly, but do it in a way that doesn't paint disability either as incompatible with happiness or as "inspiration porn."

3. Awesome how a song inspired your story. And I love that it is disability-positive. My late husband was disabled and a parent. One of the things that people have said about your story is how you have really captured Della’s voice. That’s not easy to do, especially in middle grade. How did you get her voice so well and what tips do you have for the rest of us on strengthening our characters voice?

By nature, I'm an immersive, lyrical, descriptive writer. In fact, I spent so many years studying how to write in a descriptive and poetic way that it took me a lot longer to figure out how to create, um, a plot. (There's a reason those first two novels didn't get an agent!) I am a big fan of studying other authors' works and trying to pinpoint the things you especially love about them, and then incorporating those ideas into your own writing. I also write the book as though a character is narrating it to me as much as I can, trying to really run through each sentence in my head (and later, during revision, aloud) so that I can get a feel for how it flows and whether it feels realistic for that character. With Della, who is from a very rural area of North Carolina, I stuck to a traditional Southern dialect. I'm not a big fan of exaggerated dialects in books (where authors use lots of apostrophes and butchered spellings to convey a character's voice), so instead I paid a lot of attention to the syntax, the way Della formed her sentences, the kinds of words she chose to use.

I also spent some time watching Youtube videos of people in Bertie County, NC, to remind myself of
what the particular accent sounded like! In general, developing a good listening ear is crucial for creating a good writing voice. For middle grade, too, I think it's vital to put yourself as much as possible into the mental space of a preteen. It's such a unique time of life, and preteens have this very specific way of seeing the world; they're caught between childhood and adulthood, and it really influences a lot of how they interact with their surroundings.

4. Ha! Plot comes much easier to me than description. It also sounds like you also did a good job really making your setting feel like a real Southern town. I know you grew up in North Carolina. Did you mostly draw on your memories or did you research when creating your setting?

Both! I did grow up in North Carolina, though it was a few hours southwest of where Della's family lives. I've spent a lot of time driving through the rural Coastal Plains area of NC, and I drew a lot on my memories of those trips when creating Maryville, Della's fictional town. I also modeled it a bit after Hartsville, South Carolina, a small farming community where my great-grandparents owned a family farm not unlike Della's—I spent some time there almost every summer I was growing up. And of course, I did a lot of research, too! I looked at pictures, researched the demographics of Bertie County, watched videos on YouTube, and used Google Street View (my favorite writer tool!!!) to take "drives" up and down the highways by which Maryville would be located. There's no town that is an exact stand-in for Maryville—I wanted to create a very isolated community, so I fudged distances a little bit to make all the nearby towns a bit farther away than would actually be true in real life—but it's definitely heavily inspired by several real towns near the Albemarle Sound.

5. Della’s mother suffers with mental illness, and this plays a big role in Della’s character growth. What were some of the challenges of weaving this into your story in the right way to both portray Della’s mother as someone who suffers with this illness and how it affected Della as she was going through her middle grade year?

Like I mentioned above, I really wanted to show that disability (including mental illness) is a part of life, and something that isn't incompatible with happiness—but I also wanted to explore the stress that illness can place on a family. It was definitely a tough balance. I also sometimes struggled to balance the intensity of Della's struggle throughout the book, trying to cure her mama, with the lighter, more normal moments in her life—playing by Hummingbird Bay with her best friend, taking care of her spitfire of a little sister (who is heavily based on my daughter!), having a crush on a neighbor boy. The story itself is pretty heavy, and so I tried to create scenes that would be a little bit of a breather for the reader, a moment to relax a bit and maybe even laugh.

6. That's important because a kid's life is not all heavy, even if they are dealing with their parent's disabilities. Your agent is Elizabeth Harding. Share how she became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

Like I mentioned, I queried two books without success before WATERMELONS, and was about ready to give up querying at least for awhile by the time I sent WATERMELONS out. I decided that I would send some queries and if I didn't get any interest, I'd stop querying and focus on something else! I started querying in mid-March of 2016, got some initial requests, and then in early April, I entered the first #DVPit Twitter contest, organized by Beth Phelan. I hadn't had much success in Twitter contests with my previous books, so I didn't think I'd get much love in this one, but still felt like as a disabled writer writing about disability, #DVPit was a good fit for my book. To my surprise, my notifications blew up that day, and I ended up with a lot of requests!

Within about four days, I had my first offer from a contest agent, and over the next week and a half the offers kept pouring in. It was absolutely wild—I had gone from being the girl with over 110 rejections to being the girl with 10 agent offers in 10 days. It was so exciting, but also incredibly disorienting and surprisingly stressful! I had to turn down so many amazing agents, many of whom I still think about two years later. Elizabeth was one of the final offers to roll in. She hadn't requested from me during #DVPit, but after I sent a post-offer nudge to agents I'd queried, Elizabeth read my manuscript and offered. There were so many incredible agents I could've chosen, but ultimately I went with Elizabeth because she is an unbelievably kind, humble, and nurturing agent, and I knew I needed some hand-holding! After signing with Elizabeth, WATERMELONS sold fairly quickly to Harper. I officially accepted their offer July 5, 2016, almost exactly two years before the publication day.

(Oh, and I feel compelled to add—I used Literary Rambles EXHAUSTIVELY when querying all three of my books, reading through every kidlit agent's profile and using QueryTracker to make lists of all the ones who repped my genres. I still today recommend to newly querying authors that they take a few nights to sit down with the Literary Rambles agent database to compile a really good list before they get started!)

7. Thanks for the sweet words. What was something that surprised you about being a debut author and why?

I'd sort of gathered this from 2017 debut friends, but I was still surprised by how much anxiety there is around debuting! In many ways, all the worries and insecurities of querying and submission just get worse once you have a book coming out into the world. When I was querying, I dealt with rejection by taking action and sending more queries; while it wasn't fun, it still gave me the chance to be proactive and DO something about it. As a debut, that feeling of ownership over my career is a lot more tenuous. If a reviewer or librarian or bookseller hates my book, there's just not much I can do about it! It's also very easy to compare myself to other debut authors—in terms of publisher promotion, or honors and awards, or simply the fact that they seem to have it all together. I definitely think it's important to cultivate healthy mental health habits during your debut year, something I've been working on a lot! I've taken up hand embroidery, which is a fantastic way to calm down; not only is the action soothing and meditative, but I have total control over the results, which is something very lacking in publishing!

8. That's great to focus on doing things that you can control. I saw on your website that you have a monthly middle grade book club. Tell us how that started and how it is helping you reach middle graders, teachers, and parents.

My dear friend (we call each other "writing twins" because we have the same agent, have mentored together in Pitch Wars, and write very topically similar books) Amanda Rawson Hill is also a 2018 debut; her phenomenal book THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC comes out in September. Last year, she approached me about starting a joint newsletter, because neither of us was especially enthusiastic about starting traditional author newsletters. She suggested that we could create a newsletter book club, spotlighting a new middle grade read every month. I thought it was a fantastic idea! It's really grown and flourished over the last year; each month, we have an exclusive author interview, discussion questions, an activity, a recipe, and a hand-drawn printable (by amazing author-illustrator Remy Lai, who's a 2019 debut). It's been really exciting to see our Middle Grade @ Heart community grow over the last year! We've connected with some amazing teachers, librarians, and passionate MG authors through it. It has definitely helped both Amanda and I gain more personal visibility in the education community, but it's also just been so fun to get to geek out every month with other lovers of middle grade lit, and shower some love over authors and books that we feel are exceptional examples of the genre.

9. What are you doing to spread the word about your book?

I'm pretty active on social media, and I've definitely been sharing book-related things there—both things about the inspiration and writing process, and honors like starred reviews, the fact that WATERMELONS is an Indies Introduce/Indie Next title, etc. I also have been working for the last few months on some summer publicity and marketing to coincide with my release, like guest blogging, giveaways, a book trailer, and some videos that teachers can use in their classrooms to talk both about my book and about schizophrenia and what it is. (I've realized through this publication process that a LOT of people, including adults, really don't know what it is at all!) I've tried, as well, to cultivate some fun relationships with teachers and librarians, and get ARCs into the hands of as many as possible. Teachers, librarians, and booksellers have been some of the most enthusiastic champions of WATERMELONS, and I can't even describe how much their support means to me!

I've also tried to spend a lot of time boosting other debut authors; I've been lucky enough to be part of many Electric 18s ARC tours, and have really enjoyed reading upcoming books and spotlighting them on my own social media. I am a firm advocate of publishing karma, and the idea that what you put out into the universe in terms of loving on other peoples' books will eventually come back to you!

10. What are you working on now?

Currently, I'm editing my 2019 book, as well as finishing up a draft of my third middle grade, which might just be my favorite yet. Hopefully I can share more about both soon!

Thanks for sharing all your advice Cindy. You can find Cindy at http://cindybaldwinbooks.com/, https://twitter.com/beingcindy, and https://www.instagram.com/cindybaldwinbooks/. You can also find more information on the Middle Grade @ Heart Book Club at https://mgbookvillage.org/mg-at-heart-book-club/

Cindy has generously offered a hardback of WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW 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 July 14th. 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. The book giveaway is international  as long as Book Depository ships to you.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm on my summer schedule.):

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS

Saturday, July 14th I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop.

Monday, July 23rd I have an interview with debut author K.A. Reynolds and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAND OF YESTERDAY
Hope to see you on Monday!


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Happy Saturday Everyone! Today I'm excited to be participating in the Just Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop hosted by StuckinBooks. Hope you're getting lots of fun time to read this summer. I am!

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 books that I hope you're 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 July 14th 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 (FYI I'm on my summer schedule.):

Tuesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Cindy Baldwin and a giveaway of her MG WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW and my IWSG post

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS

Saturday, July 14th I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop.

Monday, July 23rd I have an interview with debut author K.A. Reynolds and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAND OF YESTERDAY

Hope to see you on Tuesday!

And here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:























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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Colleen Oefelein here. She is an associate literary agent at The JenniferDe Chiara Literary Agency

Hi­ Colleen! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Colleen:

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

Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for having me in the agent spotlight. I’m a fairly new agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency (since February 2018), and I’m actively and very excitedly building my list. Prior to working with New York’s Jennifer De Chiara, I was an associate agent, agent assistant, and PR manager with Inklings Literary Agency, which was where I began my publishing career as an intern several years ago. Prior to that, I was an Air Force officer and engineer working space launch. I hold a BS from Penn State in Chemical Engineering with a focus in Biotechnology, and I also hold a BS in German. As a published YA author, I can greatly appreciate the journey to publication and always look for opportunities to mentor pre-published authors. As an agent, I host several online and conference workshops such as Rejection Correction, Pitch Perfect, “Reel” Inspiration, and Undreary Your Query. I’ve recently signed my first clients to the agency and am preparing their manuscripts for submission.

About the Agency:

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

The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is a New York City-based full-service literary agency founded in 2001 and named one of the top 25 literary agencies in the country by Writer’s Digest. The agency represents children’s literature for all ages – picture books and middle-grade and young adult novels – but also represents high-quality adult fiction and non-fiction in a wide range of genres. JDLA is proud to represent illustrators, as well as screenwriters for both television and film, including Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writers and illustrators. What sets JDLA apart from other agencies is our holistic approach to managing every aspect of an author’s career to make the most of their project's potential.
  • A designated Foreign Rights team, with co-agents in every country and an established presence at Book Expo and book fairs throughout the world.
  • A designated Film/TV/Media agent based in Hollywood.
  • An affiliated Presentation Service and Media trainer to help authors communicate with clarity, precision, and greater impact.
  • An affiliated Speakers Services agent who coordinates booking speaking engagements.
  • Strong affiliations with top merchandising agents to handle merchandising opportunities as they arise.
JDLA is truly a full-service literary agency, and we regularly help our authors in everything from creating book ideas to editing and promoting their books. We are proud to represent established authors and help advance their careers, but we are committed to discovering talented new writers and making their literary dreams a reality.

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 of picture books, middle grade, young adult, and adult books in a range of genres:
Picture Book: I’m looking for fun, funny, adventurous, or touching stories with that magical mix of novel simplicity and a surprise ending that will have my 6-year-old asking to read over and over. My favorites are The Kissing Hand, The Good for Nothing Button, Parts, the There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a... series, the Llama Llama series, and the Pigeon series.
Middle Grade: I’m looking for mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, low fantasy, paranormal, all with a thread of subtle or not-so-subtle humor.
Young Adult and Adult:  In general, send me unusual re-tellings and heart-rending love stories, harsh and sobering contemporary, romantic suspense, romance in all subgenres (except erotic), mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, comedy, low fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, and anything fast-paced.

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

In general I love to see anything high-concept, fast-paced, and in deep POV.

In YA, I badly want a Faust retelling, and a retelling of a more obscure fable, fairy tale, or lesser-known cultural myth. Also in YA, a mystery/suspense/thriller based on or inspired by the David Grunwald murder (one that smartly navigates the culture of teen cannabis use and violence). I’d also love to see a suspense or thriller that involves identity policing. In YA SciFi, urban fantasy, or dystopian, a story that calls to mind THE ANDROMEDA STRAIN;

 In MG and YA, I’d love to see a non-didactic, fresh perspective from a main character who struggles to fit in to or feels ostracized from his/her marginalized community;

In MG, YA, or Adult:  anything by or based on an Alaska Native POV; and a thriller or mystery involving painted rocks.

What She Isn’tLooking For:

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

At the moment, I’m not interested nonfiction, literary fiction, atmospheric novels, westerns, vampires, werewolves, faeries, dragons, politics, video games, or shifter romance.

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?

The author-agency relationship is first and foremost a business relationship with the express intent of selling a literary work. However, publishing a book is a life’s dream, and oftentimes there’s a lot of emotion involved (for agents too). For me, this is a career-long commitment, and so I take some time to get to know an author’s personality in real life and on social media, and I like to discuss the author’s career goals, share editing suggestions, and/or bounce story ideas to determine if this is an author-agent relationship that could work long term.

When it comes to finding a book I want to represent, I’m pragmatic. Is the book currently marketable, and am I enthusiastic enough about it to make the sale? Those are the two questions on my mind. If my answer is yes to both, I get to know the author. :-)

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 consider myself an editorial agent. For debut authors, my process is this: prior to offering representation, I ask the author how willing they’d be to make any big-picture edits I’d like to see. Once we’ve signed the contract, I email the author a list of big-picture editing suggestions (which we’d have already discussed), which may be plot tweaks, sub plot tweaks, and/or character edits. Once the big-picture edits are finished, I read the MS again and highlight any remaining story issues. Following that comes line editing.

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?

Before submitting their query, authors should read my bio and list of genres I accept at https://www.jdlit.com/colleen-oefeleinand if they think I may be the right agent for them, they should send their query, synopsis, first 10 pages, and a one-sentence pitch to me through Query Manager, which is an online form located here: http://QueryMe.Online/colleenoefelein

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

In general, I dislike a query that’s arrogant, wordy, or convoluted. Though I’m not a query snob, I do like a query letter that’s fairly formulaic:

  1. An intro with the title, readership (picture book, middle grade, young adult, or adult), the genre, and the word count rounded to the nearest thousand.
  2. An opening hook that either teases me with a one-sentence plot summary, meaningful comp titles, or a nugget of character irony that makes me want to jump straight to the pages.
  3. A 3-5 sentence plot summary. This should be concise, voicey, and it should not give away the ending, but rather tease with cliffhanger that makes me want to speed-read the synopsis.
  4. A 1-3 sentence bio is nice but not required.
Openings: I don’t like a bored main character in an opening. A bored main character makes me a bored reader. In addition, I don’t like an opening sentence that describes the weather unless the weather is about to cause some shenanigans. Info dumps and passive voice are also things I skip over in an opening.

Response Time:

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

For queries, my response time is 6 weeks. If an author doesn’t receive a response from me within 6 weeks, they can consider it a pass. However, I try to answer all queries. 
For requested pages, my normal response time is 12 weeks.

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?

Yes, I’m open to both, though books by authors who have self-published may be a harder sale to a big publisher. I need to feel extra enthusiastic about those, because if the sales numbers for those self-published books aren’t high, it will be challenging to garner an offer for that author’s other work. 
My advice to authors is to consider their career objectives prior to self-publishing. If an author wants to be published traditionally, I recommend publishing traditionally first.

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?

As long as editors prioritize agent-submitted work over author-submitted work, and as long as authors seek assistance in contract negotiations and sub-rights sales, I don’t see the role of literary agents changing significantly.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I recently signed three new clients to The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency: Tia Barber is a fresh voice in swoon-worthy and page-turning paranormal and mob romance, Kelly Hopkins is a #TeenPit co-founder, a #PitchWars mentor, and a prolific author of gritty and fearless YA, and Marina Anisimova, a genius picture book author, is an immigrant who navigates the absurdity of stereotypes through forest animal humor.

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.

A Journey To Publication by Colleen Oefelein: http://www.cmmccoy.com/blog/a-journey-to-publication/

Links and Contact Info:

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

Before submitting their query, authors should read my bio and list of genres I accept at https://www.jdlit.com/colleen-oefeleinand if they think I may be the right agent for them, they should send their query, synopsis, first 10 pages, and a one-sentence pitch to me through Query Manager, which is an online form located here: http://QueryMe.Online/colleenoefelein

Additional Advice:

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

My best piece of advice to authors is this: Don’t quit.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Colleen.

­Colleen 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 July 14th.  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 Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellan here with a guest post to celebrate the release of Diane's MG Medieval adventure THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER that released in March. I've heard great things about it.

Here's a description from Goodreads:

A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home.

One dark night, Drest’s sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.

Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family’s past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they’ll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who’s become her friend.

Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father’s daughter or is it time to become her own legend?

Now here are Diane & Adriann interviewing each other!

Questions for Adriann:

DM: People always ask authors how they first became writers. And so I’d love to ask you, as an author’s champion and defender whose work seems incredibly complicated (even more so now that I’ve worked with you for a while!) how you became an agent. What was the path that you followed, and what made you know that this was the role for you in the publishing industry?

ARZ: Out of college, my first job was at The Editorial Department, a freelance editorial company based in Tucson, AZ. My job was running the “ezine”—which is now called a blog—that interviewed agents, editors, and authors with questions that might be interesting to aspiring authors who wanted to break into the industry. Eventually I decided I wanted to do that instead of interview people who did that, and moved to New York.

I actually fell into agenting through an assistant position, which is embarrassing because my grandmother is a children’s book agent, my grand-uncle is a literary agent, my aunt used to be an editor, and my mom packaged books. But I had no idea what agents did until I was doing it.

Now a question for you: When did you first start writing, and when did you understand you wanted to write for the public instead of just for yourself? How are those two styles different for you?

DM: I’ve always told stories, but I wrote my first novel (it was 150 pages, I believe) when I was 14
years old. I wrote for years with a faint dream of writing for the public, but I never really tried until around 2007. I had a brief maternity leave from work when my son was born, and I decided to use that time to start a novel. (I actually did write a draft: I write quickly, and my son took long naps.) This was when I first starting thinking about writing for publication. It took me about eight years to really understand what that meant, what the publishing industry was like, what I wanted to write, and to learn to revise. That’s the biggest difference: When I wrote for myself, I didn’t think about revision or know how to critically read my own work. Once I figured how to do that, I discovered one of the most rewarding parts of writing: finding the true depth of the story and watching the unfolding of characters.

Once I understood what revision could do for a novel and combined that with the kind of novel that I wanted most to write (an action-packed medieval adventure starring a girl), I came up with the draft of THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER with which I queried you.

You’re very kind to querying writers in that you answer all your queries. That’s generous, and not something every agent does these days. I assume, though, that there are times when you read just the query or the first page and set a project aside. What makes you keep reading?

ARZ: I heard an agent describe reading queries as “channel surfing” once, and I think that’s an apt comparison. I receive about 75-100 queries per week, and when you’re reading such a large quantity of writing samples, you have to get fast at knowing what you want. I look for quality writing, great voice, an author who knows the category he/she is writing into, previous publications, or some other indication of seriousness about the business of writing.

Agents are really good at understanding what’s saleable about any concept, which is sometimes different from things that we simply like. Writers who understand what makes readers perk up at their book concept have the savvy to integrate this into their pitch somehow, and understand a query letter is a sales document, not simply a synopsis of a book.

I understand querying agents is daunting—what was that experience like for you? How many agents did you query over what period of time? Did you get editorial feedback between drafts (like I sent you) from others?

DM: I’d queried two other novels before THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER with no success, but learned a process: to query in batches of five. Each time I’d receive a rejection, I’d send out a new batch or two or three, and when I had five rejections, I’d make sure five more queries were out. (That kept me hopeful.) I researched agents based on books they’d represented, what they seemed like on social media, and anything I could find (interviews like this on Literary Rambles helped a lot!). So that experience helped me approach THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER with a strategy. As it turned out, I didn’t need to do all that much querying for this book; you were in my first five. I received feedback from you and from one other agent in that first batch, and held off on querying until I’d rewritten the book based on suggestions from you both. Then I sent the draft back to both of you, as well as to a new batch of five, just to have things moving. I think I’d sent queries to about fifteen agents by the time you emailed me about a phone call. And after our call, I knew that I wanted you as my agent. The whole thing, from my first query to my rewrite to your offer, took four and a half months.

While we’re talking about queries, what made you request THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER, and what prompted your offer?

ARZ: I reread your query to answer this question and still think it’s an awesome pitch! I loved that you personalized your opening paragraph with my interest in “strong female protagonists,” which piqued my interest, and I wanted to learn more about “medieval middle grade,” which I hadn’t read much of!

I loved that the first paragraph about the book itself immediately lead with atmosphere and set-up so I knew what was at stake:

“On a remote and foggy headland, Grimbol trains his sons to fight, then takes them into battle as the legendary warriors of the Mad Wolf of the North. Except for Drest. Drest, his youngest, longs to join the war-band but is only ten and too small to take along.”

I also loved the moral ambiguity the query sets up, which I love:

“If Drest doesn’t reach the castle in time to rescue her father and brothers, the family who loves her will be dead. Yet if she saves the Mad Wolf’s war-band, they’ll continue to pillage and plunder—and will kill the gentle knight she had grown to love.”

You also used great comparative titles, which showed that you knew this audience and cared about contributing to it:

“[THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER] is a dark, coming-of-age story that would appeal to readers who enjoy strong and nontraditional girl protagonists like Áine from The Witch’s Boy or Piper from The Mark of the Dragonfly.”

I ended up using a lot of this query letter for my own pitch letter to editors, which sold the book! So that’s the power of a great query.

Was it hard writing your query letter? Did it take you many drafts, or much feedback from other writers, before you felt like you got it right?

DM: I was very lucky to have a team critique partners helping me out with both my novel and my query letter. I wrote and rewrote and tweaked that letter several times, but it was actually the easiest query I’ve written, no doubt in part because of my experience with two novels before, but also because I knew this novel thoroughly and understood its stakes. Oh, and I loved this novel more than anything else I’d written! I’m glad my query still impresses you.

Every writer you call before an offer is hideously nervous, I’m sure, but doing their best. What do you hope to hear from them during this conversation?

ARZ: I hope that they’ll be receptive and flexible when it comes to editorial feedback--the most
uncomfortable calls I’ve had with authors have been with those who didn’t want to revise their book at all; obviously we didn’t end up working together! I love talking about an author’s hopes for their career: future books, what genre they might stretch into (if different than the book we’re discussing), and what sort of relationship they want with their agent and editor.

If it’s an author I’m hoping to sign, I hope that we’ll vibe—that they’ll like my ideas and plans for their book and agenting style—so whatever anxiety authors feel having calls with agents, I can promise agents have their own anxiety too!

What sort of questions did you prepare before our call? What was most important for you to hear from your prospective agent?

DM: There are many lists floating around online about what to ask an agent during The Call. I cut and pasted between several lists to come up with the questions that seemed the most important—about your frequency of contact, your submission plans, how you saw my book—but I didn’t need to ask many of those questions because you answered them when you were describing your interest in my book, your style, and Foundry Media. Those three were my most important questions. But I also felt I had a good sense of what it was like to work with you from the comments you gave me after that first query. I’d also spoken with one of your clients, so I had several perspectives on your style.

I’ve had a lot of questions about the nitty-gritty details of publishing, and you’ve been wonderful at helping me find answers. You’ve often been like the wise friend on a quest narrative who steps in during opportune moments and helps out the protagonist at crucial times. How would you describe your role and your relationship with authors and editors: when you first sign a client, during submissions, and post-sale?

ARZ: My primary role with my authors is to be their advocate.

On the front end, this means taking the book as far as I can editorially and then doing my best to sell it competitively.

On the back end, this means being in their corner throughout the publishing process. This can mean interpreting contract language, fighting for a particular cover direction, or plumbing publicists for updates around the book’s launch. This can also mean playing the bad guy or peace maker—I do both, depending on the situation, all day.

What has been the biggest surprise for you (good or bad) after the publication of your debut novel?

DM: A few weeks after THE MAD WOLF’S DAUGHTER came out and I was working on the sequel, it really hit me that I wasn’t doing this alone. I have responsibilities, a contract, and deadlines. But I also have readers, and a whole publishing house helping me reach them. Writing has always been a largely solitary endeavor for me, and while I still create my work alone, everything that follows now happens in partnership. It’s been quite the learning process to see how a book goes into print and is marketed and reaches audiences, and what my role is in all those parts. It’s been humbling and immensely rewarding to work with the great teams at Kathy Dawson Books and Penguin Young Readers. So now that I’ve gushed on a bit, what’s your favorite part of your job?

ARZ: Selling a book I love. That never gets old.

What are you most excited to do next?

DM: I’m excited to go through much of this process again with the sequel!


DM Bio:
Diane Magras grew up on Mount Desert Island in Maine surrounded by woods, cliffs, and the sea. She works for the Maine Humanities Council, volunteers at her son’s school library, and is addicted to tea, toast, castles, legends, and most things medieval. Diane lives with her husband and son and thinks often of Scotland, where her novels take place. The Mad Wolf’s Daughter is her debut novel.
  
ARZ Bio:
Adriann Ranta Zurhellen is an agent at Foundry Literary + Media. She represents New York Times bestselling, award-winning authors, journalists, illustrators and graphic novelists, as well as many other pioneering creative thinkers and leaders in their fields. She is actively acquiring all genres for all age groups with a penchant for unusual voices, unique settings, and everyman stories told with a new spin. She loves gritty, realistic, true-to-life stories with conflicts based in the real world; women’s literary fiction and nonfiction; accessible, pop nonfiction in science, history, and craft; and smart, fresh, genre-bending works for children. She specializes in books about "cool women doing badass things."
  
[Links:

Buy links:

Diane is generously offering hardback of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER and Adriann 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 July 7th. 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 book giveaway is U.S. and Canada and the critique giveaway is international.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Friday, June 29th I'm participating in the I Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop

Tuesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Cindy Baldwin and a giveaway of her MG WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW and my IWSG post

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS
Hope to see you on Wednesday!

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Happy Monday Everyone! I'm excited to have Chrys Fey here to share about her new book for writers, WRITE WITH FEY: 10 SPARKS TO INSPIRE YOU FROM IDEA TO PUBLICATION. It sounds like a great resource for writers. I learned a ton from Chrys' guest post.

Here's a blurb about Chrys' new book from Goodreads:

Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You’ll also discover how to write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.

•Spark One: Being a Writer
•Spark Two: Story Essentials
•Spark Three: A Book’s Stepping Stones
•Spark Four: How To
•Spark Five: Character ER
•Spark Six: Editing
•Spark Seven: Publishing
•Spark Eight: Marketing
•Spark Nine: Writing About
•Spark Ten: Final Inspiration
With so much information, you’ll take notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your writing journey.

Now here's Chrys!


10 Things You Can Do on Your Author YouTube Channel


If you feel comfortable recording yourself and sharing videos, YouTube is something you can look in to. Actually, I set up my YouTube channel to help me prepare for a live interview on YouTube I agreed to, as well as a radio interview. And both of those I signed up for to prepare myself for a speaking engagement I had lined up in the following year.

I never thought I’d have a YouTube channel or that I’d enjoy posting videos of myself, but I do. In the beginning, I experienced pretty bad jitters while recording my videos. My voice would shake, my heart would pound, I’d sweat. I’d have to stop the recording and re-do it a few times before my body and mind calmed down. By the end of the final video, I’d laugh at myself. After all, I’m only talking to myself when I’m recording. That shouldn’t cause me so much anxiety, and yet, it did. Probably because I knew I’d be posting them later.

When I started, I’d record 2-3 videos a day. The first one would always be the hardest. I’d start nervous, but I knew I would, so I gave myself permission to stop and start over until I wasn’t as nervous anymore.

Now, I enjoy it. That’s coming from someone who is an introvert, so if I can do it, you can do it. You just have to keep at it until you get to that place where you’re comfortable.

Creating videos helped me to build my confidence, and it can do the same for you.

Whether you have a YouTube Channel already or are thinking about getting one, here are 10 things you can do on your YouTube Channel:

1. Readings
My first videos on YouTube were readings I did for Seismic Crimes and Tsunami Crimes. I sat down,
pushed record, talked about my series, and read an exciting scene. Yes, it took a few tries before I didn’t mess up, and I did start to get frustrated, but I am happy I completed them.
Recorded readings are a great thing to try if you’re scared about doing an in-person reading, too.
When you finish a video reading and upload it to YouTube, upload it to your Amazon Author Page, too. You should have one through Amazon’s author portal, and if you don’t, sign up for it ASAP.
After that, grab the YouTube URL for your video and use it to add that video to your Goodreads author page. These are the two main places you want your videos to be so readers can access them.

2. Share Tips
Create videos for writers/authors and share tips. Go in-depth on a certain topic and provide viewers with all of the knowledge you have. This is what I do on my YouTube Channel. I share sparks about publishing, marketing, and more. Just make sure you provide new or detailed information viewers can take away from your videos. Don’t discuss the same old things.

3. Book Reviews
Being an author, I bet you might be an avid reader, too. Did you just read a book you LOVED? Discuss it in a video. Gush about the characters, the prose, the plot. Or perhaps you read a book you didn’t care for, you can talk about it, too. Open a conversation so readers can contribute to your thoughts and voice their own options.

4. Answer Questions
Ask viewers/followers/readers what they want to know about you or your books. Record your answers and upload those videos. Make sure to share them to all of your social media outlets where your fans can find the link.

5. Interviews
Do you know authors? Set up your live channel through YouTube, find authors who you’d like to interview and ask them if they are interested in participating in a 30-minute interview. Then do a live interview with the author. You don’t have to go beyond your computer or laptop, and the author you interview doesn’t have to leave the comfort of his/her home. To do this, you’ll need to set up Live Streaming through YouTube.

6. Vlog
Use your YouTube channel as a blog, aka a vlog. Talk about your day, share your opinions, do what you would do for a blog post but create a video instead.

7. Tutorials
What are your skills? Is there something you know how to do that many people struggle with? Create a tutorial. If what you’re explaining how to do is online, show the steps you take to get from point A to point B by recording your computer screen. Make sure to add in audio, though, so viewers can hear you as well as see what you do.
Maybe you have a hobby that allows you to create instructional videos, do that. And if one of your characters does that hobby, or a book or series is about that hobby (consider Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts series), then these videos are great additions for your readers, who may enjoy that hobby as well.

8. Record Your Events
If you do a talk at a library or other event, have someone record your speech/discussion so you can later upload the video to your YouTube channel. This is great for people who can’t attend your event and don’t want to miss what you have to say.

9. Be a Fan
Are you a Walking Dead fan? A football fan? A Game of Thrones fan? Discuss a show’s episodes. Share your reactions when your favorite team wins or loses or when a character you love dies. Be a fan and connect to other fans.

10. Poetry Reading
Do you write poetry? Recite them. Put on a show for YouTube viewers as artists would for a poetry slam. Show your emotions and share your view through the power of words and rhythm. 

Try at least one of these ideas and then try another. You may find one you love and want to continue doing. And if you have a handful of videos for a specific feature or topic, you can make a Playlist on your channel and add those videos to it.
Get creative and think outside the box.
If you think something would make a fun, interesting, or informative video, then do it!

QUESTION: What else can an author do on their YouTube channel?


For more information like this check out:
Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey


BIO: Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips. @ChrysFey www.ChrysFey.com

Thanks for all the advice, Chrys! You can enter into Chrys' Rafflecopter Giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Friday, June 29th I'm participating in the I Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop

Tuesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Cindy Baldwin and a giveaway of her MG WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW and my IWSG post

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS
Hope to see you on Monday!
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Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I'm excited to be participating in the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by Bookhounds. There's a lot of new books that have recently released or will be published later this summer, and I'm excited to share them with you.

You Help Me Help a Friend Who Has Suffered a Tragic Loss? It's Easy!

But before I get to the book selections, I need you to ask you to help me help an author friend who just suffered a tragic loss. Some of you may have seen this post in my last giveaway hop post, but I wanted to post it one more time. Lee McKenzie has been a good friend of mine for years who I met through my blog. Her newest MG fantasy, SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC, released on May 15, 2018. Two days later, Lee suffered the tragic loss of her husband due to a sudden heart attack. I also suffered the sudden loss of my own husband a little over four years ago and know firsthand how heartbreaking this loss is.

While we cannot take away Lee's grief, we could show her kindness and friendship by helping her promote her book. I know you all are book lovers and many have your own blogs. I'm hoping that you can do all or some of these easy things to help Lee:

  • Buy Lee's book. An e-book is only $3.99. I just did that.
  • Post about Lee's book on your blog and other social media sites. Ask your friends to help do by shouting out about her book and buying it
Here's a blurb about what the book is about:

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:

Thanks to any of you who can help out. Now onto the books for this giveaway!

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 June 30th 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:

 Monday, June 18th I have a guest post by author Chrys Frey to celebrate the release of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Friday, June 29th I'm participating in the I Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop

Tuesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Cindy Baldwin and a giveaway of her MG WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW and my IWSG post

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here are all of the other blogs participating in this blog hop:



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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Gabrielle Piraino here. She is a literary agent at DeFiore & Company.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Gabrielle! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Gabbie:

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

I was first interested in agenting during grad school, but it took a while to get here! I came to NYC for Pace University’s MS in Publishing program and interned everywhere that I could: Schwartz & Wade at Random House, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency, Little, Brown BFYR, and Writers House. My first job out of school was with MeeGenius, a children’s e-book publisher, where I had hands on experience with the entire publishing process: acquisitions, contracts, editing, production, layout, audio, digital Q&A… the works. I also worked at Farrar, Straus & Giroux in their contracts department before I was offered the opportunity to work at a literary agency. My former agency specialized in celebrity nonfiction, and due to its boutique size, I was able to apply the skills I learned in school and my previous positions to provide editorial feedback on many projects, manage the foreign rights, and help negotiate the agency’s contracts. My personal interests lay in other genres though, so I was very happy to join DeFiore and Company in the summer of 2016. I’ve been agenting since that winter and was also recently promoted to manage the agency’s foreign rights as well. I’m currently focused on children’s projects, genre (YA and Adult SFF, horror, thrillers), and selective nonfiction.

About the Agency:

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

DeFiore and Company is a fantastic group of agents that represent every genre and age group—be it health/wellness to children’s picture books. My favorite part of the office is our congeniality; we share information about the industry and the senior agents are invested in mentoring the young agents. We collectively have developed a network that includes practically every editor at both commercial and most indie publishers. The agency also includes an internal foreign rights staff to sell our clients’ work around the world, both in other English language terrtitories and also in translation. DeFiore and Company negotiates all of our clients’ contracts as well. As an agency, we’re always focused on supporting our clients and creating interesting and dynamic opportunities to share their work with the world.

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 both children’s and adult projects. In kids, I’m interested in picture books up through YA. For picture books, I look for stories that introduce new concepts to young readers (both fiction and nonfiction). For older MG and YA readers, I fall in love with characters and stories. When writers integrate science fiction or fantasy elements, I look for engaging worlds. I have a soft spot for villains and morally grey characters, too.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I love to see projects that surprise me. Things that I didn’t know I wanted until I’m reading. Strong voice, distinct points of view, new worlds that I want to sink into for an entire weekend… and then read again immediately.

What She Isn’tLooking For:

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

I’m not interested in memoir, most narrative nonfiction, or especially dramatic contemporary MG and YA. For contemporary, I’m only currently reviewing submissions that are issue-based and primarily #ownvoices. 

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?

I’m looking to represent authors over the course of their career and build strong relationships together. I tell each individual that I offer representation to that I intend to be their biggest cheerleader and professional advocate for all aspects of their projects. I provide editorial feedback through the process of getting a manuscript or proposal ready for submission as well. I am extremely communicative and review all of the steps from the first day of representation on through the years after their books are published with my clients. If they have questions about anything from their contracts to their royalty statements, I’m their person to explain and clarify those points.

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?

YES. The process is different with every project depending upon what that individual client and project requires. If we agree that the project needs revisions—whether that is focused on their characters, plot, pacing, etc.—then I typically send an editorial letter with my suggestions on how to revise. From there, we have an ongoing discussion based on their revisions and create a process that works best for that client. If a project requires multiple rounds of edits in order to effect the change that it needs, then I’ll work with the client to develop the best possible project prior to submission.

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?

My querying instructions are on the agency’s website, but authors should send their query letter and the first 50 pages of their manuscript in the body of the email to me via email at gabrielle@defliterary.com In a query letter, authors should include their age group, genre, word count, and comp titles. Further, include a synopsis (I suggest 250 words or less, focus on your main characters and plot), and a short bio about yourself.

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

Some of these may sound like common sense, but here goes: please address your query letters to me and not another agent, please spell my name correctly, please don’t CC me along with additional agents and send all of us your query simultaneously, make sure that you’re querying a project in a genre I’m interested in, and generally follow my querying instructions. If you do all of those things, you’re already ahead of half of my queries.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond within 6-8 weeks to queries and sooner when I request the manuscript, but feel free to follow up with me if you haven’t yet heard from me in that time frame.

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?

Personally, it depends on the situation. Many publishers, both the major commercial houses and the indies, will review authors’ previous work(s) and if the sales figures are low, it can be an additional hurdle for an author to overcome. That said, if you have previously published with a small house or on your own, do include that information in your query letter so an agent can do their homework and determine if the combination of your story and your previous publishing history create a salable project for them to take on. If you’ve self-published, the stronger your sales figures are, the more likely a traditional publisher will be interested in making an offer, so promotion and publicizing your work is an important element to consider.

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 hope that agents remain an important figure in publishing in the future. We provide career management and a professional understanding of the industry and contracts that can be complex and nuanced, in addition to editorial feedback throughout the submission and publication process. Whether agents submit to more indie presses or advise their clients to self-publish, we still can guide clients through the process based on our experience, whether it’s the first book, or the tenth.

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.

Feel free to Google the heck out of me! I tend to use my full name for work, so that’s the best place to start. :)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Feel free to review my profile at https://www.defliterary.com/agent/gabrielle-piraino/that again includes the querying instructions and more information about what types of projects I’m looking to represent. More information about my work experience is available at LinkedIn too: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabriellepiraino/
You can also find me on Twitter @nerdplusdog to get a better sense of my personality, which contests and Twitter pitches I’m participating in, conferences I’ll be attending, or self-indulgent pictures of my pup.

Additional Advice:

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

You see this advice from both the most successful authors and the first-time authors who just signed their first deal: patience. Not every book you write will be published. You’ll hear a lot of no’s before you hear yes’es, but stick with it! Your craft will ultimately get better the more you work on it, and your understanding of the publishing process will certainly become more advanced the longer than you interact with the business. Join a writers group and find your betas; attend a conference if you’re looking for more information or one on one contact with a publishing professional; read articles and do your research online. There’s lots of fabulous info out there on the web or at your local library.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Gabrielle.

­Gabrielle 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 30th. 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 Kit Frick here to share about her contemporary thriller SEE ALL THE STARS which releases 8/14/2018. I love mysteries and thrillers, and this one has gotten great reviews, so I’m hoping to read this soon.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Part love story, part thriller, We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this suspenseful, lyrical debut.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

Hi Kit! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me at Literary Rambles today, Natalie! I’m a full-time writer and editor, living the dream of working from home in my lounge pants. While I’ve been writing since childhood, I spent my junior high and high school years thinking I was going to be a professional actor. Then I took my first writing workshop in college, and I knew I’d found the right creative path. This is the point when I’d say I “became” a writer, meaning I fell swiftly and deeply in love with writing, and it became a part of my identity—which is of course distinct from becoming a published writer, which was still years off for me.

To that end, I studied writing throughout college, kept writing after graduation, and a few years later, I went back to school to get my MFA. (And because I know this is a question on many writers’ minds, no, I do not think one needs an MFA to become a “real” or “professional” or published writer. What you do need is to learn how to receive feedback, revise seriously, and read widely. I benefited immensely in all three of those areas from my MFA program, but it’s definitely only one of many paths you can take toward developing those skills.) I finished grad school six years ago, and now my first young adult novel and first full-length poetry collection are being published within a month of each other. It’s a dream a long time in the making.

2. I love the life of being a writer working at home in my sweats too! Where did you get the idea for SEE ALL THE STARS?

I’m drawn to complex characters, and my writer-brain delights in putting them in very tough situations and empowering them to dig their ways out. The idea for See All the Stars began with a “what if?” question: What if a girl lost all her friends and her boyfriend in one fell swoop—and what if she was partly responsible for what happened? The story unfolded from there.

3. You are also a poet and have a full-length poetry collection, A Small Rising Up in the Lungs, releasing September 4, 2018. I’m guessing that your poetry influences your YA writing because your book has been described as having beautiful prose. Share how poetry has helped other areas of your writing.

I developed an ear for diction and tone through studying poetry—both through reading and writing.
In some ways, the two forms require very different compartments of my writer’s “toolbox.” When I’m plotting and structuring a novel, I’m using my creative brain in a very different way than when I’m drafting a poem. But when it comes to sentence-level concerns (how a sentence sounds, how it works with the sentences that precede and follow, how the choice of a specific verb or modifier can work to create mood or suggest a specific understanding) that’s where my brain is tapping into my poetic background. 

4. Part of your story is a mystery/thriller. How did you plot this out and weave it in with the issues of friendship and romance in your story?

The epic friend group breakup came first. I always knew that would be at the core of Ellory’s story. Next came the ending of a first romantic relationship—because as I mentioned earlier, I’m cruel and like to make things as hard as possible for my characters. From there, I started to think about things like story structure (the dual Then and Now timelines) and genre (contemporary thriller/suspense). Those two elements really went hand-in-hand, as dual-timeline structures lend themselves to generating suspense, and once I’d worked out some plot basics and dug more deeply into Ellory’s character and the specific challenges she was facing, I could begin to think about the novel as functioning within a specific thrillery sub-genre of YA contemporary and how to effectively execute that on a craft level.

5. Sounds like you had a really well-thought out plan. This sounds like a real page turner because some readers said they read the ARC in a day. How did you keep a fast pace to the story and what advice do you have for aspiring writers on this?

Part of this has to do with the dual-timeline structure I mentioned above. The “Then” timeline follows Ellory from the last week of sophomore year through the spring of her junior year and leads up to the explosive incident that shatters her group of friends. The “Now” timeline picks up on the night before senior year begins, after Ellory has been suspended from school (for her role in said incident) and has spent the summer away, off social media, and otherwise disconnected from her friends and classmates. And now she has to return to high school, totally alone and consumed by guilt and regret.

In terms of advice, what I can say is that I did not get the pacing right on the first—or sixth—attempt. I drafted and then revised See All the Stars several times before querying, with the help of a few amazing beta readers. After signing with my agent, we went through two rounds of developmental revisions and several smaller, polishing rounds before putting the manuscript on submission to publishers. After we sold the book to my amazing editor Ruta Rimas at S&S/McElderry, she kindly pointed out that Ellory was doing a whole lot of nothing—“spinning her wheels,” was, I believe, the diplomatic term she used—during the first half of the “Now” timeline. So I scrapped a whole bunch of chapters and went back to the drawing board to get that timeline right. Learn to listen to feedback from trusted sources. Be okay with mourning the fact that your book baby isn’t perfect. Learn to revise, and revise, and revise some more until you get it right—whether it’s pacing or any other element of crafting an effective story.

6. That's great that you could hear what your editor was saying and make the revisions that you needed to make. You interned at Simon & Schuster in college and are a senior editor at Black Lawrence Press. Has this impacted on your getting your agent, Erin Harris, and your publishing contract? What was your road to publication like?

The short answer is no—my experience as an intern and then editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster and my experience editing now at Black Lawrence Press (as well as through my private editorial practice Copper Lantern Studio) had very little, if any, impact on my path to publication. Editing is my day job, and I love it dearly. Working with fellow writers on their manuscripts and books brings me a whole lot of joy. But I signed with Erin through cold querying. I had zero personal connection to any of the agents who offered representation, nor to any of the editors to whom we submitted See All the Stars. When we accepted McElderry’s offer, they thought it was “very cool” that I’d once worked at S&S (over a decade before), but they learned about that tidbit after the fact.

The way in which my editorial work has had an impact on my writing has much more to do with honing my craft than it had to do with my path to publication. There’s an amazing synergy between the work I do with my “editor cap” on and the issues I’m tackling in my own work on the daily. I’ve also learned a lot about the book publishing industry as an editor, which can be useful when it comes to figuring out weird industry acronyms and idiosyncrasies. I’m very fortunate to be able to work in two fields that benefit each other so nicely.

But I’ll leave you with this: writers who don’t work in the publishing industry or know anyone there, take heart: cold querying works. Finding representation isn’t easy, and pursuing publication can be a very long road, but you do not need to be “connected” to find an agent or get published.

7. We'll all be glad to know that querying does work. How are you getting the word out about SEE ALL THE STARS? What advice do you have for the rest of us?

I’ve been doing a few pre-publication events, such as paneling at the AWP conference in Tampa and the NYC Teen Author Festival this past spring. And thanks to the generosity of book bloggers and interviewers such as yourself, I’ve also been doing guest posts, interviews, and giveaways. My publisher has also been working diligently to promote See All the Starsat teen festivals and industry events around the country.

In terms of advice, here’s the thing: there is an absolutely endless amount of promo you can do (and dollars you can spend) trying to get the word out about your book. And return on investment is often mysterious and exceedingly difficult to quantify. So, do what you enjoy. If it doesn’t sound fun, don’t do it. I’ve loved doing interviews with fellow debut YA authors through the Debut-to-Debut interview series I run on my website, which gives me an opportunity to boost books I love. I really enjoy connecting with fellow writers and future readers through my monthly newsletter, These Little Secrets, which I’ll continue to grow after See All the Stars hits shelves. You pick and choose, and you do what brings you joy. If that translates in any way into book sales, that’s icing on the cake.

8. What has your debut year been like so far? What do you recommend other writers do once they sign a publishing contract to prepare for this important time in their careers?

On personal level, as a debut author, 2018 has been a little bit stressful and mostly exciting and filled with new experiences.

My big advice for soon-to-be-published authors is this: Connect with fellow debuts! Writing is often a solitary experience, and even once you’ve signed that first contract and have become a key part of a book publishing team, being an author is nothing like signing on with a new company or organization. Your publisher will welcome you enthusiastically, but there’s no orientation meeting, no office tour, no bonding with your new colleagues over coffee breaks and lunch (at least not on a regular basis).

Seek out that camaraderie and support in other authors at the same wild and wonderful stage as yourself through a debut group. (I’m a part of the amazing Electric Eighteens. The Novel Nineteens are already in full swing for 2019 YA and MG debuts, and the Roaring Twenties are getting the ball rolling for 2020. Similar groups exist for authors writing for adults. There are also smaller groups such as the Class2K groups, which form every year and focus on group promo and support, and the annual Debutante Ball groups.) You’re going to have a lot of questions as a debut author. Debut groups are no substitute for asking your agent and/or editor—which you should do!—but they can be an extremely valuable support network. Plus, you’ll get to meet so many amazing people and be introduced to their books!

9. That's great advice. And thanks for the links to the groups I need to connect with to create my 2019 schedule. You have also been a Pitch Wars mentor. Share about that and how writers can benefit from this.

I’ve been a Pitch Wars mentor since 2016, the same year I signed with my agent. I wanted to give back to other writers who were working on revising their manuscripts toward that same goal. I’ve worked with three mentees and loved every step of the way. (For the uninitiated, Pitch Wars is a contest where mentors choose a writer with a finished manuscript and then work with their mentee to make their manuscript shine for the agent showcase and querying.) As those tuned into the #PitchWars community may already know, the contest now has a new committee behind it and is undergoing a lot of exciting structural changes this year. As the committee’s work is ongoing in preparation of the 2018 contest, I don’t want to say much more until official information is released, but interested applicants can find the most up-to-date information via the official Pitch Wars Twitter account @PitchWars and on the website.

10. What are you working on now?

My 2019 book is a YA thriller about two girls under unbearable pressure from their families and communities—and what happens when they decide to stop compromising. It’s in copyedits now, and I’ll be able to share a lot more about it later this year!
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kit. You can find Kit here:

Website: kitfrick.com
Newsletter: bit.ly/KitLetter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kitfrickauthor/

Kit has generously offered an ARC of SEE ALL THE STARS 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 June 23rd. 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, 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

Monday, June 18th I have a guest post by author Chrys Frey to celebrate the release of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein
Hope to see you on Wednesday!
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