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Happy Sunday Everyone! Are you having a good summer? This is one of my best since my husband died five years ago. I'm at an annual theater group retreat much of this week with my boyfriend, have lots of birthdays, including mine tomorrow, and a few long-weekend trips to see family. Plus I am getting more bits of time to work on my manuscript. And I'm reading a ton. I just finished SORCERY OF THRONES by Margaret Rogerson. It was so good!

Today I'm excited to participate in the Christmas in July Giveway Hop hosted by by BookHounds. I am so grateful to Mary at BookHounds for continuing to host these giveaways because I know they take time for her organize.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA books and recent books by followers that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Remember, 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 of this blog and leave a comment telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through July 30th. 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. I will also give you an extra entry if you follow me on Twitter and let me know this. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International as long as the Book Depository ships there for free.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm starting my summer slow down to spend time planning next year's schedule):

Monday, July 29 I have an interview with debut author Margaret Owen and giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MERCIFUL CROW

Wednesday, August 7th I have an interview with debut author Gabrielle Kirouac Byrn and a giveaway of her MG fantasy RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON

Friday, August 9th I'm doing a monthly newly released MG and YA giveaway if there is no giveaway hop in August

Monday, August 26th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Melissa Richeson

Hope to see you on Monday, July 29th!

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








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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Connor Eck here. He is a literary agent at Lucinda Literary.

Hi Connor! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Connor:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.
I started my career in journalism and film then found my niche in publishing at Lucinda Literary, where great mentorship and learning experiences propelled me into an agenting role in 2017. I’ve since had the opportunity to build an eclectic list. It’s been extremely rewarding editing and selling books across different genres and formats—from children’s to adult to poetry and more. I like to keep my palate guessing! 
About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.
We’re really unique in what we offer authors. We coin ourselves as a hybrid in that we do a lot more than provide representation. We have a speakers bureau and add a wealth of marketing experience along with personalized author care. Not only are we very hands-on editorially, we like to be friendly and transparent with our clients, which can pleasantly surprise a lot of people. 
What He’s Looking For:
3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?
I represent all children’s genres. More picture books, MG, YA, and illustrators, please! I don’t go for high-concept fantasy stories that overpower character development. I mostly look for contemporary or magical realism. For picture books, the sillier the better, or heartfelt stories that tap into some universal nerve. For all books, I look for that commercial hook. I’ll also ask, “What moral value does this bring?” or “What new, fresh idea does this present?”. 
4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
You don’t know until it’s in front of you!
What He Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
Anything that might not be ready for agency submission. Too often writers query manuscripts before they’ve been properly (and thoroughly!) revised many times over. Also, poor grammar from the outset is never fun to see. Good writing starts at grammar. 
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?
Take on good people whose work moves me powerfully. Work incredibly hard, make people’s dreams come true, build lasting relationships. And don’t forget to enjoy the process. (That was long-winded for a mantra—I do apologize!). 
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?
Indeed. I’ll begin by providing broad-strokes feedback then narrow into line editing as we approach 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?
Query me by email (connor@lucindaliterary.com). Include a brief query letter; 250 words is ideal, and copy and paste the first 25 pages below your signature. Thank you, kindly!
9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you? 
Long-winded letters feel daunting. Charmin Ultra, less is more. Grammar mistakes in the first pages hurt my soul. It’s a very sensitive soul. 
Response Time:
10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?
It’s impossible to respond to every query! I’ll try my best to respond to requests for pages in timely fashion but sometimes, depending on the time of year and volume of projects I’m working on, it might take longer than I intend. 

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, though typically only in adult nonfiction. 
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 think there’s more opportunity to find authors nowadays with so many writers self-publishing and using mediums like Medium (ha!), Wattpad, podcast forums, and the like. For scouting, these avenues are great. I don’t see them negatively affecting an agent’s role, because people still yearn to be published with major houses—that’s where the money, prestige, and enduring career live. Agents are the avenues that make this happen. 
Clients:
13. Who are some of the authors you represent?
Why thank you for asking. I guess it would make most sense to mention the ones whose books are forthcoming… Dylan “Hornswoggle” Postl, the greatest WWE midget wrestler of all time, has a memoir publishing in September, LIFE IS SHORT & SO AM I, about his improbable journey to stardom. Karla Clark’s picture book, YOU BE MOMMY, publishing with Feiwel & Friends in March, is an adorable role reversal story where a tuckered out mother is too tired to be mommy at bedtime so she asks her daughter to be mommy and tuck her in, kiss her chin, and so forth. It’s a tender rhyming story, if you can’t already tell! And then there’s Emily Dalton, a talented young writer living in Brooklyn. BE STRAIGHT WITH ME, written in verse, documents how she and her male gay best friend unexpectedly fell in love in college. You can find this on the shelves next spring. 
Interviews and Guest Posts:
14. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and other links, such as to Manuscript Wish List, you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.
Links and Contact Info:
15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.
Email me (connor@lucindaliterary) and be sure to follow our submission guidelines: http://www.lucindaliterary.com/representation-guidelines/
Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?
Common convention tells writers to read and write a lot to become better writers. I believe you need to do more than that. If you don’t know what to look for or what mistakes you’re making, how can you improve? You need to deeply study the mechanics of writing—grammar, syntax, structure, character development, poetics, simplicity, pacing, I could go on… This can be done by devouring on-writing and on-editing books, getting your own work edited or your hands on professionally edited manuscripts, taking classes, engaging a writing coach, etc. 
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Connor.

Connor 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 27th. 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, or follow me on twitter, 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 middle grade author June McCrary Jacobs here to share about her MG historical adventure RES-Q TYLER STOP. She's also a long-time follower and posts with the MMGM bloggers on Mondays. I love the setting she chose—1968, and it sounds like a heart-warming story that kids who love animals will be drawn to.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads


It's the summer of 1968 in Sonoma County, California, and eleven-year-old Weston Gregg and his nine-year-old sister, Wendy, are looking for fun things to do during their summer break from school. When they discover some abandoned rabbits, they hatch an idea to make a positive difference for animals and people in their small town of Tyler Stop. 

They decide to form 'Rescue Each Species-Quickly', or RES-Q Tyler Stop.

There are challenges to face as they move forward into their new venture, including standing up to someone who is targeting Weston's friends for being different and a painfully bad decision.

Will Weston have to handle these issues on his own or will he learn to accept the advice and wisdom shared by some important people in his life? Join Weston and his family and friends as they share some adventures and learn and grow together in RES-Q Tyler Stop.

Hi June! Thanks so much for joining us.

I'm glad to be your guest on Literary Rambles, Natalie. Thank you for this opportunity to share with your readers.

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

I have always enjoyed writing. I remember in junior high, high school, and college I was thrilled when the teacher/professor would assign an essay or announce that part of an exam would be in essay form. Other students would moan, but I loved the writing process and was pleased to have an opportunity to prove my subject knowledge through essay writing rather than simply multiple choice or true/false questions.

I was a classroom teacher for twenty-one years. I was privileged to teach Kindergarten through fourth grade students during that time, but I spent the majority of my time working with first graders.

After I stopped teaching full-time, I began submitting my original sewing designs to various magazines and book publishers. Not only did I design and make the project for publication, I was required to write a blurb, sidebars, and the stepped-out instructions for each project in accordance with the specific publication's editorial requirements.

I had an opportunity to 'audition' for a regular column in a sewing magazine published in the United
Kingdom, and I was chosen to write a quarterly column about the sewing industry, trends, designers, and anything to do with sewing that was happening over here in the United States. I wrote that column for around two years.

With some experience and confidence under my belt, I began writing fiction. I wrote Christian and inspirational romance mostly in the contemporary genre. I submitted to a lot of publishers before an inspirational historical short story was picked up for an anthology published by a very, very, very small press.

In the autumn of 2012 I saw a call for submissions online for Cedar Fort, Inc.'s 'Holiday Tale Contest'. I wrote my inspirational holiday novella, 'A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom', in a few weeks and submitted it in mid-January, 2013. I was ecstatic to when I learned Cedar Fort wanted to publish the book and that I had won the contest. One of my prizes was publication of the book by this traditional, small press publisher. The book was released in October, 2013.

After promoting this novella, I worked on my first full-length novel, 'Robin's Reward', a contemporary Christian romance set in the Coastal Mountains of Mendocino County in Northern California. I submitted this manuscript to publishers and agents without success and decided to self-publish the novel in April, 2015. I released my historical inspirational romance short story, 'Handmade Hearts', in December, 2018. 'RES-Q Tyler Stop' followed in April, 2019. Both of these projects were self-published. 

2. That's great that you can write for different age groups and in different genres. Where did you get the idea for RES-Q TYLER STOP?

Believe it or not, the story idea came to me when I saw a bumper sticker in traffic several years ago. The sticker had a large black dog print on it with a motto, 'Who rescued who?' I began thinking about how we, as humans, think we are rescuing animals when we adopt or foster them.  The more I thought about it the more I grew to interpret the motto to mean animals rescue humans from their issues of loneliness, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and many other maladies.

So I began writing a contemporary family-style story about two siblings who want to open an animal rescue in their small rural town in Northern California. The story changed genres two or three times and morphed from the family-style story to a contemporary romance to a historical romance into what it was intended to be all along—a middle-grade novel. I decided to set it in 1968 because it was a time period I completely understood and could relate to because I grew up in Northern California during that time.

By the way, a few weeks ago I saw two more bumper stickers relating to this subject. Both had the dog print motif. One read, 'Rescue Mom on Board'; the other read, 'I [heart] My Rescue Dog'.

3. That is such a fun story about how you got your story idea. I love the historical time period that you picked because I remember it. Your story also shares information about the Pomo Indians. Did you have to do any research to be certain that your story was historically accurate or rely on your own experiences? What advice do you have for other writers who want to write historical fiction?

This is an excellent question, Natalie. I minored in history in college, so I enjoy researching anything historical—especially California history. I am committed to sharing only well-researched facts in my work to present issues in an accurate, authentic, and culturally-sensitive manner. Therefore, I did a lot of research about the Pomo Nation in California. There is a full print bibliography and online resource bibliography in my book so readers can read the facts for themselves.

I have had the pleasure of viewing many exhibits featuring the Pomo culture and Pomo basketry in various museums over the past few decades. The Grace Hudson Museum, the Haggin Museum, and the Mendocino County Museum are three of the institutions which house and display these beautiful baskets. When I was working on the section of my book where the school bully, Terry, is criticizing some of his classmates who are Pomo descent, I decided I wanted to include some of this nation's rich history in my manuscript.

I went to the county library's online catalog and checked out several books about the Pomo people and Artist Grace Carpenter Hudson. I read the books and took copious notes, and then I went online to learn more. When I felt properly educated in this history, then I began writing that section of the book.

My advice to writers of historical fiction is to take the time to verify facts and investigate your time period and events especially if you are writing for children. Your historical novel may end up being a 'teachable moment' for young readers. If you have double-checked your facts, you can feel confident that you are publishing good content for your target age group.

4. You are a former educator focusing on literacy for kindergarten through third grade. Did that influence how you wrote your story? If so, how?

I was the literacy mentor at our site for a three-year period. I was able to attend high-level training by experts in the field of early literacy so I could work with students, new teachers, and parents on how best to meet the needs of their students in the areas of literacy and language arts.

Through this advanced training I learned a lot about how young readers interpret what they read, what holds their interest, and how they process information. I believe all of this knowledge helped me when I sat down to write my middle-grade novel. Working with children for so many years and being a child in 1968 in Northern California allowed me to feel confident about the dialogue and speech patterns for that time period.

5. I'm sure your work experience did really help to understand how to write or middle graders. What was a challenge you had in writing RES-Q TYLER STOP? What did you learn from this experience?

Keeping the pace of the story moving at a good clip was a challenge since it was my first children's book. Also, writing the bullying section was difficult for me because I do not have any experience being a bully myself. Writing 'mean' dialogue was a challenge, but at the same time it was interesting to figure out how someone with a bully-mentality would act and speak.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was to write about racism with respect and honor for the targeted diverse group while at the same time letting readers know it is not acceptable or appropriate to treat those who are different from you in a disrespectful, hateful, biased manner.

6. You decided to self-publish your book? What led you down this path to publication? Do you have any resources that you would recommend to other writers considering self-publication?

As I mentioned previously, this is the third project which I have self-published. The reason I chose to self-publish this book and my other works is because I believe in my work. I stand by these stories, and I want to share them with readers.

I am blessed to have a top-notch editor/cover designer/formatter, Author Cindy C. Bennett, to work with on my projects. She is a successful self-published YA author in her own right, and she has been my self-publishing mentor. As she is editing, she notes questions she has about the story or asks if I have verified some historical fact or event I have included in the manuscript. This keeps me on my toes as a writer.

One of the things I enjoy most about the self-publishing process is sending my cover designer my ideas for how I want the cover to look including images, fonts, placement of text, etc. It's exciting to see the cover develop as we send ideas back and forth. Then when the cover is right, I get a special feeling and send a message back to the designer with, 'This is it!' in the subject line.

TIPS for authors considering self-publishing:

-- Always hire a professional editor to help you polish your work. It is worth the cost to have a book you are proud to present to the public;

-- Set up an Author Facebook page and keep it up-to-date;

-- Set up a blog so you can post content there and begin building your subscriber list. I use 'Blogger' through Google. There are many other free platforms available to authors;

-- Take advantage of Amazon's free Author Central page and Goodreads's free Author Page and Author Blog. Connect your blog to all of these sites so your blog posts automatically feed to these three platforms. Keep your Amazon and Goodreads author pages up-to-date;

-- Join Facebook Groups which are in-sync with your genre and writing style. I belong to several Christian author, Christian/clean romance, indie author, and children's author groups. I enjoy interacting with group members there because I learn a lot from people with more experience than I have, and I also have the opportunity to share a little of what I have learned with others;

-- Read these magazines:  Publisher's Weekly, The Writer, and Writer's Digest. You will learn about industry trends, upcoming releases, information from successful authors, and lots of other information you never thought you would need to know;

-- Get quotes from editors and publicity companies so you can begin to work on a budget. You will definitely need to include the cost of promotions, promotional copies, and postage to mail out the promotional copies. {Use USPS Media Mail to send out your promotional books to giveaway winners and/or reviewers. You get tracking for a reasonable price compared to the cost of Priority Mail.} Make a budget and try to stick with it; and

-- You may become downhearted when you read about other author's successes with literary agents and publishers, but be proud of your work and enjoy your writing journey. Never give up!

7. Those are great tips. You are also the author of two adult inspirational romances, ROBIN’S REWARD and HANDMADE HEARTS and a holiday novella, A HOLIDAY MIRACLE IN APPLE BLOSSOM. How has publication of these books influenced what you are doing to promote your new book?

For my first two books I spent hours and hours and hours sending out email messages to bloggers to try to find people to read, review, and post about my books. It was a time-consuming and frustrating experience.

For 'Handmade Hearts' and 'RES-Q Tyler Stop' I hired JustRead Publicity Tours to work on creating and organizing a blog blitz and blog tour, respectively, for me. They did the sign-ups, all of the communication with the bloggers, made the graphics, set up the schedule, publicized it on all of their platforms, ran the giveaways, and generally did a fabulous job of getting the word out about my books. You can get a free price quote from them if you visit their website and submit the Campaign Proposal form.

Having experts handle this important facet of a book release for me allowed me to enjoy my promotions and be a relaxed author instead of a worn out, exasperated author. Easy-peasy.

8. That's a great idea to hire a company to set up and organize your blog tour. What are you working on now?

I am working on the second book in the Tyler Stop series with Weston and Wendy in Tyler Stop, Sonoma County, California.

The book picks up where RES-Q Tyler Stop left off, but includes new characters and new adventures and of course, new challenges and opportunities for personal growth for everyone.

I also have several other projects in various stages of completion including some contemporary and historical inspirational romances and some short stories for middle-graders. For now, my focus is book two for Tyler Stop.

This was fun, Natalie! Thanks for hosting me on Literary Rambles today.
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, June. You can find June at:

'Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic' Author's Blog:  https://authorjunemccraryjacobs.blogspot.com 
Author's Facebook Page:  https://fb.me/JuneMcCraryJacobs 

June is generously offering a paperback and e-book of RES-Q TYLER STOP 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 20th. 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  e-book 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 (FYI I'm starting my summer slow down to spend time planning next year's schedule):

Wednesday, July 10 I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Connor Eck

Sunday, July 14 I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 29 I have an interview with debut author Margaret Owen and giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MERCIFUL CROW

Wednesday, August 7th I have an interview with debut author Gabrielle Kirouac Byrn and a giveaway of her MG fantasy RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON

Friday, August 9th I'm doing a monthly newly released MG and YA giveaway if there is no giveaway hop in August

Monday, August 26th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Melissa Richeson

Hope to see you on Wednesday!








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Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I have debut author Jess Redman here to share about her MG contemporary/fantasy THE MIRACULOUS. It sounds like a heart-warming story about loss, hope, and friendship. With my own issues of loss, I’m really looking forward to reading it.

FOLLOWER NEWS

This week's news is not about a book but about a podcast by long-time follower Robert Kent. Here's a little blurb about it: 
Rob Kent has expanded his popular site, Middle Grade Ninja, to include an excellent podcast featuring 1-2 hour interviews with authors and publishing professionals, including various literary agents, editors, and more. The Middle Grade Ninja Podcast is available for free on YouTubeSoundcloudStitcherSpotifyitunesPodbeanPodblasterRadioPublicblubrryListen NotesGoogle Play, and many other fine locations.


IWSG POST



Before we get to Jess' interview, I have my IWSG post 

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

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

The co-hosts this month are:  I'm excited to be a co-host with  Erika Beebe,  Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!


I'm going to skip the question this month and just share about my progress. I've been consistently writing at least on the weekends for awhile now and have five new solid chapters done. I'm about 1/3 of the way done with my manuscript. Still a lot to go, but it feels good to be making progress. And I'm enjoying the process. I also started reading a book on the craft of writing and went to my SCBWI monthly shop talk.

What about you? How's your writing going?

Jess Redman's Interview

Here’s a blurb of THE MIRACULOUS from Goodreads:

In the tradition of heartwrenching and hopeful middle grade novels such as Bridge to Terabithia comes Jess Redman's stunning debut about a young boy who must regain his faith in miracles after a tragedy changes his world.

Eleven-year-old Wunder Ellis collects miracles. In a journal he calls The Miraculous, he records stories of the inexplicable and the extraordinary. And he believes every single one. But then his newborn sister dies, at only eight days old. If that can happen, then miracles can't exist. So 
Wunder gets rid of The Miraculous. He stops believing.

Then he meets Faye―a cape-wearing, outspoken girl with losses of her own. Together, they find an abandoned house by the cemetery and a mysterious old woman who just might be a witch. The old woman asks them for their help. She asks them to believe. And they go on a journey that leads to friendship, to adventure, to healing―and to miracles.

The Miraculous is Jess Redman's sparkling debut novel about facing grief, trusting the unknown, and finding brightness in the darkest moments.

Hi Jess! Thanks so much for joining us.
Hi, Natalie! Thank you so much for having me on Literary Rambles. I’m a long-time reader!

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

I am a lifelong book nerd. I’m also a licensed mental health counselor and mother to two young children. I’ve worked with kids in the foster care system, in community mental health centers, and in private practice with girls and young women.

As far as my writing journey, I always knew that I would become a writer someday. When I was a kid, I wrote and read constantly. I had dozens of journals filled with character backstories and outlines and stories, and I dreamed of getting a Newbery Award by the end of middle school (spoiler alert: I did not).

But in college, I didn’t take a single creative writing class.

I’d become much more critical of my writing, to the point that there were long periods where I didn’t write anything, and the idea of sharing my work with a class (or anyone) was terrifying. In spite of this, I still thought I’d become a writer someday.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with my first child that I started to feel that someday was now, and that I needed to take some chances and push myself. I finished my first middle-grade manuscript during that pregnancy and then starting doing what I had been avoiding for all those years—sharing my work and getting feedback.

2. I didn't even know I wanted to be a writer when I was younger. So I never took a writing course in college either. Where did you get the idea for THE MIRACULOUS?

The idea for THE MIRACULOUS came to me while I was pregnant with my second child. It was a pregnancy that was difficult at times, with medical complications for both of us. I was thinking a lot about fear and loss and asking myself those Big Questions that often come up when life gets dark and uncertain.

I remember when I first started asking those questions as a child, after several smaller life losses. This story blossomed out of my answers to myself, then and now, answers rooted in my belief in the powers of love and memory and imagination and community.

3. It sounds like Wunder and the other characters in your story really tug at the reader’s heart and appear like they’re real people. What is your process of developing your characters so that they are so memorable? What tips do you have for the rest of us?

Truthfully, I am not an organized writer. I don’t do much of pre-writing, I don’t have a method. But I
do spend A LOT of time thinking about my stories and my characters. I think about them while I get ready in the morning, while I drive, as I’m falling asleep. I talk with them. I narrate my activities in their voices. Whenever I’m bored and I feel the urge to fiddle around on my phone, I think about my story.

This is partially because there’s plenty of time where I can be thinking, but not much time to write. When I get that time, I need to be writing the actual story! But it’s also the way that seems to work best for me. I depend a lot on my characters to lead the action, so I have to get to know them pretty well.

I think being a therapist has also helped me in developing my characters. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of many clients’ stories at a heart level, and I’ve learned so much from that.

4. You just made me feel so much less guilty that I don't pre-write either, but think about my characters and book during everyday life. Your book tackles the issue of dealing with grief in a realistic but non-preachy fashion. It sounds like it’s really weaved naturally into your story. Did you struggle with this at all or did it come naturally to you?

I do think being a therapist, a profession steeped in the losses and pains of others, has helped me understand and relay the emotions of the characters. I mean…hopefully! However, I did write and re-write and re-re-write many sections of the story to find that balance, to send the messages I wanted to send, and to try to make sure that I wasn’t unintentionally sending messages that I didn’t want to send.

5. What was one of the bigger challenges you had in writing THE MIRACULOUS? How did you overcome it?

THE MIRACULOUS is a story that truly comes from my heart, and I think when you write from your heart, you always end up doing some emotional work of you own. Writing about the death of Wunder’s sister and the Ellis family’s grief was very difficult at times, but this is the story that came to me and the story that I wanted to tell.

6.  It would be hard to do the emotional work involved in writing a story about grief for me too, especially since I've had so much of it in my life already. From your bio, I learned that besides being a writer, you are a therapist and adjunct professor. You also are married with two children. How do you find time to write and stay productive? What advice do you have for other writers who work and are trying to balance their writing with their other career and family obligations?

This has been a real challenge for me. It often feels like I don’t have enough time and energy to do everything well. After I sold THE MIRACULOUS, I did begin to step down from several work obligations, and I was lucky enough to be in a career that allows me that flexibility.

Something I do that seems to work is scheduling my writing time and getting right to work when that time comes. I can usually get one full workday a week and then nights after my kids are asleep. It means that during this chapter of my life, I have little to no “free time”—but it’s worth it!

7. Your agent is Sara Crowe. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Here is a secret that I will tell here on Literary Rambles because I scoured this website endlessly while I was on my agent search:

Sara Crowe was actually the first agent to ever reject me.

It’s true! She was at the top of my agent list when I started querying. I sent out a batch of 20 queries and an hour later, I had my first ever rejection. I don’t remember if I cried, but odds are good that I did.

But here is the thing about writing: there is no time limit on becoming a writer. There are really very few limits at all, except time and ideas. You can keep writing and writing and writing and querying and querying and querying indefinitely.

When I signed with Sara, it was for a story that I had fully re-written and queried three times. That third revision brought me multiple offers of representation.

And then you know what happened? That story that so many agents had wanted did not sell (although it came close, and I have high hopes for it in the future).

While that manuscript was struggling through submission, I wrote THE MIRACULOUS, a story from my heart that has made my dreams come true.

This, I think, is how writing goes. Sometimes the story you have is for Now. Sometimes it’s for Tomorrow. You just have to keep writing and rallying and trusting yourself and trying.

8. That's so great that you didn't give up on Sara after her first rejection. How are you planning to market your book?

Figuring out marketing/promotion has taken a tremendous amount of time, but luckily, a lot of it has been great fun!

Recently, I launched a pre-order campaign, which readers can find out about at www.jessredman.com/preorder. Every pre-order or library request gets a sticker, bookmark, and exclusive art card, and there are lots of additional prizes to win.

I developed an extensive Teaching Guide with writing prompts, research prompts, and hands-on actitivites, which can be downloaded here: https://images.macmillan.com/folio-assets/teachers-guides/9780374309749TG.pdf

I also created a book trailer, which can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ktj6_jC_Ew

I’m fairly active on Twitter, where I do giveaways, support fellow authors, and participate in chats, and I’ll be attending some conferences, like the Decatur Book Festival, doing school visits and library events around Florida, and having a book launch event at The Book Cellar on August 3, 2019 at 4 pm.

 9. Sounds like you have a balanced plan that is actually manageable. Share a piece of advice to debut authors who just signed their book contract about creating their social platform and getting ready for their book’s release.

Start small on a site you enjoy (or at least won’t hate!). I opened a Twitter account shortly after signing my contract and that’s been where I’ve focused the majority of my social media attention. I’ve been amazed at the passionate, inspiring, welcoming kidlit community that exists online. I’ve gotten to know librarians, teachers, bloggers, and, of course, other authors. I now have Instagram and a Facebook page, but I am less active on these.

10. That's great to know that you can start small and focus on one platform if that's what you're comfortable with. What are you working on now?

I am DELIGHTED to share that my second middle-grade book, QUINTESSENCE, will be coming out on July 28, 2020. QUINTESSENCE is about astronomy, alchemy, and anxiety, and I love everything about it! Here’s the synopsis:

Three months ago, twelve-year-old Alma moved to the town of Four Points. Her panic attacks started a week later, and they haven’t stopped—even though she told her parents that they did. And every day she feels less and less like herself. 

Then Alma meets the ShopKeeper in the town's junk shop, The Fifth Point. The ShopKeeper gives her a telescope and this message:
Find the Elements. Grow the Light. Save the Starling.
That night, Alma watches as a star—a star that looks like a child—falls down from the sky and into her backyard. She knows what it’s like to be lost and afraid, to long for home. And if a star really is stranded in Four Points, Alma knows she has to get it back up to the sky. With the help of some unlikely new friends from Astronomy Club and the mysterious ShopKeeper, she sets out on a quest that will take a little bit of science, a little bit of magic, and her whole self. 
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jess. You can find Jess at www.jessredman.com where she’s posted book trailers, a teaching guide, information on the pre-order campaign and more! She’s also on Twitter and Instagram at @Jess__Red.

Pre-Order: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374309749
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/40864855
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jess__Red
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jess.Redman.Writes/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jess__red/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3he1B_ldE3JKb1Qvzx7wQg/
Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/jessredman

Jess has generously offered an ARC of THE MIRACULOUS 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 20th. 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. This giveaway is U.S. and  Canada.

 Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm starting my summer slow down to spend time planning next year's schedule):


Monday, July 8 I have an interview with author June McCrary Jacobs and a giveaway of her MG historical RES-Q TYLER STOP

Wednesday, July 10 I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Connor Eck

Sunday, July 14 I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 29 I have an interview with debut author Margaret Owen and giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MERCIFUL CROW

Wednesday, August 7th I have an interview with debut author Gabrielle Kirouac Byrn and a giveaway of her MG fantasy RISE OF THE DRAGON MOON

Monday, August 26th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Melissa Richeson

Hope to see you on Monday!




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Happy Friday Everyone! I hope you are having a great start of the summer and will have more time to read and relax. I sure am hoping I will--and to work on my current manuscript.

Today I'm excited to participate in the Splash Into Summer Giveway Hop hosted by by BookHounds. I am so grateful to Mary at BookHounds for continuing to host these giveaways because I know they take time for her organize.

FOLLOWER NEWS

Before I get to the giveaway, I have Follower News to share. I usually post this with my Monday post's but I won't be doing one on Monday. For those of you who don't know, Follower News is a way that I help my regular followers when their books release. Because I only post once a week, I cannot participate in a few blog tours for you. However, I'm glad to post about your book release in Follower News. Just e-mail me a two-sentence blurb with your book cover and a few links. This is open to picture book through adult as long as your book is not erotica. You just have to be a follower who regularly visits the blog (once a month is okay) and leaves a comment so I know that you have stopped by.

Today, I have two followers' good news to share. These books are also one of the choices in my giveaway this month.


The first is a new picture book, THE MISSING ALPHABET, by Elaine Kaye. Here's a short blurb: The paper alphabet letters in Gregory Green’s classroom have gone missing, and it’s up to him and his friends to find those missing letters. But will they be able to find the entire alphabet?
General Age Range - Kids 5-8 (Story Picture Book)
EBOOK: Amazon / Nook / Kobo
PRINT: Amazon 

And Elizabeth Seckman has a new Adult book, HOOSIER DAD. Here's a
short blurb: Rich Cooper is juggling a lot- a bar, a construction company, two daughters, and a monster of an ex-wife who is threatening to take his girls. His only hope of winning is in the hands of topnotch attorney Sarah Andrews, the woman whose heart he broke years ago. 

I've also got a lot of other new releases to share with you this month. 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 and recent books by followers that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Remember, 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 telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through June 30th. 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. I will also give you an extra entry if you follow me on Twitter and let me know this. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International as long as the Book Depository ships there for free.

Here's what's coming up (FYI I'm starting my summer slow down to spend time planning next year's schedule):

Wednesday, July 3 I have an interview with debut author Jessica Redman and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE MIRACULOUS and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8 I have an interview with author June McCrary Jacobs and a giveaway of her MG historical RES-Q TYLER STOP

Wednesday, July 10 I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Connor Eck

Sunday, July 14 I'm participating in the Christmas in July Giveaway Hop

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

















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Today I’m thrilled to have agent Kerstin Wolf here. She is a literary agent at D4EOLiterary Agency.

Hi­ Kerstin! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Kerstin:

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

I officially became an agent in early 2019. While I am a newer agent, I’m not that new to the industry. Prior to becoming an agent, I worked as a freelance editor. I also interned/assisted for about three and a half years at a number of literary agencies, publishers, and arts journals. Eight internships later, and I’m finally an agent! It’s taken me a lot of work and time to get to where I am now, so I’m thrilled to finally build my own client list. My main focus at the moment is to expand my client list and prepare my current clients’ works for submission.

About the Agency:

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

Bob Diforio launched D4EO Literary Agency in 1989 after a long career at the New American Library, now an imprint of Penguin Random House. Today D4EO is a full-service literary agency representing authors of a very broad range of commercial fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, and adults. 
Books represented by the agency have topped the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and agency authors have received awards that include the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and the Nero Award, as well as nominations for the Hugo Award, among many other notable successes.
With over 1,500 published books under contract, the agency has launched the writing careers of more than two hundred authors.

What She’s Looking For:

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

I represent MG, YA, and adult novels! Genres that I always love to see for MG include fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror. Genres that I’m interested in YA include fantasy, science fiction, horror, and contemporary romance. If you would like more details on what I’m interested in, I’d recommend checking out my website and #MSWL!

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

Dragons and demons! I’d love to see some dragons and demons! Give me all the fantastical and unique creatures! I’m also a sucker for strong world building. I want to be completely immersed in this world you’ve created! Of course, bonus points are awarded for delicious food in the manuscript.

What She Isn’tLooking For:

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

I’m not really looking for contemporary realistic fiction in MG. I’m also not a good fit for historical fiction in MG or YA if there are no magical elements.

Agent Philosophy:

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

My views are all about the best interests of the author and their long-term career. I want to build long-term relationships with my authors and help them have enjoyable and fruitful careers. I value hard work, but I also realize that writing can be difficult. I don’t want my authors to be so stressed that they can’t enjoy the little things.
Growth is also important. I want to help my authors grow and improve their craft. They need to be able to take critique well and be open-minded to revisions. I love working with authors on new ideas for future manuscripts. The more ideas they have brewing, the better!
As for my philosophy with books, I want to feel it deep in my bones. I want to soar with hope and die of laughter. I want to feel my heart being torn from my chest when the protagonist is betrayed or when a character is killed. I want to feel every little bit of it.

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 am definitely an editorial agent! I’m almost always editing something or discussing new possibilities and ideas. When I go through and edit a manuscript for the first time, I always mark it up using Track Changes and include a short edit letter at the end of the manuscript discussing the main issues. A phone call is then arranged to discuss possible changes and to toss ideas around. After that point though, the process changes depending on the author and the manuscript.

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?

Authors should query me through my QueryManager form: http://QueryMe.Online/kerstinwolf
I do not accept queries through email, mail, or the contact form on my website.
With your query letter, please include the first ten pages of your manuscript and the comparative titles. Really, everything that I’d like to see is listed in the form.

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

I always recommend that query letters focus more on the plot and main characters than what readers should get or feel from the manuscript. If I’m unsure of what the book is about or don’t know who the main characters are, then I’m not as likely to request more. Also, please know a handful of comparative titles for your manuscript. If you can’t list a single comparative title, then it appears to me as though you don’t read within the genre you’re writing in.
As for personalization, all you need to do is have my name in the greeting. It is preferable that you spell my name correctly. More personalization than this will definitely make you stand out, but it doesn’t ultimately make it or break it for me.

Response Time:

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

It all depends! My response time can vary from an hour later to months later. It really just depends on what’s going on at the moment. When I’m editing multiple manuscripts, my response time tends to get slower. You will always receive a response back from me though! I always notify authors of my decision.

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?

Of course! My only piece of advice would be to query a manuscript that has never before been published.

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?

Everything is always changing. I’m sure my job will look very different twenty years from now, but I do believe that the primary role of agents will stay the same. True agents will always stand for authors’ best interests and be their allies.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I currently represent the extraordinary Lynn Jung and the brilliant Brandy Howell! Both are currently working on YA fantasy novels that are going to knock your socks off!

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.

If you can believe it, this is actually my first agent interview! I’m so thankful to have been given this opportunity by Literary Rambles!

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

Twitter: @Kerstin_Wolf

Additional Advice:

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

Keep writing. Every single word you write is a step in the right direction. Every word is progress.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kerstin.

­Kerstin 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 29th.  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 Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Shannon Schuren here to talk about her debut YA contemporary THE VIRTUE OF SIN. It tackles the very hard issue of living in a religious cult. I haven’t read a book about this before and grew up in a town that had a mysterious defunct cult. So I'm excited to read this.


Before we get to Shannon’s interview, I have my IWSG post 

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


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

The co-hosts this month are:  Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

Optional Question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?. 

I only write fantasy although I might be interested in writing a mystery. I like fantasy because of the world building, strong characters and plot, magic, and ability to incorporate other genres into a fantasy, such as mystery, romance, etc. I also like to write MG and YA. Adult fantasies get to be too long and complicated for me to read or write.

What about you? Which genre is your favorite to write?

How I Can Help You

I also want to remind you how I can help you and am re-posting what I wrote about this last month:

I want to help my followers when your book releases. Because I only post once a week, I cannot participate in a few blog tours for you. However, there are other ways I can help you. For anyone who doesn't know or doesn't know, I'm glad to post about your book release in Follower News. Just e-mail me a two-sentence blurb with your book cover and a few links. This is open to picture book through adult as long as your book is not erotica. You just have to be a follower who regularly visits the blog (once a month is okay) and leaves a comment so I know that you have stopped by.

Also, I participate in a monthly book giveaway hop with other book review bloggers where I offer a variety of MG and YA new releases. I get about 70-100 comments and 1000 or more page views on these posts. I'm going to also open this up as a way to help my followers. I'm glad to offer your book as one of the choices when it releases. This is also open to picture book through adult as long as your book is not erotica. Same follower requirement as for Follower News. Just e-mail me your book cover!

Take advantage of these opportunities to let me help you promote your book!

Now onto my interview with Shannon. Here’s a blurb of THE VIRTUE OF SIN on Goodreads:

A novel about speaking out, standing up, and breaking free.

Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together. 

But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs. 

Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.


Hi Shannon! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks for having me! I’m so happy to be here to talk books and writing. Like many writers, I started out as a reader first. I have no shortage of stories about being the awkward girl who took books to her slumber parties, or got caught reading behind her textbook in science class. I used to dream of being a writer—in fact, I still have a journal from middle school where everything in it is written like backflap copy for imaginary books. Like I said, AWKWARD! Somewhere along the line, I stopped believing writing could be a career, though writing a novel was always at the top of my bucket list. When I turned 30, I decided to go for it. I finished my first draft of my first novel the day I went into labor with my son—and he was 17 days overdue! It felt like a sign that I was supposed to finish that book. I was wrong; the book was NOT good. But by the time I figured it out, it was too late—I was already writing another and I was hooked.

2. I was a very awkward, shy girl who loved to read too. Where did you get the idea for THE VIRTUE OF SIN?

There were actually two inspirations: a vacation and a dream. My family visited Koreshan State Park in Estero, Florida, which is the site of an abandoned ‘Utopian Community.’ So, basically a cult. A lot of the old buildings are still standing and I wandered around and read all about their lives and beliefs and took a ton of notes for what I thought would be a novel about a cult that practices celibacy, and the fall-out when a woman becomes impregnated by the cult leader. But I abandoned that idea pretty shortly after returning home. A few months later, I had a very vivid dream about a boy and a girl who embrace and speak for the first time just before she is married off to someone else. I was intrigued by those dream characters and just started writing, wanting to explore the idea of what—if anything—would push them to break the rules to be together. It wasn’t until fairly late in the first draft that I realized both experiences were part of the same story.

3. I love how your travels inspired your story. I've had that happen too. Your book tackles living in a religious cult. I know from your website that you never lived in one. What research did you do so that you could create an accurate portrayal of what that is like?

A lot of reading and imagination! I read everything I could get my hands on from actual cult survivors—there are some really courageous and amazing stories out there! I also listened to a lot of podcasts about cults—my favorite is Oh No Ross and Carrie. When I initially started writing, I was excited about the idea of creating my very own religion, but that faded pretty quickly when I realized how hard it was going to be to manufacture all these rules! I wanted the Children of Daniel to be believable as a cult, but I also wanted it to be unique. It was a hard balance to achieve.

4. It sounds like Miriam must go through a huge emotional challenge and growth in the story. And it may be even more difficult because she’s been taught not to express herself as a girl. Share a bit about her growth as a character.

I’m going to try to do this without spoilers, so here goes! Miriam was so much fun to write, because
she is so curious. All of the adults in her life are worried that her curiosity—and her mouth—will be her downfall. But she has this voice inside her that, while she can’t identify it, she also can’t silence it. And that voice doesn’t always agree with what she’s been taught. Whether you call that a conscience or a moral compass or an angel on your shoulder, I think we all have some kind of inner guide that helps us distinguish between right and wrong. But we also have other influences—family, friends, society—that help us make those hard decisions. Miriam really doesn’t, at least not until she meets Aaron. Then she has to make up her own mind about what she believes in.   

5. What was a challenge that you had in writing THE VIRTUE OF SIN either before or after you signed your book deal. How did you overcome it?

The ending was always a challenge—both before and after the book deal. I can’t say too much without spoiling, but the last forty or so pages changed several times between signing with my agent and publication. I had help, thankfully, in the form of an amazing critique partner and a very gifted editor. I love the ending now; it feels absolutely right for the characters and their journey. But it was a long road to get there!

6. Glad you had the help. You’ve also had over 20 short stories published. Has writing short stories helped you in writing this book? If so, how?

I don’t have a writing degree, so short stories were really the bulk of my writing education. Twenty published means at least twice as many written, and I learned something from each one—how to write believable characters, how to craft a plot, how to survive rejection. It was much easier to practice on short works, especially when I had small children at home. I could hold a whole story in my head, while a novel was a messier thing. Though I have a few ‘practice novels’ under my belt as well.

7. Sounds like writing short stories is a great way to learn about the craft of writing. Your agent is Barbara Poelle. Share how she became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

It took me a few years and several drafts to find the heart of this story. I’d queried previous versions of the novel, but something wasn’t working. I’d actually gotten two R&R’s from two different agents, both of whom passed on the novel after the revisions, which at the time was heartbreaking. After the second rejection and a head-slap moment where I realized it was more a coming of age story than it was a romance, I finished another rewrite in January of 2017 and came up with a short list of possible agents. Luckily, Barbara was on that list, and she responded with a full request the same day I queried her, then called the next morning to offer representation. We did another round of revisions before going out on sub, and in July of that year I signed a two-book deal with Liza Kaplan at Philomel Books. I am incredibly lucky to be working with such strong, talented women who have really championed my work.  

8. Wow! You really worked on this. How do you plan to market your book? How are you balancing this with your writing schedule, job as a librarian, and family life?

In terms of marketing, I am fortunate to have a great team behind me at Penguin Random House. They’ve been fantastic at helping get the word out! I’m also (slowly) learning to use social media (I’m on Instagram now! Follow me there!) and I’ll be doing some reading and signing events, as well as presentations at some local book festivals. As far as balance, I’ve had to get strict about my writing time. I used to only write when I was alone and had a couple of hours free, and even that often get pushed aside for everything from laundry to doctor appointments to car-pooling. Now, pretty much everyone in my family now knows that if I’m in my writing shed, I’m unavailable! So far it hasn’t affected my work schedule at the library, but I’ve banked a few vacation days just in case I get into trouble with the deadline for the next book.

9. You are also a children’s librarian. How do we best find children’s librarians and connect with them when our books release? Do you have any suggestions on how to get our books on library shelves throughout the country?

I think social media is a great way to connect with almost anyone these days. There are a lot of librarians on twitter, and the great thing about librarians is we love books! We also love writers, so don’t be afraid to reach out to them with publication news or to ask them about hosting events. As far as getting books on shelves, I think most libraries use one of the bigger distributors for ordering—Baker & Taylor or Ingram. So a feature or ad in their publications might have a better chance of reaching a librarian audience, or at least getting your book on their radar.  

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on another contemporary YA about a sixteen-year-old girl whose small-town life is thrown into turmoil when her star athlete boyfriend turns eighteen and their relationship becomes a source of controversy, gossip, and scandal. While it has some similar themes to THE VIRTUE OF SIN, it’s also been a very different experience writing about teens living in the ‘real world’ of high school, prom, SATs, and social media. After spending years immersed in New Jerusalem, it felt a bit like emerging from a cave. I think I can relate to Miriam even more now!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Shannon. You can find Shannon at INSERT YOUR LINKS

Instagram: @schurenauthor


Shannon has generously offered an ARC of THE VIRTUE OF SIN 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 222nd. 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.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, June 10 I have an interview with author Lamar Giles and a giveaway of his MG fantasy/adventure THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

Wednesday, June 12 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kerstin Wolf and a query critique giveaway

Friday, June 14 I am participating in the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 17 I have an interview with author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary SINCE WE LAST SPOKE



Hope to see you on Monday!
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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Rajani LaRocca here with her agent Brent Taylor to share about her new MG MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM. It sounds like a great story with a great main character, a baking contest, a little magic,, and Shakespeare.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Eleven-year-old Mimi dreams of winning a baking competition judged by her celebrity chef idol. But she loses her best helper when her food writer father returns from a business trip mysteriously unable to distinguish between delicious and disgusting. Mimi follows strangely familiar music into the woods behind her house, meets a golden-eyed boy, and bakes with him using ingredients they've found in the forest. Then everyone around her suddenly starts acting loopy.

Squabbling sisters, rhyming waitresses, and culinary saboteurs mix up a recipe for mayhem in this Indian-American mashup of A Midsummer Night's Dream and competitive baking.
Now here's Rajani and Brent!

Rajani LaRocca to Brent Taylor (Brent’s answers in purple):

1.     At the end of the 2017 Pitch Wars agent showcase, I sent you the full manuscript of Midsummer's Mayhem at 5 PM, and my email record indicates that you responded at 8:27 asking for a phone call to discuss representation. I think you set a record! What made you read and offer so quickly? 

The concept. I read A Midsummer Night's Dream in middle school, and it's one of the few Shakespeare plays I've really connected with and loved. I was so intrigued by your pitch of taking A Midsummer Night's Dream and making it intersect with baking (I have a major sweet tooth) and family (like Mimi, I come from a large and rowdy family). So those are the reasons that I began reading the manuscript as soon as you submitted it to me. I remember that right away I fell in love with the writing, and your pitch-perfect middle grade voice. I loved that this was a joyful and fun read, but that I also felt heavily invested in the plot and stakes—I was rooting for Mimi, terrified for her, and cheering her every decision. When I finished reading, I didn't need to take a second to think about it—I knew kid readers would love Mimi's story, and I knew you had a phenomenal publishing career ahead that I very much wanted to be a part of it.   

2.     You are unbelievably fast with everything – email responses, revision notes, submission lists, contract negotiations, deal announcements…everything! How do you keep on top of everything all the time? And how do you remain so positive and kind? 

I really love the challenge of juggling multiple projects all at once. It keeps me on my toes, and I never feel bored. I feel more motivated to do my best work when I'm not buried under a huge to-do list, so I try to stay ahead of the game as much as possible. It's easy to do because I love my job so much. Optimism is who I am. As much as I can get caught up in the anxieties of our world, I have an optimistic heart, and I try to never lose the faith that things are going to work out exactly how they're supposed to. Working with authors like you, Rajani, who are such incredible people and have the real interests of kid readers at heart, are what make this job an absolute dream for you. Your energy and motivation inspire me to put my best into the world. So that's how I'm able to do it—because I have such admiration and respect for my clients, and we have an unbelievable amount of fun working together on books that make a difference in the lives of kids. 

3.     What’s your favorite part of being a literary agent? What’s the hardest part? 

I love celebrating the successes and seeing books make a difference in the world. It was very exciting when you and I started selling our first projects together, but I've been just as excited with how, recently, we've been celebrating things beyond the sale—like Midsummer's Mayhem getting a starred Kirkus review, or selling to Spain. I can't wait for you to start getting fan-mail from kids, because that's when we'll really see what readers are taking from Mimi's story and how it's impacting them. My #1 goal is making books that kids have fun reading and that impart them with joy, love, and optimism. So those are the parts of being a literary agent that I love. The hardest parts are when you're working really hard at something but not seeing the results you want right away. When you and I were shopping Midsummer's Mayhem, we hit some devastating roadblocks. But we never let our faith waver, and we persisted, and here we are now! 

4.     Middle grade seems to be your sweet spot. What kind of middle grade projects appeal the most
to you? What are you looking for in YA and picture books? 

Yes, middle grade makes up the bulk of my list, though I love picture books and YA too. I'm looking for middle grade that exudes warmth—I want to smile and squeeze the book to my chest when I've finished reading a middle grade novel. The Best Man by Richard Peck is one of my favorite novels ever, and it's the happiest, most love- and light-filled piece of fiction I've ever read. I love that family as at its core, and that Peck has captured the most beautiful pieces of life and memorialized them forever in this beautiful novel. I am looking for picture books that are fun and fresh, preferably author-illustrated but not necessarily. In YA, I'd love to find a novel as smart and ambitious as Dig by A. S. King, which I just finished reading and absolutely loved.   

5.     When writers query you, how important is the query vs. the pages? Do you always read one first, or do you skip around? 

Both are pretty important. The query should showcase that the author has a sense of their plot and stakes. I do skim through it before diving into the pages. 

6.     What’s your favorite dessert? 

It changes, but right now I'm always craving ice-cream cakes.

Brent to Rajani (Rajani’s answers in black): 
1. Before you entered Pitch Wars and then signed with me, what did your journey to writing and publishing look like?

I’ve loved books since I was tiny. I’m an only child, so books were some of my best friends growing up. I read pretty much everything—nonfiction, comics, folk tales, cereal boxes, and of course, novels. I wrote a lot through high school and college, but then I went to medical school, and then residency, and then became a mom, and I was occupied with medicine and motherhood, and didn’t write for a long time. A few years ago, when I’d become more established in my medical practice and my kids were in school, I started to think about nourishing my creative life again. I took writing classes, met fellow writers and formed critique groups, and, after a couple of years, started pursuing publication seriously. I spent 2014-2016 focusing on craft, writing multiple manuscripts and making Midsummer’s Mayhem and my picture book projects as good as I could. I started querying in 2017. I got many positive responses and had several full manuscripts out with agents, but then didn’t hear back for 4-5 months. So when Pitch Wars came along, I decided to enter, and to my surprise, I was selected. After an intense period of revision with my mentor, I ended up with a sparkling manuscript…and the rest, as they say, is history!

2. We have sold quite a few projects already—both picture books and middle grade. Every book I've read from you has been completely unique and unlike the last. Do you know if there is a common thread between your projects? What are some of the cornerstones? 

My family is my heart, so it’s not surprising that family is the heart of what I write about. In Midsummer’s Mayhem, the main character Mimi is the youngest of four siblings in a boisterous Indian-American family. Although they don’t always get along perfectly, the family members have a deep love and understanding that is an important thread in the book. Some of my picture books are immigration stories that explore what it’s like to spend years away from of those you love and depict familial connections that endure across distance and time.

I love science, math, puzzles, and music. In my nonfiction picture books, I channel my wonder and delight about how beautifully math and science work. In my fiction, I often write about smart kids solving intellectual mysteries. And inspired by my musical family, music plays a role in many of my projects.

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge foodie. I think that every single project I have involves food in some way. Food is one of the most basic elements of culture and connects us in so many ways. And it’s so much fun to write about!

Midsummer’s Mayhem combines all those elements—music, puzzles, delectable food, and family.

3. What have been the most surprising parts of selling and publishing books? What about this process has been rewarding, and what parts have been challenging? 

The biggest surprise has been the kindness and generosity of the kidlit community. My critique
partners have read every draft of every book and taught me so much. Established authors have been happy to help someone new to the industry. Teachers and librarians work hard to get kids excited about a wonderful variety of books, and it’s been fun connecting with them.

The most rewarding aspects of publishing? I’ve been lucky enough to work with several wonderful editors on my various projects. Great editors are magical people who can see the heart of the story you’ve written and help you improve it through a combination of fascinating questions and gentle suggestions. And what a joy it is to work with you, Brent! Your honesty, positivity, and energy buoy me and make me want to write even more.

Rejection is challenging, and publishing is full of it. But having you as my advisor, advocate, and friend helps me get through it relatively unscathed.

4. What are the privileges and responsibilities authors carry when writing and publishing for an audience of young readers? 

I still can’t believe I get to write books for kids! I hope my books will entertain and move kids and get them interested in and excited about all kinds of things. I hope my books give them insight into someone else’s life and help develop empathy. Even when we write fiction, those of us who write for young people must tell emotional truths, and we always need to respect young readers as the astute and sensitive people they are.

5. If you were asked to give someone a novel (not written by you) that best captures the spirit of who you are, what book would it be and why? (I'm arrogant and want to answer this question too—The Best Man by Richard Peck, because the lens through which that story is told is honestly, truly, the exact lens through which I view the world.)

It would be The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It contains so many themes that are dear to me: family, and how you fit into it; puzzles and adventure with a smart girl in the lead; a diverse (for the time) and interesting cast of characters; and a narrative full of humor and heart that never talks down to young readers.

6. Your debut novel is about to be released. You have countless picture books under contract, and you're hard at work on other novel projects. Looking to the future, what are you most excited about? 

I’m going to cheat here because I can’t limit myself to one thing. There is nothing like your first anything, and not only is Midsummer’s Mayhem my debut novel, it’s my debut book, and some truly lovely accolades have already come its way. I am trying my best to savor every moment leading up to its release!

I’m also absolutely thrilled about our picture books publishing in 2020-2022! We are getting some preliminary art for my first picture book, Seven Golden Rings, which will be published by Lee & Low Books in 2020. The illustrator, Archana Sreenivasan, brings so much creativity to the story, and it is mind-blowing to see my words translated into art!

I am also really loving my current middle grade projects (both of them!) and look forward to polishing them up.

But what I’m most excited about is connecting with young readers who have read Midsummer’s Mayhem and, someday, my other books. It will be the culmination of my writer dreams!

Brent's links:
TriadaUS website: http://www.triadaus.com/
Twitter: @btaylorbooks

Rajani's links:
Twitter: @rajanilarocca
IG: @rajanilarocca

Rajani has generously offered a hardback of MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM and Brent 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 June 1st. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 the query critique giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with debut author Shannon Shuren and a giveaway of her contemporary YA THE VIRTUE OF SIN and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10 I have an interview with author Lamar Giles and a giveaway of his MG fantasy/adventure THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

Wednesday, June 12 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kerstin Wolf and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 17 I have an interview with author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary SINCE WE LAST SPOKE

Hope to see you on Wednesday, June 5th!

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Happy Tuesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Love Is in Bloom Giveway Hop hosted by by BookHounds. I am so grateful to Mary at BookHounds for continuing to host these giveaways.

I've got a lot of new releases to share with you this month. 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. Remember, 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 telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through May 30th. 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. I will also give you an extra entry if you follow me on Twitter and let me know this. You can get two extra entries by commenting on one of my author interviews or guest posts listed at the top of my blog and mentioning it in your comment. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 20th I have a guest post by Rajani LaRocca and her agent Brent Taylor with a query critique and MG contemporary MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM giveaway

I'm off Monday, May 27th for Memorial Day

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with debut author Shannon Shuren and a giveaway of her contemporary YA THE VIRTUE OF SIN and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10 I have an interview with author Lamar Giles and a giveaway of his MG fantasy/adventure THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

Wednesday, June 12 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kerstin Wolf and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 17 I have an interview with author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary SINCE WE LAST SPOKE

Hope to see you on Monday!

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

















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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I have debut picture book author Beth Anderson and her agent Stephanie Fretwell-Hill to share about Beth's picture book, AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET. It sounds like a fun story that combines words and history.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:


Once upon a revolutionary time, two great American patriots tried to make life easier. They knew how hard it was to spell words in English. They knew that sounds didn’t match letters. They knew that the problem was an inconvenient English alphabet.

In 1786, Ben Franklin, at age eighty, and Noah Webster, twenty-eight, teamed up. Their goal? Make English easier to read and write. But even for great thinkers, what seems easy can turn out to be hard.

Children today will be delighted to learn that when they “sound out” words, they are doing eg-zakt-lee what Ben and Noah wanted.

Now here's Beth and Stephanie!


The Elusive Premise   

Beth:
Thank you so much for all the great content you offer on Literary Rambles! One of the most difficult concepts for me as an author on this writing journey has been the elusive premise. I’ve concluded that the author’s concept of premise differs from that of an agents and editors. I think my biggest challenge is to learn to see a story as an agent or editor would. And I think it’s a major factor in moving from rejection to offer.

I started to get my head around premise when I signed with agent Stephanie Fretwell-Hill of Red Fox Literary and was able to bounce ideas off of her and get feedback on my manuscripts. I wanted to share some of my learning and her thoughts with you. My first revelation was when she referred to my debut picture book, AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET, BEN FRANKLIN AND NOAH WEBSTER’S SPELLING REVOLUTION, as a “slam dunk.” I didn’t fully realize what I had. (I think it was a lightning strike.) I just knew I loved it in my own way as it connected to my students and personal interests. So what was it? And how could I do it again…with informed intention!

I could define the words "slam dunk,” and others I’d seen in rejections like “compelling," and "entry points for kids," but I needed to understand it all on a deeper level. So I began asking questions…

Stephanie, what exactly makes a manuscript a “slam dunk?” What makes a premise “compelling?” How would you explain “hook” and “entry points for kids” on a deeper level?

Stephanie:
This is kind of a tough topic to talk about, because I think for many editors and agents, it’s a matter of
“knowing it when we see it.” It’s very hard to tell someone how to make a manuscript more compelling or hook-y or however you want to describe it.

Beth:
And I think because this is a gut level response, it’s seldom explained, making it really tough for authors to understand.

Stephanie:
In any genre, there are trends in publishing that agents and editors are aware of, even if we can’t always articulate what they are. Right now, people are looking for biographies of subjects who are either well-known but have a part of their story very few readers are aware of, or subjects who are lesser-known (or even overlooked by history) but played an important role in a relevant or timely story. In general, editors and agents are shying away from the traditional “cradle to grave” treatment, and are looking for a single incident or story arc brought to life.

What I saw in AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET that made me get excited was a combination of factors: well-known subjects engaged in a lesser-known story from history; a direct application to something kids can relate to on a daily basis; a fresh format that is in line with current trends in picture book biographies; a fun and approachable voice; your trademark meticulous research and attention to detail. The “entry points” are Ben Franklin, Noah Webster (and his dictionary), the history of our language, the American Revolution, the fact that young readers are learning to spell right now and wondering why it isn’t so simple, the idea that everyone fails, and of turning those failures into future successes. Each of these are subjects that might come up in a classroom setting, and some might even be part of retail displays for the Fourth of July, revolution, stories about Ben Franklin, or another category of books that stores might group together for some promotional reason.

There’s an industry side of all of this that writers and consumers don’t always see—how will I pitch this book to an editor? How will the editor sell it to his or her acquisitions or sales team? How will the sales rep convince a bookseller to take a few copies? How will the bookseller decide to shelve the book or include it in displays? What will make a school librarian feel that this is the book to spend part of the budget on instead of that one?

The truth is, the answers to these questions are never long—they are sound-bytes. Unique, exciting, fresh. Easy to explain in a single sentence. Easy to remember after the sales conference is long over.

Beth:
How does all this differ with fiction and nonfiction? With picture books and middle grade/YA?

Stephanie:
I don’t know that it does differ so much with fiction and nonfiction, except that some books are more school- and library-driven and others are more commercial or trade-oriented, so each of those categories will affect how it is viewed. So, for example, a really commercial topic might be one that ties in directly with a hot current event, whereas the school and library markets will be looking for stories that fit with age-appropriate curricula and will stay relevant for some years to come. And then, of course, so many imprints say they want to “straddle the line” between the two—meaning, they want it all! Curricula connections, classroom value, hot, current, popular subjects…that stand the test of time. Easy, right?

And the hook has to appeal to readers of the appropriate age group. So, for example, what a preschooler finds meaningful—dinosaurs, magic, potty training—is not the same as what a YA reader will find meaningful—breaking out of one’s family and becoming a person in your own right, finding romantic love, exploring what it means to be you in the wider context of the world.

As an exercise, look at how the same writer could frame a single subject in different ways to appeal to different readers. Take, for example, THE LITTLEST MARCHER vs. WE’VE GOT A JOB, both by Cynthia Levinson, both on the same subject, approached in completely different ways for different age readers. Or WONDER vs. WE’RE ALL WONDERS by RJ Palacio.

Beth:
I’ve learned a lot from Candace Fleming and her “vital idea” and Barb Rosenstock and her “so what?” and know they are key to this process of honing the premise. What has helped me most of all, I think, is when you offer suggestions on manuscripts in terms of “reframing.”  I understand this as seeing the story through a new lens, from a new angle that directly connects to kids.

I had written LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT earlier in this journey. After 91 revisions I finally found the right frame in an article lamenting that our “hero” stories lead kids to believe that all we need to do is wait for that one exceptional person to save us. The reality is that no one does it alone; we all play a role - whether it be action or inaction. I had a morsel in the story already—but the article expanded that into a frame. My takeaway—read widely on a topic or theme.

As I researched “SMELLY” KELLY AND HIS SUPER SENSES, I found lots of interesting history, a fun character, and a mysterious setting. But it wasn’t until I saw his incredible sense of smell as a super power that it fell into place with a strong kid connection. I’ve learned that my “frame” often emerges in my author’s note, and I need to bring it into the story deliberately. 

I was starting to get it. With a child main character, entry points came easier for TAD LINCOLN’S RESTLESS WRIGGLE, as I found an endearing father/son story featuring a boy with learning differences. But when you helped me identify one element, learning differences, to frame how we view the characters and action, it made the story more focused.

Stephanie, could you explain this concept, how it relates to the premise, and how to find new ways to frame a story?

Stephanie:
I read lots and lots of manuscripts that include various interesting parts, but are never really able to bring those parts together into a meaningful whole. In the case of LIZZIE DEMANDS A SEAT, for example, it wouldn’t be enough to say “gosh, did you know there was another transportation-related civil rights case 100 years before Rosa Parks’s, which many people have never actually heard of?” That’s interesting, but it’s like trivia—it’s just a snippet of a thing you might say to someone at a dinner party. Your job as a writer is to draw larger connections—tie that trivia to something that matters to kids right now, in our moment in time. That’s what I love about your frame in LIZZIE. You’re saying change happens over time through collective action, not just through the most famous single moments in history. It’s inspiring—to me, to kids reading the book, etc—to think that many people’s small actions can add up to something bigger.

So now this story is more than just an interesting “did you know?”—it has a heart, it has meaning, and by extension it also fits some categories now that might help in selling it: civil rights, activism, civic responsibility, etc.

One thing I often find myself asking writers is “why did you choose to write this particular story?” I’m trying to find out what was so meaningful for the writer that he or she decided to dedicate so much time to it. I’m asking them to include that meaning in their story (oh—but without becoming didactic or preachy. It’s a fine line!) And this part is key: how does that meaning relate to bigger themes, and are those themes big enough to find a wide audience?

It’s kind of the same thing as asking why I should care as a reader, except that I’m turning the question back on you as a writer. Why did you care enough to sit down and write a whole manuscript? Why does this story matter?

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Beth and Stephanie!

Links and Bios:


Stephanie - Website: www.redfoxliterary.com Twitter: @SFretwellHill 
 
Stephanie Fretwell-Hill is a literary agent with a sales and editorial background. After starting her career in foreign rights at Walker Books in the UK, Stephanie moved home to the US as an acquiring editor at Peachtree Publishers. In 2016, she joined Red Fox Literary where she represents authors and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction and non-fiction. Some of her fabulous clients include Beth Anderson, Michael Belanger, Carolyn Crimi, Brenda Maier, and Christina Soontornvat. Stephanie lives in Asheville, NC with her husband, two spirited little girls, and a very clever border collie.

Beth - https://bethandersonwriter.com , Twitter and Pinterest: @BAndersonwriter
Beth Anderson, a former English as a Second Language teacher, has always marveled at the power of books. Armed with linguistics and reading degrees, a fascination with language, and penchant for untold tales, she strives for accidental learning in the midst of a great story. Beth lives in Colorado where she laughs, wonders, thinks, and questions; and hopes to inspire kids to do the same.
Beth has generously offered a hardback of AN INCONVENIENT ALPHABET and Stephanie 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 May 18. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 the query critique giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Tuesday, May 14th I'm participating in the Love Is in Bloom Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 20th I have a guest post by Rajani LaRocca and her agent Brent Taylor with a query critique and MG contemporary MIDSUMMER'S MAYHEM giveaway

I'm off May 27th

Wednesday, June 5th I have an interview with debut author Shannon Shuren and a giveaway of her contemporary YA THE VIRTUE OF SIN and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10 I have an interview with author Lamar Giles and a giveaway of his MG fantasy/adventure THE LAST LAST-DAY-OF-SUMMER

Wednesday, June 12 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kerstin Wolf and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 17 I have an interview with author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary SINCE WE LAST SPOKE

Hope to see you on Tuesday!


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