Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:

BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES through January 31st

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES SIGNED GALLEY & T-SHIRT through February 16th

THE INQUISITOR'S MARK through January 31st

WOVEN through February 7th

MICHAEL JENSEN AND DAVID POWERS KING INTERVIEW AND WOVEN GIVEAWAY



 Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great start to the week. Can you believe it's already the end of January? I've been doing great on my commitment to exercise regularly. I joined Planet Fitness and it's really helped keep me on track when it's too cold to walk outside. Hope you're doing good on whatever new plans you made for the new year.

Before I get to our fantastic interview, I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of A CONSPIRACY OF US is Jessica Lawson!

And the winner of TUNNEL VISION is Jenni Enzor!

And the winner of the Kate Testerman critique is Susa Silvermarie!

Congrats! For the book winners, please e-mail me your address so I can have your books sent to you. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m super thrilled to have follower David Powers King and his co-author Michael Jensen here to share about their new YA fantasy WOVEN that releases tomorrow. For those of you who have followed their road to publication, this is a sweet day for them. And I’m so happy to share in it with them.
WOVEN is a fantastic story. I loved the magical system they created around the idea of threads. And Nels and Princess Tyra are such fantastic characters who both grow through the story. This was a real page turner for me and I can’t wait for the second book in the series to come out.
Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Two unlikely allies must journey across a kingdom in the hopes of thwarting death itself.

All his life, Nels has wanted to be a knight of the kingdom of Avërand. Tall and strong, and with a knack for helping those in need, the people of his sleepy little village have even taken to calling him the Knight of Cobblestown.

But that was before Nels died, murdered outside his home by a mysterious figure.

Now the young hero has awoken as a ghost, invisible to all around him save one person—his only hope for understanding what happened to him—the kingdom’s heir, Princess Tyra. At first the spoiled royal wants nothing to do with Nels, but as the mystery of his death unravels, the two find themselves linked by a secret, and an enemy who could be hiding behind any face.

Nels and Tyra have no choice but to abscond from the castle, charting a hidden world of tangled magic and forlorn phantoms. They must seek out an ancient needle with the power to mend what has been torn, and they have to move fast. Because soon Nels will disappear forever.
 

Hi David and Michael! So excited to have you here today!

DPK: Thank you for having us, Natalie! This is an honor for us both.

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

MJ: I came from a musical family where everyone sang or played an instrument. I sing and play the piano, myself. I began making my own compositions and even tried my hand a writing a few musicals. That’s when I discovered a passion for writing and storytelling.

DPK: I grew up near Hollywood, so I was pretty much surrounded by movie culture all the time. I tried my hand at singing, acting, and animation. Then one day, I had a crazy idea pop into my head when I was 14, leading me to give writing a shot. Been writing and submitting ever since.

2. So cool how you've both been artistic since you were kids. How did you decide to co-author
this book and what considerations went into that decision? What tips do you have for other writers considering co-authoring a book?

DPK: Michael and I first met as coworkers and soon became friends. I let him read one of my practice novels. Then, when he shared his idea with me over lunch—a ghost and a princess in a forest looking for a needle that could bring the ghost back to life—I was sold. “We HAVE to write a book!” was my response. I have always loved ghost stories, and this idea was killer.

MJ: David has been a wonderful co-author. The reason we work so well together is that we put the project above our artistic differences. We never compromise our artistic differences; we just work together to come up with a solution that is better than either of us had on our own. It helps having a co-author who is also your friend.

3. That's so awesome that you met as co-workers. It's like it was destined. Where did you get the idea for WOVEN and how did it change, if at all, as you collaborated together?

MJ: Almost a decade before meeting David. I dreamed I was crushed by a tree and became a ghost. I could pass through walls and fly around. It was very frustrating because no one could see or hear me. I even sang about my frustrations in my dream. I woke up thinking this was my next musical project. I wrote an outline and several songs for it. As much as I loved the story, it just wasn’t working as a musical, so I put it on the shelf. When I read one of David’s books, I remembered it. The basic storyline is still there, but the collaboration process altered WOVEN into something better than I could have dreamed. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll still make that musical.

DPK: I instantly fell in love with this concept. Some of the fantastical elements didn’t make the cut after deciding to ground the story in reality, but it’s possible that we’ll use them in the future. What I have treasured throughout this whole experience is Michael’s trust in sharing his brilliant concept with me, a fledgling writer. Michael has since helped me find my voice as a writer.

4. I loved how the magical system in WOVEN dealt with threads and a magical thimble. What was your world building process like?

DPK: We knew early on, if we wanted a magic needle, we needed a world with a magic system to match. We applied every aspect of sewing and weaving, giving them a place in our world. The concept that everyone is a thread in a tapestry allowed us to invite a different kind of ghost, too.

MJ: Neither David or I knew anything about weaving and sewing before this. We did quite a bit of research and spoke with professionals to help make the magic system parallel the trade.

5. Interesting all the research you did on weaving and sewing. I can imagine you didn't know much about it beforehand and probably weren't very interested in such things. I’ve heard from other authors that co-author books that it’s common for each author to write from one character’s POV? Was this true for you too? And what else did you do to make the story seem so seamless like it was written by one person? Because it seems like there is a whole lot more to co-writing a book to ensure that both characters move the plot along in a cohesive fashion and so that hints and foreshadows are suggested along the way.

MJ: We would sit down and discuss the story chapter by chapter. David would write a treatment of the chapter and hand it to me. I would keep the elements I liked, rewrite a different direction if needed, and send it back. We repeated this process until we had a chapter we were both proud of.

DPK: The Lead Writing approach has worked exceptionally well for us. That’s when one writer handles the initial draft while the other focusing on editing and adding elements. We always plan our chapters ahead of time, as Michael said. This helped us streamline the presentation into one that is unique. This would be a very different book if it was written by either of us on our own.

6. Your collaboration process is fascinating. And I haven't heard any other authors describe it like you have. Who was the harder character to develop—Nels or Tyra—and why?

DPK: Tyra. We wanted her to be unlikable, in a good way. I think we rewrote her character three times. Eventually we found a balance that made her justifiably unlikable, or as one of out early readers put it, “wonderfully flawed.” She does become more sympathetic as the story continues.

MJ: I disagree with David—sorry buddy. Nels was the most difficult because his character arc is so subtle. He starts out flawless; too good and kind. We had to dig deep and consider how dying would change him, how he resents having to put his afterlife in the hands of the spoiled princess Tyra. Nels had to lose every sense of his self while remaining the loveable, all-around good guy.

7. Your competing answers are making me laugh. I know your road to getting an agent and your fantastic publisher Scholastic were not without bumps in the road. And your story is such an inspiring one of not giving up. How did Meredith Bernstein become your agent and Scholastic your publisher?

MJ: Our road certainly has been ... unusual. After the rights for WOVEN were returned to us, the controversy with our previous publisher ignited a media frenzy that soon landed us six offers of representation with major literary agencies. All of the Big Five publishing houses requested and read the manuscript, too. After carefully weighing our options, we selected Meredith Bernstein to represent WOVEN in an action with major publishers—it was acquired by Scholastic at auction. They happened to be our first choice, so everything worked out.

DPK: An unusual road ... Michael couldn’t be more right. It’s not a path any author plans on, but it happened. Michael’s battle became mine. He had my back through the thick of it and he will for always. Being offered a contract with Scholastic at the end is the equivalent of a dream come true. I’m proud and consider myself exceptionally lucky to have an amazing team to work with.

8. I have been jumping up and down with excitement for you just knowing what you've gone through and how things tend to work out for the best. What are your plans for marketing your book? Any decisions made based on watching other authors before you promote their own books?

DPK: Being in the blogging community for six years, I’ve seen many authors promote their books. Because of this networking experience (and a great publisher), I believe the marketing is practically taking care of itself. We are doing a blog tour/giveaway for the next three weeks.

MJ: While Scholastic is doing the majority of marketing for us, we plan marketing where we can, and we will also make ourselves available for signings, school visits and conferences.

9. Glad you've feeling it's a smooth process. Some authors feel overwhelmed with the marketing aspect of it. What are you working on now?

MJ: Among our personal projects, we are currently working on a companion novel to WOVEN.

DPK: The companion novel is coming along great. We hoping to have it wrapped up before the end of this summer. Our primary focus is writing the next two books that follow after WOVEN.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, David and Michael. You can find David and Michael at:

David: Blog: www.davidpowersking.com , Twitter: @davidpowersking
Woven Website: www.wovenbook.com

And WOVEN is available now wherever books are sold:
iTunes             

David's and Michael's publisher Scholastic generously offered an ARC of WOVEN 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 February 7th. I’ll announce the winner on February 9th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it 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 for for US.

Here's what's coming up:

On Saturday I'll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I'll have a lot of your and my favorite books to choose from and will also offer an Amazon Gift Card if you don't see a book you want.

On Monday I'll have an interview with debut author MarcyKate Connolly and a giveaway of her MG fairy tale story MONSTROUS.

On Wednesday next week I'll be reviewing Jennifer Nielsen's new MG mythology/fantasy MARK OF THE THIEF and giving away my ARC. Jennifer is one of my favorite authors and I loved this start to her new series.

And the next Monday I'll have an interview with debut author Laurie McKay and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER.

The next Monday I have an interview with debut author Rhiannon Thomas and a giveaway of her YA fairy tale retelling A WICKED THING.

The Monday after that I have a guest post by debut author Karen Bao and a giveaway of her science fiction YA DOVE ARISING.

Hope to see you on Friday!

 

DIANNE SALERNI GUIEST POST AND THE INQUISITOR'S MARK GIVEAWAY

 Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great start to your week.

FOLLOWER NEWS

Jaimie Ayres new YA paranormal, 18 DAYS, releases on January 27th. To celebrate her publisher,Curiosity Quills is running a contest where they post a thought daily from the book cover and ask people to share on social media. Then you can enter their contest for a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Here's a link to the contest:
https://curiosityquills.com/news/18-days-18-thoughts/

And I have a winner to announce.

The winner of CITY OF SAVAGES is Maisha at Books Equal Awareness.

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can have your book sent to you. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I'm thrilled to have blogger friend and follower Dianne Salerni here with a guest post on how to write a sequel under contract. Whenever I think of having to do this, I get scared, so I found her advice very helpful. Hope you do too.

And there's a giveaway of THE INQUISITOR'S MARK which releases January 27th. This is a fantastic story. Dianne shares just enough backstory at the start of the book to remind us of things we may have forgotten without making it feel like an info dump. And I liked that we get to see Jax in a new setting with new characters. This is a real page turner. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

Here's a plot summary of THE INQUISITOR'S MARK from Amazon:

After the all-out Eighth Day war in Mexico, Jax, Riley, and Evangeline have gone into hiding. There are still rogue Transitioners and evil Kin lords who want to use Riley, a descendant of King Arthur, and Evangeline, a powerful wizard with bloodlines to Merlin, to get control over the Eighth Day.

So when Finn Ambrose, a mysterious stranger, contacts Jax claiming to be his uncle, Jax’s defenses go up—especially when Finn tells Jax that he’s holding Jax’s best friend, Billy, hostage. To rescue Billy and keep Riley and Evangeline out of the fray, Jax sneaks off to New York City on his own. But once there, he discovers a surprising truth: Finn is his uncle and Jax is closely related to the Dulacs—a notoriously corrupt and dangerous Transitioner clan who want Riley dead and Evangeline as their prisoner. And family or not, these people will stop at nothing to get what they want.

Now Here's Dianne.

Writing a Sequel Under Contract

In December of 2012, having recently signed a 3-book contract with HarperCollins for my manuscript,
The Eighth Day, I sat down at my computer to attempt – for the first time – writing a book that had been contracted and paid for, sight unseen.

A sequel.

People often ask me: Did I have other stories planned for this series when I wrote Book 1? The answer is yes, sort of, but because of the way this book deal went down, I discarded most of them. Originally, I wrote The Eighth Day as a YA urban fantasy, with my protagonist Jax Aubrey 15-years-old. However, when I submitted the story to my agent, she felt very strongly that the premise and story would work better for MG readers. And as soon as she said it, I knew it was true. I think, in my heart, I knew all along.
So, in a quick round of revisions, I reduced Jax’s age to 13, adjusted his voice, removed darker elements that weren’t appropriate for MG, and before I had to time to recover from that, HarperCollins bought the book in a pre-empt deal and wanted to talk about revisions to Book 1 and sequels!

I was a little nervous taking my first phone call with the head editor at Harper Childrens, but she quickly put me at ease. One of my biggest worries – did I have to change the age of the other two main characters, Riley and Evangeline – was immediately laid to rest. Riley, Jax’s guardian, would remain 18, and Evangeline, the mysterious girl next door, would remain 16. The editor called them “aspirational characters,” and I do believe she was right. Feedback from MG readers of The Eighth Day suggests that kids really like Jax, but they want to be Riley.

However, the editor also encouraged me to shift the focus in later books toward the MG characters. Not that Riley and Evangeline couldn’t be in the books (they are!), but the MG characters needed a more active role. This meant throwing out some of my earlier ideas in favor of making sure the main plot-movers were Jax, his friend Billy Ramirez, Tegan and Thomas Donovan, and Evangeline’s younger sister (whose whereabouts are currently unknown). I couldn’t rely on the older teens to lead all the action.

Staring at the blank first page for Book 2, I considered my options. I knew who the villains of this book would be: the corrupt and deadly Dulacs who were mentioned in The Eighth Day but never made an appearance in that book. But what would the story be?

It was another brainstorming session by telephone that pushed me in the right direction – a conference call between me, my editor, and her assistant. Her assistant was the one who casually mentioned, “I’d love to learn more about Jax’s deceased father. He’s a bit of a mystery.”

And there it was. I already knew the villains. Suddenly I knew how they were connected to Jax. From that point, the plot outline practically wrote itself. There were a few changes along the way; my first drafts always divert from my outlines and some of the best parts of The Inquisitor’s Mark were never part of the original plan. But it all came down to this:

Family ties can be deadly.

You can find Dianne at her Website, her Blog, and on Twitter.

Dianne generously offered an ARC of THE INQUISITOR'S MARK 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 January 31st. I’ll announce the winner on February 2nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it 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 for for US and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. To find all the other bloggers Blog.
today, go to her

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have an interview with follower and blogger friend David Powers King and his co-author Michael Jensen and a giveaway of their fantastic YA fantasy WOVEN.

Next Friday I'll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I'll have a lot of your and my favorite books to choose from and will also offer an Amazon Gift Card if you don't see a book you want.

The next Monday I'll have an interview with debut author MarcyKate Connolly and a giveaway of her MG fairy tale story MONSTROUS.

And the following Monday I'll have an interview with debut author Laurie McKay and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE LAST DRAGON CHARMER.

Hope to see you on Monday!



AN EMBER IN THE ASHES CELEBRATION GIVEAWAY

Happy Friday Everyone! I have a special treat for you today. I'm thrilled to be one of the ambassador's that Penguin Young Readers picked to help with the pre-release celebrations for AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. I am very excited for this debut author release and am waiting daily for my ARC to arrive.

Today MTV News is releasing an excerpt of AN EMBER IN THE ASHES. To celebrate, Penguin Young Readers is offering a fantastic giveaway. Details are below.

First, here's a blurb of AN EMBER OF THE ASHES from Goodreads:


Set in a terrifyingly brutal Rome-like world, An Ember in the Ashes is an epic fantasy debut about an orphan fighting for her family and a soldier fighting for his freedom. It’s a story that’s literally burning to be told.

LAIA is a Scholar living under the iron-fisted rule of the Martial Empire. When her brother is arrested for treason, Laia goes undercover as a slave at the empire’s greatest military academy in exchange for assistance from rebel Scholars who claim that they will help to save her brother from execution.

ELIAS is the academy’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias is considering deserting the military, but before he can, he’s ordered to participate in a ruthless contest to choose the next Martial emperor.

When Laia and Elias’s paths cross at the academy, they find that their destinies are more intertwined than either could have imagined and that their choices will change the future of the empire itself.


Doesn't it sound fantastic? And here's the link to the MTV exclusive excerpt.
  
Five winners will win a signed galley and a t-shirt.


To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ROBERT KENT GUEST POST AND BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES GIVEAWAY

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have blogger friend Robert Kent here with a guest post and a giveaway of his new middle grade science fiction adventure story BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES that released in October. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

Here's a blurb of BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES from Goodreads:



Fifth grader Ellicott Skullworth has always felt out of place at public school and now he's tested into the Archimedes Program at Latimer University. While in Latimer City, he’ll be living with his world famous and insane(ly) brilliant cousin, Banneker Bones, the eleven-year-old inventor of robots. The only problem: Banneker doesn't want to share his room. And he's got an army of robots to make Ellicott miserable until he goes home.

When the boys are ambushed by robot bees as big as cars, Ellicott's only friend is carried off and held for ransom. To rescue him, Ellicott has no choice but to partner with his maniacal cousin. Ellicott doesn't know what's worse: facing a hive of giant robot bees or spending more time with Banneker Bones.

BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES features original illustrations by Adam Smith. It's a humorous, science fiction adventure for readers of all ages written in the spirit of a comic book.


Doesn't this sound like a great story? I can see boys especially really liking it. 

Now here's Robert. 

Voltaire famously declared the better to be the enemy of the good. I have not read Voltaire. I have, however, read that quote and a few others and determined that Voltaire is definitely someone whose work I should talk about wishing to read more of and never actually make time to read more of.

It is a great quote and I've been thinking about it for most of the past year as I've self-published 4 ebooks, 2 print books, and 3 (soon to be 4) audiobooks. I did this the same year my wife and I had our first child and while working 50 hours a week at a day job and while running my blog Middle Grade Ninja, which many readers of Literary Rambles will know from my interviews with literary agents.


When I offered to write this guest post, Natalie asked me to write about how I found time to do all this, which got me thinking, how did I find time to do all this? How does anyone find time to do anything? I guess we do the things we have to do and if there's time left over, we do the things we want. After all, I've read plenty of books over the last year, I haven't missed a superhero movie or an episode of The Walking Dead (all watched at least twice), I played The Last of Us and Saints Row 4 (both awesome), and I took my wife to dinner occasionally.


Truthfully, I'm a slacker. There are plenty of writers doing more than me, which is fine, as writing is really only a competition with yourself.  What motivates me in writing Banneker Bones and the Alligator People is not writing faster than Hugh Howey (not even on my best day), but challenging myself to produce a better book than Banneker Bones and the Giant Robot Bees. Also, I have young readers who ask me on a regular basis when there will be more Banneker, hoping that the answer is after lunch rather than next year.

I write because I have to, but also because I want to. I want Banneker's fans to have another book and I'm excited they're excited. I enjoy writing and publishing. Formatting fulfills all my OCD requirements and there have been few thrills as great as hearing David Radtke brilliantly narrate the audiobook for All Together Now: A Zombie Story. Yes, I had to listen to each chapter, provide notes, listen to changes made and so on and yes, it took a lot of time, but I'm a total narcissist and I loved hearing my own book:)

And approving audiobook chapters is something I can do while changing a diaper, doing the dishes, playing a video game, etc. I listen to audiobooks while I do most everything that's not writing or reading, which is a great way to knock out books I otherwise wouldn't get to. I've also developed a skill for writing with a baby on my chest.

Getting back to Voltaire, whose work I have not read, and his quote, which I have, "better is the enemy of the good." In an ideal world, I would sit down and write for 8 hours straight, producing 5,000 words everyday, read for another 8 hours, sleep for 8 hours, and never stop for a bathroom break. If you live in that world, Esteemed Reader, you should absolutely do those things. As I live in an imperfect world, I do things imperfectly.

I don't always write my daily goal of 500 words (told you I'm a slacker), but by finding time everyday to sit down and work to produce them, I get a book finished every so often. Every day with a baby is a little different and I don't always get 2 full hours of writing time, but I do the best I can with 1 hour or some days less. My son comes first and if he's hungry (always) or needs a butt change or wants to be tickled, I do that first and fit the writing in when and where I can.


If you don't love writing, you won't do it, and you shouldn't feel bad when you don't. Write emails and memos and whatever you have to write, but don't worry about not writing a book (read mine instead). I haven't written a single rap song, and it doesn't cost me any sleep. I don't especially like rap or rapping, so I'm not going to make time to do it, even if I felt I should, which I don't.

I love writing, so it's not a great sacrifice to carve out time to do it when I can. I don't write perfect books (or guest posts), so it shouldn't be a surprise that I don't write them perfectly. I simply spend the time I can find writing and I enjoy it. It's something I want to do. It would be better if I could write for 8 hours every day, but writing as much as I can each day is working out pretty good.

Robert Kent is the author of the middle grade novel BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES and the young adult novel ALL TOGETHER NOW: A ZOMBIE STORY. He runs the popular blog for writers, MIDDLE GRADE NINJA, and lives with his family in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he's hard at work on his next book. 

 

Robert has generously offered a copy of BANNEKER BONES AND THE GIANT ROBOT BEES 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 January 31st. I’ll announce the winner on February 2nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it 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 for a print book or e-book for US and Canada and for an e-book for International. 

 
 

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a fantastic guest post by Dianne Salerni on writing a trilogy and an ARC giveaway of INQUISITOR'S MARK, the second book in her middle grade fantasy.

The following Monday after that I have an interview with follower and blogger friend David Powers King and his co-author Michael Jensen and a giveaway of their fantastic YA fantasy WOVEN.


Friday that week I'll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I'll have a lot of your and my favorite books to choose from and will also offer an Amazon Gift Card if you don't see a book you want.

The following Monday I'll have an interview with debut author MarcyKate Connolly and a giveaway of her MG fairy tale story MONSTROUS.
 
Hope to see you on Monday!


KATE TESTERMAN & SUSAN ADRIAN GUEST POST & QUERY CRITIQUE & TUNNEL VISION GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! I hope you all are staying warm in these incredibly bitter cold winter days. I was so happy when it got into the 20's yesterday. And I'm happy to have a fantastic post for you today with a query critique and book giveaway.

FOLLOWER NEWS

Medeia Shariff has a new YA contemporary book, 52 LIKES, recently released. Here's a blurb: After a
brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie will have to follow ghostly entities, past victims of her attacker, contacting her through a social media site—why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden. 

And a few links:

Evernight Teen - http://evernightteen.com/
 
Today I'm thrilled to have debut YA author Susan Adrian and her agent Kate Testerman here to share about the author/agent relationship. And there will be a query critique by Kate and a book giveaway of TUNNEL VISION, Susan's new sci-fi thriller. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

Here's a blurb of TUNNEL VISION:

Jake Lukin has an incredible power he's been hiding his whole life...but one (big) mess-up later, and the U.S. government knows all about it. Suddenly he's juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards. When his family is threatened, Jake has to make a terrible choice.

TUNNEL VISION is a young adult sff thriller with psychic spies, graveyard chases, Call of Duty, Buffy and Veronica Mars references, and a stubborn little sister you'll wish you had, even if you are an 18-year-old boy.

Doesn't it sound fantastic? It's definitely on my list to read this year.

Now here's Susan and Kate.

The Agent/Author Relationship: Working Together Successfully
(without driving each other crazy)

A conversation with Kate Schafer Testerman, kt literary, and her author Susan Adrian (TUNNEL VISION, January 20, 2015, St. Martin's Press)

Susan: The agent/author relationship has been described many ways: as like a marriage, a friendship, client/service provider…but honestly none of those quite hold up for me (especially the marriage one, unless you're married to 20-30 people at a time). I see it as a partnership. Each partner brings skills to the table that are required to not only sell a book to a good home, but manage the complex process and relationships after that sale. I bring the books, ideas, and a willingness to work hard, compromise, and promote myself. I am so glad to hand the rest of it over to Kate. Kate, what would you say are the main things you, and agents in general, bring to the table? And how do you typically view the author/agent relationship?

Kate: An agent – well, a GOOD agent – brings experience and contacts. In this internet age, anyone can call themselves an agent, hang out a shingle, and offer representation. A good agent has years of experience – if not in an agency, then in a publishing house, dealing with the other side of the business. They also need that time to build a reputable list of contacts, so that when a client comes to me with a new idea, whatever it is, I can respond with a list of editors looking for something just like that. And if there is nothing JUST like that, I can come up with editors who’ll groove on something totally new and different.

I absolutely view our relationship as a partnership. Neither one of us can be as successful alone! It’s also helpful to know that there can be ebbs and flows in our relationship, and that it doesn’t need to be entirely exclusive. (I mean, yes, you should only have one agent, but…) While you’re on submission, while I’m reading, or waiting on a contract, as you work with your editor on revisions, or I send the manuscript out to foreign publishers – there are times when either one of us may be less important to the other in the road to publication, and a good agent knows when to step aside, when to let someone be, and when to throw their muscle around.

Susan: I definitely think there is a balance between asking your agent questions, and for advice/support, and being too "needy". I try to be respectful of your time and not fire off an email every time I think of something, especially if it's just something that requires patience (ha!), but many times I just feel so much better when I do follow up, just so I know what's going on. Or asking when I don't understand something. I feel like a lot of authors are hesitant to bother their agents, which sometimes can cause unnecessary stress. Have you found that different authors need different levels of communication from you? How do you adapt to that?

Kate: Before I sign a new client, I try to have a conversation with them and figure out what their
comfort level is in terms of communication. Some authors want every rejection the moment I get them from an editor, and some only want to hear when a book is at the acquisition committee meeting. I try to be quickly reactive anytime one of my clients has a question or concern, but I will admit that one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be even more communicative when there isn’t news, just so that they know even when I’m quiet, they’re on the top of my mind.

The one thing I must add, though, is if you have a question for your agent – ASK! Don’t be afraid of them. If you are, maybe they’re not the right partner for you. I never feel like I’m being bothered by an email or a call from a client – that’s what I’m here for. And if I can save you hours worth of stress over something I can answer in five minutes, that’s what I’m going to do.

Susan: One thing I do really enjoy about our relationship is that we have a lot in common, and can talk about kids/tv shows/other books etc. But I don't want authors to think that's necessary in an agent. What I value most is the work you do for me—for us—as an advocate for my books, and I know the business side is always more important than the personal side.

Kate: Again, this is where the experience side of things comes into play. But in truth, I do love all the rest of that stuff, too. I was speaking with a colleague earlier today, and stated that my business plan was to work with people I like. And I firmly believe that's true. Your manuscript may be the hottest thing on the planet, but if you come across as a pain in the butt from our first correspondence? Then you’re not someone I want to be in business with for the long term. And the agent/author relationship IS long term. The speed of publishing is glacial, and it may easily be two years from writing “The End” to publication day. You want someone you’re not going to get sick of in three months.

Susan: This interview comes at a pretty significant time for me: a week from the publication of my first book, TUNNEL VISION. We've been through a long road together with this book. It's the one you signed me for, and it wasn't an easy sale (a full year on sub!). I've greatly appreciated all you've done with me to get to this moment. How does it feel for you, when you see a debut author's first book come out and know you were a huge part in making that happen?

Kate: It’s one of the best feelings in the world. I trot out this story quite a bit, but I remember one of the first sales I ever made, at a previous job, and while the advance was tiny, the author was still thrilled. One of the other agents, used to six figure, multi-book deals for major bestsellers, scoffed at my tiny deal, and asked “Is this worth our time?” And I remember responding with a vigorous “Hell, yes! I just made someone’s dream come true.” Every day, every time it’s a book’s birthday, I still feel that way.

Susan: Since we're talking about TUNNEL VISION, I'm going to ask you a question about that. What was it about the book that made you want to sign me as a client? And bonus: other than Jake, the main character, who's your favorite?

Kate: The first thing that struck me was the male voice of the main character. Coldly, calculatingly, I wanted a balance to my YA list, which I saw was lacking a male voice. But Jake wooed me into caring with his love of computer gaming (how I met my husband), his persistence, and his complete love for his family, especially his sister.

And you set me up with this last question, because you know my answer: Myka. Hands down, Myka. I want Myka’s novel next, please!

Bio of Kate Testerman: After a dozen years working in publishing in New York City, Kate moved to Colorado and formed kt literary in early 2008, where she concentrates on middle grade and young adult fiction. Bringing to bear the experience of being part of a large agency, she enjoys all aspects of working with her authors, offering hands-on experience, personal service, and a surfeit of optimism.
Her clients include Maureen Johnson, Ellen Booraem, Stephanie Perkins, Susan Adrian, Carrie Harris, Trish Doller, and Matthew Cody, among other exciting and acclaimed authors. Kate is a graduate of the University of Delaware’s Honors Program, a former cast member of the New York Renaissance Faire, and an avid collector of shoes, bags, children, and dogs. Her interests cover a broad range including contemporary drama, urban fantasy and magical realism, adventure stories, and romantic comedies. She is an active member of the SCBWI and AAR.

Bio of Susan Adrian: Susan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. She danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching spy stuff, traveling, and writing more books.
Susan is represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary (kate@ktliterary.com). For film/television rights she is represented by Jon Cassir of CAA. She is a member of SCBWI, SFWA, and ITW.

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Susan has generously offered a copy of TUNNEL VISION for a giveaway. And Kate has very generously offered a query critique to one lucky winner. 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 January 24th. If you want to me entered for the query critique as well as the book giveaway, you must let me know in the comments. I’ll announce the winner on January 26th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it 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. The book giveaway is for US and Canada. The query critique is international.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday I have a guest post by Robert Kent and a giveaway of his new middle grade book, BANNIKER BONES.

Next Monday I have a fantastic guest post by Dianne Salerni on writing a trilogy and an ARC giveaway of INQUISITOR'S MARK, the second book in her middle grade fantasy.

And the following Monday I have an interview with follower and blogger friend David Powers King and his co-author Michael Jensen and a giveaway of their fantastic YA fantasy WOVEN.

Friday that week I'll be participating in the Favorites Giveaway Hop. I'll have a lot of your and my favorite books to choose from and will also offer an Amazon Gift Card if you don't see a book you want.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!