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

THE STAR-CROSSED QUEEN through May 21st

Agent Ronnie Ann Herman Query Critique Giveaway through May 28th

Agent Tina Wexler Query Critique and WAITING FOR AUGUSTA Giveaway through May 28th

THE MARKED GIRL through June 3rd

LINDSEY KLINGELE INTERVIEW AND THE MARKED GIRL GIVEAWAY



Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have debut author Lindsey Klingele here to share about her YA fantasy THE MARKED GIRL. One thing that really excites me about this book is that Cedric and his friends come from another world into modern Los Angeles.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads


Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (Los Angeles)…

When Cedric, crowned prince of Caelum, and his fellow royal friends (including his betrothed, Kat) find themselves stranded in modern-day L.A. via a magical portal and an evil traitor named Malquin, all they want to do is get home to Caelum—soon. Then they meet Liv, a filmmaker foster girl who just wants to get out of the system and on with her life. As she and Cedric bond, they’ll discover that she’s more connected to his world than they ever could’ve imagined…and that finding home is no easy task…

Hi Lindsey! Thanks so much for joining us!



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

Hi! Thanks so much for having me. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. I stapled together my own stories as a kid, read everything I could get my hands on, and studied creative writing in college. After school, I worked as an assistant and then an associate editor for some trade publications in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles to become a TV writer. I was fortunate enough to work as an assistant on some teen TV shows, and it was during that time I wrote, revised (and revised, and revised), and eventually sold THE MARKED GIRL.

2. Awesome that you work as an assistant for teen TV shows too! Where did you get the idea for THE MARKED GIRL? And what made you decide to have Cedric come to our world? Usually a main character goes from our world to a new one.

I’ve always loved portal stories (many of those early, stapled-together books I wrote as a kid were portal stories), and the idea of doing a portal story in reverse intrigued me. I also loved the idea of taking these characters from a fantasy world and putting them not just in our modern world, but in a city that many people think of as kind of a fantasy place in itself – Los Angeles.

The very first kernel of an idea for this story came about when I was showing my family around LA for the first time. I was excited to see all of these cool parts of the city through their fresh eyes, and it was almost like I was seeing them for the first time again, too. A lot of people have preconceived notions (often negative) of LA, but I love it, and I wanted to share what I loved about it with people who were unfamiliar with it, or even wary of it. Liv in THE MARKED GIRL tries to do the exact same thing, although in a much more heightened situation. It’s a powerful feeling, to love a place enough to call it home, and that’s a lot of what this book series is about.

3. Ha! Ha! Los Angeles does seem like a fantasy--maybe a scary one for someone who doesn't like big cities like me. Since much of the story is in Los Angeles, what world building did you do for Caelum? How much if of did you need to know even if it wasn’t in the story and why?


I did want to have a strong understanding of Caelum – how it operates, how old it is, how it’s
connected to our world. Even though most of THE MARKED GIRL is set in LA, it’s important to know where Cedric and his friends came from so we can better understand who they are. I wanted to use a lot of very well-known, established fantasy-land tropes to build Caelum (for instance, it has a castle and royalty, swordfights and monsters), because I think there needed to be that kind of short-hand to establish that these are traditional fantasy characters coming to a modern world.

4. Who was the most challenging character for you to develop? How did you overcome it?


The most challenging character for me was the main villain, Malquin. I wanted him to be traditionally evil in the vein of many fantasy stories, but interesting villains aren’t evil just for the sake of being evil. They have reasons that make a lot of sense to them – they are the heroes of their own stories. So giving my villain a relatable back story that propelled him, without taking away all of his mystery, was a difficult line to walk.

5. Yes, villains are real people too, not just evil. You live in Los Angeles, and I read you’ve been a writer’s assistant for ABC Family’s The Lying Game and Twisted. I’m curious about what that job is like. Also, did it help you at all in writing YA stories and/or THE MARKED GIRL?

I loved being a writers’ assistant! On most TV shows, all the writers sit together in a room every day and come up with, or ‘break’ stories. My job was to write down and organize everything the writers said so everyone could keep track of the various storylines being created. You have to listen hard and type fast, but it’s incredibly rewarding to be around smart people who are making things up all day for a living.

I learned a lot about writing YA while working on those shows. I learned how to keep story flowing, how to write to act breaks, and how to create emotional and plot-y cliffhangers. All of those things translate well to YA. I think (or at least, I hope) that learning from those writers and watching them work also taught me how to give information well in dialogue and visual cues, rather than just through internal narration.

6. Your job sounds so fun. Your agent is Reiko Davis. How did you obtain representation, and what was your road to publication like?

I reached out to Reiko in the traditional way – through a query. Previous to that, I had revised THE MARKED GIRL a LOT. I had close friends read it and give notes, I reached out to other writers who were friends of friends of friends to get notes (thankfully, they were kind enough to do so), and I absorbed those notes into many, many drafts until I felt strong enough to start querying. Then, working with Reiko, I revised some more, and she sold the book to HarperCollins just a few months later, because she’s a rock star.

7. You did your cover reveal on YA Book Central. I’ve seen other authors have cover reveals there too. What was your experience doing your cover reveal there? How would an author set up one of these?

It was an excellent experience! I follow YA Book Central on Twitter, so I knew that they did cover reveals and I always thought they did a good job with them. I created an account there and contacted them directly, letting them know the details of my book’s publication and when I was hoping to do a cover reveal. They set everything up from there and were incredibly easy to work with.

8. That's good to know they do a good job with cover reveals. How are you marketing your book? Do you feel that it’s helping you to live in Los Angeles in terms of opportunities?

Living in Los Angeles has been really helpful in terms of marketing my book. There is a great YA community here, which makes it easy to meet people, participate in panels, go to events, etc. I think being here is also an automatic benefit because it gives me access to a lot of other creative people, many of whom are helpful and have great ideas. For instance, I was able to get some great people on board when it came time to make my book trailer. Because my main character, Liv, is an aspiring director, I really wanted to trailer to be cinematic, almost like a movie trailer. Living in LA made that a lot easier to pull off.

9. Yes, I think you're at an advantage living in Los Angeles. What are you working on now?

I’m working on the sequel to THE MARKED GIRL. It’s called THE BROKEN WORLD, but I’m not sure what else I can share about it yet…except that it will be out next summer!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lindsey. You can find Lindsey at:




https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8294212.Lindsey_Klingele

Lindsey has generously offered a signed copy of THE MARKETED GIRL 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 4th. 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.This is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

I'm off next Monday for Memorial Day. My first Monday off since the first of the year!

Next Wednesday I have a guest post by Fauzia Burke, who has spent her career working in book promotion and marketing and has worked with authors like Sue Grafton, Tim Burton, and Deepak Chopra, and a giveaway of her book, ONLINE MARKETING FOR BUSY AUTHORS: A STEP BY STEP GUIDE.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Cassandra Brown, a freelance editor, with a query, synopsis, 10 page manuscript critique, or 30 minute consultation--winner's choice.

Thursday that week I'll be participating in the Debut Author Book Giveaway Hop. I'll have both YA and MG debut books to choose from.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Jen Bishop and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE DISTANCE HOME.

Have a great Memorial Day Weekend! Hope to see you next Wednesday!



AGENT TINA WEXLER AND JESSICA LAWSON GUEST POST AND QUERY CRITIQUE AND WAITING FOR AUGUSTA GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I am thrilled to have Jessica Lawson here again with her agent Tina Wexler to share about Jessica's new MG WAITING FOR AUGUSTA. Jessica has been a long time follower, and I have been so excited to watch her career grow since she published her debut MG novel in 2014. It's not easy to continue to sell new manuscripts to publishers, especially in MG genres, but Jessica has found her niche and this is her third book.

Here's a blurb of WAITING FOR AUGUSTA from Goodreads:


With a fresh, funny voice, lots of adventure, and a healthy dose of magic, the author of The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher and Nooks & Crannies—which School Library Journal called “original, engaging, and funny” in a starred review—comes a profound tale of love, loss, and family.

Eleven-year-old Benjamin Putter has a lump in his throat, and he’s certain it’s a golf ball. He knows it sounds crazy, but everything’s been topsy-turvy since his father died last month. And he doesn’t know how to fix it.

Then, one day, something starts tugging at Ben, telling him to hurry to Augusta, Georgia—home of the most famous golf course in the world.

Ben might be going a little crazy, but escaping Hilltop, Alabama, sounds like a darn good idea. (And just maybe it will make that lump go away.) As he makes his way to Augusta, Ben partners up with a mysterious runaway named Noni, and they embark on a journey full of strange and wonderful surprises—and possibly magic—at every turn.

Now here's Jessica interviewing Tina!


Selling Past Book One:
Finding Your Niche As A Children’s Author
(Waiting for Augusta & Query Critique Giveaway)

My third book, Waiting for Augusta, came out last week and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Having a first book published was a dream come true, and it doesn’t get any less exciting with subsequent titles. Still, there comes a moment after that first sale or second sale when we writers start thinking, “How can I make that magic happen again? How do I find my niche in children’s literature?”
I think there can be a concern that we writers have to market ourselves as being consistent and reliable within a specific genre. Some authors are great at writing beautiful, dynamic stories that fit very nicely into a specific category—contemporary/realistic, mystery, fairy-tale retellings, etc. They’ve got their sweet spot and they write the heck out of it. Agent Tina Wexler didn’t get so lucky with me. My ideas are kind of all over the place.

So far, her sales for me include a retelling of Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
(The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher), a period mystery set in England with slightly over-the-top characters (Nooks & Crannies), and a historical journey story w/ hints of magical realism that incorporates themes of racism and grief (Waiting for Augusta). How the heck did she manage to do that for me? I suspect she has superpowers.

But really, what happens when our ideas and manuscripts don’t play nice in terms of being consistent? How important is it for an author to find their marketable “niche,” and how do authors and agents work together when forging ahead with what both of them hope will be a lengthy career?
There’s just one way to find out—please welcome Tina Wexler, Agent Extraordinaire!
Read on for Tina’s thoughts and advice about finding your niche as a writer. Just leave a comment to be entered to win a hardcover of Waiting for Augusta and a query critique from Tina!

When you pitch an author’s second, third, fourth books, how aware are you of building a consistent platform with that author’s work? What if your author wrote a historical/realistic novel and now wants to write about irritable/mischievous car gnomes or dragons (note: my 7YO daughter is constantly asking why there aren’t dragons in my books)?

I’m always aware of how an author’s new book will build on what’s come before, though I’m less concerned with consistency in genre than I am with maintaining that special something that marks each book as being written by that author. Your three books have several fundamental qualities that make them “Jessica Lawson” books: they are wickedly funny, they have distinct narrative voices, and they are grounded in a very specific time and place. They explore what is gained and what is lost by trying to fit in, what it means to be a good person, and the various ways one can define “family.” They introduce kids who have suffered big losses and are trying to find their way. They include a good amount of adventure, danger and mystery. And they tug very, very hard at my heartstrings. These are the things I’ve come to expect in your books, though your books come at these various themes in completely original ways. So when I’m pitching your next idea, I’m pitching both the ways in which it offers your readers something new---new premise, new characters, new setting, new voice---but also the ways in which it gives them exactly what they know and love about your stories. And maybe one day, dragons.

When you offer representation for a manuscript and ask about other works-in-progress, do you like to see a pattern in the writer’s ideas—is your agent brain already thinking of how this writer might be branding themselves? Along that line, do you brainstorm manuscript ideas with clients based on how you see their career being maintained or advancing?

I do look for commonalities that will help brand the author and I pay close attention if the author wants to write for many different age groups and/or in many different genres. I try to envision what her publishing map will look like. (You know how I love maps!) But mostly I’m hoping to hear original and ambitious ideas that I’ll be interested in reading, that speak to one another in some way, and that I feel confident I can sell. Sometimes, I’ll help an author brainstorm or figure out which project would be best to pursue next, though I tend to subscribe to the “write the one you’re most passionate about/scared to write” selection process.

What happens if book one is published, but doesn’t do great in terms of reviews or sales—does that limit your ability as an agent to submit a similar genre or storyline? Does it present any challenges that authors should be aware of as they prepare to write their next manuscript?

Low sales or negative reviews can limit my ability to get a second book the attention it deserves, and may mean the author needs to consider a different genre or age group. But if the author delivers a second book that has a strong premise, engaging characters, big ideas and powerful themes, I can speak to the author’s potential and growth and the likelihood of an upward sales trajectory. For those editors looking to build authors, that’s a solid place to work from. 

Is there any other advice (other than “write a great book”) you would give to both querying and agented writers in terms of finding their own unique voice within children’s literature?

Write the story only you can tell.

Thank you SO much for having us on Literary Rambles—I’ve been a follower for years and it’s an honor to be able to participate with posts like this!

JESSICA LAWSON LINKS:

Jessica has generously offered a copy of WAITING FOR AUGUSTA for a giveaway and Tina is
offering a  query critique. 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 21st. If you do not want to be included in the query critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

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

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Next  Monday I have an interview with debut author Lindsey Klingele and a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MARKED GIRL.

Then I'm off the following Monday for Memorial Day. My first Monday off since the first of the year!

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by Fauzia Burke, who has spent her career working in book promotion and marketing and has worked with authors like Sue Grafton, Tim Burton, and Deepak Chopra, and a giveaway of her book, ONLINE MARKETING FOR BUSY AUTHORS: A STEP BY STEP GUIDE.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Cassandra Brown, a freelance editor, with a query, synopsis, 10 page manuscript critique, or 30 minute consultation--winner's choice.

Thursday that week I'll be participating in the Debut Author Book Giveaway Hop. I'll have both YA and MG debut books to choose from.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Jen Bishop and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE DISTANCE HOME.

Hope to see you on Monday!



AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH RONNIE ANN HERMAN AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Ronnie Ann Herman here. Ronnie Ann began Herman Agency in 1999.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey. I will be providing all the same information we’ve shared in the past in an interview format. In addition, one lucky person will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Ronnie Ann! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Ronnie:

BIO:  Ronnie Ann Herman was born in New York City, attended the Ethical Culture/Fieldston Schools pre-K -12 grade, the University of Wisconsin, Madison and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley where majored majored in English, French and Italian and received her BA. Ronnie taught high school English and French in California before moving to Paris, France. There she taught English as a second language and translated French into English. On returning to the States, Ronnie apprenticed herself with a design studio, Antler and Baldwin, and a year later became the sole member of the art depart at Prentice Hall's small children's book division. 2 years later Ronnie was the Art Director at Random House where she worked for 9 years and then moved to Grosset & Dunlap, then a division of Putnam books, and now part of  Penguin Random House, worked at Prentice Hall where she worked for 9 years. Ronnie is the author of 12 children’s books and one of her books was on the NY Times best-seller list. Ronnie started the Herman Agency 16 years ago, in 2000 where she works with remarkably talented authors, artists and author/artist for the children's book market. Ronnie and the Agency are affiliated with the following organizations: SCBWI, Authors' Guild, Graphic Artists' Guild, U.S. Association of Accredited Business.
  
1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

A long story, as you can see from my long bio above, but briefly over the 20 years I work in publishing houses in New York, publishing had increasingly become quite corporate and both of my daughters had from graduated college, my husband left his jobs in adult publishing and was writing at home, so I felt I could take some risk and leave my 9-7 job. Agenting was a natural choice and I was blessed to have so many of the talented, wonderful artists I had worked with over the years ask if they could join the Herman Agency. And here I am, 16 years later still representing fabulous talent--artists, authors and author artists.

I have been trying to cut back the number of people that I represent and have it down now to a small group of amazing people. The Herman Agency is definitely a boutique agency and will remain as such. My daughter, Katia, has joined the agency and is representing middle grade and YA authors.

About the Agency:

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

I work with authors and artists whom I care a great deal about and whom I want to see succeed in this very competitive field. I encourage my artists to try their hands at writing and a great many of them have succeeded beautifully. I love editing and art directing my clients/ work when they as me to or when I feel like putting on my art director's or editor's hat. I tell them they are free to ignore my suggestions, after all it is their work, not mine, but almost all of the time they tend to welcome my input.

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 ADORE all picture books and highly illustrated middle grade books. My daughter is representing middle grade and YA books and is open for submissions. We are not the right agency for Sci-fi and paranormal works. Strong voices and excellent writing styles are a must.

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

I prefer author/artist works at this point. but if you have an amazing portfolio or manuscuript, feel free to send it to me. I am being HIGHLY selective as I have no desire to have a large agency again.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Anything that feels familiar or that has a strong lesson or moral. Fiction picture book that are longer than 700 words.

Agent Philosophy:

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

I want authors and artists who have more than one book in them and who are adaptable. Publishing is a corrobative procedure. Authors and artists need to be able to make work well with their editors and art directors and work well in a team environment. They also need to be professional and meet their deadlines. Artists need to be consistent--their characters and style need to be consistent through their book and be good at keeping details accurate throughout. For instance, the characters need to be the same size and have the same look throughout the work and if there is a tree to the left of the house, that tree can't suddenly move to the right. Having been an art director for so many years, I know how frustrating these things are for the art department and editorial team.

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 almost always have some comments and sometimes have thoughts on restructuring the work. I believe we need to get the manuscript, and art, as right as possible.

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?

Full picture books manuscripts: fiction, NO LONGER than 700, I actually prefer 500 or less. Remember that the ideal audience for fiction picture books is 2-5 year-olds. Non-fiction picture books can be up to 1000 words. Non-fiction books need to have voice and move along smoothly. They are not text books! Read the best selling non-fiction picture books to see how they are constructed.

Middle grade: Full manuscript of highly illustrated books by author/artists should include around 6 spreads of tight sketches and 2 sample pieces if book is to be full color. Full manuscripts of authors only.

Midddle grade and YA novels go to katia.hermanagencyinc@gmail.com: Query letter with first 20 pages as an attachment--PDF or Word files.

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

The first manuscript pages of middle grade and YA novels need to be compelling. If you don't grab your young audience by page 20, that is a problem.

Response Time:

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

3 months

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?

Prefer not to as publisher prefer not to publish them, but if they are spectacular, I would consider them.

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?

Agents are here to guide their clients in the right direction and help them negotiate fair agreements with their publishers. The road to self-publishing is wide open and great. I wouldn't dismiss it since the marketing of you books will still be mostly on responsibility with a traditional publisher anyway. But distributing you self-published book and getting it noticed, is even more difficult than publishing your work through a main stream publisher. 

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Please check out my website: www.HermanAgencyInc.com

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.

None.

Links and Contact Info:

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

www.HermanAgencyInc.com, ronnie@hermanagencyinc.com, katia.hermanagencyinc@gmail.com

Additional Advice:

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

None

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Ronnie Ann.

­Ronnie Ann is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. She would do critique for a picture book manuscript or illustrations and Katia Herman would critique a middle grade or YA query lettr. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through May 28th.  

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.




ROSHANI CHOKSHI INTERVIEW AND THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Roshani Chokshi here to share about her YA fantasy THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN. I’m super excited to read this because it’s based on Indian mythology. I met my husband in India many, many years ago and have a soft spot in my heart for India.


Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.
 

Hi Roshani! Thanks so much for joining us!

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


Thanks for having me! Never quite sure what to say about myself. I am probably shorter than you imagine. I became a writer the usual way: finding magic in books, trying and failing to imitate that same magic until eventually the cyclical sorcery of repeatedly trying and failing yielded actual success.   

2. Where did you get the idea for your book?


My childhood was the foundation of my book. Growing up, my parents gave us lots of books on folklore and world mythology to introduce us to our heritage (Filipino and Indian). The more I read, the more I saw how these stories were the same even when they were from different parts of the world. With THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN, I wanted to celebrate that by telling a familiar story with components of fairytales I loved. There’s bits of Hades and Persephone, Shakuntula, Beauty and The Beast, Savitiri and Satyavan. I wanted to write something both new and familiar.


3. Share a bit about the Indian mythology your story is based on and how you created your own world in THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN based on this mythology.


One of the wonderful things about Indian mythology are the vast worlds that fill it. There’s a realm for nagas (Otherworldly serpent creatures), a kingdom of gold in Lanka, a city of yakshas (fairies) in Alaka. I drew on this aspect of multiple words to demonstrate the liminality of Maya and Amar’s palace in Akaran. Even though I didn’t base my own made up places (such as the interior of Akaran’s palace, the Night Bazaar or the Chakara Forest) on those other realms in Indian mythology, they informed my construction of these places as both opulent and sinister, beautiful and dangerous. With the story itself, I was most inspired by the tale of Shakuntula and the tale of Savitri & Satyavan. I loved that these stories featured strong women, lapses in memory, moments of outwitting death and relationships that defied all odds.


4. Your book has gotten rave reviews and many people really connect with Maya, your main character. How did you develop Maya so that readers would relate to her so well?


I’m so glad to hear that! When Maya walked into my head (I assure you she did this…she’s not one
to wait around for her slow creator to dream her up) she had a lot of demands. She’s a very ambitious character. She was active from the start, and a bit on the sneaky side. She’s transparent when it comes to her ambitions and she’s not afraid to want something. I see that in so many women I respect, and I think I subconsciously tried to honor that in Maya’s characterization.


5. What was it like working with your editor? Was there a way your editor helped you really strengthen your story?


Working with Eileen has been AMAZING. My editor has a strong background in romance, and her notes strengthened the story’s emotional core. I love romance (especially historical) and I think that romance is one of those genres where characterization and heart really have to shine or else people feel distanced from the narrative. Her comments really dug at the story’s emotional core and I couldn’t be more grateful.  


6. I read that you were in law school in 2014 when you already had signed your book deal for this book. I can’t imagine juggling writing or thinking of debuting as an author with law school. All I did back then was go to school, work part-time to support myself, and study. That was an 18-hour day. How have you juggled all your writing and author duties with being in law school?


We didn’t sell The Star-Touched Queen until March 2015. But I did a massive rewrite during my first year while still balancing a WIP and I wouldn’t wish that stress on anyone. What it came down to was not compromising on time management. When I wrote, I turned off all distractions because I knew I could only allot so many hours in a day to writing. When I studied law, I turned off all distractions for the same reason. Balancing both forced me to stick to my schedule. It was strenuous and sometimes panic-inducing, but I don’t regret it. It taught me a lot about myself.


7. I would definitely not wish that on someone. Your agent is Thao Le. How did you get your agent and what was your road to publication like?


I got my agent through the traditional route. I sent a bajillion query letters out into the universe with a hope and a prayer and a typo (still upset about that) and waited and waited and waited. She requested my full, but then she rejected me. And it was *devastating*. She was my dream agent! The first time I read an interview she gave about what she was looking for, I literally hyperventilated. Anyway, when Thao rejected me, I digested the notes she sent over for why she was passing. They made a lot of sense! So I emailed her three weeks later and asked if she’d be interested in a revision. She offered representation in August 2014. We went on submission in October 2014. Then came the cascade of rejections that rattled my soul and left me bedridden with angst more times than I’d like to say. In February 2015, I got over myself and tore my book to shreds and rewrote it based on editor feedback. In March 2015, we sold.  


8.  Your book is definitely multi-cultural. Are you connecting with any group like WeNeedDiverseBooks and how is that helping you spread the word about your book?


I think WNDB does great work, but I’m not officially part of the organization. I was very grateful that WNDB named THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN one of their most anticipated debuts on the Barnes & Noble blog! There are so many members of WNDB who have expressed enthusiasm about The Star-Touched Queen or talked about it, and I’m deeply grateful for the exposure.


9. How are you planning to market your book?


Argh! I would not know how! Thankfully, I can entrust that skill to the geniuses over at St. Martin’s Press.


10. What are you working on now?


Right now, I’m working on a heist fantasy set during La Belle Epoque. It’s got smart boys and smarter girls, absinthe and Art Deco. I love it.


Thanks for sharing all your advice, Roshani! You can find Roshani at:

Twitter: @NotRashKnee
Instagram: @roshanichokshi
Facebook: Roshani Chokshi
Roshani has generously offered an ARC of THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN 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 21st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This giveaway is for US.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Ronnie Ann Herman.

Next Monday follower Jessica Lawson will be back with her agent Tina Wexler with a guest post and query critique giveaway by Tina and a giveaway of WAITING FOR AUGUSTA, Jessica's new MG contemporary.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Lindsey Klingele and a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MARKED GIRL.

Then I'm off the following Monday for Memorial Day. My first Monday off since the first of the year!

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by Fauzia Burke, who has spent her career working in book promotion and marketing and has worked with authors like Sue Grafton, Tim Burton, and Deepak Chopra, and a giveaway of her book, ONLINE MARKETING FOR BUSY AUTHORS: A STEP BY STEP GUIDE.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Cassandra Brown, a freelance editor, with a query, synopsis, 10 page manuscript critique, or 30 minute consultation--winner's choice.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


EDITOR L. DIANE WOLFE GUEST POST AND CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Happy Wednesday Everyone! I have treat for you today. L. Diane Wolfe, a blogger friend who is also the owner of of Dancing Lemur Press and Freedom Fox Press, is here with a guest post on what she looks for in manuscripts and the type of manuscripts she's looking for.

Now here's Diane!
Thank you for hosting me today, Natalie.

Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. began over eight years ago and through all the growth, our mission statement remains the same:

Our trademark is not just a logo – the Dancing Lemur represents optimism, enthusiasm and belief. We strive to publish works that uplift and inspire, encouraging the reader to explore and discover while remaining morally grounded.

We are looking for stories of hope. Whether fiction or non-fiction, it must end on a positive note. We feel people need to know hope still exists in the world.

Of course, it all begins with the query. When I receive a submission, I admit the first thing I look at is the query letter itself. It must be properly written and provide all of the requested information - that way I know the writer can follow directions. The pitch needs to grab and move me. I need to look at everything and get the sense that the manuscript is great and we can market it.

Once I have part or all of the manuscript, the main thing I’m looking for is voice. It’s hard to define and nail, but I know the moment I see it. The characters’ personalities crackle off the page. It’s as if they are real and alive. A great voice can elevate an average story.

Of course, I’m also looking for a compelling story. It also has to be plausible. I do
characterization sessions at schools, so I’m picky about characters staying in character. The storyline needs to flow naturally and the characters acting as they should. And I need to identify with those characters, especially the main character. If I can’t relate or feel any empathy, I’ll lose interest.

And overall grammar matters. I can excuse a couple typos. But a manuscript with poor grammar yanks me right out of the story. Most often it’s a passive voice and the overuse of was/were, have/had, etc. Or it’s a lot of telling rather than showing. (Both were issues I struggled with as a writer in the beginning, so I really note them now when reading someone else’s work.) I can’t stress enough that writers need to run their work by critique partners or an editor. In fact, our submission guidelines require it.

We’re a small publishing company, so while we can’t compete with the big boys in New York, we try to do more than the average small publisher. All covers are created in house by an illustrator with almost 30 years experience, so our covers aren’t just stock images slapped together. We send out dozens of print review copies to pre-publication reviewers such as Publishers Weekly and Library Journal. We create marketing materials such as bookmarks and postcards for each book, and these are sent out both pre and post release. We do what we can to get books into libraries and bookstores and coordinate with our authors in their promotional efforts.

Last year, we expanded with an imprint, Freedom Fox Press. Created for the author who wants more control, we feel it offers the best of both worlds between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Royalties are much higher, but a few things such as our marketing efforts are scaled way back.

The genres we publish through Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. are non-fiction, science fiction, fantasy, young adult, new adult, and some middle grade. Our submission guidelines are here - http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/submission-guidelines/
Those genres are also accepted through Freedom Fox Press, along with mystery and romance. Those guidelines are here - http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/freedom-fox-press/

Right now, we are actively looking for science fiction and fantasy (adult and YA), Christian fiction/non-fiction, and paranormal romance.

We invite all of you to come dance with us!


L. Diane Wolfe owns Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and is the author of seven books, including two non-fiction titles and a NA/YA series, The Circle of Friends. Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, plus she offers book formatting and author consultation. She travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.


You can find Diane at:  
http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/ - Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
http://www.spunkonastick.net/ - Spunk On A Stick
http://www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com - Spunk On A Stick’s Tips
http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/ - The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

Diane has generously offered a 5 page critique to one winner. The manuscript should be 12 point font and double spaced. 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 14th. If you do not need a critique, that's okay. Just 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 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. This giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have an interview with debut author Roshani Chokshi and a giveaway of her YA multicultural fantasy THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN

Wednesday next week I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Ronnie Ann Herman.

The following Monday follower Jessica Lawson will be back with her agent Tina Wexler with a guest post and query critique giveaway by Tina and a giveaway of WAITING FOR AUGUSTA, Jessica's new MG contemporary.

Monday the next week I have an interview with debut author Lindsey Klingele and a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE MARKED GIRL.

Hope to see you on Monday!