CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Quintessance through August 1st

Not Another Love Story through August 8th

A Wicked Magic through August 22nd

August of Books Giveaway Hop through August 3oth

Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Veronica Roth Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/19/20

Carlisle Webber Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/7/20

Erin Casey Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/16/20

Lauren Bieker Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/28/20

Adria Goetz and G.Z. Schmidt Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/19/20

Melanie Castillo Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/21/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/3/20

Agent Spotlight Updates

All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.

Tip Tuesday #65

I hope you had a fabulous holiday! I sure did, but it was a lazy week as far as writing goes. I have another Tuesday Tip from Lisa Nowak today. Please visit her blog, The Tao of Webfoot, when you're ready to leave!

Outlining by Subplot

If you're the outlining type, you might find that even if you can come up with ideas, it's difficult to figure out how to organize them. One thing that helps me is organizing by subplot. I give each one a name and move all the plot points for that subplot under that heading. I then resize my margins and make the document into two columns. After printing, I cut apart the individual ideas and glue them onto 3 x 5 cards. I use a different color for each subplot. Now I can spread them out on a table and see everything at once. It takes time to figure out where things should ultimately wind up, but it's easier to do this process with cards than by dragging and dropping bits of text on the computer. And with the different-colored cards it's very clear where you've neglected a subplot or concentrated on it too much. Once you've got your cards organized be sure to number them in case they get mixed up. You can now use them to order your plot points in your original document.

To see my whole outlining process step-by-step, you can visit the outlining page on my blog.


Love this tip, Lisa!! Very timely. I've been playing around with outlining this month and am always looking for new methods to try.

Agent Spotlight: Ann Behar

This week's Agent Spotlight features Ann Behar of Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency, Inc.
Ann BeharAbout: “It has always been books for me, even if I veered off my path at times. I majored in English and received my B.A. from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1981. I went on to receive an M.A. in English literature in 1982 from the University of Virginia and my J.D. from the University of San Diego Law School in 1985. Things happened quickly after that. My husband began practicing medicine (he is a neurologist) in 1986, and my first daughter was born that August. My second daughter was born 16 months later, and for the next 15 years or so I was a full-time mother and wife. What to do with my degrees stayed on a back burner.
“In 2002, with my high school-age daughters half-way out the door, I was ready to go back to work. I found one of the few businesses in the world - the literary agency business - where an English degree and a law degree are equally valuable.
“I joined SCG, learning the business from top to bottom, doing everything from reviewing and negotiating contracts to evaluating manuscripts, with heavy, constant contact with writers.
“After five years, Russell asked me to take over the firm's small but growing list of juvenile writers and grow it into something more substantial. I accepted the challenge, and have been searching for wonderful children's books, from picture books to YA, ever since.” (Link)
Status: Accepting submissions.
What She's Looking For:
Interests:  Children’s books, picture book to YA.
From her bio:
“I am looking for anything that is beautifully written, with a strong, distinct voice and characters that come alive on the page. Ideally, a book should grab my attention from the very beginning and hold it there, and leave me thinking about it for a few days after I am finished.” (Link)
From Twitter (03/2010):
“I personally love literary fiction but I'm open to commercial stuff too.” (Link)
“I am looking for absolutely anything that is beautifully written and original.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Adult projects, screenplays.  I also don’t see anything that indicates she is interested in nonfiction. 
About the Agency:
“Founded (under the name Scovil Chichak Galen Literary Agency) in 1992 by three of the industry's most successful and experienced agents, the firm was renamed when our senior colleague Anna Ghosh became a partner.
“Works represented by the agency have appeared scores of times on national bestseller lists and been made into dozens of Hollywood movies and translated into more than 40 languages.
“Our list is eclectic and chaotic, rich and diverse, and there is no type of book that doesn't interest us if it is first-rate. We take on clients who interest us deeply as people and as writers, whatever their background and prior accomplishments. At any given moment we might be working on a first sale for an exciting new author or an eight-figure deal for a veteran of the New York Times bestseller list, or anything in between.” (Link)
Dislikes (Don'ts):  
Unknown.
Editorial Agent?
I’ve seen mention of client revisions, such as in this interview with Kate Milford.
Web Presence:
SGG website.
Twitter.
Facebook.
QueryTracker, AuthorAdvance.
Clients:
Ms. Behar handles SGG’s children’s list including: Sabrina Benulis, M.B. Brown, Frank L. Cole, Cory Doctorow, Ty Drago, Esther Friesner, Stephen Giles, Charles de Lint, Robert Jeschonek, Juliet Marillier, Kate Milford, William Sleator, Farhana Zia, among many others.
There is a select list of the agency’s juvenile titles on the website.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (Preferred).
Snail-Mail: Yes.  
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
E-mail or mail a query. Send a query letter only. No attachments. A request for additional materials will be made if Ms. Behar is interested. Include your email in your query if you mail your query so Ms. Behar can respond to you.
See the SGG website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Response Times:
The agency has a no-response-means-no policy.  Ms. Behar seems to respond to queries within a week or two, if interested.  Her response time on requested material seems to range from days to a month.
What's the Buzz?
Ann Behar has been with SGG Literary Agency since 2002, representing the agency’s impressive juvenile list since 2005.  I see every reason to recommend her: top notch agency, specialization in children’s literature, great track record, high profile clients, no web-based complaints, etc!  Please let me know if the comments if you’ve had any experience with her. 
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Literary Agent Interview: Ann Behar at Writer's Digest (06/2012)
Around the Web:
There are several essays on publishing on the SGG website that may be of interest.
Contact:
Please see the Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/10/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.***
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's or teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Happy Thanksgiving!


I hope you all have a delightful and scrumptious Thanksgiving! It's an impossible task to list all the things I'm thankful for, but I'm certainly thankful this blog has brought each of you into my life, especially those of you I've become close friends with. Life has never been richer. <3

Tip Tuesday #64

I have another great tip from Deren Hansen of The Laws of Making, this one on that pesky ol' inner editor. Make sure you visit the post linked below for more suggestions on how to appease it!

Your inner editor is the writing equivalent of your conscience. Jeanette Ingold said, "Your internal editor is no-nonsense; wants to keep you out of trouble; and doesn't want you to make a fool of yourself."

In cognitive science terms, your inner editor is a left-brain entity that, like its kin, focuses on detail. So a common thread in all the particular techniques is to give your inner editor a detail-oriented task to keep it busy (the mental equivalent of giving a child a coloring book). This is why drives, or long showers are often settings for inspiration: the left-brain busies itself with the details of keeping the car on the road or registering the white noise of the shower, freeing the right-brain to make associations.

So what specifically can you do as writer to quiet your inner editor? I have a number of suggestions in a longer discussion on my blog, but here are two that I've found particularly helpful.

First, be somewhat systematic about your writing. If you work to a regular schedule it's easier for your left brain to believe it when you tell it that you'll come back and correct the details errors during a future writing session.

Second, enlist your inner editor with detail-oriented tasks that support your writing. Your inner editor loves to make calendars or time-lines of key events in your story, character bios, outlines, and any sort of list. All of these artifacts help address your inner editor's fear that you get key details wrong.

Of course, it's easy to fall into the trap of appeasing your inner editor so much that you don't get any actual writing done (e.g., what fantasy authors call, "world-building disease"). The key is to time-box your inner editor: I often start a writing session with ten or fifteen minutes of detail work to both quiet my inner editor and to warm up.

Agent Spotlight: Victoria Marini

This week's Agent Spotlight features Victoria Marini of Irene Goodman Literary Agency.
Status: Ms Martini is closed to submissions. Check the agency website for her submission status.
Victoria Marini About: “Victoria Marini began her career as a literary agent at Gelfman Schneider and ICM Partners before joining the Irene Goodman Agency in 2016. Originally from rural Pennsylvania, she moved to New York in 2003, and began her literary career as an assistant at Sterling Lord in 2007. She is interested in both Literary and Commercial Middle Grade, Young Adult and Adult fiction with compulsive hooks and well-drawn characters. From literary page-turners, to commercial suspense, to magical realism, whimsical adventure, and edgy sci-fi & fantasy, she is always looking for unforgettable off-the-page characters, strongly plotted stories, and unique voices. She is a sucker for quirk, mystery, small town hysteria, atmosphere, secrets, things that go bump in the night, a bit of charm, a twist of magic, or a dash of humor.” (Link)
About the Agency:
"IGLA is a multifaceted, multitalented network of bold representatives who strive endlessly to provide a successful and expansive relationship with clients and colleagues across all media platforms. We pride ourselves in facilitating careers that both ignite passion, and allow for, as well as insist upon, a multi-lens worldview from both the writer and the reader - and we do it all with a tremendous amount of joy." (Link)
What She's Looking For:
From her website:
"In ADULT fiction, I am actively acquiring Upmarket Literary and Commercial novels with strong concepts and distinctive voices in a variety of genres ranging from psychological & domestic suspense, thriller, procedurals, Historical (particularly lesser known cultures, peoples, and histories) and mystery, to literary speculative, horror, or magical realism, to fantasy and sci-fi, to contemporary family sagas and humor!
"In YOUNG ADULT, I represent high concept contemporary and sci-fi/ fantasy whether it be heartwarming and funny, dark & edgy, supernatural and suspenseful, and I am always in the hunt for more!
"In MIDDLE GRADE I am a sucker for adventure, family, quests, and puzzles whether they be fantasy, sci-fi, commercial coming of age, or literary magical realism!
"In NON-FICTION: I represent narrative non-fiction, memoir, and select humorous/pop-culture non-fiction and I am actively acquiring True Crime and other narrative non-fiction that access lesser known stories from history and culture!"
"I acquire an eclectic list of Middle Grade, YA and Adult fiction as well as select non-fiction, and I tend be convinced by strong storytelling & plots, distinct voices, and great characters. I’m always looking for contemporary middle grade and YA with high-concepts like Nic Stone’s CLEAN GETAWAY, Rebecca Stead’s LIAR & SPY, and Dhonielle Clayton & Sona Charaipotra’s TINY PRETTY THINGS. In fantasy, middle grade through adult with incredible worldbuilding and strong characters like those from Rick Riordan, Leigh Bardugo, and Katherine Arden, for example. I love unique retellings, subversive twists on tropes and genres, and underexplored settings and timelines. I’d love to see a novel about the Irish troubles or a southern gothic set in rural Louisiana, like WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING. I’m looking for authentic boy YA like WINGER or KING DORK. Novels with strong tension and suspense that stems from secrets and consequences are always going to get me, whether they’re more literary, a la Donna Tartt’s THE SECRET HISTORY or Patricia Highsmith’s THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY or more commercial like BIG LITTLE LIES, and everything in between from Megan Abbott to Lexi Elliott. Domestic suspense, small-town hysteria, and claustrophobic novels like WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE or SO MUCH PRETTY. A great children’s gothic creeper like CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS or MADMAN’S DAUGHTER. I am hungry for road trip novels, and magical realism. Essentially, I’m just looking for a book with a voice that won’t let me go and characters I miss when I’m done. My wish-list evolves often, and I tweet and write about it as much as I can."From an Interview (09/10):
“I’d love to see strong YA with genuine characters, an exciting story, and a fully realized world. I’m looking for edgy contemporary YA and for a fresh take on paranormal /supernatural. The only thing that is probably not for me is a coming of age story.
“As for my wish list…I’d love a so-suspenseful-I-can’t-put-it-down women’s mystery. I desperately want a spooky fantasy in the vein of Neil Gaiman. I want a gothic novel. I’d love a fresh take on the classic American noir mystery for the YA audience. I’m also interested in acquiring speculative fiction. That being said, my tastes are very eclectic and I’m drawn to anything full of heart and imagination.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Prescriptive non-fiction, lifestyle or fitness non-fiction, picture books, erotica, New Adult, and Regency Romances (Link)
Dislikes (Don'ts):  
“If an author is rude, trashes the book industry, trashes others’ books, tries to tell me why they don’t want to follow guidelines or why their novel will make a million dollars, I am usually not going past the first paragraph. I also can’t stress enough the importance of checking out agent guidelines and bios before you submit. You would be surprised by how many queries I get for popular reference books, which I don’t represent. It is a waste of postage to query an agent who does not represent the genre in which you are writing.” (Link)
Editorial Agent?
Yes.  “I’d say I am a very editorial agent. I think my style would probably be classified as collaborative. I believe in talking, asking questions, and brainstorming. I maintain a close relationship with my bosses and industry friends whose advice is precious to me. I have an open door policy and share as much information as possible with my clients and want to know what visions my clients have for their books and future with me. I want my clients to feel confident, informed and comfortable. I’m very friendly.” (Link)
Web Presence:
Irene Goodman Literary Agency website.
Her website.
Twitter.
Publishers Marketplace.
QueryTracker.
Clients:
There is a list of agency clients on the website. Ms. Marini’s clients include: Lisa Amowitz, Hannah Sternberg, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes.
Snail-Mail: No.  
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify): Ms. Marini is currently closed to submissions.
Send a query letterand sample (of no more than 30 pages) in the body of an e-mail.
Please see the agency website and Ms. Marini’s website and Manuscript Wish List for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines. 
Query Tips:
“The query letters I am drawn to the most are the ones that get right to the point and are written with the author’s unique voice. Be original, engaging and informative. Tell me about your book. I don’t need statistics, marketing ideas, generic letters, and overly formal introductions.” (Link)
Response Times:
Unknown
What's the Buzz?
Victoria Marini is active on Twitter and her fun, friendly nature comes through there.  I definitely recommend following her.  Not only will you get occasional updates on queries and fulls, you’ll get a great peek at her personality and interests.  I’ve been nothing but impressed in my limited contact with her. 
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Agents Looking for Clients: Victoria Marini at Writing and Illustrating (09/2017)
Interview with Agent Victoria Martini at Midwest Writers Workshop (07/2013)
Query.Sign.Submit with Victoria Martini at I Write for Apples (07/2013)
Agent Q&A: Part Two at Operation Awesome (01/2013)
Interactive Interview with and Agent: Victoria Martini at Krista Van Dolzer (03/2011)
Agent Interview with Victoria Marini at Shiny (09/2010)
Contact:
Please see the Irene Goodman Literary Agency website and Ms. Marini’s website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last Updated: 5/15/2020
Client Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed by Agent? 5/25/2020
***
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's or teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Tip Tuesday #63

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to share a tip, please do so. Today's tip was sent in by Rane Anderson who blogs at The Lit Express (love that blog title!). Here she is!


We've all heard that no matter what we say to someone, body language is what communicates most of our message. This should hold up in the stories we write. It's difficult because unlike real life interactions...or interactions in movies...we rely on communicating a message with words and no pictures. We use words to create the pictures. Our characters' body language and facial expressions are still important. Writers rely a great deal on dialogue to move the story along. But to add depth to what our characters say, it's important to tag dialogue with the appropriate body language and facial expressions.

"I'll give you the money," he said obligingly. <-- This is quick and easy, but it's lacking depth.

His nostrils flared a second before he smiled. "I'll give you the money." <-- This isn't as black & white as the the line above. The difference is the subtle suggestion of an emotion besides "obliging." This guy was trying to hide his resentment with a smile, but his involuntary microexpression gave him away to the reader and possibly the other characters.


Love this tip / mini lesson! Rane has a longer post micoexpressions and body language here. It's great! Please check it out and consider following The Lit Express.

Agent Spotlight: Kerry Sparks

This week's Agent Spotlight features Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.
Status: Accepting submissions.
Kerry Sparks About: “Kerry Sparks joined LGR in 2008, coming to book publishing after several years in the film and television industry. With a love for all these mediums of storytelling, she gravitates toward books that have a cinematic feel or visual element that lend to film or television adaptation. She primarily represents fiction with a specific focus on novels for teens and young adults but regardless of age is always on the hunt for books that combine a solid hook and great writing and that have an undeniably fresh yet relatable voice. She also represents a select list of nonfiction writers. A few of her clients include NYT and International Bestselling author Jennifer Niven, National Book Award Finalist Carrie Arcos, illustrator and author Mark Pett, bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert, novelist Camille Perri, essayist and poet Shayla Lawson, and a robust list of Jennifers— Jennifer Mathieu, Jenny Lundquist, Jennifer Gray Olson, and Jenny Torres Sanchez to name a few.
"Kerry grew up in the woods of Oregon as the extroverted early bird in a family of introverted night owls, and, as a middle child, learned how to negotiate while keeping the peace at a young age. She graduated with honors from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in English, where she also published short stories and wrote and produced plays. After a decade in Manhattan, Kerry now heads up the LGR Oregon outpost in Portland where she lives with her husband and two daughters. Kerry is the co-author of the hipster baby name book Hello, My Name Is Pabst and will gladly help clients name their characters upon request.” (Link)
About the Agency:
"Founded 30 years ago – now a full-service agency with 11 agents in New York, Portland, San Francisco, and Seattle –- we’re proud to be known throughout the publishing community for our:
"Collaboration: We are fully engaged as creative and business partners throughout the entire publishing process, from the development of concepts, proposals and manuscripts through publicity, marketing, sale of film and television rights, and more, across every category of fiction, non-fiction, and books for young readers. We represent careers, not just individual projects,
"Culture: We’re known for trust, transparency, and teamwork – and for being a great place to work. People stay here for a long time, fully committed to serving our clients and supporting their colleagues.
"Success: 30 New York Times bestsellers in the last two years alone, in every category on the list, with even more bestsellers on other lists. Our clients have won PEN, Edgar, Newbery, MacArthur, and the Nobel Prize in Economics, among other awards. Numerous projects we represent have been produced for film and television, with many others optioned for development." (Link)

What She's Looking For:
Interests: Children’s books (picture books through young adult), general fiction and select nonfiction (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Adult fiction, screenplays.
Dislikes (Don'ts):
Unknown.
Editorial Agent?
Yes.
Web Presence:
Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency website.
Publisher Marketplace page.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
Clients:
There is a page on the Levine Greenberg Rostan website featuring the agency’s client list and on Ms. Sparks' bio page. She also mentions some of her clients in her bio above.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes.
Snail-Mail: No.  
Online-Form: Yes.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query and attach no more than 50 pages. You can also query via the online form attaching no more than 50 pages. See the Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines. 
Response Times:
The agency only responds if interested, usually within three weeks but sometimes more than. 
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
None that I could find online.
Contact:
Please see the Levine Greenberg Literary Rostan Literary Agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 6/1/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/8/2020.

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

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.

Tip Tuesday #62

Guys, sorry the blog has been so quiet! My last day of work was this past weekend and I met a big school deadline yesterday, so I'm hoping I'll have more time for you in the coming weeks. I'll try to write up some posts that have been requested.

It's Tuesday today, however, which means a TIP, and I have a great one from Lisa Nowak. Please visit her blog, The Tao of Webfoot, after you give this a read!

Formatting and Binding Manuscripts

It's helpful to look at your manuscript in different formats when editing, but 300 unsecured pages can be tough to maneuver through. They're also a pain for beta readers to deal with. For those reason, once I've done my second draft, I make bound copies. I bought a duplexing printer (Brother HL 5250DN) so I can easily print double-sided. (Warning: duplexing printers have lots of extra moving parts, so it's wise to cough up a few bucks for a warranty.) I reduce the size of my font, set my line spacing at 1 1/2 and my margins at .8 inches, and eliminate all space between chapters. This cuts a 300-page manuscript by nearly half. Since you're printing on both sides, you wind up with only about 75 sheets of paper. I make covers out of heavy paper, printing the title on the front and my contact info on the inside. Then take the manuscripts to an office supply store for coil binding.

My betas really like reading a manuscript in this format. After going over their comments, I transfer the suggestions I like to my working copy. This copy also makes editing easy, as it's simple to maneuver through (I use tabs to mark each chapter) and the different formatting makes it easier to spot typos. When it's time to transfer the edits to my computer, I simply put a checkmark on the hard copy beside the ones I've completed. By using different colored pens for each edit, I can re-use my working copy several times before I need to print a new one.

Love this tip, Lisa! I bet the thrill of binding a draft for betas and read-throughs gives you extra motivation to finish. Do you ever add a cover? Thanks for the tip!

Agent Spotlight: Barbara Kouts

Profile pulled.

Ms. Kouts is closed to submissions and not looking to sign new clients.

Tip Tuesday #61

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where readers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to share a tip, please do so. Today's tip was sent in by Lois D. Brown who blogs at I Devour Kid Books. Please give her blog a visit on your way out!

This is not my original idea, but I'm passing it along. When you're looking for a unique way to describe a color, go to a make-up company's website and read all the colors of eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick. Chances are, you'll find a description that fits what you're trying to say.

Love this tip, Lois! I've used nail polish colors once or twice for inspiration. : )

WriteOnCon Nov Event and More

Hey guys!

How was you weekend? Did you do anything for Halloween? The fam and I baked cookies and rice krispie treats, carved pumpkins, and went trick or treating. The kids are four and nearly two this year, so it's starting to get real fun for them. It was a nice weekend.

Info on the November WriteOnCon monthly event is up! On November 15th at 9 pm EST, we'll have Stephen Barbara of Foundry Literary + Media and his client Leila Sales, author of MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS, on the blog for a chat about the author-agent relationship. Please, start thinking up questions and plan to join us!

Also, you have just a bit more time to hop over to Ishta Mercurio's blog for a chance to win DUST CITY by Robert Paul. Her contest ends at midnight tonight so get over there! All you have to do is follow her blog and leave a comment naming your favorite fairytale.

Are there any contests or blog posts you'd like to plug? Leave them in the comments when you tell me how your weekend was!