CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN through September 2nd
THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON through September 23rd
MASK OF SHADOWS through September 30th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Danielle Burby Agent Spotlight Interview on 9/25/17
Molly O'Neill Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/23/17
Quressa Robinson Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/30/17

Merry Christmas


Natalie and I want to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. We hope your day is full of love, thankfulness, (new books) and good cheer.

Relish the day!

Don't forget to come back after the holidays for Natalie's interview with Marie Lu and giveaway of LEGEND on Jan 9th, followed by an interview with Caroline Rose and giveaway of MAY B on Jan 16th, and then our 2000 Followers Thank You Giveaway January 18th.

If you'd like to read an interview with me, hop on over to Route 19 Writers where you'll find part one posted 12/23 and part two posted 12/26.

ASK THE EXPERT INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY OF RADIANCE

Today I’m excited to interview Jonah, a 14 year old in 9th grade. His mom is Hillary Homzie. I interviewed her earlier this year when her middle grade book THE HOT LIST came out.

Hi Jonah. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your school, and what you like to read.

I go to Napa High School, and I am part of the Track and Cross Country teams and the school orchestra. I enjoy reading many different types of books, but my favorite genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy.

2. My favorite genre is definitely fantasy too. How do you find out about the books you read? What about new books coming out?

We have a lot of books lying around the house, so when I want to read something new I often search for a book that looks interesting. Sometimes my mom or my friends will introduce me to a new book or series of books and I will check it out from the library.

3. We have a lot of books too, though I try to give them away on my blog. How has having a mom who is an author influenced the books you read or how you find out about new books?

I think for one thing she makes it a lot easier to find new books. For example, just a few days ago I needed help finding a choice book for a school assignment. I told her what type of books I was interested in reading, and she came back a little while later with a stack of a dozen or so books. I also think I’ve read books I never would have read otherwise, such as a book written for tween girls, to help her with her writing.

4. My daughter finds out about a lot of books from me too. I really enjoy that we often read the same books, though she’s not a fan of fantasy so doesn’t read those. What are you reading now? What books are you waiting to be released?

I am currently finishing up The Book Thief, by Marcus Zuzak, and I’m excited about the release of the last book in the Inheritance Series, by Christopher Paolini. I am also waiting for the release of the next book in the White Cat series by Holly Black.

5. I need to read all those books. Do you buy most of your book or get them at the library? How often do go to a bookstore?

As I said earlier, I mostly get my books from the library or from around the house (my mom buys a lot of books). When I do go to a bookstore, it is usually to buy books for school or just look around.

6. Do you read any teen book blogs, author blogs, or author or publisher websites? Become a fan of an author on Facebook? Why?

I don’t regularly read any blogs, but I will occasionally look at one when I’m reading a book and I want to know what other people think of it. While I don’t think I’m a fan of any authors on Facebook, I do have a list of some of my favorite books on my profile.

7. I don’t think you’re alone in not reading blogs. Most kids I interview don’t unless they have their own blog or are an aspiring author. Has your teacher or mom recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

Yes. She is actually part of a group blog, From Mixed-up Files of Middle Grade Authors. She has definitely shown me that blog, and I think I it’s awesome for fans of middle grade fiction.

8. Ooh, I really like that blog. Guys, you should check it out. Are there things your favorite authors could do that would make you more likely to visit their website, their blog, or become a fan on Facebook?

I would like to see them promote their websites or Facebook pages in their books. I think there isn’t enough connection between recent books and the internet, considering all the options the internet opens up. Just a small reference to their website at the back of the book would be great.

9. That’s a great idea to list the Facebook connection in their biography because that might be the place most kids who search would check them out. Have any authors visited your school? Who? Is there anything you’d recommend that an author do to make their presentation more interesting to you and other kids at your school?

So far there hasn’t been any author visits at my school, which makes sense in a school of 2600 people. Unless it was part of a class, it would be very hard to organize. If there were an author visit, I would love it if they had an interactive approach to their presentation. It would be a lot of fun to talk and work with the author rather than just hear them talk.

Thanks Jonah for all your advice. We appreciate it with your busy schedule.

Today I’m also giving away a copy of my ARC of RADIANCE. Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. She has picked up life where she left off when she was alive, living with her parents and dog in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. When she’s summoned before The Council, she learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a possibly cute, seemingly nerdy boy who’s definitely hiding something. They return to earth together for Riley’s first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But all of that was before he met Riley . . .

I don’t usually read books about the afterlife, but I did enjoy RADIANCE. Even though Riley’s life mostly picks up where she left off, she struggles with longings for her life when she was alive. And her new job and her relationship with Bodhi kept me reading.

I’m giving away my ARC for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment about Jonah's interview by midnight on January 7th. I’ll announce the winner on January 9th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Don't forget to enter the rest of my giveaways listed at the top of our blog.

Here’s what’s coming up. I’m taking a two week break for the holidays until January 9th. We’re going to Dallas to spend the holidays with my husband’s family and I’ll be offline for a week. Casey may post an agent spotlight but will otherwise be off for two weeks too.

On January 9th, I’m super excited to interview debut author Marie Lu and will be giving away a copy of LEGEND. You won’t want to miss that! I LOVED her book.

On January 16th, I'll be interviewing Caroline Starr Rose with a giveaway an ARC of MAY B. Can’t wait to get my ARC!

2000 Followers Giveaway coming in January. Details to follow. It will be awesome!

Have a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year! I’m wishing you all a wonderful year with lots of happy news about agents and new book deals.

Hope to see you on January 9th!

Agent Spotlight: Nicole Resciniti

This week's Agent Spotlight features Nicole Resciniti of The Seymour Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

0.24_0_0_0_250_251_csupload_25633069About: “After a lifetime of battling an addiction to books, Nicole Resciniti admitted she had a problem. The signs had been there all along—tailoring her work schedule to accommodate reading, staying awake at night to finish a novel or sneaking spare moments to skim extra pages. Various jobs (sales, SAT tutoring, high school Marine Biology teacher) couldn’t offset the obsession. But how does one balance a love of books with the practicalities of a successful career?

“Mary Sue Seymour offered the answer: become a literary agent.
And Nicole seized this amazing opportunity.

“Do you have the next book to feed her habit? A smart, tight read she won’t be able to put down? A signature voice she’ll fight to represent?

“HEA’s are a must for romance. Mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, YA and inspirational novels are welcome. A consummate science geek and card-carrying Mensa member, Nicole would love to find the next great science fiction/fantasy novel or action/adventure masterpiece.

“Nicole is a member of AAR, ACFW, RWA, and Mensa. She holds degrees in biology, psychology, and behavioral neuroscience.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“The Seymour Agency strives to offer aspiring and established authors the representation they need to thrive in the publishing world. From foreign rights to film rights and everything in between, we provide emotional, professional, promotional, and editorial counsel to each of our authors.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Seymour Agency website.

Seymour Agency Facebook.

Twitter.

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Christian, inspirational, non-fiction, romance (including category), action/suspense/thriller, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and YA/children's. (Link)

From Her Bio (above):

“HEA’s are a must for romance. Mainstream suspense, thrillers, mysteries, YA and inspirational novels are welcome. A consummate science geek and card-carrying Mensa member, Nicole would love to find the next great science fiction/fantasy novel or action/adventure masterpiece.” (Link)

From an Interview (02/2012):

"I am actively looking for more YA/MG and more romance. I would LOVE to find more UF/sci-fi/fantasy—with a fresh premise. I can’t say there is anything that I don’t want to see because if the voice is really great, I’ll consider it." (Link)

From an Interview (02/2011):

“I represent all genres except erotica and poetry. Romance is a huge portion of the market, so I'm always excited to see a romance query in my inbox. And I'm a sucker for HEAs. Sci-fi and fantasy intrigue me.

“In any genre, the voice needs to stand out and the premise must be fresh. Everything--I mean everything--has already been done. What new twist does the author spin on the same tale?”

“I'm always on the lookout for romance with a balance between action and sexual tension. I'd really like to find good historical romance. Thrillers/mysteries that provide more than a police procedural. The YA paranormal market is pretty saturated, so something without wings or fangs. I enjoy mysteries with humor.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

“The Seymour Agency does NOT represent poetry or erotica.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“I may work with a client on a manuscript several times before it’s ready for submission. Editing is a big part of the job.” (Link)

Pet-Peeves:

See both interviews linked below.

Clients:

There are lists of published and pre-published clients on the agency website.

Ms. Resciniti’s clients include: Macy Beckett, Amanda Carlson, Marisa Cleveland, Carey Corp, Jen J. Danna, Amanda Flower, Jeff Gunning, Melissa Landers, Lorie Langdon, Lea Nolan, Cecy Robson, Kaitlyn Schulz, Julie Ann Walker, among others.

Sales:

As of 03/2012, Ms. Resciniti is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 13 deals in the last 12 months and 13 overall. Recent deals include 4 debut, 3 women's/romance, 2 mystery/crime, 1 sci-fi/fantasy, 2 young adult, 1 digital.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

E-mail a one page query letter with the first five pages of your manuscript pasted below. No attachments.

Note: “Simultaneous submissions are acceptable for queries and partials. However, we only review complete manuscripts on an exclusive basis.” (Link)

See the Seymour Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

“My best advice is to start with a hook and make the rest of the query mirror the back cover of a book--with a really tight blurb and a sprinkling of info about an author's credits/accomplishments.” (Link w/more)

See the “Pre-Published” page on the Seymour Agency website for query tips as well.

Response Times:

“If you do not receive a request for additional materials within three weeks, you should assume that we are not interested in that particular project.” (Link)

Ms. Resciniti usually responds to queries within days to a couple weeks when interested. Her response time on requested material ranges from days to a few months.

What's the Buzz?

Nicole Resciniti is a passionate new agent who is actively building her client list. She’s already sold a handful of projects, and her clients seem more than pleased with her representation. In children’s, I believe she is mainly interested in young adult but also accepts middle grade submissions.

Follow her on Twitter @NicLitAgent for writing tips and more.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Agent Interview: Nicole Resciniti of the Seymour Agency at Honestly YA (02/2012).

Interview with agent Nicole Resciniti at Rookie Riter (10/2011).

Interview with an Agent: Nicole Resciniti at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (02/2011).

Around the Web:

The Seymour Agency on P&E ($).

The Seymour Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Make sure you check out the News and Conference Schedule pages on the website for agency happenings.

Client Kaitlyn Schulz’s QueryTracker Success Story (08/2011).

Client Macy Beckett’s QueryTracker Success Story.

“Exposing My Agent,” a praise post by client Marisa Cleveland (06/2011).

Contact:

Please see the Seymour Agency website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 3/23/12 (updated sales, added interview).

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 12/15/11.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(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.

LOUISE CAIOLA INTERVIEW AND WISHLESS GIVEAWAY

First I want to give a BIG thanks to everyone who entered the Book Lovers Holiday Giveaway. I had 280 entries and 200 new followers in 4 days. We just went over 2000 followers! Casey and I are so excited and are planning an awesome 2000 followers giveaway for after the holidays. Stay tuned for details.

The winner of the Book Lovers Holiday Giveaway is:

READING MIND who picked A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL


And the winner of WITCH EYES is:

RAVEN IN A BLUE ROOM


Congrats! E-mail me your addresses so I can send you your book.

Today I’m excited to interview Louise Caiola. Her debut book WISHLESS was released on August 13, 2011. I loved reading about the developing relationship between Chessie and her newly discovered sister Logan. And I found this to be a quick read.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Can strangers become sisters, a long-lost father become a dad, and can love really conquer all? The challenge is extreme-the stakes have never been higher. The fortune cookies tease her: You will lead a long and happy life. Those dumb things are never right.

Chessie Madrid wants to fall in love, she wants to fly airplanes, and most of all she wants to live longer than 6752 days. With a fatal disease camped inside of her wreaking havoc since she turned sixteen, the doctor's predictions are far more sinister. Preparing for death is a total drag.

Instead, Chessie makes a list of her deepest desires, keeping her impending demise a secret, and being pretend-well. When the list suddenly starts to come true, sending Chessie's life and everything in it reeling, it's a case of being careless what you wish for.
With a new sister she's always dreamed of, a father who's a nightmare, and a lesson in love arriving all at once, Chessie makes her last wish the one that will matter most of all-to live or die trying

Hi Louise. Thanks so much for joining us.

Hi, Natalie! Thanks so much for having me here. I’ve been a Rambles follower for quite some time now. It’s a great site!

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

When I’m not tapping away at the keyboard, knocking out “just one more page,” I’m taking care of two almost-grown kids & Miley, our three-year-old Morkie pup, otherwise known as the “spoiled brat.” From 9 to 5, I’m an Administrative Assistant at a local business where I’ve been known to daydream quite a bit. I call that my mental writing time.
I began to take my love of reading and writing more seriously about five years ago when I enrolled in some college courses and learned to organize my thoughts into cohesive story lines. My first teacher was the one to suggest I consider writing a novel. So I did!

2. It’s inspiring to find another author who can juggle a full-time job, family, and writing. I loved the ideas of the fortune cookies and Chessie’s wishes. Tell us how you developed those themes into the plot.

I firmly believe that in life there are cosmic coincidences – those little occurrences you just can’t seem to explain away to reason. I really enjoy exploiting these things. In WISHLESS I infused the wishes and fortune cookie cosmic coincidences to imply there may be a larger force controlling the outcome of Chessie’s story. I feel it adds an air of mystique to an otherwise earthly contemporary tale.

3. You picked a small Missouri town as your setting. What made you decide to set your story there and what research did you do to make the setting accurate?

Being a country girl at heart, I’m drawn to small town life. In this case I chose a fictional tight-knit community in Missouri. I think Missouri came to me because it’s the Show Me State and Chessie is on a quest for validation in her life. She has a hard time trusting what she’s told. She’s all about seeing is believing. Even though I created the town of Eden’s Pond, I did some reading up on Missouri to authenticate terminology, driving distances, area info, etc. Gotta love Google for that!

4. That’s so interesting how your setting mirrors Chessis’s inner struggle. Chessie has some intense issues to deal with—a serious illness, a newly found sister, and a father who suddenly reappears in her life. Tell us how you developed her as a character and decided on these relationships that drive the story.

Chessie’s life is really as routinely chaotic as anyone else’s these days. Dysfunction knows no bounds – illness included. I’m attracted to exploring the messy minutia of The Family Unit as it exists in the world today. Rarely are the lines neatly drawn. Fathers and daughters, siblings, even our love interests are often our most challenging terrain.

5. I so agree that families are more complicated these days and kids want to read books about family lives that more closely mirror their own. I know you found your publisher before you found your agent Terrie Wolf at AKA Literary Agency. Tell us about your road to publication and finding your agent.

I began shopping WISHLESS to both agents and publishers simultaneously. It just happened that a few interested agents were holding the manuscript for quite a while as I awaited word. In the interim, L & L Dreamspell Publications responded quickly with an offer. At that point I saw fit to accept and sign contract. Terrie and I met a few months after I signed, while I was trying to find a home for Girls like HER, which she made offer on earlier this year. I can only say positive things about L & L and AKA Literary. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to see the publishing business from two very different perspectives.

6. That’s so awesome how that worked out. Chessie is 18 years old. So your story could be marketed as a YA or even adult book. How is it being marketed and why did you and your publisher choose that route.

WISHLESS is being marketed as a Young Adult primarily due to Chessie’s age and her narrative voice. Yet, I’m told that this story is being well-received by an older audience as well, which really puts the crunch in my peanut butter!

7. That’s great that you’ve got both the YA market and adults interested in your book. How have you been marketing your book? What worked and what would you do differently?

Marketing – tirelessly! Sometimes I’m so busy with it I forget to eat.
I’m spreading the word through contests, interviews, blog hops, reviews, book signings, pretty much any way I possibly can. The contests are helping to bring a great deal of interest. People love the chance to win something. It’s fun! I realize now I should have started the whole marketing process much sooner than I did. But, we live and learn, right?

8. I really agree that the book giveaways bring more excitement for a book. What are you working on now?

While the wonderful Terrie Wolf is busy handling Girls like HER, I’m about halfway through the first draft of my third novel, an older YA with an element of mystery that I’m super excited about. Hope someday you’ll get to read them both!

Thanks Louise for all your advice. Good luck with your book. You can find Louise on her website and her blog and on Twitter. You can also like her on Facebook.

Louise generously offered a signed copy of WISHLESS for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on January 7th. I’ll announce the winner on January 9th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here’s what’s coming up. Monday I’ll be interviewing a high school guy for my ASK THE EXPERT series and doing another giveaway. Then I’ll be taking a two week break after that for the holidays. Casey might be posting an Agent Spotlight but otherwise we'll be taking a break until January 9th.

On January 9th, I’ll be back with an interview with debut author Marie Lu and I’ll be giving away a copy of LEGEND. You won’t want to miss that! I LOVED her book.

On January 16th, I'll be interviewing Caroline Starr Rose and giving away an ARC of MAY B.

2000 Followers Giveaway coming in January. Details to follow. It will be awesome!

I want to mention that Cheryl Klein has an awesome giveaway on her blog. Win a copy of STARCROSSED and LIAR'S MOON by Elizabeth Bunce or Cheryl's book SECOND SIGHT until December 14th here.

Hope to see you on Monday!

SHELLI JOHANNES-WELLS INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY OF UNTRACEABLE


First I want to say how excited I am that we just hit over 2000 followers! You all are so awesome. We really appreciate all your support and all the spreading of the word lately. Casey and I will plan something special to celebrate in January after the holidays so be sure to check back.

Today I’m excited to interview Shelli Johannes-Wells about her debut book UNTRACEABLE which was released on November 29th. She’s not only an awesome author but also experienced in marketing. I loved that the story was set in the Smoky Mountains, which is somewhere I’ve visited many times. Shelli really nailed the setting accurately. And it was a page turning mystery with many twists I didn’t see coming.

Here’s a description of her book:

16-year-old Grace was reared in the wilderness. Her first pet was a bear named Simon. Her first potty, an oak tree. And, her first swing, a forest vine. Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her everything he knew about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival.

When Grace's dad goes missing on a routine patrol, unlike everyone in her sleepy mountain town, she refuses to believe he’s dead. After finding a Cheetos bag and stolen government file, Grace is convinced she’s one step closer to proving all the non-believers wrong.

One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from imminent danger by Mo, a hot guy who has an intoxicating accent and a secret. Grace has never felt a connection like this before, certainly not with her ex-boyfriend, the adoring, but decidedly unrugged, Wyn.

After a few run-ins with the town's police chief, her father's partner, and some new evidence, Grace travels deeper into the wilderness that has always been her refuge only to learn that her father's disappearance is not a mere coincidence.

Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to emerge from an epidemic that’s spreading like wild fire, threatening everything and everyone she’s ever loved.

And here’s an awesome author blurb:

"Grace is a spunky, independent, nature girl who doesn't need a boy to save her. With wilderness survival, a juicy love triangle, and more twists and turns than a roller coaster, this fast-paced novel had me holding my breath until the very last page—and still begging for more!" -Kimberly Derting, author of the The Body Finder series (Harper Teen) and The Pledge series (S&S)

I love Kimberly Derting and totally agree with what she says about Shelli’s book.

Hi Shelli. Thanks so much for joining us. 1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your experience in marketing, and how you became an author.

Hm. Well in a nutshell. I got an MBA at Auburn University and started in Corporate America. For 15 years I did marketing, communications and training. In 2004 after I had my daughter I started writing while she was sleeping. I have a 5 months maternity leave and wrote a MG book that will never see the light of day. In 2006, I left a high-level executive job b/c I was having panic attacks at night and I wanted more. At the time, I had my first baby so I started freelancing with past clients, eventually starting my own marketing company.

Man… I sound boring.

2. No, that’s awesome you started your marketing company. And I would have loved to ditch the stress of working and being a parent. I love that you set UNTRACEABLE in the Smoky Mountains. They’re so gorgeous! I know you live in Atlanta. Did you research your setting and into having Grace so knowledgeable in the wilderness or draw from your personal experiences?

My husband loves the wilderness so we take our family to the mountains at least twice a year. I have been to Cherokee NC a couple of times, which is where Tommy lives. I wanted the book to be as authentic as possible.

3. You did a good job with that. I admired how independent Grace is, especially hiking in the woods with bears. I’m terrified of them and couldn’t even sleep in our locked car when we pulled over in the Smokey Mountains one trip. Yet she’s really vulnerable in her refusal to believe her dad could be dead. Tell us about how you developed her character.

I wanted to create a tough girl who was vulnerable and who could be feminine – and I didn’t want her to live in a fantasy world or have magical powers. I also wanted a girl who could take care of herself, yet kind of want others to step up and take care of her. Especially her mom. It was a tough balance having Grace be snarky and tough, still show her emotional and endearing side - enough for a reader to like her. I also think there are a lot of tomboys out there who love the outdoors. I was one and I wanted to reach them.

4. I agree that there are lots of tomboy girls who can relate to Grace. My daughter is one of them. And I liked how Grace had to rely on her own abilities, not magical ones. I see your book as a mystery thriller. There were a lot of clues that got me guessing in the wrong direction. Give us some tips on how to create a mystery and plant clues. How much of it did you plot out before you wrote the story?

My book started out as a book about a foreign terrorist cell living in NC. Yeah – bad right. So no – I did not plan it out from the beginning. Once I rewrote my book, I finished it and then went back and dropped clues against what happened. I think most of writing a thriller of mystery is about not being afraid to go to places that you didn’t want to go. This was not the original ending but I think it is more of a surprise, which makes the book keep its tension. I wanted the unexpected and I think I did it. ;) Mwa-ha-ha-ha

5. That’s so funny how differently the idea started. I know from following your blog that you agonized about leaving your agent and going the independent publishing route. Tell us about how you came to that decision and why you believe the decision was right for you.

Well it was mutual. I don’t know if we would have parted if she had believed more in this book. I adore her and think she’s great. I just was not ready to give up on this book and she did not know how to help me get to the next level.

I don’t think I knew at the time it was right for me. It was sad and I was depressed for a few months. I felt like I failed and had stepped back. I think I felt it was unfair and sucked. It is only now that I look back and see why it all happened. I don’t think we connect the dots in our life until we look back. It’s impossible to see what connects looking ahead.

6. Yes, sometimes it’s hard to know when you’re in the middle of it. You are an expert in marketing. We already know you’re using a blog tour as part of your marketing strategy. What other marketing avenues are you using and how are you reaching out to the teens that would like your book?

Well I don’t like to think about using my blog as part of my strategy. But part of my “strategy” is that I’m honest and open. I didn’t want to just a talk about myself or my book – I mean how boring is that. So I decided to tell my readers everything about the process and be honest. All while giving advice and tips on how to indie publish.

I just realized I hate the word “strategy”. My goal  was to start a grass roots effort. I say yes to everyone who is nice enough to ask and I talk to any blogger I can. That has been more as my “strategy” (ugh that sounds so impersonal!)

I also wanted to produce a solid product – I figure if it can stand on its own – it might grow into something.

7. Do you have any other marketing tips, especially for us aspiring debut authors?

Build a platform. It doesn’t have to be a blog but you need some kind of web presence. A way for people to find out about you. Be genuine and authentic. We blogger scan see through someone who isn’t. (Right?) Know that it takes a long time. It took me 2 years to get where I am now so that’s why you should start now.

8. That’s great advice. And it’s important to remember that building connections takes time. What are you working on now?

Well, I have a special edition of Untraceable coming out in JanFeb that has a completely different ending. Also – I’m working on Book 2 called Uncontrollable that I hope comes out in early summer. I also started a WIP that I hope to get a new agent for someday. I believe in the traditional model – it just doesn’t work for me right now or for this book. I hope to do both someday.

Thanks so much Shelli for all your advice. Good luck with your debut.

You can find Shelli at her blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Shelli generously offered an e-book for a giveaway. You don’t need to have an e-reader to read it. I’ve started reading e-books on my computer and am enjoying it. 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 by midnight on December 17th. I’ll announce the winner on December 19th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here’s what’s coming up. On Monday, I'm interviewing Louise Caiola and giving away a copy of her debut book WISHLESS. Then the following Monday I’ll be interviewing a high school boy for my ASK THE EXPERT series and doing another book giveaway. After that, I’ll be taking a two week break for the holidays.

Since I know everyone's going to be busy with the holidays and maybe not reading blogs as much, I want to give you a heads up about my first interview in January. On January 9th I'll be interviewing Marie Lu and giving away a copy of LEGEND. I can't wait!

Hope to see you on Monday!

KARSTEN KNIGHT INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY OF WILDEFIRE

First I want to say how excited I am about the response to my Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway. Wow! I am SO excited! I've had over 200 entries and about 150 new followers since Friday. Thank you all so much for entering and spreading the word. And welcome to all our new followers. You can still enter the contest until midnight tomorrow, December 6th here.

Next, I’ll announce the winner of ENTICE. The winner is:

MIKI!

Congrats. E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.



Today I’m excited to interview Karsten Knight about his debut book WILDEFIRE that was released in July. I loved the different world mythologies he used in the story and Ash’s unique powers. I read this on vacation and it totally made my lonely airplane rides enjoyable.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Every flame begins with a spark.
Ashline Wilde is having a rough sophomore year. She’s struggling to find her place as the only Polynesian girl in school, her boyfriend just cheated on her, and now her runaway sister, Eve, has decided to barge back into her life. When Eve’s violent behavior escalates and she does the unthinkable, Ash transfers to a remote private school nestled in California’s redwoods, hoping to put the tragedy behind her. But her fresh start at Blackwood Academy doesn’t go as planned. Just as Ash is beginning to enjoy the perks of her new school—being captain of the tennis team, a steamy romance with a hot, local park ranger—Ash discovers that a group of gods and goddesses have mysteriously enrolled at Blackwood…and she’s one of them. To make matters worse, Eve has resurfaced to haunt Ash, and she’s got some strange abilities of her own. With a war between the gods looming over campus, Ash must master the new fire smoldering within before she clashes with her sister one more time… And when warm and cold fronts collide, there’s guaranteed to be a storm.

Hi Karsten. Thanks so much for joining us. 1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

To trace my origins as a writer, you’d have to go back twenty years to when I was six. It was the first grade, and I started this picture book series about a zany worm who went on adventures to exotic locations—the Wild West, sunken ghost ships…it was very popular with my classmates. At some point I made the switch to novel-length fiction, but I sort of lost myself as a writer when I graduated college and joined the Real World. After I lost my job as an admissions counselor back in 2009, I turned back to writing and started work on a draft that eventually became Wildefire.

2. I always admire people who knew they wanted to write as a kid. I had no clue as a kid that I’d ever write. Glad you turned back to it. You draw on a lot of different mythologies—Polynesian, Shinto, and Zulu, to name a few. What research did you do and what sources did you use to learn about these different mythologies?

I did a fair amount of research, using databases like Pantheon (fantastic website)…but I didn’t want Wildefire to read like a mythology textbook. In the end, these characters are reincarnations of gods, so some of the major questions they face are: do we come back the same every lifetime? Do we have the opportunity reinvent ourselves, in new environments, or are there innate facets of our personalities that manifest the same way every reincarnation? While I drew from their divine namesakes, I wanted the freedom to let their powers and personalities percolate and evolve naturally in the book itself.

3. Ooh, I’ll have to check out that website. But I agree that it’s fun as a writer to not be totally bound by the mythology in creating your story. Being an adoptive mom, I love that Ash is adopted. What made you decide she should be adopted? And what were the challenges writing from her POV?

All of the reincarnated gods in the book are actually adopted. Part of the eerie mystery of the series is Ashline and the others trying to figure out where they really come from, since they just sort of appear as infants around the world without any visible birth parents. So the adoptive choice was in some ways a practical one. But since as I mentioned before, the story is so focused on the question of how much environment affects our character development, I thought it would be really layered to see how a Polynesian volcano goddess might grow up raised in a mostly monochromatic community where she’s struggling to find a sense of belonging. Actually, the scene between Ash and her adoptive parents in the first chapter didn’t appear in the original draft; I wrote it as part of a revision suggestion from my editor, and it’s now one of my favorite scenes in the novel.

4. I love that scene. And as an adoptive parent, I know many of us struggle with these questions for our kids as we try to give them a sense of belonging and of their racial identity that is not part of our own experience. A major focus of the story is Ash’s stormy relationship with her sister Eve. Tell us how you developed this aspect of the story and what real life experiences, if any, you drew on.

The central focus in so many YA books, especially paranormal, is usually the “mysterious new love interest.” Honestly, while I enjoy romance as much as the next reader, I sometimes grow a bit weary of reading crush-centric YA. While there’s definitely a romantic element to Wildefire (the elusive Colt Halliday) I wanted the series to revolve around the complexities of family instead—particularly sisterhood. The relationship between Ashline and her wild-child sister Eve is basically sibling rivalry magnified and ignited through the lens of two volatile Polynesian goddesses.

5. I like when the romantic element isn’t the major focus too. Ash is Polynesian-American and many of the other characters are also ethnically diverse. Do you have any tips on developing diverse characters and the right balance for showing their ethnicity in regards to their character development?

I love seeing multiculturalism and diversity in YA lit…but I think it’s just as important to make sure it’s not depicted one-dimensionally. By that I mean: it’s great to have a character reflect on their own diversity, even struggle with it, but don’t make that their sole focus every waking moment, and definitely don’t be afraid to let them have some fun outside of that bubble. A Polynesian character doesn’t need to be contemplative of her heritage 24/7. A gay character can have moments where he’s not preoccupied full-time by his sexuality and where it fits into American culture. Let their differences and uniqueness enrich and complicate their lives in both relatable and surprising ways, while not letting it solely define them. Our childhoods are the product of so, so many things, and while we struggle to find our place, don’t forget those moments of joy that shine through when we’re not burdened by the bigger questions. Scott Tracey’s WITCH EYES is a great recent role model for this in YA.

6. That’s such great advice. Funny that you mention Scott Tracey because I just interviewed him last week. Guys, there’s a link at the top of the blog to my interview of Scott and you can enter to win a copy of his book.

Tell us a bit about your road to publication and how you got your agent, Mary Kole.

My road to publication was sort of backwards from the natural progression. I started querying Wildefire back in Spring 2010, just to a very few, select group of agents, including Mary who was one of my first choices from the start. I really wanted to test-drive my query and sample chapter, rather than spamming the entire agent database at once. I was lucky enough to get three bites almost immediately for full manuscripts. At the same time, somewhat unbeknownst to me, a classmate in my Master’s program who worked at Simon & Schuster passed along my book to my future editor there. A few days later I got a call from Courtney Bongiolatti (my editor), saying she’d just finished Wildefire on the train and wanted to make an offer. Mary was just finishing up reading the book as well, loved it, and stepped into handle contract negotiations and all of my future works. Unorthodox, but I was lucky enough to land my dream editor and dream agent in the same day, and they’ve all blossomed into great pairings.

7. I’d call your journey one we’d all love to experience. That’s awesome that Mary was one of your top agent choices. She sounds like such a great agent. I’ve always wondered how authors decide on the blogs to include in a blog tour. I noticed you did a lot of interviews on your own blog tour. Can you tell us how you arranged that and how you decided what blogs to include?

I was lucky enough to have a great blog tour coordinator take care of most of the work for me! Cindy at Books Complete Me was one of Wildefire’s earliest fans, before its release, and offered to take care of scheduling the tour. As much as I enjoy vlogging, I actually usually am not crazy about doing promo—it distracts me from writing, which is what I’m really here to do. So we kept it light, over 7 great YA blogs, and we kept it goofy…so basically in step with my bizarre sense of humor.

8. Thanks for sharing how that worked out. What are you working on now?

Wildefire’s sequel, EMBERS & ECHOES, is now done and in copy-edits—that will come out August 28, 2012. I’m also working on AFTERGLOW, Book 3, as well as a top secret non-Wildefire project that I will choose to remain mysterious on…for now.

Thanks Karsten for sharing all your great advice. Good luck with your books. You can find Karsten at his blog.

I’m giving away my copy of WILDEFIRE for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on January 7th. I’ll announce the winner on January 9th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. On Wednesday, I'll be doing a special blog post so I can interview Shelli Johannes-Wells as part of her blog tour for UNTRACEABLE. I'll be giving away a copy of her book. Then on Monday I'm interviewing Louise Caiola and giving away a copy of her debut book WISHLESS. I’ll do one last post in December the following Monday where I interview a teenage guy who’s mom is a published author for my ASK THE EXPERT series and I’ll be doing a book giveaway as well.

Then since I know everyone's going to be busy with the holidays and maybe not reading blogs as much, I want to give you a heads up about my first interview in January. On January 9th I'll be interviewing Marie Lu and giving away a copy of LEGEND.

Hope to see you Wednesday!

BOOK LOVERS HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY


I'm so excited to participate in the Holiday Giveaway Hop hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and I am a Reader, Not A Writer. This is my way of saying thanks to all of you who follow me and hopefully to meet some new blog friends. The time frame to enter the contest is short-only December 2nd through December 6th.

I have some awesome book choices for you that I either read and loved or am dying to read. You can click on the title to see a description of the book.


XVI and A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL

DIVERGENT and THE IRON KNIGHT

LIESL AND PO and ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS

THE GRAY WOLF THRONE and THE UNWANTEDS

POSSESSION and CROSSED
Here's how the contest works. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment with the book you want to win by midnight on December 6th. One winner will win the book of his/her choice. I’ll announce the winner on December 12th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome as long as you live in a country where The Book Depository offers free shipping.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here's what's coming up the next few weeks. On Monday, I'm interviewing Karsten Knight and giving away a copy of WILDFIRE. Next Wednesday I'll be doing a special blog post so I can interview Shelli Johannes-Wells as part of her blog tour for UNTRACEABLE. I'll be giving away a copy of her book. Then the following Monday I'm interviewing Louise Caiola and giving away a copy of her debut book WISHLESS.

Hope to see you on Monday!

Here's the link for all the other awesome blogs participating in the BOOK LOVERS HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY
for you to go visit.

Agent Spotlight: John Rudolph

This week's Agent Spotlight features John Rudolph of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management.

Status: Open to submissions.

staff_johnAbout: “John Rudolph joined Dystel & Goderich in 2010 after twelve years as an acquiring children’s book editor. He began his career at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers as an Editorial Assistant and then moved to the G. P. Putnam’s Sons imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group, where he eventually served as Executive Editor on a wide range of young adult, middle-grade, nonfiction, and picture book titles. He graduated from Amherst College with a double major in Classics and Music.

“John is always eager to discover fresh new voices and highly original stories regardless of category, though he’s probably known as a “boy book” kind of guy. He is particularly interested in thrillers and other commercial men’s fiction. He is also actively looking for narrative nonfiction, especially in music, sports, other performing arts, health/popular science, business, memoir, military history, and humor. And on the children’s side, he is keenly interested in middle-grade and young adult fiction, and would love to find the next great picture book author/illustrator.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“Dystel & Goderich Literary Management was founded in 1994 by Jane Dystel, who has been a respected figure in publishing for over 30 years — first as an editor, then as a publisher, and finally as a savvy and successful agent. The agency is the product of her innovative vision of author representation as a full-service enterprise.

“DGLM was launched with a quickly growing roster of Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, celebrated experts in fields as diverse as parenting, women’s health, and cooking, acclaimed literary and commercial fiction writers, and an eclectic and exciting list of titles. The primary goal of the agency was and is to offer not just financial and contractual advice to its clients, but also editorial guidance and support.

“Being involved in every stage of putting together a non-fiction book proposal, offering substantial editing on fiction manuscripts, and coming up with book ideas for authors looking for their next project is as much a part of our work as selling, negotiating contracts, and collecting monies for our clients. We follow a book from its inception through its sale to a publisher, its publication, and beyond. Our commitment to our writers does not, by any means, end when we have collected our commission. This is one of the many things that makes us unique in a very competitive business.” (Link)

Web Presence:

DGLM Website

DGLM Blog.

DGLM Twitter.

DGLM Facebook.

QueryTracker.

What He's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Fiction - Action/Adventure, Children's (author/illustrators), Middle Grade, Young Adult, Commercial Fiction, Literary Fiction.

Non-Fiction - Celebrity, Pop Culture, Narrative, Music, Film & Entertainment, Current Affairs & Politics, Humor & Gift Books, Sports. (Link)

From His Bio (as above):

“John is always eager to discover fresh new voices and highly original stories regardless of category, though he’s probably known as a ‘boy book’ kind of guy. He is particularly interested in thrillers and other commercial men’s fiction. He is also actively looking for narrative nonfiction, especially in music, sports, other performing arts, health/popular science, business, memoir, military history, and humor. And on the children’s side, he is keenly interested in middle-grade and young adult fiction, and would love to find the next great picture book author/illustrator.” (Link)

From His Personal Essay (DGLM website):

“For middle-grade and YA fiction, I’m on the lookout for authentic kids’ voices and rousing, high concept stories—I love a good ‘what-if’ scenario—and at a younger level, I’m eager to find the next great illustrator who can also write. For adults, men’s commercial fiction (thrillers/mysteries) have really gotten me excited lately, as has narrative nonfiction in areas like music, sports, health, business, military history, memoir—basically, if it’s a ‘boy book,’ it’s probably for me!” (Link)

From a Blog Post (04/2011):

“By far, the bulk of the queries I receive are fantasy-based or have paranormal elements, and while that’s all fine and good, I’d LOVE to see more fiction that deals with kids in contemporary, realistic settings. And it’s not that these stories can’t be creative or plot-driven—too often, I feel like authors equate fantasy with action, while realism is reserved for ‘issues.’ There are tons of possibilities for high-concept storylines that don’t involve alternate worlds or werewolves, and I was very glad to see some of them this weekend.” (Link)

From an Interview (11/2010):

“Right now, I’m especially keen on middle-grade adventure fiction, because I think there’s room out there for a great new middle-grade series. I’m also looking for YA across all genres, and while I’m not actively looking for picture book manuscripts, I would love to find some illustrators who can write.” (Link)

What He Isn't Looking For:

Plays, screenplays, poetry. (Link)

“I’m not actively looking for picture book manuscripts unless they’re by author/illustrators.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“While I still relish editing and working with authors and illustrators, finding new talent has always been my favorite part of an editor’s job, and so I’m thrilled for this new opportunity to directly encounter fresh, distinct voices and to help authors transform their voices into books.” (Link)

Clients:

A list of Dystel & Goderich clients is available on the website.

Mr. Rudolph’s clients include: Rachele Alpine, Steven Cordero, Ericka Blount Danois, Stephen Duncan, Bryan Gilmer, Paul Gude, Craig Heimbuch, Shandy Lawson, Adam Lazarus, August McLaughlin, Joe Oestreich, Adrienne Sylver, among others.

Sales:

As of this posting, Mr. Rudolph is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 7 deals in the last 12 months and 7 overall. Recent deals include 2 young adult, 1 picture book, 1 general/other, 1 memoir, 1 pop culture, 1 sports.

NOTE: PM is usually not a complete representation of sales.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Per the D&GLM website:

"Enclose a cover letter, outline or brief synopsis of the work (with word count if possible), a sample chapter, and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for our response. Please type all of your correspondence and double space everything other than the cover letter. E-mail queries are fine, but keep them brief and make sure your cover letter is in the body of the e-mail. We won't open attachments if they come with a blank e-mail. Please be sure to query only one agent at this agency. We will not review queries sent to more than one of us."

See the agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Response Times:

The agency's stated response time for queries is six to eight weeks and eight weeks for requested material. If you do not hear back in that time, feel free to resend. (Link)

Mr. Rudolph’s response times range from hours to a couple months on queries and days to a month or so on requested material.

What's the Buzz?

Former Putnam editor John Rudolph has been with DGLM just over a year now. He’s made a good number of sales out the gate and his clients seem very pleased with his representation. I recommend following his posts on the DGLM blog.

Of note, DGLM began offering self-publishing services to their clients (as needed / desired) in June, 2011. You can read the announcement here and some questions answered here.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Interview with an Agent: John Rudolph at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (03/2010).

7 Questions For: Literary Agent John Rudolph at Middle Grade Ninja (11/2010).

New Agent Interview: John Rudolph, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management at SCBWI: The Blog (10/2010).

Blog Stuff:

Mr. Rudolph posts regularly on the DGLM blog. Here’s a link to his label, which should take you to most, if not all, of his posts.

All I Want For Christmas - Children’s Wish List (12/2010).

All I Want For Christmas Part II - Adult Wish List (12/2010).

Around the Web:

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management on P&E ($, Highly Recommended).

Dystel & Goderich Literary Management thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Mr. Rudolph’s personal essay on the DGLM website.

Read all the pages on the website, including a great FAQ and What’s New section.

Subscribe to the DGLM newsletter here.

Contact:

Please see the Dystel & Goderich Literary Management website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 12/01/11.

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 12/01/11.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(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.

SCOTT TRACEY INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY OF WITCH EYES

First the winner of HUNTED is:

CHAD MORRIS!


Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.

Today I’m excited to talk with Scott Tracey about his debut book WITCH EYES. I met Scott at Maggie Stiefvater’s book signing in Novi this summer.

I found the whole idea of witch eyes as the magical system very unique. And Scott did a really good job developing all of Braden’s relationships, not only between Trey and him, but also with the other characters.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain.

After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.

To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he love

Here’s Scott’s bio on his website which I found interesting.
Scott Tracey lived on a Greyhound for a month, wrote his illustrated autobiography at the age of six, and barely survived Catholic school.
His career highlights include nearly being shot by the police after accidentally setting off a panic button, and sending the health department after his place of business. His gifts can be used for good or evil, but rather than picking a side, he strives for BOTH (in alternating capacity) for his own amusement.

Welcome Scott. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you for having me!

1. Okay, even though I want to know about your whole bio, please tell us about your experiences on the greyhound bus and nearly getting shot by the police. Also, how did you become a writer?

The Greyhound thing is a fun story. Greyhound had (or maybe they still do, I'm not sure) these month long bus packages. You can travel anywhere you want for a month, on any Greyhound line, as many times as you want. Some stuff happened, and I ended up traveling all over the place at random one summer. I went from Ohio to Colorado to Washington to Texas to New York, and basically just saw a bunch of sights and did my thing.

Getting shot. Twice a year at the job I was working at, we had a big inspection. So the night before, we were always there until 4 or 5 in the morning making the place sparkle. Someone scrubbed down the alarm system on the wall, accidentally setting off the panic button. The police showed up, asked the manager to lead us all outside. Only the manager went out last, instead of first, and since we didn't follow the police's directions, one of the officers snapped at me (who was the first out the door), that he'd almost shot me through the window.

I've always wanted to be a writer. When I was four or five, I thought you had to be a reporter, because I didn't understand that you COULD write books. I thought all the books had already been written. But I always hesitated at writing a novel in the past, because I felt like I wasn't ready yet. So I waited, and I waited, and one day about 4 or 5 years ago I finally challenged myself to see if I could write an entire novel. And that's how I got my start. ;)

2. Wow! You’ve definitely had some interesting experiences. The witch eyes and the ideas that the magic comes from Braden’s eyes and that he has to wear sunglasses are very unique. Tell us how you developed that.

I was working a lot of night shifts, at the time I was set to start the book that became WITCH EYES, and every day when I left my apartment building, I'd get blinded by the setting sun. That led me to start thinking about people who were allergic to sunlight, and what their lives were like, and from there, I started wondering: if you were allergic to sunlight, and there was a supernatural cause, what would it be? How would that work? From that, I came to the idea of the witch eyes, and just how powerful and devastating they were in equal measure.

The idea of balance was really important to me, right from the start. I wanted the power of the witch eyes to be as damaging as it was helpful. So it makes Braden more powerful in his magic (which has its own negative side), but it's also killing him. Every time he uses his power, he knows his body's going to suffer.

And then there's the visions themselves. What the witch eyes do is show Braden how the world actually looks, rather than the way most people see it. Everything leaves a record, an impression, or a vibe, and Braden sees all of those things at once. The prose for the visions, which is a kind of stream of consciousness, was something that came naturally. I wanted the visions to stand out, to be something different and not totally understandable and it just kind of struck me that it would almost just be this mashup of words, images and descriptions.

3. That’s so interesting how one experience from your own life resulted in a book and a unique magical power. I loved Braden’s relationship with Trey. But I’ve read that you felt it was important not to have that love story be the primary focus of the story. Tell us a bit about their relationship and why you decided not to focus on that?

I always wanted there to be a romantic element in WITCH EYES, but for me, the real story was always Braden's journey and the intrigue of Belle Dam. Braden and Trey are just one element in a very complicated world. Between Braden's gifts, the feud, the history and secrets of Belle Dam, hellhounds, the fact that there's this connection between the two characters is one of the most normal things about the story. At least, that was my goal.

There's two main things I had to keep in mind. The first was the timeframe. The entire book covers a period of about a week or so. There's not a lot of time for things to develop, and not a lot of time for people to grow significantly. The second was that there's obviously a romantic element to the story, but as it stands in the first book, Braden and Trey don't have this perfect, love will triumph over all relationship. I mean, there's a reason why the book ends the way it does. Both of them have their faults, and just because they have a connection doesn't mean that their relationship will go smoothly.

It was important for me that Braden not be defined by his sexuality, and if the book was all about how important it was for him to find (or keep) a boyfriend, it would lessen the kind of story that I was trying to tell (which was: he's gay, but who cares about that, because there's this feud...)

4. You did a really good job balancing that and focusing on what was important to your story. I really was drawn into Braden’s friendships with Jade and Riley and the whole triangle there with Braden in the middle. Tell us about those dynamics.

I always knew that Braden was going to find a confidante in Trey's sister. Jade was the first character, outside of Braden and the adults, that I really had a solid plan for. But Riley was a surprise to me. I started writing one of the scenes where Braden first comes to school, and suddenly I'm writing about this super excitable, nosy girl who has no tact and wears too much plastic jewelry. It came out of nowhere, and suddenly Riley was a part of the book.

It just came around naturally that Jade and Riley were polar opposites. It made a lot of sense, with this feud that's defining the town, that Braden would continually find himself trapped between both sides. So Riley leaning towards Team Thorpe was kind of perfect.

One of the things that I tried to be really conscious of was how the characters had all related pre-Braden. There's a natural bit of tug-of-war when Braden first gets to town, and a familiarity between Riley and Jade that implies that their history is complicated.

5. You gave some awesome advice on not using stereotypes in LGBT stories that is so useful and that I think applies to a lot of writing, like about minorities for example. Guys, you can listen to the whole vlog here. Can you share some of your tips?

I think all of my advice really boils down to one specific point: treat all your characters like they're three dimensional people. Gay characters are more than just the sum of their sexuality - there are a hundred different types of gay people. Everyone has some complexity to them, just because it isn't apparent at first doesn't mean it's not there. Adding a stereotype character into your manuscript doesn't make it edgy, or make it stand out. The characters who stand out are the ones who are dynamic, and fascinating in some manner.

6. I so agree. And your advice applies to writing about any minority or kids whose families are not formed from traditional avenues, like adopted kids. I read that it took a year and a half to sell WITCH EYES. What was the process like and what decisions did you have to make along the way?

Being on sub off and on for 18 months was hard, but it wasn't the worst thing in the world. I tried really hard NOT to think about it as much as I could. But you always worry - especially when a rejection comes in. 18 months sounds like a lot, but half of that was broken up into different stages.

We did a few tiny rounds at first, testing the waters as it were, and then a round of revisions before the submissions went wide after 9 months. So there were a lot of stops and starts in the beginning. It's like waiting in line at the grocery store, and then someone cuts in front of you, or the cashier goes on break. Every adjustment to the process stresses you out, even if you don't want it to. ;)

There were a few times where editors came back with suggestions of things to change or adjust. One of those being if I would consider changing Braden into a girl. Or if I'd add a female co-narrator and make it a buddy comedy with a gay guy/straight girl and cut the romance angle. But the book, to me, was always about telling the story that I wanted to tell, the way I wanted to tell it. It wouldn't have been as special to me if I straightwashed the characters and made it into something it wasn't.

7. You have such a good attitude toward the long wait. I love how you describe it like the line at the grocery story. How did Ginger Clark become your agent?

One of my good friends is Gretchen McNeil, who wrote POSSESS and is one of the YA Rebels. Ginger is her agent and Gretchen has ALWAYS sung her praises. So last year when I found myself needing to find a new agent, she was at the top of my list. I think she might even have been the first query I sent out, now that I think about it.

Anyway, Gretchen referred me, I queried like normal, Ginger requested the full of my new project, and a few months later we signed together.

8. I’ve seen tons of interviews that you’ve done around the debut of your book. What marketing did you do and how did you decide what marketing to focus on?

I'm a big advocate for only doing things that you're comfortable with. I like to blog, so I didn't mind doing a lot of guest posts and interviews (a LOT of guest posts and interviews). I'm not AS comfortable with vlogging, so I only did a couple of those (but it's still a nice change of pace). And then there were a few guest chats I ended up doing that turned out to be a lot of fun.

I tried to have fun with it. I did little things like made up a quiz for Facebook that people could take, to see if they were Team Lansing or Team Thorpe. I made a fan page for the Witch Eyes series on Facebook (and later an author page), and updated the book trailer that had been done originally back in 2009. I'm usually pretty talkative on Twitter, so I did some outreach there, too, but I tried to make it fun more than anything. It's hard, because you never want to be that person who ONLY talks about "my book is coming out, my book is coming out, hey have you heard? My book is coming out."

I really just tried to stick to the kinds of things that I was comfortable with. I also tried not to be too overwhelming with anything, so that six months from release I wasn't annoying people daily to buy my book.

9. That’s good advice to do what you’re comfortable with. I have to admit I’ve never done a vlog and would be nervous doing one. Glad I’m not alone. What are you working on now?

Right now, I'm working on the edits for book 2 in the series, DEMON EYES, which comes out next fall. And after that, I have a fun project I've been playing around with that I'd like to finish. It's a bit of new territory for me - writing in present tense for the first time, a female protagonist, a new setting.

Thanks Scott for all your great advice. Good luck with your book.
You can visit Scott at his blog, WITCH EYES Facebook page, and his author Facebook page.

Scott’s publisher generously offered a copy of WITCH EYES for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on December 10th. I’ll announce the winner on December 12th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. On Friday, I’m super excited to be participating in an awesome book lovers holiday giveaway blog hop. I have some fantastic offerings for you to say thanks for all the support you've given me this year. And hop around for other giveaways. Please stop by and enter the contest.


Then next Monday, I'll be interviewing debut author Karsten Knight and giving away a copy of WILDFIRE. On Wednesday next week, I'll be doing a special blog post so I can interview Shelli Johannes-Wells as part of her blog tour for UNTRACEABLE. I'll be giving away a copy of her book. Then the following Monday I'm interviewing Louise Caiola and giving away a copy of her debut book WISHLESS.

Hope to see you Friday!

Happy Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving here in the U.S. and I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday.


I have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is YOU, my readers and friends, this wonderful community, and Natalie, who gives precious time to this blog and makes it an even more giving place for writers.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, and have a beautiful day!

ASK THE EXPERT INTERVIEW AND GIVEAWAY OF ENTICE

First I'll announce the winner of SECRETS OF THE CROWN. The winner is:

CATHE OLSON!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book.

Today I’m excited to interview Hikari, a follower and a ninth grader who is Kris’ blog partner at Imaginary Reads. They have a fantastic blog where they review books and do some book giveaways. I recommend it.

Hi Hikari. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live, your school, and what you like to read.

I’m a ninth grader (we call it year ten over here) in Hong Kong. I go to an international school and I’m bilingual in Chinese (Cantonese, though I’m fluent in Mandarin) and English. I love writing, blogging, and of course, reading. I’ll read practically anything that has words in it, YA, adult fiction, literature, inch-thick computing books (don’t ask—tech geek here), manga—you name it, I’ll probably read it. I do love YA best though, especially contemporaries and dystopias.

2. Wow! That's awesome that you live in Hong Kong and can speak in Cantonese and Mandarin. My daughter is Chinese and we've tried to learn. It's not easy. Before you started blogging, how did you find out about the books you read? What about new books coming out?

Before I came to know about the book blogging community, all I had was one bookshop, really. It’s pretty far from where I live, about half an hour by public transport (which is far HK-wise). Page One is one of the few book retailers specializing in English books in HK. So every time I went there, I’d buy loads of books. I generally spent over $500 (~US$80) every trip—I didn’t get that many books either, English books are really expensive here. It ate up all my pocket money, this book addiction of mine.

3. That's true dedication to spend so much on books. What made you decide to start blogging? How did your blog partnership with Kris come about and how did you find each other living in two different countries?

Well, I’ve always thought that blogs were really cool. I started stalking publishers at some point, and then somehow, discovered the world of book bloggers. Kris had her exams back then, and she had her own writing blog. She started a reading blog but didn’t have the time too keep it up, what with her exams. The idea of blogging together came up, and bam—that was it.

It’s funny how we met, considering that we’re running a reading blog together, because I met Kris through writing. We were both writing novels at the time, and our friendship started off as critique buddies. Somehow, we evolved into blogging partners, and I’m glad. As Kris said, we’ve gotten a lot closer.

4. That's awesome how you connected. Though Casey and I aren't critique partners, I followed her blog for a long time. When she needed a blog partner, I took the plunge and e-mailed her and am so glad I did. You and Kris seem like a good match too. How has blogging changed what you read, if at all? What books are you waiting to be released?

Blogging has given me the opportunity to find out about new books a lot quicker. Now, I know about books with incredible hype around them and which books are coming out soon. The ratings and heartfelt reviews from fellow bloggers make me want to read books I never dreamed I’d read. Before, I’d have to wait until my once-in-a-while bookstore trip to hunt for books with interesting blurbs and pretty covers. I’m waiting for Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, Isla and the Happily Ever After and a lot more… I’m sure I’d bore everybody to tears if I kept going.

5. We're looking forward to a lot of the same books. Do you buy most of your book, receive ARCS, or get them at the library? How often do you go to a bookstore?

I don’t get a lot of ARCs compared to Kris and other book bloggers. Nobody likes international shipping, especially to some part of China that isn’t really China that you can’t even see on a map—and I don’t either. HK libraries are seriously lacking in the English department and our school library is really slow updating new releases. So I guess, in the end, I’m still buying most of my books. But I’ve been using The Book Depository and buying Kindle ebooks more.

6. That's too bad you can't get ARCs mailed to you. But you gave me some advice on getting ARCS online from book publishers so at least that's a way you can get get them. Thanks for the advice BTW. Do you read any teen book blogs, book blogger review blogs, author blogs, or author or publisher websites? Become a fan of an author on Facebook? Why?

Yups! I do all of the above. After you’ve read some of the reviews of a certain blogger, you get a feel for their tastes. If they’re similar to mine, I’d be more inclined to try out some of the books they’ve liked. I read author blogs because most of the time, they’re really interesting. I love how they’ll dish out writing tips sometimes, complain about the weather some other time, and release snippets of information about their books that always leaves me drooling. Publisher websites are just for me to stalk to-be released books though.

As for Facebook… If I like an author, why not show some appreciation? Facebook’s a major meter for everything nowadays, and it’s only one click on my part. As a bonus, I get news about their new books, possible competitions, giveaways, etc. It’s win-win.

7. Do you have any teen or book blogger review blogs you’d recommend we follow and why?

The Story Siren has brief reviews that leave you wanting to read the book anyway. Mundie Moms are looking better in black since 1234 (no, really, they host a lot of interviews and live author chats). Alison Can Read’s reviews are compulsively readable and I love that she’s reviews manga too. There are a lot-lot-lot of others and I could probably go on forever—but I won’t.

8. I love The Story Siren and Mundie Moms too. I find out about a lot of books from them. Have any of your teachers recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

My current English teacher is a huge fan of classics. Just a few lessons ago, he recommended works by Zola, Lermontov, Emily Bronte, Tolstoy, Maupassant, Hardy, Eliot and Balzac to me. I’m currently reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which was recommended by him too. By recommended, I mean “threw at me in the library and went ‘You should read this.’” None of my teachers have recommended blogs or websites though.

9. Are there things your favorite authors could do that would make you more likely to visit their website, their blog, or become a fan on Facebook?

There are only two things, really. One, write a mind-blowingly amazing book. Two, have a sense of humour. Because if the book is that amazing, I’ll probably stalk the author in hopes of hearing about a sequel or other books by the same author, which will lead me to their site/blog/fb page. And if they have a sense of humour, it’ll probably keep me there.

10. That's great advice. Have any authors visited your school? Who? Is there anything you’d recommend that an author do to make their presentation more interesting to you and other kids at your school?

Not a single author has ever tried to cross the Pacific Ocean to reach this little school of mine at the tip of South-East Asia—to my dismay. Thomas Friedman (The World is Flat) visited the university my mom works at, but it was during my school time, so I didn’t get to listen to him. The only thing I’d like to say to authors doing presentations is to ask themselves, “What would Steve Jobs do?” Steve Jobs doesn’t have anything to do with books, but he made his presentations magical.

…Okay, maybe that was a bit too geeky of me.

That's a great tribute to Steve Jobs. Thanks Hikari for all your advice.

Today I'm giving away an ARC of ENTICE by Carrie Jones. I won this ARC and quickly read the first two books in the series so I could read it, especially since CAPTIVATE (Book #2) ended with a bang. Talk about a cliffhanger. SPOILER ALERT: DON'T READ THE GOODREADS BLURB IF YOU DON'T WANT ANY SPOILERS! I loved that this is an urban fantasy with pixies as the magical creatures, something you don't read about too much.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Zara and Nick are soul mates, meant to be together forever.
But that's not quite how things have worked out.

For starters, well, Nick is dead.
Supposedly, he's been taken to a mythic place for warriors known as Valhalla, so Zara and her friends might be able to get him back. But it's taking time, and meanwhile a group of evil pixies is devastating Bedford, with more teens going missing ever
y day. An all-out war seems imminent, and the good guys need all the warriors they can find. But how to get to Valhalla?

And even if Zara and her friends discover the way, there's that other small problem: Zara's been pixie kissed. When she finds Nick, will he even want to go with her? Especially since she hasn't just turned...she's Astley's queen.


I'm giving away my ARC of ENTICE. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment on Hikari's interview by midnight on December 3rd. I'll announce the winner on December 5th.

If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry.

Here's what's coming up. Next Monday, I'm interviewing debut author Scott Tracey and giving away a copy of WITCH EYES.

Then on Friday December 2nd, I'll be participating in an awesome book lovers holiday giveaway blog hop. I have some fantastic offerings for you to say thanks for all the support you've given me this year. And hop around for other giveaways.

Then on December 5th, I'll be interviewing debut author Karsten Knight and giving away a copy of WILDFIRE.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you all enjoy the holiday. And hope to see you next Monday!