Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.



First I have some winners to announce.

The winner of DARKFALL is:


And the winner of CROSSED is:


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

Today I’m excited to interview Anna Staniszewski about her debut book MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE. One of the things I loved about this book was that it was not only a fantasy, which you know I love, but it was also funny. You get the sense it’s going to make you laugh right away from the cover.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

"You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They're lies. All lies."—Twelve-year-old Jenny has spent the last two years as an adventurer helping magical kingdoms around the universe. But it's a thankless job, leaving her no time for school or friends. She'd almost rather take a math test than rescue yet another magical creature! When Jenny is sent on yet another mission, she has a tough choice to make: quit and have her normal life back, or fulfill her promise and go into a battle she doesn't think she can win.

Hi Anna. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I was born in Poland and raised in the US, so I grew up loving stories in both Polish and English (especially fairy tales). After studying theater at Sarah Lawrence College, I worked at the Eric Carle Museum of Picturebook Art where I realized my true calling: children’s books. I went on to study writing for children at Simmons College and left the program determined to become a “real writer.” Being chosen as the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library and a 2009 winner of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award gave me the courage to keep pursuing my writing dreams. All that work finally paid off when I signed with my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, in 2009 and sold my debut novel to Sourcebooks a year later. Currently, I teach at Simmons College and live outside of Boston with my husband and our adorably insane black Labrador, Emma.

2. Wow! You’ve had an interesting life that I’m sure you must draw on in your writing. You’ve chosen to use humor and clichés, both magical and ones that pops out of Jenny’s mouth on occasion in your story. Why did you decide on these and what challenges did you find in making them fit your story? And are you funny in real life?

As I was working on My Very UnFairy Tale Life, I wanted to play with the role of the traditional fantasy hero who’s whisked off to another land to save the day. I liked the idea of a hero who’s been saving the day for years now, and is sick and tired of it. What better weapon to give her in a stereotypical quest than the power of cheesy sayings?

I did find that it was difficult to come up with clichés for Jenny to say in various situations; I didn’t want to force them into scenes, so I had to try out different ones to find ones that fit. I never thought I’d be Googling “cheesy sayings” but you never know where book research will take you!

Am I funny in real life? Well, I’m a total goofball and love making people laugh. I’m also a huge lover of puns, as is my husband; in fact, the mutual friend who introduced us told me: “You both like puns, so I think you’ll get along.” He was right.

3. Well, you’d never guess from reading your book that you had any trouble coming up with the humor. I’m no good at it so it’d be torture for me. That’s awesome you share your love of puns with your husband.

Besides questi
oning being a superhero, Jenny has to face some pretty hard challenges in her real world. Tell us a bit about how you developed Jenny’s internal struggles.

When I started to learn more about Jenny, I realized she was very isolated. Her parents disappeared when she was young, so she lives with a guardian who doesn’t understand her. Her friends have long since abandoned her, so all Jenny has is her adventures which don’t make her happy anymore. Not only is Jenny lonely but she’s also unsure of her identity and place in the world. I realized there was much more depth to her than her sly humor and cheesy sayings.

4. I loved that Jenny’s enemy is a crazy clown sorcerer and that his evil fortress is circus tent. That’s so original. Where’d you get the idea for him?

To be honest, I’m not really sure. When I was first writing the scene in which Jenny meets the bad guy, I hadn’t quite figured out his identity. But when Jenny saw him unmasked for the first time, I guess one of my subconscious fears came out because suddenly she was faced with a super creepy clown.

5. Interesting how it just sort of came to you. Your agent is Ammi-Joan Paquette. Tell us about your journey to find an agent and to publication.

When I first started querying agents, I had no clue what I was doing. I also had a manuscript that was not ready. I finally did my research and learned the right way to write a query letter, and I also kept working on new manuscripts until I had one that was strong enough to catch an agent’s attention. In the midst of the querying process, I was lucky enough to meet Joan at a PEN New England reception, and I saw right away what a great person she was. When she was as excited about my manuscript as I was (a book that, sadly, never sold) I knew we were a good fit. She’s been an amazing mentor and cheerleader ever since.

6. That’s awesome that you got to meet Joan at a conference before you picked her as your agent. What was the revision process like with your editor? Do you have any tips on tackling revisions suggested by your editor?

When I revised the manuscript with my agent, I spent a lot of time cutting out unnecessary subplots and characters. By the time the book got to my editor, it was almost too slim. That meant much of the revision process involved fleshing scenes out. I also rewrote the ending after my editor pointed out that the ending didn’t feel “big” enough. She was absolutely right. I went back and completely rewrote the last few chapters to try to make the ending bigger and more satisfying. One tip I took away from that revision is that the ending should never be too easy for your character; we as readers need to feel like there’s a real possibility the character won’t succeed.

7. So interesting that your book was too short. Most of us struggle with the opposite problem of having too many words. That’s a great tip about endings. How are you marketing your book? Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Much of my marketing has been online. I’ve been blogging, Facebookin, and Twittering for a while, so I’ve met some wonderful and supportive people that way. I’m also involved in online communities such as The Enchanted Inkpot, The Elevensies, and The Blueboards.

Everyone I’ve met along the way has been amazing in helping me spread the word about the book. When I asked a few of my real-life and online friends to take part in an informal ARC tour, I was so grateful at how eager they were to help. Marketing-savvy people always talk about the importance of making personal connections, and I’ve found that to be absolutely true. If people know you on some level, they’re much more likely to help spread the word about your book. And, of course, you have to be willing to return the favor.

8. Yes, you’re right. It’s so important to pay it forward and help other authors. What are you working on now?

I have a few different things in the works: a light middle grade fantasy, a somewhat bizarre picture book, and a dark, fairy-tale-inspired YA novel.

Thanks Anna for all your great advice. Good luck with your debut. You can find Anna at her blog and website.

Anna’s publisher generously offered an 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 by midnight on November 12th. I’ll announce the winner on November 14th. 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.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here.

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Shannon O’Donnell
Joanne Fritz
Sherrie Petersen
Brooke Favero
Myrna Foster
Anita Laydon Miller
Barbara Watson
Just Deb
Kit Lit Frenzy
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
Pam Torres
Jennifer Rumberger

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. Next Monday I’m interviewing Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away a copy of THE FAMILIARS SECRETS OF THE CROWN. On November 14th, I’ll be interviewing debut author DJ DeSmyter and giving away a copy of HUNTED. Then on November 21st, I’m interviewing a teenager from Asia who blogs for my Ask the Expert series and doing another book giveaway.

Hope to see you next week!


I have a very special guest today. Fiona Page is an award-winning children's author and motivational speaker celebrating the release of her picture book Bettina the Bold: A Blind Butterfly Discovers How to Make Friends in conjunction with Blindness Awareness Month (October!). Please visit her at her website and blog when you're done reading her lovely guest post about Bettina the Bold and the creation of her story.

Being a professional storyteller I am always looking for a creative way to explain to elementary children what it is like to be blind. This concept is difficult for children to understand, especially since I don’t look blind or weird. However, having lived the first forty-four years of my life sighted, I remember how different I truly felt when I was newly blind. Reflecting on what happened to me, I decided to write about my thoughts, my feelings, and my fears.

I couldn't sleep as I bandied about the idea of a forest creature being blind and not knowing she was blind. How frustrated she would be, sometimes angry. That wouldn't help her to "fit in,” to belong, amongst the creatures of the woods. My Bettina was bold, but she needed to learn how to be nice to attract friends. She had to accept her situation and overcome her challenges in order to belong amongst the woodsy creatures.

I used my talking computer to put this story to paper. A screen reading software program for visually impaired people called JAWS helped me keep track of my words. I thought about my reader as I typed out Bettina’s story. What happens when the book is read to a blind child? Disagreeing with the notion that illustrations alone will do the describing for you in a picture book, I decided it was necessary to also illustrate with words. It was important to me that Bettina the Bold be enjoyed by all readers—sighted or blind.

After I finished writing the story, I trusted my illustrator and graphic artist friend to make Bettina come alive on paper. She has done a precious job of illustrating the story and bringing Bettina to life. Children love the characters.

Next, I gave the manuscript to an editor who was visually impaired. I didn't know how much she could see of the pictures, but I trusted her instincts and experience with children would help her match the illustrations to the words and correct my grammatical errors.

Finally, I asked a fellow master storyteller friend to use her many voices to create a recorded version that would enhance the understanding for visually impaired children as well as those of us who like to listen to a beautifully told story. Ken Medema, the composer and singer of the song which accompanies this audio book, is a genius with his music ministry. His theme song for Bettina the Bold paints a picture in a musical way.

My talented team loves children and strongly believes in Bettina’s message. It is important to us that all children learn how to connect with others.

Agent Spotlight: Karen Grencik

This week's Agent Spotlight features Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary.
Status: Closed to submissions. As of 5/6/20 Ms. Grencik and the other agents at this agency are closed to submissions.
karengrencikAbout: “Karen Grencik became a literary agent because of a man she admired. She wanted the world to know his story, so she set out to make that happen. Within a year she’d accomplished her goal. Double Luck, Memoirs of a Chinese Orphan, written by Lu Chi Fa with Becky White, was published by Holiday House in 2001.
"Over the next few years, Karen signed new clients and sold award-winning titles. Among the awards garnered by her authors are the Parents' Choice Gold Award for Best Non-Fiction, the SCBWI Golden Kite Award for Best Picture Book Text, and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Fiction.
"In June 2011 Karen joined forces with Abigail Samoun to open Red Fox Literary. She has been ranked by Publishers Marketplace as one of the Top 10 agents for children's book sales in both 2012 and 2013.
"Karen’s philosophy is simple: “When you choose to write children’s books, it’s just that—it’s a choice. You do it because you love it. You do it because it fills you with passion. You do it because it brings you joy. You are among the lucky ones who live life with purpose. But you also must do everything you can possibly think of to achieve your goals.
“And you must be nice.” (From the agency website)
About the Agency:
“The story of Red Fox Literary began way back in 2002 when a young, novice editor named Abigail Samoun acquired her very first picture book from a talented agent named Karen Grencik. That book, author Sarah Wilson’s George Hogglesberry, Grade School Alien, went on to win the coveted SCBWI Golden Kite Award. Not bad for a first collaboration.
"In 2006, Karen left agenting to pursue adventures in the tropical forests of Costa Rica. Abigail and Karen’s paths didn’t cross again until the Los Angeles 2010 SCBWI National Conference, where Abigail was delighted to discover that Karen had returned to the States and was plunging back into the world of children’s books. Karen and Abigail decided in March 2011 to form Red Fox Literary, a boutique agency specializing in picture books, middle-grade, and young-adult titles.” (From the agency website)
Web Presence:
Red Fox Lit website.
What She's Looking For:
The agency represents children’s book illustrators and authors whose work is aimed at picture book, middle-grade, and young-adult readers.
What She Isn't Looking For:
Adult Projects
Editorial Agent?
There are lists of authors and illustrators on the Red Fox website.
Ms. Grencik’s clients include: Lana Bloch and Tanya Bloch, Sandra Brug, Amy Dixon, Lu Chi Fa, Julie Musil, Michele Shaw, Mary McKenna Siddals, Sarah Wilson, Natasha Yim, among others.
Query Methods: Ms. Grencik is closed to submissions but these were the submission guidelines.
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
For complete, up-to-date submission guidelines see the Red Fox Literary submissions page.
Response Times:
Worth Your Time:
Interview at Middle-Grade Mojo (03/2015)
Interview with Karen Grencik of Red Fox Literary Agency at Becky Levine’s blog (06/2011).
Please see the Red Fox Literary website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 2/10/2023.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes..
Last Reviewed By Agent? 10/27/11.
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 #111

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where writers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

On this fine fall Tuesday I have some magical tips from Laura Lascarso. Laura authored tips #66, #69, #83, #94, #102, and a guest post for us, so she's no stranger to the blog. I think you'll be just as excited as me to learn that she now has a cover for her 2012 debut COUNTING BACKWARDS. Isn't it lovely and intriguing? I can't wait to get my hands on it. In the meantime, we'll have to content ourselves with her fantastic guest posts, and I've got her latest right here...

Bippity Boppity Boo! Using Big Magic in Writing
By Laura Lascarso

I recently read ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine as a guide for the story I’m writing for my daughter. It’s my first foray into fairyland and I’m nervous. To prepare myself, I’ve been pondering the use of magic in storytelling and how to make the make-believe believable. Here are some guidelines that I’ve come across:

1. Introduce magic early on. In the first chapter, there should be a hint of the supernatural. It’s not cool to get halfway through a book and discover that your main character is really a mummy without several big hints along the way. It works against a reader’s suspended disbelief. In EE, Ella is cursed by a fairy as an infant and it’s introduced in the very first paragraph. Straight away, the reader knows what kind of story this is going to be and can adjust their expectations accordingly.

2. Don’t give your character a superpower and not have them use it. Reading minds, flying, starting fires, talking to animals. If your character has special abilities, the reader wants to see them. They’re special. Even better, is if the ability is both a curse and a blessing. Give the character a little struggle and internal conflict—perhaps they lose something each time they use their magic or perhaps they have to make a trade/self-sacrifice for it. High stakes=good tension.

3. Lay out the rules for magic and then stick to them. In EE, Ella is cursed with obedience. The rule is, she has to follow a direct order. The book maintains that rule throughout the book—every time Ella is given a direct order, no matter how ridiculous or dangerous, she must follow it. If the rule were to change halfway through the story (without explanation), the reader would balk. Like in playing a game, you can’t change the rules in the middle.

4. Give your magic a purpose. Use it to propel the plot forward, add tension, and conflict. Make it cool and different. Make it necessary to the story.

5. Rinse and repeat for magical creatures. Make them believable, give them a set of rules and make them integral to the story.

6. Don’t overwhelm your story with magic. Don’t get so caught up in your fantasy world that you let it take over your plot. For instance, big action movies that seemed designed around special effects. Your magic should serve the story, not eat it alive.

There’s my recipe for Big Magic soup. Got any ingredients you’d like to add?


First I want to give a big shout out to my friend, Shannon O'Donnell. CONGRATS! SHE HAS AN AGENT! She just signed with Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC. She queried Terrie after seeing Casey's spotlight of Terrie. I'm so excited for Shannon! Go congratulate her here.

Today I’m so excited to be a part of Stasia Ward Kehoe’s blog tour for her debut YA book AUDITION that was released on October 13, 2011. I’m going to confess something. I’ve never read a book in verse before and I was a little scared about whether I’d be able to read and enjoy one. I was so surprised at how fast a read Stasia’s book was and I loved entering the world of ballet. I could relate to a lot of the sacrifices Sara made for her dream as I watch my own daughter competitively swim. I think a lot of kids will relate to this too.

Here’s a description of AUDITION from Goodreads:

When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.

Hi Stasia. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. I’ve read that you danced as a kid, in college, and had a job at the Kennedy Center. Wow! How did your own dancing experiences influence the plot of AUDITION and Sara’s self-doubts about her path?

While the performing arts have always been a part of my life, I think I was usually a much happier, more strong-willed dancer than Sara. Still, from experience I know that dance offers great things, like the glory of the discipline, the joy of collaborating with other artists, and the thrill of performance. There are also tough things, including a livelihood dependent on your physical abilities and, like high-level musicians and athletes, the fact that you must forgo other opportunities to reach your goals. I certainly wanted to show both positives and negatives of Sara’s experience. Also, I struggled with shin splints, which are a kind of constant reminder of how vulnerable your body can be. I gave those to Sara, too!

2. I think a lot of kids who aren’t dancers can relate to some of this, like the giving up of opportunities to play a sport in high school and the injuries associated with it. Sara’s relationship with Rem is different than many YA romances that are love at first hot sight. Tell us a bit about their relationship and how you decided to plot it the way you did.

Because she is a country girl coming to the high-level city ballet scene a bit late, Sara is trapped between the younger students with whom she is technically on par, and the older dancers who are her chronological peers. I wanted to establish this before introducing Remington because I think he is very much a part of her uncertainty about wanting to grow up at all and how that is tied to her ballet dreams. Being attached to Rem also means being attached to a kind of dance success which Sara deeply wants.

3. You did a good job showing her as the country girl often with the younger students. As I read AUDITION, I was struck how you made every word count. What are some of the challenges in writing in verse?

With each poem, I asked myself, “Does this have to be written this way?” “Do the metaphors work?” “What would happen if I wrote this in prose?” For me, the verse form is a process of repeated questioning, lots of revision, and having the courage to scrap pages and try again.

4. You worked at Random House Children’s Publishing and Simon & Shuster Children’s Publishing. Tell us about these experiences and how they’re influencing your marketing decisions, if at all.

Like the performing art of dance, the literary art of publishing is very subjective and whimsical. Coming to the author side of it after years supporting other writers, that I know I’ve got to have a thick skin. More importantly, I have truly come to believe that the best thing you can do for your own book and the entire industry is to encourage and support other writers.

5. I bet those connections are invaluable. And yes, it is so important that we support each other. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about blogging. You were part of an awesome vlog about collective book promotion and marketing at WriteOnCon this year. (You can listen to the vlog here. ). Tell us about Stages and Pages and share some of your tips on collective book promotion and marketing.

Stages on Pages is an opportunity not just to talk about my own book but to explore and celebrate novels about the arts in a broader way. The tour consists of twelve authors. Appearing together is less scary and it gives us opportunities to create presentations that are more conversational and, hopefully, fun for audiences. The biggest tip I’d give to others about collective promotion is to make sure you have an organizing principle that excites everyone involved.

Thanks Stasia for all your advice. Good luck with your book. You can visit Stasia on her website and her blog.

Stasia’s publisher generously offered an 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 by midnight on November 5th. I’ll announce the winner on November 7th. 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.

And don't forget to enter my giveaways to win a copy of DARKFALL by Janice Hardy and CROSSED by Ally Condie. Links are at the top of the blog.

Here’s what’s coming up. Next Monday, I’m interviewing another debut author Anna Staniszewski and giving away a copy of MY VERY UN FAIRY TAIL LIFE. And on November 7th, I’m interviewing Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away a copy of THE FAMILIARS SECRETS OF THE CROWN. I’ll let you know about the rest of November later.

Hope to see you next Monday!

Guest Blogger Gerry Renert on Picture Book Apps

Happy Friday, everyone! Please welcome guest blogger Gerry Renert, a three-time Emmy nominated children's TV writer and author, who's here to talk about the gray area where picture books and apps merge. His first digital book, BRAVE ROONEY, came out recently to good reviews (Kirkus, SLJ) and is a great example of an interactive story book if you've yet to play with one. I downloaded it for my daughter and we've had a blast with Rooney's story. It's been a bigger hit with her than others we've tried.

If you'd like a chance to win the app, Gerry is honoring the search and rescue dogs of 9/11 on his Facebook page by asking parents and kids to share stories of brave and/or courageous dogs they've known or owned. If you have a story to share, or are just a dog lover, please stop by.

Finally, I think Gerry's post opens things up for a potentially great conversation and I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Enjoy!

Picture Book Apps, Striking the Perfect Balance
By Gerry Renert

Like so many other children’s book writers, I’ve seen the picture book world going digital at light speed and how quickly publishers are seeing the light. Digital developer technology seems to be improving every day, making the newest digital books increasingly more interactive and increasingly more engaging.

I just had my first children’s book/app, BRAVE ROONEY, published and initially expected to end up with a book that had some interactive page turns, an animated door opening, maybe a dog bark or two. What I ended up with, though, was a vibrant hands-on experience I never envisioned. Characters flew when you touched them. A dentist office poster of a huge tooth, ‘brushed’ itself when pressed. Child constructed paper planes effortlessly flew through and around an elementary school auditorium, much as they did when I attended elementary school. To me, the animation was as dynamic as many of the flash animated webisodes currently out there or even some of the simpler animated TV series for younger children.

It got me thinking. Are we witnessing not only the slow diminishing of the printed storybook, but also the phasing in of a new kind of media – part picture book and part animated TV show? I speak from some experience in the TV animation area, as I have both co-created and produced animated children’s TV series, one of which was EMMY nominated three times for “Outstanding Animated Children’s Program.” The interactive appeal of this new book platform was driven home to me when I played a beta version of BRAVE ROONEY to an elementary school class and how quickly the kids picked up on all the interactive features (much quicker than I did, I might add.) Many of the children looked at the iPad as if it was their own portable TV screen they could control and play with. When they found an interaction they liked and one that made them laugh, they played it over and over and over – much in the same way they loved seeing Spongebob escape from an underwater cage – over and over. As the quality of digital development software and technology continues to improve, my opinion is the next generation of digital books will go further to engage the reader/viewer than current TV producers could ever imagine, meaning producers and broadcasters will have to adapt accordingly, perhaps further emphasizing their “multi-platform” strategy.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, however: Will all this interactivity make the reading experience richer and more engaging, or will the various features pose mere distractions to the story and characters? My belief is that digital developers will have to strike the perfect balance between story and animated features to be successful. Whether naive or not, I continue to believe the key determinants will come down to strong, relatable characters and a unique, likable storyline that conveys an important message in a slightly different light. A larger question regards the future role of animated TV series. As iPhone, iPads, Android devices, etc. continue to proliferate, worldwide, will children choose to get their main content from these devices, which they can interact with whenever they choose to, or will they still see TV as the primary deliverer of their content? Perhaps it will remain some combination of both. Either way, the delivery of children’s content will continue to advance at light speed, and those remaining in the dark will remain behind.

Agent Spotlight: Roseanne Wells

This week's Agent Spotlight features Roseanne Wells of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

Update on 1/10/2022: Roseanne has left Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency to join Lucidna Literary. Check their agency website for her submisson guidelines.

Roseanne-WellsAbout: “Roseanne Wells joined JDLA as an associate agent in 2012. Previously with the Marianne Strong Literary Agency, she has also worked as a proofreader and a special sales and editorial assistant. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with degrees in Literature and Dance. An avid reader, Roseanne discovered her passion for book publishing during her internship at W. W. Norton, and she approaches agenting as a writer's advocate, editor, and partner. She is also an arts reviewer for PlayShakespeare.com and a volunteer for Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in Soho, NYC.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency is a New York City-based full-service literary agency founded in 2001 and named one of the top 25 literary agencies in the country by Writer’s Digest.

“The agency represents children’s literature for all ages – picture books and middle-grade and young adult novels – but also represents high-quality adult fiction and non-fiction in a wide range of genres. The categories we are most enthusiastic about agenting are literary and commercial fiction; mysteries, thrillers, celebrity biographies; humor; psychology and self-help; parenting; health and fitness; women’s issues; men’s issues; pop culture; film and television; social issues and contemporary affairs.

“JDLA is proud to be one of the few literary agencies to represent illustrators, as well as screenwriters for both television and film, including Emmy-winning writers and a Peabody Award-winning illustrator.” (Link)

Web Presence:

JD Lit Website.




What She's Looking For:


Fiction: Literary fiction, young adult, sci-fi, fantasy, and mysteries (more Sherlock Holmes than cozy mysteries).

Non-Fiction: Narrative, science (popular or trade, not academic), humor, history, true crime, religion, travel, food/cooking, and similar subjects. (Link)

From the website (as of 7/2012):

“Nonfiction: I'm interested in authors who have a unique story to tell and are dedicated to building their platform and reaching their audience. I like narrative nonfiction, select memoir, science (popular or trade, not academic), history, religion (not inspirational), travel, humor, food/cooking, and similar subjects. I'm also interested in fresh, modern self-improvement that not only inspires but energizes readers to strengthen and empower themselves in this rapidly evolving world.

“Fiction: I'm looking for strong literary fiction that emphasizes craft and style equally, and doesn't sacrifice plot and character for beautiful sentences; young adult of all genres; very selective middle grade that connects me to a strong main character; science-fiction and fantasy; and smart detective novels (more Sherlock Holmes than cozy mysteries).” (Link)

From an Interview (12/2010):

“The first thing I look for is a good story, and then if it’s nonfiction, platform. It is essential because nonfiction is about authority (why should I listen to this person about their advice or their story?) and audience (who is going to buy the book?). Platform is easier to build these days with social media and digital networking, but it doesn’t mean that you have enough to write a book.” 

“I only represent young adult, as I am drawn to the personal journey and transformation of the protagonist that helps define YA as its own genre. Middle grade is a different kind of book with distinct elements and market, and I am drawn more to the YA market. It can be tricky, as there are points where the two can overlap—just look at how the Harry Potter series morphs from a middle grade to a crossover young adult book that is really for all ages. I do mistakenly get middle grade queries, or queries for YA projects that are actually MG, but most curiously, I also get a lot of submissions for other children’s books (picture books, early reader, chapter books, etc).”

“I’m hungry for singular YA clients, contemporary or fantasy, that will grab me by the lapels and never let go. I’m also scouring market stalls and fine dining establishments for new food and cookbook ideas.”

(Link with more on mystery, sci-fi, & religion interests)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Children’s picture books through middle grade.

Editorial Agent?



Jane Lebak, Phil Edwards and Matt Kraft, David Wallace, among others.


As of this posting, Ms. Wells is listed on Publisher’s Marketplace as having made 0 deals in the last 12 months and 2 overall. The agency is listed as having made 10 deals in the last 12 months, 1 six-figure+ deal, and 69 overall. 

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):

Send a one page query letter addressed to Ms. Wells, contact info, and the first ten pages in the body of an e-mail. Put “Query” in the subject line.

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

Query Tips:

“Don't use quotes or rhetorical questions in queries--all questions end with no.” (Link)

For more query tips and preferences read through the two live events (linked below) Ms. Wells did with WriteOnCon.

Response Times:

Prior to joining JD Lit, Ms. Wells’ response times ranged from days to a few months with occasional instances of no-response. Stats at the new agency to come.

What's the Buzz?

Roseanne Wells began agenting in July of 2009 and is actively building her client list. In June 2012 she moved from the Marianne Strong Literary Agency to the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency. 

Ms. Wells frequently attends conferences and is looking for new YA clients in particular. My experience with her through WriteOnCon and e-mail correspondence has been great.

I recommend following her on Twitter @RivetingRosie.

Worth Your Time:


Agent Advice Interview with Roseanne Wells at Guide to Literary Agents (12/2010).

Around the Web:

Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency thread on AbsoluteWrite.

Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency on P&E ($ Recommended).

Live Query Event with Roseanne Wells at WriteOnCon in the forums.  The submission thread can be found here, Ms. Wells comments here (08/2011).

Live Query Event (transcript) with Literary Agent Roseanne Wells at WriteOnCon (04/2011).

Successful Queries: Agent Roseanne Wells and DUMBEMPLOYED at Guide to Literary Agents (06/2011).

Writing Tips from 2011 AWW Faculty -- Roseanne Wells at Antioch Writers’ Workshop (05/2011).

Guest blogger: Agent Roseanne Wells talks kitchen sink plots, or "Adding a dragon won't help" at The Swivet (05/2010).


Please see the Jennifer DeChiara website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 7/11/12 – (New agency updates.) 

Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 7/11/12.


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.

Ryan Graudin: 5 Things I've Learned

Please welcome guest blogger Ryan Graudin. Ryan found her agent on Literary Rambles some time ago and recently sold her book. I'm incredibly excited for her and already dying to get my hands on Luminance Hour. I'll have Ryan back closer to the release of her debut, but for now she's here to talk about the agent submission process. Enjoy!

5 Things I've Learned Through the Agent Hunt/Submission Process
By Ryan Graudin

1. Depend on other people. So often I see the statement that writing is a solitary occupation, which is why introverts like me are so drawn to typing out stories on a computer screen. In some sense this is quite true. When I’m writing a novel, I’m buried in my own world, opting for testing the limits of my characters over actual human interaction. But one’s writing cannot survive or thrive without the involvement of others. Critique partners, beta readers and online forums were essential parts of getting my novel to where it needed to be in order to catch the attention of my agent and publisher. Fresh eyes are indispensable for the growth and development of a manuscript. Critique partners and beta readers are generally unbiased (unless they’re your mother, then they’ll love it). They will find weaknesses and flaws in your story that you as the author gloss over. If you follow their advice, you will end up taking your novel from something good to something superb. I also advise finding fresh eyes to critique your query letters.

2. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Especially when you’re sending out your query letters. The first time I queried agents, I sent out all of my letters at once. This ended badly for me. Although you may be excited about your pitch and impatient to hear back, try your hardest to space out your queries. Send five at a time and wait for responses before you exhaust your list of agents. If you get all negative responses, rewrite your query with outside help. I will tell you, firsthand, that this is hard. It takes self-control. But in the end, it will pay off.

3. Keep writing. It’s easy, when you’re querying, to get sucked into keeping track of statistics, researching agents and obsessively refreshing of your inbox. While these things are good in moderation, they can also take away from your ultimate goal: writing. The best way to distract yourself from the agony of waiting is to keep writing. This is also a good backup plan in the event that your first manuscript doesn’t get picked up by an agent. If your first manuscript does find an agent to love and care for it, then you’ll also be able to show them what else you’re working on (and therefore earn brownie points).

4. Take risks. One of my writing professors in college had a favorite piece of advice he would ram into us over and over again: write what you know. I did not follow this advice. First of all, I wrote stories that, in all likelihood, could not happen. They are tinged (and many times fully submerged) in the fantastical. During school I was forced to write “literary” stories that took place in the real world. I always had trouble with these stories because I didn’t find them exciting or driving.

In no way did I feel qualified to write the story of LUMINANCE HOUR. The plot focuses on Faery Godmothers and British royalty, so much of it takes place in the Buckingham Palace and other sites in London. Although I’d been to London and even toured Buckingham Palace, I still felt wildly out of my comfort zone. I had to put aside my fears and write the story anyway. I had no idea it would turn out. I was taking a big risk.

As a result I got my agent and my publisher. Don’t write what you know. Write what you love.

5. Don’t forget your first love (writing). My husband will be the first to tell you that I shed a lot of tears on my journey to find an agent and get my publisher. It was hard. Really hard. I watched other writers pick up agents in mere days and weeks, while my queries seemed to produce only rejections. When the requests did come in, my hopes would only be crushed by the agent’s kind, but firm pass. Throughout the discouragement, I remembered something yet another writing professor told me in college: “Don’t write for the end goal of publication. Write for the writing itself.”

If my only concern had been getting published, I probably would have given up a long time ago. I didn’t give up because I honestly couldn’t. I was unable stop writing.

The day I graduated, my professor let me part with these words, “Don’t give up. Don’t get a big head. Keep writing.” This motto, along with a healthy dose of luck, is one of the reasons I’m where I’m at today. And it’s something I cannot afford to forget.

When she’s not writing and drifting around the globe, Ryan Graudin enjoys hunting through thrift stores and taking pictures of her native Charleston, SC. Her novel LUMINANCE HOUR, the story of a Faery Godmother who falls in love with the prince she’s forced to guard, is due out with HarperTeen in 2013. You can learn about all of these things and more at http://ryangraudin.blogspot.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @ryangraudin

Tip Tuesday #110

Tip Tuesday is a recurring feature where writers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.
Bring Your Research and Characters to Life

This past Sunday my family and I traveled to the small town I'm using as inspiration for a town in one of my YA novels. Walking the local hangouts, taking in the quirky details of the buildings, and imagining my characters there was really inspiring.

You might not be able to travel to the place your novel is set, especially if it's entirely fictional, but you can bring smaller elements to life. Even acts as simple as eating, wearing, or doing what your main character would can
bring realism and detail to something that before only existed in your pages.

I consider it a very casual approach to "method writing" and find it more inspiring than anything else. Every time I put myself in my character's shoes (sometimes literally) and approach something with that mindset, new ideas and details open up to me, and I find myself very eager to try them out on the page.



First, I'll announce the winner of THE WHITE ASSASSIN and THE VISION.

The winner of THE WHITE ASSASSIN is:


And the winner of THE VISION is:


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

Today I’m so excited to interview Wendy, a 9th grader who follows our blog and an aspiring author for my ASK THE EXPERT series.

Welcome Wendy. Thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed.

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

Hi, I'm Wendy. I live and go to school in Australia, and I love reading and writing. I mostly read fantasy, dystopian and realistic fiction. My favourite authors are Markus Zusak, Glenda Millard, Janice Hardy, Patrick Ness, Eva Ibbotson and J.K. Rowling.

2. I love how we’re able to meet each other from across the world through blogging. And I love Janice Hardy and J.K. Rowling too. I know you’re an aspiring author. Tell us a little bit about what you’re working on.

I'm in the middle of revising a middle-grade fantasy novel at the moment. Basically, it's set in a world where there are dangerous magical beings who can take the souls of people. When one takes a girl's friend's soul, she approaches them, and discovers she has powers and a connection with the beings, which she'll need to help her friend and prevent a war.

3. Ooh, your story sounds awesome. As you probably know, I’m a huge fan of fantasies. And yea for another middle grade author! Before you started writing, how did you find out about the books you read? What about new books coming out?

My school library has lists of books — for casual reading and on specific topics — that the librarians put together and I'd often find out about new books to read from there. I'd also look up books I'd heard a lot about from other people. I don't think I really paid attention to new books coming out before I started writing (well, except for Harry Potter).

4. That’s so interesting that you didn’t pay attention to new books before starting to write. How has writing changed what you read, if at all? What books are you waiting to be released?

I don't think it's really changed what kinds of books I read because I liked the same genres before I started writing, but now I read more books from different authors. Before, I mostly stuck with my favourite writers.
I'm waiting for Bridge of Clay from Markus Zusak, Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen from Garth Nix and Darkfall by Janice Hardy to be released.

5. I’m looking forward to THE LOST ABHORSEN too. There’s still a chance you could DARKFALL in my contest. (For everyone, the link to the contest is at the top of the blog.) Do you buy most of your books or get them at the library? How often do you go to a bookstore?

I mostly get books from the library. I only go to the bookstore once every few months, because the nearest one is over an hour away, so it's a bit inconvenient. I usually go to the library when I'm after a specific book, and I go to the bookstore when I just want to browse.

6. That’s too bad there’s no bookstore nearer. Do you read any teen book blogs, author blogs, or author or publisher websites? Become a fan of an author on Facebook? Why? Has this changed at all since you started writing?

Yup, I read Janice Hardy's and Steph Bowe's blogs. I don't have Facebook but I follow a lot of authors on Twitter. I sometimes go to author websites, when I've just read a book by them and search them up. I don't really look at teen book blogs or publisher websites.
I didn't have Twitter or subscribe to any blogs until I started writing, so that's changed quite a lot. I follow Steph Bowe's blog because I like reading her thoughts on things, and Janice Hardy's blog because the writing info there is really helpful.

7. I so agree about Janice’s website. Have any of your teachers recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

Not that I can remember.

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

Well, I love J.K. Rowling's website because there's extra information on the books and characters, she answers questions directly, it looks great and it's interactive. I'd definitely visit an author's website if it was something like that. For blogs, it would be nice if they were updated regularly; a lot of authors only update them with book news once every few months. I'm not really sure about Facebook or Twitter … maybe if they put a link on their website? I'm not too fussed about how active the people I follow are on there.

9. That’s a great point about blogs. I notice sometimes that bloggers just disappear for periods of time. It helps when they at least tell us in a blog post that they’ll be gone. And I really think disappearing hurts readership of a blog. 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?

Yes, my school held a literary festival last year and a lot of authors visited. I got to listen to John Larkin, James Roy and J.C. Burke. I really like humour and anecdotes in presentations, usually that makes it more interesting. And this might sound a bit strange, but I like it better when the author moves around and looks at the audience more (if possible, of course); it was what James Roy and John Larkin did. When they're just standing still I kind of feel like I'm being 'lectured' to, but if they move around it somehow feels friendlier. Hope that makes sense.

Oh my gosh, I would so love if my daughter’s school would have a literary festival. That’s such a great way to get kids excited about books. Thanks so much Wendy for sharing your advice. And good luck with your book.

Today I’m giving away my ARC of CROSSED. See isn’t it a book you’re dying to read?

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

The hotly awaited second book in the dystopian Matched trilogy

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

This is an awesome sequel to MATCHED told from Cassia and Ky’s POV. I loved learning about the Outer Provinces as Cassia searches for Ky. And we get to meet new characters like Cassia’s travelling partner Indie who have their own hidden pasts and goals that drive them to face the dangers in the Outer Provinces. Both Cassia and Ky must confront hard inner decisions that raise the stakes and that I didn’t see coming. And of course we learn more about Xander.

So I’m giving away my ARC of CROSSED. 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 Wendy’s interview by midnight on October 29th. I’ll announce the winner on October 31st. 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, there's going to be a guest post by someone who found her agent through Literary Rambles and has a book deal. She'll be sharing tips on agent hunting and the submission process. I don't want to miss it. Hope you'll come too.

Next Monday I’m interviewing debut author Stasia Ward Kehoe and giving away a copy of AUDITION. Then on October 31st, I’m interviewing another debut author Anna Staniszewski and giving away a copy of MY VERY UN FAIRY TAIL LIFE. On November 7th, I’ll be interviewing Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away a copy of THE FAMILIARS SECRETS OF THE CROWN.

Hope to see you next Monday!


Today I’m participating in the PAY IT FORWARD BLOGFEST, organized by one of our followers, Matthew MacNish, at The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment and Alex Cavanaugh They both have awesome blogs I recommend you follow. The point of the blogfest is to spotlight three blogs that you might not know about.

Here’s the blogs I love that you may not know about:

1. The Other Side of the Story. This is a fabulous blog about the craft of writing. Janice Hardy is the author of THE SHIFTER, BLUE FIRE, and DARKFALL. I just interviewed her on Monday and there’s a link at the top of the blog to read the interview and enter my contest to win an ARC of DARKFALL.

Janice blogs about the craft of writing. She analyzes every issue you could imagine about the craft and gives you detailed examples of pitfalls and how to fix them. I read her blog almost daily. Anyone I know who reads it loves it.

2. The O.W.L. Jill at The O.W.L. is one of our followers and is a 7th grade English teacher. She spotlights books for 9-12 year olds mainly through book reviews and author interviews. Sometimes these include giveaways. While she talks about some YA books, I love that she focuses on middle grade and she gets input from her students about which are good ones. I follow her blog regularly.

3. Book Dreaming. Shannon O’Donnell is a high school English teacher and middle grade author. On Mondays she talks about a middle grade book for the Marvelous Middle Grade series. Other days she’ll share an inspiring quote to keep us motivated, talk about books, or share about the craft of writing. Shannon is such a sweet person. I love her blog.

I could go on and on but will stop here. So I hope you’ll check out these blogs and please let us know in the comments about your own blog or someone else’s you really enjoy.

On Monday I’m interviewing another teenager who’s also an aspiring author for for my ASK THE EXPERT series and giving away an ARC I know you’ll want. And on October 24th, I’ll be interviewing debut author Stasia Ward Kehoe and giving away a copy of AUDITION. Then on October 31st, I’m interviewing another debut author Anna Staniszewski and giving away a copy of MY VERY UN FAIRY TAIL LIFE.

Here's the link to everyone else participating in the blogfest. I hope you'll visit some of them.

Hope to see you on Monday! Have a great weekend.

Agent Spotlight: Jessica Sinsheimer

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jessica Sinsheimer of the Context Literary Agency.
Status: Open to submissions.
SinsheimerNewPictureAbout: “Jessica has been reading and campaigning for her favorite queries since 2004. Previously at the Sarah Jane Freymann Agency, she’s known for co-creating #MSWL, ManuscriptWistList.com, and drinking far too much coffee.” (Link)
Web Presence:
Context Literary Agency website.
The Manuscript Academy.
QueryTracker, AgentQuery.
What She's Looking For:
From the agency website:
"Jessica is always on the lookout for new writers, she is most excited about finding YA, MG, upmarket genre fiction (especially women’s fiction, psychological thrillers, and SF/F that gives us insight into both fictional worlds and this one) and—on the nonfiction side—psychology, self-help, cookbooks, narrative nonfiction, and works that speak to life in the twenty-first century. She especially likes highbrow sentences with lowbrow content, beautiful descriptions of scary situations, smart and nerdy protagonists, underrepresented characters in positions of power, and justified acts of bravery."
"Whatever the age group, I tend to love contrast–highbrow sentences and lowbrow content, beautiful settings and ugly motives–the books that are beautiful and scary, heartbreaking and hilarious. I love secrets, scheming, revenge, plotting–and stories that have to be written forward and backward to make sense (I LOVE discovering a very cleverly planted clue that makes sense in retrospect). I love watching powerful people navigate their public and private lives.
"More underrepresented characters, please--especially those with power, agency, and happy endings. Wish fulfillment, romance, specialized skills (especially tech), taking over the world. We need to see more of that.
"Upmarket genre fiction (whether for YA or adult) usually works for me.
"For YA: Any subgenre. I’m serious.
"I’m into the books that are mostly in our world–but then that veer slightly into surrealism (like Aimee Bender) or genre fiction–that really works for me.
"But if the voice is wonderful, I can love just about anything.
"I have a particular interest in retellings (of classic movies–I’d LOVE a book version of, say, Arsenic and Old Lace or, better yet, Gaslight), and characters who are genuinely flawed but (usually) well-meaning.
"Also welcome: fictionalizations of historical events." You can find more about what she is looking for on her Manuscript Wish List.What She Isn't Looking For:
Not actively looking for picture books. No screenplays.
Editorial Agent?
“I am VERY editorial. I love it! I love watching a book take shape. That said, would I turn down something because it was already perfect?  No. As always, it's a balance of ‘how much work is this?’ vs. ‘how much do I love this?’” (Link Defunct)
There are lists of agency clients and titles on the website.
Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes.
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter with a short bio and the first five to ten pages pasted in the body of the email. No attachments.
See the Context Literary Agency for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.Response Times:
Worth Your Time:
On Publishing and the Love of Books Podcast at Notre Dame Office of Provost (03/2019)
An Interview with Manuscript Academy Co-Founder at The Winged Pen (09/2017)
5 Tips for Pitching to Agents: Jessica Sinsheimer at Midwest Writers Workship (07/2017)
Interview with Literary Agent Jessica Sinsheimer at Wow Women Writing (Date unknown)
Interview with Jessica Sinsheimer Podcast at Open Spotify (12/2015)
Interview with Jessica Sinsheimer Podcast at Covered (Date unknown)
7 Questions for Literary Agent Jessica Sinsheimer at Middle Grade Ninja (11/2013)
First Five Frenzy with Jessica Sinsheimer at Amy Trueblood (04/2013)
Interview with Literary Agent Jessica Sinsheimer at Amy Newman (04/2013)
Please see the Context Literary Agency for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/30/2020.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 10/13/11.
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 #109

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where writers send in tips for fellow writers. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today's super useful tip was sent in by a new blog reader, Elizabeth Pettie, who writes MG and YA. She blogs at Remember, A Writer Writes and tweets at @ElizabethPettie.
Please give her a warm welcome by visiting and following!

Say no to Facebook

I was listening to an NPR podcast about willpower. According to the podcast, we've got a limited supply of willpower so it's better to avoid temptation. Don't fill your pantry with cookies if you don't want to eat them.

Writing on the computer tests my willpower. It's hard not to check e-mail, Facebook, or the news (well maybe just the gossip news). That's why I hired my nanny. The nanny is a google chrome extension that blocks sites during specified hours. (For firefox you can use leech block.) If I try to click on facebook between the hours of nine to five, my nanny sends me a message that says, "shouldn't you be working." And the Nanny's right. I should be working.

~Elizabeth Pettie


First I want everyone to know that Christina Lee has organized a number of bloggers to spotlight debut authors this week. To find out about everyone participating, go to her blog. I really recommend you do because it's awesome that she's organized this.

Although I’m not interviewing a debut author this week, I am participating and want to give a shout out about THE FAERIE RING by Kiki Hamilton as I announce the winner of her ARC. It really is a fabulous action packed fantasy in a fantastic setting—1871. And it’s gotten a lot of great reviews. So if you don’t win it, I really recommend you read it. And I’ll be telling you at the end of this interview about other debut authors I’m interviewing this month.

Thanks so much to everyone who spread the word about this contest.

So the winner of THE FAERIE RING is a New Follower:


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

Today I’m excited to interview Janice Hardy about her book DARKFALL, the final book in The Healing Wars series, which was released on October 4, 2011. This might have been my favorite book in the series. I loved how Nya grew and that the series ended with a conclusion that tied up the loose ends.

Here’s a description of DARKFALL from Goodreads:

War has come.

Nya’s the one who brought it. And the people love her for it.

With Baseer in shambles and Geveg now an impenetrable military stronghold, Nya and the Underground have fled to a safer location—without Tali. Nya is guilt-ridden over leaving her sister behind and vows to find her, but with the rebellion in full swing and refugees flooding the Three Territories, she fears she never will.

The Duke, desperate to reclaim the throne as his own, has rallied his powerful army. And they are on the move, destroying anyone who gets in the way.

To save her sister, her family, and her people, Nya needs to stay ahead of the Duke’s army and find a way to build one of her own. Past hurts must be healed, past wrongs must be righted, and Nya must decide: Is she merely a pawn in the rebellion, a symbol of hope—or is she ready to be a hero?

Hi Janice. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me!

1. I loved how Nya evolves as a character throughout the series. Can you talk a bit about her character development?

Nya lives in a world where being noticed is a good way to get yourself hurt, so she’s spent most of her life trying not to be seen. But to stop the oppression of her people requires her to become the symbol of their rebellion, something she’s not at all comfortable with. Part of that reason is because she’s not comfortable with who (and what) she is—a shifter. To accept the role she needs to play to save those she loves, she also has to accept who she is and what she can do. The whole series gets her to that point.

2. I knew you’d have thought out her whole character development for the series, something really important to do to make the series interesting. A constant theme in all three books is Nya’s relationship with her sister Tali and the need to help her. In each book, Tali’s situation and Nya’s choices regarding her change. Can you tell us about how you plotted it out?

THE SHIFTER was easy. Tali was her only family and Nya would do anything to save her. She was a bit selfish in that regard really. It was all about saving Tali.

For BLUE FIRE it got a little wonky, because the Tali plotline I had originally planned wasn’t meshing with the Duke/war plot. Nya’s worldview was opening up (as planned) but it was almost like she’d forgotten her sister, which wasn’t like Nya at all. I finally realized that it wasn’t about her saving Tali again (I’d done that) but about Nya discovering there was more to life than just her and her sister. Nya chooses the bigger picture, and it costs her dearly where Tali is concerned. I had actually planned to have her save Tali, then realized how wrong that was for Nya’s character arc. She had to fail here to learn an important lesson that would get her to where she needed to be emotionally for the third book.

DARKFALL put Nya in the position of having to choose: Tali or the cause? But Nya made that choice once and regretted it, so she’s not willing to compromise again. I knew I wanted her to face that same choice over and over in small ways, having to choose between those she loves, her “family” (even those that aren’t her blood) or the greater good. This mirrored her own journey since she had to decide if she was merely a girl or someone who could change things, stop the Duke and inspire her people to fight. Tali becomes Nya’s inspiration so she can inspire others and be what she has to be to save all of them.

3. I just love how you carried this theme to new heights in DARKFALL. You’ve now finished this series. What did you learn about writing a series from writing this one? Do you have any advice for us aspiring authors trying to create a trilogy?

Oh goodness, so much there! Trilogies are hard. There are a ton of things to keep track of, lots of backstory to incorporate, plots that need to stand alone and still maintain the overall story arc. My advice would be what I’ve learned doing it.

1. Give each book a solid stand alone plot. The story can continue from book to book, but the more solid your core conflict is, the easier it’ll be to write. You’ll have a good understanding of the goals and stakes and won’t be floundering to figure out how it all fits together.

2. Pretend the previous book(s) is the backstory. Don’t try to rehash or re-explain all of book one or two. Just pretend it’s part of the character’s history and treat it same as you would any other backstory. Once the first draft is done, you’ll know what needs to be fleshed out for new readers.

3. Keep revealing new stuff. Even if the plot is different, if readers don’t learn anything new about the characters or the world, it can feel like the same basic book all over again. Show new aspects of the world, the characters, the problems, the stakes, etc.

4. That’s such awesome advice. As I’m reading second and third books in series, I’m realizing how important it is to reveal new stuff and characters in future books to keep my interest. I know your agent is Kristen Nelson. I’d so love to work with her and Sara Megibow. What’s it like working with them? Do you have any helpful tips on how to best work as a team with your agent?

Working with them is great. They’re both just darling and wonderful. Sharp and savvy women who really know their stuff. Kristin is very hands on and has a wonderful editorial eye, so she was incredibly helpful with getting THE SHIFTER ready for submission. She’s great at brainstorming ideas and making you think about what makes a story good as well as marketable.

I think communication is key with your agent. I was pretty intimidated at first because she was an AGENT (insert scary music). I was nervous about emailing her with questions because I might be “bothering” her. But that’s what she’s there for and she wants to help. It wasn’t long before I relaxed and now whenever I need her she’s there and happy to help. You have to remember that your agent is there to help you succeed. They took you on because they saw potential in your work and they love your writing. They want you to be the best you can be.

5. You have an awesome blog on the craft of writing, (Seriously everyone, if you haven’t checked out Janice’s blog, I highly recommend it), work part-time, and write. How do you juggle it all?

Thanks! It’s a labor of love for sure. Juggling it all requires good scheduling and routines.
I try to write all my main blog posts on Saturdays and queue them up for the week. I usually only run into trouble when I can’t get them done ahead of time, then they stack up and I feel like I’m rushing to get everything done. Weekday mornings are for novels, then lunch, then answer emails, blog comments, check Twitter, etc. (This takes about an hour) Afternoons are for the day job or more writing or blogging. Monday afternoons are for marketing stuff. I contact folks about interviews, (either for me or those I invite to post on my blog) write any guest posts or answer interviews (like this one), do research for PR/marketing things, like book festivals or conferences I might want to attend.

Depending on what deadline I have at the time, that can change, but I try to stick to it as best I can. Having specific days to work on things helps a lot, because that way I know if I have to get back to someone for something, it’s all done on one day. It’s the constant interruptions of smaller things that really steal your time. When I have them all at once, I’m much more productive.

6. What have you learned about marketing from your first two books and how is that influencing your marketing of DARKFALL?

A frustrating thing about marketing is that you have no idea if it’s working. It takes a lot of effort, and that can steal your writing time, so you have to be careful about spending too much time (and money) on promotion when you ought to be writing the next book. I’m working harder this time to find that balance. Although I’m doing some guest posts, I’m skipping the big blog tour this book. I’m focusing more on getting out there to talk to folks about the book through festivals and events. Trying to go where my readers are, which can be tough for a middle grade novel.

7. Finding the balance is definitely hard, even for an aspiring author like me. That’s so interesting you decided against a big blog tour. I hope you’ll post on your blog how you feel this new marketing went. What are you working on now?

A YA fantasy about a deep cover spy who gets caught between love and loyalty when a political assassination exposes her true identity. I’m trying several new things with it, so it’s been both a blast and a challenge.

It sounds awesome. Good luck Janice with your new book and DARKFALL. You can find Janice on her blog (Again I really recommend you follow it) and her website.

Janice’s publisher generously offered an 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 by midnight on October 29th. I’ll announce the winner on October 31st. 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.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here. And today Shannon is sharing BIG NEWS. I'm SO excited for her. Stop by and congratulate her!

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Shannon O’Donnell
Joanne Fritz
Sherrie Petersen
Brooke Favero
Myrna Foster
Anita Laydon Miller
Barbara Watson
Just Deb
Kit Lit Frenzy
Michael Gettel-Gilmartin
Pam Torres

Here’s what’s coming up the next few weeks. On Friday, I'll be participating in the PAY IT FORWARD blogfest where we share about a few awesome blogs you may not know about. So I hope you'll stop by.

Next Monday I’m interviewing a 9th grade aspiring author who follows our blog for my Ask The Expert series and giving away an ARC I know you’ll want. And on October 24th, I’ll be interviewing debut author Stasia Ward Kehoe and giving away a copy of AUDITION. Then on October 31st, I’m interviewing another debut author Anna Staniszewski and giving away a copy of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.

Hope to see you Friday and next Monday!