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

Pre-Release COMPULSION Giveaway YA Book of Your Choice through August 31st

FERAL through September 6th

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.