Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

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.

Tip Tuesday #122

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today's tip was sent in by Kendall Kulper of Blogging for YA. Please take a moment to stop by her blog as she's currently running a fun YA character bracket until Friday, April 6th. See this post for details and check her recent posts for the latest match to vote on. You can also find Kendall on Twitter @Kendall_Kulper. But before you run off, here's her utterly fantastic tip!

Often when I'm researching an agent on Twitter for queries, I like to know if they've said anything like "Loving sci-fi and want to see more," or "Saw 20 vampire queries today, NO MORE!!!" Things that are good to know but not really something an agent would put in a profile. The Twitter search feature isn't super helpful because it only loads recent tweets and you can't search someone's specific stream. But, there's an easy way!

Go to Google and in the search, type site:twitter/[twitter user name here] and your search term. So, for example, let's say you'd like to see what Rachelle Gardner has tweeted about queries. You'd type in this:

site:twitter.com/RachelleGardner query

and all of Rachelle Gardner's tweets with the word "query" pop up. It's a really useful way to skim someone's twitter feed and see what they've said about different subjects and genres.

~Kendall Kulper


Hi everyone! Hope you're enjoying the lovely spring weather.

First, here's the winner of SHATTER ME:


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

Today I’m excited to interview Anne Nesbet about her debut book THE CABINET OF EARTHS, which was released January 3, 2012. I really loved THE CABINET OF EARTHS. It was such a unique magical implement that drove a lot of the story.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

On their first day in Paris, Maya and her little brother, James, find themselves caught up in some very old magic. Houses with bronze salamanders for door handles, statues that look too much like Mayas own worried face, a man wearing sunglasses to hide his radiant purple eyes . . . nothing is what it seems. And what does all that magic want from Maya?

With the help of a friendly boy named Valko, Maya discovers surprises hidden in her family trees brother. And now the shimmering glass Cabinet of Earths, at the heart of all these secrets, has chosen Maya to be its new Keeper.

As she untangles the ties between the Salamander House, the purple-eyed man, and the Cabinet of Earths, Maya realizes that her own brother may be in terrible danger. To save him, Maya must take on the magical underworld of Paris . . . before it is too late.

Hi Anne. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you came to become a writer.

When I was very little, I would sometimes get so frightened of the dark (not just of the "dark," but of the strange sounds our house would make in the dark) that I would pull the covers right over my head to hide--and the problem with that approach is, as you'll know if you've been a fearful kid at some point, that the air soon gets very stuffy under all those blankets, and the scary noises don't go away. It was okay during the daytime, because I could distract myself by reading a book, but at night, when the lights were out . . . shudder. THEN one evening I discovered that if I told myself a story, it was almost as good as reading a real book: I could make myself forget about the dark corners, the shadows, the creaking walls. And I've been living half in stories ever since!

2. I wish I'd learned your technique because I was terrified of the dark as a kid. I love the Cabinet of Earths and the bottles it contains. Where did you get the idea for this and how did you develop it once you thought of it?

When we moved to France for a year, we ended up living in an apartment that had a beautiful glass cabinet in the corner, and in that cabinet were all of these mysterious jars and bottles full of sand. I found out later that our landlady had always had a particular love for deserts, and brought back desert sand as a souvenir from every trip she went on, but of course before I heard that explanation, I had spent many hours staring at those glinting bottles and wondering, wondering, wondering....

3. I love hearing about how story ideas can come from a writer's everyday life like yours did. I’ve read that you’ve lived in France both as a child and have been there as an adult. How did those experiences and your knowledge of French history shape your story?

Well, as I said above, I did encounter an inspiring cabinet in Paris! There were also some strikingly odd and beautiful buildings in our neighborhood, and some of those buildings had bronze salamanders for door handles. And every time I walked under the Eiffel Tower and felt the whole shape of the world shift somehow around me, I knew I wanted to write a story about Paris. When I was a child, I always found Paris a magical place to live. It's a place that's filled with nooks and crannies! There are little, tiny, hidden parks everywhere, and secret courtyards, and bits of Roman walls in the middles of squares, and statues everywhere, and candles in churches, and ancient bridges over the Seine's green water . . . and excellent chocolate croissants to munch on while you explore, of course. Mustn't forget the croissants!

4. Okay you've got me wanting to see it all too. Maya has to figure out her connection to the Cabinet of Earths while worrying about her sick mother and saving her brother. And you’ve done a brilliant job of tying the subplot with her mother into the main plot and using her brother to up the stakes. Tell us how you plotted this out and share any tips you have on weaving in subplots into your story.

What an interesting question! Let's see what I can remember about the plotting process for this one. When I started plotting, I had the character of Cousin Louise (she had come to mind even before Paris), I had the setting of Paris, I had the Cabinet of Earths (and a good idea of what the "earths" came from), and I had a building with a salamander as a door handle. Then I found Maya, and with her came her family's story, her mother's illness, her brother. The plot evolved as I worked this American family into the Parisian setting: I filled a whole pale-blue school notebook with notes and outlines and family trees. Very, very complicated family trees! And at the same time I bought a little box of index cards from the stationery store around the corner and began putting plot points on those cards. I carried them with me wherever I went, and whenever I had an idea, I pulled out a card and wrote it down. Cards are great for plotting, because they're so portable and so easy to shuffle! When I had my deck of plot-cards ready, I wrote. And wrote and wrote! That makes it sound easy, but of course there would be something like 24 revisions involved, eventually.

5. Index cards are such a great idea. I carry them around too. Voice is hard to get right, especially for middle grade stories. How did you find Maya’s voice and what advice do you have for finding our character’s voice? Do you think it’s different for middle grade than YA?

The story is told from a perspective very close to Maya's, but the narrator's voice is not identical to Maya's. That structure is perhaps more common in middle-grade novels than in YA fiction, which is more frequently written in first person (so that the voice of the character really is the one voice we hear). I do think it's important to step back and ask characters what they'd REALLY do or REALLY say in any particular situation. Usually they'll let you know if you've been messing them up!

6. Andrea Brown is your agent. Tell us about your road to finding an agent and to publication.

I met my editor (the wonderful & eagle-eyed Rosemary Brosnan) before I started looking for an agent, so my story's a little atypical, I think. Rosemary saw the first few chapters of The Cabinet of Earths in Paris and asked me to send it to her when I was finished. So that summer I did send it to her and figured I should look for an agent, too. I'm afraid this part gets a little atypical, too: I signed with an agent who left the business two weeks later. Poor Andrea inherited me! She has been a very good sport about it, though.

7. That must have been so rough having your agent leave after you had her for only two weeks. Awesome that Andrea inherited you. You’re a member of The Apocalyspsies  How did you become a member of this group of debut authors and why did you choose this group rather than some of the other ones for debut authors? When should a debut author connect up with a group of other authors debuting and how do you recommend we find out about these groups when they’re forming?

I love the Apocalypsies! Listen, there's only so much angstifying and book-business-fretting that any loved one should be expected to tolerate. The other people going through the crazy process of having a book come out for the first time are the best ones to bond with and plan with and laugh with--I feel very lucky to be mixed up with such a talented crowd! I was an Elevensie before my publication date was shifted to 2012, and I loved the Elevensies, too. I really think joining a debut group for your year is the best way to preserve (shreds of) your sanity. It's easy to find them, I think: just hang out a little on Verla Kay's Blueboards or ask a writer in the current year's group!

8. Great advice. I know I'll need one because my daughter and husband don't talk about my writing woes with me that much. What are the other ways you’ve marketed your book? What worked and what do you wish you’d done differently?

I had lovely launch parties in Berkeley (at the Books Inc. on 4th Street) and in New York City (at The Corner Bookstore), and in April I'll be heading up and down the West Coast as part of the Words of Wonder Book Tour, with my fellow Apocalypsies Marissa Burt, J. Anderson Coats, Jenny Lundquist, Jenn Reese, and Laurisa Reyes! (See the Facebook Events page here.) It may be too early in the year for me to have lots of useful regrets about marketing! I do think all those people who say, "write the next book" have a good point, though.

9.  I wish I lived on the West Coast so I could meet you all. Because I interviewed Jenny too and will be interviewing Marissa and Laurisa. What are you working on now?

I just sent in revisions for A BOX OF GARGOYLES, in which Maya and Valko's adventures in Paris continue. I have three other works-in-progress, and one of them will soon become the official next project. Details to come!

Thanks Anne for sharing all your advice. Good luck with your book. You can find Anne at her website.

Thank you so much for these thoughtful questions, Natalie! I'm delighted to have had the chance to visit Literary Rambles!

Anne generously offered a signed copy of THE CABINET OF EARTHS 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 April 7th. I’ll announce the winner on April 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.

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

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Here's what's coming up. Next Monday I'm interviewing Leah Bobut and giving away a copy of her debut book ABOVE. I'm really excited to interview Leah because Cheryl Klein, one of my favorite editors, is her editor. Then the following Monday I'm interviewing Jennifer Nielson and giving away a copy of THE FALSE PRINCE. I LOVED this book so much that I immediately e-mailed Jennifer after I finished it to see if she'd be willing to be interviewed. It totally reminds me of Megan Whalen Turner's THE QUEEN'S THIEF series, which I also so loved.

Hope to see you next Monday! 

Danyelle Leafty & Kindles for Kids

Hi everyone! I'm posting this for author Danyelle Leafty to help spread the word about her awesome fundraiser Kindles for Kids. Please consider contributing by buying her book CATSPELL and/or donating as described below.

What exactly is Kindles for Kids?

Kindles for Kids is my way of paying it forward. My goal is to raise enough funds to purchase 10 Kindle Fires for the pediatric unit of a local hospital in UT.

How does Kindles for Kids work?

From March 12th-31st of 2012, I will be donating the *royalties I make on THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA: CATSPELL--both in paper and e-book form--toward the purchase of the Kindle Fires.

Royalties are paid a month to two months after the fact. Factoring in that as well as putting in the order, receiving them, and getting them ready, I will be delivering the Kindle Fires to the hospital in June of 2012.

How can you participate?

If you are an author (published) or a writer (unpublished), this link will explain it more. A more detailed link can be found here. In short, I'm hosting an open call for donating **books you have the rights to for the hospital. One book per Kindle Fire. You can also participate by writing a ***short story for a fairy tale anthology I'm putting together for the hospital. If you're a reader, this link will give you a few ideas on how to help spread the word.

How can you help?

The greatest help of all is to help me get the word out. You can do this by talking to people--online and in real life, posting about Kindles for Kids on forums, groups, on your blog, and by printing out and posting fliers. More detailed link here, as well as details for a photo contest. Link for the flyer here.

I can't do this without you, so thank you to all who participate in any way they can!

*Royalties up to 249,000 copies. After that, I have to buy an extended license for the photographs I use for the cover.

**All books will be vetted by me personally for both formatting and content. Since the Kindle Fires are going to the pediatric unit, I would ask that any donations are formatted and edited well, and that they go no higher than a PG rating.

***As with the books, please keep the short stories at a PG or G rating. Again, all stories that are chosen for inclusion in the anthology will be vetted by me personally. Also, because digital copies of the anthology will be donated to the hospitals, and there will be no money made off of them, neither the editor (me) nor the authors will receive payment or money for them. However, everyone who is included will receive a digital copy as either a PDF, a kindle file, or epub.

Agent Spotlight: Jennifer Weltz

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jennifer Weltz of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc.
Status: Open to submissions.
our_team_weltzAbout: “As President of JVNLA, Jennifer Weltz has sold books domestically, internationally, and for film for over two decades. Coming from a mediation background, Jennifer sees herself as a liaison between her author and the editor and publishing house that acquire her author's work. This role takes on a myriad of forms — business manager, confidant, task master, preliminary editor, and matchmaker — to name a few. Since Jennifer takes up an author's career and not just a project, she is very careful and selective about signing on new authors.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Jean Naggar established her eponymous literary agency in 1978 with no staff, no capital, and ten previously unpublished authors. What she did have was unwavering commitment and dedication to her authors' careers and the tenacity to fight for their success on all fronts possible.
“As this singular philosophy proved its worth, Jean's one-woman agency expanded. In 2004, Jean decided to partner with Jennifer Weltz, who had joined the agency in 1994. They incorporated as The Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc., or JVNLA, Inc. Some 40+ years later, the agency numbers many more. Each agent represents an independent list of authors that reflects her individual styles, tastes, and strengths, with all collaborating as a team to orchestrate the agency's contracts, subsidiary rights, publicity, and editorial development.
“JVNLA is an agency that has never identified with the ordinary. Our list includes award-winning writers from every genre. Our books have been published in over 50 countries; showcased in big screen, in small screen, and on stage; featured in short story anthologies, magazines, and webzines; and adapted for audio and e-book publications. Our knowledge of the print and digital world is driving the conversation of publishing's future so that our authors are protected in an ever-changing market. We invite you to peruse our website and learn more.” (Link)
Web Presence:
JVNLA website.
JVNLA blog (Old).
JVNLA Tumblr.
JVNLA Facebook.
JVNLA Authors Daily.
AgentQuery, QueryTracker.
What She's Looking For:
Picture Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Fantasy, Commercial Fiction, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Thrillers/Suspense. (Link)
From a Writer's Digest Interview She Links to on Her Bio Page:
"She specializes in compelling historicals and thrillers that stand out from the crowd as well as women’s fiction with a taste of the unusual and an emotional tug. She also works with middle grade and picture books where she looks for a voice that you can’t resist to get to know. I do go for YA’s if they are more the fun or fantastical. Angst is not my forte.
“I’m looking for something I have never seen with writing that grabs me from the first page and a character that comes to life from the moment I meet him/her.  The voice, the originality of the story and a story that takes me out of the world and life I am living.” (Link)
From a 2012 Conference Bio:
“No rhyming books please. I will consider both simple text and author/illustrators, but please do not have someone create illustrations for your text- it is simply NOT necessary. I also love a great Middle Grade read- here I find the voice to be key.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Rhyming picture books
Editorial Agent?
There are lists of clients on the JVNLA website. Ms. Weltz’s clients include: Iza Trapani, Berthe Amoss, Susan Lowell, the Roger Duvoisin estate, and C.W. Gortner, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: No.
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: Yes (only).
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Follow the steps and submit to Ms. Weltz using the agency form online.
See the JVNLA website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
“Make sure to tell me what your book is about front and center when sending me a query, especially if it is fiction. I’ll read about the other stuff later but only if the story grabs me. One last thing – I read every query with great hope and desire to find something wonderful that I can love because first and foremost I am a reader!” (Link)
Response Times:
The agency only responds if they are interested.
What's the Buzz?
Jennifer Weltz is a well-established and respected agent. She is president of JVNLA. You can follow her on Twitter where she tweets regularly. I also recommend following the agency Tumblr for additional agency news and tips.
Worth Your Time:
Interview on Common Mistakes Authors Make at The Big Thrill (06/2015).
Genres to Watch, YouTube video featuring Jean Naggar and Jennifer Weltz (07/2011).
Young Adult Fiction, The Evolution of Content, YouTube Video featuring Jennifer Weltz (06/2011).
Agent Advice Interview with Jennifer Weltz at the Guide to Literary Agency Blog (06/2009).
Please see the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency website for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 6/8/2020.
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/11/2020.
Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7(at)gmail(dot)com

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

Tip Tuesday #121

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

This week's tip was sent in by Kathryn Jankowski. Kathryn doesn't currently blog, but you probably recognize her name from commenting here and at other kidlit blogs. Here's her tip!

I'm writing a fantasy set in the late 16th century and have been wondering if the language my characters use is appropriate for the times. Don't want them spouting modern lingo! ;-)

Luckily, I found an online aid that not only defines words, but tells you when they were first used. It's the Merriam-Webster site. When you're done checking the definition, you can switch from the dictionary to the thesaurus with just a click. There's even a Spanish-English feature. It's been a great help to me and I think others might like it, too.

~Kathryn Jankowski


First I'm going to announce the winner of my Newly Released YA Book Giveaway. We had 80 entries and lots of comments about how you promote middle grade books. It's so good to see how many people do try to promote middle grade books on their blogs.

So the winner is:


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

Today I’m excited to interview debut author Jenny Lundquist about her new book SEEING CINDERELLA which will be released on March 20, 2012. Jenny nailed all the issues of middle grade like fitting in, changing friendships, and boy crushes. And I liked the little magical twist of the magical glasses. I really loved this book and read it in a day. It was that good.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Calliope Meadow Anderson wishes her life could be more of a fairy tale—just like the stories she writes. Her best friend, Ellen, is acting weird, her parent's marriage is falling apart, and to top things off, she found out she needs hideously large and geeky glasses.

But Callie soon learns they aren't just any glasses—they are magical and let her read people's thoughts. For the first time ever she's answering all the questions right in math class, and gets a glimpse of what goes through people's minds all day, including what Ellen—and her longtime crush—really think of her.

As if dealing with these crazy glasses weren't enough, Callie tries out for the lead in her school's production of Cinderella and actually gets the part. Instead, Callie chooses to let Ellen have the lead and be Ellen's understudy—just like she has done for their entire friendship.

Add in a new girl who has something to hide, a secret admirer, a best friend stealer who isn't what she seems, and Callie's year just went from ordinary to extraordinary.

Can this supporting actress learn to be a leading lady in her own life? Or is she destined to stay in the background forever—even with her super-freaky-magic glasses?

Hi Jenny. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me, I'm a huge fan of LitRambles. I live in the Sacramento area now, but I grew up in southern California in Huntington Beach. This means my high school had a surf team. I didn't realize that was weird until I moved north. I always liked to write, but I didn't start writing seriously until the year I turned thirty. That was the year I realized all the time I'd thought, "I'd like to write someday…" was gone, and I had nothing to show for it. It's become my firm belief that the word someday is a dream killer. So I decided that instead of waiting for "someday" to appear, I'd start writing today, now. I sat down and started working on a story idea I had at the time, and I've been writing ever since.

2. Living in Michigan, I can't imagine a high school surf team. It'd be fun living somewhere you could have one. Like I said, I loved the magical glasses aspect of the plot. From seeing your 7th grade picture on your blog I’m guessing they may have helped you develop the look of the glasses. I could so relate to that picture because I’ve worn glasses since I was a baby and some of mine were less than fashionable to put it nicely. More like how did I ever wear those things? What made you decide to make them magical and why did you pick having them let Callie read others’ minds?

I first got the idea for a pair of magic glasses when I had to relate an incident that happened to me in seventh grade. It involved my glasses, a cute boy, and spit. You can read about it here. Anyway, I found myself saying, "My glasses had magic powers: They repelled boys." Then the writer in me thought…Hmmmm, but what if my glasses really did have magic powers? Like…what if they could read thoughts? At first I envisioned it as a short story, but I'm too long-winded to write those, so I started writing a middle grade novel that eventually became Seeing Cinderella.

3. Amazing how a question can develop into a story. And I'm glad you decided on a novel instead of a short story. Voice is really hard to get right, especially in middle grade books. You nailed Callie’s voice both as a character and then in the little stories she wrote. Did you struggle with her voice and do you have any tips on developing voice for the rest of us?

Voice is really important to me—I think it's what I enjoy the most about middle grade literature. I did struggle with Callie's voice to the extent that I initially wanted to write a story about a really aggressive girl who didn't always "see" how her actions affected others. But sometimes we get to choose our characters…and sometimes our characters choose us. For me, I kept hearing this really shy character's voice in my head, and I decided to just go with it and scrap my original plans. I spend a lot of time journaling trying to find my character's voices and that's what I did with Callie. I think I had one or two spiral bound notebooks completely filled up with notes before I finished my first draft.

4. Two notebooks! That's true dedication to getting the voice right. Another aspect of the story that you did well was the whole middle grade scene and Callie’s shyness, issues with her best friend Ellen, and her boy issues. Tell us about the process of developing all these themes into your plot and weaving them in with the magical glasses. Did you draw on your own experiences from middle school?

Developing the secondary characters in my book was very time-consuming. One question I like to ask myself when I'm in the early stages character development is, "Based on who I think my main character is right now, who do I need my secondary characters to be in order to complement/highlight the things about my main character that I want the reader to see?" Yeah, it's a mouthful, but it works for me. I also wrote journal entries from my secondary character's point of view to help me see into their thought processes. In terms of my own middle school years I definitely felt shy and overwhelmed by middle school life. I was the late bloomer in my clique of friends and they were ready for a lot of things that I just wasn't. There's a part in Seeing Cinderella where Callie says her goal is just to survive middle school by being as unnoticeable as possible. I really related to that.

5. I can relate to that too. My whole childhood wasn't a happy time. Your agent is Kerry Sparks of Levine Greenberg Agency. Tell us about your journey to find an agent, how long you queried, and any tips you’d recommend for the rest of us starting or in the middle of that process.

I'm glad you asked! For anyone interested in obtaining an agent I recommend they subscribe to LitRambles and read all of the Agent Spotlights as well as Casey's articles on Agent Research. I'm not kidding. The content here is invaluable. I used LitRambles as my "homebase" when I was researching agents. I queried for about two months before I received an email from Kerry requesting a phone call. Because I was on vacation at the time and I only had spotty internet/email access it turned out I only had one hour to prepare for her call and I didn't have a clue what I was supposed to ask her. I was seriously panicking. Then I remembered…LitRambles had a whole article on Questions for the Call! I quickly went to LitRambles, wrote down a ton of questions and had just enough time to calm myself down before Kerry called. So in a very real way, LitRambles was invaluable to me as I went through the process of obtaining an agent.

And, for anyone who's currently querying, Kerry is an amazing agent. She's a prompt and clear communicator, a great cheerleader, and she gives fantastic editorial notes. I can't say enough good things about her. She's a rock star!

6. Casey does an amazing job with the agent spotlights. And they are a lot of work. I so appreciate she does them. I'm definitely going to use her questions if I'm ever lucky enough to get a call from an agent. You are part of The Apocalypsies, a group of 50 debut authors. How did you network with this group and when did you find out about them? When should a debut author connect with a blog group of other debut authors and how do we find these groups when they are forming?

I found out about them when Jenny Torres Sanchez, my agent sister, contacted me and encouraged me to join. Being a part of the Apocalypsies has been amazing. It's been great connecting with other writers who are at a similar point in their journey. I would say, start connecting with other authors as soon as you're offered a contract, if you haven't before. For anyone that's signing for a 2013 release, The Lucky 13's have just formed. Check out their blog and they'll let you know how to join. Being a part of the Apocalypsies has been invaluable. I would be a big quivering mess of nerves and indecisiveness without them.

7. That's a great tip to find out about these groups from other debut authors with your agent. Thanks. I'd been worried about this. Besides being a part of The Apocalypsies, what are you doing to market your book? What ideas are you trying from seeing other middle grade authors debut?

Besides scheduling interviews with bloggers, I've held contests on my blog for an ARC of SEEING CINDERELLA. I've spoken at a PTSA meeting for a local middle school in my city. I've sent postcards to librarians and independent bookstores asking them to consider my book for their collection. I'm an introvert at heart, so stepping out to market my book has been really challenging for me. But I'm finding that the more I do, the more I get a sense of what I'm comfortable with.

8. I'm shy too. The thought of a book signing is pretty scary. Okay, I’m dying to ask this question. How did you get your ARCs so early? I’m curious because most seem to come out only three months before publication, but I got yours way before that.

All the credit for that belongs to my editor at Aladdin M!X, Alyson Heller. She always let me know when she needed my draft, or first pass pages back by and from what I can tell on my end, she did a remarkable job of making sure things were always moving along. I've enjoyed working with her, and am excited to be writing another M!X book….

9. What are you working on now?

…Which is currently titled PLASTIC POLLY. It's about a girl who's the second most popular girl in her middle school. Many of her classmates don't like her, and call her Plastic Polly behind her back. It's inspired, in part, by a phrase I heard a lot growing up, which is, "She's so fake." That statement has always intrigued me, because what does that even mean? To an extent, we all wear masks, and yet we're all authentically who we are, and so I wanted to write a book from the perspective of the girl that many people didn't like in middle school. But, I also need a lot of fun in my projects, so Polly ends up having to coordinate a talent show competition between her middle school and their rival school. She finds out that only the popular kids (as opposed to the most talented kids) are being selected to participate in the competition, and she has to decide what she's going to do about it.

Thanks Jenny for all your advice. Good luck with your book.

You can find Jenny at her Website, Twitter, Facebook, and Discussion Guides for Seeing Cinderella.
Jenny generously offered an ARC of SEEING CINDERELLA 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 March 31st. I’ll announce the winner on April 2nd. 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 ShannonWhitney Messenger to spotlight middle grade authors. Check it out here.

And check out these other Marvelous Monday Middle Grade Reviewers:

Here's what's coming up. Next Monday I'm interviewing Anne Nesbit and giving away a copy of her debut book THE CABINET OF EARTHS. Then the following Monday I'll be interviewing Leah Bobut and giving away a copy of her debut book ABOVE. I'm really excited to interview Leah because Cheryl Klein, one of my favorite editors, is her editor.

Hope to see you next Monday! 

Agent Spotlight: Jessica Regel

This week's Agent Spotlight features Jessica Regel of Foundry Literary + Media.
Status: Open to submissions. 8/5/2020: Ms. Regel has left Foundry Literary to start her own agency Helm Literary. You can find out more about what she is looking for and her submission guidelines on the agency website.
jessicaLAbout: "Jess represents fiction and nonfiction in both the adult and the children’s markets.
"Her authors include New York Times Bestsellers Bryn Greenwood (All The Ugly and Wonderful Things), Amber Smith (The Way I Used to Be) and Shea Ernshaw (The Wicked Deep), as well as national bestseller and award-winning writer/podcaster Nora McInerny (It’s Okay to Laugh) and Pura Belpré Honor Winner Pablo Cartaya (The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora). No matter the genre, Jess looks for distinctive voices and stories that are one of a kind.
"Jess is passionate about discovering books that are compulsive, contagious, and creative. She’s particularly interested in “conversation starters,” novels that bridge the literary-commercial divide, combining a high-concept plot with beautiful writing, and voice-driven contemporary stories. She’s always looking for diverse characters who tell a story from a unique perspective, and through which we see the world differently. Jess is drawn to coming-of-age stories, ambitious fiction, charming and stylized love stories, atmospheric magical realism, dark and twisty suspense, and genre-bending literary fiction. Jess does not represent genre fiction, such as high fantasy, sci-fi, romance, westerns, chick lit, cozy mysteries, etc.
"In the nonfiction space, Jess specializes in memoir and pop culture, with an emphasis on female voices, humor, and narrative nonfiction.
"Originally from Iowa, Jess was working at her local library when she was offered a job at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and packed up for New York City. She spent eleven years at the Naggar Agency before moving over to Foundry in 2013. She received her B.A. in English Literature from Hunter College.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“Foundry is a full-service literary agency and media development company dedicated to providing the most positive and profitable publishing experience for our clients, from the American book market to foreign publishing, film and TV, merchandise, online media and beyond.
"Rooted in the tradition of representing writers and other talent in the book trade, the Foundry team is relentless in finding new and diverse ways for our clients to reach wider audiences.
"It all begins with the book. Whether you are a first time novelist or a veteran author, a comedy writer slugging it out in the trenches, or an established film or television personality, we take your book seriously. We roll up our sleeves and make sure that nothing lands on an editor’s desk that isn’t the best that it can be, and then guide you through the entire process of getting published, in the US and abroad.” (Link)
Web Presence:
Foundry website.
Foundry Facebook.
Foundry Twitter.
#mswl on Twitter.
What She's Looking For:
Fiction: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Commercial Fiction, Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Edgy/Quirky Fiction.
Non-Fiction: Young Adult, Narrative, Biography, Memoir, Humor, Pop Culture, Journalism. (Link)
From an Interview (10/2013):
“Great writing with a strong hook catches my eye in a query letter. I’m specifically looking for Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction and Nonfiction, as well as Adult Fiction.
“For YA I represent high concept stories paired with great writing. I’m always up for a contemporary story that is thought-provoking—something that has an interesting non-fiction hook. For example, I represent JC Carleson whose book THE TYRANT’S DAUGHTER will be published by Knopf Children’s Books in February. In this novel the main character’s father is the King of an unnamed Middle Eastern country and when he’s killed in a coup she is forced to seek asylum in the US, where she must integrate into a regular US High School. Obviously this book draws on some riveting real life events.
“I also represent YA genre (magical realism, sci-fi, fantasy) when it’s grounded in reality. Specifically I’m looking for sophisticated thrillers, suspense or horror. I’d love to find the YA Secret History or Fingersmith!! I don’t shy away from gritty or edgy stories. I’d also love to find a really unique YA love story.
“For MG, I’m looking for sophisticated and timeless stories. Something like Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz or The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.
“I’m also on a crusade to find YA and MG memoirs and narrative non-fiction.
“On the adult side, I represent general fiction. Fiction that borders the line between literary and commercial. For example, I represent Margot by Jillian Cantor, which is a novel about Anne Frank’s older sister Margot and reimagines what Margot’s life would’ve been like if she’d survived the Holocaust. I just finished reading The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion and I’d love to find something like that—a love story that I haven’t read before.” (Link)
From an Interview (01/2013):
“I’m always on the lookout for new voices in YA fiction and nonfiction. Specifically, I’m looking for high concept contemporary stories (dying for a funny John Hughes-ish/Easy A high school story), love stories, magical realism, horror (but not gory), and sophisticated thrillers.
“I still see a lot of vampires, werewolves, and zombies. I also see a lot of what I call ‘powers and prophecies’ pitches and dystopian novels. While I won’t automatically reject a book that involves these elements, it is much, much harder to get my attention with these pitches because the market is flooded. For these books to stand out the author needs to have an incredible voice and a strong grasp on what makes their book stand out from what’s already been published in the genre.” (Link)
What She Isn't Looking For:
Practical nonfiction, inspirational/religion, genre science fiction or fantasy, or political thrillers
Editorial Agent?
There’s a page of agency titles on the Foundry website. 
Ms. Regel’s clients include: Julie Bourbeau, K. Ryer Breese, Jeryl Brunner, Jillian Cantor, Emily Danforth, Cecilia Galante, Kristi Helvig, Adrienne Kress, Lesley Livingston, Steve and Matthew Murrie, Kate Kae Myers, Karen Schaler, Susan Schoenberger, Samantha Seiple, Victoria Strauss, among others.
Query Methods:
E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.
Submission Guidelines (always verify):
Send a query letter, synopsis, bio and first three chapters of your manuscript. Include your name and project name in the subject line. Chapters, etc. can be pasted in the email or attached.
See the Foundry Literary website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.Query Tips:
“Yes! I hate it when a query starts with a question!” (Link)
“Major #queryfail -- when authors diss their genre, ‘I wrote this because all the other YA books suck.’ Stop talking smack about my babies!” (Link)
Response Times:
Ms. Regel only responds to queries if interested. Her response time on requested material ranges from days to about a month.
What's the Buzz?
Jessica Regel is a well-established agent with a great list of clients and sales.
You can follow her on Twitter @jessregel.
Worth Your Time:
Agent Spotlight: Jess Regal at kidlit411 (09/2016)
Agent Interview - JESSICA REGEL at Realm (10/2013).
Literary Agent Jessica Regel of Jean V. Naggar Literary Foundry Literary + Media Seeks New Clients at Guide to Literary Agents (01/2013).
Agent Advice Interview with Jessica Regel at Guide to Literary Agents (06/2010).
Please see the Foundry Literary + Media website for additional contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 5/23/2020.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes
Last Reviewed By Agent? 3/15/12.
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 and/or teen fiction. They are not interviews. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found herein is subject to change.


The winner of THE LIFEGUARD by Deborah Blumenthal is...

...Dana Carey!

Congratulations, Dana. You should have an e-mail from me in your inbox.


The Lifeguard is the story of 16-year-old Sirena Shane who is shipped off to the Rhode Island shore to spend the summer with her Aunt Ellie, because her parents, at home in Texas, are going through a difficult divorce.

It turns out to be a summer that will transform her life – forever.

She moves into a beach house filled with ghosts, falls hard for a hot lifeguard with mysterious healing powers, and meets an 80-year-old Brazilian artist and shaman who leaves her an unusual gift.

Tip Tuesday #120

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today's tip was sent in by Dale S. Rogers. Dale writes young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as articles, poetry, and adult fiction. You can find her at her blog here where she's been sharing some fun life anecdotes. Please give her a visit after you read her first tip submission below!

My Tuesday Tip involves using a word search to find the best words and sentence structure for prose. We all have pet words and phrases--those pesky little things that show up too often in our manuscripts. I never real- ized how much I overuse certain words until I utilized Ctrl F. I press and hold Ctrl, then I hit F. When the finder pops up, I type in the suspect word or phrase, click "find next," and watch the page numbers to gauge how close together the terms are as I continue the process.

Although time consuming, this tool has helped me to not only eliminate problem words, but to improve sentence structure, since I've also discovered other weaknesses in my writing while doing this in-depth search. When I find a substitute word for the one I've targeted, or decide the word can just be left out, I feel I'm improving my writing in more than one way. It's better to go through a document a little at at time, sincethis method can be tiring.

In addition to said, asked, and little, which we know to watch out for, some words I find so often in my work are: there, that, some, after, before, when, looked, glanced, thought, wondered, later, nodded, smiled, finished, finally, reached, and of the. I leave the ones that really belong, but other- wise, I try to find a better way to express what's going on, especially if the duplicate words are too close together. I just wish I'd started this practice years ago!

-Dale S. Rogers


Sorry guys but I did not get the answers for my ASK THE EXPERT INTERVIEW this month so there's no expert this week. But I have an important issue and a fabulous book to share with you.

First, I'll announce my giveaway winners.

The winner of UNDER THE NEVER SKY is:


The winner of SAVING FORT SMOKY is:


And the winner of THE PRINCESS CURSE is:


Congrats! E-mail me your addresses so your books can be sent to you.

Before I talk about SHATTER ME, I want to mention a fantastic blog post last week by Ellen Oh about how Asian Americans are a silent minority that still face discrimination and about how YA book covers are filled with pretty white girls even when their characters are not white. I really recommend you read Ellen's post. My daughter is adopted from China and my husband is Hispanic so we are definitely sensitive to issues like that.

My daughter has come out of a movie more than once commenting that the skin color of the actress or actor did not match the true color of the character she read about in her favorite book. We'll have to see what she thinks when she goes to see THE HUNGER GAMES in a few weeks. It's her favorite book and I hope she's not disappointed. Because it tells her when it's wrong that Asians and minorities are not valued in our society enough.

The trend Ellen talks about sends such a terrible message to our teens whether or not they are minorities when the covers do not celebrate our diversity. And also when they focus so much on beautiful girls. What is that telling our teen girls to value? And how are they supposed to feel when they don't meet that standard? Because let's be honest, most of us don't fit those standards even though we're beautiful in our own way.

Anyway, this is a sad trend in publishing and in movies that I hope changes soon. I'd encourage you to read Ellen's post.

Today I'm spotlighting another fantastic debut YA book, SHATTER ME, by Tahereh Mafi.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war-- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a world as riveting as The Hunger Games and a superhero story as thrilling as The X-Men. Full of pulse-pounding romance, intoxicating villainy, and high-stakes choices, Shatter Me is a fresh and original dystopian novel—with a paranormal twist—that will leave readers anxiously awaiting its sequel.

I found Juliette's power to seriously injure or kill someone with her touch very unique. At the beginning of the book, she's been locked up in isolation for a long time until she gets her roommate Adam. At first, she's pretty withdrawn, insecure, and guilt-ridden over her powers and how she's used them. I loved watching her transformation as a character as she became more comfortable with her powers. 

Adam's such a solid nice guy who is dedicated to Juliette. You can't help but like him and wish you were involved with someone like that. As their relationship develops, Juliette struggles with her feelings for him and the fact that she'll injure him if she touches him. What a dilemma!

Warner, the antagonist, is equally interesting. He's cruel, but obsessed with Juliette and how she can help the The Reestablishment. I was left wanting to know more about him and what his connection to Juliette or her powers might be at the end of the book.

Tahereh Mafi has a unique writing style that worked well for the story. Here's an example:

In 17 years I've never talked to a boy my own age. Because I'm a monster.

There's lots of Juliette's internal thoughts with strikethroughs. What a creative and brave way of writing. And it worked fantastically with this story.

I want to share this with you so I'm giving away my copy of SHATTER ME. 
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 March 24th. I’ll announce the winner on March 26th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.

Let me know in your comments what you think about Ellen's post if you've read it. Also I'd love to know what new YA books you're looking forward to in the the next few months.

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

Here's what's coming up next. Next Monday I'm interviewing Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of SEEING CINDERELLA, one of my favorite books this year. The following Monday I'm interviewing Anne Nesbit and giving away a copy THE CABINET OF EARTHS, another book I really enjoyed.

I also have a fantastic set of interviews coming up in April. But I'll share those with you later.

Hope to see you Monday!

Agent Spotlight: Michele Bartow

Profile removed. Ms. Bartow is no longer a literary agent. Do not query.

Tip Tuesday #119

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Today's tip was sent in by Kristin Lenz who I hope you're familiar with by now. She's a social worker and writer who contributes to the YA Fusion Blog. This week she's interviewing Alexis Saarela, Publicist at Tor. Go here for this behind the scenes peek into the publishing industry. Her previous tips include #103, #112, and #113. Here's Kristin:

I'm from Detroit, and every year the Detroit Film Theater hosts a screening of the Academy Award-nominated short films - the ones you don't usually get to see in mainstream theaters. It's a 4 hour event featuring a diverse mix of short films. The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore won this year's Oscar for animated short. This delightful,10-minute film has been flying around the internet and was inspired by a story which will be released as a picture book in July 2012. Haven't seen it yet? Go here.

Many, many books are made into movies, but as a writing exercise, try the reverse. Watch a short film and write it down as a story. This is great practice for thinking like a short story writer. The elements are all there for you - the story arc, the emotion, the heart. The challenge is to show all of this in words. Give it a try- at the very least, it's a great excuse to watch some award-winning films. You can find Academy Award-nominated short films on Netflix. If you have any shorts to recommend, please let us know in the comments.

~Kristin Lenz


Today I'm going to feature a few of the newer released YA books that I put on reserve at the library. I've read a few and the others have just come in or will soon be in at the library. All are books I'm dying to read and bet you are too. So I'm offering a giveaway. Because I know many of you love YA books best from your comments.

But before I get to these books, I want to talk to you about middle grade books. Why? Because I have your attention. I notice that I get the most comments on weeks I feature YA authors and books. I read a lot of YA books myself. But there are some fantastic middle grade books out there and I'm asking you to take a chance and try some of them.

Agent Kristin Nelson has started a fantastic vlog series on Fridays and discussed the different levels of middle grade books a few weeks ago here. The first level is the early chapter books like THE MAGIC TREEHOUSE series for more beginning readers. The second level is for 9-year-olds and above where the characters are more developed and the page length is longer like THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX.

Then there is the upper middle grade or sometimes called tween middle grade books for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade kids and I'd submit older readers. Think of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE and THE LIGHTNING THIEF. These books are longer, have highly developed characters, and more complex plots. And the characters often grow into YA characters if the books are part of a longer series.

So I get that those of you who don't have grade school kids may not be interested in the first two levels of middle grade right now. I used to love reading those books with my daughter but she's outgrown them so I don't read them much anymore either.

But I do love the upper middle grade books especially in the fantasy, paranormal, and dystopian genres because the characters are older, much more independent, and the plots are more complex like YA books.

Sadly, middle grade authors have a harder time creating buzz for their books on blogs. And this buzz is so important for spreading the word about newly published books, especially for middle grade authors. Most kids at this age range find out about books from adults. Either their teachers, librarians, or parents. I learn about new books and authors, especially debut authors, from the blogs I read. There's an interesting post on the challenges of debut middle grade authors here. Thankfully even some of the really popular book review bloggers like The Story Siren, Mundie Moms, and I am a Reader Not a Writer do occasionally spotlight middle grade books. These are all great book review blogs that I love and highly recommend.

But we can all do more. So I'm challenging you to try some of these books if you haven't read them and help promote some of these middle grade authors on your blogs if you have one.

And this month one of our followers Jill at The O.W.L. is doing a month long celebration of middle grade books. I'm participating my featuring two middle grade authors this month. If you haven't checked out her blog, you should. So is Mundie Kids, Mundie Moms blog for children's and middle grade books.

And I Am A Reader Not A Writer is doing a Children's Week Book Giveaway Hop May 7th-13th where people giveaway books of their choice from children's, middle grade, to YA. I'm excited to participate. If you want to sign up, go here.

Now onto my YA books. Here's the YA books that if you're like me, you're dying to read. I was lucky enough to get all of these from the library. I loved THE PLEDGE. I wanted to read it so badly that I checked daily until I could reserve it at the library. BLOODROSE was a very satisfying conclusion too Andrea Cremer's trilogy. I'm in the middle of PANDEMONIUM now. It's fabulous and keeping me entertained while I'm sitting through two days of swim meets. THE WOOD QUEEN and TRUTH are on my stack to read this month. I had to let my daughter read TRUTH first and she says it's good.

You can click on the titles to read their descriptions.

One lucky winner will get the book of your choice. To enter, you'll need to do the following:

1. Be a follower
2. Tell me the book you want to win in your comment
3. Tell me if you read and promote any upper middle grade books and if not, will you try any? Why or why not?

Leave a comment by midnight on March 17th. I’ll announce the winner on March 19th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome as long as you're in a country where The Book Depository ships for free.

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.

Want a chance to win an ARC of UNDER THE NEVER SKY? Enter my contest here. And you can win THE PRINCESS CURSE, an awesome upper middle grade book, here.

Here's what's coming up. Next Monday I'm interviewing a middle grader for my ASK THE EXPERT series and giving away another popular debut YA book. Then the following Monday I'll be interviewing Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of SEEING CINDERELLA. I seriously loved that book.

Hope to see you next Monday!

Interview with Author Deborah Blumenthal and Giveaway of THE LIFEGUARD

Today I'm pleased to share an interview with author Deborah Blumenthal whose thirteen published books include AUNT CLAIRE'S YELLOW BEEHIVE HAIR (with illustrations by Mary GrandPre), CHARLIE HITS IT BIG, DON'T LET THE PEAS TOUCH, and FAT CAMP, among others. Her latest novel, THE LIFEGUARD, was recently published by Albert Whitman & Company in their new YA line.

Here's the summary:

The Lifeguard is the story of 16-year-old Sirena Shane who is shipped off to the Rhode Island shore to spend the summer with her Aunt Ellie, because her parents, at home in Texas, are going through a difficult divorce.

It turns out to be a summer that will transform her life – forever.

She moves into a beach house filled with ghosts, falls hard for a hot lifeguard with mysterious healing powers, and meets an 80-year-old Brazilian artist and shaman who leaves her an unusual gift.

If you'd like to read an excerpt from the novel, stop by Deborah's website where she has one posted. But before you go, read on for the interview and giveaway.

Hi Deborah! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to interview you. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself and your books?

These days I’m writing books full time, but I have a pretty checkered background. I started out as a nutritionist, working in hospitals, but I gave that up after I got married and became pregnant with my first child. At that point, I started writing for newspapers and magazines, covering health, fitness, and beauty, including four years of writing beauty and fitness columns for The New York Times Sunday Magazine.

My career as a children’s book writer started with a tantrum – my two-year- old’s -- not my own. It inspired my first picture book, THE CHOCOLATE-COVERED-COOKIE TANTRUM. Since then, I’ve written twelve other books, including eight picture books, two romantic novels, and two young adult novels. My latest book, THE LIFEGUARD, is a young adult novel.

I love how your work as a nutritionist and fitness writer inspired your first adult novel FAT CHANCE and later, your first young adult novel, FAT CAMP. Do you continue to draw inspiration from these interests? What inspires you now?

I’m still very interested in health and wellness, and in THE LIFEGUARD I touched upon the exotic world of shamanic healing, both through the powers of the lifeguard as well as an 80-year-old Brazilian painter who grew up in the Amazon and learned healing from his father. Non traditional healing of dis-ease continues to fascinate me.

How did you get into writing picture books and young adult novels?

After THE CHOCOLATE-COVERED-COOKIE TANTRUM came out, I was hooked on writing for children, and I kind of stole words, whole phrases, and inspiration from my kids as they grew up. In DON’T LET THE PEAS TOUCH, little Sophie, the picky eater, is holding a piece of roast beef up in front of the window. Her mother is baffled by this and asks her what she’s doing. “Looking for fat,” she answers. My younger daughter, Sophie, actually did that. I thought it was hilarious, so I used it in the book.

My first young adult novel, FAT CAMP, grew out of an article I wrote for the Sunday New York Times Magazine on weight-loss camps for kids.

From the cover, THE LIFEGUARD looks like a contemporary YA romance, but it actually has some paranormal elements. Will THE LIFEGUARD appeal to readers of your first YA novel, FAT CAMP, or was this written with a different audience in mind?

I hope it will grip all YA readers, but it is quite different from FAT CAMP because of the paranormal elements and the writing style.

What challenges do you face writing for all ages? Do you try to keep things balanced, rotating between adult and children's projects, or do you just follow your muse?

The biggest challenge for me, whether it's a picture book or an adult novel, is coming up with the right idea for the story. Once I am inspired, I’m very focused on that particular project. I usually finish one book before I start another, but I do have a few picture books in different stages. There’s one in particular that I just can’t figure out how to end satisfactorily.

Aspiring authors are often told to focus on one age group or genre when they're trying to break in to publishing. What are your thoughts on this? Have you struggled with branding at all?

I think you’re probably better off trying to stick to one area and distinguishing yourself in that area when you’re starting out, but that said, I’ve always been very undisciplined. I just write what I feel like writing and worry about selling it later.

Do you work with a literary agent who handles all the books you write?

I’ve always sold my young adult and adult books through literary agents, but I’ve sold the picture books on my own.

Is there any particular bit of wisdom you've gained throughout your publishing career that you'd like to impart to those just starting out?

Just keep writing and if one project doesn’t work out, start another. Getting published is harder than ever these days and you have to be prepared to get rejected over and over. A fortune cookie I broke open recently said, “Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” I think that’s pretty accurate.

Do you have any other published works on the horizon?

I have another picture book that’s out with editors, and I’m working on a new YA novel.

Finally, where can readers stay up-to-date on you and your books?

On my website, www.deborahblumenthal.com

Isn't she lovely?

Deborah is generously giving away one copy of THE LIFEGUARD. International entries are welcome as long as The Book Depository currently ships to your country (list available here). Please be a follower and leave a comment by midnight on March 12th. I'll announce the winner on the 14th. If your e-mail is not easily found, please include it in your comment. 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. Thank you for reading the interview and good luck!