Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

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


First I'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! 


Miri said...

This book sounds really, really amazing. I love the idea of magical glasses. Actually now that I read about it, I might want to have had magical classes during my time at school as well. Would have been quite useful probably ;)

Thank you very much for this giveaway and the interview. Hope you're goingt to have a wonderful week!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Great interview! Loved learning more about Jenny and her books and the premise of magical glasses sounds awesome!

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I love this concept!! It's great to meet you, Jen. The book cover is fabulous, btw. :D

Kristen Wixted said...

What a great interview. I love notebooks...and I haven't read an author interview quite so detailed in a long time. Thanks!

This blog is my number one spot to research agents too, btw. Numero Uno.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful interview! And I agree on LitRambles-this is my home base for agent querying, too. Love the notebooks. All best with your book!

Michael G-G said...

Okay, I am officially living in an alternate universe (or have gone nuts!) I'm sure I read this last week, but can't find it anywhere on your blog. Was it posted and taken down? Please write and tell me what is going on, before I get wrinkled in time, or find men in white coats on my doorstep.

Besides all the feelings of craziness, I think it's a super-duper interview (even on second reading!) Thanks!

Emily V. said...

So looking forward to reading Seeing Cinderella! :)
And thanks for sharing your tips/techniques with us, Jenny!

LTM said...

Ahh, this book sounds AWESOME! I've got to get it for my girls--primarily b/c my oldest is approachin MS, and I'm just so worried. MS is such a hard time. :p

The glasses are a nice touch. And funny true story--my college roommate/BF was named Jenny Sundquist! :D so easy to remember~ <3

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Yay! I love the cover of this book and already have it on my TBR. It sounds adorable and I can't wait to read it. Another great interview, Natalie! :-)

Barbara Watson said...

This book IS really, really amazing--I've been graced already with an ARC of Seeing Cinderella! (so you don't need to enter me in the drawing).

This interview is full of awesome information, like the notebooks for nailing voice. Great stuff, guys, thank you. And I didn't know about the questions to ask your prospective agent. I'll be searching for that post.

Shiela Calderón Blankemeier said...

Fantastic interview! Best of luck with your debut, Jenny! Sounds wonderful :)

cleemckenzie said...

I think this sounds like a perfect book for my neices. They are such avid MG readers. Thanks for the interview.

i'm erin. said...

The book sounds really great. And she's an adorable author. I love how down to earth she is and I love that she was nervous for the book signings.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks Jenny for sharing all your great advice and making me feel a bit better about my glasses.

For anyone who saw the interview last Monday like Michael, it was posted for about 20 minutes when I accidentally scheduled it.

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Jenny on her debut novel! So great that LitRambles played a big role in her successful agent search.

jpetroroy said...

Congratulations on your debut! Looks adorable

Natalie said...

You always have the best interview questions, Natalie! I love how they're unique, instead of being the same ones just slightly altered from author to author.

Angela Brown said...

It's always very enlightening to have an author share their journey to publication. Each one is so unique.

Great interview!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fun interview.

I'm not sure I'd want to hear people's thoughts. Not now and certainly not when I was in high school. Especially not the thoughts of boys . . .

Marta Szemik said...

Nice to meet you Jenny. Great interview:)

Andrea Mack said...

I love the idea of magic glasses! This sounds like a book my daughters and I would enjoy. And I always love reading about how an author develops a story. Thanks!

Julie said...

Great interview! I wish I had magic glasses when I was in middle school. Heck, I still would like a pair! Plastic Polly sounds interesting. I'm definitely adding SEEING CINDERELLA to my MG list. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I always enjoy reading the agent interviews on here too.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

You always have such thorough interviews, Natalie. I'm impressed by the two notebooks filled with notes before her first draft was finished. And journal entries from the secondary characters' POV is a great idea.

The book sounds like a lot of fun. Count me in!

Kiki Hamilton said...

Sounds like an awesome read! I'll definitely be looking for this one!

Jill the OWL said...

This book sounds sooooo perfect for my middle schoolers! So going to be adding it to the books that need to be bought!

And thanks for the fantastic interview. I learned a lot and it was just fun!

Jemi Fraser said...

I really like the advice on developing the 2ndary characters. And I had some hideous glasses in school - one set had octagonal frames... *sigh*

Stina said...

This sounds like a cool premise for a book. I'm going to have to get it for my daughter, who's frustrated that she has to wear glasses.

I love reading stories about how authors landed their agent.

Jenny Lundquist said...

Thanks for the kind words, everyone. And thank you Natalie and Casey, I can't even begin to tell you how cool it was today to log onto Literary Rambles, my "home base" and see my cover.

Natasha said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance to win!

Wendy said...

Definitely sounds like a book I'd like to read, and I'd love to enter. My email's on Blogger. :)

ebunadewumi said...

I love her tips for finding an agent! The book sounds awesome! I'd love a copy!

Mary Preston said...

I would love to read SEEING CINDERELLA thank you. It looks like a wonderful read.


Linda A. said...

Seeing Cinderella sounds great and Plastic Polly sounds even better. All the best to you.
Linda A.

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

what a lovely title! Always new books to be discovered! I'm heading to Bologna Children book fair to find even more!

aliasgirl at libero dot it

mil said...

follow via email

Christina Lasswell said...

Your book sounds so fun and kid-relatable! I've started following this blog as I am just delving into the world of writing, and still in the early stages of getting my ideas down. I enjoyed reading about how you got your start. "Someday is a dream-killer" is my new motto!


Akoss said...

Please don't enter me in the contest since I have an ARC of my own.
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this interview and I am exited about her next book. :)

Laurisa White Reyes said...

My daughter keeps asking me when she's going to get her copy of Seeing Cinderella. Soon! I promise!

Rosi said...

Wonderful concept for a book and a terrific interview. Can't wait to read Seeing Cinderella.

Jennifer R said...

What a great sounding book and another great interview, Natalie! Thanks for sharing your story with us, Jenny!

PuttPutt1198Eve said...

Thanks so much for the giveaway of Seeing Cinderella. I, too, have been one of those people who spent her growing-years wearing glasses, most of them less than attractive! Thanks for taking that pain of our youth and making it enjoyable.

Irene E. Jensen said...

What a great giveaway and interview :)


Crochet Addict UK said...

I'm a follower - GFC Susan D
susand1408 at googlemail dot com
Thanks ever so much for the giveaway!

Christina Fiorelli said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

I''m a follower GFC Christina Kit.

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Christina Fiorelli said...

I tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/christinafiorio/status/182522683626496001

ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Geo Librarian said...

This book sounds like an intriguing new look at the Cinderella story.

I've mentioned the giveaway on my blog (http://geolibrarian.blogspot.com), see subheading.

Thanks for the giveaway.

Kristen said...

Thanks for the awesome giveaway!
I'm a follower: Kris-10
I tweeted: https://twitter.com/#!/kmichelle_10/status/182584489782935552

kasey said...

Sounds great. love to win it!

Stephanie said...

I'm really looking forward to reading this!

GFC Stephanie

thaliansmhc at yahoo dot com

Phoebe's Sisters said...

The book sounds wonderful! Thank you for the giveaway and the interview. I'd love to have the chance to win :-))


Amy S. said...

Oh boy, I don't think I would want to have magical glasses like that! This book sounds fun. Thanks for the chance to win. amy dot swihart at gmail dot com

alicia marie said...

thanks for the great interview! Wow i almost wish my glasses had some magic in them : ) and thanks for the giveaway!!
ame1184 at gmail dot com

Rachna Chhabria said...

Magic glasses, wish I had them. Jenny's book Seeing Cindrella sounds wonderful. I would love to win a copy of this book.

Beth said...

This book sounds amazing! I'm crossing my fingers that I win this one.

Kaci Verdun said...

Sounds like a really cute book and thanks for the giveaway! I'm a GFC follower - Kaci Verdun

T. P. Jagger said...

Sounds like a great debut. I like the idea of journaling to explore and deepen the secondary characters.

Gigi said...

I wish I could find some glasses like that ones, it would be pretty awesome! Thank you so much for the giveaway!