CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE through April 22nd
Happy Easter Giveaway Hop through April 30th
Tracy Marchini Query Critique through April 29th
THE WINGSNATCHERS through May 4th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Laura Spieller on 4/26/2017
Loren Oberweger on 5/10/2017
Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

SHANNON MESSENGER INTERVIEW & BLOG TOUR GIVEAWAY + MY LET THE SKY FALL GIVEAWAY



Today I’m thrilled to be a part of Shannon Messenger’s Blog Tour for the release of LET THE SKY FALL, which releases on March 5th. I was very fortunate that Shannon let me read her ARC. Let me tell you, it was fantastic. And even though it’s 404 pages long and I had to go to work the days I read it, I finished it in two days. Okay, I confess I stayed up way too long one night because I couldn’t put it down.

Shannon creates a fantastic magical world around the power of wind that the sylphs control. I wondered if this would be enough of a magical power for a whole book, but I loved the different sylph group with their own special wind powers. And Audra and Vane are very different, but both great characters. I know you’re going to love this book.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


A broken past and a divided future can’t stop the electric connection of two teens in this “charged and romantic” (Becca Fitzpatrick), lush novel.

Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

Hi Shannon. Thanks so much for coming back her again and letting us help you celebrate your book release.

1. Your first awesome book, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, was a middle grade book. (Everyone, you can read my interview with Shannon here.) LET THE SKY FALL is definitely a YA book. What are some of the differences craft-wise in writing a middle grade vs. a YA book?


Aw, thank you so much for having me, Natalie! It's funny, I never really think: "This is a YA book" or "This is a MG book" when I'm drafting either series, because the "voice" of the stories comes so much from the characters themselves. Vane and Audra are both 17, and Sophie is12/13, so I spend most of my time really trying to think about what it felt like to be those ages, and then channel that feeling into the story. If the characters feel like they're truly their age, then the story will just sort of naturally fall into its proper age category.

2. Great tip to remember how it felt like to be your character’s age. I loved that Audra and Vane are sylphs and that they work with the wind. Tell us why you chose the wind and what your world building process was like.

Sylphs were a mythical creature I'd wanted to play with for a long time, mainly because they have very little actual mythology surrounding them (at least that I could find) so that left me a blank slate to do whatever I wanted. And I've always loved wind. It's something you can't see, but you can hear it and feel it and it's so unpredictable. It can be the gentle breeze that cools you off on a hot day or the raging tornado that destroys an entire town in a matter of minutes. So I spent a lot of time reading up on different wind related phenomena and then trying to decide how I could spin that into a "mythology" for a race of Windwalkers.

3. Your love of the wind definitely comes through here. And it is a great idea to pick a mythological creature with little mythology and then do what you want. I like that! Much of the story revolves around scenes between Audra and Vane. That could make a book a little boring, but your story was riveting. Tell us the challenges you faced in keeping the scenes so focused on them rather than including other characters more frequently.

Aw. *blush* Thank you! You know, this was another thing that really went back to the characters. Vane had such a BIG personality and had so much growing up to do, and Audra was so beautifully broken and complicated that the story didn't really have room for many other characters. It's really about THEM overcoming their pasts and figuring out who they are and how to survive the coming threat together. Once that's cleared up, then I can bring in a wider cast, which is exactly what happens in book 2. :)

4. Ooh, can’t wait for that! Okay, before I get to the next question, I just want to say that I loved that Vane was adopted. As an adoptive mom, I just want to say a HUGE THANK YOU for handling Vane’s relationship with his adoptive parents so realistically when he found out about his hidden past. And I loved his mom the few times she was around.

So now on to my next question, whose point of view was more difficult to write in—Audra’s or Vane’s—and why? 

Wow, that is a huge compliment--and one of my favorite things in the book, so I'm so glad you enjoyed it. As for your question, they were pretty much equally hard--but in totally different ways. Audra's voice is very wispy and lyrical, so I had to spend a lot of time polishing her prose and finding the right balance between her dark angst and the rhythm of her words. And Vane was really hard to keep serious. I had to go back and trim out a lot of jokes that were funny, but so not the time for that kind of humor.

5. Since you’re juggling writing two separate trilogies, both with deadlines, what’s your writing schedule like and how are you juggling the social media demands with the heavy writing schedule? Any tips for the rest of us, especially on how to best use Twitter, where I know you spend more time at than blogging? A lot of us wonder what to do with it and how much time to spend there.

My writing schedule is INTENSE. I write rather long books and my deadlines are very close together, so I pretty much work every day I'm not traveling for promo, and I pull a lot of all nighters. Which is why I've had to go dark online lately--especially when it comes to blogging. I stay a bit more active on Twitter, but mainly because tweets are short. Usually I sneak on during my daily writing breaks, respond to any @'s waiting for me, toss out a few new tweets of my own, and then sneak away and get back to work. But when I'm on a tight deadline I'll even be scarce on Twitter, mainly because my editor follows me on there and the last thing I'd want is for her to be like, WHY ARE YOU TWEETING--YOU OWE ME A BOOK!!! :)

6. It sounds intense. Hope it lightens up one of these days. I liked when you blogged more. Are your marketing plans any different for LET THE SKY FALL since it’s a YA book vs. KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, which is a middle grade story? Why?

Yes, very much so--largely because kids aren't online much. Having something like a blog countdown widget or a goodreads giveaway would be wasted efforts on a middle grade, since your readers aren't "there." Whereas YA readers are.

7. That’s true to a point. I think really it’s adults on blogs and maybe even Goodreads. But I agree no middle grade kids are there. Share your advice on the essential things you’d recommend an author do in marketing their book.

Try to remember that launching a book is a marathon, not a sprint. Yes, you need to do a lot of promo leading up to the release of the book--but that's only the beginning. Every so often the book takes off from week one and goes huge huge huge, but most of the time it has to build. So do what you can to give your book as strong of a start as you can, but remember it's just a START, and save some of that energy for things after release.

8. That’s great advice to not put all your promotion to the release only. What are you working on now?

I just finished up the sequel to LTSF and now I have a few of those "in-between deadlines" (flap copy, first pass, etc) before I dive in to writing KEEPER 3. There's really no break when you do two series a year. Good thing I love my job! :)

True it’s a lot of work, but awesome to have two series out there. Thanks Shannon for sharing all your advice. I’m so excited for you watching you release another book. Good luck with it all.

About Shannon:

Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned--among other things--that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She also regularly eats cupcakes for breakfast, sleeps with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and occasionally gets caught talking to imaginary people. So it was only natural for her to write stories for children. KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES is her first novel, with LET THE SKY FALL, a young adult novel, to follow in 2013. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats. Find her online at shannonmessenger.com.

Visit Shannon:  Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads

Shannon’s doing a pre-order giveaway HERE.

You can find the whole blog tour hosted by Mundie Moms HERE. And I really recommend you follow Mundie Moms' blog. It's SO awesome!

So there’s two giveaways today. First as part of the blog tour you can win 1 of 5 copies of LET THE SKY FALL by filling out the Rafflecopter below:
 
Rules:
US residents only.
(international fans can enter as long as they have a US address 
Simon & Schuster can send the book to.)
- You must be 13 yrs & older to enter.

Good Luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And I’m giving away a copy of LET THE SKY FALL too because Shannon’s my friend and she’s been so supportive to the writing community. 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 March 16th. I’ll announce the winner on March 18th. International entries are welcome as long as you live where The Book Depository ships for free.

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

And don't forget to enter my other contests. The links are at the top of the blog.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday, I have a guest post by Anna Staniszewski and a giveaway of her new book, MY FAIRY EPIC TALE FAIL, and her first book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE. She does a fantastic job of combining fantasy with humor.

Next Wednesday, I have a guest post with debut author Liesel Hill and a giveaway of her new adult dystopian, PERSISTENCE OF VISION.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Steven dos Santos and giving away an ARC of THE CULLING. It’s an action packed dystopian and trust me, Steven has no problem being hard on his characters.

Wednesday that week I’m super excited to share THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer Nielsen with you. I’ve been dying to read this since I read THE FALSE PRINCE last year, which just made the New York Bestseller list and won the Cybils. THE FALSE PRINCE is one of my all-time favorite books. THE RUNAWAY KING is fantastic and I’ll be doing a giveaway.

The following Monday I'm interviewing debut author Mindee Arnett and giving away a copy of her urban fantasy THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR. I loved the magical world Mindee created that was also grounded in our world. And there's a mystery to be solved, something I always love.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!












CARRIE HARRIS INTERVIEW ON WRITING HUMOR AND PLATFORM AND GIVEAWAY OF BAD HAIR DAY AND BAD TASTE IN BOYS

Happy Monday Everyone! I am happy to report that I survived my 9 days with Anna Li away in Costa Rica. And she had a great time and is back home.

Before I get to my interview, I want to announce the winner of DUALED.

The winner is S.P. BOWERS!

Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book by midnight on Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m thrilled to have Carrie Harris here to discuss writing humor and platform. I met Carrie at her book signing in November for her new book, BAD HAIR DAY. I was so excited when I discovered an amazing fact about Carrie—She lives in the same town as me! I was happy for days after discovering that.

I bought her first book, BAD TASTE IN BOYS, at her signing. I’d always wanted to read it from the intriguing cover. Her main character Kate is definitely funny in a snarky way. But what I really liked about her was how fully developed she was as a character. She has a strong interest in medicine and Carrie weaved this in throughout the plot, which is also a mystery about zombies.

Here’s a description of Carrie’s new book, BAD HAIR DAY, from Goodreads:

Senior year is positively hair-raising.

Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school’s pre-med program. Except when he’s arrested for murder, she’s left with the bodies. And when Kate’s brother Jonah stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, she realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone’s murdering kids—something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Is it werewolf awesomeness like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate’s supposed to be a butt-kicking zombie killing genius...but if she can’t figure out who’s behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what’s left of them—are going to keep piling up.

It’s scary. It’s twisted. It’s sick. It’s high school.

Hi Carrie. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank YOU for having me! And for saying nice things about my book. And for coming to my party. And for being AWESOME. I’ll shut up now.

1. OMG, your book signing was the best! I still smile thinking about it. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Well, I’ve had the writing bug since I was in high school, but I always figured it would be a hobby more than anything else. I thought it was one of those wild dreams that would never happen—like the ones in which I can actually carry a tune and surprise everyone who knows me by sitting down at a piano and breaking out into a rendition of my favorite song that doesn’t make everyone clap their hands to their ears and scream. I figured a writing career was about as likely, so I did a lot of freelance work for fun. I’m not exaggerating when I say a LOT. I wrote roleplaying games and websites and sales copy and flash cards and stage plays and poetry and if someone had been hiring people to write cereal boxes, I’m sure I would have said YES.

I figured I might as well try a book, so I wrote one for NaNo that sucked serious suckables, but at least it proved I knew how to write that many words. And then everything clicked when I found YA—my voice hasn’t really changed at all since high school. Neither has my sense of humor. Finally, I started to think of this as something more than a hobby. My first YA got me an agent, and the second one sold. I sound so calm when I say that, but inside? I’m still squealing like a crazed fangirl.

2. That’s such an inspiring story. For those who haven’t read BAD TASTE IN BOYS, tell us a bit about it.

I’m a total nerd, so I honestly think of it as an equation. BTIB is (zombie mayhem + weird science + the dead football players from the movie BEETLEJUICE)/geek saves the day. In normal person speak, it’s about a science geek who discovers that her high school football team has been turned into zombies. Which is bad. And then mayhem ensues, along with a little kissing.

3. I loved that Kate is a science geek. At your book signing, you said that writing humor is one of the hardest types of writing to do well. Why do you think that?

Gah. I had no idea what was coming out of my mouth at that moment. Could you tell? Writing in general is hard, and I think what I meant is that I’ve heard a lot of people say they find humor to be exceptionally tough. I think the issue is that it’s SO subjective. What’s funny to one person may be yawnsville to another, and if you’re going to write humor, you have to be open to the idea that some people will NOT find it funny simply because their sense of humor is on a different wavelength than yours. When you think about it, there are so many different kinds of funny. I like snarky humor and smart humor and slightly gross humor and ridiculous humor. I’m not a huge fan of potty jokes or really disgusting stuff. I think everyone has those lines, and they’re all in different places.

4. I think it’s true that humor is subjective. But a good humor writer can maybe get the humor right more often, which more people will find funny. Where do you get the inspiration for the humor in your stories and what tips do you have for the rest of us trying to write a humorous story?

I surround myself with people who are funnier than me. You probably think I’m being a smart-alecky douchecanoe, but I’m serious. Any time someone makes a wisecrack, there’s a part of my brain that’s making note of it so I can steal it later. BE WARNED, PEOPLE. I WILL STEAL YOUR JOKES.
(I do ask first, though.)

People frequently ask me how to write funny bits, and I honestly can’t give a straight answer. Inevitably, the parts that crack me up don’t get the big laughs when I read, and the parts that I didn’t find funny do. So one of the most important things I think you need when you’re writing humor is a lot of feedback. Ask people to tell you what made them laugh. LOTS of people. Use that feedback to pick the gags with the widest appeal. Because it’s not something you can break down into an equation. Darn it.

5. That’s great advice to get feedback and surround yourself with people who like humor. Okay, I’ll confess I’m not a funny person and I don’t like watching comedy shows or things like that. But I might like to add a humorous secondary character in one of my stories. Is it hopeless or do you have any suggestions on how serious people like me can learn to create a funny character?

Of course it’s not hopeless! Like any part of the craft, it’s something you can work on and develop if that’s where you want to go. I tend to go over the top in my early drafts, and I find that really helpful. Make that silly character SUPER GRATINGLY SILLY. I had so many boob jokes in the first draft of BTIB that my editor asked me to give the manuscript a breast reduction. (That still cracks me up.) But it gives you a chance to figure out which of those jokes are working for your readers and which ones aren’t. Then you can start to cull them down to a level that doesn’t make people want to hit their head against things.

6. That’s good to know. I might be able learn to do sarcastic. I always like to find out how authors got their agent. How did Kate Schafer Testerman become your agent and what was your journey to publication like?

Kate went on my dream agent list the day I read Maureen Johnson’s DEVILISH. I was on the query widely track—I always had 10-15 queries out—but hers was one of the first I sent. I knew the query was working, because I got lots of full requests, but after about 100 rejections, it still hadn’t clicked with anyone enough for them to offer. You know it only takes one yes, but after that many nos, you start to think it won’t ever happen. Then my critique group dissolved, and I started to think maybe this was a sign from the universe that writing would only be a hobby for me. I got The Email a few days afterwards and found Kate to be exactly what I needed—someone totally knowledgeable who would also talk games and geekery with me.

That first book was on submission for about a year, and it went to acquisitions so many times that I honestly lost count. In the meantime, I was writing this goofy zombie book, and we decided we’d send it out to some of the people who had been interested in that first book. BTIB sold in just a few weeks. Which is CRAAAAZY.

7. I’d like to move onto platform and publicity. In retrospect, what worked well and what didn’t work so well in developing your platform as a debut author and the publicity when your book released?

I tried a whole lot of everything, because you don’t want to be in the position where you wonder “what if I’d done X?!?” So I blogged almost every weekday between when I signed with my agent and when the book hit the shelves, and I commented on blogs, and by the end, I had a tremendous group of awesome bloggery friends who helped spread the word about the book. (I was also admittedly a little burned out.) I did an online charity auction, which I found personally fulfilling, but I’m not sure how much it actually resulted in selling books. I did lots of giveaways and promotions and videos…I get tired just thinking about it, but I’m glad I did it. I felt like I really gave my all, and I had a chance to figure out which types of promotion really resonated with me.

8. That’s important to have a wide range of friends to help you spread the word about your book. And personally, I think it's helpful when you have different circles of friends to tap into more prospective readers. You were part of the Class of 2k11 and were its president. How important is joining a group when you debut and did you feel taking a lead role in the Class of 2k11 was helpful? Why?

I am so so SO glad that I did the Class of 2k11. The people in that group are and always will be my family, and the support alone is worth the effort of joining. It’s scary to put yourself out there, so being able to do it in a group—to combine your strengths and support each other through your weaknesses—is invaluable. I learned a lot from them about publishing and about book promotion, and I made some lifelong friends too. I think when you join a debut group you really get out what you put into it, so they really did me a favor by letting me take a leadership role. I really learned a lot—things I did well and things I will never EVER do again!

9. I think the friendships and support would be so helpful in joining such a group. What have you done to keep your name and your books out there in the world since it was released? What do you recommend other authors do?

I’ve been moving away from deliberate book promotion and more towards trying to be open and engaged with readers in general. There are so many contests and so many authors and so many books—I feel pretty overwhelmed myself with all the choices! So I’ve decided to focus on the things I love most, like meeting new people who love books as much as I do, and talking with them rather than at them. I’m an author, but I’m also a real person. They’re readers, but they’re people too. I think it’s important to keep that in mind regardless of what you do.

10. What’s been different in your marketing approach for BAD HAIR DAY vs. BAD TASTE IN BOYS? What are your thoughts on your approach in retrospect?

For BTIB, I threw everything at the wall to see what stuck. For BHD, I really stuck to what I enjoyed the most. I think it does make a difference. People can tell if you’re having fun or if you’re phoning it in because you think you have to do it.

11. Okay, I promise this is the last question. What are you working on now?

Well, I just finished all the work on my next book with Random House, which is called DEMON DERBY, and I’m putting together a really fun event in relation to that book. I’m SUPER excited about it…like using random capital letters levels of excitement. And I’ve also sold a book to a gaming company. I love games. This will be a pulp adventure—think Indiana Jones for kids—called SALLY SLICK AND THE STEEL SYNDICATE, and it’s tentatively scheduled for the end of 2013, which means I should probably finish writing it. In short, I’m a busy, busy girl!

Sure sounds like it. Thanks Carrie for sharing all your great advice. You can find Carrie at her website, blog and Twitter.

So this is a two book giveaway. One lucky winner will win my signed copy of BAD TASTE IN BOYS and Carrie has generously donated a signed copy of BAD HAIR DAY for another winner.

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 and tell me which book you’d like by midnight on March 9th. I’ll announce the winner on March 11th. I’ll try to match the book to the winner. International entries are welcome, but there will only be one international winner due to postage costs.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome. We'd really love if you'd spread the word about this contest.

And don't forget to enter my contests for CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM, THE CADET OF TILDOR, and OBSIDIAN MIRROR, all fantastic books. And be sure to enter our 3000 follower Mega, Mega Giveaway. The links are at the top of the blog.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday, I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new amazing YA book LET THE SKY FALL, an urban fantasy. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.

Next Monday, I have a guest post by Anna Staniszewski and a giveaway of her new book, MY FAIRY EPIC TALE FAIL, and her first book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.

Next Wednesday, I have a guest post with debut author Liesel Hill and a giveaway of her new adult dystopian, PERSISTENCE OF VISION.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Steven dos Santos and giving away an ARC of THE CULLING. It’s an action packed dystopian and trust me, Steven has no problem being hard on his characters.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!








Agent Spotlight: Amy Jameson

This week's Agent Spotlight features Amy Jameson of A+B Works.

Status: Open to submissions.

amyAbout: “Amy Jameson began her career in publishing working with renowned literary agent Lynn Nesbit. During her seven years at Janklow & Nesbit Associates, Amy had the privilege of working with acclaimed authors such as Michael Crichton, President Jimmy Carter, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Jeffrey Eugenides, and many others. She also sold audio and first serial rights for several years at J&N while building her own select client list. In 2004, she left Janklow and partnered with her husband Brandon to form A+B Works. Amy has always had a passion for young adult and middle grade fiction. Some of her favorite authors include Sharon Creech, Jerry Spinelli, Madeleine L'Engle, E.L. Konigsberg, Louisa May Alcott, Susan Juby, Cynthia Rylant, Karen Cushman, Susan Cooper, and, of course, her own clients. Amy enjoys spending time with her children, trying to grow things in her garden, cooking, singing, and reading really great books.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“A+B Works is a literary agency plus graphic design firm. Two partners bring
big league experience in their respective fields to a boutique setting and offer
both services under one roof.” (Link)

Web Presence:

A+B Works website.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

Facebook.

AgentQuery.

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres / Specialties:

“We primarily represent young adult and middle grade fiction, women's fiction, and select narrative non-fiction.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

“We do not represent thrillers, literary fiction, erotica, cook books, picture books, poetry, short fiction, or screenplays — please do not query us regarding any of these categories.” (Link)

Editorial Agent?

“Our focus is on partnering with authors to improve their work and on seeing our authors published at the highest professional standard possible. (Link)

Clients:

Dan Austin, Karen Day, Jessica Day George, and Kathleen Reid.

Sales:

There are some past deals listed at Publisher’s Marketplace. No recent deal news available.

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

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send an e-mail query only.

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

Response Policy:

“Due to the high volume of queries we receive, we cannot guarantee a response to unsolicited queries. We accept very few new clients in order to ensure the best possible representation for each of our authors.” (Link)

What's the Buzz?

Ms. Jameson is particularly interested in middle grade and young adult fiction but takes on very few new clients. She has a small, select list and if you click on the client links above you can see titles she’s sold.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None found.

Around the Web:

Amy Jameson / A+B Works at Predators and Editors ($).

A+B Works AbsoluteWrite thread (05/2009 – Present).

2013 Guide to Literary Agents profile at Google Books.

Work Life Stories: Books and Babies at CW (02/2010).

Panel with Amy Jameson (agent) and Stacy Whitman (editor), LDStorymakers, at Jordan McCollum’s blog (06/2009)

Contact:

Please see the A+B Works website for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 2/21/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.

***

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 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.

3000 FOLLOWERS MEGA, MEGA GIVEAWAY

Hi Everyone! Casey and I are beyond thrilled to celebrate reaching 3000 followers. In the two years I've been Casey's blog partner, I've been amazed to watch our following grow by 2000. Thank you all for being such great followers! I'm SO grateful for all the friendships I've made through this blog. I would never have gotten to know so many fabulous writers, readers, and book review bloggers if I wasn't blogging.

So to celebrate reaching 3000 followers, Casey and I have a fabulous giveaway for you. There's 3 separate giveaways.

Prize Package #1

Two lucky winners will win the book of their choice from the books below. Casey and I are each purchasing a book for this part of the giveaway. Click on the book title to read the book description. This is open to international followers as long as you live where The Book Depository delivers for free.

 

 


 


 














CLOCKWORK PRINCESS (Pre-order)
FALLING KINGDOMS
REACHED
REQUIEM
PROPHECY
SCARLET
THE INDIGO SPELL
THRONE OF GLASS
UNRAVEL ME 
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT 
THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT

Prize Package #2 Twelve winners will win one book or ARC from the choices below. This is from me. As I've tried to get more ARCs from publishers to share with you, I've also gotten so many books and ARCs that are really awesome but I don't have time to review with other things scheduled. Some of these choices I've read and enjoyed. Others I've read good reviews of and seen on other blogs I follow. Thanks to Harper, Penguin, and Kennsington Publishing for making this possible.

And I'm happy to say that I found homes for all the older middle grade books from Harper and Penguin that I couldn't spotlight at our Families with Children from China Chinese New Year party. Even the Justin Bieber books. All the kids were excited, which was so great.

This package is open to U.S. and Canada only. Sorry everyone, but the postage cost would be too high otherwise.

 


 


 


 
17 & GONE (ARC)
CRIMSON FROST (ARC)
DON'T TURN AROUND (BOOK)
FANG GIRL(ARC_
FEEDBACK (BOOK)
OUT OF THE EASY (ARC)
PAPER VALENTINE (ARC)
TEN (BOOK)
THE RUINING (ARC)
JUST ONE DAY(ARC)
SOMETHING STRANGE AND DEADLY (BOOK)
THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH (ARC)


Hope you're excited about all the book choices in Prize Packages #1 and #2. I tried to pick ones that I thought you'd really like.

Prize Package #3 Casey is offering a 5 page critique to one winner. She's awesome at critiquing so I know someone will really love this.

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 and tell me the following:

Prize Package #1-Tell me which book you want. International entries are welcome as long as you live where The Book Depository ships for free.

Prize Package #2-Tell me your first two choices of books if you are from the U.S. or Canada. I'll try to match the books to the winners, but there's no guarantee I can do that for all the books. If you don't list any choices, I'll assume you don't qualify for this Prize Package.

Prize Package #3-Tell me if you want to be entered in this contest. International entries are welcome.

Please enter the contest by midnight on March 9th. I’ll announce the winners on March 11th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome. We'd really love if you'd spread the word about this contest.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I'm interviewing Carrie Harris about writing humor and platform and giving away her new book BAD HAIR DAY and BAD TASTE IN BOYS. Carrie has a great knack in creating funny, really likeable characters. I went to her book signing for BAD HAIR DAY and discovered she lives in my town. I was SO excited to find that out and I'm excited to share her books and advice with you.

Next Wednesday I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new amazing YA book LET THE SKY FALL, an urban fantasy. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.
 
The following Monday  I have a guest post by Anna Staniszewski and a giveaway of her new book, MY FAIRY EPIC TALE FAIL, and her first book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.

The following Wednesday, I have a guest post with debut author Liesel Hill and a giveaway of her new adult dystopian, PERSISTENCE OF VISION.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


TIP TUESDAY #153 AND BITOPIA GIVEAWAY

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.

Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. I have a great tip by Ari Magnusson the author of BITOIPA, a fantasy that also deals with the contemporary issue of bullying. More about the giveaway after Ari' awesome tip.



Embrace Criticism

The biggest lesson I learned in writing my novel Bitopia was to seek out criticism. To embrace it. To beg for it if necessary. I had shared the draft of the book for years, hearing all the praise people had for it but turning a deaf ear to the improvements people suggested. Yes, I did hear the criticism, but I always had someone else’s positive opinion at the ready to counter it. And since at least a couple of people really liked the whole book (so they said), didn’t that mean that some agent somewhere would, too?

After years of rejection, I realized that I was getting nowhere precisely because, deep down, I was treating criticism as a negative statement about the book and my writing instead of embracing it as an opportunity to make the book better and grow as a writer. And when I revised the book, I was simply applying the same judgments to the text that I had employed when writing it. So I pulled out all the feedback I had received on the book, and when I reread it with an open mind, I clearly saw how I could improve the book.

After I finished rewriting the book based on the feedback, I asked anyone who would read the manuscript to tell me what he or she didn’t like. I no longer needed or wanted to hear what was good; now I wanted to know what could be improved. I received a wealth of criticism and carefully considered every comment, no matter how incorrect or preposterous it might initially have seemed. And the approach worked—Bitopia was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best of 2012, an achievement that would not have been possible without all the suggestions for improvement that I received.

If you find yourself in a similar position to mine—where constant updates and revisions don’t seem to be resulting in progress—consider how you treat criticism. If you believe that you are honestly open to it, then test yourself; pull out feedback that you received in the past and recall whether you had dismissed it outright or carefully thought through how each suggested improvement would change the story. And if you are truly open to criticism, seek it out and embrace it when it comes.

The following types of individuals can be great sources of criticism:

·         Writing group members. My writing group is a wonderful and “safe” place to share new work. We kick around ideas, suggest new directions and alternative endings, push back on criticism and see if it remains standing, and feel comfortable admitting when something doesn’t work. Join a group and truly listen to what the members have to say.
·         Friends who aregeneral readers.” I’ve found that friends are usually reluctant to make suggestions unless specifically asked to help find places to improve, and then they are thrilled with having the freedom to criticize. Tell friends that you want to know where improvements can be made.
·         The target audience. Perhaps the most enlightening feedback came from a group of 5th-grade students. I used my network of friends to find a schoolteacher who read the book to her class and sent me their wonderful comments. Find opportunities to share your work with the target audience and listen to their feedback.
·         Asuper reader.” I have a friend who reads everything and anything: romance, mysteries, YA, nonfiction, classics, anything with two covers and sheets between. She devours books. And because she reads so widely, she knows stories. She knows what works and what doesn’t and can clearly explain why. Although a rare breed, find a super reader if you can. Try a local librarian or bookstore owner; they could serve as a super reader or help you find one.
·         Subject matter expert. Since my novel deals with bullying, I sought out a nationally recognized bullying expert to review the bullying scenes and confirm that the advice provided to readers was solid. Not only did he make wonderful suggestions to improve the scenes and fine-tune the advice, but he also gave me his feedback on the entire book as a reader, and provided me with an in-depth education on bullying. If your book deals with a specialized subject, engage an expert.
·         Editors. I hired three editors for my book. Who says I had to stop at one? I used my network of writing friends to find editors (I’m lucky—my sister is an editor) who charged reasonable prices. Each provided a unique perspective on the book, so I found using more than one worthwhile.
·         Agents. I got great feedback from two agents. I paid for the first one’s time at a writing conference, and he proceeded to shred my main character. The second agent was considering representing my rewrite and over a couple of months provided great feedback on the opening (I cut a full chapter based on her suggestion) and dialogue. I asked her for titles of books to use as examples, which she provided, and although she decided not to represent the book, I walked away with invaluable improvements to the book. Always approach exchanges with agents, whether at conferences or should they express interest in a manuscript, as an opportunity to learn how to improve your work.
·         Proofreaders. My proofreader is awesome. She knows grammar like Einstein knew physics. But she also asked, when I hired her, if I was open to editorial input, and she made great suggestions. Let anyone who is looking at the book know that you are open to suggestions for improvement. 
·         Family members. Not only do I have a professional editor in my family, but I also have the unofficial Attila of Literary Criticism: my mom. This woman, who once wrote the word “BORING” in big red letters across the top of a chapter and continues to bring up how terrible that chapter was years after the fact, contributed suggestions that resulted in one hundred and twenty-seven changes to my novel. In my opinion, the ultimate test of openness to criticism is the ability to receive it from a family member without it affecting your personal relationship.

Embracing criticism worked for me once I accepted others’ comments as opportunities to improve the story. And now I can’t get enough of it. I don’t need to hear what works; I need to know about the problems—where pacing is slow, where actions seem forced, where dialogue is clumsy—because that information will help me to improve the material and, I hope, help me become a better writer. I fully accept that the first draft of a book is the best that I can do on my own, but the best that I can do for the book itself is to seek out insights and suggestions that others have for what would make the best story. 

Thanks Ari for sharing your advice. You can find Ari at his website.

Here's a blurb about BITOPIA from Goodreads:

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best of 2012!

When you run from bullies, you never know where you might wind up…

Bitopia is a wonderland of fantastical foliage and mysterious creatures. It’s also a place where Venators lurk, vile creatures that relentlessly hunt children. So the children of Bitopia, the only human inhabitants, are forced to live in a high-walled city for protection, a medieval metropolis of cold and shadow where time passes but no one ages, a place of no escape.

Like all the other children of Bitopia, Stewart arrives there unexpectedly while fleeing from bullies. And, like all Newcomers, Stewart dreams of finding a way back home. Risking exile from the city and the protection that it offers, Stewart and Cora, his Finder, discover a clue to escaping, one that presents them with a terrible choice: face their greatest fear and risk death, or be trapped in Bitopia forever.

A fast-paced adventure that addresses a fundamental element of bullying-fear-and provides readers with an example of how to deal with bullying on their own.

Ari has generously offered a copy of BITOPIA for a giveaway.  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 March 2ndI’ll announce the winner on March 4th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.


If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

Tomorrow Casey and I have a super awesome 3000 follower mega giveaway which includes a HUGE book giveaway. You won't want to miss it. 

Next Monday I'm interviewing Carrie Harris about writing humor and platform and giving away her new book BAD HAIR DAY and BAD TASTE IN BOYS. Carrie has a great knack in creating funny, really likeable characters. I went to her book signing for BAD HAIR DAY and discovered she lives in my town. I was SO excited to find that out and I'm excited to share her books with you.
 

Next Wednesday I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new YA book LET THE SKY FALL. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.


And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!

THE CADET OF TILDOR AND OBSIDIAN MIRRIOR GIVEAWAY AND ASK THE EXPERT INTERVIEW

Happy Monday! Before I get to my interview today, I've got a few things to share. First, the Cybil winners were announced this week. THE FALSE PRINCE by Jennifer Nielsen won in the Sci Fi/Fantasy category. I'm so excited because I'm in love with that book. AND I NOMINATED IT! It was a highlight of my week. THE RUNAWAY KING comes out next month and I'll be sharing that will you for sure in April as March is already too booked. I can't wait to read it. You can see all the winners HERE.

Second, if you're a published author, Kathy at I AM A READER NOT A WRITER is looking for authors to donate books for her giveaway hops. This could be a great way for you to get some extra publicity for your book as her giveaway hops are very popular. If you're interested, go HERE to fill out her form.

The WriteOnCon Pitch-Fest starts today. You can find out details HERE. Hope to see you there!
 
Next, I have some winners to announce.

The winner of PRODIGY is LUISA FREIHEIT!

And the winner of CITY OF A THOUSAND DOLLS isVIVIEN!
Congrats! E-mail me your address so I can send you your book. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick a new winner.

Today I’m excited to interview Celine, a teenager from Australia, who also blogs at Forget-Me-Not. It’s a great blog where she reviews mostly YA books. So you know, she answered these questions a few months ago because school in Australia is really busy in February for her.

Welcome Celine! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi everyone! As you know, my name is Celine and I live in Australia! I absolutely love to read, particularly YA books. I grew up with Roald Dahl’s books and my first YA book was...Twilight! I’m currently in my last 2 years of high school and it’s extremely busy. I have so many school works but I always try to spend my free time reading books! I do enjoy reading different types of genres such as YA dystopian, paranormal and also contemporary. And just letting you know, although I can’t choose my favourite YA dystopian and paranormal books, my all-time favourite YA contemporary book is none other than Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins!

2. I don’t read much contemporary, but I loved Anna and the French Kiss. And I’m a huge YA dystopian fan. Before you started blogging, how did you find out about the books you read? What about new books coming out?

Before I started blogging, I usually find out about the books I read from the library. Sometimes, the library makes a list of good YA books to check out and I normally just buy books when the cover and summary intrigue me. As for new books, I don’t really know much unless it’s a sequel to the series I started reading although since blogging and checking out Goodreads, I found out lots of different new books coming out each year!

3. I used to love finding authors through books at the library. Now that I’m blogging, I get more ARCs and go to the library less, sadly. I love Goodreads as a way to find books too. And bloggers like you. What made you decide to start blogging? Tell us a bit about your blog and how you juggle it with the demands of high school.

I decided to start blogging because I really wanted to share my love for books and found out this community called blogging (which I absolutely love!). So, I decided to write my first review and then publish it in the blog. My blog has just recently celebrated its one year anniversary and I just can’t believe I’ve been blogging for a year! When I started my blog last year, school wasn’t very busy so I was able to blog constantly and participate in different memes. However, since school is quite busy this year, I have to keep track of all books I read which I need to review and make sure that I’m up-to-date with writing my reviews and updating my blog.

4. I’m amazed you can find time to blog with the demands of high school. My daughter has no time to read for pleasure with homework, swimming, and the community service required on college applications. How has blogging changed what you read, if at all? What books are you waiting to be released?

Blogging has certainly exposed me to different genres. I first began by reading only YA paranormal and contemporary books, but after blogging, I discovered many other amazing genres out there such as dystopian, steampunk, fantasy and many more! I have a lot of books I’m waiting for to be released but the ones I’m most dying for are probably Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (The last book in the series!), Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins and the third Divergent book by Veronica Roth!

5. Do you buy most of your book, receive ARCS, or get them at the library? How often do you go to a bookstore?

When I first started blogging, I bought most of my books. But, since some of the books I want to read are not quite available in the bookstores, I borrow some of them from the library too. After blogging for about 6 months, I started to receive physical ARCs from the publishers here and receiving my first physical ARC was one of the most unforgettable blogging moments. I visit the bookstore quite often, at least once a week and I just love looking around the YA section, trying to see which books I’m interested in that I haven’t got!

6. I also started out by buying a lot of my books. Now I get ARCs from publishers for most of my interviews and some ARCs I request. I was excited too when I first started getting ARCs from publishers. Do you read any teen book blogs, author blogs, or author or publisher websites? Become a fan of an author on Facebook? Why?

I definitely do check out a lot of YA book blogs, author blogs and publisher websites. Checking out other YA book blogs keep me updated with new books that I might not know yet and reading reviews from these blogs also help to know more about the books out there. As for author blogs, I love knowing what’s happening with the books they are writing! With publisher websites, I read them so I can also know when publishers here are going to publish certain books or whether or not they have picked up the rights to publish a book which has been published in the US because only some books published in the US are published here in Australia.

7. I read a lot of YA and middle grade book blogs for the same reason. Have any of your teachers recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

My teachers rarely recommend blogs or websites to my class since we don’t really have a YA English class but sometimes they do when we are studying a particular book in class!

8. 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 think I’m pretty happy with all the websites, blogs and facebook pages of my favourite authors. I particularly love it when their websites are neatly set out with creative and beautiful themes!

9. 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, no authors have visited my school sadly. Although, if an author is going to visit my school, I’d really be excited and happy! I’ve only attended Melina Marchetta’s book signing (my favourite Aussie author!) and even though book signings are quite rare here, they are definitely an awesome experience!

Thanks Celine for sharing all your advice!

Today I’m sharing two awesome books, THE CADET OF TILDOR by debut author Alex Lidell and THE OBSIDIAN MIRROR by Catherine Fisher. I picked these because I really think that anyone would really enjoy these, even if you don’t like the fantasy genre. They are both fantastic stories that don’t have too many elements of magic which some of you may not like. I’ll keep my reviews brief so the post doesn’t get too long.

Here’s a blurb of THE CADET OF TILDOR from Goodreads:

Tamora Pierce meets George R. R. Martin in this smart, political, medieval fantasy-thriller.

There is a new king on the throne of Tildor. Currents of political unrest sweep the country as two warring crime families seek power, angling to exploit the young Crown's inexperience. At the Academy of Tildor, the training ground for elite soldiers, Cadet Renee de Winter struggles to keep up with her male peers. But when her mentor, a notorious commander recalled from active duty to teach at the Academy, is kidnapped to fight in illegal gladiator games, Renee and her best friend Alec find themselves thrust into a world rife with crime, sorting through a maze of political intrigue, and struggling to resolve what they want, what is legal, and what is right.

 
 Renee is a fantastic character that reminded me a lot of the strong girls that Tamora Pierce writes about. Right from the beginning of the story when her father says he’ll disown her if she goes back to the Academy, she doesn’t hesitate to stick to her principles and just leaves. It was the same when Savory is kidnapped. She’s loyal and she leaves to rescue him even if it means she might lose everything she’s worked for. And I loved that she finds her own strengths to compensate for the fact that she’s smaller than the male cadets.

Alec and Savory are great secondary characters with secrets and family pasts. Savory is not the most likeable at the beginning. But trust me, he definitely will surprise you and grow on you.
The world, often cruel, is fascinating and there’s plenty of stakes, mystery, and political intrigue that compelled me to keep turning the pages as fast as I could. I so hope Alex writes another book in this series.

Here’s a blurb of THE OBSIDIAN MIRROR from Goodreads:


Jake's father disappears while working on mysterious experiments with the obsessive, reclusive Oberon Venn. Jake is convinced Venn has murdered him. But the truth he finds at the snow-bound Wintercombe Abbey is far stranger ... The experiments concerned a black mirror, which is a portal to both the past and the future. Venn is not alone in wanting to use its powers. Strangers begin gathering in and around Venn's estate: Sarah - a runaway, who appears out of nowhere and is clearly not what she says, Maskelyne - who claims the mirror was stolen from him in some past century. There are others, a product of the mirror's power to twist time. And a tribe of elemental beings surround this isolated estate, fey, cold, untrustworthy, and filled with hate for humans. But of them all, Jake is hell-bent on using the mirror to get to the truth. Whatever the cost, he must learn what really happened to his father.

 
I’m a huge fan of Catherine Fisher’s and was thrilled when I received this ARC. Like her other stories, she does a fantastic job here making the Obsidian Mirror feel like the most mysterious, powerful object that everyone can’t help but want. It really says a lot about what an amazing writer she is.

This is told from multiple points of view of Jake, Sarah, Venn, and Wharton, the teacher who accompanies Jake to Wintercombe. Normally, I like stories from one or two points of view, but I could really see why this story needed so many points of view. All their lives are intertwined with the Obsidian Mirror. I don’t want to tell you how exactly because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I loved learning all their secrets, especially Venn’s and Sarah’s.

There’s time travel, a bit of magic, intrigue, deceptions, even between the main characters, and danger. This all equals a fantastic read. I can’t wait till the second book in the series comes out.

I’m giving away both of my ARCs. Thank you to Dial Books and Penguin Group from providing these ARCs. There will be two winners. 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 about Celine’s interview and telling me which book is your first choice by midnight on March 2nd. I’ll announce the winner on March 4th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday Casey and I have a super awesome 3000 follower mega giveaway. You won't want to miss it.

Next Monday I'm interviewing Carrie Harris about writing humor and platform and giving away her new book BAD HAIR DAY and BAD TASTE IN BOYS. Carrie has a great knack in creating funny, really likeable characters. I went to her book signing for BAD HAIR DAY and discovered she lives in my town. I was SO excited to find that out and I'm excited to share her books with you.

Next Wednesday I'm thrilled to interview Shannon Messenger about her new amazing YA book LET THE SKY FALL. I'm part of her blog tour and the tour is sponsoring a giveaway. And because Shannon's my friend and I loved her book, I have a giveaway too.

The following Monday  I have a guest post by Anna Staniszewski and a giveaway of her new book, MY FAIRY EPIC TALE FAIL, and her first book, MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE.

The following Wednesday, I have a guest post with debut author Liesel Hill and a giveaway of her new adult dystopian, PERSISTENCE OF VISION.

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!