CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Quressa Robinson Query Critique through November 11th
DARK MIGHTY THINGS through November 25th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Elizabeth Bewley Agent Spotlight Interview on 1/10/18
Molly O'Neill Agent Spotlight Interview on 1/22/18

Tip Tuesday #161

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.

Heather Villa is a freelance writer and the author of past Tip #150. You can find her at her website, Heather Villa Writers, and on Twitter. Enjoy!


Words to Savor 

The power of written words, nestled within a series of ideas is hopefully never overlooked. Unfortunately, written words aren’t always received in the manner authors intend to convey. The blame doesn’t necessarily fall to the author. A voracious reader, recklessly whizzing through sentences, may sacrifice absorbing the essence of words and ideas.

 Let’s look at the evolution of a fast reader who transformed into a slow reader.

A nine year old girl awarded a blue ribbon for the most books read over the course of summer, continued to receive reading contest awards year after year.

Eventually, she was introduced to the classics, and her teachers assured her that she was prepared to succeed in college. After all, she was one of the top students in the college preparatory English class and gladly read whatever was assigned.

Later, as a university student, she regularly and hastily raced against the rising sun, barely realizing that the required reading was obviously too much to properly digest. Her reading pace accelerated on the night that she consumed an entire pot of black coffee while skimming through a 500 page novel about European history, never taking a moment to appreciate the author’s research or the book’s literary merit. A few hours later, she was too tired to adequately contribute to the history class discussion.

The temptation to recklessly read continued after graduation, especially when she only had a precious window of time to call her own. During a daily bus commute, the former student read novels for pleasure with such intensity, that sometimes her heart raced, as she tried to finish a chapter before the bus reached her final destination.

After the woman’s daughter was born, novels were replaced by parenting books and picture books. With a toddler by her side, the new mother regularly perused the local library’s children’s section in search for brilliant books, carefully selecting the perfect read, enjoyable to both parent and child. When the mother slowly read books out loud to her child, something amazing happened. The woman’s internal reading speed seemed to recalibrate.

The former speed reader recognized that she felt relaxed when she read slowly and she yearned to leisurely read more books. She started to slowly read the words in books, magazines, blogs, and newspapers, wondering how much she previously missed. Then the woman decided to read a book that she disliked the first time around. The second time around, she lingered between the pages and fell in love with the story. The reader savored the words and perhaps the author’s intended message was truly understood.

Are you, too, a speed reader? Did you find yourself quickly reading this post? The following suggestions are ways to intentionally downshift your reading speed:

• Read poetry
• Read out loud
• Slowly and silently read only one chapter of a novel
• Read a book that you may have previously read quickly, slowly
• Read a genre that you don’t normally read
• Listen to someone else read out loud
• Think quality over quantity
Savor the words and you will experience the various layers of literature.

~Heather Villa

YA AND MIDDLE GRADE BOOK GIVEAWAY

Hi Everyone! Can you believe it's the end of April? It's gone so fast. It's finally warmed up this weekend so I can get out in my garden and take more walks with Ellie Mae. Can't believe how long it took to get here. Now if I could only get Ellie Mae to stay out of my flower beds. Any suggestions?

Before I get to my giveaway, I have a bunch of winners to announce.

The winner of TAKEN is Amber Hsu!

The winner of MILA 2.0 is Eisen!

The winner of BLACK CITY is BJ Almeda!

The winner of THE COLOSSUS RISES is Jessa from THE NOTEBOOK SISTERS!

The winner of the backpack is Danielle H!

The winner of FALLEN STAR is Eli Yanti!

The winner of a half-off coupon to Jill Corcoran's Path to Publishing Interactive Workshops is Rachna Chhabria!

Congrats to all the winners. E-mail me your address so I can send you your books. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

So I've gotten a bunch of books that I wish I could read and review, but with the schedule of books and authors I'm promoting, I just don't have time. They look good, so I'll share them with you by doing a random giveaway. There's a combination of YA and middle grade books.

Click on the title below the book covers for a description from Goodreads.


 


 
 












Sorry for the covers not aligning right but Blogger doesn't want to cooperate. All are ARCs unless noted below.

BAD UNICORN
RIGHT OF WAY 
THE HUNT
SEEDS OF REBELLION (Signed ARC)
SPELLCASTER (Book)
THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS 
THE AWESOME ALMOST 100% TRUE ADVENTURES OF MATT & CRAZ

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 telling me your first two choices by midnight on May 11th. I’ll announce the winner on May 13th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome, but due to postage costs, I'll only pick one international winner at most. Please let me know in the comments if you live outside the U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday, I’m interviewing Jessica Bell about her craft books SHOW & TELL IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED TRANSITIONS FROM TELLING TO SHOWING and ADVERBS & CLICHÉS IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED SUBVERSIONS OF ADVERBS & CLICHÉS INTO GOURMET IMAGERY. And one lucky winner will win one of these books.

Next Monday I’m interviewing Liesl Shurtliff and giving away a copy of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN. This is a fantastic retelling of this fairytale with a really fresh spin on it.

Wednesday next week I’m excited to interview one of our followers Lisa Gail Green about her debut novel, DJINN: THE BINDING STONE, a YA paranormal story I can’t wait to read. There will be a giveaway too.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!











THE 5th WAVE GIVEAWAY

Today I'm excited to give away an ARC of THE 5th WAVE by Rick Yancy. It's a dystopian/sci-fi that I've heard really good things about. It's on my TBR list instead of my read list so I can't tell you what I think about it. But I want to read it.

Here's a description from Goodreads:

The Passage meets Ender’s Game in an epic new series from award-winning author Rick Yancey.

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Doesn't it sound fantastic?

You can see the trailer for this book here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpmIjDo3B1s

And here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQjA8lDlBVs


Here's where you can meet Rick Yancey:

 Tuesday, May 7th
7:00 PM
Books and Books
265 Aragon Ave
Coral Gables, FL

Wednesday, May 8th
6:00 PM
Vero Beach Book Center
2145 Indian River Blvd.
Vero Beach, FL 32960

Friday, May 10th
7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble
7660 North Point Parkway Suite 200
Alpharetta, GA 30022

Thursday, May 16th
7:00 PM
Book People
603 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703

Saturday, May 18th
2:00 PM
Inkwood Books
216 S Armenia Ave
Tampa, FL 33609
Tuesday, May 21st
7:00 PM
Jabberwocky Books
810 Caroline St
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Wednesday, May 22nd
7:00 PM
Anderson’s Bookshop
123 W Jefferson Ave
Naperville, IL 60540


Wish he were coming to Ann Arbor!

Thanks to Penguin for this giveaway. One winner will win an ARC of THE 5th WAVE. 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 May 11th. I’ll announce the winner on May 13th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This contest is open to the U.S. only.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday, I'll be doing a giveaway of some middle grade and YA books I've received that I don't have time to spotlight individually. Stop by to see what I'm offering

On Wednesday next week, I’m interviewing Jessica Bell about her craft books SHOW & TELL IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED TRANSITIONS FROM TELLING TO SHOWING and ADVERBS & CLICHÉS IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED SUBVERSIONS OF ADVERBS & CLICHÉS INTO GOURMET IMAGERY. And one lucky winner will win one of these books.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Liesl Shurtliff and giving away a copy of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN. This is a fantastic retelling of this fairytale with a really fresh spin on it.

Wednesday that week I’m excited to interview one of our followers Lisa Gail Green about her debut novel, DJINN: THE BINDING STONE, a YA paranormal story I can’t wait to read. There will be a giveaway too.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!

Agent Spotlight: Alyssa Reuben

This week's Agent Spotlight features Alyssa Reuben of Paradigm Literary and Talent Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

f5b777626bd096bd8a29c25734822677_Reuben-NEW150x150About: “Alyssa Reuben represents a range of both adult and children’s genres. For children’s, she gravitates toward contemporary Middle Grade and YA with a strong voice but a high concept, or an interesting paranormal twist has been known to catch her eye. For nonfiction, her categories include pop-culture, lifestyle, quirky histories, food, narrative and memoir. On the fiction side, her tastes are extremely wide ranging between literary and commercial. She’s a sucker for a coming-of-age story or a good romance arc.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“At Paradigm Publishing, we believe that an artist who is successful in reaching the public in one medium, should also reach an audience of dedicated readers through book publishing. That philosophy is at the heart of what we do in the book division of the agency: we work with clients who are active in multiple media platforms-television, film, the internet, and retail business-to develop book properties that will build and enhance a client's brand.

“That's why we brainstorm with our colleagues in each division of the agency, drawing on their experience and expertise in film, music, and theater to develop successful book careers. Paradigm's East and West Coast divisions work closely to coordinate our artist's careers, to time the release of a book with a new album, the upcoming season of a television series, or capitalize on the media from a film release in order to turn a book publication into a multimedia event. Paradigm has developed innovative and groundbreaking books that tie-in to television series; we have coordinated a book's publication with Grammy Award winning artist's album release and tour; we have developed books that grow out of a client's retail franchise.

“In addition, Paradigm is committed to developing the careers of up-and-coming literary talent as well as our most respected, award-winning authors in both fiction and nonfiction. Paradigm has a proven track record servicing all aspects of a client's literary career, providing hands-on editorial guidance and working closely with publishers to ensure that writers gain a competitive edge in today's publishing marketplace.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Paradigm Agency website.

Twitter.

AgentQuery.

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Fiction: Literary Fiction, Chick Lit, Commercial Fiction, Women's Fiction, Humor/Satire, Romance, Family Saga, Historical Fiction, Young Adult, Multi-Cultural, Adventure, Offbeat/Quirky, Middle Grade.

Non-Fiction: History, Celebrity, Biography, Religion, Food & Lifestyle, Drama/Music, Multi-Cultural, Cookbooks, Memoirs, Travel, Adventure/True Story, Dating/Relationships, Current Affairs, Women's Issues, Pop Culture, Film & Entertainment, Cultural/Social Issues, Humor, Journalism, Narrative, Memoir. (Link, Link)

From AgentQuery (and as above):

“She represents a range of both adult and children’s genres. For children’s, she gravitates toward contemporary Middle Grade and YA with a strong voice. But a high concept, or an interesting paranormal twist has been known to catch her eye. For nonfiction, her categories include pop-culture, lifestyle, quirky histories, food, narrative and memoir. On the fiction side, her tastes are extremely wide ranging between literary and commercial. She’s a sucker for a coming-of-age story or a good romance arc.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Unknown.

Editorial Agent?

“Paradigm has a proven track record servicing all aspects of a client's literary career, providing hands-on editorial guidance and working closely with publishers to ensure that writers gain a competitive edge in today's publishing marketplace.” (Link)

Clients:

There are lists of bestsellers and prize winners and new releases on the agency website.

Ms. Reuben’s clients include: Colleen Clayton, Carly Cylinder, Melissa Joan Hart, Moses Gates, Emily Liebert, Kathy McCullough, Bob Saget, Alena Smith, The Betches, Alecia Whitaker, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query letter and the first ten pages in the body of an e-mail. Include contact information. No attachments.

See the Paradigm Literary and Talent Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.  Ms. Reuben’s contact information can be found at AgentQuery and QueryTracker.

Response Times:

Due to the volume of submissions received, the agency only responds if interested (Link). However, Ms. Reuben does send some rejections, often with the help of an assistant and usually within 1-3 months.

What's the Buzz?

Alyssa Rueben has been with Paradigm Literary and Talent Agency for nearly six years. They are a large entertainment agency, representing many big names across multiple medias. In children’s, Ms. Reuben is interested in middle grade and YA and open to new talent.

I recommend following her on Twitter @Areubey.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None found online.

Around the Web:

Paradigm Literary and Talent Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Successful Queries: Agent Alyssa Reuben and “Hidden Cities” (Memoir / Travel) at Guide to Literary Agents (03/2013).

Partial quotes by Alyssa Reuben from Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambuchino at Google Books (2012).

The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment with former client Stephanie Bowman at Matthew MacNish’s blog (07/2010).

Contact:

Please see the Paradigm Literary and Talent Agency website and the query databases above for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last updated: 4/25/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 4/29/13.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

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

SHOWER OF BOOKS BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY


For those of you not used to one of my posts coming up at midnight, my Showers of Books Giveaway Hop post is HERE. I have lots of great book choices for you. Hope you'll stop by and enter the contest.

SHOWER OF BOOKS BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY

Today I'm thrilled to be part of the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop sponsored by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Books a la Mode. This is my chance to share some of the awesome books I've read or am dying to read and to say thanks for being such great followers.

First, I want to thank everyone who answered my question in last month's giveaway hop about whether you'd be okay with e-book vs. print book giveaways. Some of you prefer e-books, but there are many of you who don't like e-books or don't have e-readers. So, I'll be offering people who like e-books the opportunity to win an e-book but am continuing the print book giveaways for everyone who likes those better. I don't mind e-books now that I have a Nook that my aunt gave me when she got a new one. But I do love print books too. There's something special about opening a book and turning the pages.

So here's the choices for this giveaway. Click on the titles below the book covers to read the blurb about the books from Goodreads.

 


 


 


 
 












CLOCKWORK PRINCESS
ICONS
LET THE SKY FALL
REQUIEM
SCARLET
TAKEN
THE ETERNITY CURE
UNRAVEL ME
DARK TRIUMPH
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT
THE COLLECTOR
THE ELITE
THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT

One winner will win the book of your choice. 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 telling me which book you'd like and whether you want an e-book or a print book by midnight on April 30th. I’ll announce the winner on May 6th. I'd love if you let me know what new releases in May and June you're looking forward to for future giveaways.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome as long as you live where The Book Depository ships for free.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Friday, I'm doing an ARC giveaway of THE 5th WAVE by Rick Yancey. It's a dystopian/sci-fi story that's gotten good reviews so I'm excited to share it with you.

On Monday, I'll be doing a giveaway of some middle grade and YA books I've received that I don't have time to spotlight individually. Stop by to see what I'm offering

On Wednesday next week, I’m interviewing Jessica Bell about her craft books SHOW & TELL IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED TRANSITIONS FROM TELLING TO SHOWING and ADVERBS & CLICHÉS IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED SUBVERSIONS OF ADVERBS & CLICHÉS INTO GOURMET IMAGERY. And one lucky winner will win one of these books.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Liesl Shurtliff and giving away a copy of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN. This is a fantastic retelling of this fairytale with a really fresh spin on it.

Wednesday that week I’m excited to interview one of our followers Lisa Gail Green about her debut novel, DJINN: THE BINDING STONE, a YA paranormal story I can’t wait to read. There will be a giveaway too.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here's all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:

TIP TUESDAY #160 AND GIVEAWAY OF SERENDIPITY AND ME

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. Today, I’m excited to share a tip by author Judith Roth about how getting out of our chairs can help our writing. Her newest book, SERENDIPITY AND ME, a middle grade contemporary novel, was released February 7, 2013. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.

Engage in the Physical World
by Judith L. Roth

Maybe it’s a no-brainer for most people that in order to write you need to spend some time in the real world. But I’m guessing that many writers are like me and live in their heads most of the time. We have to be reminded to get out of our heads and experience the world with our physical selves.

Jane Yolen is well-known for her advice on how to get writing done: Butt in Chair. But I know for me I also need to get my butt out of my chair and walk around in the three-dimensional, smelly, colorful, tactile world.

Here are some examples of how I engaged in this practice recently to help me write my latest novel-in-progress:

• I was having trouble visualizing life in Indiana in the 1850’s. I read about it, but it was not coming together for me. It didn’t feel real and there were a lot of gaps in my knowledge. I went to an interactive history park to get an idea of what houses were like then, to be able to walk through them, test the floorboards with my feet, get a sense of the space in pioneer houses. I walked the roads, learned the light and shadows of a tree-lined lane, experienced the workings and smells of the inside of an old-time barn. There was the added bonus of on-site guides who answered my questions about goats and social services. Several even acted out the parts of people in that time. It was an invaluable experience.
• I went to the National Underground Railroad Museum to learn in 3-D space what that world was like. I walked into a reconstructed slave pen that held slaves before auction. I saw pieces of dishes from that era and a short movie showing an escape. I inspected a wagon built with a hiding place for fugitive slaves. There was a load of information that made research easy to grasp and made it possible for the world my characters lived in to become more real to me. Story possibilities soared.
• I was stuck on a scene. I had five people, two dogs, a wolf, two horses, a river, two houses and a bridge to contend with. I couldn’t keep straight which creatures were where as the action developed, or where they needed to be, or what else needed to happen and how that would affect the other characters. I ransacked my son’s room for figures and used dragons and Lego people and assorted blocks to help me figure out how to get the scene moving and how it could work. Just the act of physically moving these items and seeing in real space how they would interact fixed my scene. I could finally see what needed to be written.

Obvious uses of Butt out of Chair would be going to places that children go or visiting locations where your story takes place. Be there in body, not just in spirit. Soak it in. Then write about it from the fullness of the real world.

You can find Judith on the web at www.judithlroth.com.

And here’s a blurb of SERENDIPITY AND ME from Goodreads:

Sara has always loved cats. She surrounds herself with pictures of cats, stuffed cats, even cat-headed slippers. But she’s never been allowed to have a real cat of her own. Her father has always told her no, for reasons he won’t explain.

So when a fluffy snowball of a kitten darts through their front door and into her life, Sara believes her dream might finally come true. But convincing her father to break his strict No Cats policy seems impossible. She has less than a week to persuade him that this kitten is exactly what their lonely, broken family of two needs to heal.

Told in lyrical, spare verse, Serendipity & Me is a sparkling novel that elegantly handles the topic of loss for a middle grade audience.

Judith’s publisher, Viking, has generously offered a ARC of SERENDIPITY AND ME 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 May 3rd. I’ll announce the winner on May 5th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This contest is open to U.S. only.

Hope to see you tomorrow for my Shower of Books Book Giveaway Blog Hop giveaway. I’ve got a great choice of new YA books to choose from.


LISA ROJANY BUCCIERI INTERVIEW AND WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES GIVEAWAY

For any of you in the Boston area or in Texas near that terrible explosion, I hope you are safe. What a terrible week filled with so many senseless tragedies.

Here's a question I'm hoping one of you will know the answer to. I'm changing my e-mail for here from my yahoo one to a new g-mail one. (Don't worry. I still get e-mail at the yahoo address.) But I set up my blogger profile with the yahoo one and all my comments on this blog go there even though I've switched my e-mail on blogger and as the administrator of the blog to the new g-mail address. Anyone know how to get your e-mailed comments to go to the new g-mail account? If you do, leave me a note in the comments. And thanks so much! 

Before I get to my fabulous interview today, I want to announce the winner of THE FLAME IN THE MIST.

The winner is Rachel Ballard!

Congrats! Rachel's already e-mailed me her address.

Today I’m excited to have Lisa Rojany Buccieri here to share about her new book, WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES 2nd EDITION. Lisa is the author of over 100 children’s and adult books, is a freelance publishing editor, and has been an editor with a number of publishing houses. One of the things I liked about this book was that Lisa hit the key elements of each subject she presented, for example, developing engaging characters, plotting, and revising. And she had a few great tips I hadn’t thought about for many of these subjects.

Here’s a description from the Back Cover:

Learn to:

• Write great stories with memorable characters
• Pen a catchy query letter that sings
• Find an agent and use social media

Your guide to writing, publishing, and promoting a children's book

Written with straightforward advice and a plethora of up-to-date recommendations, including the scoop on writing e-books, Writing Children's Books For Dummies provides step-by-step information on everything aspiring children's book authors need to know. Topics include researching the current marketplace, developing great stories and characters, writing captivating plots with drama, intriguing editors and agents, submitting queries and manuscripts, and making the most of social media marketing.

• Children's books 101 — take an in-depth look at the many different formats of children's books (including e-books), as well as who actually buys children's books and why
• Enter the writing zone — get a jump on the writing process, discover how to set up your workspace, develop great story ideas, and build upon your great ideas with research
• The plot thickens — create a spellbinding story with a workable plot, characters to care about and root for, real dialogue, and a setting to transport your reader to the world you've created
• Put on your editor's cap — revise and edit your manuscript, decide whether to illustrate your story on your own, and discover where to look for helpful feedback on your work
• Get the word out — consider the pros and cons of working with literary agents versus contacting publishers yourself; get the scoop on book deals, contracts, and self-publishing; and conquer the publishing world with social media marketing

Open the book and find:

• Explanations of children's book formats and genres
• Details on plot, character, and drama
• Trusted tips on writing believable dialogue
• Info on writing creative nonfiction children's books
• What you need to know about agents, publishers, self-publishing, and e-books
• The scoop on the illustration process
• How you can promote and publicize your book

About the Author

Lisa Rojany Buccieri has written and ghostwritten more than 100 children's and grown-up's books, both fiction and nonfiction, including board books, picture books, and young adult series. Peter Economy is a bestselling author, coauthor, and ghostwriter of more than 55 books, including several For Dummies titles.

Hi Lisa. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and your experiences as a writer and an editor.

My entire professional life began when I was four and dictated the text of a picture book to my mom after I had created the illustrations. That was the last time (thankfully, trust me) that I ever illustrated anything for a book. Then when I was a teen I decided that I wanted to do something revolving around reading and writing when I grew up. That decision evolved into many years as an Editor or Editorial Director in corporate publishing from houses such as Price Stern Sloan/Penguin to a pop-up company called Intervisual Books to Golden Books to my current partnership in www.nyjournalofbooks.com an online only book review site that was launched in 2010.

All during this time I wrote, had a bunch of books published, and edited books for other writers until I chose to concentrate full time on Editorial Services of Los Angeles. I find it incredibly gratifying to be able to work with writers at all levels of experience to both teach them about the writing process and help them put their best efforts out into the world. It’s a great feeling when the writers come back and tell me about some specific part of the process that resonated with them, turned on a lightbulb and greatly improved their writing. Between loving my work and my wonderful children, I think I have the best life ever!

2. It’s awesome that you were able to have a career focused on reading and writing like you dreamed of. Many of us need a full-time other career too. You tackle the whole gambit of developing a story idea, writing picture books, nonfiction books, middle grade stories, and young adult books, editing your manuscript, finding an agent and publisher, and social media. Share your tips on discussing so many aspects of writing and covering the important points without ending up with a 1000 page book?

As with any kind of building, creating a solid foundation before you add on stories is a good idea (pardon the awful pun). The main character has to shine; so I encourage my writers to develop and really flesh out their characters using a character bible. Knowing your characters inside and out means that you can see them in your mind’s eye and thus recreate that experience for your readers. If you have memorable characters, you have a solid foundation upon which to build.

If the environment will play a large part in a book (fantasy world? magical world?) I encourage the same bible building approach for environments and places. If you can imbue a place (realistic or otherwise) with the kinds of details that allow readers to imagine themselves there, then you have created a successful environment in which to share your characters and your story.

I also strongly urge writers to create an action outline before they really delve into their story. An action outline consists of three points per chapter; you need to answer these questions: 1) How does this chapter develop my main character through his or her actions / reactions? 2) How does this chapter push forward or develop the plot actionwise? 3) How does this chapter contribute conflict or drama to keep the pace moving? All three questions need to be answered in each chapter for it to be complete. I use this approach even when breaking down a picture book paragraph by paragraph! It really keeps the writing tight, exciting, compelling, purposeful.

And then comes the character arc. This is a visual aid that we provide in WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES 2ND EDITION. Essentially, it takes the main character through enough action to both develop that character and provide a satisfying plotline for the book.

Building these foundations early on can save major rewriting. Though edits and refinements based on solid, reliable feedback is necessary, having these tools will often save writers the headache of building then having to tear down or completely revise.

These are the most salient points I hope that writers, experienced and beginner, will pull from the book to help them with their writing.

3. Those are great questions to ask yourself. And I’m looking at them as I revise a few troublesome chapters right now in my manuscript. What are you hoping readers will take from your book? What about experienced writers?

WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES 2ND EDITION has so much information in it
about solid writing techniques and the craft of writing and revising that it is applicable to children’s book writers and those who write for emerging adults or adults. Really! Good writing is good writing. And even experienced writers can use a boost, a reminder, a fix-it checklist, or a new approach to keep their writing strong and fresh.

Listen, as a matter of course, I get feedback on every single piece that I write, whether it is a book review or an entire novel, whether I pay for professional editing or trade services. I would not dare send anything out into the world without another experienced eye to point out what I may have missed, what I could improve on, or when I have fallen in love with my words and need to let them go! I mean, aren’t we all that way? We write something, massage it, print it out, and it feels done, right? Our blood, sweat, and tears on the pages—it must be perfect! The sad truth is that unless you are writing a journal for your eyes only, your work likely needs another set of eyes to make it truly sparkle.

4. I agree that there was so much helpful in your book on the craft of writing and you share it so concisely. One of the things you talk about in creating compelling characters is making a character bible. Can you share a bit about that?

See above. The most important aspect of a book is the main character and his or her voice. If those are strong, and if the character evolves and changes throughout the course of the book, then the other pieces all have a much better chance of success as an overall package. A compelling main character, even in a picture book, who deals with life conflicts in interesting (even humorous) ways and has changed as a result of those experiences can drive a writer from obscurity to success faster than anything else.

5. What are some of the dialogue no-no’s you included in your chapter on writing good dialogue?

This is a fun one, actually, because dialogue mistakes can be hilarious. Most writers, after a tiny bit of feedback on their dialogue feel like slapping themselves upside the head (which of course saves me the trouble of doing it).

For instance, when you speak with someone, anyone, do you repeat their name each time you open your mouth? Of course not. See? Easy to forget.

Here’s another one: When characters are greeting one another, do we need to hear every “Hi, there” or “Pleased to meetcha” or “Hello, how are you?” or “Goodbye! See you soon!”? What does that dialogue truly add to the story?

And here’s a common one: When a character speaks in complete sentences with no contractions or incomplete sentences and sounds just like the narrative every time she opens her mouth, she is going to come across as a stodgy old British schoolmistress wielding a spanking rod as opposed to someone who resembles a human being and not a robot or worse, a cliché!

Last one here is a common mistake: Don’t try to sound cool and hip, using the latest slang you have heard from your tweens or teens or on TV. Not only will it be outdated by the time the book makes it into its print or digital life, it will make the writer look like a complete dork.

6. Those are great tips. It’s hard not to write in complete sentences because it’s not grammatically correct, but you’re right, people don’t talk like that. One of the things I loved in the chapter on revising was your three rules for revision. Can you share them with us?

These revision and tightening rules directly tie in to the questions you need to ask to create an action outline.

1) Does this paragraph, sentence, bit of dialogue, or phrase contribute to the storyline? If no, hit the delete button!

2) Does it develop the main character? How? Can’t really explain? Cut it out!

3) And does it increase the drama or accelerate the pacing? Not really? Bye bye!

7. Those are great questions to ask ourselves. And like you say, we need to be willing to let go of those lovely written parts that don’t move the story along. 

I’m sure you drew on your experiences as an editor in writing this book. What are some of the common errors you find in the projects you work on that we should watch out for?

One of the biggest mistakes I see over and over is that each character’s dialogue sounds like every other character’s dialogue. Adults and children need to sound different and have different body language. And each needs to sound somewhat different from the next.

Dialogue should also stand apart from narrative. They are two different beasts and ought not be confounded.

Another common error is failing to create imaginary worlds in enough detail for the reader to “get” that there is an alternate universe or reality in which the action takes place. A bible can really help nail down the characteristics of place. Then dropping developmental bits here and there as we progress through the book is the best way to flesh out those imaginary worlds.

Failing to transition from one scene or another leaves readers lost. If I feel lost while editing, imagine what a reader will feel like!

Data dumps are another easy mistake to make. You cannot just give every bit of background information on a character in one place. Most likely most of it is unnecessary in the story and belongs only in your character bible, again, to drop tidbits of development as you flesh out the character throughout the book.

8. I confess that my characters sometimes sound too much like each other until I start getting to know them better as I revise. Tell us your recommendations for using social media to develop our writing platform and market our books. What have you found to be the most useful in your own career as a writer and in having this book be number one on Amazon?

Honestly, word of mouth is the best; and today that’s mostly digital. To jumpstart word of mouth, I send out individualized offers of review copies or giveaway copies or free interviews or writing tips to every professional colleague, to bloggers who specialize in writing and books, to librarians, to other writers and illustrators, to editors, to teachers and university professors—basically, real people with whom you make unique digital contact in every instance. So, yes, that may mean I send out 500 separate emails in a month, but at least I can follow up on those emails personally. I have had less success with spam-like announcements or offerings. People still like to feel as if you are treating them as individuals as opposed to just part of the crowd.

And from what I understand from social media experts and analysts, unless you are a bona fide global celebrity with hundreds of thousands of followers, most undirected social media blasts are a waste of time.

9. Wow! That’s dedication to spreading the word about your book. I bet you have an incredibly helpful contact list. Tell us about some of the recent children’s books you’ve written.

I have some picture books my agent is shopping around right now; but even I don’t hold my breath for fear of passing out with the wait. Placing a book takes time and that adage is doubled when it comes to picture books when you are not an illustrator as well.

Surviving the Angel of Death: The True Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz, a memoir a wrote for Eva Kor covering her experience when she was ten years old is one of the last books I’ve had time to write—that I can tell you about, anyway. It’s been translated into a few foreign languages and continues to get traction in school districts all over the country.

10. What are you working on now?

I do a lot of ghostwriting and adaptations, which can be a lot of fun—and pay the mortgage! LOL And of course I love to help writers make their work the best it can be so I spend the majority of my time these last few years editing children’s books: picture books to YA novels.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lisa. You can find Lisa at:


Twitter: @kidsbookwriter
Skype: LisaRojanyB
Editorial Services of Los Angeles:
Link to Writing Children’s Books for Dummies 2nd Edition:
Personal Facebook Page:
Client Kudos and Recommendations:
Two paragraphs about Lisa:
Publisher and Editor in Chief:
Editorial Services of Los Angeles Facebook Page:
Editorial Services of Los Angeles:

Lisa and her publisher have generously offered a copy of WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES 2nd EDITION 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 May 4th. I’ll announce the winner on May 6th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Tomorrow I have a Tuesday tip by Judith Roth and a giveaway of SERENDIPITY AND ME, a middle grade contemporary novel.

On Wednesday, I’m participating in the Shower of Books Book Giveaway Blog Hop. I’ve got a great choice of new YA books to choose from.

On Friday, I'm doing an ARC giveaway of THE 5th WAVE by Rick Yancy. It's a dystopian/sci-fi story that's gotten good reviews so I'm excited to share it with you.

On Monday next week, I'll be doing a giveaway of some middle grade and YA books I've received that I don't have time to spotlight individually. Stop by to see what I'm offering

On Wednesday next week, I’m interviewing Jessica Bell about her craft books SHOW & TELL IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED TRANSITIONS FROM TELLING TO SHOWING and ADVERBS & CLICHÉS IN A NUTSHELL: DEMONSTRATED SUBVERSIONS OF ADVERBS & CLICHÉS INTO GOURMET IMAGERY. And one lucky winner will win one of these books.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Liesl Shurtliff and giving away a copy of RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPLESTILTSKIN. This is a fantastic retelling of this fairytale with a really fresh spin on it.

Wednesday that week I’m excited to interview one of our followers Lisa Gail Green about her debut novel, DJINN: THE BINDING STONE, a YA paranormal story I can’t wait to read. There will be a giveaway too.

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

Hope to see you tomorrow!

JILL CORCORAN ON A PATH TO PUBLISHING INTERACTION ONLINE WORKSHOPS AND GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have Jill Corcoran here to share about her new A Path to Publishing online interactive workshops. Jill is an agent at Herman Agency and represents primarily middle grade and YA authors as well as select chapter book and picture book authors.

She is also the anthologist of DARE TO DREAM…CHANGE THE WORLD, Kane Miller Books, winner of the 2013 International Reading Association 2013 Notable Books for a Global Society Award as well as a 2013 California Reading Association’s Eureka! Nonfiction Children’s Honor.

Hi Jill. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about your new A Path to Publishing online interactive workshops and why you started this.

I started A Path to Publishing to give authors the ability to talk directly to editors, literary agents, film/tv agents, art directors, sales, marketing and publicity directors, and more.

A Path to Publishing is powered by an innovative interactive video chat platform that allows participants to not only watch presentations but also participate with faculty directly--as though everyone is in the same room. (think Skype on steroids!) Plus, ALL WORKSHOPS ARE LIMITED TO 20-23 PARTICIPANTS.

Participants can use a phone, ipad, tablet or computer with a camera and microphone if they would like to participate. If they do not have a camera or microphone, they can still watch and hear the workshop, but we can't see or hear them.

With A Path to Publishing, participants ask questions of the faculty live ... from the comfort of their own home. It's an efficient, affordable way to learn, make connections, and progress down the path to publication.


2. That sounds like a fantastic idea for those of us who can’t afford to go to conferences to meet these agents and publishers. What are some of the workshops you have planned over the next few months and who will be the presenters?

1. Friday April 19, 2013 2-3:30 EST Agent Sarah Davies: How to Write a Great Thriller (Or Any Exciting Story)
2. Friday, April 19th 8-9:30 EST POETRY FRIDAY FIESTA with Ellen Hopkins, Jill Corcoran & Joyce Lee Wong
3. April 24, 2013 8:30-10:30 EST THE AGENTS OF THE ERIN MURPHY LITERARY AGENCY
4. May 8, 2013 8:30-10:30 pm EST EDITORS TURNED AGENTS-How I approach a new ms to ready for market with Sarah Davies/Greenhouse Literary + Alexandra Penfold/Upstart Crow Literary
5. June 19, 2013 8:30-10:30 pm EST A RARE VIEW INTO 3 TOP PUBLISHERS' PERSONAL IMPRINTS
Penguin/Nancy Paulsen + Macmillan/Christy Ottaviano + Random House/Wendy Lamb
6. May 6, 13 & 20 8:30-10:30pm EST or May 7, 14 & 21 12-2pm EST
JILL CORCORAN'S HOW TO SERIES + 1 HOUR PRIVATE CONSULTATIONS
You can do 1, 2 or all 3!
1-HOW TO WRITE A QUERY INCLUDES CRITIQUE OF YOUR QUERY
2- HOW TO CREATE A MUST READ CONCEPT INCLUDES CRITIQUE OF 2 OF YOUR BOOK CONCEPTS
3- HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIRST PAGES STAND OUT INCLUDES CRITIQUE OF YOUR FIRST CHAPTER
OR---1 + 2 + 3 + ONE HOUR PRIVATE CONSULTATION-HOW TO WRITE A QUERY LETTER, HOW TO CREATE A CONCEPT, HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIRST PAGES STAND OUT, EACH WITH CRITIQUES OF YOUR WORK1 HR PRIVATE + 3 WORKSHOPS: HOW TO WRITE A QUERY LETTER, HOW TO CREATE A CONCEPT, HOW TO MAKE YOUR FIRST PAGES STAND OUT, EACH WITH CRITIQUES OF YOUR WORK


3. Your workshops sound fantastic. And one of our followers attended two of your prior workshops and told me they were really helpful. Share a bit about the faculty for A Path to Publishing and how you picked them.

A PATH TO PUBLISHING faculty have so far included editors and marketers from Hyperion-Disney, HarperCollins, Penguin, Random House, and Macmillan as well as Agents from the best children’s agencies. I chose editors and agents that are at the top of the profession, are good teachers and who are generous in spirit.

4. Who do you think can benefit from these workshops and why?

No matter where someone is in their publishing career, this program provides them access to top industry professionals. They get immediate insight and answers to all their questions, plus reliable advice they can act on immediately to take their career to the next level.

5. Your website says that the workshops will be interactive and that attendees will be able to submit to the presenters after the workshop. How does that work?

I have purchased an amazing technology that allows allows 25 people to video chat with no lag time in picture nor audio. It is like we are all in the same room! This is an intimate workshop where everyone has the chance, if they would like, to ask questions, get clarification, and really get to know the faculty.

For publishers that are allowed to receive unsolicited ms (some publishers are simply not allowed to receive any subs except from agents), attending an A PATH TO PUBLISHING workshops is like a free pass that gets you in the door.

6. That would be amazing to attend an online workshop and feel you’re in the same room as the presenters. I want to ask you a few questions about your role as an agent. You represent picture book, middle grade, and YA authors. What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions?

I rep Picture Books, Chapter Books, Middle Grade, Young Adult and Crossover Young Adult (New Adult)

I want books, actually characters, that have legs. If you haven't heard the term "has legs" that is marketing shorthand to mean the characters can live outside the confines of your book. They can spark a series, be transformed to the big or small screen (Herman Agency is based in NYC but I live in LA and have close ties to the Film and TV industry.), possibly go outside the library/bookstore market to gift stores, grocery stores, etc, become a genre leader rather than just another book competing in a market where discoverability is becoming the most challenging obstacle to sales and sadly some of the best writing is not rising to the top of readers' buy lists.

All books must have excellent commercial plus literary writing. What I mean by this is an utter command of the language that is accessible to most readers--not just the brainy kids. The concept must be fresh, organic, break-through. Just another one is not going to cut it. Yes, lots of copycat books make the hit list, but I am an agent, a talent scout. I am not looking to sell copycats. I am looking to discover the next big thing.

I want complexity of character, multi-level plot and theme, believability even in the fantastic, and pacing that blinds me to time and space.

I am a fan of the underdog, but the underdog doesn't always need to be the nerd, the foster kid, the kid from the broken home. It is irritating when the popular kids are bad and the outcasts are heros. I think most kids are average. Some are more popular than others but being popular often takes a lot of work and that work spurs a host of insecurity. Many kids define popular in different ways. Some cherish their inner and outer geek. I want "normal" teens in extraordinary circumstances (I leave the definition of normal to you:) ).

Regarding romance, I want authentic vulnerability and innocence as well as hot, steamy yearning, and in some cases, more than yearning. I want to love your characters so I understand why your characters love each other. I want to be so enmeshed with your character that when his/her heart breaks, so does mine. When your characters are kissing, or doing more than kissing, I want to feel that pull in my body too.

To query me please send queries + the first 10 pages of your manuscript pasted into your email to queryjillcorcoran@gmail.com

7. Thanks for sharing so specifically what you’re looking for. That’s really helpful for those of us querying. What genres don’t you represent?

I do not represent poetry, screenplays, short story collections, academic or educational work, adult fiction (except New Adult).

8. I know some writers who will be glad you’re open to New Adult. What queries are you seeing too much of?

Dull concepts that do not stand out and make me jump up and want to read the manuscript. There are still too many dystopians coming in and other ‘trend’ books where the trend has already passed.

9. I’ve heard that it’s harder to sell dystopians. But as a reader, I still really like reading them so hope there are a few unique ones still out there. What’s a common mistake you see authors make in the querying process?

Most people that query me seem to do their homework, so I am lucky. It could be because I have a number of posts on my blog that explain how to write a query, how to look up comp books, how to research agents, etc. Here is a link to a post that has many of those posts: THE HOW’S AND WHY’S OF GETTING PUBLISHED http://www.jillcorcoran.blogspot.com/2012/02/what-makes-book-sell.html

Common mistakes are queries that talk more about why someone wrote the book than about the book itself, queries that do not have a clear pitch or indicate to me that the author is out of touch with what kids today are reading.

Thanks Jill for sharing about A Path to Publishing. It sounds fantastic.

You can find A Path to Publishing and Jill at:


Jill has generously offered a one-half off coupon to one of her Path to Publishing workshops to one lucky 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 by midnight on April 27th. I’ll announce the winner on April 29th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’m interviewing Lisa Rojany Buccieri and giving away a copy of WRITING CHILDREN’S BOOKS FOR DUMMIES. I worried a bit that this book might be too basic for many of you, but one of the things I liked about this book was that Lisa hit the key elements of each subject she presented, for example, developing engaging characters, plotting, and revising. And she had a few great tips I hadn’t thought about for many of these subjects. Lisa has a lot of editorial experience so I know you’ll enjoy her interview. And once you read this, you might want to pass it on to a newer writer to help them out.

Next Tuesday, I have a Tuesday tip by Judith Roth and a giveaway of SERENDIPITY AND ME, a middle grade contemporary novel.

Wednesday next week, I’m participating in the Shower of Books Book Giveaway Blog Hop. I’ve got a great choice of new YA books to choose from.

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

Hope to see you Monday!