Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

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


Happy April 1st Everyone! Please tell me it means Spring will come soon. Even so, we’re pretty happy at our household. It’s Spring Break! My daughter’s excited to be home with nothing to do since we were in China over the Christmas holidays and she was in Costa Rica for winter break. I’m on the last day of a 4 day weekend. It’s been great not having to get up to an alarm and having a slow weekend. And the rest of the week I don’t have to get up before 6:00 to get Anna Li up for school.

And we just got a puppy. She's a really sweet mutt that's part lab and golden retriever. She has to see the vet and get neutered today and we can pick her up tomorrow. I can't wait! I've never had a dog. I've share her picture next Monday.

Before I get to my fantastic interview, I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of the Kick Butt Character Giveaway Hop is Jacklin Updegraft who needs to pick her book.

The winner of THE MIST ON BRONTE MOOR is Holly Leston!

The winner of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR is Mauricio Abril!

The winner of THE RUNAWAY KING is Christina Lee!

The winner of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP is Medeia Sharif!

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

Today I’m excited to have Kimberley Griffiths Little here to discuss her new middle grade novel, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME, that is being released today. Kimberley is the author of five other books, including THE HEALING SPELL and CIRCLE OF SECRETS.

I really loved WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME even more than I thought I would. Right away I was sucked into the mystery of what Tara’s Granny Claire was trying to show Tara through her letters and clues. And I loved the nipwisipwis, which gave the story a bit of a magical element. Kimberley kept the plot moving throughout the story with the mystery and even moved the setting to the South Pacific, which was fantastic. It was a really quick read that I finished in two days.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.

A strange butler brings Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the clues more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful islands of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.

From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.

Hi Kimberley. Thanks so much for joining us. Happy Release Day! 

Hi everyone – and thank you, Natalie and Casey for having me, it’s a pleasure to be here and a great way to spend Release Day. Please have a piece of virtual butterfly cake!

1. Yum! The cake's delicious. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer. 

Since the moment I learned how to read as a child, I was hooked. It’s a memory strongly imprinted on me. I carried a book with me everywhere and was lucky to have parents who encouraged us to read and let me buy stacks of books from the Scholastic fliers – back when they were 50-75 cents apiece. Books were like best friends and when I was about 10 years old I started dreaming about becoming a writer, too. I don’t know what gave me that idea since I was 29 years old when I met my first *real* author. Thought I’d died and gone to heaven because the authors at that very first writer’s conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico ( this is long before I knew what SCBWI was and long before the internet) were none other than Richard Peck, Rosemary Wells, Lois Duncan and Steven Kellogg. Talk about hitting the jackpot! I went home with my brain stuffed, my heart full, and couldn’t stop weeping for days afterward from the sheer emotional experience that it was.

But - I’m what you call a slow learner because even though I was beginning to publish short stories and articles in children’s magazines and wrote so many book manuscripts (10+, including PBs, Easy Readers, MG, YA – I experimented with it all) my own first novel wasn’t published until 8 years after that marvelous first conference—and 15 years after my first magazine piece sold. This first published book underwent several completely new drafts. At the time I didn’t know any other writers in my small town and didn’t have a critique group so I ended up paying for a critique from a writer who had just started her own critiquing company for children’s writers—the first of its kind in the mid 1990s. My rejection letters were getting personal and encouraging and yet I couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong despite so many rewrites. That professional critique was invaluable and helped me get that manuscript into shape so that it finally sold to Avon Books three years later.

Learning on my own was a long, hard process—with only my husband as my reader. (But at least he was honest and kind!) Dozens of novels and books about writing were my tutors. I have hundreds of rejections—and stopped counting 15 years ago.

P.S. Despite joining SCBWI and having a variety of online and face-to-face crit groups the last several years, I used another critique service a few years ago on a manuscript I loved and couldn’t sell—and I really needed a pair of fresh eyes. Spending the money to learn my craft and how to plot better has been worth it to me. Bev Rosenbaum is extremely talented at this so if anyone is looking go here to find out more about what she does and her excellent prices. http://www.bevkatzrosenbaum.com/bkrediting.html

2. I’m a slow learner too. It’s taken me 10 years to finish my first manuscript. Lucky your husband is nice. I’d never have my husband as a critique partner. He’s overly critical about everything in life. 

I’ve read that you like to set your books in new settings. WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES CAME is set in Louisiana and the South Pacific, which is such a cool setting. What research did you do on your settings and what resources do you recommend we use in creating our own settings?

An intriguing setting is definitely a springboard of inspiration for me. I discover a new place or travel somewhere and I find myself instantly imagining who might live there and what could happen to them, and then I go home and research like crazy for months or years.

Traveling to a place you want to write about is invaluable as well as such a great experience, with the usual added bonus of making new friends in that locale along the way. I also try to read local people’s books about that setting’s history and geography—and I go to Special Collections and University libraries.

For my first three Scholastic novels I’ve made numerous trips to the bayou/swamp country of Louisiana and when I wanted to write about the Cajun traiteurs, (healers), I made special effort to meet personally with 5 of them on one particular trip, as well as talked to MANY folks who had been healed by a traiteur. I find that I love the research (if you like to read you’ll like it too!) as much as the writing. One particular writer friend of mine likes to chide me about spending so much time researching and tells me to just “write the book already!” but I find that the more you know and understand about a certain place or people, the more it will come alive and be three-dimensional. And like I say, it’s a lot of fun and so fascinating.

3. Wow! That’s true dedication to getting the setting right. And it’d be so much fun to travel to these places. Tara is such a great character. She’s determined and brave, but has her own little quirks. What was the process of developing her as a character? What advice can you share on creating rich characters like you’ve done here? 

Thank you so much. I have to tell you that is one of the best compliments I could ever get because
writing a deep character is something that does NOT come easily to me. It’s an aspect of the writing craft that I’ve had to spend so much time working on over the years. I can’t tell you how many rejection letters I received from editors or agents over the course of YEARS telling me they liked my story and writing but the main character – or minor characters - wasn’t developed deeply enough. I spent several years working on characterization for The Healing Spell, and I guess it finally clicked! One thing I did was study characters in other novels and pay attention to how a character was brought to life and the details of how it was done.

4. I can so relate to the problem of the characters not being developed enough. Voice is so important in middle grade novels. And you seem to nail it with Tara and her older sister, Riley. It was fun watching their interactions and the changes in their relationship. What tips do you have on creating your character’s voice? 

Voice! Oh, yikes! Voice can be so hard and yet often so simple, too.
Two things:

1. When you know your character really well and have spent a lot of time thinking about them and writing about them, their natural voice begins to appear. Think about their back-story, their family history, their best friends, their fears, their hobbies, their personality quirks, their motivations, and their problems – as well as the relationships that are important to them—or the relationships that are in jeopardy. These will help bring out a well-rounded and deep character. After that, it’s a matter of constantly honing their dialogue, their thoughts, their emotions, and their worldview as you revise.

2. Your own voice as a writer emerges when you write as naturally as possible—and when you write a LOT. (One of my Dark Secrets: When I first started writing eons ago, I was in LOVE with Ellen Raskin, author of one of my favorite books, The Westing Game. My very first *practice* novel was me trying to copy the Great Ellen Raskin! It was even a mystery in the vein of that great Newbery-winning novel. Many writers do copy the greats or their favorite authors, but at some point you have to write naturally and honestly from your heart.)

5. Those are great tips, Kimberley. You really touch on everything we need to think about that makes a person unique. I read that you use index cards to plot your novels. Tell us about your plotting process and how long it takes to plot out a whole book. 

After jotting down several pages of random notes to myself over a period of time (weeks/months) on a new book idea and the threads of the plot begin to crystallize, I figure it’s time to get serious and get the basic bones down on paper. I use 3x5 cards because it’s more like a game and less like facing a blank page! I write one scene or plot idea on each card. Sometimes I’ll write questions to myself. Things I need to figure out still. Sometimes character traits that come to me that I don’t want to forget. Using the cards is cool because you can lay them all out on the floor or your dining table and rearrange and add and take away until you can *see* the book all laid it in front of you. By this time I’m usually chomping at the bit to get drafting. I sit down with my stack of cards, open up a Word document, and start writing what’s on the first card—and only the first card. Then I write the second card, and so on. One day at a time, one card at a time. It takes away much of the pain of that crazy First Draft.

6. That sounds like a great idea. I wish I could get all the scenes in my head and on the cards before I start writing. I usually only have the key plot points set and outline as I go. I move chapters around as I revise. Your agent is Tracy Adams. She’s the first agent I ever met at a SCBWI conference and she was so nice and approachable. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication. 

Tracey is my second agent, actually. My first three books several years ago were with another agent who has since retired. When she and I parted ways (when she moved to Costa Rica and wasn’t repping children’s lit any longer) I started The Agent Hunt. I spent several months researching agents, reading their blogs, websites, emailing their clients, and making lots and lots of lists. Pretty early on into this process Tracey’s name rose to the top as someone who was well-versed in the children’s book world and very experienced. I also knew and liked many of her authors. At this time her agency was still so new she was only taking queries from writers she met at the conferences she presented at. So I stalked her to SCBWI LA to meet her in person! In 2007 it was still snail mail submissions. As 2007 became 2008 email queries were becoming more the rage. I ended up querying about 50 agents before Tracey and I began an email correspondence that eventually turned into a offer of representation.

7. That’s dedication to go meet her at a conference. She and her husband Josh Adams would be one of my dream agents. This is your sixth book. What have you found worked well in marketing middle grade books? Are there are any blogs that you’ve found were helpful in getting the word out about your book? 

Hmmm. . . I’m still figuring this out! I’ve mailed hundreds of postcards to school librarians, blog tours, school visits, bookmarks, Goodreads giveaways, book trailers, email blasts and bookstore signings. I think they all work a little bit to some extent, but I’m learning that the most influential marketing with MIDDLE-GRADE books is getting good reviews from the professional journals (Booklist, SLJ, Kirkus, PW, etc) State reading lists, and word-of-mouth—the name of the game. Most of those last three are completely out of our control. How’s that for an answer! It always boils down to writing the best book you can.

8. If it’s the right one, it’s a good answer. So much of being an author is out of our control. I read that your next project is a YA trilogy. From the bit I read about it, it sounds fantastic. Tell us a bit about it and what’s different in writing a YA trilogy from your middle grade books. Have you plotted out the series? 

I’m pretty thrilled about it. This is a story about the ancient roots of belly dance in the women’s world and the Goddess of Ashtoreth and tribal warfare and Bedouins and a forbidden love affair. I started researching the topic and setting and history in bits and pieces about 15 years ago, mostly because I’m fascinated about the ancient Middle East. I began writing the book about 8-9 years ago so it’s exciting to finally sell it to Harpercollins. Yep, I’ve got the entire trilogy plotted out and plan to draft both Books 2&3 this year. In fact, when Tracey subbed the project I needed to include synopses for all three books with the submission. The first book is slotted as a Fall 2014 lead title. Fingers crossed on that! Because you never know with the publishing world . . . Confession: I’m a belly dancer, too.

Your new series sounds awesome. Can’t wait to read it. Thanks Kimberley for sharing all your great advice. You can find Kimberley at:

My Website: http://www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com

Facebook, which I love! https://www.facebook.com/kimberleygriffithslittle

I blog 1-2 times a week, but for sure every Monday: http://www.kimberleygriffithslittle.blogspot.com/
I’m co-founder of SPELLBINDERS (which appears here and on my personal blog every Monday. Tons of good stuff for teachers, librarians and homeschoolers. Scroll through past posts.) http://www.spellbindersbooknews.blogspot.com

My amazing book trailers filmed on location:

I love email and will gladly respond to any questions! kglittle@msn.com

Thank you so much for having me, Natalie and Casey!

Kimberley and her publisher Scholastic have generously offered an ARC 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 April 13th. I’ll announce the winner on April 15th.

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.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the links to all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday bloggers here.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’m interviewing debut author Kit Grindstaff and giving away an ARC of THE FLAME AND THE MIST, a dynamite middle grade fantasy with a determined heroine, mystery, and secrets revealed that keeps you turning the pages. And she has amazing advice on the craft of writing and marketing.

And next Wednesday I’m interviewing debut author Erin Bowman about her new YA dystopian TAKEN and giving away an ARC. It’s about a world where boys are heisted away to some mysterious future on their 18th birthday. This was so well plotted that I could not put it down.

The following Monday I have an ASK THE EXPERT Interview with a 7th grader and a giveaway of BLACK CITY, a YA dystopian/paranormal story, THE COLOSSUS RISES, a middle grade fantasy Percy Jackson fans will enjoy, MILO 2.0, a YA Sci fi story, and a cute backpack with goodies for one of your kids.

Tuesday that week I have a Tuesday tip by Stephanie Keyes and a giveaway of THE FALLEN STARS, a YA paranormal romance.

And Wednesday that week I’m interviewing agent Jill Corcoran about her new A Path to Publishing workshops and of course I asked her what submissions she’s looking for right now. There’s a giveaway too!

And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights. But there’s not going to be an agent spotlight this week because Casey’s on vacation.

Hope to see you next Monday!


Theresa Milstein said...

I am a HUGE fan of Kimberley Griffiths Little and so is my daughter. We bothed loved Circle of Secrets and The Healing Spell. I've been waiting for this release!

Not only is she a talented author, but an encouraging one. Her story of her writing journey helps keep me going when I want to give up.

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Enjoy spring break and your new puppy Natalie! I loved Kimberley's path to publication story. I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of her book Circle of Secrets - she's an incredible author.

Beth said...

This book sounds wonderful!

S.P. Bowers said...

I can't imagine trying to write and get published without a critique group. That's nice you were able to persevere and reach your goal anyway.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Kimberley is awesome. I love her books!

Linda Gray said...

Love Kimberley's story, and I relate to so much of it. The years of learning, needing the right crit partners, querying chaos. The happy ending and Kimberley's energy are inspiring. Great interview, thanks.

Liesel K. Hill said...

Kimberly makes some great points about setting. Bravo! And I love the cover of her book. So beautiful! :D

Shutta said...

Natalie--So glad you got to interview my buddy, Kimberley! She's a great writer. Fun interview. Thanks...

Barbara Watson said...

I adore Kimberley's stories and I adore Kimberley. :-) Thank you for the additional insight, ladies. There is something to 'just writing the story,' but knowing all that backstory (that may or may not be part of what gets written) helps too. The great thing about writing is there really is no right or wrong way.

Laura S. said...

Wonderful interview! Congrats to Kimberley on her novel!!

Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

Reader said...

Great interview and all great info. The books sound interesting and I can really see all the time, dedication, and passion the author has dedicated to realizing her goals. Inspiring.


Old Kitty said...

Lovely to meet Kimberley and read about her latest book - it's so intriguing especially the idea of these butterflies leading to a cathartic and emotional journey for Tara and Riley! As for trying to emulate favourite authors and their writing styles - OMG - I've so been there and knew I had to not be there (if that makes sense!! LOL!) as the end stories were just awful - always very forced and contrived and not me at all!

Awwww Natalie!! You have a puppy!!! Yay!!! Can't wait to see the pics! Take care

Summer Ross said...

Glad to meet you Kimberly! Congratulations to all the winners!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Kimberly for all the advice on voice.
Now let me squeal about the belly dancing YA. I CAN NOT WAIT!!! :)


Rosi said...

Fantastic interview. The book sounds just wonderful and I can't wait to read it. I tweeted your link: https://twitter.com/rosihollinbeck/status/318735133450584064

Robin said...

I enjoyed The Healing Spell. Kimberly seems like such a nice person. I bet she's amazing in person. I enjoy reading stories of perseverance and working hard to attain our publishing goals. Thank you for the interview and happy release of When the Butterflies Came.

cleemckenzie said...

Hurray on the new puppy. And definitely hurray on this interview! Loved the story idea and look forward to reading the book.

Lydia Kang said...

Love that cover and the book sounds terrific. You have so much stuff going on!

You know, someday I'd love it if you did a post on how to run a successful book blog. How you contact authors, affording the postage for all the giveaways, the schedule...I think it woud be great.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Spring break and a new puppy sounds like fun!
Wonderful interview - it's great getting to know Kimberly - what perseverance and dedication! The book sounds exciting!

Gwen Gardner said...

Wonderful description! It just sucked me right in. I'm a slow starter, too, Kimberly. I learned mostly from my blogging writer friends and that's how I found my CP too. Congrats on your success!

Hi Natalie! Thanks for the awesome interview!

Vivien said...

This book looks so adorable. The cover is just so cute!!! I love it. Kimberley is such a sweetheart as well. :)
GFC: Vivien

deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

Carina Olsen said...

Aww, happy for you about the dog :D Cannot wait to see a picture. <3 And omg. Thank you for this awesome post :) I would love love love love to win this book. Gorgeous cover. Seems so amazing :D Thank you. <3
Love, Carina

PK HREZO said...

The book sounds wonderful. I'm such a fan of grandmas in stories.
And hey congrats on the new puppy! So much fun! But be prepared for the hyper growing stages of pure madness. 2 walks a day are an absolute must for big dogs or say goodbye to your sanity. lol :D

Anonymous said...

Fantastic interview, ladies. :)

Cynthia said...

Have fun with your daughter this week. I miss the days when I had spring break!

Thanks for announcing the winners. I look forward to hearing about your future giveaways.

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed Kimberley's interview. Her long road to publication makes me feel wimpy to be thinking about giving up after only three years. Her honesty and determination are inspiring! Thanks so much. :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Great lineup for the month, Natalie!

Nicole said...

Congrats Kimberley! Sounds like a wonderful, heartwarming story.

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Kimberly! I just love the cover of your book!

And, Natalie, congrats on the new puppy!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Your new puppy sounds adorable, Natalie. Congrats to all those winners.

Terrific interview and that's great advice about voice. I also love Kimberley's idea with 3 x 5 cards.

I'd love to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win.

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Great interview--I love the index card idea.

Eli Yanti said...

A new author for me, I will going to check her book then :)

Danielle H. said...

I enjoyed reading the interview, especially the advise about thorough research (I've been told I research way too much) and what to think about so you can bring your character to life on page. Keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a signed copy!

Taffy said...

I LOVE Kimberly and her books! Do we get to see you this year at LDStorymakers??

Donea Lee said...

The Healing Spell is sooo good! I've got Circle of Secrets, ready to read and can't wait to pick up this one! Great interview! Kimberley is seriously the nicest person ever ~ :-) And I get to meet her in person in May at LDSorymakers! Woot!!

DMS said...

What a fabulous interview! It was fun to learn moer about Kimberley. I especially liked hearing about her journey to publication. When the Butterflies Came sounds like a great book. Thanks for the chance to win. I am an old follower. :)

Oh- and I hope you are having fun with your new puppy!

The Clements Family said...

What a great interview!! It spoke to me as a writer and gives me that little umph I've been needing. The book sounds awesome and will definitely make my "to read" list.
Oh, and Natalie, when I was a girl we had a dog that was part lab and part golden retriever. I have to say that he was the BEST dog we ever had! Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to the winners and I'm so pleased to be one of them.

I enjoyed this interview. It was interesting learning about Kimberley's journey and process.

Tracy Campbell said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Kimberley's interview. I also signed up to follow on Facebook.
Now to get back to writing. :-)

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Thank you all for such wonderful comments, I loved every single one. The writing journey (and life's journey!) are too often filled with frustrating and discouraging and head-banging moments, but it is never without hope.

The online writing community and friends I've made have saved me many times. Thank you, all! And huge thanks to Natalie and Casey!

(And YES, Taffy, I'll be at Storymakers - see you in May! I'll be leading a group at Publication Primer for the first time. Not sure what to expect, but I hope it's a good time and nobody hates me afterward. ;-))

Withing everyone good writing days, good books to savor, a bit of fairy dust, and many blessings!

Kimberley Griffiths Little said...

Love that squeal, Akoss! LOL. *attempts to execute a couple of shimmies and belly rolls at her desk*

Unknown said...

That was an awesomely inspiring interview. You guys always ask such interesting questions. Kimberley spoke so candidly about her writing and her journey. Thanks for sharing.

Mindy Alyse Weiss said...

Thanks for this fantastic interview. I love Kimberley's other books, and can't wait to read her newest MG!

Reading Mind / The Loyal Book said...

The interview is so wonderful and sweet!!! And very insipiring. Thanks for your answers and honesty!

Llehn said...

Congrats Kimberley! That is one lovely cover!


Unknown said...

Thanks for the inspirational interview, and the book sounds fabulous. I can't wait to read the book and pass it on to my niece who loves butterflies!