CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

UNDER LOCK AND KEY through May 20th
THE BLACK WITCH through May 20th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

H.B. BOLTON BLOG TOUR & GUEST POST ON ONLINE PROMOTION AND THE SERPENT RING/TRICKSTER’S TOTEM GIVEAWAY



Today I’m excited to have H.B. Bolton here to share about her new book, TRICKSTER’S TOTEM, which was released April 15, 2013. She’s here today to share her advice on how to best promote middle grade books online. And I have a fantastic giveaway for you.

Here’s a description of TRICKSTER’S TOTEM:

Life has returned to normal for fourteen-year-old Evan and his older sister, Claire. That is until Dunkle, a clever but stinky little imp, pays an unexpected visit to their school. He has come to take the siblings back to Sagaas, the mythical realm of the gods. Once again, a Relic from the ancient Mysticus Orb has fallen into the wrong hands. Only Evan and Claire, with their unique mystical abilities, can help find it.

Through the power of the Trickster’s Totem, a coyote trickster has escaped. His laughter echoes throughout the realm, as he spreads mischief and mayhem. He burns an entire crop of popcorn, carves his grinning image into sacred artifacts, and things really get interesting when he shape-shifts into Evan’s friends.

Claire and Evan must capture the Trickster, retrieve the Totem, and be careful not to become sidetracked by robotic Steampunk animals, “sweet” pixie-like Pains, and a problematic mermaid … all while dodging Mothman-like aces. Most surprising, Evan discovers the true reason dragons exist in the Native American Spirit World.

Book Links:




And here’s a description of THE SERPENT RING:

Evan and Claire Jones are typical teenagers, forced to go with their parents to yet another boring
museum ... that is, until something extraordinary happens to make their day a little more than interesting. After following a strange little creature into a closed exhibit, Evan and his older sister, Claire, discover the Serpent’s Ring, one of the magical relics formed from the shattered Mysticus Orb. Purely by accident, they have awakened its powers and opened a portal to Sagaas, land of ancient gods.

Before the siblings can comprehend what has happened, the Serpent’s Ring is wrenched from Evan’s hand by an enormous fish and flown back to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea. Evan and Claire, accompanied by a band of unlikely heroes, must retrieve the Serpent’s Ring before Aegir uses its immense powers to flood all the lands on Earth.

The Serpent’s Ring is FREE for Kindle May 28th-June 1st.

Book Links: 

Don’t they sound fantastic? So here’s H.B. to share her advice.

“What I find works reaching out to the blogging community to market my books and spread the word about them, especially for middle grade ones.”

Bloggers have taken over the Web, and I want to befriend them all! Seriously, I have a ton of respect for the people behind the scenes of a successful blog. In fact, most of my reading time is spent on different blog sites. I enjoy discovering what captivates readers, as well as what turns them sour. I like keeping current with the world of books, and knowing which ones to buy for not only myself, but for my children. I can tell a lot about a book’s sensibility by knowing the sensibility of the blogger.

By reaching out to the blogging community, I’m able to interact with a wider audience, introduce my stories to new readers, and share information with those interested in listening. This is my third time touring the blogosphere, but it would have been difficult to manage without the help of one amazing book blogger. Truthfully, I was fortunate to have met Candace at Candace’s Book Blog last fall. She organizes the dates for my tour stops, lets me know where to send book copies, offers ideas for my posts and, best of all, she has given me street cred in the blogging community (I say this as a joke, but I really do mean it). It can be difficult to catch the attention of a book blogger, but it can be done. Today I’m going to share the dos and don’ts when approaching a book blogger.

What works:
1. Peruse the home page. Pay attention to the overall style of the site: font, colors and designs, not to mention the list of books along the sidebar. These things are a reflection of the blogger’s personal style. By doing this, you’ll have a good idea whether your novel will be a good fit.
2. Read the review policy. It’s obvious when an author neglects this step, especially when the blogger clearly states that she is closed to submissions, and you send your query anyway. Something to consider is that many bloggers who are temporarily closed to submissions are still willing to work with the author — that is, if the author is willing to work with them. Offer to write a guest post or give away signed copies of your book. Be creative.
3. Write a compelling and informative query letter. Include information such as how you discovered the blog site, why you’re contacting her, and a brief synopsis of your book (one to two paragraphs). I like to attach my book cover and a mobi or ePub file of the formatted novel. You’ll know what to send because you’ll have read the review policy.

What doesn’t work:
1. Don’t make the mistake of sending a mass e-mail. Each blog site is unique and your e-mail should be as well.
2. Please take the time to know the blogger’s name. Seriously, don’t simply address her with a “Dear Madame.” It makes you look ill informed and just plain lazy.
3. If you don’t receive a reply then, most likely, it’s a pass. Don’t take it personally and don’t be pushy. Take a deep breath and move on to another site.

Bonus tip:
Honest flattery never hurts, with the key word being “honest.” Such as: I’ve been following Literary Rambles for about a year, and I especially enjoy Tip Tuesday. Thanks for the excellent advice you’ve given to authors, and I appreciate having the opportunity to be a part of your blog.

Thanks for sharing your great tips, H.B. And so glad you like our blog.

Author Bio:
A magical part of H.B. Bolton’s childhood was being swept into worlds of enchanting characters, fantastical creatures and extraordinary powers—simply by picking up a book. As a mother and a teacher, she was compelled to create imaginary worlds of her own in order to share them, not just with her children, but with all children. H.B. Bolton lives in Florida with her supportive husband and two highly spirited children. Shh, can you keep a secret? Not only does she write books for the young-at-heart, adventurous sort who yearn to dive into a good young-adult fantasy story, she also writes spellbinding, heart pounding women's fiction. These particular books are written under the name Barbara Brooke, but that's another story, altogether.

Books by H.B. Bolton:
The Serpent's Ring (Relics of Mysticus, Book One)
Breaking Down (a short story)
Hungry (a short story)
Coming May 1, 2013
The Trickster's Totem (Relics of Mysticus, Book Two)

Author links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter  | Goodreads | Pinterest | Amazon Author's Link
As H.B. said, this blog tour is being organized by Candace at Candace’s Book Blog. I follow her and
really recommend her blog.

You can find the whole Blog Tour HERE.

So I have two giveaways today. First, H.B. is offering a print copy of THE SERPENT’S RING or THE TRICKSTER’S TOTEM winner’s choice to one winner in US or Canada or an e-book giveaway to an international 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 June 8th. I’ll announce the winner on June 10th.
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.

And here’s the Tour wide GIVEAWAY:

One person wins $25 Amazon Gift Card (INT)
2 people win paperback sets of both books (US)
10 people win ebooks of both books. (INT)
To enter, fill out the Rafflecopter form


Rafflecopter Code:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday, I have a interview with Merrie Haskell and a giveaway of her new book, HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS, a story about a runaway princess who learns about dragons, danger, and duty. I loved Merrie's first book, THE PRINCESS CURSE, and can't wait to read this new book of hers.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Dianne Salerni and giving away an ARC of her new book, THE CAGED GRAVES. It’s a historical novel filled with mystery, paranormal elements, and romance that I really enjoyed. Dianne’s one of my writing heroes and I’m thrilled to interview her.

On Wednesday that week, I’m interviewing Marissa Burt and giving away a signed copy of STORY’S END, the second book in her middle grade fantasy series. I loved that Una goes into the world of Story, where fairytales are created. And it’s a fast paced story filled with escalating problems for Una and her friends. Marissa does a good jog explaining things so you’d understand the story even if you hadn’t read the first book.

The Monday after that, I’ll be interviewing Elana Johnson about her new book, ABANDON, the final book in her series. Elana totally blew me away by telling this story from Jag’s and Zenn’s point of view. I can’t believe I love it as much as SURRENDER, the second book in the series, which is one of the best sequels I’ve read. Elana is going to share her reflections on her first three years as a published author. And her publisher, Simon Pulse, has donated a copy of POSSESSION, SURRENDER, and ABANDON for a giveaway.

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

Hope to see you next Monday!




Agent Spotlight: Christa Heschke

This week's Agent Spotlight features Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.

Status: Open to submissions, actively building her client list.

Christa-HeschkeAbout: “Christa Heschke graduated from Binghamton University with a major in English and a minor in Anthropology. She started in publishing as an intern at both Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic, where she fell in love with the agency side of publishing. Christa has been at McIntosh and Otis, Inc. in the Children's Literature Department since 2009 where she is actively looking for picture books, middle grade and young adult projects and is currently building her list. Christa is a fan of young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. In young adult, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. She’d also like to see any steampunk and fantasy (urban and high), that pushes the boundaries of what’s currently on the shelves, perhaps a new take on these genres that has yet to be seen. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys contemporary (especially humorous), adventure, mystery, and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, character driven stories. She is open to considering new adult projects. ” (Link)

About the Agency:

“Established in 1928, McIntosh & Otis, Inc. is a full-service literary agency located in New York. M&O represents a broad range of adult and children's fiction and non-fiction, including many bestsellers, literary icons, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners. In addition to representing the subsidiary rights for its own clients, M&O also represents the sale of subsidiary rights for Louisiana State University Press and University of Nebraska Press.

“M&O is committed to working with writers to develop their careers. Our agents are able to provide detailed and substantive guidance to our clients throughout the publication process.” (Link)

Web Presence:

McIntosh & Otis website.

Twitter @ChristaHeschke.

Neverending Stories (blog).

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres/Specialties:

Picture books, middle grade, young adult, and new adult.

From her Website Bio (as above):

“Christa is a fan of young adult novels with a romantic angle, and strong, quirky protagonists. In young adult, Christa is especially interested in contemporary fiction, horror and thrillers/mysteries. She’d also like to see any steampunk and fantasy (urban and high), that pushes the boundaries of what’s currently on the shelves, perhaps a new take on these genres that has yet to be seen. As for middle grade, Christa enjoys contemporary (especially humorous), adventure, mystery, and magical realism for boys and girls. For picture books, she’s drawn to cute, character driven stories. She is open to considering new adult projects. ” (Link)

From her Blog (as of 5/2013):

Young Adult:

  • Contemporary (all types: dark, humorous, romance, issue-driven, coming-of-age/first love)
    • --Fun fact: One of my favorite contemporary YA romances is Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.
    • Something that tackles our society's fascination with celebrity and fame (think The Bling Ring)
    • Stories with musicians (from band geeks to kids in rock bands and orchestras)
    • A story dealing with the prominence and power of technology for fame or ruin (youtube blogs, facebook, texting).
  • Mystery/suspense (think Veronica Mars, The Lying Game or Gone Girl) 
  • High-stakes thrillers (I Know What You Did Last Summer-Lois Duncan, Slide-Jill Hathaway, Mind Games--Kiersten White ).  
  • Some fantasy/sci-fi (all types, but must stand out from what’s currently on shelves. No werewolves, vampires or shapeshifters please.)  
  • Modern-day fairytale/folklore/myth re-tellings (especially those with a twist). Think Heather Dixon's Entwined.
  • Historical fiction with a compelling voice and hook. 
  • Horror (think eerie and creepy like Anna Dressed in Blood or The Fatal Frame video game series). 
  • Anything else with a good voice and strong story. I am certainly open to other genres! 

Middle grade:

  • Adventure, magical realism, fantasy, coming of age, contemporary, mystery, humor. I am very actively looking in this age-range.  Something with a  musical element ( a kid who is in band, sings, loves music)

Picture books:

  • Character-driven picture books or plot driven with a fun twist. I’d love to read about a character (animal or human) who resonates with me and makes me want to read more. I especially like cute and funny stories with read-aloud potential. A nice, subtle message/moral is also a plus.” (Link)

From an Interview (4/2013):

“I have always been a big fan of fantasy, for as long as I can remember, and working with writers on world building is something I always look forward to for any fantasy project, but I’m pretty selective when it comes to high fantasy.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Screenplays, poetry, dramatic works, adult books, non-fiction (Link).

Editorial Agent?

“I am very hands on with my clients and pride myself in getting back to everyone in a timely manner.” (Read more).

Clients:

Jim Aylesworth, Ellen Conford, Nancy Garden, Jamie Gehin, Hilary Harwell, Dahlov Ipcar, Vincent X. Kirsch, Marijane Meaker, Shelia P. Moses, Rachel Pudelek, Ed Young, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters (or 25 pages) of your manuscript.  No attachments. Include SASE if sending by mail.

For picture books, send the complete manuscript. No original pages or artwork.

See the McIntosh & Otis website and Ms. Heschke’s blog for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

“Anything longer than a page is too long and often won’t get read. You should have three to five paragraphs, an introduction, your pitch/info about the project, any pertinent info about yourself (other books you’ve written or have already been published, any other writing experience/credits) and a closing (thank you for your time, this is not an exclusive submission etc.) Also, include what you’ve enclosed with the letter (a synopsis, first pages, SASE etc.).” (Link)

See also: Agent Tips-From Querying to Accepting an Offer at her blog, Neverending Stories.

Response Times:

Due to the volume of queries received, the agency only responds if interested, usually within 6-8 weeks (Link). 

Ms. Heschke responds to all referrals, conference submissions, snail-mail submissions, and requested material (info via e-mail).

What's the Buzz?

Christa Heschke joined McIntosh & Otis in June of 2009 following internships with Writers House and Sterling Lord Literistic. Promoted to Literary Agent in February of 2013, Ms. Heschke is actively building her list and excited to find new talent. In addition to client representation, she handles various rights for the agency’s children’s list.

I recommend following her on Twitter @ChristaHeschke and subscribing to her blog for further insight, tips, and news.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Interview with Literary Agent Christa Heschke at Stacey O’Neale’s site (4/2013).

Around the Web:

McIntosh & Otis, Inc. at P&E.

For upcoming event and conference dates, see the right-hand sidebar of Ms. Heschke’s Neverending Stories blog.

Blog Post: Agent Tips-From Querying to Accepting an Offer (05/2013).

Client Hilary Harwell’s “I Have an Agent!” post at her blog, A Life Inspired (05/2013).

Client Jamie Gehin’s “How I Got My Agent” post at her blog, YABookWriter’s Blog (05/2013).

Client Rachel Pudelek’s “How I Quit Writing & Signed an Agent” post at her blog, A Rainy Day Writer In the Evergreen State, plus Part II (04/2013).

Agent Round-Up: Reading as an Agent, including Ms. Heschke, at Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing (04/2013).

New Literary Agent Alert: Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis at Guide to Literary Agents (04/2013).

Contact:

Please see the McIntosh & Otis website and Ms. Heschke’s blog for contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last Updated: 5/23/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 5/23/13.

***

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.

DORINE WHITE INTERVIEW AND THE EMERALD RING GIVEAWAY


Today I’m excited to have debut author Dorine White here to share about her new book, THE EMERALD RING, which was released on May 14, 2013. I really enjoyed watching Sara use her wits to discover what the emerald ring is with her friends Heidi and Kainu. And I really found the mythology based on Cleopatra very unique.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Ordinary tween life turns upside down when Ancient Egypt intrudes on modern middle school life. Twelve year old Sara Guadalupe Bogus reads about adventures, but unexpectedly is drawn into one when a mystical emerald ring that once belonged to Cleopatra becomes stuck on her finger.

A series of burglaries spook Sara’s small Ohio hometown. Concluding that the root of all the crimes is the emerald ring, Sara realizes it’s up to her and her friends, Heidi and African exchange student Kainu, to save the town and protect Cleopatra’s legacy. Filled with magic, the ring thrusts Sara into a world filled with nightmares, allows her to shape shift into an Egyptian cat and battle assassins.

Hi Dorine. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I attended BYU in Utah where I graduated with a BA in Humanities. I love humanities. It includes everything I am excited about, including history, culture and art. The other thing that I am into is reading books. From the time I was in High School I loved fantasy novels. I devour them :) So, the urge to combine my two passions grew within me until I started writing. At first I tried screenplays, but after 2 or 3 movie scripts, I decided to try my hand at books. I have never looked back.
I am proud to say that I am a stay-at-home mom to six wonderful and hair raising children. It is my dream-come true. I love my family. Writing is a bonus.

2. Awesome how you were able to combine your two passions.. How did you come up with the ideas of the emerald ring and its connection to Cleopatra? 

I wanted to write about something children would be interested in reading. When I was a kid I was fascinated by Ancient Egypt, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Cleopatra has always fascinated me, and I wanted to write about her life and tragic death. The magic gemstones are a complete myth. I have not come across any writings that mention Cleopatra was into magic. I took a literary license to add magic to the story.

3. Cleopatra is such an interesting historical person. Share about your main character, Sara. Is there any part of you in her? 

Sara is based on a lot of different people I know. Part of my family is Guatemalan, so I thought a lot about my niece Carissa when I was imaging scenes. I’d see her image in my head as I wrote. Personality wise, she is a lot like me. When I was a kid I read tons of books about other places, and always wanted to travel, just like Sara. She also gets her fear from me. I was scared of the dark as a kid and often had nightmares. I also know a lot of people that suffer from anxiety, so the inclusion of Sara’s mom’s panic attacks came from real people.

I got her name from two of my best friends growing up, Sara Carlson and Denise Bogus. Yes, Bogus is a real last name!

4. This is part of a series. Have you plotted the whole story line out? When do you recommend knowing the big picture of the story in relation to writing the first book in the series? 

I’m not the type to outline, so it is all stuck in my head. I have written the second book and I am almost
done with the third. I know where I’m going. I just have to get there.

The main arc involves the secret cult and the magic gemstones. In each book a kid has one of the gemstones, and one or more of the cult members are after them. As the series progresses, we learn that Cleopatra has need of her gemstones in the afterlife, so the conclusion will involve finding Cleopatra’s tomb and returning the gemstones to her. But, the kids need to evade the cult. If the cult gets the gemstones they will rise to power, restore the Roman Empire and enslave the world. I’ve had the arc in mind from the get go.

5. I bet it’s been helpful that book 2 and part of book 3 is already written at the time this book is released. What was one of the biggest challenges in writing THE EMERALD RING? How did you overcome it?

Editing! There are so many rules to grammar that it boggles my mind. I love writing and storytelling, but grammar- yuck! For this book I was lucky enough to find a book doctor to help me. I also picked up a couple grammar guides and bought an online grammar service. Even with all that help, I still got things wrong. Wow, it was tough. I don’t think I’ve overcome it yet, it is a skill in progress.

6. I’m not a big fan of grammar either. It’s great that you hired someone to help you with what you struggle with. Your publisher is Cedar Fort. Share about your road to publication and your experience in working with a smaller press. 

I have been writing books for almost 9 years. The Emerald Ring is my third manuscript. The first one I spent years sending to agents and editors, all to rejections. Number 2 got set aside. The Emerald Ring showed promise right from the beginning. Even though agents said no, several publishers requested the manuscript. It went all the way up to acquisitions several times, but then wasn’t contracted. I actually gave up after 2 ½ years of trying, and began focusing on my 2nd manuscript again.

I was just thinking of sending that 2nd manuscript out, when my sister-in-law Lauri told me to try The Emerald Ring one more time. I decided to take her advice. As a blogger, I now had more contacts and had learned about smaller presses. Cedar Fort was one of those smaller presses. They use an online submission form to query. I sent my letter in, and waited. When I finally got asked to send in my manuscript, they got back to me within the week and asked to purchase the book. It was amazing.
I have enjoyed working with Cedar Fort. I have a great marketing person named Kelly. He helps answer my questions. Though most of the promoting is on my shoulders, I feel that is the same with most publishers these days.

7. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cedar Fort from other authors too. What should authors consider in querying smaller presses? Why did you pick Cedar Fort rather than another small press? 

Honestly, after three plus years, Cedar Fort offered me the contract. As authors, we’d like to think that several publishing houses will be fighting over our book, but that just isn’t the case. As a debut author, I do not have as many choices as well known authors. I was happy Cedar Fort picked me. They publish over 140 books a year, which is huge for a small press. They also have connections to the LDS world, which helps with marketing.

If an author is going to query a small press, check them out first. Make sure they know what they are doing. As a blogger, I have run into several small presses that just don’t have a clue about marketing and promotion. Even though the author does most of the work, you still need a press that has connections. Also, small presses can take years to publish. They might only put out 5 books a year. So, you get put on a list 3 years down the road. And then, what if you have a sequel? It is all worth thinking about.

8. Those are all important things to think about. Knowing when your book would be published seems like a big consideration. I know you’re on blog tour. How did you set it up and what advice do you have for the rest of us from your experiences?

Hmm, advice wise, be a nice person. I am also a blogger, so I know a lot of other people who blog. But, it all comes down to being nice. I personally sent out emails to my blogging friends, not group emails. I wanted them to know that I chose them personally and was interested in each of their blogs. I think being a blogger for the last several years is making a big difference in my marketing. I’m glad I started blogging long before I was published.

Cedar Fort allowed me to pick the dates I wanted for my tour, and then posted it on their website. They also designed the blog tour banner, which was a big help. I was open to bloggers signing up on the same days, and also, I was open to newbie bloggers. I have one person on the tour with only 16 followers. But that is okay, because I started out that way too. We all help each other and it makes the world a better place.

9. Sending the personal e-mails sounds like something we should all do. What are you working on now?

I am working on Cleopatra’s Legacy- Book 3- The Diamond Looking Glass. Inside scoop- it takes place in Paris, France.

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


Twitter @DorineWhite https://twitter.com/DorineWhite

Dorine’s publisher generously offered a copy of THE EMERALD RING 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 June 1st. I’ll announce the winner on June 3rd.

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 will be an e-book giveaway.

Here’s what’s coming up:

I’ll be off on Monday, Memorial Day. Yay! We all need a rest.

Next Wednesday, I’m participating in HB Bolten’s blog tour for her new book, THE SERPENT’S RING, a middle grade fantasy that will fans of Percy Jackson should like. There will be a giveaway too.

The following Monday, I have an interview with Merrie Haskell and a giveaway of HANDBOOK FOR DRAGON SLAYERS, a story about a runaway princess who learns about dragons, danger, and duty. I loved Merrie's first book, THE PRINCESS CURSE, and can't wait to read this new book of hers.

The Monday after that I’m interviewing Dianne Salerni and giving away an ARC of her new book, THE CAGED GRAVES. It’s a historical novel filled with mystery, paranormal elements, and romance that I really enjoyed. Dianne’s one of my writing heroes and I’m thrilled to interview her.

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

Hope to see you next Wednesday!