Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024
  • Miriam Cortinovis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/6/2024
  • Jenniea Carter Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/8/2024
  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/24/2024

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.


Hi Everyone! Hope you had a fantastic weekend. I had a fantastic surprise on Saturday. Harper Collins sent me MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT by Caroline Carlson. I had lost my ARC at a swim meet after getting half way through it. Now I get to finish it without waiting for the library copy to come in. Yay!

And I've got some exciting news. Shannon Messenger is coming to Ann Arbor! I'm SO excited. For anyone who lives near by, here's the details. She's the author of the MG fantasy series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES and EXILE and her YA fantasy book, LET THE SKY FALL. She'll be doing a YA panel discussion with authors Andrew Smith, Sonya Sones, Brittany Geragotelis, and Lauren Barnholdt on October 1 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. This event is sponsored by Literati Bookstore and will be at the Ann Arbor District Downtown Library in the multi-purpose room. I can't wait!

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

The winner of SCORCHED is Holly Bryan!

The winner of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT is Kristin Lenz!

The winner of A SWIM THROUGH SPACE is Charlie Holmberg!

The winner of GREY GRIFFINS is Heather Villa!

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

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Peggy Edelman here to share about her new book, SKY JUMPERS, which releases tomorrow. This is a post apocalyptic story, which I haven’t really seen in middle grade stories. And I loved that it wasn’t a fight against the government story. It was a story about Hope, a fantastic 12-year old girl who felt she had no talents because she couldn’t invent things, finding her strengths as she tried to help her family and community escape bandits. The story is filled with adventure, danger, and personal growth, which made me fall in love with it.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

What happens when you can't do the one thing that matters most? Twelve-year-old Hope Toriella lives in White Rock, a town of inventors struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb's Breath—the deadly band of compressed air that covers the crater left by the bombs—than fail at yet another invention. When bandits discover that White Rock has priceless antibiotics, they invade. With a two-day deadline to finish making this year's batch and no ingredients to make more, the town is left to choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from the disease that's run rampant since the bombs, or die fighting the bandits now. Help lies in a neighboring town, but the bandits count everyone fourteen and older each hour. Hope and her friends—Aaron and Brock—might be the only ones who can escape to make the dangerous trek through the Bomb's Breath and over the snow-covered mountain. Inventing won't help her make it through alive, but with Aaron and Brock's help, the daring and recklessness that usually gets her into trouble might just save them all.

Hi Peggy. Thanks so much for joining us.

I am thrilled to be here! I've loved Literary Rambles for forever. This site has been invaluable to me.

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

I was a computer software geek, turned mom of three, turned writer. So basically I can write a complex spreadsheet formula that tells the story of how many kids it takes to unload a dishwasher while arguing, versus while telling Clint Eastwood jokes. The first book I wrote wasn't because I wanted to be a writer-- it was because I wanted a couple of friends in a particular story. But when I read that story to my kids, to whom I was reading middle grade books every night, I knew that was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.

2. That’s an awesome way to start writing. And glad to know I’m not the only one who didn’t write as a kid. Where did you get the idea for SKY JUMPERS?

Apparently my alter ego wants to go skydiving. The part of me that actually controls my body has no interest whatsoever, thank heavens. But the part of me that would if it could was on a trip and staring out of an airplane window at the clouds, and was dying to sky jump into it. That part of me started reminiscing about my childhood, and how my daredevil brothers used to somehow convince me and my alter ego to do crazy, daring, sometimes dangerous things with them. So, the Bomb's Breath was born, and eventually, the rest of the setting and the daredevil girl who lived there.

3. Glad to hear you’re in control of that little desire. In SKY JUMPERS, you’ve created a world destroyed by a green bomb that’s really affected the properties of metal. And it so affects what people can invent. I thought that was brilliant. What was the inspiration for this and what challenges did you encounter in describing some of the inventions people could create?

Thank you! It actually came from the fact that I didn’t want them to be able to have electricity, and not having the ability to create a stable magnet greatly affects that. Then I figured that if metals were changed in that way, they were probably changed in ways that affected their strength and other properties. So the concept just grew and grew until it became what it is in the book (and expanded into something I’m very excited about in book two). I guess the biggest challenge was the sheer amount of geology research I had to do. In order to have made up science (my very favorite kind :)) that feels like it could be real science, you have to have a really strong grasp on how things work.

4. So interesting how you came up with the idea. And I’m impressed with how you researched the science of it. Hope is such a likeable, sympathetic character. She’s pretty fearless and loyal. And right from the beginning she has this problem of not being able to invent anything good which affects her sense of worth. Share a bit about how you created her as a character. Is she like you or anyone you know?

Hope’s personality is all her own, but the concept of her came from my daughter. When my daughter was
in first grade, she really struggled with reading, and everyone freaked out. (Which, for the record, was AWESOME. Because then she got the help she needed early on, and is a great reader now.) At six, she could stand against adults trying to discredit her opinion and hold her own. At six, she started playing football (very well, I might add), and had no problem at all being the only girl in the league. At six, she could do mental math faster than anyone else in her class. But at six, she couldn’t do the one thing that mattered most—she couldn’t read well. And none of the other amazing things about her mattered, because reading mattered more than anything. The concept kind of fascinated me, and I knew I wanted to make a character who couldn’t do the one thing that mattered most in her town.

5. Sorry your daughter went through that experience, but it’s cool how you used that experience in creating Hope. You’ve been doing some fantastic posts on what middle grade stories need. Can you share some of the essentials for making a middle grade story a good one?

I think that the most important thing when writing middle grade is to make sure that the kids are the ones driving the plot. That they are the ones running off into danger, and then getting themselves out of danger. I enjoy having adults in my books, even responsible parents. But you have to get the kids separated from the adults who will protect them from danger, no matter how difficult it is to pull off. Kids want to read stories where the main character does extraordinary things, and the only way they can is if they are on their own. (If you're interested in reading my series on writing middle grade, it can be found

6. Yes, it’s important that the kids go off on their own, but you have to make it seem realistic. Which you did, BTW. I’ve read about your road to publication and it’s fantastic. Tell us how Sara Crowe became your agent and your road to getting a publishing contract.

I first met Sara at LDStorymakers— a conference I attended in May of 2011. I got to hear her speak, and I loved her. It was a fantastic way to get to know an agent, and find out whether or not they are the right agent for you. I also had a pitch session scheduled with her. A pitch session where I was so nervous my hands were sweaty and shaky and suddenly ALL the words fell right out of my head, and I fumbled my way through my two sentence memorized pitch. I flubbed it a lot in almost every way possible. It's a very good thing that agents are human, and completely understand how nervous those things make writers. Even though I didn't have enough words to make the pitch session last more than a minute and a half, she still requested a full. (Probably to ease my pain at being so awful at pitching.)

That was in May. My manuscript was *mostly* ready, but I wanted to make sure it was all the way ready before I sent it. (Agents also know that the pitch sessions at conferences don't necessarily line up with when people finish manuscripts, so they're much more patient to wait for the ms than they are when you query.) When my manuscript was ready in September, and I'd worked on my query letter for five months (seriously), I researched agents. That's where I gained an undying forever and ever love for Literary Rambles. This site is golden, guys (which, I'm guessing you already know since you're here). Once I got my list of top agents, I started querying them and got my first request for a full. Then I sent it to both that agent and Sara. Both agents offered, and I chose Sara because come on. She's SARA CROWE. She is passionate and knowledgeable and emanates pure calm, which I've benefitted from many times over. It's a huge plus in this crazy business where things are constantly changing, to have an agent who makes you feel deep down that everything is good and right.

Not long after I signed with her, we went on sub, sold quickly, and the rest is history.

7. Glad Literary Rambles helped you. Casey does a fantastic job with the agent spotlights. And wow! We’d all love to have your agent and publication experiences. How are you planning to market your book? Do you have any tips for the rest of us, especially middle grade writers?

Marketing for middle grade is very different from marketing for YA. Kids in our target audience aren't generally on social media, but the gatekeepers (parents, teachers, librarians) are. I have an 18-stop blog tour going on right now, and I've tried to choose a lot of sites that cater to the gatekeepers. My other main marketing project is school visits. It's a marketing tool that only reaches a small area, but it reaches that small area REALLY WELL. And there is nothing like hanging out with the kids you wrote the book for, and there's nothing that helps you keep them in mind when writing new books quite the same as school visits do.

8. I really want to see which blogs you picked and how it goes. I agree that the marketing is very different for MG than YA. What were some of the surprises during your year leading up to your debut?

I went into this with my eyes wide open, thanks to a whole lot of authors who wrote posts giving a glimpse inside the publishing process. It's different for every single book and every single person, but I think I read enough different experiences to have a good idea of what to expect. I am SO grateful to all those authors! This business can be full of extreme highs and extreme lows, and I think it's important to realize that ahead of time.

One thing that did surprise me, though, was time. Like the amount of time spent in edits. (My editor is brilliant and amazing and dedicated, and because of that, we spend a combined total of 5 or 6 months in intense full-time editing for each book.) Or how tough it would be to be deep in those edits for book two so close to the time book one comes out. Or how long every day is spent on emails. Or how relatively little of my to-do list I get done daily.

But there have been awesome surprises, too. Like finding out exactly how grateful you can be to an incredibly large and varied group of people-- many you don't even know-- all at the same time.

9. Yes, I’ve heard that there are highs and lows. I imagine it’s stressful with book 2 needing lots of work while you’re trying to get ready for your big release of SKY JUMPERS. What are you working on now?

I'm just finishing up the very last of edits for Sky Jumpers 2, which will be out in fall 2014.

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

Peggy and her publisher, Random House, generously offered an ARC OF SKY JUMPERS 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 October 5th. I’ll announce the winner on Octobeer 7th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

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

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find all the other bloggers participating this week HERE.

And here's Peggy's entire blog tour:

September 11th: Taffy’s Candy
September 12th: Smack Dab in the Middle
September 13th:
Once Upon a Story
September 14th:
Inky Elbows
September 15th:
Society of Young Inklings
September 16th:
Me, My Shelf & I
September 17th:
Kayla’s Reads and Reviews
September 18th:
The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
September 19th:
Kid Lit Frenzy
September 19th:
Word Spelunking
September 21st:
The Mod Podge Bookshelf
September 22nd:
The Write Soil
September 23rd:
The Hiding Spot
September 23rd: Literary Rambles
September 23rd:
Nerdy Book Club
September 24th: OneFourKidLit

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday I’m interviewing Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away a copy of STARBOUNDERS, a MG sci-fi adventure story that sounds like it’ll really appeal to boys as well as girls.

Next Monday I’m interviewing a sixth grader in a writing club for my ASK THE EXPERT series and giving away a copy of THE DREAM THIEVES and ORLEANS.

Thursday next week I’m interviewing Meagan Spooner as part of her SHADOWLARK blog tour. This is the second book in her Skylark dystopian series. I can’t wait to read this and have Meagan share with us all. And there will be a giveaway of SKYLARK and SHADOWLARK too.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Mindy McGinnis and giving away an ARC of her YA post-apocalyptic story NOT A DROP TO DRINK about a world with little water. I loved that this was a really character driven story that had a contemporary feel to it.

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

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Ann Finkelstein said...

Another great interview and another book for my "To Read" list.

Joni said...

This one sounds intriguing... Looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the giveaway!


L. Diane Wolfe said...

You understand the challenges of marketing to kids - you have to reach their parents, not them. Good interview.

Unknown said...

This one sounds great and I have really enjoyed following the tour! I'm really excited now to read this!!!!

centerstagegirly AT yahoo DOT com

Unknown said...

Oh yeah and I was already a GFC follower - Rachel Edmundson

Danielle H. said...

I love science and admire all the research you put into your book. I hope to win a copy and will share on Facebook. Thank you for the contest!

Chris Desson said...

Congratulations on your debut novel, Peggy. And good luck on your tour.

Beth said...

Sounds like a charming book, and I loved her story about finding an agent. Congratulations!

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats to Peggy on Sky Jumpers!
So happy I won Caroline's novel - thank you, Natalie!
And Shannon is coming to A2! I wish it was on a weekend - so hard for me to get there during the week.
I just heard that your next Ask the Expert is a friend of mine - looking forward to her interview!

Theresa Milstein said...

Okay, this is the book I HAVE to win. I loved her Q&A at WriteOnCon this summer. I'm going to share on Facebook and Twitter.

Heather said...

Sky Jumpers sounds fantastic! I love that it took a different spin on the post apocalyptic idea. It's going on my list of books to read!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I have this one on my Kindle and can't wait to read it. I'm even more excited about it after this great interview! Thanks, Natalie. :)

Kel said...

Really interesting interview, especially the bit about MG marketing. I've gotten so used to everyone talking about the newest social media campaign, I rarely think about the demographics that aren't online. Definitely informative stuff.

The book doesn't sound bad either. ;)

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. This is another one that's on the TBR list, and has been for a while. Yay, Peggy!

And I'm insanely jealous. I'd love to have an evening with Shannon. (We're fans of her books around here.)

Patchi said...

I think my son will love this book. Interestingly, he has the same problem Peggy mentioned about her daughter. His school won't put him in the advance math class because he struggles with reading. We got him a private tutor, and the progress is phenomenal.

Jessie Humphries said...

I'm so proud of Peggy! This is one awesome book.

Barbara Watson said...

Sounds so good! Thanks for a chance to win the ARC.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Bet you're glad you went to LDStorymakers!

Carmen said...

I've had my eye on this one for a while now. :)

jpetroroy said...

I keep reading about this everywhere!

Carrie Butler said...

Hooray for Pegasus! :D

Stephen Tremp said...

I love the concept of Sky Jumpers! Its on my TBR list. I'll (ahem) jump into it real soon.

Old Kitty said...

Hope sounds like a total hero! She is fearless, brave, adventurous and with her dangerous quest is able to then use all these wonderful facets about her to save her home! Lovely to read this was inspired by Peggy's daughter too!! Take care

Anonymous said...

I loved reading Sky Jumpers and wishes Peggy all the best with her debut.

PS: Don't enter me in the giveaway.


S.P. Bowers said...

This is a book I've been looking forward to.

Stina said...

I'm always a big fan of hearing pitching stories, especially when the writer is this nervous. And it even had a happy ending. :D

Robin said...

Oh man, I want this book. I met Peggy at LDStorymakers...she's incredible.

Christina Farley said...

I can't wait to get this book! Fantastic interview girls!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

SKY JUMPERS sounds like a brilliant read. I loved learning how the world developed too.

And I totally agree, this site is fabulous.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

That was so nice of Harper to send you Magic Marks the Spot. You really rate! Glad you get to finish reading it.

SKY JUMPERS sounds so cool. I love the story about Peggy's daughter struggling to read and how that inspired her. And I agree with Peggy that Literary Rambles is a fantastic site.

Carina Olsen said...

Love the interview! Thank you for sharing :D Think Sky Jumpers sounds awesome. Would love to win a copy :D Thank you for the chance. <3
Love, Carina

MeganC said...

Great interview! I think there was a lot of great advice about both marketing and writing. I think it was great how you talked about the importance of realistically getting a kid to do extraordinary things on their own. I think that is vital to any good kidlit. Sky Jumpers sounds awesome!

Rosi said...

Wonderful interview. Thanks for posting it. The book sounds very cool. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

Unknown said...

I liked the interview and can't wait to read the book!

Anonymous said...

I've been seeing this book around. It looks like a fantastic read. I'm glad I read more about the author.

Gina Gao said...

This is another great interview!


Jill the OWL said...

Love hearing about an authors road to publication and their thoughts on it! Thanks!!

themgowl at gmail dot com

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Peggy is just wonderful! So excited for your book release. :)

Natalie, I hope you get to hang out with Shannon M. :D

Tracy Campbell said...

Hi Natalie,
Glad to read Peggy's interview and learn about how her daughter's experience led to Sky Jumpers. I've also appreciated Peggy's tips on writing for MG. :-)

Kim Van Sickler said...

I tweeted about the giveaway, Natalie! Sky Jumpers sounds like a great read, and Peggy certainly seems to know what she's doing!

Bethany Crandell said...

YAY! I've been waiting for this one!

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have heard a lot about Peggy's book. I am super eager to read Sky Jumpers.

Mary Preston said...

A great post thank you. I would love to read SKY JUMPERS with my daughter.


Unknown said...

Congrats to Peggy on her upcoming release. Can't wait to read this one!

Llehn said...

Congrats, Peggy!


TerryLynnJohnson said...

Love Peggy! Great advice here on writing MG. Can't WAIT to read this!