Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.


Hi Everyone! Hope you're having a great start to your week. I've been enjoying my time with my in-laws. I was off work on Friday. Yay! It's very stressful there right now so I'm always glad for a day off. I've been cooking a lot and baking some this week. It's been fun.

First I need to announce a few winners.

The winner of SKY JUMPERS is Jen Petroy-Roy!
The winner of STARBOUNDERS is PK Hero!

Congrats! E-mail me your addresses so I can send you your books. 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 Mindy McGinnis here to share about her new YA post-apocalyptic story, NOT A DROP TO DRINK, that released September 24, 2013. I loved the timeliness of the issue of a lack of water. And I really enjoyed that this was a really character driven story with gripping characters.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.

Lynn knows every threat to her pond: drought, a snowless winter, coyotes, and, most importantly, people looking for a drink. She makes sure anyone who comes near the pond leaves thirsty, or doesn't leave at all.

Confident in her own abilities, Lynn has no use for the world beyond the nearby fields and forest. Having a life means dedicating it to survival, and the constant work of gathering wood and water. Having a pond requires the fortitude to protect it, something Mother taught her well during their quiet hours on the rooftop, rifles in hand.

But wisps of smoke on the horizon mean one thing: strangers. The mysterious footprints by the pond, nighttime threats, and gunshots make it all too clear Lynn has exactly what they want, and they won’t stop until they get it….

With evocative, spare language and incredible drama, danger, and romance, debut author Mindy McGinnis depicts one girl’s journey in a barren world not so different than our own

Hi Mindy. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’m a YA librarian in a very rural community, and a lot of the things that Lynn would call survival techniques are hobbies where I live  Knitting, canning food, hunting… we’re pretty much fine when the apocalypse comes. As far as how I became a writer, I don’t know if I became one or have always been one. I won’t say I’ve been writing since I could walk or anything like that, but when I was a kid if I didn’t like the way a book ended I’d change it in my head, then think, “There. That’s better.”

2. Sounds like you have a lot in your own life that you drew on in writing NOT A DROP TO DRINK. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I watched a documentary called Blue Gold, which is about a projected shortage of potable water on our planet due to overpopulation. It was a horrible thought - we all need water to survive, and it's something we can't make. I went to bed very grateful for the small pond in my backyard, and that night I dreamt I was teaching a young girl how to operate a rifle so that she could help me protect the pond. I woke up and thought, "Hey... I wrote a book in my head just now."

3. Awesome how a documentary + dream = story idea. One of the things I loved about NOT A DROP TO DRINK was the characters. Lynn, the not trusting main character who had little interactions except with her mom, Stebbs, the self-reliant neighbor, and Eli, the guy from town who had no clue how to survive in the wilderness, were all memorable characters and a lot of the story was about Lynn’s emotional growth. It had a contemporary feel to it for me. Share about your character development process and any tips you have for the rest of us.

I knew I wanted the transformation of Lynn from an isolationist to a human being with feelings to be
believable, but not at the expense of pacing. I needed every character to represent a new branch in Lynn’s growth, but with all of them sprouting at once. So, she learns from Stebbs how to have a father, from Eli how to have a relationship, from Lucy how to be a mother, and from Neva how to have a friendship (although an admittedly slightly awkward one). After I realized that each of these character represented one aspect of being a human being, Lynn’s growth in response to each of them could happen naturally.

4. You did a good job showing those characters each impacting on Lynn’s growth in a different way. I read that you’d been writing for ten years and NOT A DROP TO DRINK was the story that came very easily for you to write. What was the process of working with your editor like? Was it just as easy?

Working with Sarah Shumway of Katherine Tegen Books has been awesome. We see eye to eye on the big things, and the littler things I was always willing to give something different a shot – and more often than not her suggestions opened up the text more than what I’d originally had in place.

5. I hear from lots of writers that you have to be open to editor suggestions like you were. I heard you talk about your writing ritual, which is unusual. Tell us about it.

Ha, well basically I just sit down and write. I don’t plot or outline or anything. I always seem to know the first and last line of the book, and while I have a general idea of where things are going to go in between, I mostly just let it happen on its own. Big things – really, really big things – sometimes happen and I’m like, “HEY YOU! HEY STORY! WHAT DID YOU JUST DO!??!”

6. That’s cool that you know the first and last line, two hard lines to get right. Adriann Ranta is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

As you said, I’d been writing for 10 years and pretty much doing awesome at failing. The book I’d written prior to DRINK received over 130 rejections. Yep. When it was time to query DRINK, I was pretty confident in what I had to offer. I sent out about 15 queries, had 8 full requests and 2 offers of representation in about a week. I was pretty stunned. I was so good at failing I didn’t know what to do with success.

7. Okay everyone. We need to remember Mindy’s experience. Don’t give up when you get a ton of rejections. Your next story may get you an agent quickly. I know you’re part of the Dark Days tour with Rae Carson, Madeline Roux, Sherry Thomas, Michelle Gagnon, and Michelle Kahaney. How did that come about and what does the tour entail?

I’m not sure how Harper chooses who goes on the tours, but I found out I was on the Dark Days tour earlier this year. Pretty awesome news to get! The tour entails Vegas, Denver, Dallas and Austin in the first leg, and then Dayton and Cincinnati in Ohio for the second leg. (Dark Days can be linked here, my other OH stops are listed as well: http://www.mindymcginnis.com/news.html)

8. What other plans do you have to market your book?

Harper is taking really good care of me, but I also have a presence on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest, along with my personal blog, Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, PLUS I blog for a bevy of group blogs – From the Write Angle, Friday the Thirteeners, Class of 2k13, The Lucky13s, Book Pregnant, and the League of Extraordinary Writers. So… I think my bases are covered. If anything the internet will be sick of me soon.

9. Yeah, I can’t believe you’re able to write and blog so much. And I saw on your blog that you have some book signings set up on your own.

Here’s a question I’ve been dying to ask you since I know you’re also a librarian. What’s the best way we can let librarians know about our book before it releases and hopefully get them excited about it? Are there any resources we should use to find librarians to contact?

Honestly it depends on the library / librarian. Some like to be sent postcards or fliers, some would rather be emailed. I know it’s a horrible answer but you have to find a way to stand out from everyone else… much like the publishing world in general.

10. Darn it! I was hoping for an easy answer. That's okay though. What are you working on now?

Keeping my sanity.

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

Class of 2k13: http://classof2k13.com
Mindy’s publisher, Harper Collins, generously provided 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 through October 19th. I’ll announce the winner on Octobeer 21st. 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, let me know 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 Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK, a YA fantasy about a girl forced to always wear a mask. This was a fantastic story that kept me up into the wee hours of the night.

Next Tuesday I’m participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop. There have been lots of great new releases this Fall and I’ve got lots of great book choices for you.

Next Wednesday, I’m super excited to feature Tu Publishing books. This is a fantastic publishing house that publishes fantasy and sci-fi middle grade and picture book stories that are multicultural. I’ll be giving away THE MONSTER IN THE MUDBALL, a fun middle grade adventure, WOLF MARK, a YA paranormal story, and CAT GIRL’S DAY OFF, a YA urban fantasy.

The following Monday, I’m interviewing author Ruth McNally Barshaw’s 10th grade daughter for my ASK THE EXPERT series and giving away a copy of THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US and A HERO'S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!


  1. Loved the interview. I am a follower of your blog and I follow you on Twitter. Would love to be in on the drawing. I especially liked how she came up with the idea of the book. And all those rejections on her first manuscript gives me hope!

  2. Mindy, it's great to get to know you better. I've heard loads about your book. Love the cover, and the premise rocks! Best of luck to you.

  3. I'm still waiting for the big dream idea to hit me. :D

    I had no idea how to get librarians interested in your book. This is good to know.

    Thanks for the great interview, Natalie and Mindy. And thanks for the querying inspiration story. Always love those!!!

  4. That is a lot of online promotion. She should feel very fortunate Harper is sending her on that tour, because publishers put so little money into new authors these days.

  5. Congrats to Mindy! It's always inspiring to hear that someone worked on their writing for ten years before they finally achieved success. I don't know if Mindy will see this comment, but I'm curious about the process in choosing the book's title. I've known about this book for many months, but still need to be reminded of the premise because when I see "Not a drop to drink," I think of alcoholism - is that just because I'm a social worker!?

    1. Yes Kristin, it's your 40/wk slipping into the subconscious :) The title is actually a Coleridge quote that Mother uses to illustrate to Lynn that ocean water isn't drinkable. And I'm a fortunate author - it's the original title!

  6. I love the promotional aspect of writing. Book signings are fun and a great way to meet people. I really miss them since Borders Books closed down.

    Best wishes to you Mindy!

  7. Nice interview, Natalie! (I particularly loved her answer to #10. Aren't we all?) I've read a number of Mindy's posts on Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire, and I'm betting her book is just as good. A little disappointed the Dark Days tour isn't coming anywhere near me, though.

    Thanks for another fun interview and giveaway opportunity!

    Email: kmpeterson89 (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. I have been having such fun reading Mindy on the internet and hearing about this book. I want to read this one big time. I LOVE how she came up with her idea and also that she's a librarian. They're my favorite kind of people:)

    I would be so thrilled to win this one.

    Thanks for another wonderful interview!

  9. 15 queries and 8 requests and two offers to rep? That had to make you feel great! Glad you let the stories continue to flow and had enough belief in your story idea to move forward. Congratulations!

    Nice interview ladies!

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

  10. Not a Drop to Drink looks so unique and intense! I'm looking forward to it :)

  11. Love that she was inspired from a documentary! The concept is such a possible one and that's really terrifying!

  12. Oooooo, I hadn't seen this one yet! Thanks so much for the interview and for putting this book on my radar. :)

  13. Great interview, Natalie. I don't know how Mindy manages all that social media. Egad! I can't even keep up on Twitter.

    I love that she doesn't outline, just writes. And I love her comment about rural communities being prepared for the apocalypse...

  14. Really looking forward to reading this book, and I love that she basically got the idea from a dream.
    jlynettes @ hotmail . com

  15. Hadn't heard of this, but it sounds great. Congrats to those winners!

  16. Thanks for sharing your amazing writerly journey here Mindy!! Glad to also read you let the writing take you to wherever - in this case a fabulous book deal! Yay for you! take care

  17. Thank you for sharing the interview :) I love it! Thank you for the giveaway as well. <3

  18. Ohh! Awesome. I've been seeing this book all over, and I really do want to read it. Here's hoping I win it. *fingers crossed* And if the cosmos determine otherwise, guess I'll have to go buy a copy. ;)

  19. I've been seeing this book around a lot too! Sounds great. Saw in a review it was suspenseful too!

  20. Wonderful interview! The book sounds great, and I love that cover.

    Congratulations to the winners!

  21. Sounds like a great book. That's pretty amazing you know the first and last lines. Those are the hardest for me.

  22. Wonderful interview! I was so disappointed to miss the Denver stop on the Dark Days tour (children conflicts), but can't wait to read the book. Sounds like the kind of thing that could be made into a movie, too :)

  23. I wish I could write a book in my head while sleeping!

  24. Thanks everyone for your comments and support - and thank you Natalie and Casey for the interview!

  25. Hi Natalie. Hi Mindy. How inspirational is this interview. Living in Australia, lack of water is always a concern as we're such a dry continent. Great idea for a book. I hope you do well, Mindy!

  26. Pick me! Pick me! This book sounds cool :)

  27. This book just sounds so amazing! I've heard so many good things about it :) Great interview and thanks for the giveaway!

    Tweeted https://twitter.com/greengp01/status/387571324899442689

  28. What an inspiring interview! Yes. We should never give up!

    erittelking at gmail dot com

  29. I was lucky enough to attend the Dark Days tour stop in Vegas a couple of weeks ago. I didn't officially meet Mindy, but I laughed at all her gun jokes, and thought she was really cool from a distance! haha, I'm lame. Great interview. 10 years of writing to get 2 offers of representation in a week! That is pretty amazing!

  30. Congrats to Mindy! Her book is fantastic. :)

  31. Congrats, Mindy! Love how your idea was sparked! :)

  32. Sounds like a great book. And no matter what people say, I still love dystopian. Love the cover too.

  33. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! I've been looking forward to this book for months.

    bookwormsusanna AT gmail DOT com

  34. Thanks for an interesting interview. The book sounds like a good one.

  35. I just followed you on twitter and look forward to following the progress of this book. I have worked on water rights here in Palestine where I live (where water is a huge part of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians). I'd love to read a YA book on the top and so would my teenager girls.

  36. I love reading about where authors get their ideas--the best ones seem to come when you least expect them. Thanks for the inspiration and never giving up! Please enter me in the giveaway and I will also share on Facebook.

  37. I love reading about other writers who just sit down and write and don't use an outline. This was a great interview! And NOT A DROP TO DRINK SOUNDS awesome. Thanks, Mindy & Natalie!

  38. wonderful interview! Lovely to meet Mindy. I'm always so amazed at writers who write by the seat of their pants! I cling to my outline for dear life.

  39. Thank you for awesome interview. I love how she can create such a different world.
    I am a follower through
    GFC~ Misti
    Bloglovin~ Misti
    Email ~ Areuscared66@yahoo.com
    Twitter ~ @MistiSomething
    Twitter post ~ https://twitter.com/MistiSomething/status/388025652437188608
    Facebook post ~ https://www.facebook.com/MistiSumthing/posts/539650292777831

  40. The intro to book is thought provoking. With the water scarcity crisis this is an important subject to highlight, especially to teenagers and YA's. The honesty of the author, in her interview, gave me some glimmers of hope as I'm currently going on my 40th rejection. Thank you for sharing your writer history.

  41. i've been eyeing this book for quite some times :)

    +1 a gfc follower
    +1 twitter follower (@becunique)

  42. Thanks for the chance to win!
    I can't wait to read this one!!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  43. I've seen NOT A DROP TO DRINK around the Internet, so great to meet Mindy McGinnis here.

    GFC: Mary Preston
    Email Subscriber:


  44. Congrats to the winners.

    What a great success story. The yeses come in after the many nos.


  45. Fantastic interview! Thank you both.

  46. Such a great cover! What a great path to pub! Congrats to Mindy!
    And hey congrats to me for my win! :D

  47. I'm super interested in this story! There have been a few about our world where water is limited. But I want more! It's really is a question about what we would do!

  48. Great interview, Not a Drop to Drink is one book I'm dying to get my hands on!
    GFC-Ashfa Anwer
    tweeted: https://twitter.com/TopsyTurvy_Ash/status/388610984941600768

  49. Another great interview. I'm also a pantser rather than a plotter - I know how my stories start and end, but connecting the dots is always the fun discovery in writing the first draft.

  50. This sounds like an intriguing read. I love your interviews.

  51. Another awesome interview, dying to read this book, sounds like the one I would absolutely love. Thanks for a chance to win it! :)

    * following via GFC - Sandra K
    * email - sandra.zg.13 @ gmail.com
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  52. I am so looking forward to reading this book. Thanks for a great interview! And, I'm a follower on Twitter.

  53. Nice interview...I would love to read this book!!

    GFC Insane about Books

    jmluker at vhtmail dot net

  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. I really enjoyed Mindy's comments and would love to win her new book! ThankS!
    GFC follower: holdenj
    Email subscriber.

  56. I would love to read this book :)
    GFC: Jeanne

  57. I've been hearing only awesome things about this one!
    GFC: Christina
    Email: ensconcedya@gmail.com
    Bloglovin: Christina (Ensconced in YA)
    Twitter: @CAhnBooks