CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

KAT GREENE COMES CLEAN through September 2nd
THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON through September 23rd
MASK OF SHADOWS through September 30th
Danielle Burby Query Critique through October 7th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Molly O'Neill Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/23/17
Quressa Robinson Agent Spotlight Interview on 10/30/17

EMBLAZE BLOG TOUR: JESSICA SHIRVINGTON INTERVIEW AND EMBLAZE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to be a part of Jessica Shirvington’s blog tour. And I feel SO lucky to be able to interview her because she’s had such a great career as a writer. EMBLAZE is the third book in the very popular paranormal Entice series and releases in March in the United States.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Once again Violet Eden faces an impossible choice ... and the consequences are unimaginable.

Violet has come to terms with the fact that being part angel, part human, means her life will never be as it was.

Now Violet has something Phoenix - the exiled angel who betrayed her - will do anything for, and she has no intention of letting it fall into his hands. The only problem is that he has something she needs too.

Not afraid to raise the stakes, Phoenix seemingly holds all the power, always one step ahead. And when he puts the final pieces of the prophecy together, it doesn't take him long to realise exactly who he needs in order to open the gates of Hell.

With the help of surprising new allies, ancient prophecies are deciphered, a destination set and, after a shattering confrontation with her father, Violet leaves for the islands of Greece without knowing if she will have a home to return to..

Hi Jessica. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks so much for having me as a guest!

1. For those of us who haven’t read the series, tell us about it.

Embrace, book 1, is the story of Violet Eden, who discovers she is more than just human. She carries the essence of an angel within her. In a time when angels have been banished from earth but fallen angels still wreak havoc it falls to hybrid angel/humans like Violet to protect humanity. In Embrace Violet must make the decision if she is going to 'embrace' her destiny and become this warrior or if she is going to turn her back in favor of a normal human life. But even when it seems her decision is made, somehow the men in her life keep turning things upside down and in the end she has to make a choice not only for her but for someone she loves.

Entice, book 2, and Emblaze, book 3 are a continuation of Violet's story. Each book in the series is a progression in Violet's life. She is developing as a warrior but also as an adult, friend, family member and all in all becoming a pretty brave and incredible person. But, of course, she can make a fair few mistakes on the way!

2. I read that EMBRACE was the first book you wrote. And although it wasn’t published in the U.S. until 2012, it was published in Australia where you live in 2010. Since then you’ve written 2 other books in the series and all three have releases in the U.S. since September 2012. Share with us about your road to publication and then branching out into international markets.

I was really lucky when the books were picked up for publication in Australia. It was the right time for the books and my publishers really got behind the books and they were released quite quickly. Therefore, when other markets, like the U.S picked up the books it took a little more time. But it has all worked out really well since the U.S will be just about caught up to the books by October this year with the release of ENDLESS, book 4!

I've learned that each international market publishes and releases in their own time according to their markets ups and downs. It is so exciting to be in as many markets as the series is (I think it is about 9 now) and one of the highlights is seeing what each country does with its covers!

3. Wow! That’s an amazing story of a road to publication that we’d all love to have. Because of your series’ popularity and acclaim, I know it’s being adapted as a TV series with the CW Network, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and CBS Television Studios. How exciting! How did that come about and what stage of development is it in? What’s your role in the TV series?

After Embrace was release in America we were contacted by a scout who was working on behalf of CW. We were also contacted by Dreamworks separately and from there everyone just got talking together and decided to join forces. It was such a great opportunity for a strong collaboration. In terms of where things are at, the rights have been sold to them and they are in development stages. Where it goes from here, only time will tell. There are many plug pulling stages so I am just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. As for my involvement, I am excited and hope to play a small part in the creative process but to be honest, I'm an author and I write books. That's really the way I want it to stay ;-)

4. That’s SO awesome. I hope it becomes a series soon. What’s something that you’ve learned craft-wise in writing your series that would be helpful to us aspiring authors?

Chapter breakdowns are key. They keep me grounded and make sure the story doesn't go off on tangents. Every writer is different, but I've also learned to listen to that niggling voice. Sometimes you just know it isn't working. You need to be honest with yourself and just get on with fixing the problem. Sometimes the thought of making the changes is a lot fore tiresome that just getting it done.

5. I’ve had to learn to not be stubborn and make the changes, too. I know you’re a full-time writer, a full-time mom, and a co-director of MPS Investments Pty Ltd. How do you carve out enough time to write all the books you’ve published and what advice do you have for the rest of us who may also have a family and a demanding other job who are also trying to write and dream of getting published like you?

I wrote Embrace at night once I got the kids to bed. I cut tv out of my life (and for a few months my husband would argue he got cut too!). It's hard to explain but if you really love it and want it, it isn't about finding the time, you just do because you have to.

6. Ha! My husband would say the same thing. I don’t watch much TV either. Since you live in Australia, I’m guessing that much of your promotion in the United States market and connecting with fans is through the Internet. How are you marketing/promoting your books and what do you recommend debut authors do to promote their books and develop a fan base like you have?

I'm super lucky to have amazing publishers in the U.S and my publicist is incredible. So with their help we run a lot of internet promotions and try to interact with as many readers as possible. We are active on Facebook, Twitter and readers can stop by the website anytime to see updates. On top of that I did a 10 city tour in the US last year and hope to get back there this year or early 2014.

7. I’ve been really impressed with your publisher too. What are you working on now?

I'm working on the 5th book of the Embrace Series and really looking forward to seeing how it all pans out. It's a big book to write and in many ways the most challenging of the series.

I also have a stand alone that is in edit at the moment. It is called Between The Lives and is about an eighteen year old girl, Sabine, who lives in two realities, living each day twice but no two days ever the same. Sabine has always believed there was no other option for her but after a freak accident where she breaks her arm Sabine begins to question everything. Delving into a world of dangerous experimentation Sabine becomes desperate to know if she can change her worlds and discovers just how far she is willing to go to have just one perfect life.

Thanks so much Jessica for sharing all your advice. I can’t wait until the TV series comes! You can find Jessica at:
Embrace Website
Jessica's website
Embrace Facebook page
Jessica's Facebook
Twitter

Jessica’s publisher Sourcebooks generously offered a copy of EMBLAZE 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. This is for U.S. and Canada only.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday I'm interviewing Kimberley Griffiths Little and giving away an ARC of her new book, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES comes. It's a contemporary mystery with a touch of magical realism that I really enjoyed.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Kit Grindstaff and giving away an ARC of THE FLAME AND THE MIST, a dynamite fantasy with a determined heroine, mystery, and secrets revealed that keeps you turning the pages.

And Wednesday that week I’m interviewing debut author Erin Bowman about her new dystopian TAKEN and giving away an ARC. It’s about a world where boys are heisted away on their 18th birthday and I could not put it down.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!



Tip Tuesday #156

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Kristin Lenz is a writer and social worker who contributes to the YA Fusion group blog.  This week she shares advice about writing flashback scenes, and she has several giveaways, including an ARC of Emily Murdoch's debut YA/Adult crossover novel, If You Find Me. Please visit her at YA Fusion, but first, here's Kristin's tip:

I’m taking an online writing course with author Tim Wynne-Jones as my mentor/instructor. Tim’s academic home is the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he’s taught for over ten years in the Writing for Children and Young Adults two-year MFA, low-residency program. But he also teaches through Humber University in Toronto where students are paired with a mentor who critiques up to 300 pages of a manuscript. I was thrilled to be matched with Tim. Here’s a small sample of what I’ve been learning over the past couple of months.

As much as I think I understand the show-don’t-tell rule, Tim pointed out that I’m writing way too much in summary. “When you tell the story in summary, it’s more like listening to the news.” We might feel sympathy or outrage, but we don’t become embroiled in the story. “We don’t read stories for the news, we read stories so that we can eavesdrop – listen in. We learn who those characters are by what they say and do. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown conversation, but keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to take readers more deeply into the story.” In other words, let the reader be a fly on the wall, and better yet, let them walk in your character’s shoes.

I already knew about the importance of white space in a story, and truly thought I was including enough dialogue. This is especially interesting because I am a quiet, introverted person. I spend a lot of time in my head. And as much as I deliberately try to make my characters’ different from me, they too spend a lot of time in their head. On many pages of my manuscript, Tim wrote, “This needs to be said out loud.” Or “What is she waiting for?” Or simply, “Dialogue.”

Blogger Joanne Fritz recently interviewed Newbery honor winning author Kirby Larson and asked her advice on revising a rough draft. Kirby’s advice was similar to Tim’s. She advises, “scout the manuscript for narrative chunks: such chunks probably indicate telling, rather than scene-building. Convert those sections to scenes and you're most of the way there!” Read the rest of her advice here.

For more about the Vermont College of Fine Arts and the Humber University writing programs, go here:

http://www.humber.ca/scapa/programs/school-writers/creative-writing-correspondence http://www.vcfa.edu/wyca

Have a great week!
Kristin Lenz

JENNY LUNDQUIST INTERVIEW AND PLASTIC POLLY GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! I'm looking forward to the end of the week because I'm off work Friday and Monday. Can't wait.

First I have some winners to announce.

The winner of SKY JUMPERS is Donna Weaver!

The winner of PERSISTENCE OF VISION is Tyrean Martinson!

The winner of THE CULLING is AdriAnne!

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

Today I’m thrilled to have Jenny Lundquist back to celebrate the release of PLASTIC POLLY, which came out on March 19th. I became a huge fan of Jenny’s when her debut book SEEING CINDERELLA was released last year. It taught me that I could love a basically contemporary middle grade book with a touch of magical realism. I really still recommend that book. You can read that interview here.

I loved PLASTIC POLLY as much even though it was completely contemporary and took me to a foreign part of the middle school world—the most popular crowd. Trust me, I was miles from that. But I could really relate to Polly, who tries to find her true self while keeping her “position” in the popular clique and juggling her friendship with Kelsey and her feelings for their once best friend Alyssa. Jenny just did such a great job transporting us to that world. I read the book in a day.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Popularity has its pitfalls, and Polly is discovering them firsthand in this middle-grade M!X novel.Polly Pierce likes being the second-most popular girl at Winston Academy, right after her BFF, Kelsy. Popularity comes with special privileges, like a seat at the best table in the cafeteria and a coveted spot on the planning committee for the school’s big talent show competition, Groove It Up! And since all Polly has to do is agree with whatever Kelsy says, being popular is easy—even if kids do call her “Plastic Polly” behind her back.

But when a freak accident takes Kelsy out of the picture, Polly is suddenly in charge of the Groove It Up! committee. She’s not prepared for her new status—and neither is anyone else. Backstabbing friends, an intimidating crush, and diva demands from an injured Kelsy all threaten to derail Polly’s plans. Can she prove to everyone—and herself—that she has a personality of her own?


Hi Jenny. Thanks so much for coming back again.

1. Okay, from reading your biography and seeing your picture on your website, which relates to SEEING CINDERELLA, I don’t think you were in the popular crowd in middle school. What made you decide to write from Polly’s point of view and how did you make her so sympathetic?

What, you don't think my uber cool seventh grade pic qualified me for the popular crowd? :0) Just kidding—you're right; I was far from the popular crowd, so I couldn't draw on personal experience to tell this story.

I wanted to write a book from the POV of the snotty popular girl—you know, the one we all couldn't stand in middle school. I remember when I was in seventh and eighth grade hearing the phrase, "she's so fake," fairly often. But as an adult I found myself wondering what that even means? We're all authentically who we are—even the popular kids—and we tend to reveal or hide our true selves based upon how safe we feel. That's not "being fake," in my opinion. That's simply human nature.

I tried to make Polly sympathetic by showing her motivations; showing her home life; showing her missing Alyssa, her former best friend; and showing that, behind all the cute clothes and sparkly jewelry, she's just as insecure as any other middle schooler. Even more so, in some ways. And, since everyone thinks she's so "fake," I decided to lead off each chapter with a "True Confession" from Polly. One of my favorites is from Chapter 13: True Confession: Every day I stand in front of my closet door and ask myself, "What would a popular girl wear today?"

2. You did a fantastic job getting into Polly’s head without actually being popular. And definitely she’s sympathetic from the beginning. I think it’s because right away she’s agonizing about her lost friend. One of the things I liked about PLASTIC POLLY is that you nailed some of the politics in the clique, including the relationship between Melinda and Polly. I felt like I was there and it felt authentic. What did you draw on to create such a realistic world?

I'm a big believer in daydreaming. I spend a lot of time staring into space, and it probably looks like I'm not doing anything, but I swear I'm working! I like to play the scenes in my head and change the angles, almost like I have a "mental camera," so I can see what each character is doing, the expression on their face, their body language, ect. I write multiple drafts; so with each new draft I try to add in details to help the reader feel like they can fully imagine the scene. Or that's my goal, anyway.

3. What was one of the challenges you faced in writing this and what did you learn about the writing process from it?

It took me four tries to get a green light from my publisher for a second book. Meaning: I had submitted three different story ideas before PLASTIC POLLY, and they were all rejected. For the record, each time an idea was rejected I always agreed with my publisher's reasoning about why the idea wasn't going to work. But still, a rejection is a rejection, and at the time, it just seemed hard.

After the third idea was shot down, I found myself wondering if that was it for me. Maybe I was only ever supposed to write one book. Maybe Seeing Cinderella was a fluke, and I just wasn't a competent enough writer to land a second book contract. I had no story ideas in me, nothing in my writing journals to point me toward anything.

But ultimately I decided I wasn't going to let that be the end of my publishing journey. I sat down with a pen and my journal and started brainstorming: images, phrases, ideas that intrigued me, and, eventually, I came up with the idea for Plastic Polly. I have to admit, even in the brainstorming stage, I felt like this one was THE ONE. This idea had what the other three didn't, and it seemed like a perfect intersection between what Aladdin M!X wanted to publish and what I wanted to write.

I turned in my synopsis and three sample chapters, and waited. Since I'd just experienced those three rejections, I decided I wouldn't work on the project anymore until I received an answer. I regretted this afterward, when Aladdin green lighted the project (yay!)…and then asked if I could have a completed draft to them in ten weeks. "No problem," I told them. "I'm your girl." Then privately, I called my husband and totally freaked out.

But somehow I got through those ten weeks and was able to write a book I not only like, but absolutely love. If this process taught me anything it's this: I can do it. I am capable of finding a story idea out of seemingly nothing and hitting a deadline that just feels crazy hard. I can do it. And I don’t know that I would've believed that about myself without going through this process. And I am so grateful to my editor for pushing me to come up with just the right second book. I truly love Plastic Polly, and I hope others will, too.

4. OMG, ten weeks to write it and submit it! I’d be having a major heart attack even thinking of doing that. Voice is really important in middle grade books. What advice do you have on creating good middle school voices that sound natural?

I spend a lot of time journaling. I hand write all of my material before I type it on the computer. It's in those journals that I work toward finding my character's voices. First I try to identify each character's compelling need, something I learned in an online course from Holly Lisle (a writing instructor I'm pretty sure I heard about for the first time here on Literary Rambles), and go from there. For every book I've written, I have countless journals filled up. I guess you could say I'm kind of a journal junkie.

5. I don’t journal. Maybe I should do that. Identifying the compelling need of your characters is awesome advice. I want to switch to marketing. What types of marketing did you do for SEEING CINDERELLA that you found effective? What do you think are essential steps a debut middle grade author should take?

The smartest thing I did for marketing Seeing Cinderella was to join the Apocalypsies, a group of debut 2012 children's authors. It was like having an immediate team of cheerleaders at your side. If you are debuting in 2013 or 2014, I highly encourage you to join The Lucky 13's or One Four Kidlit. You'll receive so much marketing help, but also something equally important to a debut author: encouragement and connection to others who are going through the same thing you are at the same time.

6. Joining a group of debut authors seems like a great thing to do for getting advice and support. What’s your plan for marketing PLASTIC POLLY? Is it different from when you were a debut author? If so, why did you decide this?

I wouldn't say I'm doing anything drastically different this time around, but I am going to spend more time reaching out to librarians. I've had a couple emails from librarians lately who've really enjoyed reading Seeing Cinderella with their book clubs and I hope to continue that with Plastic Polly.

7. I really want to figure out how to connect with more librarians too. So I read that you recently announced more good news. You have a new two book fantasy series coming out. The first book, THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK, will be released in September. Tell us all about this. I’m so excited because fantasy is my favorite genre.

I am so excited for this book! I can't say a whole lot because Running Press is still working on the official cover copy, but it's about a princess who's been forced to wear a mask made of fine jewels; she's doesn't know why, and wonders if she's cursed, as some in her kingdom believe. Admittedly, that's not a great description, but that's all I can give you right now :0)

I first started taking notes on the story in 2008, before I finished a first draft of Seeing Cinderella. For me the story started with an image I couldn't get out of my head: A picture of a dirty, ragged teenage girl sitting on a wooden stool, looking on in horror as a door opened in front of her. I was intrigued by the image; and wondered what was behind the door. So I took my "mental camera" and swung my viewpoint around, until I could see what she was seeing. And what I saw surprised me just as much as it did my character. I'm being deliberately vague here, but there's actually a scene very much like this in the first third of the book, and it was my anchoring scene that helped me flesh out the rest of the story.

I can’t wait to read your new book. Thanks Jenny for sharing all your advice. You can find Jenny at:

Website 
Facebook  
Twitter

Jenny and her publisher Aladdin have generously offered a signed 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 6th. I’ll announce the winner on April 8th.

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:

On Thursday I’m interviewing Jessica Shirvington and giving away a copy of EMBLAZE, the third book in her paranormal series. I’m super excited because I learned what an amazing career she’s had as an author in a relatively short period of time while preparing for her interview. It’s really inspiring to hear her story.

Next Monday I'm interviewing Kimberley Griffiths Little and giving away an ARC of her new book, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES comes. It's a contemporary mystery with a touch of magical realism that I really enjoyed.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Kit Grindstaff and giving away an ARC of THE FLAME AND THE MIST, a dynamite fantasy with a determined heroine, mystery, and secrets revealed that keeps you turning the pages.

And Wednesday that week I’m interviewing debut author Erin Bowman about her new dystopian TAKEN and giving away an ARC. It’s about a world where boys are heisted away on their 18th birthday and I could not put it down.

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

Hope to see you on Thursday!




KICK BUTT BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY LINK



Hi Everyone! My post for the Kick Butt Blog Hop Giveaway post went up late last night. I know those of you who follow me do not expect late night posts from me. So go HERE to see the Kick Butt Blog Hop Giveaway. I've got lots of fantastic choices for you!

KICK BUTT CHARACTERS BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY

 


Today I'm thrilled to be part of the Kick Butt Characters Blog Hop sponsored by I Am A Reader Not A Writer and Good Choice Reading. I love these blog hops because it's an opportunity for me to share some of my favorite new books with you and to say thanks for being such great followers.

I think each of these books feature strong characters in their own ways. Here's my choices this month. Click on the titles below the pictures for descriptions of the books.

 


 


 


 














CLOCKWORK PRINCESS
LET THE SKY FALL
PROPHECY
REACHED
REQUIUM
SCARLET
THE RUNAWAY KING
UNRAVEL ME
THRONE OF GLASS
BLACK CITY
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT 
PRODIGY 
THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT


So I hope you like these choices as much as me.

One winner will win the book of their choice. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on March 28th telling me the book you'd like to win. I'd love if you'd let me know what other upcoming releases you're looking forward to. This will help me pick books for future giveaway hops. Also, I'm thinking of offering the more expensive books as e-books in future giveaway hops because The Book Depository has raised their prices by about $4.00 to $17.99 for some books. I'm sure it's because postage costs have gone up so much. Would that bother you? I'd love to know your opinion because these hops are very popular here and I want to keep them that way.

I’ll announce the winner on April 1st. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment.


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 as long as you live where The Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday, I’m super excited to have Jenny Lundquist back to share her new middle grade book, PLASTIC POLLY, with an ARC giveaway. It’s a contemporary story about a girl who’s in the popular crowd who wants to find who she’s really is. Jenny so nailed middle grade life and it made me realize how much I love contemporary stories. Like Jennifer Nielsen, Jenny’s become one of my favorite authors.

Next Thursday I’m interviewing Jessica Shirvington and giving away a copy of EMBLAZE, the third book in her paranormal series. I’m super excited because I learned what an amazing career she’s had as an author in a relatively short period of time while preparing for her interview. It’s really inspiring to hear her story.

The following Monday I'm interviewing Kimberley Griffiths Little and giving away an ARC of her new book, WHEN THE BUTTERFLIES comes. It's a contemporary mystery with a touch of magical realism that I really enjoyed.

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

Here's all the other blogs participating in this Blog Hop:









Agent Spotlight: Peter Knapp

This week's Agent Spotlight features Peter Knapp of New Leaf Literary & Media.
Status: Open to submissions.
static1.squarespace.comAbout: “Peter Knapp joined New Leaf as an agent in July 2015. Previously, he worked at The Park Literary Group, where he represented authors of middle grade and young adult fiction, and prior to that he was a story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, consulting on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based movie and TV entities. He graduated from NYU summa cum laude and lives in Brooklyn.” (Link)
About the Agency:
“At New Leaf Literary & Media we believe in total client representation, before and beyond the sale. By providing editorial direction and working together to develop promotional plans that enhance and support the publisher's outreach, we ensure that our clients have the tools they need to excel in the market. With comprehensive foreign and film departments in-house, we are able to collaborate with clients to truly maximize the value of their work on a global and multimedia level. 
“Most importantly, we believe in open and direct communication with our clients throughout the entire process.
“As the publishing industry continues to evolve, New Leaf Literary & Media is committed to staying informed and educated to best meet our clients' needs.” (Link)
Web Presence:
Agency
New Leaf website.
New Leaf Tumblr.
New Leaf Facebook.
New Leaf Twitter.
New Leaf Pinterest.
Personal
Website.
Twitter @petejknapp.
Instagram.
Pinterest.
Youtube.
LinkedIn.
AgentQuery.
QueryTracker.
What He's Looking For:
Genres/Specialties:
Middle grade and young adult fiction, select high-concept adult fiction.
From the New Leaf Website (as of 07/2015):
“At New Leaf, Peter will continue to represent authors of middle grade and young adult fiction across all genres, and he's also seeking out smart, high-concept adult fiction. He is genre-agnostic, as long as the writing is great—meaning a standout voice, complex characters (not just the protagonist), and plotting that keeps the reader hooked from the first page through to the very end. In middle grade, he likes literary award-contenders, epic adventures (fantastical or not) and everything in-between. He has a special place in his heart for middle grade that is spooky, funny, irreverent—or all three. In YA, he wants character-driven contemporary, magical realism, epic fantasy (but it must feel fresh), and realistic stories with some type of twist (speculative, fantastical or otherwise—such as THE RAVEN BOYS, BONE GAP, WE WERE LIARS, etc). For adult fiction, he wants high concept, voice-driven stories, ranging from the highly commercial (such as THE MARTIAN or Blake Crouch's books) to the more literary (THE AGE OF MIRACLES, THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS). For all ages, Peter is always on the lookout for character-driven horror and suspense.” (Link)
From Mr. Knapp’s Wish List (as of 7/2015):
#MSWL - YA that plays with format
“I will always remember when my mom, saint that she is, shoved THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER into my hands and told me I was grounded until I finished. Okay, she didn’t actually ground me, but she implored me to read it ASAP, and I’m glad shes did: the letters written in Stephen Chbosky’s novel were so deeply personal that they felt like they must’ve been written specifically for me.
“My love of novels that play with format persists to this day. Whether the fan-fiction interwoven througout rainbowrowell’s FANGIRL (yes, I will be buying CARRY ON), the relationship keepsakes documented in Daniel Handler’s WHY WE BROKE UP, the tapes left behind in Jay Asher’s 13 REASONS WHY, or the comics in Sherman Alexie’s THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN, I continue to gravitate toward these books. A recent favorite is Ava Dellaira’s LOVE LETTERS TO THE DEAD—check it out.
“And if you’ve written a book that plays with format, please keep me in mind.”
#MSWL - Great realistic contemporary YA
“Anyone who knows me, knows I love realistic contemporary YA. From Katie Cotugno’s kick-ass HOW TO LOVE to my client willwaltonauthor’s tenderly written, optimistic ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN, great stories about kids facing life’s challenges with courage, compassion and humor always win me over. I particularly love when YA manages to be at once heartrending and humorous, such as SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA and THE DISENCHANTMENTS.”
#MSWL: BITTERSWEET, REALISTIC MIDDLE GRADE
“I have always had a love for bittersweet middle grade. I still remember crying my eyes out while reading WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, and my childhood copy of SHILOH (which I still keep on my shelf) is so worn-in from rereading that I had to tape the spine. Don’t get me started on WALK TWO MOONS.
“So, I’m excited to find great voices in realistic middle grade fiction. Whether it is Auggie in WONDER, Doug in OKAY FOR NOW, Summer in THE THING ABOUT LUCK, or Thyme in my own client @mlconklin’s forthcoming debut COUNTING THYME, there are certain middle grade voices that are simply unforgettable. They perfectly capture that age where caught uncomfortably between childhood and adolescence, where the world is opening up in ways that are at once exciting and terrifying. In these stories, we see characters as they first truly begin questioning, then challenging the viewpoints they’ve inherited, upending assumptions about themselves, about others, and about the world at large. They make us laugh, they make us cry, and in their very best moments, they have us doing both. I love them, they are how I first came to fall in love with books. If you’ve written a great realistic middle grade with an unforgettable voice, I want to see it!”
#MSWL - Cool YA fantasy (either epic or grounded).
“I want high concept fantasy that feels COOL. Fresh ideas, richly imagined worlds, and magic that feels unfamiliar. Whether it’s the fantastical future in RED QUEEN, the magic academia of Tam Lin, the frightening magic of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, or the relationship-driven contemporary fantasy in THE RAVEN BOYS, I like stories that fantasy that either shows me a cool, previously-unknown world or makes our own world feel new again. If you can marry a cool fantasy concept with great, complicated characters, I’m going to be excited!”
SCARY MIDDLE GRADE
I am always on the lookout for scary middle grade, whether straight-up horror, like R.L Stine or THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS, more literary adventures with a ghostly twist, like LIESL & PO, or irreverent, humorous middle grade with a horror bent, like THE WITCHES. Anything with ghosts or graveyards or Halloween-vibes is of interest to me. An all-time favorite is THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, a reimagining done really well.”
FUNNY MIDDLE GRADE AND MIDDLE GRADE THAT PLAYS WITH FORMAT
“I am always looking for laugh-out-loud middle grade that play with format–irreverent stories that I’ve loved ever since reading and re-reading Judy Blume’s FUDGE books as a kid. Think DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, THE TAPPER TWINS GO TO WAR, TIMMY FAILURE. These books aren’t afraid to poke fun at their own protagonists, and they often find humor in the small moments, in common misunderstandings, and in the everyday. I laugh my way through them again and again.”
#MSWL: MIDDLE GRADE ADVENTURE SERIES
“Whether it has the humor of Rick Riordan’s work, the spooky comedy of my client Soman Chainani’s SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL series, or the epic sweep of THE GLASS SENTENCE, these are stories with excellent, high-concept premises and lots of action. They have edge-of-your-seat, what’s-going-to-happen-next plotting that makes you cancel your weekend plans so you can tear through the entire series at once, or, if the series is still ongoing, has you stalking your local book rep on the off-chance they received an early shipment of the next installment. If you’ve written a great middle grade adventure with series potential, I’d love to see it!”
#MSWL: BITTERSWEET, REALISTIC MIDDLE GRADE
“I have always had a love for bittersweet middle grade. I still remember crying my eyes out while reading WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, and my childhood copy of SHILOH (which I still keep on my shelf) is so worn-in from rereading that I had to tape the spine. Don’t get me started on WALK TWO MOONS.
“So, I’m excited to find great voices in realistic middle grade fiction. Whether it is Auggie in WONDER, Doug in OKAY FOR NOW, Summer in THE THING ABOUT LUCK, or Thyme in my own client @mlconklin’s forthcoming debut COUNTING THYME, there are certain middle grade voices that are simply unforgettable. They perfectly capture that age where caught uncomfortably between childhood and adolescence, where the world is opening up in ways that are at once exciting and terrifying. In these stories, we see characters as they first truly begin questioning, then challenging the viewpoints they’ve inherited, upending assumptions about themselves, about others, and about the world at large. They make us laugh, they make us cry, and in their very best moments, they have us doing both. I love them, they are how I first came to fall in love with books. If you’ve written a great realistic middle grade with an unforgettable voice, I want to see it!” (Link)
What He Isn't Looking For:
Poetry, screenplays, non-fiction, picture books, paranormal romance. (Link)
Editorial Agent?
"I return an edit letter outlining my thoughts on the manuscript: what I love, what I think it’s achieving and trying to achieve, how I think it might do this better. I try to ask questions, and I try to give some specifics while leaving ample room for the author to outsmart me and surprise me in revisions. Inevitably, they do." (Link)
Clients:
There are lists of author and illustrator clients on the agency website.
Mr. Knapp’s clients include: Soman Chainani, Melanie Conklin, Brenda Drake, Marcia Hoehne, Lucy Keating, Anna Michels, Will Walton, among others. 
Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).
Snail-Mail: No.
Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):
To submit a manuscript for consideration, send a query letter and up to 5 double-spaced sample pages within the body of the email to query [at] newleafliterary [dot] com. Please include ‘Query - Pete Knapp’ in the subject (this is important so that our mail system files it into my submissions folder). All material must be in the body of the email. NO ATTACHMENTS. Include all necessary contact information.You will receive an auto-response confirming receipt of your query.”
See Mr. Knapp’s submission guidelines on his site and the New Leaf website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.
Query Tips:
“What I want established in a query letter is: who is the character, what is the conflict, what are the stakes, and why is the character uniquely qualified to be our hero?” (Link)
“I like character-driven stories with a hook, so I love it when a query letter taps into a really interesting character dynamic. If you can combine a unique concept with a fascinating character story, there’s a good chance I’ll read on.” (Link)
See this interview at I Write for Apples for more great query information.
Response Times:
Due to the volume of queries received, New Leaf only responds if interested. 
What's the Buzz?
Peter Knapp maintains a small, successful list of clients and has been an agent since January 2013. He recently joined New Leaf Literary where he will continue to represent middle grade and young adult fiction.
I recommend following him on Twitter @peterjknapp and his website for current query info and wish list information.
Worth Your Time:
Interviews:
Query Questions with Peter Knapp at Michelle 4 Laughs (05/2015).
A Cafe Chat with Peter Knapp, Agent with Park Literary, by Lindsay Bandy at Eastern Penn Points (10/2014).
Fizzy Fangirling – An Interview with Peter Knapp at Fizzygirl (07/2014).
Query.Sign.Submit. with Peter Knapp at I Write for Apples (11/2013).
An Interview with Peter Knapp at Brenda Drake’s site (11/2013).
Interview with literary agent Peter Knapp of The Park Literary Group at Amy Newman’s site (10/2013).
FIRST FIVE FRENZY with Pete Knapp of The Park Literary Group at Chasing the Crazies (09/2013).
7 Questions For: Literary Agent Peter Knapp at Middle Grade Ninja (06/2013).
Casual Friday: Interview with Park Literary Agent Peter Knapp at YA Misfits (3/2013).
Interview One – Peter Knapp at Bethany Hensel’s blog (11/2012).
Interview Part Two – Peter Knapp at Bethany Hensel’s blog (11/2012).
Around the Web:
New Leaf Literary & Media page at AbsoluteWrite.
New Leaf Literary & Media at P&E.
Peter Knapp at MS Wishlist.
Keynote from Literary Agent Peter Knapp at WriteOnCon (08/2014).
Client Marcia Hoehne’s agent story (06/2013).
What Makes a Great Story is a Great Storyteller by Peter Knapp, guest post at Wovenmyst (3/2012).
Agentopia: Peter J. Knapp, wish list posted at Yatopia (03/2013).
The Beginning: How I Found My Agent by client Melanie Conklin (02/2013).
WriteOnCon! Pitch Fest Pep Talk (02/2013).
Contact:
Please see New Leaf Literary website and Mr. Knapp’s site for contact and query information.
Profile Details:
Last updated: 8/20/16. Peter Knapp has left New Leaf Literary and returned to Park Literary & Media, his original agency. See the agency website for his submission guidelines and his post announcing his move with his wish list.
Last Reviewed By Agent? 7/24/15.
***
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 profiles feature agents who accept children's and/or young adult 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.











































Interview with Jody Jensen Shaffer and giveaway of LIAM HEMSWORTH: THE HUNGER GAMES' STRONG SURVIVOR

Hello all. Wednesday just got better! I have an interview with author and poet Jody Jensen Shaffer on work-for-hire writing and her recently released celebrity biographies for kids.

Hi Jody! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. To start, why don't you tell us a little about yourself and your books to date.

Hi Casey! Thanks for having me!

I grew up in a small town in Missouri, the youngest of three kids. My dad taught college Biology and my mom taught elementary school. After high school, I earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in English. I taught Freshman Composition at two colleges while working full-time in corporate management development. I had always loved writing but became interested in writing for children when I stayed home with my own kids. We’d visit the library, check out as many books as we could carry, then rush home and devour them. It didn’t take long for me to get hooked on children’s literature--picture books, fiction, nonfiction, chapter books, and novels. When my youngest child entered kindergarten in 2006, I began writing for children.

Since that time, nine of my books for children have been published and another four or so are in the pipeline. I also write for magazines like Highlights, Highlights High Five, Highlights Hello, Clubhouse Jr, Babybug, Humpty Dumpty, and Turtle.

I had a chance to read one of your celebrity biographies, Liam Hemsworth: The Hunger Games' Strong Survivor and enjoyed learning about the star. What sort of research was involved in the writing of this and your other biographies?

Thanks! I enjoyed learning about Liam myself. My publisher, Lerner, wanted Liam and my other biographies to be as current and as verifiably accurate as possible. That meant seeking out primary source quotes from Liam, watching hours of interviews with him, and scouring reliable sources, like library databases and established newspapers and magazines. It was a lot of work, but I enjoyed uncovering little-known facts about Liam.

It does sound like enjoyable work. One thing that stood out to me in Liam's biography was the fun, accessible voice. What age range are these books marketed to, and how do you ensure the voice and language are at grade level?

These books are written for kids reading at grade levels 3-4, but because of the subject matter, they may be interesting for kids through sixth grade. It’s a balancing act to find the right voice for these fun books and to make them accessible to their intended audience. Tools that analyze the readability of your text are super-helpful. They tell you if you’ve written to the grade, below it, or above it. Then you can make changes accordingly.

Your books with The Child's World are all written on a work-for-hire basis. How did you start writing for the company and what has been your experience with them?

I began writing children’s work-for-hire through the book packager, Red Line Editorial. I sent my resume and some writing samples to then-Editorial Director, Patricia Stockland, now with Lerner. She asked if I’d be interested in writing some books for The Child’s World. I jumped at the chance, and BREAD BEFORE THE STORE and BLUE JEANS BEFORE THE STORE became my first published titles. Both Red Line Editorial and The Child’s World are top-notch.

What would you say are the pros and cons of a work-for-hire project?


I love doing work-for-hire! It’s fun, interesting, and highly collaborative. I never know what subject I might be working on next for what audience in what format. I love the variety, the challenge of learning new things and producing good work on a deadline, and the people I’ve met through this line of work. They have all been fabulous.

Honestly, I can’t think of any cons! My experiences have been great. It helps that I’m curious and can synthesize information fairly quickly.

No cons? Fantastic! Do you know of any good resources for writers interested in work-for-hire opportunities?

The very best resource I know of for those interested in work-for-hire opportunities is Evelyn Christensen’s website. Writers can click on the link for “Educational Markets” and find an extensive list of publishers and packagers. Another way to find possible markets for work-for-hire is to go to the library and see who published books like you’d enjoy writing. Then search out the companies online for their writers’ guidelines and requirements.

I see that your first fiction picture book Us Time will be published by tiger tales in 2014 - congratulations! Moving forward, do you see yourself continuing to write both fiction and non-fiction?

Thanks! I am so excited about my first picture book with tiger tales! I saw early illustrations, and they are adorable.

Yes, I will continue to write both fiction and nonfiction, because I love them both!

That's great news for us! What are you working on now?

Well, I’ve always got picture book and chapter book manuscripts percolating in my brain. My agent, Kathleen Rushall, and I are subbing a few things currently. I’m preparing to do a poetry workshop with middle schoolers next month. I’ve got bits of notes on my desk with poem ideas that I need to formulate. I’ve got more work-for-hire books on the horizon. And I proofread and copy edit professionally, so I’m never at a loss for writing-related activities! I am so lucky!

Wow! Writing definitely keeps you busy. One last question. Where can readers stay up-to-date on you and your books?

My blog is the best place to see what I’ve been up to lately, http://jodyjensenshaffer.blogspot.com.

Thank you so much for stopping by Literary Rambles and sharing your writing with us, Jody!

Thank you for having me, Casey! It’s been lots of fun. I’ve followed your blog for many years and found it super informative and helpful!

Jody has generously offered to give away one copy of her celebrity biography, Liam Hemsworth: Hunger Games' Strong Survivor.  To enter, please be a follower and leave a comment by April 1st. Include your e-mail address if it's not available online. This giveaway is US only. For additional giveaways we're running see the list at the top of the blog, and don't forget to check out Jody's other biographies including Josh Hutcherson, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Lea Michele, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. 

TIP TUESDAY #155 AND GIVEAWAY OF THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. Today I have author Maria Dismondy here to share some fantastic tips on having a successful book launch. Her most recent picture book, THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP, was released on December 1, 2012. A blurb about her book and details on her giveaway are at the end of the post.

Tips on A Successful Book Launch

Your book is about to be released and you want it to be super successful. Help get your book the exposure it deserves. Follow these simple tips to get your release off on the right foot!


1. Launch Party

Plan an event. To decide on a location, think about your target audience. For example, I write books for children. Parents, teachers and caregivers are the people purchasing the books. I chose to have my book launch at a local coffee shop. It was a win-win for the storeowner and I. My guests bought coffee during their slow time and I had a place to host my party at no additional cost. Remember, it’s a party. Buy a cake, balloons, have prizes and favors. Hire a photographer to get pictures of the event. Advertise in local papers and offer incentives such as; review my book and receive a free coffee gift card. Your family and friends will want to celebrate your success so start off the release of your new book with a launch party.

2. Virtual Book Launch

You are having an actual party for the release of your book but what about all of your fans that live out of state and want to participate in the release? Plan a virtual book tour. For details on setting up a virtual book tour, read my step-by-step directions on how-to HERE.

3. Bookstore Tour

Contact your local booksellers and schedule book readings and signings for the six weeks after the release of your book. You are going to be getting your fans super excited for the release, be sure you have several dates and locations where they can come purchase your new book and have it signed! I have found that having something to giveaway at the bookstores always helps to lure customers over to my table. Items like bookmarks, candy, stickers, or anything creative you can thing of that might go along with the theme or concept of your book.

4. Media

If you are working on the marketing of your book yourself, you will want to be sure to advertise your release before, during and after the actual date. Contact your local media and get yourself out there on your social media outlets as well. You can read hundreds of thousands of readers via social media. Do not be afraid to start tweeting. I promise you will gain readers!

5. Extras

Here are a few suggestions to really spice up the release of your book. Think about having a contest on Pinterest to get added exposure. Offer giveaways as a reward for readers who review your book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Get on Twitter and host a Twitter Party. People like books but when prizes and freebies are involved, they get crazy about reading!

Maria Dismondy, mother of two, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan. You can find Maria at:

Website

Thanks for sharing your awesome tips, Maria.

Here's a blurb of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP: DISCOVERING WHY KINDNESS COUNTS from Goodreads:

Champ and Walter Norbert Whipplemoore are about as different as two kids can bewell, except for their love of baseball and potato chips. Champ had everything, but always wanted more. Walter had very little, but was never seen without a smile on his face. In the end, it is Walter and some crunchy potato chips that teach Champ a lesson about character that can't be taught in school.

Maria has generously offered a copy of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP 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 March 30th. I’ll announce the winner on April 1st.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S. residents only.

Hope to see you on Saturday when I'm participating in the Kick Butt Characters Book Giveaway Hop. I have lots of great book choices for you.

MINDEE ARNETT INTERVIEW AND THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday, Everyone! Hope you had a Happy St. Patrick's Day if you celebrate. I'm happy. I actually got some writing done this weekend.

So first, I have a few winners to announce.

The winner of LET THE SKY FALL is Rachel Morgan!

The winner of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE is Rosi!

And the winner of MY EPIC FAIRY TALE FAIL is Sheri Larsen!

Congrats! E-mail me your addresses so I can get 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 interview debut author Mindee Arnett about her book, THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR, which released on March 5th. I really, really liked this book and couldn’t put it down. I read it in about 24 hours and that included going to work that day. I loved the magical world of witchkind, darkkind, and naturekind. It has just the right balance between magical and being in this world. And I was gripped in watching Dusty and Eli as they tried to solve the mystery of the murders. Dusty’s nightmare powers are definitely unique and I enjoyed learning about them and her new world.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.

Hi Mindee. Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me! I’m very excited to be here.

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

Let’s see, I’m a horse crazy, Whedonite-Whovian, and I wrote my first short story in the sixth grade after my teacher gave us an assignment to write a story off a writing prompt she provided. It was love at first sentence. Never before had it occurred to me that I, an ordinary girl who harbored a desperate love of reading, could tell my own stories. This moment, this realization was like when Diggory first discovers the Wood Between the Worlds in The Magician’s Nephew of the Chronicles of Narnia. My eyes were opened to the reality that there really is a place where countless new worlds are just waiting to be discovered.

I wrote countless short stories after that, all the way through high school and college, eventually publishing a number of them in small press and semi-pro magazines. During graduate school I turned to novels. My first attempt was…not so good. But I kept at it, eventually writing The Nightmare Affair.

2. So awesome that you’ve been writing since you were a kid. I read that the inspiration for your story came in part from a picture. Share how you came up with the ideas for your story.

The picture part is definitely true. I was on Wikipedia, researching monsters to use in a short story. A couple of clicks into it, I stumbled across the famous Henry Fuseli painting “The Nightmare” that shows a demonic creature sitting on the chest of a sleeping woman. I took one look at it and wondered what would happen if the situation were reserved, if the woman was sitting on the demon’s chest—or more specifically, if the woman was sitting on a man’s chest. I asked myself what would happen if a nightmare wasn’t something hideous and scary but an ordinary girl. And just like that, Dusty was born.

3. It always amazes me how ideas for stories are all around us. And this is a perfect example of this. I loved the world building. The magical world you created of the witchkind, who are witches, psychics, and wizards, darkkind, who are demons, werewolves, and nightmares, and naturekind, who are fairies, dryad and mermaids, has just the right ratio of different magical beings without overwhelming us. What was your world building process like and what tips can you share with the rest of us?

I love world building. I actually did a fairly lengthy post on the subject for WriteOnCon last year. My biggest tip for successful world building is to question everything. Every element of your world should have a reason for being the way it is and for being present in your story, and you, the writer, should know those reasons. When I first started writing novel length fiction, I used to put in anything I felt like, completely willy-nilly. But I eventually learned that this is recipe for plot holes, inconsistencies, and overall bad writing. With The Nightmare Affair, I examined and reexamined every world building element before putting it in.

The trick is to be very pragmatic about it. Ask yourself the practical questions. For example, if you have a teenage character that drives a really nice sports car, you need to know who bought the car, who pays for the insurance, how the character gets money to put fuel in the tank, and so on. These are pretty boring questions, I know, but very important in terms of making your story feel real to the reader. Answering these questions will naturally inform you about who your characters are, why they do what they do, and how they fit into the world at large.

4. That’s a great tip. I’m going to be sure to use it in the future. Who was the most challenging character to write and why? What did you learn from the process?

Eli was definitely the hardest. He is a good guy and those are hard to write and still make interesting. Being a good looking boy is never enough. He had to be dynamic and fun, charming. The biggest lesson I learned from him is that your leading man needs to be in the spotlight as much as possible. Give him the best lines, the best moves in the action sequences, anything to make him shine.

5. I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it is true that it’s hard to make someone who’s a great person interesting. And you’re right, it’s important to have him/her in the story a lot. I love that you combined the fantasy and mystery elements. What are some of your tips on plotting the mystery part of the story?

My answer to this is the same with world building: question everything. Be your story’s biggest skeptic. Assume that in your first draft the bad guy is completely obvious, and then work on making him not so. Do the same with your “clues.” They should be subtle and nuanced with possible meanings and interpretations. Speaking of clues, these are your map that will lead the MC to the solution. Be sure to use lots of red herrings, and the more suspects the better.

6. Okay, I read that you submitted less than 10 queries and were offered representation a week after querying Suzie Townsend. Then you got a 3 book deal a month later. It sounds like a very good dream. Tell us how it all happened.

Sure. I started writing the first draft of The Nightmare Affair August of 2010 and finished February 2011. I then took it through a couple of revisions with the help of some awesome critique partners I’d recently connected with before finally sending out query letters to agents in late May. I sent my query to Suzie on May 26, and she requested the full manuscript on June 1. Naturally, I sent it right away, completely thrilled and terrified. Three days later, Suzie sent me another e-mail stating how much she liked it and if we could have a phone chat. We set it up the following Monday, June 9, and Suzie offered representation over the phone. A few days later, the deal was done, and we started on a round of edits for The Nightmare Affair. By the first week of July, or thereabouts, the book went out on submission. Seventeen days later, I had a 3 book offer on the table from Tor Teen.

Now, this all sounds totally amazing, and it is—it was a dream come true and my head it still spinning from how fast it all went down—but I’m far from overnight success. I spent years practicing and learning, including four “trunk” novels.

7. Wow! Even with all the prior years of practice, that’s an amazing road to publication we’d all love to experience. What are you doing to market your book and what things did you do in the year leading up to your book release that you’re really glad you did?

Honestly, most of the marketing I’ve done for my book has been reactive. The majority of the interviews and guest posts I’ve done have been because the blogger/host has asked me to participate. Before writing The Nightmare Affair, I wasn’t very connected to the blogosphere. I’m much more immersed now, but not enough to feel confident in reaching out to blogs or anything. Fortunately, I’ve gotten a lot of support from Tor and my wonderful agency, New Leaf Literary. They are both finding lots of awesome opportunities for me.

The one thing I’m very glad I did was to start connecting online with other writer as well as bloggers and readers. I started off by friending/following my critique partners who introduced me to their friends and so on. Establishing these relationships early and then building on them has made a huge difference. I spend way more time chatting with people about our shared love of reading, TV shows, movies and so on than I do about my own book. But whenever I do have book related news, they’re there to help me celebrate. It’s awesome.

8. That’s great your publisher and agency are helping you. And being friends with other vs. selling yourself sounds like an important component of marketing. You’re on Twitter. How should aspiring authors use it best and do you have any recommendations on how to use it the year leading up to your book release?

My advice mirrors what I said in the previous question. Twitter should be about connecting with people over shared interests and not about just trying to promote yourself and your book. That’s the biggest mistake I see people make. They’ll start a twitter account, post things randomly, always about their book or themselves, and never really take the time to interact with people. This is not how Twitter works. Well, I guess if you’re Justin Bieber that might work, but for most of us, you’ve got to build your presence through give and take. It should be a fun, social activity and not a constant sales pitch.

9. I’ve heard that complaint about Twitter from other authors too—that people just use it to promote themselves. What are you working on now?

Aside from the sequel to The Nightmare Affair, I’m currently, at work on the prequel to my sci-fi novel AVALON which debuts Winter 2014 from Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins).

Thanks Mindee for sharing all your great advice. Good luck with your book. You can find Mindee at:
Website
Twitter
Facebook
Tumblr
Goodreads

Mindee and her publisher, Tor, have generously offered an book 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 March 30th. I’ll announce the winner on April 1st.

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.

And don't forget to end my other contests, including for THE CULLING, a YA dystopian, THE RUNAWAY KING, a YA fantasy (one of my favorite books this year), and SKY JUMPERS, a MG dystopian I'm dying to read. (The contest for this ends Wednesday, so hurry to enter this one.)

Here's what's coming up:

Tomorrow, Maria Dismondy is sharing a Tuesday tip on how to launch a successful book launch and giving away a copy of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP, her new picture book.

On Saturday, I'm participating in the Kick Butt Characters Book Giveaway Hop. I have lots of great book choices for you.

Next Monday, I’m super excited to have Jenny Lundquist back to share her new middle grade book, PLASTIC POLLY, with an ARC giveaway. It’s a contemporary story about a girl who’s in the popular crowd who wants to find who she’s really is. Jenny so nailed middle grade life and it made me realize how much I love contemporary stories. Like Jennifer Nielsen, Jenny’s become one of my favorite authors.

Then, next Thursday I’m interviewing Jessica Shirvington and giving away a copy of EMBLAZE, the third book in her paranormal series. I’m super excited because I learned what an amazing career she’s had as an author in a relatively short period of time while preparing for her interview. It’s really inspiring to hear her story.

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

Hope to see you on Saturday!






EXCLUSIVE COVER REVEAL: SKY JUMPERS BY PEGGY EDDLEMAN AND GIVEAWAY

Today I'm so excited to be a part of Peggy Eddleman's exclusive cover reveal for her debut book, SKY JUMPERS. When I first heard about this dystopian middle grade book, I immediately contacted Peggy to set up an interview when it releases.

To help us celebrate Peggy's agent, Sara Crowe is going to share why she loved SKY JUMPERS.

But first, I'll share Peggy's awesome cover.



Don't you love it? It makes me so want to read about the world Peggy created.

Click below to add this to your Goodreads list.



And here's Sara.


WHY I FELL FOR SKY JUMPERS
by Sara Crowe, Peggy’s agent

I had the pleasure of meeting Peggy in person before she queried me, and I had liked her in-person pitch enough to ask her to send along the full ms when it was ready. I met her in May, and she was ready to submit the following September, so she smartly included her full query when she sent it. I use Peggy's pitch when I talk about pitches that worked on me because it has all of the elements of a fabulous pitch:

Twelve-year-old Hope Toriella lives in a town of inventors struggling to recover from the green bombs of WWIII that wiped out nearly all the earth’s population. Inventing has made life possible in White Rock, and it’s how the town views a person’s worth. But Hope would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb’s Breath— the deadly band of compressed air that covers their valley— than fail at yet another invention. The town is filled with excellent inventors; they even invented Ameiphus, the medicine that cures the deadly Shadel’s Sickness that has run rampant since the bombs.

When bandits not only discover White Rock has the cure for the sickness, but find a way into their protected valley, they invade. With a two day deadline to finish making this year’s batch of Ameiphus and no ingredients to make more, the town is left to choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from Shadel’s over the next year, or die fighting the bandits now. Help lies in a neighboring town, but the bandits count everyone fourteen and older each hour. Hope realizes that she and a couple of friends might be the only ones who can leave 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 the daring and recklessness that usually gets her into trouble just might.

Why this pitch is awesome: Peggy sets up a hook, conflict and character in her first paragraph: a girl who hates inventing in a town where invention is everything. Also, who would not be pulled in by the third sentence, and want/need to know what it means to dive into the Bomb's Breath? And then she follows a great first paragraph with an even more exciting second paragraph, telling us enough about what is going to happen to make us want to find out more, and setting us up for the big adventure.

Like many children's agents, I have read a lot of post apocalyptic fiction over the last five or so years. (Enough to be sure that I have none of the skills needed to survive one.)

I have been lucky to work with a few great ones, too, including Jonathan Maberry's ROT & RUIN series, Jeff Hirsch's THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, and Dan Wells's PARTIALS. What excited me most when I read Peggy's SKY JUMPERS was that I knew that it was ultimately hopeful, even when things got very dark, like the YAs I mentioned above. I was also excited to read a post apocalyptic story for MG readers that has a lightness to it that YAs usually do not have when covering an apocalypse. There was something Goonies- like in this story of three kids fighting bandits to save their town, and who can resist the Goonies? I also appreciated that White Rock is a world I might fare better in, though I doubt I'd be brave enough to sky jump.

When I start a manuscript it is all about voice, and Hope's is a voice that holds on and doesn't let go. This is a story of nonstop adventure, and you know that from the first page. But it is also full of characters you cannot help but root for from the start, and like the best MG stories, it is about family and all that family can mean, especially in a unconventional world. It has the perfect amount of danger to keep the stakes high, and Peggy's vast imagination was clear to me when I read the first sky jumping scene and I was hooked.

I am so happy that so many others will soon get to read SKY JUMPERS!

Thanks for having me!

Sara

About Peggy:

Peggy Eddleman lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah with her three hilarious and fun kids (two sons and a daughter), and her incredibly supportive husband. Besides writing, Peggy enjoys playing laser tag with her family, making dinner, reading to her kids, toilet papering friends’ houses, doing cartwheels in long hallways, trying new restaurants, and occasionally painting murals on walls. SKY JUMPERS is her debut novel.

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Peggy is giving away two more books! For more chances to win, go to her BLOG.

And be sure to enter all my other awesome contests, including LET THE SKY FALL, THE CULLING, and THE RUNAWAY KING, listed at the top of the blog.

Hope to see you Monday when I interview Mindee Arnett and give away a copy of THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR.


THE RUNAWAY KING REVIEW AND GIVEAWAY

Today I’m SO excited to share THE RUNAWAY KING by Jennifer Nielsen with you! It’s the second book in The Ascendance Trilogy and was released on March 1, 2013. Any of you who followed me last spring know that I’m in love with THE FALSE PRINCE. You can see my interview with Jennifer Nielsen HERE.

I’m thrilled for all the good news Jennifer has had lately. First, I nominated THE FALSE PRINCE for the Cybils and it won! I’m so happy I helped with that. Then, THE FALSE PRINCE made the New York Times Bestseller list in February. And it’s being developed into a movie. Fingers crossed on that.

So, here’s a blurb about THE RUNAWAY KING from Goodreads:

A kingdom teetering on the brink of destruction. A king gone missing. Who will survive? Find out in the highly anticipated sequel to Jennifer A. Nielsen's blockbuster THE FALSE PRINCE!

Just weeks after Jaron has taken the throne, an assassination attempt forces him into a deadly situation. Rumors of a coming war are winding their way between the castle walls, and Jaron feels the pressure quietly mounting within Carthya. Soon, it becomes clear that deserting the kingdom may be his only hope of saving it. But the further Jaron is forced to run from his identity, the more he wonders if it is possible to go too far. Will he ever be able to return home again? Or will he have to sacrifice his own life in order to save his kingdom?

The stunning second installment of The Ascendance Trilogy takes readers on a roller-coaster ride of treason and murder, thrills and peril, as they journey with the Runaway King!


This is a fabulous sequel! Immediately Jaron faces a neighboring kingdom who wants to take over Carthya, his regents who want to usurp his power by appointing a steward, and the pirates who want him dead. And his old friend Roden is his enemy and wants to kill him. He’s only got a few weeks to solve the problem or he’ll lose everything, including his life.

Jennifer did an amazing job plot-wise. Jaron/Sage decides on a crazy scheme to defeat the pirates, which he feels is the key to saving his kingdom. And in doing so, we get to see the lying, loyal, sarcastic, good-hearted Sage that I came to love in THE FALSE PRINCE. And we see his king-like qualities and loyalty to his kingdom as he goes off on an amazing journey to find the pirates.

Sage/Jaron faces problems at every turn and the plot never lags. We see some of our favorite characters Imogen, Mott, and Tobias. I’m glad Imogen plays a bigger role and she really shines as a character in this book. And we meet Fink, a younger kid, and Eric, two thieves Sage meets on his journey to the pirates. It’s amazing watching all of Sage’s plans, the hurdles he faces, and what happens at the end. Wow, wow, wow! It was all such incredible plotting.

I so could not put this book down. One night I woke up at 3:00 am and literally stayed up all night reading. I stopped at the last 50 pages because I wasn’t quite ready to say I finished the book yet. I wanted to savor it a little longer.

I’m going to do a e-book giveaway of THE RUNAWAY KING. I planned to give away my ARC, but someone at the post office stole the ARC that Scholastic sent to me. So I had to read an e-version of it instead. Because postage costs are going up, especially for International deliveries (like about $5.00 more), The Book Depository prices have also gone up about $5.00. So I’m going to start offering more e-books of giveaways when I need to buy the books for giveaways. It’s about $8.00 cheaper and makes it easier to keep the giveaways International. I hope you all understand.

One lucky winner will win an e-book of THE RUNAWAY KING. If you haven’t read THE FALSE PRINCE yet, I’m glad to give you an e-book of that instead if you want. Don’t have an e-reader? It’s not a problem. I used to read Kindle books on my computer all the time until my aunt gave me her old Nook. 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 March 30th. I’ll announce the winner on April 1st.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I'm interviewing debut author Mindee Arnett and giving away an ARC of her urban fantasy THE NIGHTMARE AFFAIR. I loved the magical world Mindee created that was also grounded in our world. And there's a mystery to be solved, something I always love.

Next Tuesday Maria Dismondy is sharing a Tuesday tip on how to launch a successful book launch and giving away a copy of THE POTATO CHIP CHAMP, her new picture book.

And next Saturday I'm participating in the Kick Butt Characters Book Giveaway Hop. I have lots of great choices for you.

The following Monday, I’m super excited to have Jenny Lundquist back to share her new middle grade book, PLASTIC POLLY, with an ARC giveaway. It’s a contemporary story about a girl who’s in the popular crowd who wants to find who she’s really is. Jenny so nailed middle grade life and it made me realize how much I love contemporary stories. Like Jennifer Nielsen, Jenny’s become one of my favorite authors.

Then, Thursday that week, I’m interviewing Jessica Shirvington and giving away a copy of EMBLAZE, the third book in her paranormal series. I’m super excited because I learned what an amazing career she’s had as an author in a relatively short period of time while preparing for her interview. It’s really inspiring to hear her story.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!