Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:

THE CRYSTAL RIBBON through February 18th

SIREN SISTERS through February 18th

FROSTBLOOD AND SUZIE TOWNSEND QUERY CRITIQUE through Febrary 25th

THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE through March 4th

Linda Camacho Query Critique through March 11th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights With Query Critique Giveaways:

Kristy Hunter, Wednesday, March 22nd

Tip Tuesday #167

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 agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hey all! I hope your summer is off to a great start. We've been busy hitting the parks, barbecuing, and entertaining guests from out of town. Need to get a beach trip in soon!

But today, I have a new tip from Heather Villa who authored tips #150 and #161. You can find her at her website, Heather Villa Writers, and on Twitter.  Enjoy!

Literary Love 

Are you in love with the story you’re writing? Or do you just sort of like it? Your answer will make a difference in how your literary commitment is perceived.

Falling in love with the words you write, often parallels falling in love with a person. Not everyone will support your opinion. However, when you sincerely present your commitment, others may eventually see what you see.

When I brought my boyfriend home to meet my family, he wore an Iron Maiden t-shirt, and his long hair, cascading down his back, covered the tour dates. Following obligatory handshakes, my dad called me aside and asked, “Are you crazy?” Then my teenage sister whispered, “Is he upwardly mobile?” My mom’s reaction towards my new man was different. She liked what she saw. She had an advantage. I already told her many fascinating tidbits about the guy in my life. On that memorable day, within a couple of hours of visiting, my entire family started to also fall in love with my boyfriend. My confidence in my rock band boyfriend was infectious, elevating his honorable qualities to an irresistible level.

Before I even thought about introducing my boyfriend to my family, I got to know him. He is level headed in stressful situations, has a weird ability to retain useless information about nerdy facts, and is a sweet son. Plus, he is fun. I no longer simply liked him, I loved him.

If you only like the story you’re writing, maybe you haven’t really gotten to know the essence of your narrative. The writing process is similar to young love.

We all know that books should ideally begin with a spectacular declaration. The words shape what’s to come. Not always, but sometimes, the first opening sentences, in the early drafts of a manuscript are awkward. A writer is simply “getting to know” the tale to be told.

In new love interests there are unknowns. But when each other’s passions, dislikes, and even fears are revealed, the awkwardness subsides. Plus, when experiences are shared, relationships become more grounded. And what’s also revealed, are the quirks. Hopefully, another person’s annoying little habits aren’t a deal breaker. What’s left is a multi layered connection.

Manuscripts deserve time to mature. The relationship between an author and the story itself can be complicated. And even messy. Yet, time does heal a manuscript that’s rough around the edges, revealing the unseen. Eventually, the author will fall in love with the story more deeply than ever imagined.

 Isn’t it obvious when two people are madly in love? There’s an energy that can’t be concealed. While some onlookers will embrace what they see, others will look away. That’s a reality.

But when a story is loved by the author; there will be a circle of captivated followers.

Epilogue: I married my boyfriend.

~Heather Villa

Agent Spotlight: Tamar Rydzinski

This week's Agent Spotlight features Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc.

Status: Open to submissions.

TRAbout: “Tamar Rydzinski worked at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates prior to joining the Laura Dail Literary Agency. She graduated from Yeshiva University in 2003 with a major in literature and a minor in business.

“Tamar is not interested in prescriptive or practical non-fiction, humor, coffee table books or children’s books (meaning anything younger than middle grade). She is interested in everything else that is well-written and has great characters, including graphic novels. A fantastic query letter is essential – ‘you need to make me want to read your book, and be excited to read it,’ she says, ‘with those first couple of paragraphs.’

“Follow her on twitter @trydzinski.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“The Laura Dail Literary Agency, Inc, incorporated in 1996, represents commercial and literary fiction and nonfiction, including: Bestselling author and ABC Legal Analyst, Dan Abrams, Fox News anchor, Dari Alexander, Supermodel, raw foodist, author of USA Today bestselling EATING IN THE RAW, Carol Alt, Academy Award nominated screenwriter of AMORES PERROS, BABEL and 21 GRAMS, Guillermo Arriaga,  #1 New York Times bestselling authors of SKINNY BITCH, Kim Barnouin and Rory Freedman, New York Times bestseller and CBS Legal Analyst, Lisa Bloom, Former United States Senator Jean Carnahan, Bestselling fiction writers, Sarah Mlynowski, Jen Calonita, Sarah Maas, and many more.” (Link)

Web Presence:

Laura Dail Literary website.

LDLA blog.

Twitter @trydzinski.

Goodreads.

AgentQuery.

QueryTracker.

WeBook profile.

What She's Looking For:

From her Website Bio (as above):

“Tamar is not interested in prescriptive or practical non-fiction, humor, coffee table books or children’s books (meaning anything younger than middle grade). She is interested in everything else that is well-written and has great characters, including graphic novels.” (Link)

From a 2013 Conference Bio:

“Currently Looking For: Mysteries, thrillers (especially psychological thrillers), science fiction, and fantasy in both adult and young adult formats. Women’s fiction, especially contemporary stories and narrative nonfiction.” (Link)

From an Interview (02/2012):

“I do love the epic fantasy, but I also love paranormal, historical retellings, steampunk. Um, actually, I’m not sure there’s a subgenre that I wouldn’t be interested in…

“I’m really open to anything. But I would love to see a thriller, something really dark and twisted. And one thing I love about fantasy is the openness–I find that there’s little attention given to sexual or racial mores of ‘our world’ in these other worlds and I would love to see some more of that in YA, both fantasy and not.” (Link)

From an Interview (02/2011):

“I don't represent picture or chapter books. I do an incredibly limited amount of practical nonfiction, though I do like cookbooks. I'm generally not the right agent for humor. And literary fiction would have to be very up-market to appeal to me as an agent.

“I do love YA, middle grade, women's fiction of all kinds, narrative nonfiction, science fiction and fantasy.” (Link)

From an Interview (03/2010):

“I do love fantasy of all types, though I think there is a lot of room for realistic books as well. And I am a big fan of dystopian, though I generally don’t like apocalyptic fiction. And series are generally more intriguing than stand-alones, though I definitely have stand-alones, too. I know this doesn’t truly narrow it down too much, but that’s because I love almost everything!” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Prescriptive or practical nonfiction, humor, coffee table books, children’s books (anything younger than middle grade), anything too bloody or gruesome, conspiracy theories, new age, screenplays, or poetry. (Link, Link, Link)

Editorial Agent?

“My agenting philosophy is very hands-on. I usually go through quite a few rounds of editing before submitting a book to editors. And I continue to edit second and third books in a series, even if they’ve already sold, because a) I always enjoy reading my clients’ books and b) I think it’s important to have as many pairs of editorial eyes as possible on a manuscript. If your book is good, readers are unforgiving of mistakes or missteps because they’re so invested in the world you’ve created. Plus, I like to tell myself that what I think is important to my clients.” (Link)

Clients:

There is a list of clients as well as a page of kids/YA titles on the agency website.

Ms. Rydzinski’s clients include: Laura Andersen, Amy A. Bartol, Danielle Bennett & Jaida Jones, Nina Berry, Robin Constantine, Syrie James, Danielle L. Jensen, Jennifer Knight, Sarah J. Maas, Ki-Wing Merlin, Jaime Lee Moyer, among others.

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (preferred).

Snail-Mail: Yes.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Send a query letter. Synopsis and first ten pages optional. If sending by e-mail put the word “query” in the subject line and the materials in the body of the e-mail. No attachments. Include a SASE for snail-mail submissions.

See the Laura Dail Literary Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.

Query Tips:

“I know I have a tough name, but get it right! And check our agency guidelines. And make sure you read your query over and over looking for mistakes. If you don't have the patience to get your query letter right, it tells me that you don't have the patience to be a writer.

“Also, please tell me about your book in the query letter. I can't know if I want to read it if you haven't told me anything about it.” (Link)

Via Twitter:

#query pet peeve: "[name]'s life seemed perfect." I see this all the time. It's a cliché and no one has a perfect life #querytip” (Link)

Response Times:

The agency responds to all queries (unless no SASE is provided with a snail-mail submission), usually within 1-4 weeks.

What's the Buzz?

The Laura Dail Literary Agency is well respected and recommended by P&E. Ms. Rydzinski has a select list of clients who appear happy and loyal. In recent years she’s sold to Bloomsbury, Harlequin Teen, Strange Chemistry, Tor, K Teen, Avon, and Running Press Kids, among others.

I recommend following her on Twitter @trydzinski.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

Interview with Literary Agent Tamar Rydzinski at Stacey O’Neale’s site (02/2012).

Interactive Interview with an Agent: Tamar Rydzinski at Mother. Write. (Repeat.) (02/2011).

Spotlight on...Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency at Savvy Authors (01/2011).

Literary Agent Interview: Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency at Guide to Literary Agents (03/2010).

Around the Web:

Tamar Rydzinski at P&E ($).

Laura Dail Literary Agency at P&E ($, AAR, Recommended).

Laura Dail Literary Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Secret Agent Unveiled: Tamar Rydzinski at Miss Snark’s First Victim (07/2011).

Guest Blogger: Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary Agency at Magical Musings (02/2008).

Contact:

Please see the Laura Dail Literary website for additional contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last Updated: 6/20/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 6/20/13.

***

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com

Note: These agent profiles presently focus on agents who accept children's/teen 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.

Tip Tuesday #166 And Giveaway of WRITTEN IN STONE

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 a fantastic tip by middle grade author Rosanne Parry on how to research multi-cultural characters. And she’s offering a giveaway of her new book, WRITTEN IN STONE, which releases June 25th. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post. You can find Rosanne at her Website.

Researching Native American Characters

Native Americans are integral to our national history and yet they are the least commonly portrayed non-white characters in children’s literature. I think many authors fear "getting it wrong" and find it easier to leave Native American characters out of their stories than risk possible criticism. But leaving Indians out of the books children read is far more damaging than any factual error would be. After all, a mistake is an invitation to a conversation, but to leave Native American's out of the conversation entirely is dehumanizing and communicates the message that the world of books is no place for an Indian child. Nobody wants that. The answer is to include the Native American character where it's appropriate as best you can and be diligent in your research. Fortunately this has never been easier. Here are 6 steps to take when researching Native American content and characters.

1. First of all, be specific about which tribe you are representing. The Native American experience varies widely from tribe to tribe. Languages, economies, ecosystems, religious practices, and mythologies are unique to their own tribes and regions. It may feel like more work to delve into one particular Native American history, but your story will be strengthened by you’re your focus.
Just as you wouldn't write an immigration story without deciding first whether your immigrant was an impoverished Jewish tailor from a Warsaw ghetto or a wealthy Christian university professor from Paris, so you should be specific about the type of Native American experience you are trying to portray.

2. Start with the tribe's own website, museum, historians, and authors. Nearly every tribe has a website. It's a valuable starting point. If a tribe has a casino, they may have a historical exhibit somewhere in the casino--also a good place to start.

3. Look for a cultural event specific to your character that is open to the public. For example Chief Lelooska's educational programs in Ariel Washington are a great introduction to the song, story and dance traditions of the Kwakiutl.

http://www.lelooska.org,

You might try an Indian rodeo or a powwow or treaty day celebration. Many cities have an urban Indian center with a variety of activities. Go. Absorb. Be friendly. Ask permission before you record anything. Most public events are fine for recording, but it's best to ask first.

4. Learn about a tribe's land both current and historical. Visit if possible. People are shaped by the land they love. For example, Chief Joseph of the Nez Pearce was hounded out of the Wallowas in northeastern Oregon. Why was that place so hard to for him to give up? Well, take a look. It is among the most beautiful moraine lakes in North America. The Wallowa mountains are the Alps of Oregon. Ask anyone who has hiked those hills or fished those cold clear waters. I've only visited four times in forty years and yet the place has a hold on my heart and imagination like few others.



5. Learn about their art and how it's made. Visit galleries that show the work. Support Native American artists by buying some of their art. Visit museums that have displays of their work. Talk to curator about the collection and find out if there is an off-exhibit archive. Some universities have good archives as well.

6. Be aware that some cultural information is not public and you will not find the answer; you'll have to adjust your story to accommodate that. For example, in working on Written in Stone, a story about a whaling family from the Makah and Quinault tribes, I knew I wouldn't be able to learn the rituals involved with preparing for a whale hunt. They are unique to each family and only shared with members of the whaling crew. So I chose a girl for my viewpoint character. She wouldn't know those rituals either, so I could convey the experience of waiting for the whalers to return authentically without delving into a topic off limits to the public.



But most important, be brave on the page. A “perfectly authentic” representation of a culture is not possible because every culture is made up of unique individuals who conform in some ways to their culture of origin and diverge in others. In the end what the child needs most is a character that feels like a real friend and at least some of the time looks a lot like him.

Here’s a blurb about WRITTEN IN STONE from Goodreads:

Rosanne Parry author of Heart of a Shepherd, shines a light on Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest in the 1920s, a time of critical cultural upheaval.

Pearl has always dreamed of hunting whales, just like her father. Of taking to the sea in their eight-man canoe, standing at the prow with a harpoon, and waiting for a whale to lift its barnacle-speckled head as it offers its life for the life of the tribe. But now that can never be. Pearl's father was lost on the last hunt, and the whales hide from the great steam-powered ships carrying harpoon cannons, which harvest not one but dozens of whales from the ocean. With the whales gone, Pearl's people, the Makah, struggle to survive as Pearl searches for ways to preserve their stories and skills.

Rosanne has generally offered a copy of WRITTEN IN STONE 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 July 6th. I’ll announce the winner on July 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. You must be 13 or older to enter.This is for US/Canada residents only.

I’m on a vacation and blog break after today until July 8th. I’m excited to go to my nephew’s wedding. I’ve known him since he was a baby. I’ll be blogging a little bit less over the summer. I know it gets quieter in the blog world during the summer as people spend more time with their families and go on vacations. I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit too and hopefully writing more.

But I have a lot of good things planned for the summer, starting with:
 
Freedom to Read Blog Hop on July 2nd

Interview on July 8th with debut author Melanie Crowder and ARC giveaway of PARCHED, a middle grade apocalyptic novel about a world with hardly any water with a touch of magical realism. I found the whole idea of such a world fascinating.


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

Hope to see you on July 8th!

ELANA JOHNSON INTERVIEW AND ABANDON & SURRENDER & POSSESSION GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday! It's officially summer in my house. Anna Li finished school on Thursday. This weekend we had some lazy family time and it was so much fun. And it felt great for her and me to slow down. Not that we're not busy with her swim schedule, work, volunteer swim coaching, and ACT prep course. There's a lot of driving. But it feels so much more relaxed.

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

The winner of HANDBOOK FOR DRAGONSLAYERS is Neurotic Workaholic!

The winner of THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED is Kristin Lenz!

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

Today I’m thrilled to have Elana Johnson back to talk about her new book, ABANDON, which was released June 4, 2013. Elana is an amazing writer and she blew me away again in this final book in her series. I was worried she couldn’t top SURRENDER, where she told the story from Raine’s and Gunner’s point of view. I just assumed that ABANDON would be from Vi’s point of view. But no, Elana makes the amazing decision of telling the story from Jag’s and Zenn’s views. And it was brilliant! I loved the fast paced story telling of what the resistance is doing to resist the Thinkers and free their world and Jag’s and Zenn’s place in it. And all my favorite characters—Vi, Raine, and Gunner are there too. I can’t recommend this enough.

If you want to read about Elana’s debut as an author, you can read my interview HERE.

And if you want to read my interview with her last year SURRENDER came out, you can find it HERE.


Here’s a blurb of ABANDON from Goodreads:

seduced by power,
broken by control,
and consumed by love...

Vi has made her choice between Jag and Zenn, and the Resistance may have suffered for it. But with the Thinkers as strong as ever, the rebels still have a job to do. Vi knows better than anyone that there's more at stake than a few broken hearts.

But there is a traitor among them...and the choices he makes could lead to the total destruction of everything Vi has fought for.

Vi, Jag, and Zenn must set their problems aside for the Resistance to have any hope of ending the Thinkers' reign. Their success means everything...and their failure means death.


Hi Elana. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. For those who haven’t started your series, tell us about it.

Possession kicks off the series in the Goodgrounds, where Vi is sick of the Thinkers telling her what to do. That book basically explores free choice, and who—if anyone—should be making our choices for us.

The series continues to explore the idea of free choice, and the role of government, and basically the whole series comes down to one question, which Zenn asks himself repeatedly in ABANDON: Free of functioning?

2. I so love where you’ve taken this series. What made you make the brilliant decision to tell the story from Jag’s and Zenn’s point of view in ABANDON?

Well, I always appreciate a novel told by the character that has the most to lose. In this case, there’s no
one who has more to lose than Jag—except maybe Zenn. So I used them both!

3. That’s such a brilliant way to decide which POV to write from. And I’m still blown away how
you switched POV characters again. I know you don’t like outlining from reading your blog. And you’ve said that you didn’t outline this series. In retrospect, what do you wish you would have done differently and what advice do you have for the rest of us who don’t outline (like me) but want to write a trilogy and set it up right?

You know this is a really hard question, because I didn’t know any different from what I did. I have some planned trilogies in the works, and honestly they’re all just as vague in my head as the Possession series was. I do think it’s a good idea to have a starting and ending point for your series, and other than that, the best thing I’ve done is read trilogies. I’ve figured out what goes in the first book, the second, and the third, and I try to do that.

4. Phew! I’m glad I don’t have to outline. Those are great ideas, especially to know the end of the story. You’ve described your road as a published author as a rollercoaster. What have been some of the highs as a published author?

Selling books, launch events, and seeing your covers for the first time are definitely the peaks!

5. And what have been some of the lows and how did you handle them?

There’s no end to the lows, because you can literally take every single thing that happens and look at it negatively. There’s something unique about the publishing industry that makes you feel like a failure when there is only success. It’s very strange.

I deal with lows like this by getting off the Internet. It truly is a source of great things, but it can also bring on some severe anxiety and depression if I let it. So I don’t let it. I focus on my writing, and my family, and I ignore everything else. It’s how I’ve survived.

6. I think you’re right that for most of us the doubts and pressures don’t go away because we get a publishing contract. Your whole approach to marketing your books has changed when each book has come out. When POSSESSION came out, you were everywhere on the Internet. You did a quieter blog tour last year and this year you’re doing a big scavenger hunt. Share a bit about why your approach to online marketing has changed over the years. What would you do differently in marketing book 1 and 2 if you could do it again?

Honestly, I’m not sure the online stuff translates to sales at all. I do most of what I do because I like it. I wanted a map for my series, and in order to justify asking someone to draw me a map, I needed to have a way to use it. Thus, the scavenger hunt idea was born for this year.

I do think things change online at an alarming rate. Back when Possession came out, live chats and twitter giveaways and such were new. It was a good way to get your name out there. Now, though, I think those things are overdone, and only create noise.

So for me, it’s about doing things I like, and also trying to find something that not everyone and their dog has already done. Neither of which may happen, but you know.

7. I agree that it’s important to not overdue it. Like you say, it’s hard to find anything unique. I like your focus on book review blogs and how you’ve linked your stops with prizes. Your approach to your social networking platform has also changed over the years. You’re not as present with the blogging community and don’t blog as often as you used to. What’s your focus now on social networking and why has your focus changed?

I just don’t have the same drive, honestly. It takes an extraordinary amount of time to visit blogs and leave comments, and I find that while I used to have a lot to say, I don’t really anymore. So it’s a natural progression, I think, for my blog activity to be slower than it once was.

My focus on social networking now is to take it in manageable chunks – and make sure I enjoy it. I’ve given up on going things I don’t like. (See a theme here? Ha!)


8. Good advice to stick what you like. And yeah, the visiting blogs does take a lot of time, though I really like all the blog friends I’ve made. What’s your advice to aspiring authors looking at having their first book being released as to developing their social networking platform and what they should do to market their book online?

This is not as easy to answer as it once was. Like I said, the blogosphere and the online promotions didn’t used to be as loud as they are now. There are literally hundreds of thousands of books coming out each year, and I think the key to marketing is doing something that not very many other people are doing.

The problem? No one quite knows what that thing is until it’s been done. I think my best advice to aspiring authors with their first book coming out is to focus on the writing. Social media and promotions can become a full-time job if you let it. And really, it should be about producing another high-quality novel.

9. Yes, I need to focus on the writing more and social networking less. Thanks for saying that’s okay. I know you’re starting a new service to help people with their queries and to organize their blog tours. Tell us a bit about it and how you’ve connected with book review bloggers for this new venture. Do you have any book review blogs that you recommend we follow?

Building a relationship with someone online takes a very long time. I spent years and years actively blogging, building relationships with other authors. Once my book came out, I did the same thing with book bloggers. I read their posts, commented, followed them on twitter, and conversed with them.

Some blogs you should be following? Every one of the amazing book bloggers hosting me on my scavenger hunt! (link to: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/p/scavenger-hunt.html) That’s 60 of the BEST right there!

10. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on a young adult fantasy that I hope to be submitting soon. I absolutely love it, so I hope someone will pick it up and readers will get the chance to love it too!

Ooh, I’m so excited you’re writing a fantasy. It’s my favorite genre. Thanks for coming by a third time and sharing all your advice. You can find Elana at:



Elana’s publisher Simon Pulse has offered a fabulous giveaway—a copy of POSSESSION, SURRENDER, and ABANDON for a giveaway. So I’ll pick three winners. 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 July 6th. Please let me know where you are in the series and I’ll try to match the winner to the book, but no guarantees. I’ll announce the winner on July 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. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome, but I’ll pick no more than one international winner due to postage costs.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Tomorrow I have a Tuesday tip from Rosanne Perry and giveaway of her new book, WRITTEN IN STONE, a story about the Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920’s. She’ll be sharing tips on how to write a multicultural story.

Then I’m on a vacation and blog break until July 2nd. I’m excited to go to my nephew’s wedding. I’ve known him since he was a baby. I’ll be blogging a little bit less over the summer. I know it gets quieter in the blog world during the summer as people spend more time with their families and go on vacations. I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit too and hopefully writing more.

But I have a lot of good things planned for the summer, starting with:

Freedom to Read Blog Hop on July 2nd

Interview on July 8th with debut author Melanie Crowder and ARC giveaway of PARCHED, a middle grade apocalyptic novel about a world with hardly any water with a touch of magical realism. I found the whole idea of such a world fascinating.

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

Hope to see you tomorrow!

MARISSA BURT INTERVIEW AND STORY’S END GIVEAWAY

Today I’m excited to interview Marissa Burt about her new book, STORY’S END, which was released April 2, 2013. One of the things I really enjoyed about this series is that it is a totally different take on fairy tales and Marissa takes us into the world of Story where the fairytale characters live. It’s such a creative idea. And the plot moves quickly and escalates with more and more problems for Una, Peter, Indy, and Snow, the main characters.

For a fantastic interview I did with Marissa when her first book, STORYBOUND, was released, go HERE.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Long ago, a King ruled the land of Story. . . .

During his reign, Heroes, Villains, and characters of all kinds lived out new Tales filled with daring quests and epic struggles.

Then the King disappeared, and over the years, nearly everyone forgot that he had ever existed. Now an evil Enemy has emerged, determined to write a new future for Story that he will control. And an ordinary girl named Una Fairchild is inextricably tangled up in his deadly plan.

Una and her friends Peter and Indy are desperate to find a way to defeat the Enemy. But Una soon discovers that the real key may lie in her own mysterious ties to Story's past--and to the long-forgotten King, who could be Story's only hope for survival.

Hi Marissa. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. For those of us who haven’t read STORYBOUND, tell us a bit about it.

STORYBOUND introduces us to Una Fairchild, a shy misfit, who finds herself magically transported to the Land of Story where kids go to school to learn to be characters in Tales. But all in Story is not as happily-ever-after as it first appears. Along with her new friend Peter, a Hero-in-training, and a talking cat named Sam, Una sets out to find the true Backstory of the realm and discover who has written her in and why.

2. One of the things I was curious about in reading STORY’S END was the whole mythology of the creation of the world of Story. Did you draw on any myths or was this all from your imagination?

I first discovered the ancient Greek and Roman myths in 7th grade and promptly went on a library binge devouring all that I could find. Given that, I don’t doubt that mythology has influence my imagination! As far as I know, though, I wasn’t drawing on any specific myths for the origins of Story. But I did specifically choose a phoenix, griffin, and dragon, because these creatures feature in my three sons’ middle names.

3. Fun how you chose your animals. And you did some fantastic world building without research. How much of the plot of STORY’S END did you know while writing STORY’S END? What do you wish you’d done differently in planning the story, if at all?

Great question! Initially, the Story books were pitched as a trilogy, so I had written STORYBOUND and a very vague outline for the second and third, which eventually meshed into STORY’S END. When I was writing STORY’S END, I often re-read parts of STORYBOUND to make sure things were connecting and I was picking up dangling threads. Looking back, I wish I would have had a more detailed outline from the get-go, so that there wouldn’t have been the endless revising and reworking to make things fit! STORYBOUND is my first novel; I definitely learned so much throughout the process!

4. I don’t outline so it’s good to know that it can be done without outlining. But good advice to have the story more set when you’re writing book 1. I enjoyed in STORY’S END that you wrote from Una’s and Snow’s points of view and that they both had mother issues. And you also wrote from Peter’s point of view. Was it challenging writing from multiple points of views and do you have any advice for those of us wanting to write from multiple points of view?

I’ve always loved reading books in multiple POVs! I think I probably first stumbled across them when I
discovered Terry Brooks’ fantasies in middle school, and I loved how switching perspectives propelled the plot and suspense forward. Writing-wise, I found it necessary to organize POV switches during the planning stage. This helped me combine plot events with character switches and enabled me to switch things around if needed. For example, originally, Peter stumbled across the leprechauns, but, in the end, it worked so much better to have Snow and her mother in the Enchanted Swamp. Similarly, when I was first drafting STORY’S END, I had thought to include some chapters from Indy’s POV. That became too complicated, and I sadly let many of Indy’s chapters go, but the end result was much better. I think flexibility and persistence is key.

5. I’d never heard of organizing the POV switches before you start writing, but that’s a great tip. Because your main characters aren’t together, at least for parts of the story, there are a lot of parallel actions and plots going on. And it is a very fast paced plot. Share any tips on how to plot out a story like this so well.

I wish I had some smart tips for this, but, alas! I ended up reworking a lot of things over and over to make the plotlines fit. One thing I’ve found helpful comes after I have a fairly solid outline. Then I get a big piece of poster-board and a stack of colored sticky notes. I use a different color for each character and write out the basic plot points – what they are going to see, hear, and do – and what time of day it is. Doing this helps me see if POVs are spaced out well and if events are happening sequentially, and each post-it note eventually becomes a chapter in the finished book.

6. I love the idea of different color sticky notes for each character. What was your year as a debut author like and was there anything about it that surprised you?

My debut author year was a wonderful experience! Because of the long periods of waiting in publishing, there is a lot of pent-up excitement leading up to release day! I was surprised at the stress that came along with that and definitely had to make space to decompress and focus on other things besides the long debut author to-do list. One of the best components for me was connecting with The Apocalypsies, a group of MG/YA debut authors. Not only did we collaborate on marketing opportunities, but we offered each other a great support group. Writing can be a solitary activity, so finding writers going through a similar experience was very encouraging.

7. Yes, I’ve heard it’s a great idea to join a group like The Apocalyspsies. What ways did you find worked the best in marketing your first book and creating your writer’s platform? Are you marketing this book any differently? Why?

I found the most helpful thing was to maximize my efforts by teaming up with others. Coordinating with local authors for group signings, jumping in on Apocalypsies blog-hop contests, and group-blogging at Project Mayhem expanded the reach of what I was doing as an individual author. The difficult thing with marketing is you hear so many ideas about how to get your book in front of readers, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed feeling that there is so much to do. I’ve heard it said that something worth doing is worth doing poorly, but I don’t think this holds true to online marketing activity. I quickly learned that it was better to focus in on the things that were gaining traction and let the rest go.

8. So true you can’t do it all. And doing marketing with other debut authors sounds like a great idea. You posted a blog post recently about how you’ve cut off the Internet at your house and are going offline more. Share what that experience has been like and how you’re doing it with the demands of promoting your book through online social media avenues.

On the whole, unplugging has been an incredibly good thing for me. When the option to multitask is available, I find it difficult to focus in on a single thing. This used to look like me hopping from facebook to twitter to emails to my blog-reader and back to my open word document, all while trying to get dinner on the table and mediate toddler tantrums. My anxiety level goes up just typing that!

Having no internet at home has required me to be fully present in individual activities, something that has eliminated a lot of personal internal chaos and helped me to prioritize what I’m doing professionally. I jot down things I need to take care of online as they come to me, and when I make the trek to the nearest public wifi hotspot, I work my way through the list. In that sense, unplugging has helped me choose what I really want to do online (and in other areas of my life) instead of accidentally doing a million things poorly.

I find that little has changed with my online promotion. Email, Facebook, and Twitter all have settings that enable me to filter information and so prioritize what I’m doing. I love the gmail offline feature, which allows me to read and respond to emails at home and then sync up when I’m near wifi. Since I still try and go online once every 24 hours or so on weekdays, I’m usually able to respond to things in a timely, though not instantaneous, manner. There have been a few hiccups along the way, but it’s been well worth it.

9. Glad you found it hasn’t impacted on your online presence. I doubt I could be so brave to cut off Internet at my house. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a new project, tentatively titled THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN, due out from HarperCollins Children’s in early 2015. It tells the story of eleven-year-old Wren Matthews, who has always known she’s weird. Unschooled, happily solitary, and obsessed with astronomy, the only place Wren fits in is the regional homeschool conference. When a mysterious visitor appears and invites Wren and her long-time science-rival Simon Barker to join the ancient guild of magicians known as the Fiddlers, things get a whole lot weirder. As apprentice Fiddlers, Wren and Simon have a lot to learn, but their ordinary alchemy lessons are soon overshadowed by tainted legends of Mother Goose, battling alchemists, and dreams of the dangerous otherworld, the Land of Nod.

Ooh, that sounds great. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Marissa. You can find Marissa at



Marissa and her publisher, Harper Collins, has generously offered a signed 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 July 6th. I’ll announce the winner on July 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. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here’s what’s coming up:

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

Next Tuesday, I have a Tuesday tip from Rosanne Perry and giveaway of her new book, WRITTEN IN STONE, a story about the Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest in the 1920’s. She’ll be sharing tips on how to write a multicultural story.

Then I’m on a vacation and blog break until July 8th. I’m excited to go to my nephew’s wedding. I’ve known him since he was a baby. I’ll be blogging a little bit less over the summer. I know it gets quieter in the blog world during the summer as people spend more time with their families and go on vacations. I’m looking forward to slowing down a bit too and hopefully writing more.

But I have a lot of good things planned for the summer, starting with an interview on July 8th with debut author Melanie Crowder and ARC giveaway of PARCHED, a middle grade apocalyptic novel about a world with hardly any water with a touch of magical realism. I found the whole idea of such a world fascinating.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!