CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

THE PRINCESS AND THE PAGE through April 22nd
Happy Easter Giveaway Hop through April 30th
Tracy Marchini Query Critique through April 29th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Laura Spieller on 4/26/2017
Loren Oberweger on 5/10/2017
Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

THE DREAM THIEVES AND ORLEANS GIVEAWAY AND ASK THE EXPERT INTERVIEW

Happy Monday! I'm SO excited for tomorrow. Because I get to meet Shannon Messenger, author of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, EXILE, and LET THE SKY FALL. I've been following her blog forever and can't believe she's coming to Ann Arbor. For anyone in the area, she'll be doing a YA panel discussion with authors Andrew Smith, Sonya Sones, Brittany Geragotelis, and Lauren Barnholdt on October 1 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm. This event is sponsored by Literati Bookstore and will be at the Ann Arbor District Downtown Library in the multi-purpose room. I can't wait!

I also want to let you know that I may not be stopping by as many blogs this week. My in-laws are coming for a week visit tonight. So I need to spend my time with them (except for tomorrow night) instead of being on the computer. Hope you understand.

Next I have some winners to announce.

The winner of CASSAFIRE is WANDA!

The winner of CASSASTORM is SHERRY ELLIS!

The winner of ALL OF YOU is NATASHA D!

The winner of THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED is BARBARA WATSON!

And the winner of the Stuck in a Good Book Giveaway Hop is MISTI who picked THROUGH THE EVER NIGHT!

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

Today I’m thrilled to have Audra here to share her advice for my ASK THE EXPERT series. She’s a 6th grader who is an avid reader and likes to write.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, your school, and what you like to read.

I live in Ferndale, Michigan and attend an elementary school that goes up to 6th grade, so I’m not in middle school yet. This year I have two teachers, Mr. Williamson and Ms. Zold. I love nature, even though I live in the city. I love catching frogs and newts and playing in the woods. My favorite animals are foxes, cats, squid and octopi. I love to read fantasy. In the month of March, reading month, I read more than 7,000 pages. I want to go to the University of Michigan after high school and study Chemistry.


2. I love to read fantasy too. And wow! That’s a lot of reading in one month. How do you find out about the books you read? What about new books coming out?

Normally I just look for books at the library and I usually find something. I like to go to the new fiction book shelf display first. The librarians sometimes put books aside for me that they think I may be interested in reading. It has been a while since there have been new books, I think they should really get more books, fantasy books.

3. Awesome your librarian sets aside books for you. Too bad they aren’t getting much new in. What are you reading now? What books are you waiting to be released?

I am reading The Candymakers right now. I just finished reading Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. I wanted to read Little Women after seeing the play with a friend. I don’t look for books to come out unless they are part of a really interesting series.

4. I loved Little Women when I was a kid. Do you buy most of your book or get them at the library? How often do go to a bookstore?

I get most of my books at the library because it’s only two blocks from my house. I have a library card and it is more convenient to use it than to buy books. I only go to the book store about eight times a year. If there is new book that I really, really want from an interesting series that isn’t at the library yet, I will go to the bookstore.

5. I’d SO love to live two blocks from a library. You are so lucky! I know you also write and are part of a writing fiction club at school. Tell us about what you like to write and about the writing club. 

In fifth grade a parent of a boy in my grade, who is an editor and writer, volunteered to work with a group of kids interested in writing. Once a week for about half an hour we met and discussed writing the story with a focus on details and dialogue and a climax. We wrote a story that was realistic fiction, but mine was so mystical it was almost fantasy. My story is called The Summer Moon. It is about a girl name Luna and her friend, Leila, who discover a secret room and a mysterious note, and then they are off on an adventure.


6. Your story sounds good. And you did a great job summarizing it in one sentence. Many writers, including me, struggle with that. Has your writing influenced what you like to read at all and if so, how?

Actually, I think my reading has influenced my writing. I read tons of fantasy so my writing has edge of fantasy in it.

7. My reading influenced what I write too. And like you I love writing and reading fantasy. Has your teacher recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

In sixth grade we are making our own BLOGS that we will update three times a week and hopefully that will be good, but no, she hasn’t recommended any websites yet (school is just getting started).


8. That’s so cool you’re starting a class blog. Are there things your favorite authors could do that would make you more likely to visit their website, their blog, or become a fan on Facebook?

I think authors should add games that are like you’re in the book so you can experience the book in a virtual way.


9. That’s a great idea. Have any authors visited your school? Who? Is there anything you’d recommend that an author do to make their presentation more interesting to you and other kids at your school?

Yes, Johnathan Rand, author of Michigan Chillers and American Chillers has visited my school. Authors could make their speeches more fun by acting out skits from the book and calling kids up to help.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Audra. Good luck with your writing and reading.

So I’ve got two ARCs to give away today. First is THE DREAM THIEVES, the second book in The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater, one of my favorite authors.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after...

I enjoyed that we got to know way more about Ronan, his mysterious dreams, and his family life. One of the things I loved about THE RAVEN BOYS was the complex characters and I felt the focus on Ronan in this story was showing us more of how Maggie Stievfater creates such amazing characters.

There is still the hunt for Glendower and problems in Cabeswater now that the ley lines have been woken. And we get to meet fascinating new characters like Mr. Grey and see more of Blue’s mom and her aunts. I really loved learning more about them, especially her mom.

There were some very sweet scenes between Blue and Gansey. My only complaint is that I want more! I loved the new twists to the story and I can’t wait to see where the next book in the series takes us.

The other ARC m giving away is ORLEANS. It’s a dystopian story that I’ve heard great things about, but just don’t have time to read right now.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

First came the storms.
Then came the Fever.
And the Wall.

After a string of devastating hurricanes and a severe outbreak of Delta Fever, the Gulf Coast has been
quarantined. Years later, residents of the Outer States are under the assumption that life in the Delta is all but extinct… but in reality, a new primitive society has been born.

Fen de la Guerre is living with the O-Positive blood tribe in the Delta when they are ambushed. Left with her tribe leader’s newborn, Fen is determined to get the baby to a better life over the wall before her blood becomes tainted. Fen meets Daniel, a scientist from the Outer States who has snuck into the Delta illegally. Brought together by chance, kept together by danger, Fen and Daniel navigate the wasteland of Orleans. In the end, they are each other’s last hope for survival.

Sherri L. Smith delivers an expertly crafted story about a fierce heroine whose powerful voice and firm determination will stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

So there will be two winners. Thanks to Scholastic and Penguin for providing these ARCs. 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 about Audra's interview and telling me which book you want (no guarantees) through October 12th. I’ll announce the winner on October 14th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome. But there will be no more than one international winner due to postage costs.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Thursday I’m interviewing Meagan Spooner as part of her SHADOWLARK blog tour. This is the second book in her Skylark dystopian series. I can’t wait to read this and have Meagan share with us all. And there will be a giveaway of both SKYLARK and SHADOW LARK. Hurry to enter because one contest ends October 6th and the other ends October 9th.

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

The Monday after that I’m interviewing Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK, a YA fantasy about a girl forced to always wear a mask. This was a fantastic story that kept me up into the wee hours of the night.


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

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


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

Hope to see you on Thursday!

Agent Spotlight: Carrie Hannigan

This week's Agent Spotlight features Carrie Hannigan of Hannigan, Salky, Getzler Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

CarrieBW-300x300About: “Carrie was lucky enough to find her way to agenting quickly after moving to New York City. (There was a brief stint in the Rolling Stone Art & Photo Department until she came to her senses and realized she’d rather attend a reading than a concert. And a similarly brief career at Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, a rare book and archive dealer specializing in 19th and 20th century literature.) Carrie had the pleasure of working with the esteemed Timothy Seldes for 14 years at Russell & Volkening literary agency and helped to manage the works of such luminary authors as Anne Tyler, Ntozake Shange, Eudora Welty, Barbara Tuchman and Bernard Malamud. During her time at Russell & Volkening Carrie had her hands in almost every aspect of the business from selling audio and first serial rights to reprint and permission rights and finally settling in as a children’s book agent. Some of her children’s book clients include: picture book writer and middle grade and YA novelist Erica Perl (CHICKEN BUTT IS BACK- Abrams April 2011 and WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU OJ- Knopf Books for Young Readers, June 2011), adult and middle grade author and journalist Ken Wells (RASCAL: A DOG AND HIS BOY – Knopf Books for Young Readers, September 2010), picture book author and illustrator Jennifer Morris (PLEASE WRITE BACK! – Cartwheel/Scholastic, April 2010) among many other talented authors. Carrie also now represents select adult books, both fiction (no thrillers please – send it to Josh) and narrative non-fiction. Some non-fiction areas she is currently interested in are social sciences, food, travel, women and children’s issues, photography and almost any kind of immersion journalism. Among her adult authors are novelist and journalist Ken Wells (MEELY LA BAUVE- Random House , CRAWFISH MOUNTAIN- Random House, GOOD PIRATES OF THE FORGOTTEN BAYOUS Yale University Press), Paul Clemens (MADE IN DETROIT- Doubleday, PUNCHING OUT-Doubleday) and photographer Michael Soluri.

“For the last five years Carrie was also Co-Publisher of Pond Press, an independent illustrated book publisher specializing in photographer monographs.

“For more information on Carrie’s most recent sales, please see her Publishers Marketplace profile.” (Link)

About the Agency:

“HSG Agency is a full-service literary agency founded in May 2011.

“Carrie Hannigan, Jesseca Salky, and Josh Getzler met at the venerable literary agency Russell & Volkening, Inc. where they were mentored by the inimitable Tim Seldes. They have operated as a dynamic team on behalf of all of the authors on their varied lists and among them have more than thirty years experience in various sectors of book publishing.

“They see forming HSG, in this changing world of publishing, as an opportunity to bridge the traditional agency model with a more progressive mode of representing authors, using creative methods to keep abreast of the new avenues to distribute content.

“They primarily pursue traditional publishing opportunities for their clients, while considering alternative methods of publication and distribution that reflect the growing digital marketplace and new means of sale and publicity for books. They work with each individual client to develop a strategy appropriate to the genre, style and goals of the author.” (Link)

Web Presence:

HSG Agency website.

Publisher’s Marketplace page.

HSG Agency Tumblr.

HSG Agency Facebook.

QueryTracker.

What She's Looking For:

Genres / Specialties:

Children’s picture books through young adult; adult fiction and nonfiction. (Link)

Via E-mail (09/2013):

“I was a dance major when I first went to college and would love to find a YA that focuses around a dancer. I am also looking for middle grade with a lot of humor, similar to the Fudge books.” (via e-mail)

From Her Publisher’s Marketplace Page (as of 9/2013):

“I represent all types of children's books from picture books through middle grade and YA. I also represent adult fiction and non-fiction books.

“In children's books I am looking for picture books (no rhyming, please), middle grade and YA. While I do represent some fantasy, it really has to stand out from what is already on the market. In adult books, I am looking for literary and women's fiction and narrative non-fiction in the areas of social sciences, food, travel, women's and children's issues, photography and almost any kind of immersion journalism.”  (Link)

From a Blog Contest (02/2012):

“Adult fiction: Women's commercial fiction and literary fiction.

“Adult Non-fiction: Narrative non-fiction.

“Middle grade: Anything!

“YA: Almost anything. But I'm not looking for dystopian YA right now. I also don't represent many paranormal or fantasy writers unless their manuscript really stands out in the crowd.” (Link)

What She Isn't Looking For:

Thrillers, rhyming picture books, screenplays, romance fiction, science fiction, or religious fiction (Link, Link).

Editorial Agent?

“Yes, I am an editorial agent. I always revise and edit with my clients as it is rare for a manuscript to be perfect when it first comes in. Even at the picture book level!” (via e-mail 9/2013)

Clients:

There are pages of client titles on the agency website.

Ms. Hannigan’s clients include: Linda Booth Sweeney, Paul Clemens, David Gavril, William Loizeaux, Ann McCallum, Jennifer Morris, Erica Perl, Michael Soluri, Stephanie Watson, Ken Wells, among others.  

Query Methods:

E-mail: Yes (only).

Snail-Mail: No.

Online-Form: No.

Submission Guidelines (always verify):

Query only one agent at the agency.

“Please send a query letter and the first five pages of your manuscript (within the email–no attachments please!) to the appropriate agent for your book. If it is a picture book, please include the entire manuscript. If you were referred to us, please mention it in the first line of your query.”

See the HSG Agency website for complete, up-to-date submission guidelines.  

Response Times:

“We generally respond to queries within 4-6 weeks, although we do get behind occasionally.” (Link)

Stats on the web show a response range of just hours to a couple months on queries, and days to a few months on requested material.

What's the Buzz?

Ms. Hannigan is a long-established agent with verified clients and sales. She is open to all types of children’s books (except rhyming picture books) and appears to represent author-illustrators as well.

Check the agency’s Facebook page for current news and happenings.

Worth Your Time:

Interviews:

None found online.

Around the Web:

Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency thread at AbsoluteWrite.

Carrie Hannigan at Predators and Editors.

Hannigan Salky Getzler Agency at Preditors and Editors.

Ms. Hannigan and HSG in the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents via Google Books.

Secret Agent Unveiled: Carrie Hannigan at Miss Snark’s First Victim – read the contest entries that month for her comments (02/2012).

Contact:

Please see the HSG Agency website for additional contact and query information.

Profile Details:

Last Updated: 9/26/13.

Last Reviewed By Agent? 9/26/13.

***

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.

ADAM JAY EPSTEIN AND ANDREW JACOBSON INTERVIEW AND STARBOUNDERS GIVEAWAY

Today I’m excited to have Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson here to share about their new book, STARBOUNDERS, a sci-fi adventure story which was released on June 4, 2013. Adam and Andrew are also the authors of THE FAMILIARS, a middle grade fantasy series being made into a 3-D movie. And Sam Raimi is the producer.

You can find my first interview with Adam and Andrew HERE. I learned for that interview that Adam and Andrew met in a parking lot in the apartment complex they both lived in. They went on to write in the film industry together and when I interviewed them wrote their books together in the same room all day. I read that they even bought homes a few blocks from each other.

I’m excited to share STARBOUNDERS with you because it sounds like a great action-packed story that will appeal to middle grade boys as well as girls. And I just read a review of it on one of the book review blogs I follow and the blogger said her middle grade son loved the book.

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson, authors of The Familiars books, bring their mix of laugh-out-loud humor and thrilling adventure to the sci-fi world of Starbounders.

Zachary Night can’t wait to start his top-secret Starbounders training at Indigo 8. But he’s barely started learning the skills he’ll need to protect the galaxy when a space mission goes wrong. Zachary and his friends are accidentally sent to the front lines of an intergalactic skirmish, and they quickly discover a plot to destroy Indigo 8. Piloting a space ship under attack, they must get back to earth before the training center—and the planet—is annihilated.

Middle-grade readers who love the funny science fiction of Star Wars and the Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast series will love Starbounders.

Hi Adam and Andrew. Welcome back!

1. Tell us where you got the idea for STARBOUNDERS. Whose idea was it?

When Adam was a kid, he attended Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama. There, they simulated zero gravity in large underwater tanks and taught kids how to flight a large space shuttle on a simulator. It was amazing, but it only made Adam want to go into space even more. He grew up loving movies like Star Wars, but that story took place in a galaxy far, far away. He wanted to tell that same story much closer to home.

2. Awesome how the trip to the Space Academy and Star Wars inspired this story. So when I interviewed you in 2011, you were writing your stories line by line together. Are you still doing that or are you each writing from a character’s POV? If you’re still writing together, why do you think that works for you?

We still collaborate on all of our books and screenplays line by line together. We’re even answering these interview questions the same way. In fact, we’re not sure if Adam just said that or if Andrew did. More than anything, this works for us because it forces us to sit in front of the computer every day from 9:30 to 5. We have each other to ensure that we put those hours in writing. On your own, the discipline to simply sit your butt in the chair is possibly the single hardest part of a writer’s job.

3. That’s great that you keep each other disciplined, because you’re right it is hard to stay focused. And I’d say you’ve developed a funny joint voice that I hear in your answers. What made you decide to write a sci-fi story instead of another fantasy? Do you have a preference for writing in either genre?

After writing three Familiars books that were in the fantasy genre, we were ready for a little change. Something that would feel like an entirely different world from the one we had previously created and been living in for so long. We’ve always found that writing in different genres is energizing and fun. Our preference tends to lean towards the story we’re most excited about telling rather than any particular genre.

4. Yes, you have to be excited about what you’re writing. We spend too much time with our
stories not to be excited about them. Tell us three things you loved about writing STARBOUNDERS.

We loved imagining how scientific theories like wormholes could be used for space travel or figuring out how zero gravity could be replicated on earth.

Although it’s not about the actual writing process, Adam always loves sharing the finished book with the kids in his neighborhood.

And there’s nothing more gratifying than getting to the end.

5. The neighborhood kids are lucky. Share about a challenge you faced in writing STARBOUNDERS and how you overcame it.

We probably rewrote the opening of this book three or four times. Figuring out who Zachary was and how to introduce readers to this world in an exciting way. We had a prologue at one point. In one version this world of Starbounders was a secret to Zachary and he was finding out about it for the first time from his grandmother! Ultimately with the help of our editor and through the process of rewriting, we found an opening that started with a bang and really conveyed a sense that Zachary was the determined young Starbounder he was destined to become.

6. Glad your editor helped you get it right. Do you think you’ll ever write a YA series or do you prefer middle grade stories? Why?

When we started writing books, we didn’t even know the difference between a middle grade story and a YA one. We just had an idea that we loved and wanted to write. That’s what will always drive our decision to embark on the journey of writing a book. Telling a story that we’re passionate about, whether it’s a children’s book, a middle grade story, a YA, or even adult fiction.

7. What have you found to be effective ways to market your middle grade books and what advice do you have for aspiring middle grade authors about spreading the word about their book?

This remains one of the biggest challenges of writing middle grade books. We’re still trying to figure out the best way to get the word out. We know one thing. Without a publisher advertising your book or having a movie adaptation of your book in theaters or on TV, the only thing that really is guaranteed to sell books is going on book tour. Beyond that, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, etc. help spread awareness but there’s no sure correlative to sales. Another thing that was a home run for us with The Familiars was the state book award circuit. It was nominated in over a dozen states and that really helped move copies of the book. And writing series books helps, too. Each successive book in the series helps get the first book in the series to sell more copies.

8. I think a lot of middle grade authors find promoting their books challenging. There’s much more buzz about YA books on blogs. Tell us a bit about THE FAMILIARS series and where the movie is production-wise. How involved are you in making the movie?

Because The Familiars is going to be an animated movie, the production has taken years and we’re still not there yet. We’ve written multiple drafts of the screenplay, had artists working on concept art and storyboards, and a director overseeing it all. We’re more anxious than anyone to see the movie realized, but know that in Hollywood, things can take a LONG time. So stay tuned.

9. Hollywood sounds a lot like the publishing world. What are you working on now?

Familiars #4: Palace of Dreams will be coming out in December and Starbounders: Rebellion, the follow-up to Starbounders, will be out in June of 2014. We also have a brand new children’s book/interactive app called Mystery Box that was just recently kickstarted and should be available on Amazon by the fall (TBD).


Wow! You’ve been productive. Thanks for sharing all your advice, Adam and Andrew. You can find Adam and Andrew at:



Adam and Andrew have generously offered a copy of STARBOUNDERS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on October 5th. I’ll announce the winner on Octobeer 7th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. If you follow me on Twitter, mention this too and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US/Canada residents only.

Here’s what’s coming up:

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

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

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

The Monday after that I’m interviewing Jenny Lundquist and giving away an ARC of THE PRINCESS IN THE OPAL MASK, a YA fantasy about a girl forced to always wear a mask. This was a fantastic story that kept me up into the wee hours of the night.

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

Hope to see you on Monday!


PEGGY EDDLEMAN INTERVIEW AND SKY JUMPERS GIVEAWAY


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

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

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

The winner of SCORCHED is Holly Bryan!

The winner of MAGIC MARKS THE SPOT is Kristin Lenz!

The winner of A SWIM THROUGH SPACE is Charlie Holmberg!

The winner of GREY GRIFFINS is Heather Villa!

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

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

Here’s a description from Goodreads:

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

Hi Peggy. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Peggy and her publisher, Random House, generously offered an ARC OF SKY JUMPERS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on October 5th. I’ll announce the winner on Octobeer 7th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, please leave it in the comments.

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

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

And here's Peggy's entire blog tour:

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


Here’s what’s coming up:

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

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

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

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

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

Hope to see you on Wednesday!