Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


 Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you had a fantastic week. I'm going through lots of stress at work inheriting even more cases as an attorney just got laid off. So happy he already has a job. And once I get through Thursday, I'll be okay. Just hoping I don't revert to eating tons of sweets like last week to deal with the stress.


Julie Musil's new contemporary YA novel THE BOY WHO LOVED FIRE released on January 28, 2014. Here's a blurb:

Manny, a modern teen Scrooge, faces 3 ghosts as he outruns arson charges, falls for his fire victim, & battles for redemption.

Doesn't it sound fantastic? The Boy Who Loved Fire is available now. For more information, or to stop by and say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Here's some other news. I just heard that IndieReCon, an online writer conference like WriteOnCon, that focuses on self-publishing will be February 25th-27th. The schedule isn't up yet, but you can go HERE to find out more details soon. 

And Terrie Wolfe from AKA Literary Management will be doing a picture book contest at Sharon Mayhew's blog on February 10th. Five fiction and five nonfiction writers will win a critique and a 30 minute phone call with Terrie. There will be a MG and YA one in March and April too. Go HERE to find out details.

And one last piece of awesome news. Adventures in YA Publishing is doing a pitch + page contest for MG/YA/NA authors. There will be book prizes and a critique by an agent. I'm honored that I'll be one of the judges. Go HERE for details.  

And I have two winners to announce.

The winner of CRUEL BEAUTY is Jaq!

The winner of TELL ME WHEN is Jessie Humphries!

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

Today I’m thrilled to have Holly Schindler here to share about her new middle grade novel, THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY that releases on February 6, 2014. This is a contemporary middle grade story that I knew many of you who read middle grade stories would love so I jumped at the chance to share Holly’s book with you all. Holly has also published two YA contemporary novels, PLAYING HURT and A BLUE SO DARK and her next YA novel, FEREL, will be published later this year.


“Beasts of the Southern Wild” meets Because of Winn Dixie in this inspiring story of hope.

Auggie Jones lives with her grandpa Gus, a trash hauler, in a poor part of town. So when her wealthy classmate’s father starts the House Beautification Committee, it’s homes like Auggie’s that are deemed “in violation.” But Auggie is determined to prove that there’s more to her—and to her house—than meets the eye.

What starts out as a home renovation project quickly becomes much more as Auggie and her grandpa discover a talent they never knew they had—and redefine a whole town’s perception of beauty, one recycled sculpture at a time.

Holly Schindler’s feel-good story about the power one voice can have will inspire readers to speak from their hearts.

Hi Holly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’ve always been a writer, really. I’ve long been attracted to books—even when I was a little girl, I had to have a new Little Golden Book when I went to the supermarket with my mom. And I was already writing stories at my child-sized rolltop desk when I was a first-grader (but had been acting out stories with my dollhouse before that). I studied literature and creative writing in college, and published several short pieces: short fiction, poetry, and literary critique, in journals. When I graduated with my master’s, Mom encouraged me to stay home and devote full-time attention to getting a writing career off the ground. (Very ROOM OF ONE’S OWN, isn’t it?) Even with such great family support, it wasn’t easy—it took a full seven and a half years to snag my first book deal. But I’m so, so glad I stuck with it. I can’t imagine a life not writing.

2. That’s so cool how your mom encouraged you. Where did you get the idea for your story?

About four years into my pursuit of publication, I hit a really hard time. I had to ask myself, “Am I really going to keep doing this?” I hadn’t made much progress at all toward my publication goals—I hadn’t even started to get “good” rejections (the kind that come with advice from editors or agents). Obviously, I pushed through my bad feelings, decided to put my rear in the chair and just get to work. The first thing I wrote after making that decision was the first draft of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY.
The book follows Auggie on the journey toward becoming a folk artist. She doesn’t have it easy—she has to fight the House Beautification Committee, which doesn’t see any “beauty” in her folk art sculptures at all. Though I didn’t consciously strive for it at the time, looking back, it seems as though THE JUNCTION was me standing up for my own “art,” me saying that I wasn’t going to back down, no matter how many rejections I got…

3. Awesome how your story is linked to your own battle as a writer. The other three books
you’ve written are YA stories and this is your first MG book. What made you decide to write a middle grade story and how did you find the writing of this story different than a YA one?

The first draft of THE JUNCTION was actually a picture book. But editors who saw that early version indicated they all thought the concept of folk art was too advanced for the picture book readership. So I went about turning a 1,000-word story into a roughly 45,000-word novel. But I really didn’t find the writing of a middle grade all that different from the writing of a YA. In both genres, it all hinges on knowing your characters.

4. That’s so interesting on it starting as a picture book. Having great characters is critical to any story, but especially for contemporary ones. Share your tips on character development.

I really think the key to creating a great character is voice. From the very beginning, I could hear Auggie. Even when the book was a picture book, Auggie’s voice was strong and clear. Sometimes, voices just come that way—easily, all at once. Other times, they have to be cultivated. You can achieve a strong voice by playing with an early draft, or by doing some external writing—imagining a conversation, or how a character would react to a certain sticky situation, for example. Once you can hear your character “talking” to you, once their voice is clear to you, you’ll be able to make that character come to life on the page.

5. That’s such great advice on finding your characters’ voices. What are three things you love about Auggie, the main character in THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY?

Her poetic voice, her sweetness, and her positive “anything is possible” attitude.

6. Deborah Warren is your agent. Tell us how she became your agent and about your road to publication.

My relationship with my agent started in a pretty low-key, old-school method: a query letter. And from my query, the full manuscript was requested. This was followed by a phone call and an offer of representation.

I think that early on in their careers, most people think an agent will magically make their careers better. They can, but even with an agent on your side, a book sale isn’t guaranteed—and it often doesn’t happen overnight. It still took my agent a year and a half to sell THE JUNCTION, with several revisions completed in-between rounds of submission.

7. Yes, you’re so right. Having an agent does not guarantee book sales or that they’ll come easily. You’re an established author with two books published and two books being released this year. What advice do you have for the rest of us in regards to our careers as writers over the long haul?

Don’t give up. Period. But be willing to learn, too. Have confidence in yourself, in your abilities. And know that you have room to improve. We all do, whether we’ve been published or not. I’m constantly growing as an author. Listen to all the advice that comes your way. And even when the answer is “no,” figure out a way to turn the “no” into something positive. Each time you learn something from a rejection, you’re taking another step toward your ultimate goal of becoming a published author.

8. Thanks for the awesome advice. I know you set up an extensive blog tour for this book. How did you find the blogs for your tour and what considerations went into your decision to choose them? How else are you planning to market this book?

I do regularly find and visit new blogs—I’m a reader, too, and the primary way I discover new authors is online. The kitlitosphere blog list was also of vital importance: http://www.kidlitosphere.org/bloggers/. As I set about sending invitations for the tour, regular posting activity was important, as was thoughtfulness in reviews (by “thoughtful,” I mean intelligent and thorough), and a sense of connection to the blogger. (If I connect with their posts, I feel it’s likely they’ll connect with my work.)

In addition to the blog tour, I’m reaching out to librarians in both public libraries and schools. And I’m doing extensive Skype visits. If you’re a teacher or librarian and want to discuss a Skype visit, contact me directly at writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com.

9. Wow! I think I want to follow you around to learn all this. What are you working on now?

My next MG and YA novels, of course. But I’m also working on setting up a tour for my forthcoming YA release, FERAL. To find out more, follow along at my own blog: hollyschindler.blogspot.com, or shoot me a message, again at: writehollyschindler (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thanks for all the advice, Holly! You can also find Holly at:

Twitter: @holly_schindler
Facebook: facebook.com/HollySchindlerAuthor
Author site: hollyschindler.com
Site for young readers: Holly Schindler’s Middles - hollyschindlermiddles.weebly.com. I’m especially excited about this site. I adored getting to interact with the YA readership online—usually through Twitter or FB. But I had to create a site where I could interact with the MG readership. I’m devoting a page on the site to reviews from young readers themselves! Be sure to send your young reader’s review through the Contact Me page.

Group Author Blogs: YA Outside the Lines (yaoutsidethelines.blogspot.com) for YA authors and Smack Dab in the Middle (smack-dab-in-the-middle.blogspot.com) for MG authors.


Holly and her publisher Dial generously offered a copy of THE JUNCTION OF SUNSHINE AND LUCKY: for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 15th. I’ll announce the winner on February 17th. 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. This is for US/Canada only.

And here’s the next stop on the tour:
Scenes from a chaotic mind: http://scenesfromachaoticmind.blogspot.com/ (This stop is scheduled for Feb. 4.)

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find all the participating blogs HERE.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I’m interviewing Ryan Graudin and giving away an ARC of ALL THAT GLOWS, her fantastic YA urban fantasy set in London.

Next Wednesday I’m participating in PK Hzero’s Blog Tour with an interview and giveaway of BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL INC., a fantastic NA time travel story that I really, really enjoyed.

The following Monday I’m interviewing Terry Johnson and giving away a copy of ICE DOGS, her upper MG adventure story about a girl and her sled dogs and a guy she helps getting lost in the wilderness. I read it in early January and loved it.

And Wednesday that week I’m interviewing debut author Gayle Rosengren and giving away a copy of her middle grade historical novel WHAT THE MOON SAID. It’s about a girl moving from Chicago to farmland Wisconsin during the Great Depression. It sounds like a fantastic story.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Beth said...

This book sounds wonderful … I'd love to win a copy! Congratulations to Holly.
And congratulations to you, Natalie, on being a judge for the contest!

Ms. Yingling said...

I'll have to take a look at this one. Love the cover.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Hi, Holly! I absolutely adore the title of your book. It's just fabulous. Says so much. I would so love to read it.

Kristin Lenz said...

Wow, Holly has a lot of books in the works. I would have picked this new book up just from the great title and cover, but this interview made me appreciate how her hard work and persistence has paid off.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the interview. It made me realize authors are experts at juggling, too. Rewrites, blog tours, new stories, etc. This book sounds like a winner.

Stina said...

The blurb for Julie's book sounds great!!! It's on my TBR pile.

I love Holly's comments about agents. So true.

PK is having a blog tour???? I need to check it out.

~Sia McKye~ said...

You're one very busy lady! Hope things calm down at work soon. Economic climate is stressful all the way around.

Enjoyed Holly's book trailer. And loved her thoughts on agents. Very true, selling to a publisher is the hurtle and not one that is always easy even with an agent with good contacts and sales ability. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Creepy Query Girl said...

Aw, I love the premise to this book! So sweet.

Bish Denham said...

I really, really like the premise of this book! Finding one's shine and expressing it is a beautiful thing!

Anonymous said...

I love, love the premise of this book.
I also hope I win but if not, my library better have copies.


Anonymous said...

I shared this on FB and twitter:



Stephen Tremp said...

Best wishes to Julie and Holly! 2014 I shaping up to be a stellar year for indie and small press published works.

Julie Musil said...

Holly's book sounds wonderful. I adore the title. Reminds me of a MG version of "Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet."

Natalie, thanks so much for the shout out!

Barbara Watson said...

Holly's book is going on my to-read list! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

Rosi said...

This book sounds fantastic. I can't wait to read it. I tweeted about the giveaway (https://twitter.com/rosihollinbeck/status/430387585068695552). Thanks for the chance to win.

jpetroroy said...

Holly and her book both sound lovely.

Crystal Collier said...

Okay, that's one I definitely want to read, and then have my kids read. Why am I reminded of NYC... Oh! It must be the fines.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I just adore the name The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky. It sounds different from the usual MG books.

Theresa Milstein said...

I just saw this book on Medeia's blog too. I'm definitely buying this one.

Angela Brown said...

Very happy for Julie and I enjoyed the interview with Holly. It's wonderful seeing dreams and hard work meeting with reality :-)

WordsPoeticallyWorth said...

Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Year and a half to sell it? That's perseverance.

DMS said...

I have been hearing such great things about this book and it is already on my list of books I want to read (since I love MG books). I found it interesting that The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky started off as a picture book because that is how my MG book started out too! Wishing Holly the best of luck.

Thanks for the giveaway. I tweeted and Google+'d it. :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks for sharing your journey and your advice. You've got a wonderful supportive mom, and I'm so glad to hear you can still get agents from a query letter. I know it happens, but it's nice to see it in person.

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview. I always love hearing how writers start out. And that cover is so neat!

Nicole said...

Enjoyed this interview! Especially like Holly's answer to Q2. Very fun backstory on the story, too. :)

Aubrie said...

What a cute cover for this book! Wow, you're an attorney. I'm impressed. :)

Jenni said...

What a great interview! This book sounds fantastic--just the kind of book I love. I added to my Goodreads list.

Brenda said...

What an adorable cover and premise. Congratulations on being a judge Natalie, sounds like you should have some fun!

Carl Scott said...

Thanks for the intro to holly and her books. This sounds like a new MG that lots of people would enjoy. Please enter my name in the draw.

I follow your blog by GFC and by email: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx
I tweeted a link to this post: https://twitter.com/carlrscott/status/430573495500558337
and pinned it on Pinterest for good measure: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/336573772123701343/

Thanks again.

Unknown said...

Love the title of your book. Sounds like a good book.

Michele Manning said...

Just added this to my "have to read" list.

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the interview and giveaway! I liked reading about how the author found the character's voice and how she persisted through such a long writing journey. I enjoy middle grade novels and can't wait to read yours! I will share on Facebook.

cleemckenzie said...

The cover got my attention right away! Kids are going to love it. Thanks for the interview and for mentioning Julie's book, too! Lots here today.

Heather Villa said...

Love that fresh story concept!

Jessie Humphries said...

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! I won! Yesss. And great interview today as well. :) Happy happy day.

Cynthia said...

An arts enthusiast, I love seeing writers incorporate art into their work. Holly's story sounds very original, and I'll be on the look out for it.

Gina Gao said...

That is such a nice cover! Sounds like a great book.


Anonymous said...

Great interview! That cover is fantastic, too! Want to read this one now :-)

Unknown said...

This was a fantastic interview. I gleaned so much information about MG blogging, blog sites, marketing, and so on. This book sounds wonderful in so many ways. The characters are overcoming many barriers; this has lessons that are so very important for today's population.

I'm a follower via email and I also sent a tweet promoting the giveaway (URL: https://twitter.com/willms_m/status/430867585819623424). My preferred email is: michelle_willms at yahoo dot com.

Lydia Kang said...

This book sounds wonderful! Thanks Holly and Natalie!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It's impressive to turn 1k into 45k

Unknown said...

As Holly said, it's good to remember that we writers can always learn more. We shouldn't get complacent when it comes to our writing abilities!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Holly. Setting up your own blog tour through bloggers with whom you connect already is the best way to go. When there's no initial relationship, I don't think it works very well.

Robyn Campbell said...

Congrads Holly!! The book sounds fantastic. Adding it to my list. Thanks Natalie. :-)

Karen Lange said...

Thanks for the interview, and congrats to Holly! Wishing her all the best. Appreciate you sharing this with us, Natalie. Hope the job stress levels out soon.

Anonymous said...

Great interview and advice.

Unknown said...

I would like to thank you for providing such a very useful information to us. Good article specially about lorry services!! Movers

Jocelyn Rish said...

I was just reading about this book over on Medeia's blog, so it's fun to find an interview with the author here. I used to love watching those trash-to-treasure shows on HGTV, so I'm sure I'll enjoy reading this.

Anonymous said...

I heard Deborah Warren speak a few weeks ago. She seems very passionate.

Great interview. I love Holly's writings. I'm glad she was persistent about getting published.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry to hear about all the stress at your work. Of course everyone wants to keep their job, but it seems some employers are taking advantage by having them do more. Congrats to Julie on her book!

I enjoyed Holly's interview. I can't imagine turning a 1000-wd PB into an MG. It must have been so hard, but now there's a gorgeous book to show for it! Wishing Holly much success! :)

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Very interesting how this story turned into an MG novel! Great premise. I love the cover too!! Hope you survived your week Natalie!

Shari Green said...

I'm really looking forward to this book! Thanks for the great interview, and especially for the good advice (even though I KNOW "don't give up", I find it encouraging when others remind me of it, and when they share the stories of their writing journeys...so, thank you!).

sharigreen.ya AT gmail.com

Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Holly! The cover art is adorable! I love how this book is the one that made you stand up for your art. :)

Carrie Butler said...

1. Great interview!
2. I'm helping out with judging on that contest, too! :)

Kim Aippersbach said...

Great title, great cover, and the premise is so engaging. I'd love to win this book! aippersbach at shaw dot ca

Heather said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your stress at work. My fingers are crossed that it gets better. Thanks for the great book recommendations, and an excellent interview. I'm off to check out the links.

Natasha said...

Great interview!
Sounds like a great read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Jeri Baird said...

Would love to win a copy! Thanks!