Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • 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’re having a fantastic start to your week. I just started to clean my way too messy basement this weekend. And I found a coffee carafe I've been looking for the last ten years. I was so excited! And at least part of the basement looks much better. I still have the hard room to tackle, but I'll break it up into sections. It's hard when you live with pack rats, but I'm proud of my husband for letting some things go to charity.

So I have two winners to announce.

The winner of ALL THAT GLOWS is Kim Van Sickler!

And the winner of BUTTERMAN (TIME) TRAVEL, INC. is Joni!

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 excited to interview Gina Gao, a new college student who’s an aspiring author and who blogs at Modern World

Hi Gina. Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’m Gina, and I am currently an aspiring author who is studying pre-med in college. My blog is about my experiences, both past and present. The posts on my blog are usually reflective stories of my past. I like to write about experiences that reflect the world through my eyes. I enjoy reading books like Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, basically any book that can take me to another world for a couple of hours.

2. I love books that take me to a different world too. I know you’re an aspiring author too. Tell us a little bit about what you’re working on.

Right now I am working on a series of short stories. The posts on my blog are mostly short snippets of a longer story. I'm still looking for a publisher and agent that can help me through this process of getting my stories to print.

3. I’ve never tried writing short stories. How did you find out about the books you read while in high school? Has that changed at all since starting college?

Most of the books that I read in high school were introduced by friends. They'd say something like, "Oh, this book is amazing, you should read it." Otherwise, it's classics that are required by class. These books always surprise me because I don't expect to enjoy them, but I do anyway. An example would be Jane Eyre. If not for required readings for class, I would not have picked it up.

Now that I'm in college, my reading process is different from high school. Now, I usually just browse through the classics section of the library and check out those that might interest me. Now I'm reading Anna Kerenina.

4. Awesome how you’ve found out about books from friends. How has writing changed what you read, if at all? What books are you waiting to be released?

Well, writing has really opened my eyes to the various bloggers that post their work, however short, online. Although most of these writers don't write professionally, I realized that these writings were to be admired. I've been reading blog posts ever since then.

The one book that has caught my attention so far is Ruins (Partials series #3). I've read the two previous books, and they have caught my attention. I got Partials as an advanced readers copy, and I was surprised that I liked it so much, so I've kept on reading.

5. I haven’t read that series but I’ve heard great things about it. Do you buy most of your book or get them at the library? How often do you go to a bookstore?

Well, if I've never read a certain book before, I would check it out at the library and read it. If I really enjoy the book that I've just read, then I'll go ahead and buy it from the bookstore or Amazon. I go to the bookstore (Barnes & Noble) every weekend, mostly because of the books and how I can study there.

6. That’s so cool you go to the library every week. Do you read any teen book blogs, author blogs, or author or publisher websites? Become a fan of an author on Facebook? Why? Has this changed at all since you started writing and now that you’re in college?

Well, I regularly check up on teembookguru.com and harpercollins.com. I have not yet found an author that I had not previously met on Blogger as of yet. I am looking forward to changing this fact now that I'm in college and get much more active in the local writing community.

7. When you were in high school, did your teachers recommended any blogs or websites to your class or to you?

Unfortunately, none of my teachers in high school recommended any blogs or websites to visit.

8. Too bad. 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?

Well, I'm already a really big fan of J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, and I have visited both of their sites and Facebook pages. One think that I would like to see from J.K. Rowling is a continuation of the Harry Potter books, even though that is just wishful thinking. Suzanne Collins is an extremely talented writer in my opinion, and I can't wait to see what she has to offer in the future.

9. I love both those authors too. Have any authors visited your high 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?

There hasn't been an author that has ever come to my school, but Sherman Alexie has made an appearance at the public library. I'm a particular fan of his work, and a way that authors can appeal to the teenage audience is to somehow make them care more about literature. There's always going to be a group of teenagers (such as myself) that will support local authors, but it would be nice if authors such as J.K. Rowling made these activities more acceptable to mainstream culture.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Gina.

Today I’m sharing and giving away a few of the ARCs I’ve been reading that I don’t have author interviews scheduled for. Click on the title for a blurb from Goodreads.

ELUSION by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam

Thanks to Katherine Tegen Books and Edelweiss for this ARC. This is an e-book giveaway.

This is a dystopian story where the world of Elusion is so appealing to everyone because of the lack of nature in their own world. I loved that the setting is Detroit because I live about forty minutes away and go there regularly for court. I really enjoyed discovering the secrets behind Elusion with Ryan and I got a much different sense of Elusion from her experiences there. This was a pretty good page turner with twists that left me trying to figure out things until the end.

PANIC by Lauren Oliver

Thanks to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for this ARC. This is an
e-book giveaway.

This is a fantastic contemporary which shows that Lauren Oliver, one of my favorite authors, can write in many different genres and for many age groups. Panic is a terrifying game these teens in a small boring town play in the summer. The mom in me wanted to shake Heather and Dodge on occasion when they continued on with it. Both have interesting pasts which help explain why they feel the need to play this game. It was a real fast read for me.

HALF BAD by Sally Green

Thanks to Viking Juvenile for this ARC. This is a print book e-book for US and Canada and an e-book for International giveaway.

This got a lot of buzz at Bologna last year and has already sold in 42 countries. It’s an urban fantasy set in England and a bit in Ireland, a setting I really like. I enjoyed that this was told from fifteen-year-old Nathan’s POV. He’s fairly isolated because he doesn’t want to draw the attention of the White Witches who monitor and punish the Black Witches. It was interesting watching him journey out on his own as he tried to find out what kind of witch he really is, learn more about his family, and find the person who will give him three wishes on his sixteenth birthday so he doesn’t die. The plot kept moving and I found it to be another pretty fast read.

THE SHADOW THRONE by Jennifer Nielsen

Thanks to Scholastic and NetGalley for this ARC. This is an e-book giveaway, but I’d get you any e-book in this series.

This is the third book in one of my favorite series. Jaron is fully in his role as King and his country faces war. But he’s also torn because Imogen has been kidnapped by his enemies who he must try to rescue. I loved watching him as he journeyed to save both his country and try to save her. The problems keep on mounting and my heart was broken at points. It was a totally satisfying conclusion to the series for me. I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Nielsen writes next.

So to enter the giveaway, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment telling me which book you’d want through March 8th. Please also leave a comment for Gina. I’ll announce the winner on March 10th. 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.
Here’s what’s coming up:

On Monday I’m interviewing Natalie Lloyd and giving away an ARC of A SNICKER OF MAGIC, a contemporary magical realism MG story I loved. The characters are so well developed and the setting is a vivid, small town set in Tennessee. This is one of my favorite reads of 2014.

On Wednesday I’m interviewing follower Kelly Polak and giving away ROCK 'N' ROLL PRINCESSES WEAR BLACK, her new MG contemporary story that sounds really good. And I'm participating in Sheri Larsen's IT'S ALL ABOUT GRATITUDE Blog Hop.

Friday next week I’ll be participating in the Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of new YA releases to choose from.

The following Monday I’m interviewing debut author Christina Farley and giving away a copy of GILDED, her fantastic YA contemporary fantasy set in Korea. You really felt like you were there and I really loved this page-turner.

The Monday after that I’m interviewing debut author Kristi Helvig and giving away an ARC of BURN OUT, her YA sci-fi story. It’s a great story set on Earth about Tora, who may be the only person on Earth, who really needs to leave and has to decide if she can trust the people who come knocking on her door.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Beth said...

Thank to Gina for the interview. I'd love to see Sherman Alexie in person!
And no need to enter me in the contest, Natalie. Hope you have a great week.

Evie said...

Hi Gina :)
I think the main reason for love reading so much is that I books can take me to another world too.
I'd love to win an ecopy of Elusion. That cover is beautiful!
GFC follower: Evie

Old Kitty said...

Lovely to read more about Gina! Good luck with your short stories, Gina and I am in superawe that you use your library very regularly!!! Take care

Stina said...

Great interview, Gina and Natalie. I had the same attitude about classics in high school. Not that I remember reading many. Or maybe they are now classics when they weren't back then. lol There were a few that surprised me, but mostly we had to read short stories by Canadian authors. They weren't all that exciting, which is why I still don't read short stories.

(Please don't enter me in the giveaway. My TBR pile is out of control)

sjp said...

All of the amazing covers!!!! Also hitting the library every week sounds glorious, she has the right idea!

ps I dont think your email likes me :(

Kristin Lenz said...

Best of luck with your college studies, blog, and short stories, Gina! My college English lit class was my favorite, and I went on to re-read many of those novels just for fun later.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I haven't visited in a while, but YA Books Central is a great place to find new books.

Good luck with your writing, Gina.

Stephen Tremp said...

Its great to meet Gina and good luck finding a publisher for your short stories.

Karen Lange said...

Enjoyed the interview! It's nice to learn more about Gina. I wish her all the best! :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

Fun interview. Having access to a good library is so important. We're having local problems with ultra right wingers in our community who don't think providing a library is the proper role of government. O_o

Vivien said...

Excellent interview!! There really isn't a good library where I live, which is a shame. I would love to have a good one. I recently went out of town and visited they're library. It was fabulous!!! I was jealous.

GFC: Vivien

Elusion or Half Bad :)

kellis_amberlee at yahoo dot com

Barbara Watson said...

Fun to find out more about you, Gina! You stop by my blog on occasion. All best to you in your pre-med program. You are ambitious tackling that major and writing at the same time.

Bish Denham said...

A writer AND a future doctor! Way to go, Gina!

The cover for Elusion has really caught my attention... :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a shame authors never visited her school. You would think schools would be more open to such an activity.

Brenda said...

Great interview and advice, I love frequenting the library and bookstore when ever in get the chance too. No need to enter me in this giveaway. Hope you have a wonderful week Natalie.

Carrie Butler said...

Aww, man. I wish I could go to the library every week. (Dead car.) I'm jealous!

It was great getting to know Gina a bit more. :D

Angela Brown said...

The interviews with students, whether MG, Junior High/High School and early college tend to be rather enlightening to me as an author. Makes me really try to put my thinking cap on.

Nicole said...

Fun interview with Gina! Glad you've found the blogging community. That's so cool that you've discovered some short unpublished posts well worth reading!

Alexandra Perchanidou said...

I would go for Elusion!!! Thank you for the giveaway! Here's the link of the tweet: https://twitter.com/alexperc92/status/438022091133050880

And thank you Gina for your advice. Very inspiring for those who still try! XD

Christine Rains said...

Great interview! The blogging community is fantastic. I've learned so much from them and found such a source of encouragement and support. I go to the library often too. It's one of my favorite places to be. :)

Tina F. said...

I agree with Gina; I'd love a continuation of the Harry Potter series! I would enjoy The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A Nielsen. I've read the 1st two books and I really like Sage's character. My email is tinafang99@yahoo.com and I've tweeted this giveaway:

Joanne R. Fritz said...

I always enjoy your "Ask the Expert" interviews. It's great that Gina supports her local library AND her local bookstore. And it's interesting that she says none of her teachers ever recommended any blogs or author websites. How can we get teachers to change that and start recommending sites?

Gina Gao said...

Thanks for hosting me again Natalie!

S.P. Bowers said...

Gina, Jane Eyre and Anna Karenina are two of my favorites! Hope you enjoy them. I'm the same way with checking books out of the library then buying them if I like them.

cleemckenzie said...

I was lucky enough to be at the SCBWI conference when Sherman Alexie spoke. He was a brilliant speaker. Great to read about Gina and am looking forward to reading what Kelly Pollack has to say.

Jemi Fraser said...

Good luck to Gina - great interview! :)

Tammy Theriault said...

Gina doing pre-med and writing! phew!!
congrats to the winners!!

Rosi said...

Wow. Pre-med. That is something. Congrats to your winners from last week. Some interesting books this week, but let someone else win. I am really under the gun right now.

Jenni said...

Great interview! I'm impressed that you're tackling Anna Karenina. I finally read it last summer and loved it. It's great that you're using your blog for your stories.
I would love the Shadow Throne!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Gina, I love writing short stories too. Good luck in finding a publisher for them.

Danielle H. said...

Gina, I love that you're reading, reading, reading--it will only improve your skills. Good luck with pre-med! I have shared this post on Facebook earlier. If I win, I'd love to read Panic as I'm an Oliver fan!

Jeri Baird said...

Great interview with Gina! I would love to win The Shadow Throne - loved the first two and I've been waiting for the final book.

Margo Berendsen said...

Elusion is on my debut authors TBR list! I'd love to win this one! Tweeting about the giveaway too. And Anna Karenina is AMAZING. Excellent pick!

Britt said...

Hi Gina!!
I'd choose the shadow throne or half bad. I reaaaally want both
Have a fab day!

Mary Preston said...

Thank you. I enjoyed reading through the post.


Anonymous said...

I've visited Gina's blog and enjoyed her insightful posts. It was great learning more about her.

I'd love to read Panic. I love Oliver's writing. sharif(at)sharifwrites(dot)com

Unknown said...

Good luck on your writing Gina. I know it must be hard to find time to write considering your a pre- med student. I would love to win Elusion. Thanks! amymays53@gmail.com

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I am really looking forward to Ruins (Partials series #3) too! I don't know how you find time to write when you are pre-med, that is crazy good!
I would love to read HALF BAD by Sally Green :)

DMS said...

I follow Gina's blog, so it was wonderful to learn more about her here! Her short stories sound interesting and I agree with her about JK Rowling (I want more HP books, too) and Suzanne Collins. Wishing Gina the best of luck and hope she gets to meet more of her favorite authors. :)

Thanks for the giveaway. I am an old follower. I would love to win any of them- but if I had to pick one it would be Elusion. Sounds great and I love the cover! Thanks! :)
haightjess at gmail dot com


CG @ Paper Fury said...

I'd love to read HalfBad! I'm an old follower. notebooksisters AT gmail DOT com

Wordofmouth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wordofmouth said...

I'd love to win Half-bad :) And interesting that Gina's pre-med, why not major in English or Literature? Does her writing have a lot of medical details or aspects?

Natasha said...

I would love Half-bad.
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com