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! I had a fantastic weekend with two of my cousins who visited. It was just what my heart needed.

I have one winner to announce.

The winner of ACID is AKOSSIWA!

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.


Medeia Sharif's new YA contemporary novel SNIP, SNIP REVENGE was released on April 25h. Here's
a blurb:
Tabby Karim has plans that include nabbing a role in the school play, making Michael hers, and keeping bigoted Heather at bay; but when a teacher’s lie and her father’s hastiness rob her of her beautiful hair, her dreams are dashed. She spearheads Operation Revenge, which proves satisfying until Tabby’s problems deepen.

You can find Medeia at: 
 Blog   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads   |   Instagram   |   Amazon

Congrats Medeia!

Today I’m thrilled to have Dianne Salerni here to share about her new MG novel, THE EIGHTH DAY that released April 22, 2014. This is a fantastic fantasy about thirteen-year-old Jax, who discovers an eighth day between Wednesday and Thursday. This is a fast-paced story that never lags. I loved Jax and how he tries to help his mysterious neighbor Evangeline who is stuck in the eighth day. The story is filled with Arthurian legends, magic, danger and so much more that kept me turning the pages. I can’t wait to read the sequel.

Dianne is also the author of two YA novels, THE CAGED GRAVES (I loved this too and highly recommend it) and WE HEAR THE DEAD (Not read this one yet but I want to).

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots
tracing back to Arthurian legend. Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in a new series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense.

When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day—an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people—like Jax and Riley—are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day.

And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out.

Hi Dianne. Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us where you got the idea for your story.

Thanks for having me here, Natalie! The idea for a secret day of the week came from a family joke. When my daughters asked my husband when they were going to get to do something, he used to tease them by saying they could do it on Grunsday. The girls would groan in response, because he wasn’t giving them a real answer. One day I started wondering what it would be like if there really was a Grunsday, an extra day of the week that only certain people knew about.

2. What a fun way to get a story idea. I know from reading some interviews that THE EIGHTH DAY did not start out including Arthurian mythology. Share when you decided to include this in the story in relation to creating the story and why.

In my planning, I had already established certain physical characteristics for Grunsday and the people who lived only on that day. Because they lived one day out of eight, their lives would be extended compared to ours. The people who lived in all eight days had to be able to pass from the seven day world into the eighth day and back out again.

I was doing some research related to this when I stumbled across a story about Merlin and his apprentice, Niviane, the Lady of the Lake. When Niviane stole Merlin’s powers, she confined him in a cave (or a forest in some versions of the tale) outside of time. Merlin’s life was extended by this imprisonment, and Niviane visited him from time to time to learn more of his magic. I was struck by the similarities to what I already had in mind … and the Arthurian connection took off from there.

3. I love Merlin myths. Glad you could add them to the story. THE EIGHTH DAY is your first middle grade story. What made you decide to try writing MG and how have you found it different from writing YA?

I originally wrote the book as YA (and titled it Grunsday). It was my agent who told me the concept was
really more apt for MG, and as soon as she suggested it, I knew she was right. I had shared my idea with my fifth grade class, and my students had been clamoring for me to read the manuscript to them ever since. Repeatedly. Insistently. It truly was an idea suited for middle grade readers.

So I revised. The MG voice came easily to me – probably because I spend all day with kids. But I had to remove some dark, edgy elements and tone down the romance between two YA characters in the story.

4. Yes, I bet being a middle grade teacher helped. One of the things that I loved about THE EIGHTH DAY is how fast-paced it is. There are literally no wasted scenes. Share about your plotting process.

Thank you! My first draft was a bloated 100,000 words. There were plenty of wasted scenes, and literally thousands of unnecessary words! But I’ve come to accept that as part of my writing process. I had a few key plot points that never changed – no matter how I revised everything else – but in the first draft I did a lot of wandering to find my way between them.

Multiple successive revisions is how I cut down and refine a draft like that. I don’t try to make it perfect in the second draft. It’s only when I go back again and again and again that I can hack away the fat. In Draft 2, some of those extra scenes are still too precious to lose. By Draft 5, I’m not nearly as fond of them. Slash!

5. Glad I’m not the only one who needs multiple drafts to trim the unnecessary scenes. You made the interesting choice of switching the POV between Jax and Evangeline, who is more of a YA character. I haven’t really seen this type of POV change that is not another MG character. Why did you decide to do this and which character was more challenging for you?

Well, as I said, I originally wrote this as YA, and although Jax changed to a MG character (which fit him much better!), Evangeline and Riley, Jax’s guardian, remained YA.

I recently wrote a blog post on non-MG characters in popular MG books. I know there’s supposed to be a rule about that, but there are so many exceptions. In addition to the ones I mention in my post, there’s also Wonder, which has several YA POV characters.

In The Eighth Day, Evangeline was definitely the harder character to write, but not because she’s YA. Evangeline is trapped in the eighth day, living only one day a week. Her POV needed to convey what her existence is like, the essential loneliness of her situation, the story of how she came to be living next to Jax, and the history of her entire race. That’s a lot to cram into the viewpoint of one 16 year-old girl while still making her chapters lively and interesting.

6. You’re right that Wonder does that too. That’s a great story too. I know you’ve already drafted book 2 and 3 in the series and at some times it was really challenging. What did you learn from this process that would be helpful to the rest of us thinking of writing a series?

I’m going to refer everyone back to #4, in which I discuss my writing process. That’s what I learned while writing this series. My process IS the way I work, and there’s no getting around it. Even when I have to write a book on contract and on a schedule, I still have to go through all those steps. I learned there is no avoiding that horribly messy first draft.

I wanted it to be different for books in a series. I wanted it to be easier. But I don’t think it ever will be.

7. Each of your books has been published by a different publisher. What’s it been like working with different publishers and what advice do you have for other authors in this situation?

I once thought (and I think a lot of other people think this, too) that when you find a publisher, you will stay with that publisher forever and they will publish everything you write, happily ever after. But that is not the case. Every new project goes through the same submission process as your first one, and if it’s not a fit, you move on.

Publishers all have their own style and procedures. Some do everything electronically. Others do everything on paper. (Seriously, I needed my bifocals and a magnifying glass to decipher the brown-penciled editing marks on one manuscript!) My advice to authors is to ask questions – of your agent, of your editor – so you know what’s expected of you no matter who you’re working with.

8. I used to think that about publishers too. Share your marketing plans and how this is different, if at all, from marketing your YA books.

Marketing a MG is going to be a little different than marketing a YA, but I’m excited about it. Middle grade readers are generally not on social media, and I’ve already noticed that there are WAY more bloggers reading/reviewing YA books than MG books. However, the gatekeepers to MG readers are out there – parents, librarians, teachers, etc. I’ll be trying to connect with those people.

Plus, never underestimate Amazon. A lot of middle grade readers have e-readers, and Amazon recommends titles to kids.

9. Yes, that’s true about bloggers. And I hadn’t thought about how important Amazon can be. What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m readying the 4th draft of the 3rd book in the Eighth Day series to send to my editor and researching string theory for a totally unrelated MG adventure story. That’s right. String theory for MG. I’m pretty psyched about the premise and can’t wait until I have enough plot points in my head to launch into a horrible, messy, spirit-sapping first draft. (See #4 and #7.)

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

Dianne’s publisher Harper Collins generously donated an ARC for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 10th. I’ll announce the winner on May 12th. 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 residents only.

You can find all the blogs participating in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Shannon Messenger's blog HERE.

Here’s what’s coming up:

On Wednesday I’ll have a guest post by Holly Webb and a giveaway of ROSE AND THE LOST PRINCESS, her MG fantasy.

On Saturday I’ll be participating in the Amazing Book Giveaway Hop. I’ll have lots of great choices for you.

Next Monday, I have an interview with friend, follower and now debut author Jessie Humphries and a giveaway of KILLING RUBY ROSE, her fantastic YA mystery/thriller.

Next Wednesday, I’ll be hosting a blog tour giveaway of SCAN by Walter Jury (writing under a pseudonym) who is one of the producers of the Divergent movie and Sarah Fine. It’s a YA fast-paced sci-fi story I hoped to read and review but couldn’t get to it with all that’s been going on.

Next Friday I have a guest post by debut author Elizabeth May and a giveaway of THE FALCONER, her YA fantasy. I hope to read it before I give it away as it’s gotten great reviews.

And don’t forget Casey’s Agent Spotlights.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Creepy Query Girl said...

Woot woot! SO excited for you , Dianne. Great interview as always!

Donna K. Weaver said...

Dianne is such a wonderful person. I'm happy she seems to have maybe found a home for her great writing.

But really? Pencil marks?

Congrats, Dianne!

Unknown said...

Every bit of Dianne's interview was interesting and funny. She's so lucky to teach kids that represent the MG faction - great research material. I didn't realize the book included the Merlin myth. He's my favorite and I'm so psyched to read it!! Wishing Dianne mega success with her trilogy and upcoming string-theory project. :)

(I have the book so don't include me in the giveaway.)

Kristin Lenz said...

Sounds like a great one for my daughter. I love hearing how authors come up with these story premises and so interesting when an idea ties in with history or a legend and grows from there. Kudos!

Greg Pattridge said...

Great cover, super interview. I enjoyed reading how Dianne's word count was massive. I have the same problem before getting the editing knife sharpened. Thanks for halping me make a connection to another great sounding MG book.

kjmckendry said...

Wonderful interview! I too go through many drafts. I love the idea of Grunsday, I sure need an eighth day!

Unknown said...

I recently discovered Dianne and her lovely writing thanks to Alex :) I also found this blog thanks to Alex (he's everywhere, you know!) Nice to meet you, Natalie! Great interview. This book will definitely be put on my TBR list! An extra day of the week? Sign me up!


Barbara Watson said...

I'm super excited to read this one! Thanks for offering the chance to win an ARC.

Christine Rains said...

Wonderful interview. The book sounds fantastic. Thank you, too, for the advice on working with different publishers. I might have that in my future.

Kim Van Sickler said...

OK, I'm really interested in finding out what happens to Evangeline the other seven days of the week. Is she in limbo? Sleeping? Very fun premise! Congrats, Dianne!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great interview! I especially lived Dianne's input on marketing MG.
PS: the link to non MG characters is not working. (I tried twice)
Oh and don't count me in the giveaway, please. :)


L. Diane Wolfe said...

Every book had a different publisher - I'm sure that surprises people, but publishers each have their own niche and not every book you write will fit that niche.

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks Dianne and Natalie for the great interview! I was especially interested in your thoughts on revision and on marketing for middle grade books!

Rachna Chhabria said...

Diane's book has a wonderful premise. I am eager to know how people live on Grunsday. Interesting concept.

Dawn said...

Thanks for the giveaway. This book sounds great.

Bish Denham said...

I love the premise of this book, and mixing in some Merlin is intriguing.

Carina Olsen said...

Ohh! The cover for this book looks awesome :D And I love the interview. <3 Thank you both so much for sharing :) (Not entering the giveaway, as I live in Norway ;p)

Anonymous said...

I am so (so!) looking forward to reading this series and now even more so. Thanks for the interview and the giveaway!

Charlotte said...

I'm looking forward to this one even more now! Thanks.

Lisa said...

Great interview! I wish Dianne Salerni all the luck in the world! Nothing to do with her topic, but there is a wonderful French movie called "The Eighth Day." Blurb, A man who doesn't appreciate what he has must learn how to really live and love from a young man with Downs Syndrome. Very touching movie...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Interesting it started as a young adult book.

Rosi said...

Wonderful interview. I love the idea of this story and really, really want to read it. Thanks for a chance to win. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/rosihollinbeck/status/460826571226353665

Brenda said...

Love the premise of an extra day, man I can imagine all the things I could get done. Very interesting interview and love the idea of the added Arthurian touches.

Crystal Collier said...

Hey, I've got a copy of the Falconer to review too! It's the next one on my review list.

I've been looking forward to The Eighth Day for a while. I think that's the next book I want to read to my littles. Yay! They'll eat it up.

Beverley Baird said...

What a great interview. Always good to learn the writing process of authors. Your book sounds like a wonderful read!

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Natalie, I'm so glad to hear you had a nice weekend with your cousins and it was what you needed.

Yay for THE EIGHTH DAY! You know how much I love this book. I'm always thrilled when a book lives up to its exciting premise. Can't wait to read the next volume in the series.

Please don't enter me in the giveaway, since I already have a signed hardcover. :)

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Natalie, thanks for hosting me here today -- thanks, everyone, for the kind words!

Since I've recently started something brand new and I'm already having an attack of nerves that it stinks, will go nowhere, and I can't do it (!!!!), it is always beneficial for me to remember I felt the same way about the first draft of Grunsday/The Eighth Day.

I'm so glad the interview questions reminded me of that -- and helpfully inspire other writers not to give up on their own drafts!

Kelly Polark said...

Such a cool premise. Congrats, Dianne!

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Dianne. I used to overwrite, but now i underwrite. I'm not sure which one's easier.

Thank you so much for featuring my book.

Frankie Miller said...

Congratulations to Dianne for having her book published by Harper Collins. She is inspirational, and gave a good reminder not to worry about having too many drafts.

Jemi Fraser said...

3 of my favourite people here today!
Can't wait to read this one of Dianne's - such a great process she goes through! :)

TerryLynnJohnson said...

Yay, Dianne! I've been looking forward to this one for a long time! Great interview as always!

Jocelyn Rish said...

First, congrats to Medeia - I'm so excited for her.

And then congrats to Dianne. This was such a fun interview. It's so cool learning about how the Arthurian mythology became part of the book.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great interview! I love the idea for the 8th Day, and how it came form a family joke about Grunsday. :)

Leslie S. Rose said...

I'm halfway through Medeia's book - loving it. I can't get enough of King Arthur and Merlin stories. Dianne's book is going straight on the TBR list.

pandas4vic said...

Great interview, Dianne!!! The book sounds fascinating! Can't wait!

Ann Finkelstein said...

This sounds like a fun idea for a book. I'll put it on my to-read list.

Danielle H. said...

I love how you got the idea for the book! It sounds like a fast-paced fun read and I hope I win a copy (I know my daughter will enjoy your book too!). I'm glad you kept your mind open for story ideas. Thank you for the giveaway. I will share on Facebook.

Unknown said...

Congratulations! I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. Thanks for the Awesome interview.

David P. King said...

I've seen the Eighth Day pop up a lot lately. And it sounds like my kind of read. Congrats on your book, Dianne! :)

Cynthia said...

I follow Dianne's blog and am so happy to see how this book project has progressed for her. I enjoyed the story of King Arthur, and love that this story elaborates on that. I really look forward to reading THE EIGHTH DAY.

Jessica Lawson said...

Love this interview and I can't wait for Dianne's book :)

Jenni said...

I've been hearing such great things about this book! I thought it was interesting how it started out YA and how Diane balanced the POVs in the book. Thanks for a great interview, Natalie, and I'm so glad you had a good visit with your cousins!

mshatch said...

I can attest to how great his book is having read it and can only say, MG or not, this story rocks.

Stephanie Garber said...

Great interview! The Eighth Day sounds so fun! I don't usually read much MG, but I think this book sounds great!

Stina said...

Congrats, Dianne, on your latest release!!!! And I'm glad I'm not the only one who ends up cutting scenes. I had to delete the first 5 chapters of my current WIP. I've never had to do that before.

DMS said...

Wishing Diane the best of luck! I have been wanting to read this one since I first heard about it because I love the idea of an 8th day. Plus, I read and review lots of MG books- so I look forward to picking this one up! It was great to learn more about Diane, her book, and where she got her ideas!

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Great interview. I've been wondering the best way to market a MG novel, too, so this was helpful!

Layla said...

This looks great!


Emma A. said...

It looks really good!

Tara Tyler said...

how funny that i just came from Dianne's blog and find an awesome interview and giveaway here - and i'm visiting you both from Michael Di Gesu's comments on my cover reveal! awesome!!

Manju Howard said...

Thanks for the advice.

Beth said...

Congrarulations to Medeia. And the Eighth Day sounds wonderful!

Natasha said...

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

Unknown said...

Wonderful interview. The book sounds fantastic.

Claudia McCarron said...

This book looks amazing.