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 great day. I may be a bit slow in getting to your blogs today. My Mom has been in town for Mother's Day weekend and she leaves later today.


Rachel Morgan is sharing the covers for her new series, The Trouble Series. And here's some links and other information:

Four new heroines are about to enter the book world in this romance series full of swoon-worthy guys, comical moments, witty dialogue, and hot kisses…
Find the series on Goodreads.
Read the prequel novella, FORGIVEN, for FREE at most online retailers!

And Laura Pauling has a new YA contemporary novel that just released called website.
PROM IMPOSSIBLE. You can find Laura at her

Here's the purchase links: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ iTunes
I have a few winners to announce. 
The winner of THE EIGHTH DAY is Claudia McCarron!
And the winner of ROSE AND THE LOST PRINCESS is Jess Lawson!
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 be a part of debut author Tracy Holczer’s blog tour and to have here here to share about her debut MG contemporary book, THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY that released on May 1, 2014. This sounds like a fantastic story I think you’ll like. And it’s gotten fantastic blurbs including:

"Tracy Holczer's story is a lyric about love and loss and not being able to find your future until you've uncovered your past."
— Richard Peck, author of Newbery winning A Year Down Yonder

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Twelve-year-old Grace and her mother have always been their own family, traveling from place to place like gypsies. But Grace wants to finally have a home all their own. Just when she thinks she's found it her mother says it's time to move again. Grace summons the courage to tell her mother how she really feels and will always regret that her last words to her were angry ones.

After her mother's sudden death, Grace is forced to live with a grandmother she's never met. She can't imagine her mother would want her to stay with this stranger. Then Grace finds clues in a mysterious treasure hunt, just like the ones her mother used to send her on. Maybe it is her mother, showing her the way to her true home.

Lyrical, poignant and fresh, The Secret Hum of a Daisy is a beautifully told middle grade tale with a great deal of heart.

Hi Tracy! Thanks so much for joining us.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I became a writer because of All the Things. A childhood filled with wonder and nature and love and awfulness. All of those experiences mixed together into a stew and I just have this deep need to unwind it and get it down. My stories are not autobiographical in their literal circumstances, but the emotional circumstances are written from my experience with loss and joy and that overwhelming feeling I had as a kid that things just had to get better. And they did. So for me, it’s important to deliver that message to my readers, but also, writing those types of stories is a constant reminder to myself.

2. That’s great that your writing reminds you of this too. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I sat down quite a few years ago to capture something that happened in my own childhood. I had a statue named Mary that I believed was magic—believed it so hard that I brought it to school for show and tell and would tell anyone who asked about its magical properties. One girl laughed at me and my ridiculous claims, so I told her I’d prove it by throwing Mary onto the hard asphalt. When it shattered, something broke in me, too, and later, I felt drawn to write about what happened. But, interestingly, characters have their own needs and so those particular circumstances from my past fell away as I concentrated more on the feelings they inspired. A lack of faith, a feeling of disconnection, grief. Grace came alive because of what happened to me as a kid, but she took on a life of her own as I gave myself over to the process of story. And healing.

3. It’s great how you drew on your own experiences for the inspiration for your story. Voice is so important, especially in middle grade stories. Did Grace’s voice come easily to you and what tips do you have on getting the middle grade character’s voice right?

Grace’s voice was always there. In fact, I’ve struggled a bit in my new story with the voice because Grace’s way of looking at things still butts in from time to time. My best advice on writing for middle grade is revisiting your own middle grade years. Really go there. Focus on the emotion of the time; the white-hot joy, the overwhelming heartbreak, the expansion of ideas and wrong turns. Also, read a hundred middle grades, one right after the other. Write down what made them work, what sorts of emotions were on the page. Embrace your middle-grade self. She’s in there.

4. I know your advice is true, but must I really go back to those painful years? Just kidding. I know cranes play a role in your story. Share a bit about them and why you decided they would be important to the story.

One of the components of the story is migration. Mama moves she and Grace all over the state of
California, searching for the perfect place to call home. And there is a mystery subplot with the origami. Then I read there was a crane reserve not far from the area where the story takes place, and it all came together. Wings, feathers, flight—those images just felt true to Grace’s journey.

5. That’s amazing how you just discovered the crane reserve close to the setting for your book. What was a challenge you faced craft-wise in writing THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY and how did you overcome it?

PLOT. Traditional thinking around plot is that the character must have an external goal. It wasn’t until finding Robert Olen Butler’s FROM WHERE YOU DREAM that I discovered the idea that it’s enough for the character to have a strong yearning for something they aren’t emotionally equipped to handle. The story then goes about breaking down the barriers that stand in the way of achieving happiness. Once I got this, it was easier to provide an external plot. I highly recommend the book for everyone, but especially those looking to write contemporary, character driven stories.

6. Robert Butler’s book sounds like a great read for contemporary writers. I’ve read that you enjoy reading books on the craft of writing. What are three of your favorites and why do you recommend them?

I use different pieces of craft books at different times. To get down a first draft, I use Blake Snyder’s SAVE THE CAT, but only the beat sheet. As a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, this helped me tremendously in plotting just enough to get myself to the next structural marker in the story, without feeling burdened by a too specific outline. The one I use in revision is THE PLOT WHISPERER. This one helps in getting to know each of the characters as well as provide every possible idea for how to organize the mess I just created. FROM WHERE YOU DREAM is one to use all along the way for inspiration and as a reminder to trust my instincts.

7. I use the ideas from SAVE THE CAT too and I’ve heard of THE PLOT WHISPERER. I’ll have to check it out. Rosemary Stimola is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I really wanted someone who I felt “got” my work, would invest in me as a writer with their time and effort, and who published other books in the same vein as mine. Secondarily, it would be nice to have someone with connections in other areas – foreign markets, film and TV. So, I went to querytracker and pulled up a list of possibilities, and then read interviews, went to agency websites and read clients’ books. When I had my list, Ro was at the very top. At first, though, I thought, “Um. Hunger Games. This is so not going to happen.” But then I found this in an interview Literary Rambles linked to on Cynsations where Ro stated, “… I never walk away from a pitch-perfect, character-driven middle grade with the right blend of humor and pathos.”

After sending a query, she requested the manuscript just before Christmas 2012 and got back to me in early January with a revision request. After a revise and resubmit, I sent it back and she offered representation. It was all so surreal. You have this dream for years and then, BAM, it’s not a dream anymore. It’s actually happening. Ro has been perfect for me. She is no-nonsense, professional and concise. She returns emails within minutes and loves to brainstorm. I have never once felt like a small fish in her big pond. She treats everyone like a rock star and I’m so happy she’s with me on this journey.

We went on submission in late February and had a two-book deal in May with Stacey Barney at Putnam/Penguin. Another total dream come true. I would say that everyone needs to publish with Stacey, but you can’t have her. She’s mine. However, everyone should publish with Penguin. They are incredible. Ro has since sold rights to Konigskinder/Carlsen in Germany, at auction, and brought HUM along to Bologna and London where I’m waiting, not-too patiently, to hear news.

8. I met Rosemary at a SCBWI weekend conference. She’s a fantastic speaker so I can imagine what an amazing agent she must be. I know you’re doing a blog tour. How did you decide on the blogs for your tour and what advice do you have for middle grade authors setting up their debut blog tour?

I researched blogs that I thought would have an interest in contemporary middle grades, or who primarily focus on middle grade. I pitched myself and offered to send a galley. I took up people on their offers for an interview or review if they came my way. The advice I would give is to keep it to ten blogs or less and don’t focus on the blog’s readership numbers as much as the connection you feel to that blog’s reviews/personality, etc. Always lead with your heart.

9. That’s great advice on setting up a blog tour. I’m flattered you included Literary Rambles in your tour. What are you working on now?

My next book, the tentatively titled THE NATURAL HISTORY OF SAMANTHA ROSSI is scheduled for release in 2016 from Penguin and 2017 from Konigskinder. It’s a Vietnam Era story (I refuse to call it historical fiction since I was a kid in 1971, albeit, a very tiny kid) about a girl who wants to be a scientist and when her father comes back from Vietnam changed, she turns to her science books for theories on how she might reverse evolution. It’s a story about once in a lifetime friendships, a Series of Unfortunate Substitute Teachers, and meatballs. Lots of meatballs. As an aside, if you go here http://tracyholczer.com/treasures.html and click on Nonni’s Pink Kitchen Recipes (and yes, that is an actual picture of my Italian grandmother’s pink kitchen) I freely give the best meatball recipe you will ever find. More recipes to follow as we get closer to release. Happy meatballing!

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

Website (where you can find the first chapter of HUM on the Books tab)
Blog (the 30th of each month)

And here’s purchase links:

For an autographed copy (make sure and note it in the comments of the purchase or they won't know about the autograph): http://www.shoponceuponatime.com/book/9780399163937



So there are two giveaways. First there’s a blog tour giveaway. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And Tracy’s publisher Putman Juvenile generously offered an ARC of THE SECRET HUM OF A DAISY 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 26th. I’ll announce the winner on May 28th. 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.

Here’s what’s coming up:

Tomorrow On Tuesday Casey has a guest post by Shannon Wiersbitzky with a giveaway of WHAT FLOWERS REMEMBER.

On Monday I have a guest post by Jacqueline West and a giveaway of one of her books (winner’s choice) in her MG fantasy THE BOOKS OF ELSEWHERE series. I read the first book in the series and really enjoyed it.

I’ll be off the following Monday because it’s Memorial Day but I’ll be back on Wednesday that week with an interview with author and blogger friend Cherie Reich and a giveaway of REBORN, her new YA fantasy that I can’t wait to read.

The next Monday I have an interview with debut author Skylar Dorset and a ARC giveaway of NEVER TRUST A FAIRY, a urban fantasy that sounds really good and that I would have read if so much hadn’t been going on in my personal life lately.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Bethany Neal and a ARC giveaway of MY LAST KISS, her YA ghost story/mystery. I loved it.

And here's the rest of the blogs on this Blog Tour:
May 6: Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire
May 7: Leandra Wallace
May 8: Heidi Schultz
May 9: AuthorOf
May 10: Read Now, Sleep Later
May 11: Kidlit Frenzy
May 12: Literary Rambles
May 14: Smack Dab in the Middle


Beth said...

This book sounds wonderful. I love the story of how it was inspired - although what a devastating moment it must have been when that statue broke. All the best to Tracy on the publication of her new book.

Greg Pattridge said...

Thanks for the great interview to start my week. I've taken note of all the book suggestions Tracy used and will be tracking them down soon.

Anonymous said...

My favorite books were the Trixie Belden series (I oh so wanted to be a BobWhite) and My Side of the Mountain. And what great advice for writing middle grade:
Focus on the emotion of the time; the white-hot joy, the overwhelming heartbreak, the expansion of ideas and wrong turns. Also, read a hundred middle grades, one right after the other. Write down what made them work, what sorts of emotions were on the page. Embrace your middle-grade self. She’s in there.

Thanks for the giveaway and the advice!!

Ms. Yingling said...

I have been looking for a copy of this, so thanks for hosting a giveaway! It's so rewarding to see that Middle Grade literature is almost becoming "trendy"!

Rachel Alison said...

Loved this interview! Will definitely check out the books suggested :-)


Kristin Lenz said...

This book sounds lovely. And so similar in plot and theme to one of my earlier YA novels which never sold and I've yet to return to. I think it just shows how the themes of love and loss are so universal and many of us are drawn to reading and writing these stories. Kudos to Tracy!

Rachel Alison said...

My favorite book was probably the Anne of Green Gables series--I read it over and over and over again :-)

Holly Letson said...

The *Sweet Valley High* book series was my favorite as an MG student.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the interview and giveaway.
When I was in middle school I read a lot of Jules Verne's books. :)


cleemckenzie said...

Great to see Tracy's book out. Congratulations to her.

Barbara Watson said...

This is on my to-read list! Thanks for offering the giveaway.

Jessica Lawson said...

I got to read an ARC of this and really enjoyed the beautiful story and writing! I am now heading over to Tracy's blog to find that meatball recipe :)

Vivien said...

I read a lot of Michael Crichton during those years.

Old Kitty said...

I think the title "The secret hum of a daisy" is really beautiful! And what a memory that inspired the story too! Brilliant!

Take care

Candace said...

I actually read this last week and it'll be on my blog later this week. It has GORGEOUS writing! And very well developed characters. It truly was a beautiful story. It was nice to get to know the author better.
Oh, and I have to say, this is one cover and title that match the story PERFECT!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

She's very smart how she set up her tour - ten blogs and ones she selected herself. That's the best way to do it.

Mary Warth said...

Thanks for the great interview. In middle school I loved the Anne of Green Gables series. My best friend moved away and Anne took over!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Big fan of Snyder's Beat Sheet as well!

Carmella Van Vleet said...

Sounds like a great book! My favorite book as as middle schooler was anything by Judy Blume!

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

Nice interview and the best of luck to Tracy. Love her dream come true story :)

Andrea Mack said...

Thanks for this very interesting interview!

Anonymous said...

Great interview. I was particularly interested to learn of the books on the craft of writing that the author found helpful.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

I'm dying to read this book. Thanks for the giveaway. And I'm glad you got a chance to spend some time with your mom on Mother's Day.

Favorite book during my middle grade years? How can I narrow it down to one? I loved The Secret Garden with a passion. But I also loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and I wanted to live in a museum.

Heather said...

This sounds so good, and so does the book she's working on!

Unknown said...

My favorite book was Ella Enchanted.

Krysten Lindsay Hager said...

Great interview. My favorite MG book growing up was Judy Blume's "Just As Long as We're Together.

Michele Manning said...

Sounds like a great book. Hope to win, but even if I don't I plan to get my hands on a copy, sit in my hammock and read!

Danielle H. said...

Great interview! Your book sounds like one I would love. I have it on my to read list and hope I win a copy. Thank you for the giveaway and insight into your writing process.

Danielle H. said...

Forgot to mention I will spread the would on my Facebook page! Best of luck to you!

S.P. Bowers said...

Thanks for the heads up about FROM WHERE YOU DREAM. I hadn't heard of that before.

I love the imagery of the origami, cranes, feathers and flight. You book sounds fascinating. Congrats!

E.G. Moore said...

Tracy has such wonderful advice for MG writers and HUM sounds right up my alley. Thanks for this interview!

Anonymous said...

I'm an older teacher/librarian, so my favorite book in middle school was Little House on the Prairie. Good thing you didn't ask what it would be now as a middle school teacher! There are so many wonderful books to choose from.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to read this book. My favorite book in middle school (actually junior high) was The Moon by Night, by Madeleine L'Engle.

Joni said...

It's kind of hard for me to remember my favorite books when I was "middle grade age" because I still continue to read those kind of books. The Saddle Club was pretty big for a while... I think I read every single Nancy Drew book my library had.

Dionna said...

Are You there God it's Me, Margaret

Lucy R said...

Finally got to catch up and read this post--awesome! I know Tracy and got to know her at two SCBWI events and she is so amazing and sweet! So happy her book is out--it might even drive me to write that MG I've had floating around in my mind.

My favorite MG when I was in MG was Anne of Green Gables : )
~Lucy at Kids Math Teacher

M said...

I loved everything by Sharon Creech and Jean Craighead George. I also loved The Giver. I will have to re-read it before the movie!

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for sharing my covers! And PROM IMPOSSIBLE sounds cute ;-) Love the labels of the three guys on the cover.

jpetroroy said...

What a charming book! I loved A Wrinkle in Time.

Anonymous said...

Tracy's books, current and future, sound wonderful. I hope to read her work.