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 Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to be a part of the PENNYROYAL ACADEMY Blog Tour. I've got a fantastic guest post by debut author M.A. Larson and a giveaway of PENNYROYAL ACADEMY, his MG fantasy. It sounds like a great story I'm hoping to read. Details on the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

So here's M.A. Larson!

The thing I love most about a bookstore is walking out with less money than I came in with. Especially if I came in with no agenda. I love finding random books that look interesting and giving them a shot. Many of my own projects grew like Jack’s beanstalk from a magic bean I found in a book that just happened to catch my attention. During the development of Pennyroyal Academy, I found magic beans scattered all over a 1976 book by renowned psychoanalyst Dr. Bruno Bettelheim called The Uses of Enchantment.

I’ve been writing for children’s television animation for the past nine years. I originally conceived of Pennyroyal Academy as a cartoon called Princess Boot Camp. It was a straightforward parody of frilly pink princess culture as told through a hardcore military training academy. As with most pilots, it never took off, so I decided to turn it into a novel.

I was a little lost with what story I wanted to tell until I picked up The Uses of Enchantment. It’s an analysis of Grimms’ Fairy Tales and how they work, with particular focus paid to the dark and sometimes shocking elements found in them. Bettelheim argues that it’s important for kids to experience these baffling, frightening emotions from the safety of a story so they can learn to cope with their own anxieties and fears. Some of the book is dated (it’s nearly forty years old, after all), but there are some profound points raised about why and how fairy tales work in the adolescent mind and heart.

The more I read, the more my own story came into focus. I decided to strip away the parody elements and try for something more meaningful. I slashed bad puns and cut cheap gags like one of the Grimms’ murderous robbers hacking up a helpless maiden. I never went “full Grimm,” however. Those guys were just a hair too dark for the modern audience. But I wanted to bring in the deeper psychological component Bettelheim’s book pointed to. Not darkness for darkness’ sake, but because it is such an essential part of why fairy tales endure.

Bettelheim writes: “The forest symbolizes the place in which inner darkness is confronted and worked through; where uncertainty is resolved about who one is; and where one begins to understand who one wants to be.” Ah-ha! thought I. My protagonist is at the beginning of her journey of self-discovery when my book starts, so I should quite literally put her in the forest. And that’s where she is, right there on page one, running barefoot through an enchanted forest with no name and wearing only a dress made of spider webs.

Picking up this forty-year-old book got my mind working in so many directions it wouldn’t otherwise
have gone. It sparked ideas for my own work and helped me focus in on what kind of story I wanted to tell. And so the next time I’m in a bookstore wandering the aisles, I might just pick up that random book with the cool cover. Maybe I’ll find some more magic beans hidden in pages about the Battle of Gallipoli or maitake mushrooms or whatever else catches the eye. It’s always worth a read to find out.

M.A. Larson (www.malarson.com) is a film and television writer who lives with his wife, daughter, and two dogs in a canyon in California. Larson has written for Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney UK, Discovery Kids Channel, The Hub, and Nickelodeon. As a writer on the cult sensation “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, he has been a guest at “brony” fan conventions from Paris, France to Dallas, Texas. Pennyroyal Academy is his first novel.

Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become
tomorrow's princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

Enlist today at PennyroyalAcademy.com!

Enlist today at PennyroyalAcademy.com!

Blog Tour Schedule:
October 15, 2014: The Hiding Spot
October 17, 2014: The Book Cellar
October 20, 2014: Alice Marvels
October 23, 2014: Icey Books
October 27, 2014: Novel Novice
October 29, 2014: Literary Rambles
Nov. 4, 2014: Nerdy Book Club

Here's a blurb of PENNYROYAL ACADEMY from Goodreads:
Pennyroyal Academy: Seeking bold, courageous youths to become tomorrow's princesses and knights….Come one, come all!

A girl from the forest arrives in a bustling kingdom with no name and no idea why she is there, only to find herself at the center of a world at war.  She enlists at Pennyroyal Academy, where princesses and knights are trained to battle the two great menaces of the day: witches and dragons. There, given the name “Evie,” she must endure a harsh training regimen under the steel glare of her Fairy Drillsergeant, while also navigating an entirely new world of friends and enemies. As Evie learns what it truly means to be a princess, she realizes surprising things about herself and her family, about human compassion and inhuman cruelty. And with the witch forces moving nearer, she discovers that the war between princesses and witches is much more personal than she could ever have imagined.

Set in Grimm’s fairytale world, M.A. Larson’s Pennyroyal Academy masterfully combines adventure, humor, and magical mischief.

M.A. Larson's publisher, Putman Juvenile, has  generously offered a copy of PENNYROYAL ACADEMY 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 November 15th. I’ll announce the winner on November 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. This is for US only.

And there's also a Rafflecopter Giveaway of Pennyroyal Academy recruitment packs:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here’s what’s coming up:

Next Monday I'm interviewing Kimberley Griffiths Little and giving away her YA romance set in a desert setting FORBIDDEN. I loved the setting and I'm a sucker for forbidden romance.

The Monday after that I'm giving away an ARC of THE ELITES by Marie Lu. I've got one word for this book: Wow!

Friday that week I’m participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop.

And the following Monday I’ll have a guest post by debut author Jennifer Torres and giveaway of THE DISAPPEARING, her MG sci-fi mystery.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats on your novel! I liked hearing how the story evolved and became more meaningful.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Going as dark as the Grimm tales would be too dark.

Ophelia L. said...

Sounds like a fun read for kids. Interesting how he got the idea for it as well. :)

Brenda said...

Fascinating inspiration. I love Grimm tales that aren't too dark, and defiantly need to find out more about this girl running through the forest wearing a dress made of spider webs. Sounds wonderful.

Crystal Collier said...

How cool! I love that the story originated on it's own and became it's own entity. And what a concept! I'm totally intrigued.

Unleashing the Dreamworld

M Pax said...

What a cool story idea. I love finding magic beans, and especially the ones I don't expect.

Robyn Campbell said...

WOW. This is fantastic. This book sounds excellent. I really loved hearing how you got from there to here. So cool. SCHWEET!

Stina said...

The background behind the story is cool. I want to check the book that analyzes Grimm's stories.

jpetroroy said...

This looks fabulous!

Tammy Theriault said...

Great to meet M.A.! Sounds just like what I recently did in my MS. Some laugh lines I just had to let go of. Needed a smoother line.

Christina Fiorelli said...

Oh I LOVE how he took Grimms' fairy tales and a non fiction psychology book and mixed it all together and came up with a concept that's completely new !

I'd completely enroll in a school for princesses and knights!! It's such a different story!

thank you so very much :)

GFC Christina Kit.

email subscriber ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Christina Fiorelli said...

Also tweeted! https://twitter.com/christinafiorio/status/527736287831523329

GFC Christina Kit.

email subscriber ccfioriole at gmail dot com

Danielle H. said...

I have heard of this book and I love the idea! I can't wait to read it and will share on Facebook. Thanks for the giveaway!

Unknown said...

I loved reading about all Bettelheim's theories on fairy tales and Grimm's writings and their importance to children's psyches. I especially like the symbolism of the forest. Wishing M.A. much success with his new book! :)

Rosi said...

What a rich and wonderful post. I always say to myself I will not enter another giveaway, and then you offer something I can't resist. I really want to read this book and I will be getting Bettelheim's book. Thanks for this post and for a chance to win. I'll be posting this link on my blog later this week.

Jeri Baird said...

Looks like an awesome story!

Jeri Baird said...

I just went to your website - coolest site ever! I know a few little girls I'm recommending it to!

cleemckenzie said...

Who could resist that invitation? You'd have to enroll and become a knight or a princess.

Britt said...

This is such a fun creative thing I'm Princess Awuren of Swooning Gull Expanse of the Ironbone company! sounds amazing right. i'm an old email follower - Brittersweet83@aol.com
Thanks for this chance!

Britt said...

here is my tweet as well :-) https://twitter.com/kalebsmome/status/528382394718355456

Anonymous said...

This looks like a great read. Congrats to the author. I love finding treasures at bookstores, libraries, flea markets, and other venues. My imagination has been sparked by certain books.

Christine Rains said...

That sounds like so much fun! Congrats to M.A. Larson!

Dawn Simon said...

I love when you pick up just the right book at just the right time, and it shines a new light on a WIP. There's definitely something magical about that!

Congrats to M. A. Larson! Great post, and your book sounds like fun!

Gina Gao said...

This sounds like a really awesome story that I would be very interested in.


Carrie Butler said...

This sounds so cool! Congratulations, M.A. :D

Anonymous said...

Congrats to M.A. Every author has an interesting story that got him or her to the bookshelf and this is no exception. Thanks for sharing. I have added this one to my TBR list.

Unknown said...

That's actually really cool and congrats!!! Thanks for the chance to win! :)