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!

Follower News

Paul Greci's debut middle grade SURVIVING BEAR ISLAND is being released on Wednesday. Here's a
blurb: “Surviving Bear Island” is a heart-pounding adventure that both kids and adults will enjoy. Though harsh and realistic, it follows its hero through a brilliant coming-of-age the likes of which are unlikely to be found anywhere outside Alaska.--- And here are some links:
amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0985481099/sr=8-1/qid=1423785870/ref=olp_product_details?ie=UTF8&me=&qid=1423785870&sr=8-1
blog: https://paulgreci.wordpress.com/

And I have winners to announce.

The winner of DUPLICITY is Kelly Steel!
The winner of the Alex Slater Query Critique is Danielle H!
And the winner of the Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop is CindyWindy who picked the Amazon Gift Card!

Congrats! E-mail me your address for the book and contact information for the critique. Please e-mail me by the end of Wednesday or I'll have to pick another winner.

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Erin Entrada Kelly here to share about her MG contemporary BLACKBIRD FLY that releases tomorrow. I don’t usually read contemporary but I really wanted to read Erin’s book because it also deals with Apple learning to embrace her ethnicity. It's a great story about Apple, who has to grapple with being the only Filipino in her middle school, and with her embarrassment at being from the Philippines. I really enjoyed it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Future rock star, or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this debut tween novel, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers and following her dreams. For fans of Wendy Mass and Wendelin Van Draanen.

Apple has always felt a little different from her classmates. She and her mother moved to Louisiana from the Philippines when she was little, and her mother still cooks Filipino foods, makes mistakes with her English, and chastises Apple for becoming “too American.” It becomes unbearable in middle school, when the boys—the stupid, stupid boys—in Apple’s class put her name on the Dog Log, the list of the most unpopular girls in school. When Apple’s friends turn on her and everything about her life starts to seem weird and embarrassing, Apple turns to music. If she can just save enough to buy a guitar and learn to play, maybe she can change herself. It might be the music that saves her . . . or it might be her two new friends, who show how special she really is. Erin Entrada Kelly deftly brings Apple’s conflicted emotions to the page in her debut novel about family, friendship, popularity, and going your own way.

Hi Erin! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t thinking about writing. It started when I was very young. I’m proud to say that both of my parents encouraged a love of reading and writing. My mother read to me at bedtime—Cat in the Hat was one of our favorites—and when I started writing stories in second or third grade, my father bound them together with cardboard to make them into “real books.”

2. That's great that your parents were so supportive. Where did you get the idea for BLACKBIRD FLY?

Well, it didn’t exactly begin as BLACKBIRD FLY. It was originally about a girl who couldn’t stop singing. The fact that she was Filipino was more of a subplot. But as the writing evolved, a cultural conflict emerged between the mother and daughter and it quickly became the heart of the story.

3. I'm glad that your subplot became more of the plot because it really is the heart of your story. I know you’re half-Filipino and your main character, Apple, is Filipino. Share how you drew on your own experiences in showing us Apple’s struggles with her ethnicity. And what advice do you have for other authors who want to write about multicultural characters.

Like Apple, I struggled with being “the other” in school, where I was the only Filipino. The area where I grew up has very few Asians—something like 0.9 percent overall. No one ever knew what ethnicity I was, so people constantly asked: “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” I’d say, “I’m from here.” And they’d say, “But where are you really from?” People usually assumed I was Chinese. As a kid, I was embarrassed of my ethnicity. I wanted to be like everyone else. Today, I’m proud of my background.
Apple and I have a lot in common, but our mothers are different in many ways. Apple’s mother discourages her from pursuing her dreams. My mother was always my biggest cheerleader.
As for advice, it’s simple: Just write.

4. I think your feelings growing up are common for kids who don't go to school where there are a lot of minorities. We actually moved to school district that was more diverse because my daughter is Chinese and we didn't want her to be the only one at her school. What was the biggest challenge craft-wise in writing BLACKBIRD FLY? How did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was working with a character who was a lot like me. She infuriated me at times. I
wanted to shake her and say, “Don’t pay attention to what other people think!” But really, it wasn’t Apple I wanted to shake. It was 12-year-old Erin. Luckily, Erin of Today doesn’t care as much.
I overcame it by taking my own advice: I just wrote.

5. That's funny that you had to relive your younger self. Not sure I could do that. Share a bit about how you developed Apple’s middle grade voice. And voice is so important in writing middle grade stories. Do you have any advice for the rest of us on getting our characters’ voices right?

Every writer has their own unique voice. The trick is to find the right story for it. It’s been a long time since I was in middle school, but the feelings are still very palpable to me—probably because it was a terrible period of my life. I put those feelings into the work. I also read a lot of middle-grade fiction. I read a lot of adult literary fiction too, but I don’t think I could write an adult novel. My voice isn’t right for it, and I have no interest in writing about grown-ups.

You have to be able to hear your characters, and your personal writing style has to lend itself to what they have to say.

6. You also write short stories and flash fiction. Did writing them help you when you started writing novels and BLACKBIRD FLY? How?

Any time you write something, you become a better writer. (In my opinion, at least). That’s especially true when it comes to short stories and flash fiction. They’re fantastic ways to hone writing skills, expand creative horizons, and learn how to handle acceptance and rejection. It also keeps the creative train moving when other projects stall. I’ve also met a lot of excellent writers through the flash fiction and short story circuit.

7. I so agree that we grow as we write. Your agent is Sara Crowe. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.

My first agent was with a boutique agency, and I found her through the usual query. She had no revisions, so we went on submission right away. The rejections came quickly, but they were invaluable to the process. Many of the editors included detailed information on why they passed and what could make the book better. So I rewrote and revised, and we went on submission again. A few months later, an offer came from Greenwillow. It was surreal.

Not long after that, I realized that my agent and I had different POVs on how to move forward with my career. I ultimately decided that I needed an agent with a solid background in MG/YA. And if anyone knows the market, it’s Sara Crowe. After I parted ways with my agent, I sent Sara a query letter and she responded within minutes. In less than 24 hours, I’d signed with her. And I’m thrilled to this day.

8. Wow! That's an amazing agent story. What are your marketing plans for your book?

Right now, my marketing plans involve the usual book signings and readings. But I’d really love to use BLACKBIRD FLY as a platform to promote causes that I care about. I’d love to partner with a school or independent bookstore to launch a creative writing club for elementary school students. I’d also love to partner with an anti-bullying organization—not necessarily to promote BLACKBIRD FLY, but to promote the greater message that the book is trying to send.

9. Those are great marketing ideas. What are you working on now?

Soon I’ll start edits on my second book, THE LAND OF FORGOTTEN GIRLS, which comes out in 2016. I’m also halfway through my third novel. Stay tuned!

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

Twitter: @erinkellytweets

Erin and her publisher Greenwillow Press generously offered 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 April 4th. I’ll announce the winner on April 6th. 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 and Canada.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. Find all the other middle grade bloggers on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by Caroline Rose Starr and a giveaway of  BLUE BIRDS, her new MG historical novel.

Next Tuesday I'll be participating in the Fools for Books Giveaway Hop. I'll have lots of great book choices for you.

Wednesday that week I'll have a guest post by publicist Samantha Lien and a 15 minute marketing consultation contest.

The following Monday I'll have an interview with debut author Fonda Lee and a giveaway of ZEROBOXER, her YA science-fiction book.

And the Monday after that, Alex Cavanaugh will be here to share about his new adult science fiction book, DRAGON OF THE STARS, and to give advice about social media and blogging.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Theresa Milstein said...

Congratulations to the winners of all those great giveaways.
I'm excited for Paul Greci. I've read other titles from the publishing company, Move Books, and I was really impressed.
Nice to meet Erin here. I liked hearing how her book evolved. The child being caught between the old world and the new is timeless. Now it's got a rock-and-roll spin!

Liz Brooks said...

Hmm, this sounds very interesting. Thanks for sharing! I actually have a family friend who is Filipino, and she cooks the best food for our Christmas and Thanksgiving meals. She'd probably love this book. :) And Sara Crowe sounds like a great agent; I actually queried her a few days ago, so we'll see what comes of that.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Congrats to Erin. One of my best friends in high school was Filipino, so I understand some of what Apple has to deal with. The cover is darling.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like a great story! Apple sounds like a great character :)

Greg Pattridge said...

The cover looks great as does the story after reading your post. Her agent finding process was interesting. I also liked that revisions made her story marketable for a publisher. Thanks for the interview and for her insights.

Christine Rains said...

Congratulations to Erin and to all the winners! The story sounds fantastic. Writing from what we know gives characters powerful voices.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Congrats, Erin. It does make a difference when you can tap into that moment in time and make the voice ring true.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Congrats, Erin. I agree that voice is really very important in MG Fiction. Its difficult to nail that voice!

Michael G-G said...

What a great interview. I am intrigued about Erin's novel--as the theme of being an outsider is one with which I am very familiar. Thanks for introducing me to this writer and this novel, Natalie.

Michael G-G said...

Oh, and hooray fro Paul Greci. He's a fellow Project Mayhem writer, and SURVIVING BEAR ISLAND is a compelling read. I'll be featuring it on my own blog soon.

DL Hammons said...

Fantastic interview. I think Erin has a winner with Blackbird Fly! :)

Angela Brown said...

Three cheers to Erin for BLACKBIRD FLY. I enjoyed the interview. As always, it's interesting to see the various steps we writers/authors take on our paths to publication.

Stephen Tremp said...

I didn;t see a Kindle version for Surviving Bear Island. Will there be one? Looks like a book my kids would enjoy.

cleemckenzie said...

I'll bet Paul's story is gripping. The cover says it will be. Congrats to him on his debut.

Also very nice to read the interview with Erin. All the best of luck.

Karen Lange said...

Congrats to Paul; his book looks great. Thanks for the intro to Erin. I agree, growth as a writer is so important. I'll pass on the giveaway, thanks. Have a great week!

Beth said...

Great interview - and I love the story of how Erin got her agent! Congratulations on the publication of this book.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Love your advice (Just write) and your ideas for creating an anti-bullying campaign! Congratulations on your book!

Caryn Caldwell said...

Great interview! I loved Erin's agent story, and her book sounds wonderful! Congratulations on the BLACKBIRD FLY release!

Rosi said...

I really enjoyed the interview. The book sounds wonderful, but I will pass on the giveaway. My TBR pile totters dangerously. Thanks for the post.

Anita Saxena said...

Congrats Paul and Erin on your debuts!

Paul Greci said...

The ebook of Surviving Bear Island should be available soon.
Thanks for asking!!

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Theresa!

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Lee!

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Karen!

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Anita!

Paul Greci said...

Thanks for mention of Surviving Bear Island! I just love the online writer-community. It is where I've met many of my critique partners. To celebrate the release of Surviving Bear Island, my publisher will be giving away five copies of my book via a post on my wordpress blog (Northwriter) on March 25. Please stop by and enter the Giveaway. :-)

Paul Greci said...

Thanks, Michael!

Emily R. King said...

Both these MG's sound great, but in different ways!

Emily R. King said...

Both these MG's sound great, but in different ways!

Vanessa Morgan said...

Surviving Bear Island souns really fun and action-packed. Should be a great read.

Kirsti Call said...

I can't wait to read Blackbird Fly...sounds amazing!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Best of luck to Erin!

Cynthia said...

Congratulations, Erin, on your new book! Just from reading the blurb, I could feel the angst that Apple must be experiencing while she goes through middle school!

Cynthia said...

Congratulations, Erin, on your new book! Just from reading the blurb, I could feel the angst that Apple must be experiencing while she goes through middle school!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

It's great to get that kind of support from both parents. And I love the cover, Erin.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read Erin's book. Many of her memories from childhood mirror mine.

I hope Paul's book comes out in ebook format. I look forward to reading it.

TBM said...

I love it when author's let their story develop naturally. Sounds like an interesting read.

~Sia McKye~ said...

I think it's important for authors to recognize the type of stories that their voice is is suited to. I don't know if I could write MG. YA, perhaps but my voice is better suited for adult stories. It was interesting to read your thoughts on this. :-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Danielle H. said...

A character's voice is so important and is the main reason I love/don't love a story. Thanks for the giveaway and I tweeted: https://twitter.com/dhammelef/status/580788903583440897

M Pax said...

Not sure I'd want to relive my younger life, kudos to you authors who do. Congrats to Erin.

Jocelyn Rish said...

I definitely wouldn't want to relive my middle school years - probably why I write YA, since I was slightly less pathetic in high school. :-) I also love writing short stories and flash fiction, so it's interesting reading that Erin helped hone her craft that way.

Lydia Kang said...

I never get tired of hearing stories about how people got their first book deals. The book sounds wonderful! (Also--so cool to see Control ads on your blog! Wow.

Empty Nest Insider said...

Thanks for hosting two wonderful debut authors, Natalie! I especially enjoyed your interview with Erin! Wishing Paul and Erin much success!


Cherie Reich said...

Congrats, Erin! Your book sounds wonderful! And I love the story on how you found your current agent.

Jessica Lawson said...

Great interview questions and answers! Loved hearing about the background of BLACKBIRD FLY and Erin's journey. Thanks, ladies!

DMS said...

I love the cover of Blackbird Fly! It sounds like a great book and I enjoyed learning about how the story changed and took shape. So glad Erin found an agent who shared her vision. Thanks so much for the giveaway. :)

Unknown said...

It's so wonderful that Erin has written this book that reflects her personal insights of being the "other." I'm a huge fan of diversity in books. Congrats to Erin on her new release! :)

Arlee Bird said...

Best wishes to Erin. I like the colors on the book cover.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Mary Holm said...

Your book sounds amazing, Erin. I can definitely relate because I grew up in an Italian immigrant family and went through a lot the same heartaches and loneliness being the kid who was "different." Can't wait to read Apple's story.

Unknown said...

I could relate to this book so well. Some parts were hard to read. Highly recommended for teachers and libraries who want to expand their diverse book collection, and for anyone who is a "misfit."

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