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 had a fantastic Thanksgiving weekend. I did. I feel like I have so much to be grateful for--including having wonderful friends like you all.

Some Info to Share

Gift Giving Idea: Masterclass asked me to let you know about their James Patterson Masterclass as a gift idea for your writer friends. The class includes over 22 online classes, a workbook, and interactive exercises. In addition, they offer online gift giving and physical gift cards that if ordered by December 13th will arrive by December 23rd. For more information, go to masterclass.com.

Contest Alert: YA! 2015 is a writing contest for YA authors. Prizes include a full line edit of a manuscript, a one-hour consultation with a notable book consultation, and cash. The deadline to enter is December 31, 2015. For contest rules and other details, go to the contest website, YA! 2015.


I'm thrilled to share that follower Kristin Lenz won the 2015 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize and will have her YA novel The Art of Holding On and Letting Go published by Elephant Rock Books (ERB) in Fall 2016.

Today I'm excited to have Dorine White here to celebrate the release of her new MG fantasy, THE DIAMOND LOOKING GLASS that recently released.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Beauty and the Beast.

The world knows it as a cartoon with dancing teacups and broomsticks. To twelve year old Claire La Fleur, it is family history, and the power behind Belle’s mirror is real. Every ten years her family gathers to see if the mirror will awaken, and for the last two hundred years it has slept.

This time, Claire’s touch awakens the magic within the diamond looking glass, a direct portal to the past and a way to communicate with Cleopatra, the last pharaoh of Egypt. The lure of power brings with it many perils, and a betrayal close to home thrusts Claire into a treacherous underworld. To protect the mirror, she travels into the Louvre museum in the dark of night, searches abandoned subway tunnels, and walks the catacombs of the dead.
Welcome to Paris, France - where danger follows in every step. 

So here's Dorine!

To celebrate the publication of Book 3 in the Cleopatra’s Legacy Series- The Diamond Looking Glass, I’d like to share with you things I’ve learned about self-publishing. I’m giving away all three books to one lucky reader!

My journey began after book one, The Emerald Ring, was published by a traditional publisher. The editor had book two, The Ruby Pendant, but they wouldn’t send me a contract until numbers rolled in. Unfortunately, the book came out at the end of May, and they decided by the end of August that they didn’t have the numbers. I realized I’d fallen into a middle grade hole. You see, I had school book tours arranged for the fall, but they wanted numbers over the summer, which is hard for a middle grade author to get. Truth, unless you’re in Scholastic, you better do school visits to move your book. I’m sure it surprised them when numbers rolled in once school started, but by then it was too late.

So, I found myself on another journey, self-publishing. My second book was fully self-published by me. The third book that just came out is through a hybrid publisher that uses many of the same tools I learned will self-publishing.

When I started the journey, I looked around at self-publishing options. I knew I wanted print-on-demand so it would be just like ordering any other book, and I knew I wanted it to be for sale at both Amazon and B & N.
At the time, Book Baby did not offer POD (now they do), so I chose Create space.

The next thing I learned- hire a professional cover artist! Why? Because covers are what cause a reader to pick up your book or click on the Amazon link. Do not try to do it yourself. Those types of covers do stand out, but in the wrong way.  They are so obvious and stock art only gives your cover one dimension.

You need to be picky too. On The Ruby Pendant, I used Create space to design the cover. It cost me $500, so you'd think it would have been amazing. Nope, it was horrible. They even make me pay for additional changes. This was my first experience, so I didn't know what to do. I went ahead and used their art, and bam, I got slammed in the reviews.

For my next book, a friend sent me the links to several professional cover artists. I was able to look at their online portfolios and see their talent for myself. I had a wonderful experience and the cover was amazing. I even rehired the artist to redo the original cover of The Ruby Pendant. It is 100% better and looks like part of the series. Let me show you. The first cover is the original and the second is from the cover artist. 

Here is his link http://www.walkingstickbooks.com/
for future reference.

The next thing I learned was through a slightly different experience. You need to hire a copy editor. This will probably cost you around $1200 plus. Put it in your budget and don't think a friend is the better option. A good self-published book needs to be just as lean and sharp as a book published by a New York Publishing House. I see way too many errors in self-published books and it makes me put them right down. I used Amazon’s editing services for my books, and it worked well, but if you are a newbie author and haven’t found your way yet, I suggest a book doctor. You’ll need more help than the simple editing services at Amazon.

Here is the experience that helped me understand this principle. I just finished working with someone on a developmental edit (something I totally recommend). They even had a professional artist do their cover, but when it came time for the copy edits, they didn't want to spend the money, so a friend said they'd do it for free. When this book appeared on Amazon I was so excited. I ordered a copy immediately and was thrilled that I had worked on the book.

 I was shocked when I opened it. Within the first 10 pages there were 3 errors! Obvious, huge errors that involved both spelling and grammar. I was so upset. Not just because I'd put my name out there recommending the book, but because errors are just not acceptable. One maybe in a whole book, but 3 within the first few pages. Ugh! If you want a professional book, pay for the edit, and when that's done, read through it one more time, because you will find something they missed.

One other thing, the marketing and selling is all up to you. I found out for myself it was basically the same as what I’d had to do with book one and the small traditional publisher. You do all the work. For middle grade, that means school visits. Thank you for your time, and don’t forget to find your own magic.

Dorine White


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

Author Website- http://www.dorinewhite.com/
Blog- The Write Path- http://www.dorinewhite.blogspot.com/
Twitter @Dorinewhite- https://twitter.com/DorineWhite
Facebook Author Page- https://www.facebook.com/dorinewhite

Dorine is generously offering all the books in Cleopatra's Legacy to one lucky winner. o 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 December 12thIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have an interview with our followers and debut authors Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson and a giveaway of their MG mystery THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW.

The following Monday I have follower Tyrean Martinson here with a guest post and a giveaway of her new YA fantasy CHAMPIONS DESTINY.

Then I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop on Sunday, December 20th.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great start of the week and a fun holiday weekend planned. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

First, I want to let you know that WordTango (see the ad on the left sidebar) is offering a fantastic discount to our followers. They are offering a 25% discount on a  query writing class until Tuesday, November 24th. To take advantage of this offer, go to wordtango.com/weekend-query and use the code "LitRambles".

Today I have something different for you. Kim Briggs is here with a guest post. She's also offering a giveaway of her NA thriller AND THEN HE.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Mature audiences only and not for the faint of heart.

AND THEN HE combines sex and evil in all the right ways. Think "Bared to You" meets "Misery."

The fifth year reunion. Tiffani thought she’d suck the lifeblood out of a dozen exotic locations by her fifth year reunion. She certainly didn’t envision herself as a diner waitress serving giant slices of pie to diabetic townies. The best-selling author she planned to become now writing, “Hold the pickles.” Yet limited funds, monstrous debt, and a high school sweetheart with big league ambitions of his own force her to set aside her own dreams. She soon discovers loneliness is a seductive mistress.

Enter sexy stranger.

Tiffani spends most of the reunion with Jeb, a classmate she doesn’t even remember. He awakens a hunger in her that both frightens and excites her. Tiffani mistakes Jeb’s lifelong obsession for love at first sight and soon finds herself a prisoner, but it’s a hot, steamy trip to get there.

Now here's Kim!


Pushing a book towards Submission/Publication takes work. A lot of work. And it takes heart. More heart and sweat and tears than youve put into anything else youve ever worked on.

The Submission/Publication Process is brutal. Your book should be as near perfect as you can make it before you even consider subbing it out to Agents and/or Editors or publishing it on your own, but youre not alone on your journey. For one, you have me. Ill cheer for you and happy dance for you when you get good news, and Ill pat you on the shoulder and offer you cyber chocolate when your dreamed YESturns into the dreaded NO.And two, Ive shared with you my final steps of the journey that made all the difference.

KIMS FINAL STEP BEST ADVICE: View your manuscripts in different mediums.


Kindle allows anyone to send a document from their Amazon email to their Kindle/Kindle App email. I
LOVE the ability to read my story this way. I can take it to the gym and read it on the Elliptical. I can read it in my car. I can read it wherever and whenever the mood strikes me. This medium also allows me the ability to read my story tinkering with every little word and period.

Keep a notepad close by to take notes. Then later, you can decide if you need to work on little things or if you need to change the passage/chapter/sentence/word entirely.

If you dont own a Kindle, download the Kindle App on your computer, your phone, your IPAD. Im not familiar with Nooks but they may offer a similar option.

KINDLE DOCUMENT DOWNLOAD HOW TO: (Amazon provides directions. I just simplified the process.)
            1. Sign into your Amazon Account.
            2. Go into Manage your Content and Devices.
            3. Select Settings.
            4. Page down until you get to Personal Document Settings.
            5. Then Send-to-Kindle E-Mail Address Settings.
                        **Amazon assigned you a Kindle email address when you registered your device or app. Each device and app has its own email address.
            6. Page down a bit more to Approved Personal Document Email List
                        **When you opened your Amazon account, you added an email address. This is different than the assigned Amazon Kindle address. You have the ability to add email addresses but you must be logged into your Amazon account and in Send-to-Kindle Email Address Settings to do so.

SENDING A DOCUMENT TO YOUR KINDLE DEVICE: Okay, now with these TWO addresses in hand, you can send a document to your device.

            1. Attach your document. IT MUST BE A WORD DOC or PDF. 
                        *Amazon claims you can send a Zip file. I have an older Kindleit doesnt work for me, but my device might be too old to read it.
                        **If you have Pages or some other type of writing program, you need to export it into a Word Doc or PDF.
            2. Send an email using the correct RECIPIENT address and the correct SENDER address or it wont work.
            3. Itll take a few minutes to download onto your Kindle.
    If the document comes up jumbled, resend the document as a WORD Doc or PDF. Play around and see what works.
    If the document doesnt load onto your Kindle, make sure your WIFI is turned on.
    Check the Settings option in the Menu and sync your device.
    If it still doesnt work, double check all the addresses and make sure youre sending from the email Amazon identifies as yours. You might need to go back to Manage your Content and Devices.

2. LISTEN TO IT: The ability to listen to your manuscript is invaluable. You should read your manuscript to yourselfespecially the dialogue to make sure it flows naturally, but you should also listen to it as an Audio book to pick up on any nuances or problems you might otherwise miss.

I use Natural Reader. A friend recommended it to me, and Im hooked.

The Free Natural Reader app can be downloaded on any device. It will read 5,000 words of your document for free. Then it will ask you if you want to upgrade. Click, No thanksand press play again. Itll read the next 5,000 words, before you need to start the No thanksprocess all over again, but it will eventually read your entire document.

Natural Reader allows you to select the voice and the speed at which the document is read to you.

The Upgraded Version includes more voices and will read continuously. There are also some additional features available, but the Free version works great and did I mention its FREE?

Heres the link to Natural Reader: http://www.naturalreaders.com/index.html

You can also go into the App Store and download it. 

3. PRINT OPTION 1: I like to get my hands on my book. Im a visual, hands-on kinda girl, so I need this part of the process.

            1. Duplicate your documentor Save As to create a new document that you can manipulate.
            2. In the new document, change the font. Set the margins at 1. Set the printer options to TWO pages per sheet, and print out that masterpiece!
            3. I fold the pages in half and binder clip the entire document. The end product looks like a books. I use those in-between blank pages as notes or rewrites.

4. PRINT OPTION 2: When I want to look at my entire storywhere chapter breaks fall, page layout, length of chapters Big Picture Visual Stuff, I go into my printer options and set the printer preferences to 9 pages per sheet. I print out the document and lay it out on the floor.

I find this method especially helpful at the end of the journey to really double check and triple check to make sure the visual impression of the book is as powerful as the written expression.

I also examine my first lines and last lines of chapters to make sure that theyre strong and powerfulreaders NEED to keep reading the story because she MUST know what happens next.
And finally, when youve gone through these steps a few times, yep, you read that right, a FEW times, and your Critique Group/Beta Readers have read it, and youve gone back through your manuscript and fixed everything and started the FINAL STEPS TOWARDS SUBMISSION/PUBLICATION all over again, then, my friend, you are ready to hit SUBMIT/PUBLISH. Good luck and may the Writing Force be with you!

If you have any tips youd like to share, PLEASE leave a comment. I love learning new things! And be sure to stay in touch!

Write on,
Kim Briggs

Blog: All Things Writing http://kimbriggs.blogspot.com

AND THEN HE Amazon Link:

Kim  generously donated a copy of AND THEN HE 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 December 5thIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by Dorine White and a giveaway of a book in her MG fantasy Cleopatra's Legacy series.

The following Monday I have an interview with our followers and debut authors Jessica Haight and Stephanie Robinson and a giveaway of their MG mystery THE SECRET FILES OF FAIRDAY MORROW.

The following Monday I have follower Tyrean Martinson here with a guest post and a giveaway of her new YA fantasy CHAMPIONS DESTINY.

Then I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop on Sunday, December 20th.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Laura Wolfe here to share about her YA mystery TRAIL OF SECRETS. It sounds like a fantastic mystery with high stakes.

Here's the Back Cover Blurb:

Spending three weeks of her summer at the elite Foxwoode Riding Academy in northern Michigan should have been one of the happiest times of sixteen year-old Brynlei’s life. But from the moment Brynlei arrives at Foxwoode, she can’t shake the feeling she’s being watched. Then she hears the story of a girl who vanished on a trail ride four years earlier. While the other girls laugh over the story of the dead girl who haunts Foxwoode, Brynlei senses that the girl—or her ghost—may be lurking in the shadows.

Brynlei’s quest to reveal the truth interferes with her plan to keep her head down and win Foxwoode’s coveted “Top Rider” award. To make things worse, someone discovers Brynlei’s search for answers and will go to any length to stop her. As Brynlei begins to unravel the facts surrounding the missing girl’s disappearance, she is faced with an impossible choice. Will she protect a valuable secret? Or save a life?

Now here's Laura!

Small Press Publishing: What to Expect

Small presses can open doors for authors who may not otherwise find a home for their books. For anyone considering publication by a small press, here are a few things I've learned from working with Fire and Ice YA, the small press that recently published my young adult mystery, Trail of Secrets:

* Expect to receive personal attention from a small press

Editors at small presses will likely consult with their authors every step of the way. Prior to the publication of Trail of Secrets, I worked with a cover designer to create a cover that matched my vision and I retained the power to veto edits with which I disagreed. Even months later, all of my questions and concerns are answered directly by the owners of the company. With a small press I feel like an important member of the team, rather than just another number.

* Expect to become a part of the small press "family"

One of the best things about working with a small press is getting to know other authors published by the same press. The authors I've met through Fire and Ice are now some of my biggest supporters. Small presses can make it easy for authors to connect through Facebook groups, twitter lists, and blog opportunities. Additionally, small presses are loyal to their authors. They want to see authors succeed and grow. Once an author is published by a small press, that press is much more likely to publish other manuscripts the author submits to them in the future.

* Don't expect books published by a small press to be on the shelves at Barnes & Noble

…Or any other bookstore for that matter. The same goes for libraries. Many small presses publish
print books only "on-demand", meaning the books cannot be ordered in bulk and held in a distribution warehouse. While small press authors should contact independent bookstores and libraries to try to get their books on the shelves, they should also be realistic about the limited shelf space for print-on-demand books and the amount of time it takes to sell books to individual stores.

* Don't expect a small press to do any marketing

Any marketing a small press does for their authors should be considered a gift. Other than Fire and Ice posting the cover of Trail of Secrets on their website and sending out a few tweets, I've done all of the marketing for my book. On the positive side, I've learned a TON in the last two months about how to promote my book. I now know how to create a book trailer. I'm confident approaching bookstores and libraries. I'm becoming a #twitter expert. This is knowledge I'll be able to utilize for future book releases.

I urge aspiring authors to consider the benefits and drawbacks before publishing with a small press. For me, working with a small pres has been a positive experience!

Thanks for the great advice, Laura. You can find Laura at:

Trail of Secrets Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Trail-Secrets-Laura-Wolfe-ebook/dp/B0140IYJTU
Trail of Secrets Barnes & Noble.com link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/trail-of-secrets-laura-wolfe/1122541114
Trail of Secrets Smashwords link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/569829
Author website: http://www.AuthorLauraWolfe.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LauraCWolfe
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorLauraWolfe
Blog: http://WritingwithLaura.wordpress.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1908042.Laura_Wolfe

Author Bio: Laura Wolfe is a lover of animals and nature. When she is not writing, she can be found playing games with her highly-energetic kids, riding horses, growing vegetables in her garden, or spoiling her rescue dog. She lives in her home state of Michigan with her husband, son, and daughter. She holds a BA in English from the University of Michigan and a JD from DePaul University. In addition to Trail of Secrets, Laura's writing has been published in multiple magazines, including Practical Horseman. Her picture book, Henrietta's Hoof Polish, is forthcoming from another small press—Guardian Angel Publishing.

Laura generously donated a copy of TRAIL OF SECRETS 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 28thIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday  I have a guest post by Kim Briggs and a giveaway of her NA thriller AND THEN HE.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Dorine White and a giveaway of a book in her MG fantasy Cleopatra's Legacy series.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Saturday Everyone! Hope you're having a fantastic weekend.

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the Gratitude Giveaways Hop sponsored by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and BookHounds I always love this giveaway hop because it is an opportunity to say thank you to all you wonderful followers. I so appreciate that you follow our blog and the friendships I've developed with many of you.

 This year I'm making this giveaway simple. I'm offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one lucky winner to purchase a gift for someone else or themselves.

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower however you choose and leave a comment through November 30th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments.

You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Here's what's coming up:
Next  Monday I have a guest post by author Laura Wolfe and a giveaway of her YA ghost story TRAIL OF SECRETS.

The Monday after that I have a guest post by Kim Briggs and a giveaway of her NA thriller AND THEN HE.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Dorine White and a giveaway of a book in her MG fantasy Cleopatra's Legacy series.

Hope to see you on Monday!

Here's all the other blogs participating in this Blog Hop:
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Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Ryan Dalton here to share about his YA fantasy THE YEAR OF LIGHTENING that releases on January 12, 2016. It sounds like a really unique fantasy story.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

When 15-year-old twins Malcolm and Valentine Gilbert moved to a new town, they never imagined that the old house across the street could bring them so much trouble. A secret machine has reawakened inside, with the power to pierce time itself.

Meanwhile, lightning storms are breaking out all over town. They’re getting worse every week, and seem to enjoy striking kids who just want to pass science class and mind their own business. When Malcolm and Valentine discover a connection between the house and the storms, their situation goes from mysterious to crazy stupid dangerous. Someone is controlling the great machine, and their purpose is nearly complete.

In a race against time, the twins must uncover the chilling plan, the mastermind behind it, and the force that’s driving the deadly storms. They’ll hunt a powerful enemy that threatens their town’s existence, and the only clues are written in the sky.

Now here's Ryan!

Building Sci-Fi and Fantasy Worlds that Captivate Your Readers

The worlds you create can be characters in themselves. Since this is especially true for science fiction and fantasy, it’s important that we give special attention to creating worlds that are immersive and compelling. So here are four elements you might consider when building your sci-fi or fantasy world.

1 – Is your story set in the “real” world, or an alternate one?
This decision will greatly affect how much you need to create. If you’re basing the story in our world, then once you’ve picked a time period and location, you’ll need to determine how much reader knowledge you can leverage and how much will be fictional (that’s the part you’ll need to build). For instance, basing a story in our world, or even almost our world, means you can likely take a few elements for granted–general geography and history, races, animal species, religion, government, basic physics and astronomy. If you’re creating a completely alternate world, these are all elements you’ll need to consider–yes, even physics, if your world is different enough.

Not that all of these should receive equal attention. You don’t have to figure out every minute detail
of an entire world. In fact, you shouldn’t do that, or you may end up so bogged down in world building that you never actually write the story. This is a trap that many aspiring sci-fi and fantasy writers have fallen into, so don’t make the same mistake. What you should do is give those details enough attention for your world to function logically, and for it to support the story you want to tell. For instance, The Hunger Games partly addresses how its future world supports itself by tasking districts with the provision of specific resources. Suzanne Collins spends little time explaining exactly how it works, but we see enough to believe there’s a functional system.

2 – What’s your “magic system” and what are its boundaries?
The term magic system is more commonly associated with fantasy, but in a broad sense it can be applied to sci-fi as well. In fantasy it refers to some form of actual magic, while in sci-fi it often means fictional technology. For example, Mistborn’s “allomancy” is a magic system based on ingesting and metabolizing metals, while Across the Universe applies principles of interstellar travel and cryogenics. Whatever system you choose for your story, if any, it’s supremely important that you know how that system works. What does the system do, and how is it done? What are its benefits and liabilities? Are there side effects? Who can use it? What are the rules, and where might they be bent or broken? What are the consequences of bending or breaking them? How can the system be subverted or defeated? Are there any aspects of the system that haven’t been discovered yet? How big an impact does the magic system have on your world? For instance, Red Rising is wholly dependent on specific technology for the story to work, and magic is an integral element of Shadow and Bone. Alternately, for Bone Gap and Before I Fall, the magic systems help facilitate the story but their influence on the world is much more subtle.

Whatever you do, stick to the system and don’t cheat, or the reader will feel cheated. Readers love their magic systems, especially when those systems hold up under scrutiny. When they can let themselves believe, it makes the story that much more immersive. So make sure that you’re using the system correctly–which can be harder than it sounds, especially when it stands in the way of a plot point you really want to keep. Trust me, though. Your story will be stronger for the extra effort you put into it.

3 – Why now, and why here?
This relates to how your story conveys a sense of urgency. You’ve built or leveraged an entire world’s worth of history. So, whatever setting you choose, why is your story happening then and there, instead of some other time and place? Build your world in a way that makes the story feel inevitable instead of arbitrary. This can heighten your story’s urgency and its uniqueness, giving each event more weight in the eyes of the reader, which will help them keep turning the page.

4 – What matters most?
While world building is a key component of successful sci-fi and fantasy, some perspective is needed, because it’s not the most important key. Voice, story, character–those matter regardless of your genre. Yes your world needs to work, and yes it should be as interesting and awesome as you can possibly make it. Ultimately, though, people don’t read books just because of the worlds they exist in. They read them because of the adventures you take them on inside those worlds.

To demonstrate how some of these can be applied, here are a few details about my sci-fi mystery novel, The Year of Lightning, which debuts January 12, 2016. The story is set in an almost identical version of our modern world, which meant I could leverage lots of existing knowledge. Then the main characters discover that time travel is not only possible, it’s happening right under their noses. The story explores what makes time travel possible, so I created a “magic system,” or a method of time travel that works within the boundaries of the world. The story also explores the implications of time manipulation, what could be done with it, how it affects the world when it’s used, and what could happen when that ability falls into the wrong hands. Two more books will follow, and each will explore different aspects of time manipulation and the deeper implications of its use.

If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed by the demands of world building, don’t. Stop, take a breath, and refocus on what your story really needs to make it work. Start building your world around those needs and then expand from there. That will help you keep the right perspective and avoid being distracted by over-building. Also, have fun with it! Let your imagination come out to play. You never know what it may come up with, and sometimes the smallest details can give your story that extra bit of magic.

Now, suit up and get writing!

Also, thanks so much to Literary Rambles for inviting me to contribute. In my early days of working toward publication, this website was a huge part of my education about the publishing industry, and it’s an honor to give back.

In case you’re interested, here’s some information about me and the Time Shift Trilogy.

Twitter: @iRyanDalton
FB: www.facebook.com/ryandaltonwrites
Website: www.ryandaltonwrites.com
Insta: @RyanDalton
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24660093-the-year-of-lightning
Amazon page for The Year of Lightning: http://www.amazon.com/Year-Lightning-Time-Shift-Trilogy/dp/1631630504/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445917040&sr=8-1&keywords=year+of+lightning

Ron has generously offered an ARC of THE YEAR OF LIGHTENING 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 21stIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

On Saturday I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop.

Next  Monday I have a guest post by author Laura Wolfe and a giveaway of her YA ghost story TRAIL OF SECRETS.

The Monday after that I have a guest post by Kim Briggs and a giveaway of her NA thriller AND THEN HE.

The following Monday I have a guest post by Dorine White and a giveaway of a book in her Cleopatra's Legacy series.

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you had a fantastic Halloween.

Today I’m thrilled to have Laura Resau here to share about her new MG multicultural THE LIGHTNING QUEEN. It’s set in 1950’s Mexico and sounds really good.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Nothing exciting happens on the Hill of Dust, in the remote mountains of Mexico in the 1950s. There's no electricity, no plumbing, no cars, just day after day of pasturing goats. And now, without his sister and mother, eleven-year-old Teo's life feels even more barren. And then one day, the mysterious young Esma, who calls herself the Gypsy Queen of Lightning, rolls into town like a fresh burst of color. Against all odds, her caravan's Mistress of Destiny predicts that Teo and Esma will be longtime friends. Suddenly, life brims with possibility. With the help of a rescued duck, a three-legged skunk, a blind goat, and other allies, Teo and Esma must overcome obstacles-even death-to fulfill their impossible destiny. Inspired by true stories derived from rural Mexico, The Lightning Queen offers a glimpse of the encounter between two fascinating but marginalized cultures--the Rom and the Mixtec Indians--while telling the heart-warming story of an unlikely friendship that spans generations. 

Hi Laura! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I was born and raised in Maryland, and then spent a decade traveling and living in Europe and Latin America, and around North America. My travel adventures inspire my writing, and I keep detailed notebook journals of my experiences and stories people share. I’ve been avidly creative-writing since I was in second grade, but it wasn’t until I moved to Mexico that I started writing my first novel that would eventually be published. (WHAT THE MOON SAW.) Now I live with my husband, young son, and beagle in Colorado, where we like riding bikes, wandering by the river, playing guitar and ukulele, and camping in our little vintage trailer. And we all love to travel!

2. That's great you've had the experience of travelling widely to draw on. Where did you get the idea for THE LIGHTNING QUEEN?

While living and doing anthropology research in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, I became friends with a 96-year-old indigenous Mixtec healer. On the first day we met, she gave me a limpia (spiritual cleaning) and told me about the gitanos (Gypsies/Romani) who used to visit her village decades earlier. She said I reminded her of the Gypsy women, and recounted how they would come in caravans to tell fortunes and show outdoor movies. It was an incredibly exciting event for her village-- she and her community loved the gitanos. However, in other, more urban, areas of Mexico, and around the world, the Romani have been persecuted and disparaged. I was interested in exploring the relationship between these two marginalized cultures (the Romani and the Mixteco) within Mexico. And I was enchanted by the mystical tales my healer friend told me about her encounters with the gitanos. I wove these stories and social justice issues into my novel, along with bits of oral history from other Mixtec friends.

3. What an awesome inspiration for your book. THE LIGHTNING QUEEN is set in 1950’s Mexico. I know you lived in Mexico for a time. How did living in Mexico help you in writing this story? And what advice do you have for other authors who want to write multicultural stories, but can’t visit or live in the country they’re writing about?

Living in rural Oaxaca, Mexico, enabled me to become fluent in Spanish, and to form meaningful friendships with indigenous people of all ages who had fascinating stories to tell and important experiences to share. Immersing myself in the smells and tastes and sounds of a culture help me bring it to life for my readers.

If you’re an author who wants to write multicultural stories, but can’t visit or live in the country
you’re writing about, I’d recommend you find some people in your community who are part of that culture. For example, you could volunteer at your local ESL classes and connect with people from that culture. Maybe you could offer to help them with their English if they help you with the cultural aspects of your story. I think that mutually beneficial and meaningful cross-cultural friendships are a great place to start.

Even though I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico, I still have “cultural-insider” friends check my details. One of my closest friends, Gloria Garcia Diaz, is a talented and dedicated native-Spanish-speaking and Mexican-born writer who lives in my town. She reviews my manuscripts, and in return, I mentor her in her own writing and help her navigate her journey in the world of publishing. We both highly value the role we play in each other’s writing life. I’d encourage all authors writing about other cultures to form these kinds of collaborative and mutually supportive relationships.

4. That's great advice. Share a bit about the stories from rural Mexico that you used in developing your story.

The true tale my healer friend recounted that inspired the book was this: When she was six years old, a gitana fortune-teller told her family that she would live a very long life. But then, shortly afterward, she caught a grave illness and died…. or so they thought. They were in the midst of mourning her body with prayers and candles, when a drop of candle wax fell onto her skin and she woke up! She told me her healing powers came from her time in the other realm. This story absolutely captivated me, and I reworked it a bit for the THE LIGHTNING QUEEN.

5. Wow! That's an amazing story about your friend. This is a middle grade story. You’ve also written picture books and a YA series. How is writing MG different from writing YA? Do you have any preference in what age group you write for?

I think that in my YA books, romance/love relationships are more central to the story, whereas with my middle-grade books, there’s more of an emphasis on friendship. I love writing for both age groups. I don’t necessarily set out to write a book for a particular audience. I just get an idea and start writing and trusting the voice that’s emerging. It soon becomes clear whether the book will be more YA or MG.

6. You’ve had a number of books published and even co-authored a book. Tell us about your road to publication and how you’ve been able to continue to sell so many books.

After about 11 rejections from agents and editors, I read in my SCBWI Bulletin that a new editor at Delacorte (Random House) was looking for manuscripts that seemed similar to the one I’d been shopping around (WHAT THE MOON SAW.) She loved the story and made me an offer, which I accepted. After that, a published author friend of mine referred me to her agent, who passed on it, but referred me to the amazingly wonderful woman who is now my agent, Erin Murphy. She artfully negotiated the eight book deals that followed over the past decade.

As far as how I sell books, that’s hard to say! I love writing. I don’t feel fully alive unless I’m involved in a creative project. I write from my heart. I approach writing with a sacred yet playful attitude. I make sure I’m prioritizing writing so that I continue to create more books. I’m very careful not to let social media suck me in too much-- that would be fatal to my personal creative process. Yet I do value the role that social media plays in helping me connect with readers. I’m just always trying to find the right balance!

7. Erin sounds like a fantastic agent. I met her at a conference once. Marketing is usually one of the least popular parts of an author’s job. Share what you’ve learned about marketing from promoting your books over the years.

As I mentioned, prioritize the actual creative writing. Use your freshest, most vital energy for writing your book. As far as promotion, I’ve been fortunate that a lot of schools read my books in the classroom, so I’ve been invited to do school visits all over the country. That’s been a great way to expand my audience and to meet my readers. I recommend connecting with other children’s and YA authors, librarians, teachers, book clubs, booksellers, and students, and forming supportive relationships with them. It’s always most meaningful to make in-person connections at conferences and events, but I’ve developed some really supportive online friendships as well. Word-of-mouth goes a long way…

8. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Most importantly, prioritize writing in your life. Set goals for yourself and plan steps to reach your goals. Post your goals somewhere you see them several times a day, and reflect on how you’re spending your time at any given moment. Is whatever you’re doing bringing you closer to reaching your goals?

9. What are you working on now?

I’m in the middle of another MG manuscript for Scholastic. It’s the second book in my two-book deal, but it’s a completely new story and cast of characters. Research for this one has been adventurous and delicious…. it’s involved a trip to the remote Amazon and a tour of a local chocolate shop.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Laura. You can find Laura at http://www.LauraResau.com .

Laura's publisher Scholastic generously offered an ARC of THE LIGHTNING QUEEN 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 14thIf your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

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 U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have a guest post by debut author Ryan Dalton and a giveaway of his YA science fiction mystery THE YEAR OF LIGHTENING.

The following Monday I have a guest post by author Laura Wolfe and a giveaway of her YA ghost story TRAIL OF SECRETS.

Hope to see you on Monday!