Welcome to Literary Rambles! While you’re rambling around and exploring the site enter for a chance to win:

THE CRYSTAL RIBBON through February 18th

SIREN SISTERS through February 18th

FROSTBLOOD AND SUZIE TOWNSEND QUERY CRITIQUE through Febrary 25th

THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE through March 4th

Linda Camacho Query Critique through March 11th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights With Query Critique Giveaways:

Kristy Hunter, Wednesday, March 22nd

AGENT PETER KNAPP AND AUTHOR MELANIE CONKLIN GUEST POST AND QUERY CRITIQUE AND COUNTING THYME GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone!

First, I'm participating in this MEME Blog Hop hosted by Christine Rains, C. Lee McKenzie, Tara Tyler
to encourage, inspire, and amuse you all. I accidentally posted my post a week early. Oops! So I'm posting it again in case you missed it. As many of you know, I've been going through so many changes over the last few years and I hate change. I thought I'd share part of an article on attitude from the newspaper that I taped on my fridge to help me through it. I'm not sure who the author is. Hope it inspires you too!

Attitude.
The longer I liver, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. 
                                       . . .
We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and this is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.


Today I'm excited to have debut author Melanie Conklin here with her agent Peter Knapp to share about Melanie's new MG contemporary COUNTING THYME and creating memorable characters.

Here's a blurb of COUNTING THYME from Goodreads:

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens family has to move to New York, thousands of miles away from Thyme’s best friend and everything she knows and loves. The island of Manhattan doesn’t exactly inspire new beginnings, but Thyme tries to embrace the change for what it is: temporary.

After Val’s treatment shows real promise and Mr. Owens accepts a full-time position in the city, Thyme has to face the frightening possibility that the move to New York is permanent. Thyme loves her brother, and knows the trial could save his life—she’d give anything for him to be well—but she still wants to go home, although the guilt of not wanting to stay is agonizing. She finds herself even more mixed up when her heart feels the tug of new friends, a first crush, and even a crotchety neighbor and his sweet whistling bird. All Thyme can do is count the minutes, the hours, and days, and hope time can bring both a miracle for Val and a way back home.


Now here's Melanie and Peter!

CHARACTERS TO LOVE

Melanie:
One of the things Pete and I have in common is a deep love of having our hearts crushed by great characters. We regularly commiserate over books that left us flat on the floor (hello, ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES!). We both love stories with characters that come to life, the kind of people who jump right off the page and demand to be heard. That’s not the easiest thing to write, so as an author it’s something that I study closely. How do you craft a character that readers can relate to? What makes that feeling tip over into love? For me, it’s honesty. Your character must bare their soul to connect.

Pete:
Yes, and I think pulling off honesty is tricky because real honesty is complicated, sometimes ugly and often contradictory. Something that immediately grabbed my attention about Counting Thyme is that our narrator, Thyme, is both hopeful and guilt-ridden; she wants desperately to move back home to San Diego, but it makes her feel terrible since returning home implies that her younger brother's clinical drug trial has somehow failed. The result is a sense of shame, which is a feeling that I think underlies a lot of the middle school experience. I think part of growing up is coming to terms with the fact that our emotions are in constant conflict with each other.

Melanie:
I wonder if maybe I haven’t finished growing up yet? Seriously, that middle school shame still hangs over
me to this day. When I talk to someone, I’m definitely thinking, “Do they like me? Do they think I’m weird?” I think the only difference now is that I’m much more okay with people thinking I’m strange, but middle grade characters are still obsessing over those feelings. In Ali Benjamin’s THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH, the main character, Suzy, struggles painfully with her awkwardness, and how she doesn’t fit in with her peers, who are admittedly harsh to Suzy’s nerdy ways. It can be hard to write those kind of scenes, but being honest about the pressures in school allows readers to connect to characters in a real, human way. Sometimes, it takes me many passes to drill down to the truth of the secondary characters, but their actions are just as important to the story as the main character’s. There should be surprises, secrets, and layers to every character in a story. A novel is like a chemical reaction—you add the characters, stir, and watch what happens!

Pete:
Yes! I love a story that unearths the hidden lives of its characters. This process of discovery is such an important part of Thyme’s journey because by finding out other characters’ secrets, she is forced to confront the gulf between what she knows about herself and what others know about her. Early on in the novel, Thyme tries to control this by compartmentalizing her life a little: she keeps her brother Val’s illness a secret from her classmates as a way of claiming some identity apart from the heartache of having a sick family member. On the one hand, I don’t think she’s entirely wrong to do so, and I think there is great value in this; on the other hand, that’s just now how identity works, at least in my experience. The different parts of our lives don’t fit neatly into separate boxes. It’s more like a plate of spaghetti.


Melanie:
As you can see, Pete likes conflicted characters as much as I do. I love it when I read a passage that stuns me with its honesty, especially if the character’s admissions aren't the “right thing” to say. The truth is, we all arrive at our choices by experiencing the full range of emotions. To make your characters real, they need to exhibit the full range of emotions—even the ones that are shameful or embarrassing. One of my favorite authors who is an absolute pro when it comes to characters with depth is Lynda Mullaly Hunt. Carley from ONE FOR THE MURPHYS is in a tough spot, having been placed with a foster family after domestic violence in her home. Some of the thoughts Carley has about what she deserves in life are absolutely heart-wrenching. But they ring with truth. I still wonder about Carley now—how she’s doing, where she lives. The more flawed you allow your character to be, the more I love them.

Pete:
Like Melanie, I love when a book's ending leaves me wondering about what happens next. There's closure, and the novel feels so specific and wonderful, but the end has to be a little ambiguous, too; it has to leave room for the characters to continue to grow and make choices and mess up from time to time. The ending in middle grade is so important because it has to resolve some of those central thematic questions while introducing the new ones that point the way forward for the hero. In some ways, I think a lot of middle grade is about coming to terms with all of the uncertainty life throws our way.


Melanie:
I feel like all of life is about coming to terms with uncertainty! Or maybe that’s just my life. Either way, that’s why I love writing through the middle grade lens. It’s a time when the wonders of the world are just opening up to our characters, and they are busy trying to find how they fit into that picture. Maybe that’s why middle grade is so accessible. The best books give us characters that we love getting to know at any age.

Melanie’s Links:
Website: http://www.melanieconklin.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MLConklin
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8041873.Melanie_Conklin
Tumblr: http://mlconklin.tumblr.com/
Contributor: www.kidliterati.com

Pete’s Links:
http://petejknapp.com/
http://www.newleafliterary.com/

Melanie has generously offered an ARC of COUNTING THYME for a giveaway and Peter is offering a  query critique. 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 March 12th. If you do not want to be included in the query critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If 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. The book giveaway is for U.S. and the query critique giveaway is international.

Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays was started by Shannon Messenger. Find all the other participating bloggers on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

On Friday I'm participating in the Lucky Is Reading Book Giveaway Hop.

Next Monday I have an interview with debut author Janet Summer Johnson and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY.

On Wednesday next week I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with agent Patricia Nelson and a query critique giveaway.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Andrew Brumbach and his agent Danielle Chiotti with a query critique giveaway by Danielle and an ARC giveaway of Andrew's MG historical adventure THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT.

Hope to see you on Friday!

KIMBERLEY GRIFFITHS LITTLE GUEST POST AND BANISHED GIVEAWAY

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have Kimberley Griffiths here to share about her new YA multicultural historical adventure BANISHED. I can't wait to read book 2 in this series set in the Middle East.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:


After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.

But the trek to Sariba comes with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her…secrets that will change everything.

This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden is fraught with love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.


Now here's Kimberley!

COMMON WRITERLY BEGINNER TICS

I’m so happy to be here at Literary Rambles today! Many thanks for helping me celebrate the release of BANISHED, Book 2 of the FORBIDDEN trilogy.

We wear a variety of hats as a writer: Creator, Drafter, Rewriter, Editor, Copyeditor, and Self-Imposed Critic—but don’t get them mixed up or you’ll make yourself nuts while you’re wearing the Creator hat, or run the risk of too much daydreaming during the Editor stage. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have the ability to pull our stories straight out of our minds and lay them all lovely and perfect on the page? Unfortunately, the technology for that hasn’t been invented yet.

Instead, we travel through these various stages of donning hats many times during the process of writing a book, back and forth and sometimes feeling like our brains have turned into scrambled eggs.

When you feel yourself ready to scream, try to put the manuscript/notes/editorial letters/critiques aside for a few hours or a day or two and give yourself a breather. Take a walk, read a book, have lunch with a friend, watch a favorite movie, brainstorm plot or character solutions with trusted family, friends, or other writers, and you’ll come back to the work feeling refreshed and raring to dive in again.

I’m here to advise you on a few of the most Common Beginner Tics while going through our writing stages.

Beginner tics are those mistakes we all make at one time or another, especially in the beginning of our practice as writers—and even published writers still make them during the Creator or Drafting stages. But it’s also true that published writers, with experience (perhaps even several books under their belts), do get better/faster at finding these problems, recognizing them, and then cutting and revising. Let’s get started.

Common Beginner Tic #1: 

Mistaking back-story for Story. Spend time with your setting and characters before you begin to write. Discover what happened to your characters before Chapter 1 begins. Know their goals, their pet peeves, their family, their best friend, their enemy, their secrets, their fears, their weaknesses and strengths. Once you know these aspects of your character’s lives you will automatically give them a richer, more fully fleshed out personality and emotions on the page.

You don’t have to tell the reader all these quirks and nuances (or your MC’s most embarrassing moment in high school), rather, the back-story will come out in small and subtle ways through their actions, dialogue, personality, and interaction with the other characters. You won’t need to stop the story and inform the reader what’s going on, or relay what already happened before Chapter 1; the reader will be able to figure it out. Readers are very smart that way.

It’s very easy to write one or more chapters about what happened to your character before diving into the actual story that the novel is about. Readers want to see your MC in an immediate scene or problem, even if it’s a small problem.

I began Banished like this, diving right into the scene. Background and recapping of past events or characters were woven in bit by bit, a sentence here or there, but no flashbacks.



Another point regarding Backstory: Sometimes we read a novel where the main character is telling the reader what has happened before they dive into their current situation, but in order to do that successfully you need to have a character with a very unique voice.

The only time I’ve seen this done well is in first person contemporary novels where the main character has a distinct personality and leaps to life on the very first page. It’s very difficult to do and usually takes an experienced and skilled writer to do it well. But it can be done with study and practice and creating a unique character with a lot of personality.

Common Beginner Tic #2:

Having the adults solve the problem for the main character child/teen. Your MC needs to figure it out on their own. Let your main character take action, be in the middle of it, and be the driving force behind the plot.

Common Beginner Tic #3:

Too much introspection by your main character or in your narration. We're introverted “Writers” so this is very easy to do. It’s one of the things that I constantly have to watch out for or edit the heck out of later when the first draft is finished. My characters tend to think through things, ponder, muse, agonize, and self-reflect in long paragraphs.

Common Beginner Tic #4: 

Telling instead of Showing. Showing requires us to embody the character and live their lives, as if we have *become* the character. Showing a scene gives richer details, conveys emotions, and refrains from becoming a summary of a scene. Instead of telling us that Cinderella went to the ball, danced with the prince, lost her glass slipper, and then her coach turned back into a pumpkin, show the scene by adding action and dialogue. Show us Cinderella dancing with Prince Charming, their conversation, their tender moment falling in love, and then her fright and race to escape the palace as the clock strikes midnight.

Common Beginner Tic #5: 

Using abstract words to describe the setting or the characters or the action. Use concrete verbs and http://theeditorsblog.net/2015/04/08/writing-advice-what-about-ing-words-part-four/
nouns. Go lightly on adjectives. Watch out for too much use of “ing" words. For more details read this great piece:

Common Beginner Tic #6: 

Not hearing the music/rhythm of the language. Read Cynthia Rylant. Read poetry. Read novels written in verse. This will help you see and hear the beauty and rhythm of language and alliteration and sentence length and how they can be used effectively to add depth and layers to your writing.

I hope these are helpful tips, and I wish you much success and joy with your own writing! I’m giving away a hardcover copy of FORBIDDEN and BANISHED along with some cool swag.

My Links:

Website: www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com (Teacher’s Guides and Book Club Guides)
Stunning FORBIDDEN trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3ncXetDyG8
Twitter: @KimberleyGLittl


Kimberley is being amazingly generous in her giveaway to one lucky winner. She's offering a hard copy of FORBIDDEN and BANISHED, a jeweled book club card, a bookmark, and a keychain for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment through March 13th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, let me know this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by debut author Melanie Conklin and her agent Peter Knapp and a query critique giveaway by Peter and a giveaway of Melanie's MG contemporary COUNTING TIME.

Next Friday I'm participating in the Lucky Is Reading Book Giveaway Hop.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Janet Summer Johnson and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY.

Wednesday that week I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with agent Patricia Nelson and a query critique giveaway.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Andrew Brumbach and his agent Danielle Chiotti with a query critique giveaway by Danielle and an ARC giveaway of Andrew's MG historical adventure THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT.

Hope to see you on Monday!



KIM SAVAGE GUEST POST AND AFTER THE WOODS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Before I get to my fantastic guest post today, I'm participating in Bloghop to help encourage, amuse, and inspire everyone. I don't know about you, but I could always use these things, especially during the cold winter months.


As many of you know, I've been going through so many changes over the last few years and I hate change. I thought I'd share part of an article on attitude from the newspaper that I taped on my fridge to help me through it. I'm not sure who the author is. Hope it inspires you too!


Attitude.
The longer I liver, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. 
                                       . . .
We cannot change our past . . . we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and this is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.


Today I'm excited to have debut author Kim Savage here to share about her new YA thriller AFTER THE WOODS that sounds really suspenseful and terrifying in a good way.

Here's a blurb of AFTER THE WOODS:


Would you risk your life to save your best friend?

Julia knows she beat the odds. She escaped the kidnapper who hunted her in the woods for two terrifying nights that she cant seem to fully remember. Now its one year later, and as Julia settles into her junior year, a dead girl turns up in those same woods. The terrible memories resurface, leaving the whip-smart Julia in a stupor at awkward moments—in front of gorgeous Kellan MacDougall, for example. Julia copes by recording facts: collecting statistics about abductions, drawing diagrams of the players, and making lists.

Her best friend, Liv, was also abducted by the same man, but she managed to escape while Julia was left behind. Is Livs guilt over leaving Julia in the woods the reason shes starving herself? Is hooking up with Shane Cuthbert, an addict with a volatile temper, Livs way of punishing herself for not having Julias back? As Julia struggles to make sense of her friends self-destructive behavior, she realizes the one person she thinks she knows best—Liv—is the person she knows least of all.


Now here's Kim!

Ten Easy Steps for Getting Back in With Your Muse
by Kim Savage

 
My debut novel, After the Woods, releases Feb. 23rd, and the days leading up to its launch have been heady. Shouty caps on Twitter. Giveaways and talks. I’ve been stroking, feeding and loving this first book, my book baby, primogenitus, to the neglect of all other things, especially my Muse.

And she’s giving me the stink eye.

So it’s time to write again. To do that, I’ve laid forth some commandments for myself and to share, wherever you may be on your publication path.

1.       Thou shalt restrict social media to the phone. That nerve pinging as you tap out 140 characters on a tiny screen? That’s called Carpal Tunnel, and that shall be your reward. The Muse is a punishing Muse.

2.       Thou shalt turn to apps that block wireless and transform the urge to Tweet into something useful. No one cares that you “worked with Mac Freedom for 480 minutes!” but you can pretend that, somewhere in New York, your editor is nodding approvingly.

3.       Thou shalt keep said phone a minimum of twenty feet from your sacred writing space.

4.       Thou shalt read touchstone texts, those books that inspire your writing, but not too many, because that is procrasti-reading, and you’re not fooling anyone.

5.       Thou shalt dream only of your plot, because the sleeping brain cannot be interrupted by requests for hot chocolate or to tug off a child’s Nike Elites, those hateful podiatric condoms designed by a man who never removed sweaty socks.

6.       Thou shalt draw and quarter thine internal editor. See Commandment One.

7.       Thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s Twitter love. The Muse is not impressed by confetti tosses,
muppet-flapping, or the feels, no matter how reals.

8.       Remember the writing day, which is your date with the Muse, and she will not be stood up, or she becomes Crazy Ex-Muse, and you’ll have to file a restraining order.

9.       Make your only idol Annie Dillard, who wrote so hard she didn’t realize it was the Fourth of July until she heard the pop of fireworks. Then, make your own fireworks on the page.

10.   Honor thine Muse. She’s the one who brought you into this world, and she’s the one who’ll take you out of it.

Now, go forth and write.

Bio:

KIM SAVAGE is a former reporter who received her Masters degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. She worked as a business journalist, pitching story ideas along the lines of "When Murder Kills Property Values."  You get the idea. Today, Kim lives in a town north of Boston, Massachusetts, near the real Middlesex Fells Reservation of After the Woods. Born directionally challenged, the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to her skin. She and her husband have three children, each of whom beg to appear in her books. They shouldnt.  

You can follow Kim on Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Twitter, and visit her at kimsavage.me. AFTER THE WOODS is her debut novel.



Kim's publisher Macmillan Children's Publishing Group is generously offering a copy of AFTER THE WOODS for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment through March 5th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, let me know this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

On Wednesday I have a guest post by Kimberley Griffith Little and a giveaway of BANISHED or another book in this series.

Next Monday I have a guest post by debut author Melanie Conklin and her agent Peter Knapp and a giveaway of her MG contemporary COUNTING TIME.

Next Friday I'm participating in the Lucky Is Reading Book Giveaway Hop.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Janet Summer Johnson and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY.

Wednesday that week I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with agent Patricia Nelson and a query critique giveaway.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!




  

JANET B. TAYLOR INTERVIEW AND INTO THE DIM GIVEAWAY



Happy Monday Everyone! In case you missed my post on Friday, I was interviewed at The Mitten, Michigan's SCBWI blog if you want to stop by. Thanks to everyone who left sweet messages for me.

Follower News 

Angela Brown's new MG FABLE RANGER: SUMMONS is being released. Here's a blurb:

Take care of what you wish for. You just might get it
Follow twelve-year-old Casey into a fairy tale mashed up world where she's been summoned to be their hero. But how can she when, in the land of Lorealia, damsels aren't exactly allowed to save the day?
Here are a few links:
Author page at the publisher site - http://dingbatpublishing.weebly.com/al-brown.html

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Janet Taylor here to share about her new YA time travel book INTO THE DIM that releases in early March. I really enjoy historical fiction and this got a fantastic blurb from Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, so I’m super excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

When fragile, sixteen-year-old Hope Walton loses her mom to an earthquake overseas, her secluded world crumbles. Agreeing to spend the summer in Scotland, Hope discovers that her mother was more than a brilliant academic, but also a member of a secret society of time travelers. Trapped in the twelfth century in the age of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Hope has seventy-two hours to rescue her mother and get back to their own time. Along the way, her path collides with that of a mysterious boy who could be vital to her mission . . . or the key to Hope’s undoing.      Addictive, romantic, and rich with historical detail, Into the Dim is an Outlander for teens.


Hi Janet! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me, Natalie! I’m a huge fan of Literary Rambles! I think it’s one of the very best writing sites out there. I read it all the time, and think it’s a truly great resource for writers. Any of you guys who are querying or readying to seek an agent need to scour this site!   

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
 It’s funny, because I see all these brilliant, talented new authors with their MFAs in literature and creative writing. And then there’s me, with a degree in biology, which is about far as you can get from the writing world. But I think it goes to show that--with a little skill and a lot of hard work—anyone can become an author.
As for me: The day after our youngest went to college, I just walked into the living room and said to my husband, “You know what? I think I’m going to write a book.”
His response? “Well, of course you are. What can I do to help?” (Yeah, I got a good one!)

  1. I don't think you're alone in coming to writing from another unrelated career. Where did you get the idea for your story?
I’ve always been a total history nerd. At first, I thought I wanted to write straight historical fiction. I quickly learned, however, that my “voice” was a bit too YA and a lot too modern. (My maturity level and tendency to use words like ‘dude’ and ‘freaking’ didn’t really lend itself to a lot of high-brow, queenly fiction.) So, I got to thinking…What are my two favorite things in the world? Travelling and history. I combined those two loves and ended up with…Time Travel!

  1. INTO THE DIM is a time travel novel set in 12th century England. What research did you do to get the time period right? Some of your reviews said you did a really good job with this.
Oh, I’d been reading about and studying that time period for years. It’s my favorite. Knights and fair maidens. Kings and Queens who held the lives of entire populations in the palm of their hands. That kind of power has always been fascinating to me. Plus…it’s sexy as hell!
Also, I was fortunate enough to get to travel to a lot of the places where the events in Into The Dim take place. I even got to spend the night at Fontevrauld Abbey, where Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II are buried. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.

  1. That's so cool that you got to travel where your book is set and stay at the Abby! Share a bit about Hope as a character and her growth through the story as she had to confront her fears.
 Though I love all those fantastic, badass female characters out there, I knew from day
one that Hope would not be one of them. Oh man…from the very beginning, she was just a mess. A phobia-ridden klutz, her only superpower was her brain. As the story progresses, she’s forced to endure some of her worst nightmares, which—in the end—definitely make her stronger.
But I’ll let you in on a little secret: “Hope is never going to reach badass status.”

  1. Hope sounds like a character we can relate to since she has more weaknesses like us. Your agent is Mollie Glick. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?
 I’d been querying off and on for nearly two years when I signed with Mollie, shortly after ‘winning’ #pitchwars in 2013. She’d always been on the very top of my list, and the day I signed with her was one of the best days of my life.
Not only does Mollie know the business of publishing inside and out, she’s also an incredible editor. We both worked our butts off for about six months. 

It. Was. Grueling. It was also totally worth it. Two weeks after going on sub, we sold to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt at auction. Boom.

I adore Mollie! She’s funny and ferocious and so, SO smart. If you’re interested in querying her…you should know two things.   
1)      Mollie is a mama tiger when it comes to taking care of her clients. You always feel safe knowing she’s got your back.
2)      ‘Mollie don’t gush.’ If you want an agent who will constantly tell you how great you are…she’s not for you. But if you want to work with a talented, savvy agent who will help you become the best writer you can be, and who will make sure you get the best of everything…She is your girl.

  1. Thanks for giving us the inside scoop on Mollie. You are part of the Sweet Sixteens, a 2016 debut group. How did you find out about the group and join? How has it helped you go through the time leading up to your debut?

Oh!! In all honesty, I would not have kept my sanity without my Sweet Sixteens. Shortly after I signed with HMH, I saw a Tweet, calling for 2016 authors, and joining the group remains one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Surrounding yourself with a peer group of fellow debut authors is absolutely essential. They’re the only ones who can completely understand what you’re going through. We’re a very close-knit group. We cheer for each other, support and console one another. And lots of times, we just have fun and act like complete and utter dingdongs! But I could not…would not go through this without them. They are some of my very, VERY best friends in the world, now, and I love them with my whole heart!

  1. How are you planning to spread the word about your book? Are you doing any events that you might not have thought about but saw other debut authors doing?

Aw dude! My folks at Houghton Mifflin have been amazing! They work so hard doing all that publicity and marketing…sending me to a whole slew of Teen Festivals and Conferences. Of course, as an author in this day and age, I also make sure to keep up my side with Twitter, FB, Instagram, and doing fun interviews like this! :D

  1. That's awesome how supportive your publisher is. What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing up edits on Book II of ‘The Dim Series’! I won’t tell you where Hope and the gang are going next…But here’s a hint…It ‘gleams’ and it’s going to be quite (ahem) ‘shocking.’ *wink*

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Janet. You can find Janet at:
           
            HMH WEBSITE FOR ITD: http://www.hmhbooks.com/intothedim/
            MY WEBSITE: http://janetbtaylor.com/
            FACEBOOK: Author: https://www.facebook.com/JanetBTaylor.author/?ref=hl
                                    Personal: https://www.facebook.com/janet.b.taylor.96
            TUMBLR: http://janet-b-taylor.tumblr.com/

Janet is generously offering an ARC of INTO THE DIM for a giveaway.  To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment through February 27h. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter Facebook, or your blog, let me know in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

On Monday I have a guest post by debut author Kim Savage and a giveaway of her YA thriller AFTER THE WOODS.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Melanie Conklin and her agent Peter Knapp and a giveaway of her MG contemporary COUNTING TIME.
Friday that week I'm participating in the Lucky Is Reading Book Giveaway Hop.

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Janet Summer Johnson and a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY.

Wednesday that week I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with agent Patricia Nelson and a query critique giveaway.

Hope to see you on Monday!


My Interview at Michigan's SCBWI Blog Today

Happy Friday Everyone!

Today I'm being interviewed by follower Kristin Lenz at SCBWI's Michigan blog, The Mitten. Hope you'll stop by and say hi.

Have a great weekend!

HEIDI HEILIG GUEST POST AND THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I've got a fantastic guest post by debut author Heidi Helig to help celebrate the release of her YA time travel THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE that releases next month. I love time travel stories and Heidi's sounds awesome.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times - although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix's father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix's existence rather dangerously in question...

Nix has grown used to her father's obsession, but only because she's convinced it can't work. But then a map falls into her father's lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it's that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.


Now here's Heidi!
  
Release Day minus 10 Years

Start working on a book.
Release Day minus 2 Years
Scrap that book, it’s terrible.
Start another book.
Release Day minus 1+ Year
IMPORTANT: Have your agent sell that book you sent to them.
Release Day minus 1 year
Get on twitter. Make friends. Talk about your book so everyone knows to be excited.
Release Day minus 11 months
Remind everyone about your book.
Gently correct people who thought that it was already out.
Realize that maybe a year in advance was too early to tell everyone about your book.
Release Day minus 10 months
Constantly refresh your Goodreads page and smile gratefully at the family members who signed up for
Goodreads just to five star your book.
Wonder who gave it one star when there aren’t even ARCs out yet.
Was it your jealous cousin Jack? The one who said congratulations but in a really fake way?
I bet it was Jack.
Release Day minus 6 Months
Reveal your cover. Accept all the accolades even though you had literally nothing to do with it.
Release Day minus 5 Months
Read three dozen “How To Market Your Book” articles.
Spend too much on book swag.
Spend even more on mailing out your bookswag.
Get off Twitter so you stop being tempted to do giveaways.
Release Day minus 4 Months
Get back on Twitter only to discover ARCs are out in the world and now people can tweet you their reviews—both the good and the bad.
Release Day minus 3 Months
Get back off Twitter.
Release Day minus 2 Months
Plan your parties! Buy your outfits! Schedule blog posts! Do more giveaways! Forget to eat! Stop sleeping! Regret your choices!
Release Day minus 1 month
Pet your finished copy.
Find a typo in your finished copy.
Release Day
Celebrate.
Collapse.
Release Day + 1 Day
Open a new word document.
You can find Heidi at:
http://www.epicreads.com/books/the-girl-from-everywhere/9780062380753/

Heidi and I are sharing in the cost of an e-book of THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE for one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follower button if you're not a follower) and leave a comment through February 20th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, let me know this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Here's what's coming up:
  
On Monday I have an interview with debut author Janet Taylor and a giveaway of her YA time travel INTO THE DIM.

The Monday after that I have a guest post by debut author Kim Savage and a giveaway of her YA thriller AFTER THE WOODS.

Wednesday that week I have a guest post by Kimberley Griffith Little and a giveaway of BANISHED or another book in this series.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Melanie Conklin and her agent Peter Knapp and a giveaway of her MG contemporary COUNTING TIME.

Hope to see you on Monday!