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THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE through March 4th

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Kristy Hunter, Wednesday, March 22nd

KRISTY ACEVEDO GUEST POST AND CONSIDER GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! I have some good news. Literary Rambles made Global English Editing's Top 120 Most Helpful Websites for Writers. You can check it out and see other great resources if you want.

Today I'm excited to have debut author Kristy Acevedo here to share about her YA science fiction CONSIDER. It sounds really good and is on Barnes and Noble's 13 Most Anticipated Science Fiction YA of 2016 list.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:


As if Alexandra Lucas’ anxiety disorder isn’t enough, mysterious holograms suddenly appear from the sky, heralding the end of the world. They bring an ultimatum: heed the warning and step through a portal-like vertex to safety, or stay and be destroyed by a comet they say is on a collision course with earth. How’s that for senior year stress?

The holograms, claiming to be humans from the future, bring the promise of safety. But without the ability to verify their story, Alex is forced to consider what is best for her friends, her family, and herself.

To stay or to go. A decision must be made.

With the deadline of the holograms’ prophecy fast approaching, Alex feels as though she is living on a ticking time bomb, until she discovers it is much, much worse.

So here's Kristy!


My Excited and Frazzled Debut Author Experience: In 10 Stages

This year has been the most amazing year of my life. Here's my brutally honest and wonderful experience so far.  My one year journey to publication.

*Please note that these stages are not linear and may return at any time.

Stage 1: The Call to Adventure

This is the first stage, arguably the best stage, when you get the call every writer waits to hear.  Either by an agent or editor, who raves about your manuscript and offer a publication contract. For me, it all started with Brenda Drake's #PitMad in March 2015.

#PitMad is a Twitter hashtag that runs four times a year where writers pitch their edited manuscripts in 140 characters, and if any editors, publishers, or agents favorite their pitch, they should submit according to that person's guidelines ASAP.

My Twitter pitch: If a hologram said it could save your life, would you believe it? #YA #SFF #PitMad

One little favorite led to a publishing offer ten days later. (This is rare, but it's also why you should only participate if your manuscript is finished.)  I sent the first three chapters, and two days later got an email to send the full manuscript.

It was a Saturday morning when I received THE CALL. TJ da Roza said that Jolly Fish Press was offering to publish my YA sci-fi manuscript, Consider and its unwritten sequel. My brain stopped functioning at that point. 

If that wasn't awesome enough, less than a week later, I got another phone call that my manuscript was one of the winners of the PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Children's Book Discovery Award . Talk about an amazing week!

I hired a Literary Contract Consultant to review the terms and negotiate on my behalf.  And in April 2015 I signed with Jolly Fish Press. I framed the original contract near my desk, a reminder that this was real.

Stage 2: The Fog

Immediately following the call and contract, a mental fog rolls in. In this stage, you become
completely unaware of your body. You live in your daydreams. The fog stage messes with your sense of gravity. I started walking into walls.  If I tried to drive somewhere, I took the scenic, I-forgot-where-I-was-going route.

No one in my daily life other than a handful of people knew yet.  It felt weird that something could shift my world so dramatically and not affect others.  I reminisced about my weekly trips to the library as a child, reading books at a campsite when everyone else was playing. Writing poetry and stories and dreaming that someday I could be an author.  And now I was actually going to be a published author.  My mind could not wrap around this new reality.

So it started worrying, Was it a dream? Is something gonna fall apart? Will my publisher go under, or my editor switch jobs before my book releases? This can't possibly be my life.

Stage 3: Public Exposure

Then comes the press release and people in your community discover the news.  They will treat you like you could be the next J.K. Rowling, like you won the lottery, or like you are a space alien living among them.  Or they won't care. Or they will ask for an immediate copy, as if publishing a book is a magical, overnight process.

On a Sunday during teacher appreciation week, my two-book publishing deal was huge news sprawled across the front page of the local Standard Times since I'm an English teacher at a large, urban high school.

At Dunkin' Donuts that morning, the drive-thru girl said, "Aren't you the lady in the paper?"
I nodded, and she yelled to her co-workers, "See! I told you she comes here in the morning. That's so awesome!"

At work, colleagues and students also voiced their congratulations.  Social media congratulations. Neighbors and old friends and local radio stations. Your emotions swing from inner pride to utter embarrassment. You will ask yourself, What have I done to my life? I just wanted to write.

Stage 4: Imposter Syndrome

You will suddenly have clout as a writer. People will ask you for tips and advice as if you've become an expert in the creative writing field overnight.  You begin to get requests for blog interviews and to read in public.

It's unnerving at first, even as an English teacher for over fifteen years with a master's degree in English. Students never listened to me like this before when I talked writing. 

For my first interviews, I remember thinking,  You want to interview me? Me, from my little basement apartment with four of us crammed inside?

In May, I was asked to read from Chapter 1 at Simmons College in Boston for the award ceremony. It was the first time I had to read my writing in public. Yikes.  The whole time my book vacillated from genius to stupid in my mind.

Stage 5: Joining the Club

As a traditional, debut author, you have access to join that year's debut group to help support each other through the ups and downs of publishing your first book.  I highly recommend it.

I joined the Sweet Sixteen group for 2016 YA and MG authors, and they have been amazing people to know online.  Last I checked there were over 150+ of us. I love seeing their debut books appear in bookstores as they release. There's nothing more valuable than having other debut authors share the behind-the-scene experience with you so you, and your book, don't feel so alone.

Stage 6: Editing Stage

There's a worry in beginning the editing stage that even though your editor loved your manuscript enough to publish it, that he or she will expect major changes which affect the integrity of your story.  I've heard such nightmares about the editing stage, and I wondered if my editor really understood the project.

Thankfully, my editor and I click creatively. He truly understood the project and respected my vision for it. He listened to my concerns.  He had no major overhauls or deleted scenes and offered great ideas to make the story shine.  But yes, I went through several rounds of Word files with over 400+ comments to address from him. By the end of it, I was so sick of my manuscript I never wanted to read my story again.  This helped me separate emotionally from it.

Stage 7: Disillusionment

This stage begins slowly with insults disguised as compliments, such as "Oh, it's a young adult novel. For teens. So it's not a real novel."

And the entitled, "Can you hook me up with your publisher once I finish my draft?"

As your anger builds, family members start to roll their eyes at the mere mention of your book. You have been living with a one track mind, and the people who live with you have had enough. 
Then something happens during the marketing, social media, interviews, working on next book stage, ARCs, first reviews, endless trips to the post office, lack of money, growing stress, barely functioning in the day job, squeezing in family life and forgetting friends...

You crack. You cry. You tell your loved ones you can't do it. You are not a superhero. You feel like you are working three jobs, and you can't afford to quit your day job.  You are spending more money on marketing than you've made so far on writing.

You have the existential crisis: Is the dream worth it?
And you come up with the immediate answer: Totally.

I embraced the messy artist in my failing life stage.  I skipped showers, stopped doing household chores, rocked the frizzy bun.  Yes, I felt like the worse mom ever, but we lived.  I kept reminding myself that this short stage in my life living in chaos was just that--short term.

I started a bullet journal which allowed me to set daily and monthly tasks on an ever-evolving list rather than using a standard agenda.  It helped me survive the organized chaos. I learned to create balance in my life and say no. I learned to practice mindfulness and go for walks.

Stage 8: Cover Reveal

You dream of what your book cover will look like, the same way you wonder what your children will look like. You can't really picture it, but you still catch yourself daydreaming about the possibilities.
And then...your cover appears in your email. 

I fell in love at first sight, and even months later when my publisher tweaked the colors, I only fell deeper.

Stage 9: Wearing the Author Cloak

This stage sneaks up on you.  It's the antidote to the Imposter Stage.  You slowly start to accept being a published writer as part of your identity.  It's not an arrogant phase; it's a humbling and grateful sense of embracing a new chapter in your life as a writer. When you set time in your schedule for writing, others respect it more.  You delegate tasks to others who have been dying to help share in the journey.  You read a great, early review and smile.  You are invited to attend events as an author.  People ask for your autograph on bookmarks and ARCs.

I knew I hit this stage when I no longer had an embarrassing sense of fear and rejection when I approached a local librarian with a handful of promo materials and introduced myself and my book. Students asked me advice on how to write novels, and I responded with instant, practical advice wearing my invisible author cloak.

Stage 10: Debut Book Launch

As I write this, I haven't reached this stage yet. Consider, my debut YA sci-fi, releases on April 19, 2016 with Jolly Fish Press. The sequel, Contribute, is set for November 2016.  Of course, I imagine it to be a place of rainbows and happiness, where crowds line up outside a store to get a signed copy of my debut.

In reality, I'll be grateful to have a small crowd of eager readers.
In reality, I might experience all stages simultaneously.

Thanks for all your advice, Kristy! You can find Kristy at:

Read first, full chapter preview of Consider at kristyacevedo.com

Kristy has generously offered a copy of CONSIDER when it comes out in April. 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 9th. 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, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This giveaway is for U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have an interview with debut author Elizabeth Briggs and a giveaway of her YA science fiction FUTURE SHOCK.

Wednesday that week I have an agent spotlight interview with Elana Roth Parker and a query critique giveaway. 

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Lindsay Eager and a giveaway of her MG magical realism HOURS OF THE BEES.

Friday that week I'll be participating in the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop!

Hope to see you on Monday!



DEBUT AUTHOR KATHRYN PURDIE AND EDITOR MARIA BARBO INTERVIEW AND BURNING GLASS GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Kathryn Purdie and her editor Maria Barbo, who is at Katherine Tegen Books, here to share about the author/editor relationship. Kathryn’s YA fantasy BURNING GLASS has gotten fantastic reviews, and I can’t wait to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads


Kathryn Purdie
Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

Hi Kathryn and Maria! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. I don’t know much about the submission to publisher process, and I bet others are confused too. Did you two have any e-mail or phone conversations while Kathryn’s book was on submission before an agreement was entered into and what were each of you looking for from the other in your communications? What should aspiring authors discuss in these important conversations?

Kathryn and Maria
Kathryn: My agent, Josh Adams, handled 99.9% of the submissions process. There were 3-4 editors (I can’t remember anymore!) who wanted BURNING GLASS, so I did get the opportunity to have a few conversations before I finally accepted Maria’s offer from Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins. (That was my .1% part of the process.)

What I was looking for in an editor was her clear vision of my story and how to tackle it in edits. Of course, I also wanted her to love it and be enthusiastic about championing it at her publishing house. I got that perfect package with Maria. When we chatted, we immediately clicked, and she understood the deep psychology of all my characters and how to make their nuances more apparent on the page. And when she compared a scene in my book to one of my favorite episodes of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, I knew she was my dream editor, and that was that!

Maria: I loved that Kathryn was a Joss Whedon fan because it gave us common ground from which to start our conversations about storytelling, series arcs, and creating a strong heroine with a solid support network of friends. We were lucky. We had a shorthand from the beginning so that if one of us was ever trying to explain something to the other we could always say, “You know how in Buffy when she came back from the dead and…”

But I think that initial phone call is all about getting a feel for whether or not you think you can work together. Do you get a good feeling from your editor? Does she seem like someone you can work with? Does her vision of the project or the way she talks about the project ring true to you? Do you have similar ways of talking about storytelling? Get a feel for the editor’s style, and be your true self.

2. Many authors—especially debut ones—say that they dreaded the first editorial letter from their editor. Share a bit about the first editorial letter for BURNING GLASS. What advice do you have for debut authors about to get their first letter from their editor?

Kathryn: I actually LOVED my editorial letter! Maybe it’s because I got it within a month of the offer on the trilogy, so I was still in that honeymoon phase. I didn’t need to process it at all. I just dug right into the work, and it went pretty smoothly. Maria and I did have a few phone calls to clarify some things, but, all in all, it a pretty painless process.

Then a year later I got my editorial letter for the second book in the trilogy…and that was so much harder! For one thing, book two’s are just crazy difficult, and I was also a little run down from a very intense year of editing book one and drafting book two. But I still completely agreed with Maria’s amazing notes and her suggestions to help me discover the book I am trying to write. (I’m still in revisions right now.) I realized this would involve A LOT of rewriting, which was overwhelming because my books are long, and I’m not super speedy.
 Kathryn gave Maria this plaque after slipping up and calling her "my emperor" instead of "my editor." It's been a joke ever since.

Thankfully, Maria has been in my corner all along. She’s given me more time when needed and chatted with me again and again on the phone and through emails to make sure I have everything in my arsenal to tackle this daunting project. I’m extremely grateful to her and feel I’m in the best hands. My book two is going to be great, thanks to her guidance.

Maria: I like the image you’ve got going of me as boxing coach! I’m totally smiling right now. Editors love knowing when our authors find our letters helpful. We also feel vulnerable when we send out that first edit letter to a new author.
A former colleague once described an edit letters as a conversation starter and I use that phrase all the time now. I always try to remind my authors that an edit letter is just the beginning of longer process.
My favorite part of the process is the post-letter phone conversation in which we hash out all the details and concerns, and basically nerd out over storytelling. I usually try to give an author time to process the feedback, kvetch about me to their BFF, and figure out what they think about the points I’ve made before we schedule a call. I love love—and I had this experience with Kathryn—when I give some feedback and an author says, “I see what you’re saying. I don’t know if I totally agree with you, but I’ve been thinking about what might be making that scene/moment/chapter feel off and this is what I think.” We’re here to elevate each other.
I listen to a lot of Alec Balwin’s podcast, “Here’s the Thing” and in this week’s podcast, he talks to Micky O’Rourke who raves about the director he worked with on THE WRESTLER. Mickey relates how he’d perform a scene and give it everything he had and afterwards Darren Aronofsky would say, “Okay, that was good. Let’s do it again and give it more this time.” In some ways, being an editor is like being a director. It’s my job to get Kathryn to dig deeper but, of course, there’s a fine line between fussing too much with something and pushing an author to do her best. I’m still working on it.
3. Did you have any challenges or different approaches as you worked on revisions to BURNING GLASS? How did you work them out?

Kathryn: See above! :-) Maria can probably tell you how she’s had to talk me off a couple ledges. She always tells me it’s going to be okay and to write without anxiety! My book IS about a character who gets overwhelmed when she has too much to process…Sonya *may* have that in common with me. But the advice Maria has told me that has helped the most is how to find what’s at the core of fixing a scene—or the whole book, for that matter—and that often has to do with the characters’ driving motivations. Maria will compare something in my story to a scene or character from BUFFY or another TV show or a painting or something really tangible like that—something I can really latch onto—and it just opens up my mind, and I see the solution.

Maria: Yes, I speak in stories. I also like to send articles—snippets of things I hear in the news that relate to our characters. Don’t forget about those!

I went to graduate school for painting so I have a very intimate relationship with the sort of anxiety that surrounds the creative process and the vulnerability it requires. And I know that if you don’t separate out creative brain from editing brain, editing brain won’t let you get any work done. Kathryn likes to pull marathon writing sessions and I’m always telling her to stop and go for a walk to rest her brain and give the ideas some space to piece themselves together.
4. What advice do you have for authors on handling these different approaches or conflicts with their editors?

Kathryn: I believe in honest communication. I think that’s critical in any healthy relationship, and I’m grateful I feel comfortable enough with Maria that I can share any editorial concerns I have with her directly. She gives me a safe place to do that. The only big concern I’ve ever had is having enough time to do the work…everything else we’ve run into has just been little clarifications or me bouncing new suggestions off of her. I know many authors who don’t have such an open dialogue with their editors, or whose editors don’t make themselves available to them, and I think I’d be a basket case (or more of one!) if I didn’t have that with Maria. Again, I’m super grateful for her!

Maria: I second honesty. KP expressed her concern about not having enough time to write early on, which I very much appreciated, and because of that I was able to do everything I could to buy her more time.

I would also keep in mind that your editor is on your team and you both have the same goals: to make the book the best it can be and get it into the hands of as many readers as possible. Keeping that in mind makes disagreements easier to sort out.

The best tips I ever learned about conflict resolution is that the anticipation of a difficult conversation is often worse than the actual conversation, so it’s helpful to address concerns as soon as you can. Editors and writers both tend to have strong introverted tendencies and most of us don’t enjoy conflict. Chances are, if you address the disagreement directly in a non-defensive, non-accusatory way, the other person will be responsive.

And if you and your editor reach an impasse on something you feel strongly about, loop in your agent—not to take sides but as an objective third party. Agents know the industry and they know you. Often they can see both perspectives and help reach a resolution.

5. Kathryn had a different title for BURNING GLASS when her manuscript was on submission. Share how you decided on the final title for her book.

Kathryn: My first title for this story was THE EMPATH AND THE EMPEROR. When I spoke with my agent on the phone and told him this, I remember hearing silence on the other end of the line, so I promptly said, “I’ll think of something better!” I soon came up with AURASEER, which is my word for the type of empath Sonya is, and it’s a term that’s still used in the book. The sales team found that word confusing as a title, however, so Maria came up with THE SEER’S CURSE. But then the sales team felt that skewed too high-tween rather than young adult, so Maria had a brainstorming session with the editorial team and came up with BURNING GLASS—which is perfect! I’ll let Maria tell you why she chose it.

Maria: I love the inherent contradiction in BURNING GLASS. As a title, it evokes a strong mental image. It’s also inspired by an image in the book, which is often a helpful tip when you’re stumped on a title. I can’t remember the exact line or phrase. KP, can you?

Kathryn: The context is Sonya is walking around the burned rubble of the convent. “When the stables swallowed him from view, I caught my reflection in a pane of broken glass, flames still smoldering behind me.”

Maria: Yes, that’s it! I like the way it evokes the concept of a phoenix ready to rise up out of the ashes. The title reflects both Sonya's heated passion and simmering guilt over the fire as well as her fear of being just a mirror without getting too literal. It's got that winning combination of dark and pretty. Hope that wasn’t a spoiler.

6. How often did you communicate while working on revisions and edits? Mostly via e-mail or phone? Did that change as the publication date neared?

Kathryn: I’d say we chatted maybe three to four times on the phone regarding the edits of each book so far, and we’ve emailed anywhere from one to three times a week over the last year. There are many rounds of edits and several discussions about book two and the direction of the series, and Maria sometimes runs promo copy by me and has other little updates, or I’ll have random questions.
Our communication has felt pretty constant, but I’ve been on a fast track from the time book one sold to its publication, while getting book two ready in the meantime. I don’t know if this rate of communication is normal for her other authors—maybe I’m just high maintenance! But I’m grateful for how involved Maria is in the writing process, and how involved she lets me be in the publication process.

Maria: You are not high maintenance! My short answer is, we communicate as needed. I enjoy staying in touch with Kathryn while she’s revising. And I’ll often have additional thoughts after the edit letter is sent, which is part of the reason I like to have follow-up conversations.
I am not the sort of person who can always put my finger on precisely why a scene isn’t working on the very first read, so I like having the chance to continue editorial discussions. Some ideas—particularly the psychology of a scene, have to simmer. Characters are people. Their driving forces aren’t always immediately transparent.

And I’ll often come up with thoughts or ideas while I’m doing something else like working out at the gym, daydreaming on the subway platform, listening to NPR in the morning. Or sitting in a meeting. Then I’ll get really excited and type it up on my phone so I don’t forget and send Kathryn an email when I get back to my desk.

I know that definitely happened with book two. I was listening to a BBC report on Tunisia and suddenly the political situation in Riaznin came into focus.

7. I know HarperCollins probably assigned a publicist to help Kathryn prepare for her book release. Did you two have any conversations about marketing or the transition Kathryn was going through from unpublished to published author?

Kathryn: Ro Romanello is my publicist at Katherine Tegen Books, and she’s fantastic. She’s a big
fan of the book and another champion for the series at the imprint. I’ve corresponded mostly via email with her, but I got to meet her in person when I visited HarperCollins in November. As far as helping me transition to being a published author, neither Ro nor Maria and I have had any specific conversations to that point, but they’ve always been supportive of my efforts to promote the series on my end and say I’m doing a great job. I have a background in acting, so I feel pretty comfortable presenting in front of other people. I know that’s very stressful for more introverted authors. The problem we extroverts run into is too much foot in the mouth. I sometimes gotta think more before speaking! ;-)
Kathryn and Maria with the Sales & Marketing team at HarperCollins.

Maria: Ro is amazing and she’s been a huge fan of the book from the very beginning. I remember her coming into my office to gush after she read it the first time. That doesn’t really answer your question, but we do begin having conversations with our marketing and publicity teams early on to build excitement and brainstorm promotional ideas.

Kathryn is also a member of The Sweet Sixteens. I imagine it must have helped to have a community of debut writers to go through that transition with.

8. Do you have any other advice to authors about having a good working relationship with an editor?

Kathryn: It’s good to remember your editor is a human being and knows you’re also human. Sometimes I try too hard to be a perfectionist on all fronts and be an amazing publishing pro, when the truth is I’m just a debut author and have a lot to learn. That’s, again, why I advocate for being honest while being as professional as possible. Maria is very intuitive and can see through to all my struggles, anyway, so it’s just better to be frank about them. :-)

Maria: Aw, you make me feel like a guru! We can all be a little too perfectionisty at times and we all have a lot to learn—on both sides of the process.  

Again, I would remember that your editor is on your team. I wouldn’t have signed up BURNING GLASS if I hadn’t sparked to it and thought that it was an important book for teen readers. And I’m so grateful that I get to talk to Kathryn and have in-depth discussions about things like empathy and emotions.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kathryn and Maria!

You can find Kathryn at:

You can find Maria at:


Kathryn and Maria are generously offering a copy of BURNING GLASS 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 2nd. 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, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This giveaway is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Next Monday I have a guest post by debut author Kristy Acevedo and a giveaway of her YA science fiction CONSIDER.

The next Monday (can you believe it will be April?) I have an interview with debut author Elizabeth Briggs and a giveaway of her YA science fiction FUTURE SHOCK.

Wednesday that week I have an agent spotlight interview with Elana Roth Parker and a query critique giveaway. 

The following Monday I have an interview with debut author Lindsay Eager and a giveaway of her MG magical realism HOURS OF THE BEES.

Friday that week I'll be participating in the Showers of Books Giveaway Hop!

Hope to see you on Monday!

AGENT DANIELLE CHIOTTI and AUTHOR ANDREW BRUMBACH GUEST POST & QUERY and THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Andrew Brumbach here with his agent Danielle Chiotti from Upstart Crow Literary to share about the going on submission process. I found it fascinating. And Andrew's MG historical adventure THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT is set in the 1920's New York and has gotten rave reviews. It sounds like a keeper.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:



On a stormy May day in 1929, William and Maxine arrive on the doorstep of Battersea Manor to spend the summer with a grandfather they barely remember. Whatever the cousins expected, Colonel Battersea isn’t it.

Soon after they settle in, Grandpa receives a cryptic telegram and promptly whisks the cousins off to New York City so that he can meet an unknown courier and collect a very important package. Before he can do so, however, Grandpa vanishes without a trace. 

When the cousins stumble upon Nura, a tenacious girl from Turkey, she promises to help them track down the parcel and rescue Colonel Battersea. But with cold-blooded gangsters and a secret society of assassins all clamoring for the same mysterious object, the children soon find themselves in a desperate struggle just to escape the city’s dark streets alive.


So here's Andrew and Danielle!


AB:  Thanks so much for giving us the chance to join the Literary Rambles conversation!  Danielle and I thought it might be interesting to talk a little bit about going out on sub—the part of the journey when you're finally ready to try and land a publisher.  Personally, I found the submission process more than a little nerve-wracking.  In a different way than the query process, though.  Querying is like groping your way through a dark cave… with a blindfold on… at midnight.  You send out a few queries and either hear “Sorry” or nothing at all, so you tweak the query a little and send out a few more.  Nothing… so maybe you tweak the manuscript this time, and change the query accordingly, and send out a few more, and hopefully you finally start to generate some interest.
Submission is different.  You’re still in the cave, blindfolded, but now at least you’re being led by the hand by your agent, and she’s wearing one of those plastic miners’ helmets with the big light on the front and she’s been in this cave before.  In fact, in the acknowledgements of my book I compared Danielle (obliquely) to Dante’s Beatrice, holding her lantern aloft and guiding me out of the nine infernal circles of hell.  Going through it together with her made all the difference.

DC:  Andy, it’s been an absolute joy going through the process with you—from the very beginning (a
sleepy Saturday morning, as I recall) when I discovered your manuscript and knew it was something special, to this exciting period right before release day.

And it’s certainly an interesting road getting here, the most exciting and harrowing of which (for an author) is submitting the novel to editors. Writers trying to get their book published face many unknowns, from waiting to hear back from publishers, to gauging how high the level of interest is at a house, to deciphering the language of a rejection letter to figure out what the editor really thought of the novel. And these things are absolute crazymaking for any author, but especially a debut author. Going out on submission with a novel is like learning to speak a whole new language, and your agent is the translator.

When I’m out on submission with a novel, I’m essentially doing two jobs at once: I’m managing the editors reading it,  and I’m managing my clients, who are trying to keep busy, but (I suspect) hitting refresh on their email more than usual.

AB:  The thing I always wondered during the submission process was—what are the odds that my book actually sells?  Getting an agent was the hard part, right?  You can look at the statistics on Query Tracker and see that agents sign about one query in a thousand.  There are ways to improve those odds, of course—sending out multiple queries, researching which agents are right for your book, hopefully having a query and manuscript than stand out from the rest of the slush—but if you manage to sign with an agent, what are the odds of a book selling once it goes on submission?  50%?  75%?

DC: Ah, the statistics of novel submission. It’s longer discussion than we have room for here, as it’s really not about the salability of only one book. It’s also about an author’s potential for growth beyond that one book. If I didn’t feel 100% certain that a manuscript would sell, I likely wouldn’t have signed that client in the first place, which is why I have to say “no” to so many authors who have immense talent (I suppose I’m looking for the one query in a thousand, as you mention above).
That being said, I have clients whose first novel—the novel I signed them on—did not sell, for whatever reason. That doesn’t mean it was the end of the road for us. While I was shopping their first novel, they were hard at work on their next novel, and improving and strengthening their craft.  And as a result, we were able to sell their next novel(s).

AB:  I do know that any statistical data feels immaterial when you’re watching the days peel off of one of those old-fashioned calendars in your mind and it’s just crickets from the publishers.  We were on submission with The Eye of Midnight for about three months, and I think we got close to a dozen “no thank-yous.”  Some of those were near-misses, which felt encouraging and also a little bit like a gut punch all at the same time.  I kept reminding myself that Danielle understood where my book fit in the publishing landscape and that she believed there was an editor out there that was right for it.[DC1]   Through it all, Danielle continually reassured me that The Eye of Midnight would sell, and her confidence was contagious.

DC: I have a very simple submissions motto: relentless optimism. I couldn’t do this job without it. Andy’s book was exemplary, and I knew it was only a matter of time until we found the perfect editor for it—and we did. Yes, rejections sting. But most of the time, it doesn’t do any good to dwell on them. My typical response to a rejection is “onward and upward.” There’s no sense dwelling on who didn’t publish the novel. My job is to find the editor who will.   

During the submissions process, I send weekly updates to my clients so they know where things stand, and they aren’t left alone with their very creative thoughts, wondering what’s happening with their book. Even if there is nothing new to report, I will let my clients know that. It’s reassuring for them, especially in the midst of a process over which they have very little control.

AB:  I remember where I was when I got the good news.  It was a Friday afternoon and I was actually out playing golf.  Danielle had warned me nothing ever happens on Friday in publishing, but in spite of that, the phone rang and we had an offer from Rebecca Weston at Delacorte Press (who has turned out to be such a wonderful editor and perfect fit for my book).  I let out some kind of primitive war cry, and I remember my golf partners all looked at me like I was certifiable.

DC:  Making that call is one of the very best parts of my job. It never gets less thrilling. It’s the
moment a book is born! And it always comes at the most surprising of times. There have been many times I’ve said to a client waiting on an offer: “We probably won’t hear anything today, so sit tight and I’ll be in touch.” And then—bam!  We get an offer that day. It’s my very favorite way to be proven wrong.

AB:  Looking back, I think I have more clarity and objectivity on the whole process.  It turns out Danielle’s reassurances weren’t just a placebo.  She really had a good sense for the situation and for our chances.  I think a good agent will give you an honest perspective on your book and will be able to evaluate if it will have a broad appeal and be an easy sell or if it will take more patience and require a special editor to connect with it.

DC:  I work in book publishing, so obviously I love a happy ending to any story, and the happiest ending of all is when a book finds its publishing home. But one of the most important things I’ve learned about being an agent is that I’m not doing any of my clients any favors by trying to sugar coat the information I give to them. If the news is bad, then it’s bad, and we’ll deal with it and overcome it. And if the news is good, then we celebrate. And no matter what, we look ahead to what’s next.  It takes awhile to build up that kind of trust between an agent and her client—many months, many revisions, many rejections until finally—victory!  It’s an absolute honor to work with a writer as talented as you, Andy, and what a thrill it is to see your gorgeous novel out in the world!




Danielle’s links:


Andy’s links:

twitter.com/andrewbrumbach
facebook.com/andrewbrumbachauthor/
www.goodreads.com/author/show/13681894.Andrew_Brumbach

Andrew has generously offered an ARC of THE EYE OF MIDNIGHT for a giveaway and Danielle 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 26th. 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 Canada and the query critique giveaway is international.

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Messenger. You can find the participating blogs on her blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Next following Monday I have a joint interview with debut author Kathryn Purdie and Margo Barbo, her editor at  Katherine Teagan, and a giveaway of Kathryn's YA fantasy BURNING GLASS.

The following Monday I have a guest post by debut author Kristy Acevedo and a giveaway of her YA science fiction CONSIDER.

The next Monday (can you believe it will be April?) I have an interview with debut author Elizabeth Briggs and a giveaway of her YA science fiction FUTURE SHOCK.

Wednesday that week I have an agent spotlight interview with Elana Roth Parker and a query critique giveaway. 

Hope to see you on Monday!




AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH PATRICIA NELSON AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Patricia Nelson here. She is a literary agent at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey at least temporarily. I will be providing all the same information we’ve shared in the past in an interview format. In addition, one lucky commenter will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi Patricia! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Patricia:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.

I've been an agent with Marsal Lyon Literary Agency since 2014, after starting there as an assistant. Prior to joining MLLA, I held internships with the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency and Running Press Kids, and also spent several years teaching writing and literature at the college level. As for what I’ve been doing, I’m excited that in 2015, my first full year as an agent, I sold nine books -- and watching those stories begin to make their way through the publication process has been more rewarding than I could have even imagined. I say it often, and it’s true: this is the best job out there!

About the Agency:

2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

Marsal Lyon Literary Agency was founded in 2009; our founders collectively have over four decades of experience in the publishing industry. The agency represents multiple award-winning and New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling authors. We are regularly ranked in the top five dealmakers for fiction on Publisher’s Marketplace.

Our goal is to help find homes for books that engage, entertain, and make a difference. From conception, through a collaborative and engaged editorial process, to finding a publisher and beyond, we partner with our authors to ensure success in finding the right publisher and long term success on the market. We want to work with authors not just for a book but for a career — we are dedicated to building long-term relationships with our authors and publishing partners.

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

On the children’s side, I represent MG & YA. I also represent adult contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, and select adult literary fiction. For middle grade, I love heartfelt stories with pitch-perfect voice – and a touch of humor never hurt, although I don’t tend to go for slapstick or gross-out humor. My tastes here tend to skew toward contemporary, magical realism, fantasy and sci-fi. On the young adult side, I’m looking mostly for originality, in any genre: stand-out voices, beautiful writing, and stories I haven’t seen before. I tend to gravitate toward the quirky, strange and/or offbeat, especially in YA.

4. Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?

I would love to see more magical realism and more diverse characters (especially in what are now being called #ownvoices books). I tend to adore innovative narrative structures when the author successfully pulls them off. I’m always looking for LGBTQ YA and MG. And I keep asking for YA or MG featuring a girl who codes, but haven’t found the perfect one for my list yet!
Beyond that, you can keep an eye on my #MSWL tweets for specific, up-to-date wishlist items, but more than anything else, I want to find books that I fall in love with and can’t imagine not working on. More often than not, these are the books that I wouldn’t have even known to ask for – weird and wonderful voices and stories that surprise me.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

Right now I’m still having a tough time with YA paranormal romance, dystopian, and urban fantasy, so anything in these genres would have to be very special for me to take it on. I love YA fantasy, but I’m feeling a little overloaded on assassins and medieval-inspired worlds right now – I’m finding myself drawn mostly to YA fantasy where the characters and world-building feels very different from what’s already out there.

As mentioned above, middle-grade gross-out humor doesn’t tend to be to my taste; I also probably would not be the best agent for Rick Riordan-style MG adventure.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

One of the best things about this job is getting to work with people I believe in and who are just generally excellent human beings. I’m looking for authors who in addition to being talented are professional, hard-working, kind, collaborative, and dedicated to learning and growing their craft.
In terms of what kinds of books I want to represent, that’s simple: books I love and that I can’t imagine not representing. Falling love with an author’s voice on the page really does feel like falling in love: my pulse starts racing, I get excited/nervous/excited, I want to shout about this wonderful thing I’ve found to everyone who’ll listen, I start planning for the future – I think every author deserves an agent who had that kind of enthusiasm for their work.

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

Yes, I think that in the very competitive current market it’s crucial to send out a book in the strongest possible form to give it the best shot of getting published. I’m very hands-on with my clients as we prepare a book for submission, and work with authors on everything from big-picture notes on character arcs and plot logistics to more detailed comments on the level of individual lines.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

I only require a query letter, but I’m happy to see the first 10 pages pasted below the query letter in the body of the email if you would like to include them.

9. Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

Like many agents, I consider it a red flag when authors compare their novels to children’s classics (A WRINKLE IN TIME and THE GIVER are great, but we’re in a very different market now) or mega-bestsellers like HARRY POTTER (this level of success is an outlier, and if an author is expecting that, I assume they have unrealistic expectations and will be disappointed when they learn the realities of the market). It’s also best to avoid mentioning that you think your book would make a great movie – first I hope you want it be a great book!

Also, the redundant term “fiction novel” drives me completely bananas.

Response Time:

10. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?

I try to reply to queries within 1-2 weeks and requested materials within 2-3 months, although occasionally it does take me a bit longer.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11. Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Yes, previously published authors are welcome, but please only query me with never-before-published projects. It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for an agent to sell a previously self-published novel unless the sales are astronomical. If you’ve already hit the self-publish button and then decide you want to pursue a traditional path, the best path is to write the next book and then query agents with that new project.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

As time goes on, agents are becoming more and more like career managers, helping authors think not just about a single book but about branding and career arc as a whole. Hybrid authors often appreciate the long-term strategic planning that an agent can bring to their work.
For authors who are interested exclusively in self-publishing or publishing with small presses, I think an agent isn’t always as necessary. Most agents are still best suited to help authors who are interested in seriously pursuing traditional publication in some form, even if its one of many avenues.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?


Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.



Links and Contact Info:

15. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.

Please send a query letter to patricia[at]marsallyonliteraryagency[dot]com. Feel free to include the first 10 pages of the novel pasted in the body of the email. No attachments please.
For more information, our agency website is at: marsallyonliteraryagency.com. I’m also active on twitter at @patricianels, where I tweet frequently about what I’m reading, what my clients are writing, and anything else I’m excited about.

Additional Advice:

16. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with aspiring authors that we haven’t covered?

Know the market. Connect to a writing community. Read craft books (I frequently recommend SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder!) and keep improving. Revise until you can’t imagine revising anymore, then revise again. Find critique partners you trust and learn from them. Keep going: if 10 agents reject your book, send it to 10 more; if 100 agents reject your book, write another book. Published authors are the aspiring writers who didn’t give up.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Patricia.

Patricia is generously offering a query critique to 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 March 26th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know 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 an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.