CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

UNDER LOCK AND KEY through May 20th
THE BLACK WITCH through May 20th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Alyssa Jennette on 5/24/2017
Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH ALYSSA JENNETTE and QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Alyssa Jennette here. She is a literary agent at Stonesong Literary Agency.

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

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi Alyssa! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me! 😊

About Alyssa:

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

My path to agenthood was not direct, although I’ve been lucky to either naturally possess or come to develop some of the necessary skills through school and internships. My degree is in Illustration, so I’ve always had an interest in narrative expression, and I’ve always been a natural editor. After college, a close friend trusted me to read two of his manuscripts and offer feedback; once I had, he told me that the literary agents he’d approached had offered him identical feedback, so why don’t I consider being an agent?

So, I emailed a bunch of agencies, lined up some interviews for internships, and ended up working with the lovely Jessica Sinsheimer (creator of Manuscript WishList) at Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. I interned there for a year before interviewing with and accepting a job at Stonesong in 2015—it’s about to be my two-year anniversary here, although I’ve only actively been agenting for a year.

Since I came to agenting relatively late, and had a surprisingly quick track compared to the more traditional route, I’m still building my list and forming relationships with editors.

About the Agency:

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

Stonesong has been around for over thirty years—it started as primarily a book packager, and about fifteen years ago the agency arm of the business took the lead. It’s female-owned with an all-female team, which has been a real joy to be a part of. There’s a real feeling of collaboration and support in the office, and I know that if I need to bounce an idea off of my coworkers, or to ask for help or input, I have a ton of willing ears ready to help out. That means that all of our authors have access the same pool of knowledge: at the end of the day, a Stonesong author has a team of people working to help them succeed, not just one.

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?

My list is pretty broad when it comes to age groups: I represent picture books, middle grade (my sweet spot), and some YA and adult. My taste across the board tends to run more literary, but I love to laugh—no matter what the “mood” of your writing is, I want to see cleverness. I want to be enchanted and outsmarted.

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

I have been saying over and over again for months that I want a YA noir in the vein of Brick, Veronica Mars, and now Riverdale. Please, please, please, give it to me. Make it beautifully and intricately plotted, play with the traditional noir tropes, surprise your readers.

I would also love a romantic/coming-of-age plot that revolves around a Craigslist Missed Connection. I’m obsessed with Missed Connections and I read them for fun.

I’d also love an epistolary novel (text, emails, chats) about the decline of a best-friendship—think of it like a future anthropologist might if they came across some old hard drive and had to piece together the plot of some digital social media history.

That’s a lot of YA requests, so let’s talk about MG: I think MG has a unique opportunity for sophistication and complexity that other age groups don’t necessarily get. My favorite thing about middle grade is the opportunity to explore—in some readers’ cases, for the first time—the complexities of relationships, the realities of the world. This makes contemporary MG a natural fit, but I adore magic, witches, and mystery, too.

Across the board, I love cleverness. Give me some wordplay, some smart subversion of the world and society we know.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not your girl for traditional high fantasy or sci-fi, or for most historical novels. Also, I love romance as part and parcel of a novel, but I want to make sure there’s more going on in the narrative than pure “will-they-won’t-they.”

I’m very wary of books that Capitalize Nouns and Concepts to make them Important and Significant. Your word choice is important, and so are your naming conventions—don’t settle!

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?

As an agent, my priority is to advocate for you. That means I need my clients to trust me and listen to me. Before I sign a client, I make it clear to them that I’m a pretty direct and determined person; if they have a hard time with hearing occasionally blunt—but helpful!—feedback, we may not be the right fit. I’m a collaborator, and I want to work with the author as closely and symbiotically as possible, so I need the author to work with me, too. I can’t work with someone who will constantly be pushing back and won’t hear my input.

I want to represent books and authors who are telling the truth in a way that makes me look twice. I want to represent authors who make that excitement well up in me when I read about their characters. I need that excitement in order to move forward with an offer. I will pretty much never dogpile on an author just because a lot of other agents are interested—if I don’t feel that spark, I won’t pursue it.

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?

I am definitely an editorial agent, but I can’t be the first person who sees an author’s manuscript. It is not my job to edit your work from scratch, and the manuscript needs to be polished before it reaches my inbox—that remains true whether you’re querying for the first time or you’re my client and this is our third book together. Once I receive a manuscript from a client I represent, I will read it and line edit as I go, plus make broader observations and suggestions for developmental edits. Once I return the manuscript to the author, they’ll address my edits and I’ll read it again. This usually takes about six months from start to finish (naturally this is a shorter process for picture books). Throughout this process I’ll be doing research here and there about which editor could be a good fit for the project, but I won’t hunker down and finalize the list until the manuscript is totally complete.

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?

Authors should query Stonesong’s submission email and put my name in the subject line along with the word QUERY and the title of their book. As far as the query letter itself, I want to get not only a sense of the plot—the protagonist/s, the stakes, the basic facts—but a sense of the mood and style of the book, too. And, of course, I love to hear a little bit about the authors personally. Just try to keep your letter relatively brief—one page absolute max.

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

“I’m writing in the hopes that you will consider representing my novel…” Yes, of course you are. Just dive right in with your query, whether you’re telling me the title and genre or opening immediately with the plot itself.

Your first ten pages should tell me a good chunk about what’s to come: who we care about and why, where/when we are, what the characters’ goals are, what obstacles they may come up against, basic relationship dynamics between the characters. Certainly the voice should be well-established, too.

Response Time:

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

Typically I’ll process a query within eight weeks—the policy at Stonesong is if you don’t hear back after twelve weeks, it’s a no. If I request a full manuscript, I try to keep to the same timeline—about eight to ten weeks to read and respond. If I take longer than ten weeks, I’m perfectly fine with an author nudging me to see where I am with the manuscript. Naturally, manuscripts that get an offer elsewhere will typically jump to the front of the line.

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?

I’m open to it, but generally speaking, it turns me off. A pre-published book basically has to be irresistible to me in order for me to take it on.

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?

At the end of the day, agents will always be the author’s advocate. I expect we’ll just be required to learn how to negotiate contracts that include an ever-expanding list of potential new media and new technology rights.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

https://www.bookhivecorp.com/blog/entry/interview-with-bookhiver-tallie-gabriel-s-literary-agent-alyssa-jennette-of-stonesong
http://www.adventuresinyapublishing.com/2017/02/agent-interview-alyssa-jennette-of.html#.WOgiSrvyvfY

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please submit your query and first ten pages to submissions@stonesong.com; put QUERY in the subject line and address your query specifically to me.

Additional Advice:

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

-Don’t write for trends; by the time you identify a trend and start writing for it, it’s probably over. Tell the story only you can tell.

-When a character does something, ask yourself why until every single hole is closed up. All your whys should be airtight.

-Don’t rush it. Unless you have a deadline—then do everything you can to be on time. If you can’t be on time, communicate this ASAP!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Alyssa.

Alyssa 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 June 10th. 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.

KAT ZHANG INTERVIEW and THE EMPEROR’S RIDDLE GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Before I get to my interview today, I wanted to let you know about a contest you might want to enter. Our own follower Kristin Bartley Lenz won the contest and got a publishing contract for her YA debut THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO, a Junior Library Guild Selection. Here's details of the contest:

The 2018 Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize

Prize of $1,000 and publication with Elephant Rock Books YA.

Judges: Jennie Kendrick, Forever Young AdultSuzy Takac, owner of The Book Cellar.

Elephant Rock’s Helen Sheehan YA Book Prize is awarded to only the strongest full-length YA novel. We’ve had great success with the prize. The Carnival at Bray, our 2014 winner by Jessie Ann Foley, went on to become a Printz Honor Book; The Art of Holding On and Letting Go, our 2016 winner by Kristin Bartley Lenz, was a Junior Library Guild selection and has since been nominated for the Michigan Great Lakes Great Books Award.

The press accepts electronic submissions through Submittable.

Elephant Rock does not read manuscripts outside of our contest. 

Submission Guidelines
·Eligibility: Novelists writing in English and with completed YA manuscripts. Submit the first fifty pages. Full manuscripts submitted during round two of evaluation. A manuscript may be submitted that is being considered elsewhere, but Elephant Rock should be notified upon the manuscript’s acceptance elsewhere.
o   Cover letter: include a brief bio, relevant publication information, address, phone number, and title of the manuscript.
·Submission fee: $20 via Submittable.
·The winning manuscript will be announced in late fall of 2017 and published in 2018.
·Submissions window is open; submissions window closes on June 30.

Today I’m thrilled to have Kat Zhang back on the blog to share about her new MG THE EMPEROR’S RIDDLE. I first had Kat on the blog when her debut YA novel in The Hybrid Chronicles released in 2012. She wrote that book in high school and was debuting while in college. Since then she’s finished that trilogy and is now starting to write for middle graders. So excited for her new book because it is set in China. Some of you know that my daughter is adopted from there.

Here’s a blurb of THE EMPEROR’S RIDDLE from Goodreads:

Mia Chen is on what her mother calls a Grand Adventure. She’s not sure what to make of this family trip to China, and didn’t want to leave her friends for the summer, but she’s excited about the prospect of exploring with her Aunt Lin, the only adult who truly understands her.

Then Aunt Lin disappears, right after her old nemesis, a man named Ying, comes to visit. Mia knows that years ago, when Aunt Lin and Ying were sent to the Fuzhou countryside to work as laborers, the two searched for an ancient treasure together—one that still hasn’t been found. She’s suspicious that their shared history might be linked to Aunt Lin’s disappearance.

When Mia discovers an old map filled with riddles in Aunt Lin’s room, she quickly pieces together her mission: find the treasure, find her aunt. Now, Mia, along with her big brother, Jake, must solve the clues to rescue the person she knows best in the world—and maybe unearth a treasure greater than her wildest dreams.

Hi Kat! Thanks so much for joining us!

1. Tell us about yourself and what has been going on in your life since we talked in 2012. Have you graduated from college?

Thanks for having me on the blog again! Wow, it seems like it’s been so long since 2012. I have graduated college, but decided to pursue even more school, so I’m going to be a student for a few years longer. In other news, I’ve moved out to the American Midwest for the first time in my life, and I’m enjoying the new surroundings 😊

2. Not surprising that you are continuing in your education. Where did you get the idea for THE EMPEROR’S RIDDLE?

My parents are immigrants from China, and I’ve been hearing stories about their childhoods and about the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which had a huge effect on their lives, since I was a kid. I’ve always wanted to write a book that touched on that, and on other aspects of Chinese history.

It all came together when my father mentioned that during his last trip to China, he’d gone to see an old burial site. According to local stories, the tomb was actually the secret tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor.

Hearing my father’s description of this tomb, and about the legend, I started to piece together the story that would become The Emperor’s Riddle.

3. I've read about the Cultural Revolution, and I can imagine how that affected your parents' lives. What made you decide to write a middle grade story instead of making this a YA story? What challenges did you face in writing for a younger audience?

From the beginning, I knew I wanted The Emperor’s Riddle to be:

a) a treasure-hunt/mystery of sorts

b) very much a family-based story

These are, of course, things that can be the backbone of a YA book, but they just worked really well in the world of middle grade. Plus, I didn’t get to read many action/adventure books about kids who looked like me when I was a preteen, and I wanted other Asian-American kids to have that opportunity.

I was a little nervous at first about trying to get back into a preteen mindset—being eleven-years-old seems so far away now! But I’m lucky to have hung out with a lot of kids through work and volunteer experiences, and it was really fun to try seeing the world from their point of view again.

4. Yes, my daughter and I felt the same way about the lack of kids who looked like her in MG
books too. I love that your story is set in China. My daughter was adopted from China, and I’ve been there twice. What made you decide on China and what research did you have to do for this story?

There seem to be few MG/YA books set in China, which is a shame, because it’s such a great place for a story, and full of so much rich history. I definitely did a lot of research on the legend interwoven into The Emperor’s Riddle, as well as on the various historic and cultural landmarks that Mia visits during her treasure hunt. It was a ton of fun to “visit” each location along with her through the internet.

5. Share about Mia, your main character. What was her character development like?

Mia was really fun to write—in general, I’ve found that this age range in general is really fun to write! She’s at a point where she’s still very much a kid, but also full of more understanding than some of the adults in her life expect. She’s got all these plans and strong emotions, and she doesn’t always quite know how to handle them all, and it was really great to be able to explore that.

6. She sounds really cool. What have you learned about marketing from your promotion of your first YA series? How is marketing this book the same and different than that series?

Honestly, the biggest thing I learned about marketing is that at the end of the day, it’s word of mouth that will make the biggest difference. Of course, everything else is important, too, and I love doing interviews, guest-posts, giveaways, and author visits, but the most important thing is still to write a great book that readers will love and talk about and recommend to their friends 😊

Marketing MG does seem to be a bit different than marketing YA, because the target audience is different—there’s more of an emphasis on reaching librarians/schools and the like, rather than online marketing. I’m very much still learning about it all, though!

7. I think that you're right about reaching out to librarians and schools more vs. online marketing. Though it can reach parents. You’ve successfully grown your career as an author, which is challenging for some debut authors to do. Do you have any tips for other authors trying to make the leap from debut author to established author who writes and sells more books?

Thank you! 😊
The only real tip I have is a pretty basic one—keep writing, and don’t be afraid to branch out. Of course, if you really only enjoy writing a particular kind of book, you don’t have to force yourself to write other things. But being open to different ideas and types of writing can not only be fun, but help your career move forward.

8. What is something that has surprised you about being a writer since you debuted?

I remember that early on, I was surprised by everything that goes on behind the scenes of publishing! There are a ton of people involved, and lots of moving parts.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on revisions for my second MG! It’s about parallel universes and misfit children, and I’m very excited about it.

Thanks for sharing your advice, Kat. You can find Kat at www.KatZhangWriter.Com and @KatZhang

Kat has generously offered a copy of THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE 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 June 3rd. 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. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is for U.S.

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

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, May 24th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Jennette and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 29th I'll be off for Memorial day and will be taking a blog break until Friday.

Friday, June 2nd I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 7th I've got an interview with debut author Leah Henderson and giveaway of her MG contemporary ONE SHADOW on the WALL and my IWSG post

Monday, June 12th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Bibi Lewis and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 19th I have a guest post with debut author Kayla Olson and possibly her agent with a giveaway of her YA science fiction THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE

Wednesday, June 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Kelly Van Sant and a query critique giveaway--my last until the fall

Monday, I have a guest post with debut author Emily Bain Murphy and her agent Peter Knapp with a giveaway of Erin's YA fantasy THE DISAPPEARANCES and a query critique giveaway by Peter

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


AGENT VALERIE NOBLE and ERIN BEATY GUEST POST W/ QUERY CRITIQUE and THE TRAITOR'S KISS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Erin Beaty and her agent Valerie Noble here with a guest post to celebrate the release of Erin's YA fantasy THE TRAITOR'S KISS. I'm really excited to read this because of Sage, a strong and fantastic-sounding character.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:


An obstinate girl who will not be married.
A soldier desperate to prove himself.
A kingdom on the brink of war.

With a sharp tongue and an unruly temper, Sage Fowler is not what they’d call a lady―which is perfectly fine with her. Deemed unfit for marriage, Sage is apprenticed to a matchmaker and tasked with wrangling other young ladies to be married off for political alliances. She spies on the girls―and on the soldiers escorting them.

As the girls' military escort senses a political uprising, Sage is recruited by a handsome soldier to infiltrate the enemy ranks. The more she discovers as a spy, the less certain she becomes about whom to trust―and Sage becomes caught in a dangerous balancing act that will determine the fate of her kingdom.

Now here's Erin and Valerie!

Here is Valerie's query advice:

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what catches my eye in a query and what doesn’t, but I always appreciate a well written, concise query. Start with the basics: My name is [author name] and I’ve written [title] which is [genre] of approximately [word count]. This is the most important information you need to convey, so do it immediately. Want to add some comparisons? Great! Feel free to do so, it shows you know where your book might sit on a bookshelf, but it’s not necessary.

Next: Give me your pitch. This should be a paragraph or two, a back of the book type blurb that draws me in. This gets me excited to read your pages. After your pitch, tell me about yourself. A brief bio highlighting relevant industry experience or education is a definite must, but including just a brief bit of information about you even if you have no experience is also welcome.

And finally: FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. Why wouldn’t you? Don’t risk rejection before an agent even gets to your pages, just follow them and put your best foot forward. See you in the query box!

Erin's writing advice:

I think the most important thing is to write what you would want to read – you’d be surprised how
many other people would like it, too. Stories that come from your heart are also better and stronger than anything written for a trend, and readers can tell that. Plus, the enthusiasm you have
in telling your story will show, and that will draw in a bigger audience than that kind of story might otherwise. The last reason to write what you love is because you will be reading it again and again. And again. And then once or twice more.

When it comes to revising, the main things I’ve found helpful are time away from the work and critiquing other people’s writing. Time away loosens your emotional grip on the story and lets you see it as a whole more clearly, not to mention the little mistakes your eyes have been passing over.
As for critiquing, I would see mistakes and then realize I had done the very same thing in my own work. These two go together because time away can be filled with critiques!

Lastly, you need to read, both inside and outside your genre. You wouldn’t write a song, let alone a symphony without listening to any other music, would you?

You can find Erin at:

Website: www.erinbeaty.com
Twitter: @ErinBeatyWrites
Instagram: ErinBeatyWrites


Erin has generously offered a copy of THE TRAITOR'S KISS for a giveaway and Valerie is offering a query critique 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 May 27th. If you do not want to be included in the 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. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. Both the book and the critique giveaways are international.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 22nd I've got an interview with Kat Zhang and a giveaway of her new MG THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE

Wednesday, May 24th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Jennette and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 31st I'll be off for Memorial day

Friday, June 2nd I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, June 7th I've got an interview with debut author Leah Henderson and giveaway of her MG contemporary ONE SHADOW on the WALL and my IWSG post

Monday, June 14th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Bibi Lewis and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!


AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH LORIN OBERWEGER AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Lorin Oberweger here. She is a literary agent at Adams Literary.

FYI, I’m taking over the agent spotlights from Casey. 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 Lorin! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me! 

About Lorin:

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

Well, I’ve been an independent book editor for about twenty-five years, in addition to putting on workshops geared for intermediate and advanced writers and serving as a fiction instructor as well. 

So, helping writers achieve success has been the thrust of my professional life for a long time. Eventually, it felt to me that as an agent I could offer an additional length of bridge between writers and publishing success. I could offer them the investment of time and effort that signifies an investment in their work—and in their longterm success. It just felt like such a natural extension of everything I’ve done, professionally and creatively, to date.

I’ve only been at it for about six months now, and I’m allowing myself to go slow, build a thoughtful list of clients and projects. So, right now, my agent work is still in the nascent stage, but I hope to go out with some recently revised client works in the next few weeks or so! Stay tuned for more.

About the Agency:

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

Now in its thirteenth year, Adams Literary is a full-service boutique agency catering exclusively to authors of picture books, middle grade, and young adult fiction. From the website: “While we like to think of ourselves as matchmakers—connecting authors and artists with editors and publishers, and young readers with unforgettable books—our first priority is to ensure our clients have the peace of mind to concentrate on their characters, not their contracts.” 

I think that sums things up beautifully. What the agency offers is a sense of collaboration and family paired with incredible business acumen. I feel so fortunate to be a client of the agency AND to grow a career under the mentorship of such awesome, brilliant people. 

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?

I represent primarily middle grade and young adult, as I don’t feel quite as savvy about picture books. In terms of what I’m looking for, I’m open to any genre, really, though slightly more excited about contemporary, literary, magical realism, mystery, and horror/dark suspense.

That said, I’m open to falling in love with just about anything!


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

I think for me it has less to do with genre and more to do with character development, plot, and theme. I love characters who demonstrate some level of agency right away. I love to experience a world that I wouldn’t have an opportunity to experience outside of the pages of the book. I love a story that has something to SAY without being preachy.

I’m absolutely for books that feature characters of all races, ethnicities, genders, sexual persuasions, and abilities. Not because publishing is seeking those books but because books can serve as lifelines to readers out there, and the more kids and teens (and even adults) who find themselves reflected on the page, who feel as though they’re being seen and acknowledged, the better. 

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

High fantasy and science fiction works that offer familiar genre tropes; passive protagonists who define themselves almost solely through their weaknesses/character deficiencies; books that condescend to younger readers; books that are written in a style that feels overly dispassionate and objective. I like an intimate and juicy narrative. I don’t want to feel as though I’m observing characters from a distance of miles.

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?

I’d love for my clients to be as passionate about craft as I am, to be unafraid to dig in and challenge themselves and their projects to great heights. I love a good “mensch,” of course, and for me, someone who exhibits intellectual ambition AND generosity of spirit: well, that’s just the best.

In terms of books I want to represent, I’m attracted to the idiosyncratic/quirky works, the stories that might otherwise slip through the cracks. Most of all, though a great story about a worthy character engaged in a quest of critical importance (with urgent public and/or private stakes) is what it’s about for me.

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?

With decades of editorial work under my belt, the answer is a resounding YEP. I haven’t been at it long enough to have a routine process, but I can tell you that I’m a thorough editor who tends to have great ambitions for a client’s story, so chances are there will be a pretty thorough revision process before submission. Not in all cases, of course, but probably I’d be a nightmare to any lazybones writers out there. πŸ˜ƒ

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?

Writers can query through the submissions portal at adamsliterary.com. We ask for the entire work with submissions, so expect to send that with some kind of synopsis and query, per the website’s instructions.

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

I don’t respond that well to queries that editorialize about the work being submitted. I’d rather spend time reading about the characters, world, and story than the writer’s opinion of his or her own work.

Also, writers who send queries aimed at other agents, who spell my name wrong or refer to me as “Mr.,” or who come at me in a defensive or defeatist manner are not doing themselves any great favors. I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but a professional and considerate query certainly rises to the top.

Response Time:

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

As mentioned, Adams Lit really skips that process and goes right to whole manuscript submission, which can slow response time.

I’m still getting up to speed/putting an efficient system in place, so I’m a little slow right now. It may be four or five months before I reply to works that really interest me. Less time, of course, for those I know are passes.

That said, I will reply to all submissions, so silence from me means I’m dancing as fast as I can and shouldn’t be construed as a rejection.

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?

I’m absolutely interested in those authors, but I probably wouldn’t be interested in trying to sell a story that has already been self-published or which has been out with a small press prior to submission (with reverted rights, etc.). Other works by those authors? Most definitely.

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?

I think the role of agent is principally the same, but, of course, a good agent will be aware of what’s going on in the industry and try to serve her clients across different formats and publishing platforms, as needed.

I’m with Adams Literary because I believe in traditional publishing and want to help guide clients to traditional publishing success. But if a client of mine has reason to pursue hybrid success, I feel capable of pointing them to the resources they need to do so.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

Folks can find a few articles on my woefully unfinished personal website: http://lorinoberweger.com/tips/ and on my business blog: http://free-expressions.com/write-line/
Also:

In addition, we’ve added some tips for writers on the Adams Literary site—a checklist for writers planning to submit. Here’s hoping that’s of help, too!

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please submit through the portal at adamsliterary.com

In terms of other links, I’m easily found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram—the benefit of having a pretty distinctive name!

 Additional Advice:

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

When you feel like giving up, don’t. So many authors I know succeeded after what felt like a painful and protracted stage of “almost there.” Inevitably, GIANT breakthroughs come at that point for authors who keep the faith and keep working to improve. Keep at it.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lorin.

­Lorin 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 May 27th.  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. 

LAURIE FOREST GUEST POST AND THE BLACK WITCH GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday, Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Laurie Forest here to share about her YA fantasy THE BLACK WITCH. I've always been intrigued by apothecaries.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother's legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she's been taught to hate and fear.

Now here's Laurie!


WRITING THE BLACK WITCH

About eight years ago, the last thing you would have found me reading is fantasy fiction. I’d never sought out the genre, and preferred to read non-fiction almost exclusively. I was finishing up a series of non-fiction books about Afghanistan when my then pre-teen daughters started putting HARRY POTTER in front of me.

            “No thank you,” I told them, humoring their dogged efforts. “Those are kids’ books, but I’m glad you’re enjoying them.”

            They refused to give up.

            Finally, after watching them devour the books, dress up like characters in the books, style birthday parties around the books and get so excited about the movies, I broke down and cracked open the first book.

            I read through the entire series in a less than two months.

            I was instantly hooked. And stunned that J.K. Rowling was able to tackle so many serious
issues so effectively (and inspiringly) in a metaphorical/fantasy way. I started to read every YA fantasy book my kids handed me, and then some.

            During this time, as I was immersing myself in vivid stories of dragons and werewolves and witches and wizards, a dramatic, real-life story was going on around us here in Vermont – the fight for marriage equality. My husband and I were involved in supporting marriage equality, which was a surprisingly hard battle. Prejudice I never knew existed came out of the woodwork against LGBTQ friends, completely blindsiding me.

This real-life story did have a happy ending - Vermont legalized marriage equality in 2009. But the darkness I had witnessed reverberated in my mind. It set me mulling over prejudice in more general terms (religion-based, gender-based, etc.) as I was reading THE GOLDEN COMPASS series. The spark of a story lit inside me - a fantasy story where people with wings are rejected by pretty much every religion/culture for no sound reason save tradition. On a lark, I started writing that first scene down and found myself as instantly hooked by writing as I had been by fantasy fiction (it felt like magic). My fledgling story rapidly found its own trajectory and rapidly veered off into pure fantasy territory.

That first year of writing was a fertile, breathtakingly exciting one. I wrote almost every day and at the end of the year I had a 1,200 page book (which was later to become Book One and Book Two of the upcoming BLACK WITCH CHRONICLES). I joined a writing group. They loved my hot mess of a rough draft and pushed me to consider publication (which, at the time, I thought was pie-in-the-sky ridiculous). About a year later I landed my wonderful agent, Carrie Hannigan at Hannigan, Salky & Getzler. And the rewriting began.

Over the span of about eight years I re-wrote the manuscript well over thirty times with countless revisions of sections. About 400 pages of material were thrown out and about an equal amount was added. And there were rejections from prospective publishers - a lot of them (and it was a good thing as the story wasn’t ready and I had a lot to learn about writing). I joined a second group of writers/beta readers. I joined the Burlington Writers’ Workshop.

Advice for new writers? Try to write every day. My favorite writing quote is “the muse can’t resist a working writer” and I think that’s very true. If you show up, your muse will show up. Read as much as you can. And do the things that inspire you – movies, museums, listening to conversations in coffee shops, going to plays, meandering in the forest – whatever those things are that set your imagination firing. And after that – join a writing group. You’ll have as much fun watching other people’s novels take shape as you will seeing your own book come to life.

It’s a magical journey – and you’ll come up with a story you could have never predicted. The thrill of discovery is half the fun of it. Enjoy!

You can find Laurie at:


Laurie has generously offered an ARC of THE BLACK WITCH 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 May 20th. 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. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, May 10th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Lorin Oberweger and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 15th I've got a guest post by debut author Erin Beaty and her agent Valerie Noble with a query critique giveaway by Valerie and a giveaway of Erin's YA fantasy THE TRAITOR'S KISS

Monday, May 22nd I've got an interview with Kat Zhang and a giveaway of her new MG THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE

Wednesday, May 24th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Jennette and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 31st I'll be off for Memorial day

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

May I Suggest Giveaway Hop


Happy Friday Everyone! Yay, it's almost the weekend. Just want to remind any writers that I have a number of agent critique giveaway contests listed above and the upcoming ones through June. Then I'll be taking a break from these posts for the summer. You may win a query critique with an agent who could be interested in your manuscript or give you helpful advice.

I’m thrilled to be part of the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop sponsored by Stuck In Books. I hope you find a book you like for yourself, a family member, or a friend in the choices offered.

Don’t see a book you like? You can win a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card instead. I hope you'll all enter to win a book or gift card for yourself or as a gift for someone.

So here are your choices. So many good books. I'm especially excited for Megan Whalen Turner's new book. Any other fans of hers out there? If you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 


 


 

 


 

 


If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower anyway you want and leave a comment through May 15th telling me the book you want to win or if you want to win the Gift Card instead. 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. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome as long as The Book Depository ships to you for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, May 8th I've got a guest post by debut author Laurie Forest and a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE BLACK WITCH

Wednesday, May 10th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Lorin Oberweger and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 15th I've got a guest post by debut author Erin Beaty and her agent Valerie Noble with a query critique giveaway by Valerie and a giveaway of Erin's YA fantasy THE TRAITOR'S KISS

Monday, May 22nd I've got an interview with Kat Zhang and a giveaway of her new MG THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE

Wednesday, May 24th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Jennette and a query critique giveaway.

Hope to see you on Monday!

Here are the other blogs participating in this blog hop:



ALLISON HYMAS GUEST POST and UNDER LOCKER AND KEY GIVEAWAY and IWSG POST


Happy Wednesday Everyone! I've got a fantastic guest post for you by debut author Allison Hymas and first my IWSG post.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.
The co-hosts this month are Co-Hosts:  Nancy Gideon, Tamara Narayan, Liesbet @ Roaming About, Michelle Wallace, and Feather Stone!


Today's Question: What is the weirdest/coolest thing that you have had to research for your story?

I write fantasy so I get to create my world, food, magic, etc. While I haven't done exhaustive research, I have found that being open to ideas around me could create good story lines. So when I read the newspaper, I'm on the look out for weird looking houses, flowers and plants with weird healing powers or poisons, and things like that. When we used to go on driving vacation trips, I used to find great ideas from looking at the names of small towns or streets in small, southern towns that would give me ideas for naming places in my stories. One of the things I learned from this is that ideas are anywhere, and you can research them on the Internet for additional information.

What about you? What have you found to be the weirdest or coolest thing to research?

Now onto my post with Allision. I'm excited to have Allison here to share about her debut MG mystery UNDER LOCKER AND KEY. I'm really excited for her story because I've been loving to read mysteries lately, even more than fantasies, .

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:
Eleven-year-old Jeremy Wilderson teams up with his rival crime fighter to stop the stealing spree that’s wreaking havoc on Scottsville Middle School.

Jeremy Wilderson is not a thief. In fact, he is his middle school’s one and only retrieval specialist. Confiscated cell phones, stolen lunch money—he’ll discretely retrieve it before the last bell rings. Business is good, and if it weren’t for the meddling of preteen private investigator Becca Mills, he’d be happier than a gym teacher on dodgeball day.


But a new job shatters his comfortable lifestyle. Now, thanks to Jeremy, the master key to the schools’ lockers is in the hands of an aspiring crime kingpin who doesn’t exactly have Jeremy’s strong moral character. Soon not even combination locks can protect the students’ textbooks and jackets. Retrieving the key is too big a job for one crime fighter, and only one person wants the key returned as much as Jeremy does: Becca Mills.

Lockers are being robbed, the teachers are looking for the culprit, and the only person Jeremy can turn to is the girl who most wants to see him in the principal’s office. Will Jeremy be able to trust Becca enough to get the key back in the right hands? Or could he end up in detention until the end of high school instead?
 

Now here's Allison!

Before I signed with Lauren Abramo, I’d been querying for a long time (I had queried two other books unsuccessfully before Under Locker and Key). While working on my query letters, I read countless blog posts and heard personal witness from authors at the writing conventions I attended. Some said, essentially, “Oh man, I would DIE without my agent!” Others told horror stories about times the relationship didn’t work out.

I knew, in theory, that it was good business to find an agent I could work well with. But it wasn’t until I experienced the agent/author relationship myself that I understood how it could make or break a publication process. I would not have had the good experience I did with publishing if it hadn’t been for my agent.

I chose Lauren because I personally liked her when I spoke to her on the phone, but also because she was professional and seemed to have the same goals as I did for my book and my career. She was willing to represent me for my career, not just for one book, and she was located in New York City, near the publishers I wanted my book shown to. I felt like she would be on my side, and that we’d work well together.

Lauren has been a huge help to me from day one. For example, before we even submitted my book to publishers, she read through it and gave me revision notes. She didn’t rewrite my story, but neither did she stay silent when her advice could help me polish the book so it was a better version of the story I wanted to tell, which was very much appreciated.

As for submission, Lauren wouldn’t contact me unless we had good news. This was another aspect of working with her that I liked. I’m a more hands-off person when it comes to staying in contact; I prefer to communicate when there’s something to be said. But, once Aladdin was interested, Lauren kept me very informed. She called me and explained to me what the deal was and we discussed what we should do about it. I was new to publishing and didn’t know much except, “Yay! Someone wants my book!” Lauren explained what everything in the contract meant and gave me advice, which I happily took, on how to proceed.

For me, a new writer who didn’t know exactly how to engage with the publishing world, Lauren’s expertise was exactly what I needed. She negotiated my contract, making sure I was treated fairly, and she was clear with me about all of it. She taught me what I needed to know to make informed decisions about submission and publication. I honestly couldn’t even have considered doing this without her.

At this point, I’m still learning a lot about the business, and Lauren has still been great at answering
my questions or at least directing me to the right person to ask. I feel comfortable asking her anything about my book or the business.

The other writers I heard speak were telling the truth: the agent/author relationship is important. My advice for new writers is to seriously consider how well you’ll work with the agents you query. Ask questions that will help you know whether the agent you’re speaking to will be a good match for you and your goals, because it really is important. I’m now one of those writers saying, “Oh man, I would DIE without my agent!”

You can find Allison at:

Blog: thestoryfanatic.blogspot.com
Website: allisonkhymas.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/allisonkhymas
Twitter: twitter.com/akbookworm
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/15290124.Allison_K_Hymas
Instagram: www.instagram.com/allisonhymas/

Allison has generously donated a copy of UNDER LOCKER AND KEY 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 May 20th. 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. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Friday, May 5th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Book Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 8th I've got a guest post by debut author Laurie Forest and a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE BLACK WITCH

Wednesday, May 10th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Lorin Oberweger and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 15th I've got a guest post by debut author Erin Beaty and her agent Valerie Noble with a query critique giveaway by Valerie and a giveaway of Erin's YA fantasy THE TRAITOR'S KISS

Monday, May 22nd I've got an interview with Kat Zhang and a giveaway of her new MG THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE

Wednesday, May 24th I've got an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Jennette and a query critique giveaway.

Hope to see you on Friday!