Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • Jazmia Young Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/21/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

ELLY BLAKE and SUZIE TOWNSEND GUEST POST W/ QUERY CRITIQUE and FROSTBLOOD GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! I've got a treat for you today. Debut author Elly Blake is here with her agent Suzie Townsend to celebrate the release of Elly's YA fantasy FROSTBLOOD. It sounds like a fantastic fantasy world and real page turner.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:


Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

Despite her unpredictable abilities, Ruby trains with the rebels and the infuriating—yet irresistible—Arcus, who seems to think of her as nothing more than a weapon. But before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to compete in the king’s tournaments that pit Fireblood prisoners against Frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her—and from the icy young man she has come to love.

Elly asks: Was there any query so unique that it still stands out in your memory? (In a good or a bad way.)

Suzie answers: Oh, definitely. Once I got a query that was mailed to me in a Starbucks cup and there was flour inside it, so when I opened it, I briefly thought I'd been sent anthrax. Then there was a query years ago that I go in which the writer said he had "two ideas" to pitch me. One was continuing the story from To Kill a Mockingbird and writing about the characters when they were teens and adults. The other idea was wordless picture books based off of a bestselling authors paranormal trilogy. Of course, the ideas weren't written, they were just ideas, and even worse, the ideas didn't belong to him.

Elly asks: I know from experience that you have an extremely positive and supportive editorial style. How did you learn this skill? Do you have tips for making sure critiques are constructive but not crushing?

Suzie answers: Aw, thanks. I'm tempted to ask you if you're sure you feel that way, but I won't try to change your mind. I think that in part, it's easy to be constructive when I really love the characters and the project, but I always try to put myself in the writer's position. I try to think about what their vision for the book and the characters are and how to help build on that. Of course I also try to point out all the things that I love as well.

Elly’s note: I’m quite sure I feel that way! You make an excellent compliment sandwich!

Suzie asks: Now that you've published your first book and are editing your second one, what's been the most rewarding thing about working with an agent and editor in order to revise?

Elly’s answer:

I think the most rewarding thing about working with an agent/editor is collaborating with someone
who genuinely loves your book. Since agents and editors only offer on projects they’re passionate about, you get someone on your team who believes in you and wants your book to succeed. That enthusiasm is energizing, which helps carry you through all those rounds of edits.

Also, pre-agent/editor, you’re doing a lot of guessing about your book and the market. An agent or editor brings editorial experience and industry knowledge to the table. It’s reassuring to have that guiding hand at every step of the process.

Question for Suzie: What do you think is most surprising thing for debut authors, as far as the difference between expectations of being published and the reality?

I think that for a lot of debut authors, they've been working so hard and being so focused on getting published that it's sometimes hard to think beyond that first book deal. Of course they have ideas for other books, but I think sometimes there's a misconception that the hard part is over. In truth, it's just the beginning. Getting an agent and getting a book deal is a walk in the park compared to the publishing process. There are so many ups and downs in the industry, including a lot of things that are completely out of the author's (and often agent's) control.

Suzie asks: What was the most surprising part of this journey from manuscript to published book for you?

Elly’s answer: I think the biggest surprise for me was to realize how many people are working behind the scenes to make a book, and trying to make that book a success. Not only the people you have contact with like your editor and publicist, but a whole team consisting of a copyeditor, proofreader, cover artist, graphic designer, the imprint’s marketing team, sales team, etc. Outside of the publisher, there are those vital early readers and reviewers, other authors who provide cover quotes, bloggers and booksellers and librarians who read and review and create lists of anticipated books. To draw a very loose analogy, if a book is like a clock face—the part we see—behind that is the mechanism that makes everything function.

I’m also surprised at all the symbiotic relationships in publishing—agents have connections with editors, salespeople have their contacts with booksellers, publicists cultivate a connection with book bloggers and librarians, etc. The publicist gives out Advance Reader Copies to reviewers and bloggers, who then provide the amazing magic of reviews and online support, which hopefully create buzz and excitement which help your book sell.

A shared love of reading connects people in a myriad of ways. It’s kind of beautiful, if you think about it.

Elly asks: What's a rule of thumb to keep in mind in publishing? (Anything at all.)

Suzie’s answer: Definitely focus on the things you can control. Try to let everything else go.

Elly: That’s the best advice.


Elly’s question: What advice would you give to an aspiring author who keeps getting close (requests, contest wins, etc.), but hasn't yet had "the call" from an agent?

Keep writing. Keep reading. If you're someone who's drafted a lot of manuscripts, challenge yourself to really dive into a substantial revision and force yourself to go through you book multiple times--more times than you think it needs. Focus on your love for the craft, and push yourself to make every word count. If you're someone who's revised that one manuscript over and over again, don't be afraid to set it aside and open up a blank document. Sometimes those early manuscripts are things you wrote because they helped you hone your craft. There may be a great story there, and there may be really well written lines, and yet something still just isn't quite bringing it together. Sometimes the only way to solve that is to set that manuscript aside, writing something else that doesn't have the baggage of revisions, something that you can get excited about and just dive into.

I read a lot of manuscripts that are good and yet I don't offer on them, because for whatever reason, they just don't stay with me. I would say that's the biggest difference between something I sign and something I don't: when a manuscript stays with me and the characters stay with me, that's how I know that it's worth going back and revising away potential problems.

Suzie's question: Elly can tell you an embarrassing story about me and how we started working together that sort of illustrates this.

Elly’s answer:
Ha! Hopefully not too embarrassing since it all turned out well.

In 2014, I entered Frostblood in a pitch contest, and Suzie requested a partial. In the fall of 2014, I received a kindly-worded rejection from Suzie saying she loved the premise, but she was regretfully passing on the project because the heroine’s voice wasn’t quite strong enough to give her a sense of the character. I was disappointed, of course, but consoled myself that the book had made it into Pitch Wars, an online contest that pairs aspiring authors with agented authors as mentors. In September and October of 2014, my mentor, Sarah Nicolas, and my co-mentee, Shannon Cooley, helped me make extensive changes to the book.

During the Pitch Wars “agent round” in early November, Jackie and Jaida (at the time, they were both assistants at New Leaf Literary) participated in Pitch Wars, and they both requested the manuscript.

Soon after, I received an email from Suzie. I will always remember how the email started out: “So this is random I know, but I’ve been thinking about Ruby and Arcus…” She went on to say that the story had never left her and she’d been thinking about reaching out, and that when Jackie talked about loving the book, she took it as a sign. She even said she’d been wrong about the voice, and that she “must have been delusional” to pass on this project. I was so shocked that I sent a very short email that just said something ridiculous like, “Wow, this is a surprise!” and she had to email back asking if it was a good surprise. Then my brain started working again and I assured her it was the best kind of surprise, which led to one of the best phone calls of my life.

So, it all ended well, at least for me! 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Elly and Suzie! You can find Elly at:

Website: www.ellyblake.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/elly_blake
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EllyBlakeAuthor/
Tumblr: http://ellyblake.tumblr.com/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/e_blake/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elly_blake/

Elly has generously offered a copy of FROSTBLOOD for a giveaway and Suzie is offering a query critique 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 February 25th. 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 giveaways are international.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday February 20th debut author Ali Standish will be doing a guest post with a giveaway of her MG contemporary THE ETHAN I WAS BEFORE

Wednesday, February 22nd, I have an agent spotlight with Linda Camacho with a query critique giveaway

Monday February 27th, I have a guest post by debut author Stephanie Garber about her new YA fantasy CARAVAL

Wednesday March 1st I have an IWSG post and an interview with Caroline Starr Rose and a giveaway of her new MG historical adventure JASPER AND THE RIDDLE OF RILEY'S MINE

Hope to see you on Monday!


90 comments:

Jocelyn Rish said...

So thrilled for Elly, and I'm excited to finally have the chance to read FROSTBLOOD!

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Wow, awesome interview. Great advice from Suzie and Elly.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

A manuscript that stays with you - that expresses the difference between good and great very well.
Anthrax would've crossed my mind as well!
Great dual interview, ladies.

Andrea Mack said...

Really enjoyed this interview!

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic interview with some great advice! Congrats to Elly. The book sounds awesome!

Christina Fiorelli said...

LOVE what Elly said about agents and editors really rooting for your books and characters and wanting to be thorough during editing. It might be daunting, but when you know everyone just wants what's best for your characters and your story and you publishing future, you have the guts to really embrace their comments and bring a collaborative vision to life! LOVELY interview :)

Would love a copy of Elly's novel, but please don't consider me for a query critique as I'm nowhere near that stage yet (hopefully one day!).

I'm a Bloglovin follower as Christina Kit. and a GFC Follower as Christina Kit and I follow via email ccfioriole at gmail dot com!

I tweeted! https://twitter.com/christinafiorio/status/831154614615547906

And posted on Facebook! : https://www.facebook.com/christina.condomaros/posts/10206137467835400

email ccfioriole at gmail dot com

thank you so very much!

Big Taste, Small Bank Account said...

Awesome article - it's good to know the contests help!

I'd love a critique. My emails lgraefe1@gmail.com, although I think it should pop up anyway.

Thanks!

Bish Denham said...

What better compliment can there be than characters lingering in the mind of the reader? Congratulations, Elly!

I've tweeted about the giveaway. :)

Angie Dickinson said...

This was a great interview! You two obviously have a really encouraging and productive partnership, and I love to see that. I'm excited about the possibility of a query critique, and the book looks exciting as well!
Angiedickinson06@gmail.com

Jennifer Hawes said...

I love reading about an agent's insight into the querying and publishing processes. Query in a cup??! Thanks for sharing this interview. And a huge congrats to Elly.
jlhawes96 at yahoo.com (just in case:)

Greg Pattridge said...

Great exchange between these two. Their advice was honest and appreciated. I'll let someone else win as my MG pile is looking like the Tower of Pisa.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Not every rejection is permanent. Your story got to Suzie and that's what matters.

Amy said...

Awesome post, thanks for sharing!

Follower via GFC and Bloglovin' :) Shared the post on Twitter and Facebook.
Email: amyw@worldonline.co.za

I don't want to be entered for the critique giveaway.

Thanks!

Brenda said...

Oh my, getting a cup with flour and a query must have been startling. Love the cover and premise of Frost Blood. No need to enter me, I have this one checked out from the library to read. Have a lovely week Natalie.

Rebecca E. Bailey said...

Congrats to Elly! I'd love to win the book and the query critique. Thanks for entering me--and oh, I Facebooked about this contest. My email is profrbailey@aol.com, though it should be in my profile. Have a great day!

Vivien said...

Fantastic interview!! I'm not a writer myself, but it's always intriguing to read about the life. I don't want to be enterted into the critique giveaway.

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

M Pax said...

Congrats to Elly! Yup, keep writing. Wishing you much success.

Hello to Natalie. :)

mshatch said...

Big congrats to Ellie and thank you to Suzie for answering all those questions :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Elly asked the perfect question for me. Thanks for your answer Suzi. I'll keep working.

Joanne R. Fritz said...

Congrats to Elly on FROSTBLOOD. And I always find something helpful in these author and agent Q&As. Thanks!

K. said...

Awesome article! Thanks so much for your time! :)

Katherine T. said...

Thank you for the giveaway and the interesting article!

Katherine T. said...

P.S. Tweeted this!

Jemi Fraser said...

Frost blood sounds awesome!
Suzie reps an online friend of mine and I've heard all kinds of great things! :)

Michael Devine said...

Very informative interview - thanks for taking the time. I am definitely interested in winning a critique and/or a copy of Frostblood! devinemichael.md@gmail.com

Katrina C said...

I'd love to check this out! Thanks for the chance!

Natasha said...

Great interview!
I would love a chance to win Frostblood!
I don't need to be entered int the critique though.
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Agustina Z said...

OMG thank you so much for the chance! Love this post!
I shared it on Twitter: https://twitter.com/agustinazanelli/status/831307379673272320
My email is: lasalasdeagustina at gmail dot com
Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for doing this! The book sounds fantastic! :DD

Unknown said...

Amazing! Would love a copy or query crit.

LVP said...

Sounds good!
lvplvpactor@gmail.com

PJ Sheridan said...

Great interview, ladies! Love your "meant to be" story of how you ended up as author and agent. I already ordered Frostblood, but would love a query critique.

Karen McCoy said...

I was so happy to feature FROSTBLOOD on my blog and I *can't wait* to read it. A query critique and/or book copy would be fabulous. writerlibrarian (at) gmail (dot) com

Laurie Dennison said...

What a great interview! I keep reading great things about Frostblood, and I can't wait to read it! My email is dennison2969 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Annmarie said...

I would love to be entered into this giveaway. Can't wait to read the book...and desperately need a query critique. My email is sophia.kai.charis@gmail.com

Mary Preston said...

I'd love a copy of FROSTBLOOD thank you.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I don't think most people realise how many people are behind the scenes of a traditionally published book. Great interview.

lindalou said...

Don't enter me for the critique giveaway as I'm a reader, not a writer!

I love epic fantasies and have added Frostblood to my 'must pick up soon' list!

My email: lindalou (at) cfl (dot) rr (dot) com

Mentioned on twitter: https://twitter.com/linda_lindalou/status/831499617317638145

Shelly Steig said...

That is an amazing story about how you got Suzie as your agent! Just goes to show--NEVER give up! :-)

Suzi Guina said...

So happy to see a fellow Pitch Warrior on here! Congrats, Elly! I'd love to be considered for a copy of your beautiful book! bonecabela(@)yahoo(.)com

LSpeers said...

These interviews always leave me feeling more hopeful and more motivated about my writing and where I am at with my own manuscript. I am not ready to query, however, so please do not enter me in the critique giveaway.

lcspeers(at)gmail(dot)com

Chelly Writes said...

Congrats on your debut! And great interview. I love "the call" stories. They give me hope that one day I might have one too. :D

I shared this interview on twitter @chellypike!

mpike818@gmail.com

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Congrats, Elle! I shared the interview on twitter @AuthorGaylord.

adamgaylordwrites@gmail.com

Eileen said...

This is so fun getting them to interview each other :) I would love to enter to win a copy of Frostblood. Thanks so much!

Tamara Narayan said...

This publishing story and interview was full of interesting information and advice. Thank you.

Megan Cason said...

What a fun success story!! Thank you for sharing!

zellarelli said...

I really look forward to reading these interviews! Thanks!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Frostblood is on my tbr on Goodreads and I would love a copy. And who could say not to a critique from Suzie!
Yes, please to both. :)
I also tweeted @MeAngelaD

Thanks for doing this!

Unknown said...

Would love to win the query critique. Monicachess26{@}gmail{.}com

Danielle H. said...

Thanks for the interview. I enjoyed the story about how your characters stayed on your editor's mind. I shared on tumblr and would love to be in the contest for a copy of the book, but I'm not ready for a critique. http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/157243947717/elly-blake-and-suzie-townsend-guest-post-w-query

Denise Covey said...

It must be so thrilling to be a debut author holding a print book in your hand. Go Elly! And I loved the book cover. A query critique would go down a treat!

Hi Natalie! Happy Valentine's Day!

Sarah said...

Awesome interview. :) And Frostblood sounds like an amazing book.

perareesie(at)gmail

Unknown said...

This book sounds fantastic!
an ly le do (at) gmail dot com

Rosi said...

Another rich, useful interview. I love those stories of the awful queries. So funny that people thought those were good things to do. The book sounds great, but I will pass on the giveaway. You know why. Happy Valentine's Day to you.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Wow Elly you got a wonderful surprise from Suzie :)

Isabel O'Hagin said...

I loved this interview you've shared. I plan to come back and read it once more--so much to ponder. I'm interested in the giveaway. My email is: ohaginib@gmail.com.

Maria said...

FROSTBLOOD sounds like a fascinating fantasy story. I hope it does well. I love the advice about not giving up. It's the best advice there is and so encouraging.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

I would love to be included in both the draw for Frostblood and the critique! My email address is mark.horejsi@gmail.com. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Umm can we just talk about the cover for FROSTBLOOD?! Gorgeous! Actually, I bought this book based on the blurb and the cover art. But mostly the cover art. :)

Elly, I can only imagine the excitement you felt when Suzie emailed you. We've all had those moments where words just wouldn't properly form to express our surprise and joy.

I shared the interview on twitter (@stounsley) :)
I'd love a query crit.
Samantha.Tounsley@unitypoint.org

Patchi said...

What a wonderful interview! I love this format, but the advice and encouragement was the best part.

Bethany13 said...

fantastic interview! would love a copy and critique. :) suzie is awesome. :)

Julie Abe said...

Thank you for sharing, Suzie and Elly!

jpetroroy said...

Yay, Elly! (I don't want to enter the critique giveaway)

Darlene said...

Frost Blood sounds amazing, and I've had my eye on that one. Congrats on your debut! I guess the person who sent the query in the Starbucks cup with flour wanted to be noticed! (not entering for the critique giveaway).

Karen Lange said...

It's so nice to meet Elly and Suzie! Appreciate their insight. I'll skip the giveaway this time. Thanks so much for hosting, Natalie. Have a great weekend!

Jill said...

Suzie Townsend is on my list of dream agents! I would love to be in the running for the giveaways. I'm sharing this contest on Twitter. I'm grammarbetty on twitter
Thanks!

Gayle C. Krause said...

Frost Blood sounds like my kind of book. Can't wait to read it. And you are so lucky to have Suzie as an agent. I would like a chance to win a critique from her and a copy of Frost Blood. Thanks. :)

Unknown said...

I have Elly's book giveaway listed on my blog post this week! That cover caught my attention right away. Wishing her much success!

Unknown said...

Really enjoyed reading this interview (but there goes my idea of querying in a Starbucks cup, darn ;)). I'm sharing on Twitter and would love to win the query critique and the copy of Frostblood! Thanks for the opportunity.

Unknown said...

As soon as I saw that cover I had to know what the book was about. LOVED the art.

Stephanie Faris said...

My agent is very editorial in nature, too. I didn't realize until I started interacting with other agented authors that not all agents are that way. It's so helpful to get feedback!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

This was such an interesting interview. What a good turn out for Elly that the agent rethought her previous rejection. I was dumbstruck at the idea of sending a submission in a Starbuck's cup.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the great interview. I would love to be entered in both contests.
me3foley(at)gmail(dot)com

DMS said...

I hope my last comment didn't get posted, as something happened when I was in mid-sentence and I hadn't had a chance to go back and read my comment.

What a wonderful interview! I enjoyed hearing from both the agent and author side of things. I can't even imagine receiving that Starbuck's cup! Wow!

Great advice! Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Misty Kasumi* said...

Interesting interview. The more you learn, the better everything is, it seems. :D Suzie seems especially nice and the "embarrassing story" was actually quite cute. ^_^
I'd like to be entered in the query critique contest. :)

Anonymous said...

Yay! Thank you for the giveaways!

matthew said...

Great article! I found the story about Elly Blake's crazy story about rejection and then non-rejection really interesting. It's something you usually hear about in the publishing world. Getting a query critique would be great. My email is zchingz@hotmail.com.
I mentioned the contest on my Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MatthewMartinz/status/833211888397869056

PMDooling said...

Excited about reading Frostblood! Definitely in my TBR pile - loving the cover. And I loved the interview! It's always encouraging hearing stories about writers not giving up.
My email is pmdooling(at)gmail(dot)com

And sharing this to my twitter!

Jarm Del Boccio said...

It's encouraging to hear stories of the agent-author journey. They give me hope! Thanks, Elly and Suzie, for your honest and heartwarming interview.

mary said...

Elly: Thank you for sharing your journey, I am encouraged. Suzie: Thank you for your insights and your generous offer.

Suzanne Warr said...

What a fun interview, and inspiring story of how Suzie and Elly connected! Congratulations to you both.

I would love to enter both giveaways, and my email (just in case) is spartan_writer (at) yahoo (dot) come. Many thanks, Natalie!

Raina Xin said...

Awesome interview, and thanks for the giveaway! I'd like to enter both. My email is xinraina@gmail.com.

Thanks!

Unknown said...

Frostblood looks fantastic! Can't wait to read :) I'd love to enter both giveaways - my email is rachelconnor 83 at gmail dot com.

Hanna Loren said...

Excellent interview about a super awesome success story. Way to go Elly, cheering for you here and at TRW. ;D Would love to win the query critique and will tweet about it too. Email hannalorenwriter@gmail.com

Unknown said...

It doesn't disappoint. Ruby is quite the strong, smart mouthed young lady. I really enjoyed it. :)

Unknown said...

Frostblood is an amazing novel! Congrats to Elly on its success!

I would love to win the query critique & have shared the contest on Twitter as well. My email address is taddy77[at]gmail[dot]com :) Thanks!

Unknown said...

Great interview, Casey and Natalie. I really liked how both Elly and Suzie asked questions of one another with some intriguing answers. I would love to win a query critique. My email address is aerg [dot] 7035 [at] yahoo [dot] ca Thanks!