CURRENT GIVEAWAY CONTESTS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

UNDER LOCK AND KEY through May 20th
THE BLACK WITCH through May 20th
THE EMPEROR'S RIDDLE through June 3rd

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways

Bibi Lewis on 6/12/2017
Kelly Van Sant on 6/21/2017

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH LAUREN SPIELLER and QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Lauren Spieller here. She is an assistant literary agent at TriadaUS 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 commenter will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi¬ Lauren! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Lauren:

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


I joined TriadaUS in July 2016, having worked in children’s scouting and as a freelance editor, and it’s been a wonderful first few months! My focus has been on building my client list, so I spend most of my time reading submissions, meeting with editors, and pitching projects! In fact, my first sale was finally announced earlier this month—a YA Fantasy entitled The Weight of Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth, which sold at auction to Harper Teen and has already been picked up by publishers in France and the UK. I’ve wanted to tell the world about Laura’s gorgeous novel since December, so it’s fabulous for both of us to finally get to talk about it!

About the Agency:

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

TriadaUS is a close-knit agency lead by Uwe Stender. We support one another’s clients every step of the way, from the moment we first consider a project, through contract negotiations, all the way to publication and beyond. This means clients not only get my full attention, they’re getting the attention of all TriadaUS’ agents. We’re also eager to pursue film and foreign rights, and so we work closely with subagents abroad and in Hollywood. Our clients work hard on their books, so we work hard for our clients!

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 Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult novels. I’m interested in all genres, though I gravitate toward Contemporary and Fantasy. At the end of the day, however, I’m looking for a strong hook, a killer voice, and a story that can stand the test of time. If your book fits that description, I’d love to see It! For my full wishlist, you can check out the TriadaUS website (www.triadaus.com), ManuscriptWishlist.com, or my tweets tagged with #MSWL!

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

I’d love to find a heartfelt Middle Grade with a touch of magic, a feminist YA Contemporary with a fabulous voice, and a literary YA Fantasy—I’m a sucker for beautiful prose. I’m also always on the hunt for underrepresented voices, so I welcome those projects in absolutely any age category or genre.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not a good fit for dystopian fiction right now, not because I don’t enjoy it (I do!), but because it’s very difficult to sell. I’m also not looking for paranormal romance or ghost stories unless the concept and voice are really special.

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 need to love a book with all my heart, and I want to work with authors who are hardworking, compassionate, and committed to writing the best stories possible.

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, though what that means differs depending on the manuscript. Sometimes that means brainstorming the way to address a specific problem in the manuscript—slow pacing, clunky dialogue, an unbelievable plot point—while other times it means line editing. Ultimately the book belongs to my client, however, so they have the final word on revision.

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?

Please send a query letter and the first ten pages of the manuscript with the word QUERY in the email’s subject line, along with the age category and genre (ex: QUERY YA Fantasy) to lauren@triadaus.com.

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

It’s frustrating when authors don’t include pages, or when they lead with a long explanation for why they wrote the book, or with a lengthy biography. It’s always best to let the book speak for itself. That means telling me why you’re querying me (short and sweet is best), what your book is and how long it is (YA Fantasy? 80k words? Check!), giving me a 1-2 paragraph summary of the premise (not a full synopsis!), and then a quick bio and signature. That’s it!

Response Time:

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

It’s our policy at TriadaUS to respond to queries within two weeks, so I do my best to do just that! Manuscripts take longer, though I try to respond within 2 months.

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?

Absolutely, as long as their new work has not yet been published. My advice is to make sure your new manuscript is very strong, and that they have their existing contracts at hand in case the agent has questions about their existing commitments.

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 agents need to wear a lot of hats: editorial, sales, branding—you name it. For me, it all comes together in one package: advocate. I’m going to do my best to provide whatever each individual client needs, be in a bulldog when it comes to contracts, a editor when it comes to revisions, or a cheerleader when it comes to their very first sale. That’s my job, and I love it!

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.

Here’s a sampling:
-Writer’s Digest: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/lauren-spieller
-Manuscript Wishlist: http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/lauren-spieller/
-First Five Frenzy: https://chasingthecrazies.wordpress.com/2016/10/28/first-five-frenzy-with-lauren-spieller-of-triada-us-literary-agency/
-Michelle4Laughs’ blog: http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2016/07/query-questions-with-lauren-spieller.html
-Valerie Cole’s blog: http://valeriefm80.blogspot.com/2017/01/agents-like-us-lauren-spieller.html

Additional Advice:

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

The best advice I can give is to build your writing community. Publishing is a hard business, and we all need someone to rely on, someone to hold our hand when things are tough, and to celebrate when things are going our way. Find your community, and cherish it.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lauren.

Lauren 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 13th. 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.

SARAH JEAN HORWITZ GUEST POST and THE WINGSNATCHERS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have Sarah Jean Horwitz here to celebrate the release of her debut MG fantasy THE WINGSNATCHERS. It sounds like a great fantasy with magic, fairies, and a bit of steampunk influences, a combination I love.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

A stunning debut about a magician’s apprentice and a one-winged princess who must vanquish the mechanical monsters that stalk the streets and threaten the faerie kingdom.

Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.

In this story perfect for readers of the Lockwood & Co and Wildwood series, Sarah Jean Horwitz takes readers on a thrilling journey through a magical wooded fairyland and steampunk streets where terrifying automata cats lurk in the shadows and a mad scientist’s newest mechanical invention might be more menace than miracle.

Now here's Sarah!

When the Stars Align

As I brainstormed ideas for this blog post, I texted my friend and critique partner, John, and asked him what he thought I should write about. We’re both fans of Literary Rambles – John introduced me to the site way back when – and I wanted to do a good job.

“Write about your awesome friend and his highly marketable novel!” John joked. Grinning emojis were exchanged. We settled down to more serious ideas.

Today, I’m going to talk about my awesome friend John and his highly marketable novel.

First, a little about me. My own journey to publication was fairly straightforward. Using the agent profiles on Literary Rambles as a jumping off point, I made what I call the Spreadsheet of Crazy – a giant list of middle grade agents, their contact info, submissions guidelines, any connections we had, recent interview comments about their manuscript wish lists…this list had everything. I started querying my middle grade fantasy novel, Carmer and Grit, in May of 2015. I kept track of when I submitted to an agent, their typical response time, which version of my query I’d sent (I had two), and any feedback or requests I received.

But by the end of June, I had two offers of representation, and in July I signed with Victoria Marini, who was then with Gelfman Schneider/ICM Partners. After a few edits with Victoria, the book went on submission in mid-September and sold in late October to Algonquin Young Readers. All in all, I had an incredibly smooth ride – especially for my first ever attempt at a novel – and I’m thankful for it every day.

But back to my awesome friend, John. This post is, after all, about John.

John wrote his first novel five years ago. He queried about thirty agents, didn’t receive any offers, and put the book on the back burner. Now, John has a second novel under his belt, and he’s patiently waiting for feedback from a few friends before querying it. Well…pretty patiently. In one of those all-too-familiar fits of, “I must do something or I will go crazy!” that I’m sure many authors can relate to, John dashed off a few queries for Novel #1 – a novel he gave up on as a lost cause and hasn’t looked at in years.

A few days later, he got a full manuscript request. Because the world is bananas.

I don’t know if John’s request will lead to an offer, but I do know that his experiences – and the experiences of so many other authors I’ve talked to – have taught me that luck and timing play a far larger role in the publishing process than any of us might like to admit. Yes, it’s important to revise your manuscript, and then revise again. Yes, it’s important to write and rewrite your query letter until it’s as clear, concise, and eye-catching as you can make it. It’s important to do your homework on agents and query thoughtfully.

But it’s also true that in some ways, the stars just have to align. The right manuscript has to fall into the right hands at the right time. Maybe John’s book wasn’t “highly marketable” five years ago – but clearly, at least one person sees its potential now. I’m proud of The Wingsnatchers (now the first book in the Carmer and Grit series) but I also realize that I got very, very lucky. All we can do as authors is write the best book we can. Just because the world isn’t ready for your story yet doesn’t mean it never will be. So keep your back burners simmering – and most importantly, keep on writing.

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

Website: www.sarahjeanhorwitz.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sunshineJHwitz
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahjeanbooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sunshinejh/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14612081.Sarah_Jean_Horwitz
The Wingsnatchers on:
IndieBound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781616206635
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wingsnatchers-Carmer-Grit-Book-One/dp/1616206632/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477676801&sr=8-1&keywords=carmer+and+grit
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-wingsnatchers-sarah-jean-horwitz/1124596049?ean=9781616206635
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30753993-the-wingsnatchers

Sarah and her publisher have generously offered a copy of THE WINGSNATCHERS 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 4th. 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, April 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, May 3rd I have my IWSG post and a guest post by debut author Allison Hymas and her agent Laura Abramo and a giveaway of Allison's MG mystery UNDER LOCK AND KEY

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

Hope to see you on Wednesday!




AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH TRACY MARCHINI and QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Tracy Marchini here. She is a literary agent at Bookends 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 commenter will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi¬ Tracy! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Tracy:

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


I started as a Literary Agents Assistant at Curtis Brown in 2006, and was there for four years. I left to start freelance editing and prepared to go to grad school, where I earned my MFA in Writing for Children. After earning my masters, I worked in marketing and continued to edit until I joined BookEnds Literary in June of 2016. So, I’ve been ‘around’ for over a decade, but in various capacities. (Through this time, I also did some work as a newspaper correspondent, children’s book reviewer, children’s copywriter and book proposal writer.)

I’m thrilled to be back in publishing as an agent, where I represent fiction, non-fiction and illustration for children and teens.

About the Agency:

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

Jessica Faust founded BookEnds Literary after working for years at an acquiring editor. BookEnds specializes in representing fiction and nonfiction for adults, young adults and children and can proudly call a number of award-winning, New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors clients.

What I personally love about BookEnds is how collaborative it is. As agents, we agonize over our submission letters just like an author might agonize over the query. At BookEnds, we’re constantly helping each other refine our pitches, sharing information about editor and publisher needs, and giving each other advice when asked. So while someone might sign with me, they also have the benefit of my colleagues’ expertise.

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 picture book, middle grade and young adult.

In picture book fiction, I love things that are deliciously dark, or have a great sense of humor. In picture book non-fiction, I love stories of unsung heroes and heroines. (For non-fiction, I’m looking for projects for the trade market, not educational.)

For illustrators and author-illustrators, I’m looking for art that has a certain warmth to it. Something to bring the reader closer. I also love seeing illustrators that work with a variety of mediums in new and interesting ways (though I might not be a fit for all collage work.)

In middle grade, the most important thing is the voice. I’m open to almost all genres (though not a great fit for high fantasy or sci-fi) and would love to see fun, spunky commercial projects as well as more literary middle grade fiction.

In young adult, I’m looking for characters that I can relate to. Stories that are asking some of those big YA questions – who am I? What am I going to be in this world? Like middle grade, I’m open to most genres, though not YA horror, high fantasy or sci-fi.

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

In middle grade, I would love to find a mystery staring a spunky ,underdog heroine. Still haven’t found it yet, but I’m going to keep looking!

In YA, I would love to find a contemporary or historical fiction story that’s relevant to today’s news headlines.

In all genres, I’m open to #ownvoices authors and would love to add more diversity to my list.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not looking for early readers or chapter books for the very young at the moment. I’m also not a good fit for most high fantasy (dragons, elves, etc.) and sci-fi. I don’t want to say never, but my colleagues Beth Campbell (YA) and Moe Ferrera (MG and YA) would definitely be a better fit. (I really prefer magical realism, and love finding hints of magic in worlds that are relatable to our own.)
In picture books, I’m generally not interested in stories written in rhyme (particularly if it’s done all in couplets.) Again, I don’t want to say never, but unless you’re a previously published children’s poet, I’m probably not a great fit.

Agent Philosophy:

5. 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, I want to help my authors grow – both on a career level and on a craft level. The authors I want to work with are professional, committed and open to revising until the book is as strong as we can make it. (By committed, I don’t mean that you have to be a full time writer – as a writer myself, I know that this isn’t the reality for most authors!)

I want to represent books that really speak to children and teens. That honor the whimsy of childhood, or tackle some of the things that real teens might be dealing with. I love books that have a feeling of hope (without being didactic or saccharine). I mean, childhood/adolescence was tough for almost everybody at some point – I want to help put books on the shelves that - on some level - empower, engage and/or inspire their readers.

(This sounds really cheesy, doesn’t it? But it’s true.)

Editorial Agent:

6. 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 the process changes for each manuscript. Some manuscripts will require a couple rounds of developmental editing before we get into a line edit. Some will be more heavily focused on a round or two of line editing. It really depends on what that particular manuscript needs in order to make it as submission-ready as possible.

When I make that first call to offer on a book, I always talk a bit about what is working and what could be stronger in a manuscript, and try to estimate what the revision process will look like (e.g. two rounds of developmental and a line edit). Again though, every book is different, and the goal is always to get to the point where editors are going to want to say “yes!”

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?

BookEnds uses QueryManager, so you can query me here: https://querymanager.com/query/tmarchini

In a query letter, I want to see a short one or two paragraph summary/pitch for the book (what the protagonist wants and what or who is going to stop them from achieving their goals); a short bio with any relevant writing credits; and whether or not the book has been previously published or seen by editors (if applicable).

Above all, I’m looking for a professional tone and manuscripts that would be a good fit for my list!

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

I talked a bit about first pages on another blog (I’ll link below), but in query letters I think the worst thing an author can do is be overly verbose. When an agent sees a wall of text or two page query letters, it gives the impression that the author is new to the field or hasn’t done their research. It also raises questions about the manuscript they’re pitching.

For example, if it takes an author seven paragraphs to explain their story versus one or two, that makes me wonder why they can’t distill the heart of their manuscript into a paragraph. Does that point to a manuscript with structural issues, e.g. too many unrelated subplots?

Response Time:

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

At BookEnds, we try to answer all queries within six to eight weeks. My requested manuscripts are, unfortunately, several months behind at the moment. But I am still reading and responding to everything as soon as I can.

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 am open to authors that have previously self-published or been published by smaller presses, but I am less open to trying to shop a manuscript that has already been self-published unless the sales numbers are phenomenal.

Because most publishers are hesitant to relaunch a book that’s already been published, my advice to authors would be to write a new book that is not in the same series as your self-published books and shop that to agents.

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 basic role of agents is the same – to guide an author in their career, act as their advocate, and help them make the best decisions for their books.

I think self-publishing, more small presses, digital only imprints, etc. gives authors and agents more options, but also more things to consider when moving forward (e.g. how long has that small press been around and what feedback are you getting from other agents/authors who’ve worked with them? If self-publishing, then what happens if your primary distributor shuts down? How much marketing can the author successfully do on their own?)

Not every book may be right for a big 5 publisher or established independent press, and so the role of the agent is to help layout an author’s options and help them make the best decision in both the short and long-term.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent Tara Luebbe and Becky Cattie (Shark Nate-O, Little Bee), Lee and Low New Voices Award winner Rita Lorraine Hubbard, illustrator Charlene Chua, as well as some new voices in children’s literature that I hope you’ll be hearing from soon!

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.

I mentioned the first pages post earlier, and you can find that here.

You can also find my interview on BookEnds Literary’s blog for a bit more about me and what I’m looking for.

Links and Contact Info:

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

To query, please submit using https://querymanager.com/query/tmarchini

News and updates about my #TeamMarchini clients at BookEnds can be found here:
http://bookendsliterary.com/category/our-team/marchini/

I can also be found at:
www.tracymarchini.com
www.twitter.com/tracymarchini
www.facebook.com/tracymarchinibooks

Additional Advice:

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

I think the only thing that I would add is that you’re never too far along in your career to learn something new. As a writer, I think that means continuing to work on the craft with the same intensity as when you first started.

I know there are times where I give advice to clients about a manuscript, and then I’ll realize that I have the exact same problem in my current work-in-progress – be it a character issue, dialogue issue, etc.!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Tracy.

Tracy 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 April 29th. 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.

HAPPY EASTER GIVEAWAY HOP


Happy Friday Everyone! Yay, it's almost the weekend. For those of you that celebrate a holiday, I hope that you enjoy it.

Are any of you writers? I hope you will take advantage of the ongoing agent critique giveaway contests listed above and the upcoming ones and enter them. 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 Happy Easter Giveaway Hop sponsored by Book Hounds. 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. 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. Sorry for the few layout problems, but Blogger won't cooperate.

 


 


 


 





 

 



 

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 April 30th 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, April 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Tracy Marchini and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 24th I have a guest post by debut author Sarah Jean Horwitz and a giveaway of her MG fantasy ARMER AND GRIT BOOK ONE: THE WINGSNATCHERS

Wednesday, April 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, May 3rd I have my IWSG post and a guest post by debut author Allison Hymas and her agent Laura Abramo and a giveaway of Allison's MG mystery UNDER LOCK AND KEY

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here's all the other awesome blogs participating in this Blog Hop:




AGENT NATALIE LAKOSIL and AUTHOR LINDSEY BECKER GUEST POST and QUERY CRITIQUE and THE STAR THIEF GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to have debut author Lindsey Becker and her agent Natalie Lakosil here with a guest post to celebrate the release of Lindsey's MG fantasy THE STAR THIEF. It sounds like a fantastically different world that is fast-paced and has a little bit of stempunk too.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Honorine's life as as maid at the Vidalia mansion is rather dull, dusting treasures from faraway places and daydreaming in front of maps of the world. But everything changes when she catches two brutish sailors ransacking Lord Vidalia's study, and then follows a mysterious girl with wings out into the night....

Suddenly, Honorine is whisked into the middle of a battle between the crew of a spectacular steamship and a band of mythical constellations. The stars in the sky have come to life to defend themselves against those who want to harness their powers. Much to her surprise, Honorine is the crux of it all, the center of an epic clash between magic and science, the old ways and the new. But can this spirited young girl bring both sides of a larger-than-life fight together before they unleash an evil power even older than the stars?


Now here's Lindsey and Natalie!

Finding an Agent: Revise, Resubmit, Rinse, Repeat

I’m so thrilled to be writing a post for Literary Rambles, because one of the most asked questions I’ve gotten since selling my debut novel is “How did you find your agent?” and a big part of that answer is this site. I didn’t attend any conferences or in-person pitch meetings. I found my agent through online research, and emailed queries.

THE STAR THIEF was the third book I wrote and the first one I queried to agents. I worked on my manuscript for about a year before I sent out my first small batch of queries. Right from the start, I got requests to read the full manuscript, and also right from the start, those turned into revise and resubmit requests. From there, I developed an unintentional pattern of sending out a batch of 5 or 6 queries, getting at least one or two requests for the full, which would turn into requests to revise, and then, after a revision, an eventual rejection. Then I would send out a few more queries, and it would replay again. Request, revise, resubmit, rejection.

I didn’t keep an exact count of how many queries I sent out, but it was in the range of 75 or so in total. I didn’t revise every time it was suggested. I took to heart the things I thought would make my writing stronger, and I ignored suggestions that didn’t fit what I wanted to do with my story. Overall, I reworked my manuscript at least half a dozen times during the process. Twice I received feedback from absolute rockstar agents, and even though they ended up passing, what I got from them was pure gold. Once I made it all the way to a phone call with a wonderful agent who had a very different vision for my book than I did. After the phone call, I knew two things. Exactly what I wanted to do to keep polishing my book, and that the agent probably wasn’t going to like the revision when I turned it back in.

I was right. They did not. It was a pass, again.

But the very next agent I queried after the rejection from amazing phone call agent happened to be even more amazing agent Natalie Lakosil. She too asked for a revision, but this time, she really seemed to connect with what I had already done, and agree with what I wanted my book to be. And then, finally, after years of querying, dozens of rejections, and a handful of painful near misses with other fantastic agents, Natalie offered to represent my work.

It would have been easy to put this book aside, after so many rejections, and move on to something
else. But what kept me querying for over three years before finding an agent was a true passion for the story, and the little bits of encouragement all those requests gave me. I was getting rejections right away, but also positive reactions to my concept, my finished pages, my idea in general. From that, I knew I had an idea worth working on, that my writing had enough potential to keep going, and that continuing to move forward was only going to help me improve my craft. It was also perfect practice for the editor submission process, because in the first round, I received – you guessed it – a revise and resubmit request. This was what I had been training for! And that final R&R turned into an offer to publish THE STAR THIEF.

Though my query process was long, I found it to be tremendously valuable. The work I did during that time not only improved the manuscript that eventually sold, but the other projects I’ve been working on as well. For me, and I’m sure I’m not alone, the hardest part of the query stage was when it felt unproductive. To counteract that, whenever I felt stuck I’d research new agents and send out one or two more queries. From the writer’s perspective, the query process can seem like it takes things out of your control. The agent gets to say yes or no to your manuscript before you begin officially working together, but you get to choose who to send your work to in the first place. Having a great agent is definitely worth the wait, and making the effort to work on craft and polishing those pages is always worth the time. So, keep submitting that work, and most importantly keep writing! You don’t have to wait for an agent to start crafting that next project.

So, now that I’ve shared my Revise and Resubmit adventure, here are some thoughts from my amazing agent Natalie Lakosil on successful R&Rs, and why they often fail.

From Natalie:

I think the answer as to WHY lies first in breaking down two kinds of R&Rs:

1. Surface-level R&R
2. Love-the-premise-enough-to-not-let-this-go-but-needs-so-much-work R&R

The first can be a simple fix; a "I need you to take out the mention of the word birthday in this so I can take it to a meeting since my house is allergic to the word birthday" sort of fix. Those usually work out (and yes, an editor might ask for a surface-level R&R to take to a meeting - gone are the days of seeing potential and being able to buy. An agent is less likely to ask for this; perhaps only if the surface-level request changes birthday to anniversary and they want to make sure you're cool with that).

The second is asking for a very thoughtful overhaul.

In my experience, the R&Rs that I've seen come back and fail had one of four issues:

1. The author took my notes, executed, and called it a day.
2. The author took the plot in a new direction that didn't resonate with me
3. Timing - in the amount of time that's passed, the market changed
4. The R&R ends up highlighting more issues, or that the hook you were looking for really just isn't there in the execution

#1 is a problem if the R&R is not a surface-level revision request. Often, an R&R will have quite extensive revisions needed - and not just adding in a sentence here or there. For example, if your issue has to do with character development, or pacing, it could mean striking whole scenes, starting in a whole new way, finishing in a whole new way, ALONG with peppering in changes throughout. And those kinds of changes require a lot of thinking. If my note was, "I don't really find her likeable here," well, the answer may not necessarily be to just work on making her likeable right there. It might be that the situation needs more depth, that the reader doesn't understand enough where she's coming from - changes to OTHER parts of the book leading UP to that scene.

So if you want your R&R to have the best chance of succeeding, THOUGHTFULLY revise. I think it's perfectly ok to come up with a game plan, too, before you dive in, and run that game plan by the requesting agent or editor.

#2 is an unfortunate situation that might be because of a thoughtful revision. As I mentioned above, I think it's ok to ask if the direction you're taking the novel in sounds good to the agent or editor before you slash and burn to try and avoid it failing for this issue. But, at the end of the day, it might be that the new direction you're writing really IS the best direction for the book - and it's just that the agent isn't the best agent for it.

#3 is a tricky one. Because a thoughtful revision takes time. I know that. But taking TOO much time also leads to market shifts, and/or perhaps that agent or editor will sign a new project in the mean time that's too close to yours to be able to take yours on after revisions.

I think the time you should take on a revision really depends on the amount of work needed; if it's really more of a surface revision, I wouldn't drag that on for months. If it's something you're having to really spend time overhauling, a few months may be just what you need. I will say that the longer you take, the more I expect to see; I WILL be disappointed if you take four months and shift around some sentences. I have signed R&Rs even if they aren't totally there yet if the author has totally impressed me with the revisions undertaken. And I have never been impressed with surface tweaks when more depth was needed.

So don't cheat yourself worrying over this; if you have to take a year, take a year - just know it's POSSIBLE that you might run into the timing issue. If you do, that might mean timing was off for your book anyway - if it shifted that fast, likely your genre was in a down trend and selling it may have been difficult anyway.

#4 might happen when an agent is on the fence; it's possible for an agent or editor to just love the writing, and/or the hook...but...there's something...just something not there. We see that spark, and might do an R&R, hoping, ok, we fix this, and that'll be it. I'll be fully pushed over the fence. But when it comes back...nope. Still on that fence.

If that's the case, that's the point an agent will have to decide they're just not the best editorial fit. Seeing potential and not being able to take it where it needs to go, or realizing, you really DON'T love it as much as you thought, can happen - and be highlighted by the enthusiasm you feel for the project when the R&R comes back. This is a tough one, too; it's hard to know when this will happen. An agent isn't going to request a revision and all that work just to be mean; they genuinely want to see it get to the level of OMG I LOVE THIS!!!! And sometimes that doesn't happen.

That is a risk you take with revisions...and you must, in the end, decide to revise, or start fresh? Only you can answer that.

I think what helps with #4, and ALL issues, is that regardless of whether or not you succeed with an
R&R, the goal shouldn't be to approach it for a WIN. The goal should be to approach it TO MAKE THE BOOK BETTER. Don't fixate on making that one person (agent or editor) happy; consider their notes as a free professional critique you won in a lottery. Ruminate and really dig into potential issues and fixes, and in the end, send out a book that you're happy is MUCH stronger knowing that it could be a yes - but it doesn't matter, because you have a stronger manuscript to keep sending out regardless.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lindsey and Natalie! You can find Lindsey at:

Blog: http://literarylilycate.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lcatebecker
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lcatebecker/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/zombiecate/

You can find Natalie at:

@Natalie_Lakosil
Bradford Literary Agency http://www.bradfordlit.com

Lindsey has generously offered an ARC of THE STAR THIEF for a giveaway and Natalie 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 April 22nd. 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 ARC and the critique giveaways are 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:

Friday, April 14th I'll be participating in the Happy Easter Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Tracy Marchini and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 24th I have a guest post by debut author Sarah Jean Horwitz and a giveaway of her MG fantasy ARMER AND GRIT BOOK ONE: THE WINGSNATCHERS

Wednesday, April 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, May 3rd I have my IWSG post and a guest post by debut author Allison Hymas and her agent Laura Abramo and a giveaway of Allison's MG mystery UNDER LOCK AND KEY

Hope to see you on Friday!




Christina Farley Guest Post and The Princess and the Page Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! I have a lot going on here today. First, my IWSG post for this month and then a fantastic post and giveaway by Christina Farley, who is a MG and YA published author. She's going to talk about being a versatile writer, something most of us need to be.



Before I get to Christina's post, I'm going to post my IWSG post for this month.

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:Chris @ Madness of a Modern Writer, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, and Chrys Fey!


Today's Question: Have you taken advantage of the A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

In case you do not know what it is, the A to Z Challenge is a large group of bloggers who commit to posting 28 days in April, using the letters of the alphabet to create a theme for each day. No, I have never done this. My interviews and guest posts do not lend themselves to a daily post based on the letters of the alphabet. And it would take too much energy to create all the posts and read so many blogs. I've always blogged while working full-time and until recently it was as an attorney while being a caregiver to my husband and a mom to my awesome daughter. 

I did join this group to network more and make new blogger friends who are committed to blogging. I have really done much with this yet and need to start visiting more blogs on this day of the month.

What about you? Have you participated in the A to Z Challenge?

Now here's Christina!

Become the Versatile Writer

It’s tough to get published in today’s market and even tougher to stay published. One of the best ways to help you stand out in a crowded market is to become a versatile writer. What does that mean and how do you accomplish that?
For me, being versatile means I adjust and hone my craft so I’m prepared when an opportunity presents itself. Which, in fact, it did! A few years ago, I got a call from my agent saying that Andrea Pinkney from Scholastic Press was interested in working with me. Did I have any middle grade book ideas for ages 8-12?

The joke my agent and I have is my answer is always YES. After all, yes opens doors and provides new opportunities. So I pitched an idea to Andrea and she loved it. It was then that I was faced with the task of transitioning from a young adult author to a middle grade author (two totally different types of writing styles).

Here are some things that helped me transition:

1.      I read and listened to the audio of around fifty middle grade books to get a feel of the tone and style. I made sure to read a wide variety as well—commercial, best sellers, literary, and award winners.
2.      I subscribed to blogs with a focus on middle grade books so I could get a feel of what was currently being released and what others were saying about the books.
3.      I networked with other middle grade authors on social media.
4.      As I began to write, I relied heavily on my critique partners who were published middle grade authors.

I’m thrilled to have a happy ending for the idea that I pitched to Andrea. She bought the book which only days ago released, THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE.


Signing my book contract- watch the video here

If you are interested in broadening your scope and increasing your chances for publication, here are some tips I would suggest in addition to the ones above:

1.      Make a list of genres, age levels and topics that you are interested in.
2.      Take that list and find comp titles that would fit into those categories. A great place to start is BookFinder.
3.      Purchase or check out those titles from your local library and study them. Look at the word count, writer’s voice, pacing, and characters Make notes of those in a notebook.
4.      Stretch yourself by trying something new. Take a class on medieval etiquette, tour a bank, dye your hair, or learn how to play chess or one of these unique games. Need more ideas? Check out this link.
5.      Then write about your experience to an audience you haven’t written for. You may fail, but that’s okay because you’re being creative. There’s freedom in that! You’ll be amazed how through this exercise you’ll grow as a writer.


Quick reminders:

·         Be flexible
·         It’s not a competition!
·         Focus on your growth rather than success
·         Stay positive by surrounding yourself with positive people
·         The answer is YES!

CHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the bestselling Gilded series. Prior to that, she worked as an international teacher and at a top secret job for Disney where she was known to scatter pixie dust before the sun rose. When not traveling the world or creating imaginary ones, she spends time with her family in Clermont, Florida with her husband and two sons where they are busy preparing for the next World Cup, baking cheesecakes, and raising a pet dragon that's in disguise as a cockatiel. You can visit her online at ChristinaFarley.com.

Find her online here: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube

THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE
A mystical adventure about a pulls-no-punches princess and the power of her magical pen.
A dark secret lurks in Keira’s family. She comes from a long line of Word Weavers, who bring their stories to life when they use a magical pen. But for generations Word Weavers have been
hunted for their power. That’s why Keira is forbidden to write. When Keira discovers her grandma’s Word Weaver pen, and writes a story for the Girls’ World fairy-tale contest, she starts to wonder if anyone ever truly lives happily ever after. Inspired by the life and times of Gabrielle d’Estrées, a real French princess who lived during the 1500s, The Princess and the Page follows the mystical journey of a modern-day “royal” who goes from having a pen in her hand to wishing for the world at her fingertips.

“A smart, peppery, action-packed plot teams up with playful, astute characters.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“The pace is effective for building a deep sense of mystery. Slowing down works for the overall mystery… particularly since, in Keira’s first-person narrative, readers will discover clues right along with her.” (Booklist)

START READING
BAM!

Christina is generously offering the following contest:

One (1) lucky winner will receive:

An autographed copy of THE PRINCESS & THE PAGE and their choice of one of the Gilded series books.
Giveaway open US and Canada 



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 22nd. 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.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 10th I have a guest post by debut author Lindsey Becker and her agent Natalie Lakosil with an ARC giveaway of Lindsey's MG fantasy THE STAR THIEF and a query critique giveaway by Natalie

Friday, April 14th I'll be participating in the Happy Easter Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Tracy Marchini and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 24th I have a guest post by debut author Sarah Jean Horwitz and a giveaway of her MG fantasy ARMER AND GRIT BOOK ONE: THE WINGSNATCHERS

Wednesday, April 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Spieller and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!