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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!


Beth said...

Great interview - and it's important to remember that timing and luck are always a big part of it. Congratulations, Sarah!
Don't worry about entering me in the contest because I'm not in the U.S.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Timing does play a huge role. I've seen things come through DLP that the timing wasn't right for either the author or the book, but that can change in as little as a year.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

Timing and luck, it's hard to accept that they can play such a big roll after years and years of hard work. I'm glad the stars aligned for Sarah. The book sounds great. And I hope John gets his happy ending as well!

Greg Pattridge said...

Very truthful words. You just have to keep out there and hope the right connection comes along. Good luck to both of these authors.I'll back away from the contest as I'm just beginning to get a handle on my stack of books to be read in time for a pile arriving soon for the summer.

Christine Rains said...

Timing and luck do play huge roles, and all us authors can do is keep working, improving, and putting ourselves out there. Lovely to meet Sarah and congratulations!

jpetroroy said...

Yay! Congrats, Sarah!

Tyrean Martinson said...

You had me at "one winged princess." :) Congrats to Sarah and best wishes to John!

Jenni said...

Congrats, Sarah! This sounds like a fun book! I think you're so right that there's an element of the "right timing" in books getting published. So glad you were so fortunate with your agent search--and good luck, John!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats Sarah and I really wish John all the best.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm in love with the title. Windsnatchers! Now that's fascinating.

Brenda said...

Love how authors are so supportive of each other and good luck to John. I'm really loving that cover and premise, especially the steampunk and fairy elements. Have a lovely week Natalie.

Kristin Lenz said...

I'm such a realistic story writer, I admire your fantastical brain! Congrats on your smooth ride to publication, and best of luck to John. My first book sold after a 6 year interlude. Fingers crossed for you!

Jessica Lawson said...

Love this post and I fully agree! The books sounds right up my alley~ I love MG fantasy!

Anonymous said...

So true about timing! Congratulations to Sarah that the timing worked out for her and good luck to John!

Nick Wilford said...

Congrats to Sarah and all the best to John! I hope both books do massively well.

Patricia T. said...

I love to escape into MG magical stories that take me on a thrilling journey. Sarah, your book sounds like a book I'd really enjoy. I also enjoyed your comments. Sounds like the planets and stars were aligned when you found your agent. Good for you!

Natalie, I can not believe I'm actually able to leave a message today. Don't know what changed, but a comment box actually is visible for me to comment. I read your posts weekly, but I can never leave a comment. So I tweet your review, so you know I visited.

Natasha said...

The Wingsnatchers sounds like a great read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

Kirsti Call said...

I'd love to read your book! Thanks for a great post!

BranwenOShea said...

Congratulations, Sarah. I'd love to read your book. And good luck to John.


Suzi Guina said...

What a fun concept. I'd love to be considered for a copy bonecabela(@)yahoo(.)com. To John: keep on keepin' on! And I hope your stars align very soon!

Danielle H. said...

You give me hope for my work! Maybe it will find the right person at the right time too. I can't wait to read your debut novel. My favorite books to read this year have been middle grade novels and your sounds so much fun. I shared on tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/159980341782/sarah-jean-horwitz-guest-post-and-the

Rosi said...

Yup. Write the best book you can. That's pretty key. This book sounds terrific and my granddaughter is a big fantasy fan. Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

S.P. Bowers said...

Congrats and good luck to both Sarah and John!

Karen Lange said...

Nice to meet Sarah Jean and John. Appreciate their sage advice and insight. Wishing them both well!

Thanks, Natalie, for sharing your space with them. I'll pass on the giveaway. Have a great week!

DMS said...

How wonderful to get to meet Sarah and John here today. Sarah's book sounds fascinating. I would love to win a copy. :) Thanks for the giveaway!

Interesting to learn about Sarah and John's paths as authors. Wishing John the best of luck with his ms request. Good luck to Sarah too!