Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


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!


Crystal Collier said...

I love that--finding ideas wherever you're at. My strangest bit of research was either how to melt a body, or learning the characteristics of psychopaths. Neither were very pleasant, but they had to be done.

Under Lock and Key sounds adorable! I loved reading about Allison's relationship with her agent. Isn't that what every young author hopes to find?

S.A. Larsenッ said...

I write fantasy, too! (MG) Keeping my eyes peeled for intriguing healing powers or a twist on them is a must, and it's so much fun.

Great to meet you, Allison! Love the sound of this book. Adding it to my list.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ideas are indeed everywhere if we just look.
Glad Allison found just the right agent for her. I'd only want to hear the good news as well.

Bish Denham said...

I used to have a list place names I ran across while traveling... Fishtrap and Mechanicsville are two I remember.

Allison's book sounds delightful! I've tweeted about the giveaway.

Bish Denham said...

I used to have a list place names I ran across while traveling... Fishtrap and Mechanicsville are two I remember.

Allison's book sounds delightful! I've tweeted about the giveaway.

Brenda said...

People watching, movies and reading always seem to give me ideas. Congratulations to Allison on Under Lock and Key's release, it sounds lovely. I tweeted about the giveaway as well.

Cherie Reich said...

That's the nice thing about writing fantasy. It sometimes doesn't require as much research as other genres. I, too, pull from the world around me as I create a new one.

Congrats to Allison! Under Locker and Key has such a fun cover!

Julie Flanders said...

Love the thought of finding ideas from things as simple as street signs. So cool.
Congratulations to Allison!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

If the agent isn't 100% in your corner, it will never work.

We sure have enough odd street and town names here in the south to spark ideas.

Christine Rains said...

I love doing research, but I do like it when I'm in the writing groove and I don't have to stop to look up something because it's magic or paranormal!

Congratulations to Allison! That's great advice when looking for an agent.

Jenni said...

This book sounds fantastic! I loved hearing Allison's agent story.

And I love your ideas for research, Natalie. It goes to show that even fantasy doesn't just spring out of our heads, but can be inspired by things in real life.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Natalie... I am in sync with you, I too get inspired by random things, newspaper stories, photographs etc.

Loved reading about Allison's agent story. Her book sounds lovely.

Kristin Lenz said...

Congrats on your book, Allison!
Natalie, great question about researching weird/cool things. I was researching forest fires and learned that morel mushrooms thrive and grow in abundance in the soil conditions resulting from a fire. Who knew?

Gwen Gardner said...

Hi Natalie, you are so right about writing ideas being everywhere. I work for a contractor and I find some of our customers names fascinating--and have used them in stories.

Hi Allison, congrats on your new release. It sounds so cute! I love a good amateur sleuth.

Raimey Gallant said...

Hi Natalie! Welcome to IWSG! And thank you for the guest post. It's so interesting to hear from authors who are further along in the process, to get their take on how it works. I also like taking inspiration for my stories from real life, and like you am always on the lookout. :) http://www.raimeygallant.com

cleemckenzie said...

Congrats on the book and not giving up when you didn't get positive responses right away. Loved reading your post.

Olga Godim said...

@Natalie: yeah, sometimes, street names and town names and some other geographic names could be very inspiring.
@Allison: Love the book cover!

M Pax said...

I'm always on the lookout for weird. I completely get that. :)

Congrats, Allison! What a fantastic story idea!

Jemi Fraser said...

That sounds like such an awesome story! Good luck!!! :)

I like finding weird in real life too - it's everywhere!

dolorah said...

I once researched penguins and ice tundra's to write a story about colonizing a frozen planet. Very interesting.

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

For any kind of writer, being open to everything around us helps to inspire.

Finding the right agent is definitely key. Congrats, Allison.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats Allison and I'm glad you and your agent get along so well. I'm international so I can't enter but added this book to my TBD wishlist. I love fun middle grade books. Happy researching Natalie!

Rosi said...

Fun and useful interview. The book sounds terrific. I will let someone else win, though. Just too many books in my TBR pile right now.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I read that Jo Rowling got the name Snape from a village she passed through once.

Stephen Tremp said...

Research is fun. I use real local restaurants in my books and visit them and eat the same foods off the menus my characters eat.

Anonymous said...

I've uncovered many interesting stories and tidbits through local, historical research. I'm always drawn to the odd/eccentric, solitary characters who seem to have lived on the borderlands of rural communities.

Tamara Narayan said...

I have a daughter about to enter middle school and she is already stressed out about the idea of a locker and lock. I would love to win this book for her. Email: tamara(dot)narayan(at)gmail(dot)com

Good advice about finding not just an agent, but the right agent.

Danielle H. said...

I had to immediately put this on my must-read list for this year. Your books sounds like so much fun. Thanks for the interview! I shared on my tumblr: http://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/160307909872/allison-hymas-guest-post-and-under-locker-and-key

DMS said...

I love a good mystery! Under Locker and Key sounds like fun. It was fun to hear from Allison. I agree that finding the right agent is so important. Wishing Allison all the best! :)

S.P. Bowers said...

Congrats on the book! I'm glad you have an agent that works so well with you. Sounds like a great relationship.

erica and christy said...

I love that you check out the newspaper for fantastical stories to inspire you. Great interview!

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

Congratulations to Allison on her new book!

News stories sometimes inspire story ideas for me too.

Michelle Wallace said...

It's true that ideas are all around us, just waiting to be discovered.
Congrats to Allison...and it's great that she seems to click with her new agent.

Sara Dorsch said...

What a fun concept!