Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • 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.


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Danielle Burby here. She is a literary agent at Nelson Literary Agency.

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

Status: Open to submissions. Update on 8/12/2021: Danielle left Nelson Literary Agency to found Mad Woman Literary Agency. Check the agency website for her submission guidelines. Update on 11/9/2023 Danielle is temporarily closed to queries until 2024. Check the agency website to find out when she reopens to queries.

Hi­ Danielle! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Danielle:

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

I interned at a handful of agencies and publishing houses throughout college and the summer after I graduated. One of those internships very organically led to my first agency job through a referral. I started out as the assistant to an agent at a NYC firm and, within one year, was taking on clients of my own and beginning to develop my list. I’m ambitious and I work very hard so I was able to move up fairly quickly in the industry. I’ve now been in publishing for five years and have fifteen clients. I’ve sold many truly wonderful projects, some of which are award-winning.

Update on 1/16/2023: "Danielle's focus as an agent is on a strong sense of partnership and collaboration with her clients. She represents a diverse list of critically acclaimed and internationally bestselling authors with stellar voices, incredible storytelling skills, and fresh narratives to share. She primarily works on YA and middle grade with a smattering of select adult fiction as well. Ultimately, she looks to connect deeply with the writing and themes of the books she works on.

Over her decade in publishing, Danielle has worked at several top tier literary agencies and has built a list of clients she is very proud to represent. In founding Mad Woman Literary Agency, Danielle has further deepened her commitment to being the change she wishes to see in publishing. She brings her own unique mix of business-minded and emotionally rooted support to her clients while also actively working to educate herself and to do her small part in the attempt to dismantle the white supremacist heteropatriarchy.

Danielle is a member of the American Association of Literary Agents where she has participated in the royalties committee and currently serves on the membership committee in addition to volunteering with the Mentors of Change program.

She has a degree in gender studies and creative writing, has a thriving herb garden, obsessively listens to podcasts and audiobooks, and can never get enough of the ocean. She lives a little outside of Manhattan with her soon-to-be wife and their often prickly, but always lovable cat. For her recent sales see Publishers Marketplace." (From the agency website).

About the Agency:

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

I began working at NLA in January 2017 and it was a very natural next step in my career. I love the level of support the agency provides to both the agents and to clients. It is a great company to work for! NLA really believes in an incredibly thorough approach as we handle our clients’ careers so we have a rigorous contract negotiation process, we have staff members dedicated to auditing royalty statements and analyzing them very closely (the agency has recovered thousands of dollars for our clients by doing this), we very thoroughly edit projects before submitting them, and we have in-depth systems in place for everything. The agents are also very collaborative with one another. We read each other’s projects and are constantly in touch with each other as we submit manuscripts and negotiate deals. I’ve never seen an agency approach the business in quite this way and I think it is one of the reasons NLA is such a standout agency.

Update on 1/16/2023:  "Mad Woman Literary Agency is a queer-woman-owned, full service literary agency that values transparency, a spirit of partnership, and the empowerment of authors to take ownership of their careers.

We are by each client's side, step-by-step through the publishing process, helping to navigate industry norms and relationships with publishers and to grow careers. MWLA works with clients on strategy and editorial project development, handles submissions to publishers, negotiates deals on your behalf, and, in partnership with our co-agents, helps to handle all subrights from audiobook and translation to film and television and everything in between. We also discuss and analyze royalty statements with our clients, helping them understand the breakdown of the sales numbers associated with their books and identifying growth areas. We work toward sustainable, long-term writing careers.

The agency has a particular focus on diversity, equity, access, and inclusion with the goal of moving the publishing industry in a progressive direction. MWLA prides itself in its highly curated and selective list of talented authors, the majority of whom have marginalized identities." (From the agency website)

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 every genre in MG and YA and I also take on the occasional adult project in women’s fiction, mystery, and speculative. I love female-driven stories, complex family dynamics, friendship books, a slow burning romance, girls with swords, a really unique voice, a high concept, anything feminist, books that deal with social issues, books that make the reader think or push the reader in some way, and books that keep me up all night.

Update 1/16/2023: "Danielle is particularly drawn to: complex female characters, seaside novels, girls with swords, fantasy, LGBTQ+ love, sister stories, toxic friendships, feminist fairytales, social justice themes, folklore, creepy forests, complicated family dynamics, quirky adventures, protagonists who change systems and break rules, heartwarming love stories, whimsy." (From the agency website)

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

I really want a toxic female friendship book, a YA interpretation of the historical pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonney written as a queer love story, a modern version of Judy Blume’s Forever, a sister book, and a really wacky and inventive MG adventure.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I don’t represent nonfiction, short stories, poetry, religious books, or romance.

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 look to represent authors I would be a fan of even if they weren’t my client. I read the books I represent over and over again so I need to love spending time with the writing and the plot and the characters. I need to be so excited about the project and author that I can genuinely tell editors I think they will be missing out if they pass on the project. Once I take on a client, my approach is to be with them every step of the way through the publication process and, more broadly, their career. I don’t just check out once the contract is signed—I am the author’s support, biggest fan, and teammate all rolled in one.

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’m an incredibly editorial agent. The longer I’m in the business the more of a perfectionist I become about prepping a submission. You may be able to sell a project without editing it, but the deal will almost always be better if you do the work. Editors see a ton of projects every week—it is my job to make sure my projects stand out above the rest. I see editing as a team effort between me and my clients. As I tell them, I diagnose the problems I see and I may even have suggestions for how to fix those problems, but, as the author, they probably have even better solutions than the ones I propose. The key is to fix those problems in a way that makes the novel stronger. All of my authors embrace the editorial process. It is a must in this business. I typically go through two to three rounds of intensive revisions with my clients before submitting a manuscript. It is all in service of making the novel the strongest iteration of itself possible. Quality counts.

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?

Query letter and first ten pages of the manuscript in the body of the email to querydanielle@nelsonagency.com

Update on 1/16/2023: "Danielle will be open to queries through Query Manager from February 15th-April 15th. http://QueryManager.com/DanielleBurby (From the agency website)

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

My biggest pet peeve is the phrase, “I have recently completed X novel” because it implies that I’m about to read a first draft.

Response Time:

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

We typically respond to queries within three weeks (sometimes four).

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, of course, open to representing authors who have previously self-published or who have been published by small presses. The key is that they have a new manuscript that has never been published that I believe I can sell in the traditional market.

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 don’t really see any of those factors changing my job. I don’t interact with those corners of the market all that frequently because they don’t really overlap with what I do. And that’s okay! I work very squarely in the traditional market (which evolves and changes in its own ways) and the services I provide to my clients are tailored specifically to the traditional market. That said, I do stay informed about what is going on in other areas of the market because I like to be up-to-date.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Ausma Zehanat Khan, Florence Gonsalves, Lisa Duffy, and Jeff Seymour to name a few.

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.


Update on 1/16/2023
Agent of the Month at Writing and Illustrating Intro, Part 1, Part 2 (08/2019)
Interview at Writer's Digest (09/2018)
Interview at SCBWI (Date unknown)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Update 1/16/2023: See answer #8

Additional Advice:

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

The path to landing an agent and being traditionally published is often a journey with a lot of ups and downs. No matter what happens, keep writing and honing your craft. Perseverance pays off as long as you are willing to continue to grow. I have seen it first-hand. Don’t give up!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Danielle.

­Danielle 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 October 7th.  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.

Profile Details:
Last updated: 1/16/2023.
Agent Contacted for Review? Yes.
Last Reviewed By Agent? N/A.

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 Monday Everyone!Today I’m excited to have debut author Linsey Miller here to share about her YA fantasy MASK OF SHADOWS. Sal seems like a fantastic character who has been described as reminding some of Arya Stark in Games of Throne, and the court intrigue sounds intense. But before we get to that I have some exciting Follower News.

Follower News

Nick Wilford's YA dystopian novel BLACK AND WHITE is being released. Here's a blurb: What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, two high school students, Wellesbury Noon and Ezmerelda Dontible, are about to find out as a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Add on Goodreads

Now here’s a blurb of MASK OF SHADOWS from Goodreads:

Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class and the nobles who destroyed their home.

When Sal Leon steals a poster announcing open auditions for the Left Hand, a powerful collection of the Queen's personal assassins named for the rings she wears -- Ruby, Emerald, Amethyst, and Opal -- their world changes. They know it's a chance for a new life.

Except the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. But Sal must survive to put their real reason for auditioning into play: revenge.

Hi Linsey! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Hi! I read a lot as a kid and grew up around books, so the idea of writing wasn’t an odd one; however, writing never seemed like a job that was obtainable. I studied biology in college and didn’t really start writing books or short stories until my senior year when I was seriously doubting my life choices (my med school interviewer said it sounded like I would be a better writer than doctor which should’ve been a hint). I started writing, researching, and learning about the young adult publishing world then. That was five years ago. Now, MASK OF SHADOWS just came out and I’m an MFA student studying fiction.

2. That's interesting about your medical school interview. Yes, that sounds like a clue.
Where did you get the idea for MASK OF SHADOWS?

There wasn’t any specific moment when I remember getting the idea. I’ve always loved assassin stories and questions of morality in young adult novels, and at some point while writing my first book I thought, “But what if assassins were color coded?” And then it sort of spiraled out of control from there.

3. Sal has been described as gender fluid by other reviewers, which adds another really interesting aspect to their character. Share about this aspect of Sal and tips for writing about a character that may not fit traditional gender expectations.

Sal is genderfluid. I went into writing MASK OF SHADOWS knowing that Sal was non-binary, and
I spent a lot of time talking to a lot of very kind people about gender, self, and representation. Because I’m not genderfluid, I didn’t want to write a story about gender because it would have felt very disingenuous coming from me, so before even drafting MASK OF SHADOWS, there was a lot of talk with a lot of people about it. I think that’s the only tip I feel comfortable giving—listen to people.

There are prior characters in American young adult literature who have not fit into traditional gender expectations (I think this would be a very interesting and much longer post on gender, race, and main characters in YA by a more well-suited writer than me), but I feel that Sal, since non-binary people are so often erased from literature and fantasy, doesn’t necessarily fit into that, especially since I am not non-binary.

4. That's great how you talked to a lot of people and importantly listened too! What was your plotting process like for MASK OF SHADOWS and how has what you’ve learned from writing this book influenced your writing going forward?

It was intense! I plotted it out in my head on the trip to Yallfest, wrote the first draft in 30 days a few months later, and then I revised it up until it was accepted into Pitch Wars. From there, it went through a lot of revisions and series-arc changes. I definitely learned how to revise and implement characterization while writing it. I was always fairly organized about my plotting, but now I know all the little questions I need to ask myself at the start to make writing easier.
Also, I’ve got my caffeine intake down to a science.

5. Wow! That was a quick initial drafting idea. So Sal is a thief and trying to be an assassin. I read in your bio that you were once a crime lab intern. Did your criminal justice background help you at all in developing this aspect of the story? If not, what did?

It sort of did! I had wanted to be a forensic pathologist from the age of eleven to twenty-two, so I weirdly knew a lot about some of the more physical aspects of what happens in MASK OF SHADOWS. Because Sal’s grief and how they deal with death is at the forefront of their character, I didn’t want to shy away from the realities of death or dying. I spent two months at the crime lab, and aspects of what I experienced there definitely helped. I would not change my background in biology for anything. It’s been amazingly helpful and vital to my development as a writer.

6. Being a forensic pathologist sounds fascinating. Glad your experiences helped you. What was your world building process like? What tips do you have for other writers who write fantasy about creating a fantasy world?

Long and detailed and probably very silly. I built the world like I was reading a world history book, and then I settled on the details. Magic existed in the world until about a decade prior to the start of the book, so a lot of the differences between our world and Sal’s are based on what magic could do and how different people interacted with it.

What really helped me was looking at the big consequences and then asking myself what miniscule things that would change—like shaking hands or wearing shoes or having germ theory. Find the small things and those will make the world feel more real.

7. Your agent is Rachel Brooks. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.

Rachel Brooks is a wonderful agent who became my agent almost purely by chance. I wasn’t really querying yet because my first book was still out with agents, but I posted a few #SFFpit pitches and she liked one of them. After that, I queried her as normal and the rest is history. Almost exactly a year after signing with Rachel, we got to announce that Sourcebooks Fire had acquired MASK OF SHADOWS.

And it was all thanks to a tweet.

8. Your book was released about a month ago. What has it been like to debut for those of us still dreaming of it and how have you been celebrating/promoting the release of your book?

I am extremely lucky because Sourcebooks is an amazing publisher, and they’re really been pushing MASK OF SHADOWS and making sure everything goes well. It’s amazing and overwhelming in the best way. There are a lot of conflicting emotions that happen when your books comes out, and honestly, it still hasn’t totally set in yet. I always joke that I don’t know how to celebrate, but I definitely recommend finding a way to remember the positives. I have collection of custom coffee mugs memorializing really important, happy moments now. It’s weird but it works for me. I like it.
Find something you like and make it your celebratory thing.

9. That's good to know that Sourcebooks is so good to work with. What is something that has surprised you about either getting an agent or becoming published and why?

The actual act of getting publishing. It can be hard, sometimes, to keep going in publishing because it feels like every step of the way is littered with rejection. For a long time, I didn’t think MASK OF SHADOWS would get published, but now it is. It’s been out for a little over a week, but it’s really about four years old.
So keep going.

10. What are you working on now?

The sequel to MASK OF SHADOWS, which is fun. I’m also drafting (very slowly) a completely new YA fantasy that I hope sees the light of day in the next few years.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Linsey. You can find Linsey at her website, on Twitter, on Tumblr, or on Instagram

Linsey has generously offered MASK OF SHADOW for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment through September 30th. 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 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, September 25th I have an agent spotlight interview with Danielle Burby and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday. October 4th I have an interview with Sheri Larsen and a giveaway of her new YA fantasy MARKED BEAUTY and my IWSG post

Monday, October 9th I have an interview with debut author Tracey Neithercott and a giveaway of her YA magical realism GRAY WOLF ISLAND

Saturday, October 14th I'm participating in the Spooktacular Giveaway Hop

Monday, October 16th I have a guest post with debut author Karina Van Glaser and with a giveaway of Karina's MG contemporary THE VANDERBEKERS and a query critique giveaway by agent Ginger Clark

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut YA author Katherine Locke here to share about her YA historical fantasy THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON. I’m super excited about this book because it’s got time travel, historical fiction, and magic. Love the title too. How could this not be fantastic?

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.

Hi Katherine! Thanks so much for joining us.
Thanks so much for having me!

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

I think I’ve always been writing and telling stories—I remember writing a picture book when I was six or seven called The Girl with a Thousand Cats, which a) was pretty prophetic (I have four cats—thank god, it’s not a thousand.) and b) shows I was clearly into the “The Girl with” titles far before they were popular. I was definitely ahead of that trend ;) Just kidding.

I wrote my first novel length book when I was fourteen—it’s called The Riders of Eight and I recently found it on a floppy disk! Then the next book I finished I wrote during my freshman year of college and that’s called Caesura. I wrote the sequel the following year, and then spent a few years just trying to get Caesura right (and failing each time. Maybe one day I’ll come back to it.)

After a break—between depression, college, graduating college and finding a job, I was burnt out and not feeling very creative—I wrote the first draft of The Girl with the Red Balloon in the spring of 2013. I rewrote it entirely (literally—3 sentences survived to draft 2) in spring 2014. And that draft, I knew I’d gotten it right. In the meantime, I’d written my first romance book, Second Position, signed with an agent and sold it in the spring of 2014. It came out in 2015. So THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON is my YA debut, but not my debut novel!

When I think back to the first books I was writing, they were all fantasy—more Tamora Pierce than the fantasy I write now which is lighter and more real-world based (and historical)—but they share some themes with The Girl with the Red Balloon: The books I wrote when I was 14 and the book I wrote when I was 18 and the book I wrote when I was 27 were all about girls who felt like outsiders, even in a place where they should have felt like they belonged. I think that was a feeling I felt as a teen, and something I still struggle with sometimes.

2. Yes, I struggle with feeling like an outsider too. Where did you get the idea for THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON?

I was driving one day and the Goldfinger cover of 99 Red Balloons came on the radio (not for the
first time) and suddenly in my mind, I could see a girl going over a wall holding onto a red balloon. And immediately I was like, “Oh, that’s interesting. Why? Where’s she going? Why is the wall there?” My book ideas almost always start as images or one line of dialogue, so that wasn’t unusual! I sat down and wrote the first chapter as soon as I got to work that day.

3. Your story is set in 1988 East Berlin. What was your research process like?

Very extensive. I read blogs, looked through photographs, read books and articles by people who’d grown up in East Germany and specifically East Berlin, I watched movies (like The Lives of Others) and news programs about East Berlin. I googled every detail of the book to see if there was something relevant to East Berlin that I could work in—Ellie passes a sign early in the book that says “The Stronger the Socialism The Stronger the Peace” which was a real sign that existed in the neighborhood where she’s staying in the book. Despite the magic in the book, I did try to adhere to historical record as closely as I can.

4. Sounds like you did a lot of reseach. I saw on your blog that you say that you hate first drafts and love revisions. That’s me too. Share what the revision process was like for THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON and tips on revision in general.

I mentioned above that I rewrote the entire book a year after I finished the first draft, which is generally how revisions are for me! Large amounts of rewriting. I ended up outlining the second draft because between the first and second draft, I’d taught myself to outline and it’s saved me from writing first drafts that messy ever again. I also find that reverse outlining—that is, outlining the draft after you’ve finished it and then finding holes and fixing your plot in that reverse outline before revising—is immensely helpful too.

5. I'm trying to learn to outline more too to avoid those messy first drafts too. A number of people who have already reviewed your book said it made them cry. Wow! That’s pretty powerful. What do you think about your story evokes such emotions?

At its heart, The Girl with the Red Balloon is about impossible choices in terrible times of human history, and about forgiveness. It’s the story about two brothers and two sisters, and about a grandfather and a granddaughter, and about three friends, and I think that those relationships are ones we have in our lives, and ones we can imagine being under threat, that we fear will be under threat. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want you to cry, because I do. But a reader’s tears, to me, say much more about the reader—and their deep capacity for empathy and compassion and love for people around them in their own lives—than they do the author or the author’s skill. The moments that make you cry in a book are really the moments where the author holds up a mirror to your own life.

6. Your agent is Louise Fury. Share how she became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

Yes! This is a good question because DO NOT DO WHAT I DID, haha. Just because it worked didn’t mean it was the right way to go about things, which I didn’t really know or understand at the time. I first queried Louise with a YA…paranormal/fableism fantasy book? I don’t know what genre that book is. I called it The Killing Mists and I still really want to find time to go back and fix that book. Anyway, she politely rejected it, and a few weeks later, I participated in a Twitter pitch contest where I pitched my New Adult Romance (Second Position) and Louise requested it. I also sent it into Carina Press at the same time. And about four months later, I ended up with an agent and a publishing deal at basically the same time. Which was really lucky! But was also a little complicated to do at the same time because I shouldn’t have been submitting to publishers AND querying agents at the same time. So, writers, please don’t do that. While it’s tempting because you’re like “But it worked for you, Katherine!”, it really was kind of messy and I was exceptionally lucky that my agent and my editor knew each other already and both of them were beyond patient.

But when I had my call with Louise, she said, “Didn’t you query me before?” and I groaned and was like “Yes…it was this really weird YA I wrote called The Killing Mists.” And she told me she remembered the book and that I’d been really close with it, that she really felt like there was something there and had considered asking me for an R & R or a call about it. So that was really gratifying because I really really love that book, and it meant that Louise liked my books, even when they were at their weirdest. Most of my YA tends to blur genres, which not every agent, editor, or reader enjoys.

7. Yes, I can see how querying an agent and publisher at the same time could backfire with other agents. Glad it worked for you. I saw on your website that besides your launch party that you are scheduling appearances at book festivals and other events as well at least one recent middle school visit. How have you decided where to reach out and what advice do you have on marketing for other authors who will debut in the future?


Regarding conferences and book festivals: I realize that I’m lucky in two regards here: one, I’ve been an active member of the YA writing community online for several years and I have a really good friend circle in the writing community. We share information, links to festivals to apply for, invites, how we set up school visits, etc.

Two, I have a solid elevator pitch for my book, and I know it’s rather unusual for YA, so it stands out to festival organizers. Not that historical fantasy hasn’t been done before (I highly recommend BLOOD ROSE REBELLION, also a 2017 debut, for another book that uses magic built into real history), but it’s unusual: it’s science fiction and it’s fantasy and it’s historical and it has a contemporary chapter. It does a lot for a little book and it stands out in a sea of YA fantasy right now. It has enough magic for the fantasy readers to pick up something heavily historical, and it’s heavily historical enough for historical readers to tolerate the fantasy.

In terms of marketing, I think it was Susan Dennard or Erin Bowman, two stellar YA authors who were debuting about the time that I was poking my head into the online writing community, who said that you should really just do the marketing that you’re interested in doing. In the end, an author can’t do a ton to move the dial on a book. But what an author can do is raise a book’s profile enough that their publisher might say, oh, this is getting traction and throw more weight behind it.

I am writing postcards to booksellers, libraries, and other people who might be interested in my book or able to support it, and I’m online, but mostly, I’m going to events and festivals and being visible. And most importantly, writing the next book.

8. That's great advice to focus on what you're comfortable with. You’ve also written a new adult romance/contemporary series, District Ballet Company, which also got great reviews. What did you learn from marketing that series that is influencing what you are doing now?

The readers who found me through District Ballet are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. I rarely get to meet them in person because that was a digital first series (so without physical books, I didn’t do signings or travel or do conventions.) It’s amazing to me that as small as those books were, I still have people come up to me in my Red Balloon lines and say, “I read Second Position and I loved it and thank you for Zed and Aly.” It means the world to me when people tell me they read and loved those books.

In terms of what I learned, I learned that word of mouth is the best gift someone can give an author. There are a handful of Second Position fans out there that continually, two years later, mention it on Twitter or Goodreads, and so Second Position and Finding Center are still finding new fans. I didn’t do that. Readers did. Readers and two or three bloggers who never stopped loving that book. And I really really hope the same thing happens for The Girl with the Red Balloon.

If you love a book, talk about it.

9. What are you working on now?

Good question! I think by the time this is posted, I’ll be in edits on The Balloonmakers #2. I can’t share the title yet, but it’s coming! It’s not a direct sequel to The Girl with the Red Balloon, it’s a companion novel set 45 years earlier. Same world, same magic, new cast of characters. It’s about a sister and brother who get recruited to use balloon magic on different parts of the Manhattan Project (the secret US project to build the first nuclear bomb during WWII) and they each uncover a spy in their midst. It should be coming out Fall 2018 if everything stays on track!

Right now, while I’m writing this post, I’m working on two projects: one is a middle grade fantasy that is mash-up of Beowulf meets Twelfth Night, and the second is a new YA about a girl who uncovers a serial killer using magic.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Katherine. You can find Katherine on Twitter and Instagram at @bibliogato, and at KatherineLockeBooks.com.

Katherine has generously offered THE GIRL WITH THE RED BALLOON for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower and leave a comment through September 23rd. 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 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is for U.S. and Canada.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday September 18th I have an interview with debut author Lindsey Miller and a giveaway of her YA fantasy MASK OF SHADOWS

Monday September 25th I have an agent spotlight interview with Danielle Burby and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday October 4th I have an interview with Sheri Larsen and a giveaway of her new YA fantasy MARKED BEAUTY and my IWSG post

Monday, October 9th I have an interview with debut author Tracey Neithercott and a giveaway of her YA magical realism GRAY WOLF ISLAND

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Wednesday Everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic rest of August and are ready for Fall. I'm looking forward to resuming my regular blogging schedule and am starting out today with a fantastic post today by Jessica Lawson and her agent Tina Wexler. Before that, I'm going to start with 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: Tyrean Martinson,Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure!

This Month's Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre that you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

I haven't written enough to try a new genre, but I am happily surprised with my writing after picking it up again after four years. I'm finding that I'm a braver writer willing to make more radical changes when things don't work right. And I'm figuring out the problems quicker on my own. I've submitted to my critique group twice now. They have some suggestions but the basics of what I'm doing are working. At least that's how it's going so far--less than two months since I started up again.

What about you? How have you surprised yourself?

Now, onto my guest post today. I'm super excited to have follower and friend Jessica Lawson and her agent Tina Wexler back on the blog to share about Jessica's new MG mystery UNDER THE BOTTLE BRIDGE. I love mysteries and this one sounds intriguing with the mysterious messages in the bottle. And Jessica is really an inspiration to me because ever since she had her debut novel come out in 2014, she keeps on writing and publishing more books every year. Some in different genres. And they all sound so good! It gives me hope that I could be that productive some day and maybe be able to continue to sell what I write. 

Here's a blurb of UNDER THE BOTTLE BRIDGE:

In the weeks leading up to Gilbreth, New York’s annual AutumnFest, twelve-year-old woodcraft legacy Minna Treat is struggling with looming deadlines, an uncle trying to hide Very Bad News, and a secret personal quest. When she discovers mysterious bottle messages under one of the village’s 300-year-old bridges, she can’t help but wonder who’s leaving them, what they mean, and, most importantly…could the messages be for her?

Along with best friend Crash and a mystery-loving newcomer full of suspicious theories, Minna is determined to discover whether the bottles are miraculously leading her toward long-lost answers she’s been looking for, or drawing her into a disaster of historic proportions.

Now here's Jessica and Tina!

A huge thanks to Natalie for having us back on Literary Rambles! In Under the Bottle Bridge, Minna Treat finds mysterious bottle messages beneath a covered bridge built by her ancestors. The book is about impossible searches and expectations and the meaning of family. It’s a story about a girl on the cusp of becoming a teenager, and how she deals with the uncertainty ahead.

My agent, Tina Wexler, is a bridge builder. As of this month, she and I will have been together for five years. With the creation of each manuscript from first sentence to final draft, Tina and I are journeying together, setting planks down one by one as we navigate the blank space in front of us. Sometimes we get to the other side and achieve publication, sometimes not. There’s a lot of hand-holding and “don’t worry, you’re not going to fall!” and “it’s okay, let’s turn around and try building at a different spot.” The gap between idea and publication can be a scary place, full of ambiguity and doubt.

There is a larger career bridge as well. Natalie asked me to speak about continuing sales and how authors keep selling their books. I wish I could answer that. I feel lucky to have a fourth book in the world, but as I’ve continued in my career, I’ve come to realize that the uncertainty will never go away. I will always think about things like:

Am I growing or regressing as a writer?

Is there a “big picture” destination I’m supposed to be aiming for?

Why do my characters TALK SO MUCH???

There are a lot of things that can potentially distract a writer from what they’re supposed to be doing
—finding worthwhile stories to share with readers. I think the most important thing that Tina has offered me over the years is a foundation of support—an expressed belief that I’ve got stories inside me that are worth sharing… and a willingness to continue helping me bridge the small gaps and the larger one to find them.

Tina was kind enough to answer a few questions about the agent/client relationship.

What is the biggest challenge in managing many different clients and their different “bridges”?

One challenge is figuring out what each author needs while crossing any particular bridge. If I have
an author who is struggling to make a deadline, am I better off asking the editor to extend the deadline? Should I give the author mini-deadlines that feel more manageable? Should I nix the deadlines completely and send gentle encouragement instead?

If I have an author who is writing in a genre that has fallen out of fashion, should I encourage them to try another tack or should we forge ahead in the same genre, knowing trends are cyclical and that the current project will take months to write?

It all comes down to this: How can I help create an environment in which my authors can do their best work? It’s different for each author, and for each project, and at each new stage in their career, and it’s something I take very seriously.

What are three key elements in maintaining a healthy and productive agent/client relationship?