CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Beach Reads Giveaway Hop through June 15th
Dear Rachel Maddow through June 23rd
See All the Stars through June 23rd
Write With Fey Giveaway through July 5th

Upcoming Agent Spotlights and Query Critique Giveaways


Colleen Oefelein Agent Spotlight Interview on 6/27/2018
Larissa Helena Agent Spotlight Interview on 9/10/2018

CELEBRATING WRITE WITH FEY: GUEST POST BY CHRYS FEY AND GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! I'm excited to have Chrys Fey here to share about her new book for writers, WRITE WITH FEY: 10 SPARKS TO INSPIRE YOU FROM IDEA TO PUBLICATION. It sounds like a great resource for writers. I learned a ton from Chrys' guest post.

Here's a blurb about Chrys' new book from Goodreads:

Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You’ll also discover how to write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.

•Spark One: Being a Writer
•Spark Two: Story Essentials
•Spark Three: A Book’s Stepping Stones
•Spark Four: How To
•Spark Five: Character ER
•Spark Six: Editing
•Spark Seven: Publishing
•Spark Eight: Marketing
•Spark Nine: Writing About
•Spark Ten: Final Inspiration
With so much information, you’ll take notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your writing journey.

Now here's Chrys!


10 Things You Can Do on Your Author YouTube Channel


If you feel comfortable recording yourself and sharing videos, YouTube is something you can look in to. Actually, I set up my YouTube channel to help me prepare for a live interview on YouTube I agreed to, as well as a radio interview. And both of those I signed up for to prepare myself for a speaking engagement I had lined up in the following year.

I never thought I’d have a YouTube channel or that I’d enjoy posting videos of myself, but I do. In the beginning, I experienced pretty bad jitters while recording my videos. My voice would shake, my heart would pound, I’d sweat. I’d have to stop the recording and re-do it a few times before my body and mind calmed down. By the end of the final video, I’d laugh at myself. After all, I’m only talking to myself when I’m recording. That shouldn’t cause me so much anxiety, and yet, it did. Probably because I knew I’d be posting them later.

When I started, I’d record 2-3 videos a day. The first one would always be the hardest. I’d start nervous, but I knew I would, so I gave myself permission to stop and start over until I wasn’t as nervous anymore.

Now, I enjoy it. That’s coming from someone who is an introvert, so if I can do it, you can do it. You just have to keep at it until you get to that place where you’re comfortable.

Creating videos helped me to build my confidence, and it can do the same for you.

Whether you have a YouTube Channel already or are thinking about getting one, here are 10 things you can do on your YouTube Channel:

1. Readings
My first videos on YouTube were readings I did for Seismic Crimes and Tsunami Crimes. I sat down,
pushed record, talked about my series, and read an exciting scene. Yes, it took a few tries before I didn’t mess up, and I did start to get frustrated, but I am happy I completed them.
Recorded readings are a great thing to try if you’re scared about doing an in-person reading, too.
When you finish a video reading and upload it to YouTube, upload it to your Amazon Author Page, too. You should have one through Amazon’s author portal, and if you don’t, sign up for it ASAP.
After that, grab the YouTube URL for your video and use it to add that video to your Goodreads author page. These are the two main places you want your videos to be so readers can access them.

2. Share Tips
Create videos for writers/authors and share tips. Go in-depth on a certain topic and provide viewers with all of the knowledge you have. This is what I do on my YouTube Channel. I share sparks about publishing, marketing, and more. Just make sure you provide new or detailed information viewers can take away from your videos. Don’t discuss the same old things.

3. Book Reviews
Being an author, I bet you might be an avid reader, too. Did you just read a book you LOVED? Discuss it in a video. Gush about the characters, the prose, the plot. Or perhaps you read a book you didn’t care for, you can talk about it, too. Open a conversation so readers can contribute to your thoughts and voice their own options.

4. Answer Questions
Ask viewers/followers/readers what they want to know about you or your books. Record your answers and upload those videos. Make sure to share them to all of your social media outlets where your fans can find the link.

5. Interviews
Do you know authors? Set up your live channel through YouTube, find authors who you’d like to interview and ask them if they are interested in participating in a 30-minute interview. Then do a live interview with the author. You don’t have to go beyond your computer or laptop, and the author you interview doesn’t have to leave the comfort of his/her home. To do this, you’ll need to set up Live Streaming through YouTube.

6. Vlog
Use your YouTube channel as a blog, aka a vlog. Talk about your day, share your opinions, do what you would do for a blog post but create a video instead.

7. Tutorials
What are your skills? Is there something you know how to do that many people struggle with? Create a tutorial. If what you’re explaining how to do is online, show the steps you take to get from point A to point B by recording your computer screen. Make sure to add in audio, though, so viewers can hear you as well as see what you do.
Maybe you have a hobby that allows you to create instructional videos, do that. And if one of your characters does that hobby, or a book or series is about that hobby (consider Jennifer Chiaverini’s Elm Creek Quilts series), then these videos are great additions for your readers, who may enjoy that hobby as well.

8. Record Your Events
If you do a talk at a library or other event, have someone record your speech/discussion so you can later upload the video to your YouTube channel. This is great for people who can’t attend your event and don’t want to miss what you have to say.

9. Be a Fan
Are you a Walking Dead fan? A football fan? A Game of Thrones fan? Discuss a show’s episodes. Share your reactions when your favorite team wins or loses or when a character you love dies. Be a fan and connect to other fans.

10. Poetry Reading
Do you write poetry? Recite them. Put on a show for YouTube viewers as artists would for a poetry slam. Show your emotions and share your view through the power of words and rhythm. 

Try at least one of these ideas and then try another. You may find one you love and want to continue doing. And if you have a handful of videos for a specific feature or topic, you can make a Playlist on your channel and add those videos to it.
Get creative and think outside the box.
If you think something would make a fun, interesting, or informative video, then do it!

QUESTION: What else can an author do on their YouTube channel?


For more information like this check out:
Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication by Chrys Fey


BIO: Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips. @ChrysFey www.ChrysFey.com

Thanks for all the advice, Chrys! You can enter into Chrys' Rafflecopter Giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Friday, June 29th I'm participating in the I Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop

Tuesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Cindy Baldwin and a giveaway of her MG WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW and my IWSG post

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS

Hope to see you on Monday!

SPLASH INTO SUMMER GIVEAWAY HOP



Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I'm excited to be participating in the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop hosted by Bookhounds. There's a lot of new books that have recently released or will be published later this summer, and I'm excited to share them with you.

You Help Me Help a Friend Who Has Suffered a Tragic Loss? It's Easy!

But before I get to the book selections, I need you to ask you to help me help an author friend who just suffered a tragic loss. Some of you may have seen this post in my last giveaway hop post, but I wanted to post it one more time. Lee McKenzie has been a good friend of mine for years who I met through my blog. Her newest MG fantasy, SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC, released on May 15, 2018. Two days later, Lee suffered the tragic loss of her husband due to a sudden heart attack. I also suffered the sudden loss of my own husband a little over four years ago and know firsthand how heartbreaking this loss is.

While we cannot take away Lee's grief, we could show her kindness and friendship by helping her promote her book. I know you all are book lovers and many have your own blogs. I'm hoping that you can do all or some of these easy things to help Lee:

  • Buy Lee's book. An e-book is only $3.99. I just did that.
  • Post about Lee's book on your blog and other social media sites. Ask your friends to help do by shouting out about her book and buying it
Here's a blurb about what the book is about:

Pete’s stuck in medieval England! Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Timelock.
But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found. There’s only one solution—fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. He travels to 1173 England accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar. But what if the page remains lost? Will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the dukes’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones, and Pete quickly realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again. 


And some links:

Thanks to any of you who can help out. Now onto the books for this giveaway!

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. I've got a combination of MG and YA and one adult anthology that I'm looking forward to reading. If you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead as long as it doesn't cost more than the book here. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads.

 
 
 


 
 


 
 
 
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 June 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, June 18th I have a guest post by author Chrys Frey to celebrate the release of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Friday, June 29th I'm participating in the I Couldn't Put It Down Giveaway Hop

Tuesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Cindy Baldwin and a giveaway of her MG WHERE THE WATERMELONS GROW and my IWSG post

Monday, July 9th I have an interview with debut author Bree Barton and a giveaway of her YA HEART OF THORNS

Hope to see you on Monday!

And here are all of the other blogs participating in this blog hop:




AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH GABRIELLE PIRAINO AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Gabrielle Piraino here. She is a literary agent at DeFiore & Company.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi­ Gabrielle! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Gabbie:

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

I was first interested in agenting during grad school, but it took a while to get here! I came to NYC for Pace University’s MS in Publishing program and interned everywhere that I could: Schwartz & Wade at Random House, Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency, Little, Brown BFYR, and Writers House. My first job out of school was with MeeGenius, a children’s e-book publisher, where I had hands on experience with the entire publishing process: acquisitions, contracts, editing, production, layout, audio, digital Q&A… the works. I also worked at Farrar, Straus & Giroux in their contracts department before I was offered the opportunity to work at a literary agency. My former agency specialized in celebrity nonfiction, and due to its boutique size, I was able to apply the skills I learned in school and my previous positions to provide editorial feedback on many projects, manage the foreign rights, and help negotiate the agency’s contracts. My personal interests lay in other genres though, so I was very happy to join DeFiore and Company in the summer of 2016. I’ve been agenting since that winter and was also recently promoted to manage the agency’s foreign rights as well. I’m currently focused on children’s projects, genre (YA and Adult SFF, horror, thrillers), and selective nonfiction.

About the Agency:

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

DeFiore and Company is a fantastic group of agents that represent every genre and age group—be it health/wellness to children’s picture books. My favorite part of the office is our congeniality; we share information about the industry and the senior agents are invested in mentoring the young agents. We collectively have developed a network that includes practically every editor at both commercial and most indie publishers. The agency also includes an internal foreign rights staff to sell our clients’ work around the world, both in other English language terrtitories and also in translation. DeFiore and Company negotiates all of our clients’ contracts as well. As an agency, we’re always focused on supporting our clients and creating interesting and dynamic opportunities to share their work with the world.

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 both children’s and adult projects. In kids, I’m interested in picture books up through YA. For picture books, I look for stories that introduce new concepts to young readers (both fiction and nonfiction). For older MG and YA readers, I fall in love with characters and stories. When writers integrate science fiction or fantasy elements, I look for engaging worlds. I have a soft spot for villains and morally grey characters, too.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to seeing in the genres you are interested in?
I love to see projects that surprise me. Things that I didn’t know I wanted until I’m reading. Strong voice, distinct points of view, new worlds that I want to sink into for an entire weekend… and then read again immediately.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not interested in memoir, most narrative nonfiction, or especially dramatic contemporary MG and YA. For contemporary, I’m only currently reviewing submissions that are issue-based and primarily #ownvoices. 

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’m looking to represent authors over the course of their career and build strong relationships together. I tell each individual that I offer representation to that I intend to be their biggest cheerleader and professional advocate for all aspects of their projects. I provide editorial feedback through the process of getting a manuscript or proposal ready for submission as well. I am extremely communicative and review all of the steps from the first day of representation on through the years after their books are published with my clients. If they have questions about anything from their contracts to their royalty statements, I’m their person to explain and clarify those points.

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?

YES. The process is different with every project depending upon what that individual client and project requires. If we agree that the project needs revisions—whether that is focused on their characters, plot, pacing, etc.—then I typically send an editorial letter with my suggestions on how to revise. From there, we have an ongoing discussion based on their revisions and create a process that works best for that client. If a project requires multiple rounds of edits in order to effect the change that it needs, then I’ll work with the client to develop the best possible project prior to submission.

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?

My querying instructions are on the agency’s website, but authors should send their query letter and the first 50 pages of their manuscript in the body of the email to me via email at gabrielle@defliterary.com In a query letter, authors should include their age group, genre, word count, and comp titles. Further, include a synopsis (I suggest 250 words or less, focus on your main characters and plot), and a short bio about yourself.

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

Some of these may sound like common sense, but here goes: please address your query letters to me and not another agent, please spell my name correctly, please don’t CC me along with additional agents and send all of us your query simultaneously, make sure that you’re querying a project in a genre I’m interested in, and generally follow my querying instructions. If you do all of those things, you’re already ahead of half of my queries.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond within 6-8 weeks to queries and sooner when I request the manuscript, but feel free to follow up with me if you haven’t yet heard from me in that time frame.

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?

Personally, it depends on the situation. Many publishers, both the major commercial houses and the indies, will review authors’ previous work(s) and if the sales figures are low, it can be an additional hurdle for an author to overcome. That said, if you have previously published with a small house or on your own, do include that information in your query letter so an agent can do their homework and determine if the combination of your story and your previous publishing history create a salable project for them to take on. If you’ve self-published, the stronger your sales figures are, the more likely a traditional publisher will be interested in making an offer, so promotion and publicizing your work is an important element to consider.

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 hope that agents remain an important figure in publishing in the future. We provide career management and a professional understanding of the industry and contracts that can be complex and nuanced, in addition to editorial feedback throughout the submission and publication process. Whether agents submit to more indie presses or advise their clients to self-publish, we still can guide clients through the process based on our experience, whether it’s the first book, or the tenth.

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.

Feel free to Google the heck out of me! I tend to use my full name for work, so that’s the best place to start. :)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Feel free to review my profile at https://www.defliterary.com/agent/gabrielle-piraino/ that again includes the querying instructions and more information about what types of projects I’m looking to represent. More information about my work experience is available at LinkedIn too: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gabriellepiraino/
You can also find me on Twitter @nerdplusdog to get a better sense of my personality, which contests and Twitter pitches I’m participating in, conferences I’ll be attending, or self-indulgent pictures of my pup.

Additional Advice:

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

You see this advice from both the most successful authors and the first-time authors who just signed their first deal: patience. Not every book you write will be published. You’ll hear a lot of no’s before you hear yes’es, but stick with it! Your craft will ultimately get better the more you work on it, and your understanding of the publishing process will certainly become more advanced the longer than you interact with the business. Join a writers group and find your betas; attend a conference if you’re looking for more information or one on one contact with a publishing professional; read articles and do your research online. There’s lots of fabulous info out there on the web or at your local library.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Gabrielle.

­Gabrielle 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 June 30th. 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.


KIT FRICK INTERVIEW AND SEE ALL THE STARS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Kit Frick here to share about her contemporary thriller SEE ALL THE STARS which releases 8/14/2018. I love mysteries and thrillers, and this one has gotten great reviews, so I’m hoping to read this soon.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Part love story, part thriller, We Were Liars meets Goodbye Days in this suspenseful, lyrical debut.

It’s hard to find the truth beneath the lies you tell yourself.

THEN They were four—Bex, Jenni, Ellory, Ret. Electric, headstrong young women; Ellory’s whole solar system.

NOW Ellory is alone, her once inseparable group of friends torn apart by secrets, deception, and a shocking incident that changed their lives forever.

THEN Lazy summer days. A party. A beautiful boy. Ellory met Matthias and fell into the beginning of a spectacular, bright love.

NOW Ellory returns to Pine Brook to navigate senior year after a two-month suspension and summer away—no boyfriend, no friends. No going back. Tormented by some and sought out by others, troubled by a mysterious note-writer who won’t let Ellory forget, and consumed by guilt over her not entirely innocent role in everything and everyone she’s lost, Ellory finds that even in the present, the past is everywhere.

The path forward isn’t a straight line. And moving on will mean sorting the truth from the lies—the lies Ellory has been telling herself.

Hi Kit! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me at Literary Rambles today, Natalie! I’m a full-time writer and editor, living the dream of working from home in my lounge pants. While I’ve been writing since childhood, I spent my junior high and high school years thinking I was going to be a professional actor. Then I took my first writing workshop in college, and I knew I’d found the right creative path. This is the point when I’d say I “became” a writer, meaning I fell swiftly and deeply in love with writing, and it became a part of my identity—which is of course distinct from becoming a published writer, which was still years off for me.

To that end, I studied writing throughout college, kept writing after graduation, and a few years later, I went back to school to get my MFA. (And because I know this is a question on many writers’ minds, no, I do not think one needs an MFA to become a “real” or “professional” or published writer. What you do need is to learn how to receive feedback, revise seriously, and read widely. I benefited immensely in all three of those areas from my MFA program, but it’s definitely only one of many paths you can take toward developing those skills.) I finished grad school six years ago, and now my first young adult novel and first full-length poetry collection are being published within a month of each other. It’s a dream a long time in the making.

2. I love the life of being a writer working at home in my sweats too! Where did you get the idea for SEE ALL THE STARS?

I’m drawn to complex characters, and my writer-brain delights in putting them in very tough situations and empowering them to dig their ways out. The idea for See All the Stars began with a “what if?” question: What if a girl lost all her friends and her boyfriend in one fell swoop—and what if she was partly responsible for what happened? The story unfolded from there.

3. You are also a poet and have a full-length poetry collection, A Small Rising Up in the Lungs, releasing September 4, 2018. I’m guessing that your poetry influences your YA writing because your book has been described as having beautiful prose. Share how poetry has helped other areas of your writing.

I developed an ear for diction and tone through studying poetry—both through reading and writing.
In some ways, the two forms require very different compartments of my writer’s “toolbox.” When I’m plotting and structuring a novel, I’m using my creative brain in a very different way than when I’m drafting a poem. But when it comes to sentence-level concerns (how a sentence sounds, how it works with the sentences that precede and follow, how the choice of a specific verb or modifier can work to create mood or suggest a specific understanding) that’s where my brain is tapping into my poetic background. 

4. Part of your story is a mystery/thriller. How did you plot this out and weave it in with the issues of friendship and romance in your story?

The epic friend group breakup came first. I always knew that would be at the core of Ellory’s story. Next came the ending of a first romantic relationship—because as I mentioned earlier, I’m cruel and like to make things as hard as possible for my characters. From there, I started to think about things like story structure (the dual Then and Now timelines) and genre (contemporary thriller/suspense). Those two elements really went hand-in-hand, as dual-timeline structures lend themselves to generating suspense, and once I’d worked out some plot basics and dug more deeply into Ellory’s character and the specific challenges she was facing, I could begin to think about the novel as functioning within a specific thrillery sub-genre of YA contemporary and how to effectively execute that on a craft level.

5. Sounds like you had a really well-thought out plan. This sounds like a real page turner because some readers said they read the ARC in a day. How did you keep a fast pace to the story and what advice do you have for aspiring writers on this?

Part of this has to do with the dual-timeline structure I mentioned above. The “Then” timeline follows Ellory from the last week of sophomore year through the spring of her junior year and leads up to the explosive incident that shatters her group of friends. The “Now” timeline picks up on the night before senior year begins, after Ellory has been suspended from school (for her role in said incident) and has spent the summer away, off social media, and otherwise disconnected from her friends and classmates. And now she has to return to high school, totally alone and consumed by guilt and regret.

In terms of advice, what I can say is that I did not get the pacing right on the first—or sixth—attempt. I drafted and then revised See All the Stars several times before querying, with the help of a few amazing beta readers. After signing with my agent, we went through two rounds of developmental revisions and several smaller, polishing rounds before putting the manuscript on submission to publishers. After we sold the book to my amazing editor Ruta Rimas at S&S/McElderry, she kindly pointed out that Ellory was doing a whole lot of nothing—“spinning her wheels,” was, I believe, the diplomatic term she used—during the first half of the “Now” timeline. So I scrapped a whole bunch of chapters and went back to the drawing board to get that timeline right. Learn to listen to feedback from trusted sources. Be okay with mourning the fact that your book baby isn’t perfect. Learn to revise, and revise, and revise some more until you get it right—whether it’s pacing or any other element of crafting an effective story.

6. That's great that you could hear what your editor was saying and make the revisions that you needed to make. You interned at Simon & Schuster in college and are a senior editor at Black Lawrence Press. Has this impacted on your getting your agent, Erin Harris, and your publishing contract? What was your road to publication like?

The short answer is no—my experience as an intern and then editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster and my experience editing now at Black Lawrence Press (as well as through my private editorial practice Copper Lantern Studio) had very little, if any, impact on my path to publication. Editing is my day job, and I love it dearly. Working with fellow writers on their manuscripts and books brings me a whole lot of joy. But I signed with Erin through cold querying. I had zero personal connection to any of the agents who offered representation, nor to any of the editors to whom we submitted See All the Stars. When we accepted McElderry’s offer, they thought it was “very cool” that I’d once worked at S&S (over a decade before), but they learned about that tidbit after the fact.

The way in which my editorial work has had an impact on my writing has much more to do with honing my craft than it had to do with my path to publication. There’s an amazing synergy between the work I do with my “editor cap” on and the issues I’m tackling in my own work on the daily. I’ve also learned a lot about the book publishing industry as an editor, which can be useful when it comes to figuring out weird industry acronyms and idiosyncrasies. I’m very fortunate to be able to work in two fields that benefit each other so nicely.

But I’ll leave you with this: writers who don’t work in the publishing industry or know anyone there, take heart: cold querying works. Finding representation isn’t easy, and pursuing publication can be a very long road, but you do not need to be “connected” to find an agent or get published.

7. We'll all be glad to know that querying does work. How are you getting the word out about SEE ALL THE STARS? What advice do you have for the rest of us?

I’ve been doing a few pre-publication events, such as paneling at the AWP conference in Tampa and the NYC Teen Author Festival this past spring. And thanks to the generosity of book bloggers and interviewers such as yourself, I’ve also been doing guest posts, interviews, and giveaways. My publisher has also been working diligently to promote See All the Stars at teen festivals and industry events around the country.

In terms of advice, here’s the thing: there is an absolutely endless amount of promo you can do (and dollars you can spend) trying to get the word out about your book. And return on investment is often mysterious and exceedingly difficult to quantify. So, do what you enjoy. If it doesn’t sound fun, don’t do it. I’ve loved doing interviews with fellow debut YA authors through the Debut-to-Debut interview series I run on my website, which gives me an opportunity to boost books I love. I really enjoy connecting with fellow writers and future readers through my monthly newsletter, These Little Secrets, which I’ll continue to grow after See All the Stars hits shelves. You pick and choose, and you do what brings you joy. If that translates in any way into book sales, that’s icing on the cake.

8. What has your debut year been like so far? What do you recommend other writers do once they sign a publishing contract to prepare for this important time in their careers?

On personal level, as a debut author, 2018 has been a little bit stressful and mostly exciting and filled with new experiences.

My big advice for soon-to-be-published authors is this: Connect with fellow debuts! Writing is often a solitary experience, and even once you’ve signed that first contract and have become a key part of a book publishing team, being an author is nothing like signing on with a new company or organization. Your publisher will welcome you enthusiastically, but there’s no orientation meeting, no office tour, no bonding with your new colleagues over coffee breaks and lunch (at least not on a regular basis).

Seek out that camaraderie and support in other authors at the same wild and wonderful stage as yourself through a debut group. (I’m a part of the amazing Electric Eighteens. The Novel Nineteens are already in full swing for 2019 YA and MG debuts, and the Roaring Twenties are getting the ball rolling for 2020. Similar groups exist for authors writing for adults. There are also smaller groups such as the Class2K groups, which form every year and focus on group promo and support, and the annual Debutante Ball groups.) You’re going to have a lot of questions as a debut author. Debut groups are no substitute for asking your agent and/or editor—which you should do!—but they can be an extremely valuable support network. Plus, you’ll get to meet so many amazing people and be introduced to their books!

9. That's great advice. And thanks for the links to the groups I need to connect with to create my 2019 schedule. You have also been a Pitch Wars mentor. Share about that and how writers can benefit from this.

I’ve been a Pitch Wars mentor since 2016, the same year I signed with my agent. I wanted to give back to other writers who were working on revising their manuscripts toward that same goal. I’ve worked with three mentees and loved every step of the way. (For the uninitiated, Pitch Wars is a contest where mentors choose a writer with a finished manuscript and then work with their mentee to make their manuscript shine for the agent showcase and querying.) As those tuned into the #PitchWars community may already know, the contest now has a new committee behind it and is undergoing a lot of exciting structural changes this year. As the committee’s work is ongoing in preparation of the 2018 contest, I don’t want to say much more until official information is released, but interested applicants can find the most up-to-date information via the official Pitch Wars Twitter account @PitchWars and on the website.

10. What are you working on now?

My 2019 book is a YA thriller about two girls under unbearable pressure from their families and communities—and what happens when they decide to stop compromising. It’s in copyedits now, and I’ll be able to share a lot more about it later this year!
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kit. You can find Kit here:

Website: kitfrick.com
Newsletter: bit.ly/KitLetter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kitfrickauthor/

Kit has generously offered an ARC of SEE ALL THE STARS 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 June 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. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, June 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Gabrielle Piraino

Thursday, June 14th I'm participating in the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 18th I have a guest post by author Chrys Frey to celebrate the release of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Hope to see you on Wednesday!




ADRIENNE KISNER INTERVIEW AND DEAR RACHEL MADDOW INTERVIEW AND IWSG POST




Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Adrienne Kisner here to share about her YA contemporary DEAR RACHEL MADDOW. Being a fan of Rachel Maddow myself, I am excited to read this from the title alone. And it sounds like a really gripping story about dealing with grief, diversity, sexual identity, and politics. Before I get to Adrienne’s interview, I have my IWSG post.


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!

IWSG POST

Posting: The first Wednesday of the month is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

The co-hosts this month are:  Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

I'll skip the optional question today. I'm feeling pretty good. My mom is adjusting well to her move to independent living where I live. And I actually got a chapter revised and critiqued by my critique group. It was a hard chapter where I introduce the villain. My critique partners basically liked it with some suggestions so YAY!

What I really want to talk about this month is helping our friend C. Lee McKenzie who recently suffered a tragic loss. Many of you already know about this and are helping but in case you don't know about this, I am asking for your help. Lee's newest MG fantasy, SOME VERY MESSY MEDIEVAL MAGIC, released on May 15, 2018. Two days later, Lee suffered the tragic loss of her husband due to a sudden heart attack. I also suffered the sudden loss of my own husband a little over four years ago and know firsthand how heartbreaking this loss is. Many of you helped me through it with your kind support.

While we cannot take away Lee's grief, we could show her kindness and friendship by helping her promote her book. I know you all are book lovers and many have your own blogs. I'm hoping that you can do all or some of these easy things to help Lee:
  • Buy Lee's book. An e-book is only $3.99. I just did that.
  • Post about Lee's book on your blog and other social media sites. Ask your friends to help do by shouting out about her book and buying it

 Here's a blurb of her book:

Pete’s stuck in medieval England! Pete and his friend Weasel thought they’d closed the Timelock.
But a young page from medieval times, Peter of Bramwell, goes missing. His absence during a critical moment will forever alter history unless he’s found. There’s only one solution—fledgling wizard Pete must take the page’s place. He travels to 1173 England accompanied by Weasel and Fanon, Pete’s alligator familiar. But what if the page remains lost? Will Pete know what to do when the critical moment arrives? Toss in a grumpy Fanon, the dukes’s curious niece, a talking horse, and the Circle of Stones, and Pete quickly realizes he’s in over his young wizard head yet again. 
And some links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/search?query=Some+Very+Messy+Medieval+Magic
I started posting this request for help promoting Lee's book in my Beach Reads Book Giveaway Hop last week because I have about 100 followers who read those posts that do not read many of my other posts. I'm planning to do that again with my next giveaway hop for the same reason. If you can think of a way to help Lee shout out about her book, I know that she would be grateful for the help.


Now onto my interview with Adrienne. 

Here’s a blurb of DEAR RACHEL MADDOW from Goodreads

In Adrienne Kisner's Dear Rachel Maddow, a high school girl deals with school politics and life after her brother’s death by drafting emails to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in this funny and heartfelt YA debut.

Brynn Haper's life has one steadying force--Rachel Maddow.

She watches her daily, and after writing to Rachel for a school project--and actually getting a response--Brynn starts drafting e-mails to Rachel but never sending them. Brynn tells Rachel about breaking up with her first serious girlfriend, about her brother Nick's death, about her passive mother and even worse stepfather, about how she's stuck in remedial courses at school and is considering dropping out.

Then Brynn is confronted with a moral dilemma. One student representative will be allowed to have a voice among the administration in the selection of a new school superintendent. Brynn's archnemesis, Adam, and ex-girlfriend, Sarah, believe only Honors students are worthy of the selection committee seat. Brynn feels all students deserve a voice. When she runs for the position, the knives are out. So she begins to ask herself: What Would Rachel Maddow Do? 

Hi Adrienne! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hello!  Thank you so much for having me!  I feel I should tell the world I’m a Resident Director.  I live in a high rise with approximately 1800 undergrads. I’ve heard tell of people who did this until they sold books.  NOT ME.  I’m a lifer. 

In grade school, I remember telling the guidance counselor that I wanted to be a writer.  They asked me why and I said that I had to write.  I couldn’t not do it.  So I wrote.  I have stuff from second or third grade and it’s mostly about Jesus because that’s how I rolled.  (Oh.  I also have a Ph.D. in Theology.)  Ah, my youth.  And look at me now!  I think my book as over 90 instances of the “F” word alone, and that’s probably not even the most vulgar thing in there.  Do I contradict myself?  Very well.  I contradict myself.  (I am large.  I contain multitudes.)

2. I bet you really stay in touch with what teens and young adults think with your job. Where did you get the idea for DEAR RACHEL MADDOW?

By watching a lot of Chris Hayes.

Just kidding. 

I love DEAR MR. HENSHAW.  And I would scheme in my head for a way to rip off pay homage to my favorite book.  I started watching Rachel Maddow in the company of a very (re: VERY) colicky infant.  So I’d watch the show on repeat throughout the day and night since Gilmore Girls was not yet on Netflix and I liked Rachel’s cheerful company.  After a few years of that (I added a second journalism-loving infant) it just kind of became the only thing I could write.
  
3. That's a great way to deal with a colicky baby! You tell your story through a series of e-mails from Brynn to Rachel Maddow. Where did you get the idea for writing your story like this and what were some of the challenges you faced using this format.

Leigh writes to Mr. Henshaw, so too did Brynn write to Dr. Maddow.  I date stamped all of the letters, which helped with time flow but I also had to watch because they correspond with an actual calendar with holidays when the characters would be off of school.  I also had to make up subject lines.  That was fun, but man there were a lot of them.

4. You tackle a lot of issues in your book—grief over losing a sibling, abusive parents. Brynn’s breakup with her girlfriend, and more—in a gripping way that is weaved naturally into the story with a lot of twists. How did you plot all these storylines into your story?

I’m not a plotter.  I write and am always shocked by what the heck happens.  I try to keep in mind that people don’t always make the best decisions, and that these choices will have consequences that can lead to my darlings suffering.  This was also my fourth novel that I’d written.  My first three had great parents, everybody surviving.  This one I was like, “well let’s just bleed all over the page and wheeeeeee.”  I never thought anyone would read this one either, so I didn’t hold back.  But here we are.  When I revise I have to make a spreadsheet (taught to me by the great A.M. Jenkins) to trace the emotional through-lines of the characters to make sure they flow evenly throughout the book.

5. That's a great idea to use a spreadsheet for your revisions. Brynn sounds like a fantastic character that has a great voice that will tug at readers’ hearts. Voice can be one of the hardest aspects of a story to get right. How did you develop/find Brynn’s and what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

I admit that voice just kind of happens for me.  Brynn likes the sound of words, the shape of them.  I think that’s why she swears so much.  It communicates exactly the emotion she wants to convey in one word instead of seven.  Emotion and the truth in her head are always the first things out of her mouth.  She has nothing to hide.  So I’d say knowing your characters like this is essential to voice.  What is their relationship to words?  To communicating?  What would they say to themselves in their head versus what they say out loud?  Brynn is from western Pennsylvania and so am I, so that helped colloquially. 

6. Ooh, I know that more writers than me wish we could say voice happens for us. Your agent is Catherine Drayton. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Catherine Drayton is a goddess among women and I love her.  Is that over the top?  I don’t care.  She surfs, you know.  In Australia.  I feel that makes it more bad ass.  I basically queried her in the slush (okay, DEAR RACHEL MADDOW was the fourth book with which I queried her but who’s counting).  She requested the full and was the first agent to offer.  A few other amazing agents offered and I was so torn.  But Catherine represents some of my absolute favorite authors ever, and was the first one to take a chance on me, and that meant a lot.  I did one revision with her over the summer and went on submission in September.  I sold a few weeks later.  Did I have about 300 rejections for various books before that (AGAIN WHO’S COUNTING?) yes I did.  But.  Again.  Here we are now.

7. You also have been going to college and working there, including living in a dormitory setting. What is your writing workspace like and how have you balanced college, college work, and your writing schedule?

I think the key to my productivity thus far is an utter lack of balance.  I go hard from morning till night and then listen to a bedtime story on my Calm app to fall asleep so I can do it again the next day.  Unless an undergraduate decides to burn popcorn in the middle of the night or something and then I don’t get enough sleep.  It’s not a great system.  I don’t think I’d recommend it.  But I have a desk in my bedroom.  You aren’t supposed to write where you sleep, I’ve read.  But it’s where the desk fits.  My computer is often sticky because my son sneaks on to play Roblox after eating Nutella sandwiches.  I also do not recommend this.
  
8. I break the rule about not doing anything but sleeping in my bedroom too. Okay I have to ask this “dumb” question that I’m dying to know. Does Rachel Maddow know about your book and have you had any communication with her about it? I have these fantastic images of you being on her show talking about your book.

I try not to think about that, lest I dissolve into an unfortunate, awkward heap.  The short answer to that is, kind of, I think?  The longer answer is that DEAR RACHEL MADDOW won the 2016 PEN New England Susan P. Bloom Award.  I think the college where I worked put out a press release or something, so she caught wind of that.  And she sent and Susan Mikula sent me very fancy flowers, which I carried around campus and made everyone look at.  I sent her a thank you card to Rockefeller Center.  And someone sent someone who knew someone an ARC, and people occasionally @ her on Twitter about it. So it’s out there.  Around 9pm every weekday I think, “Oh my God you wrote a book to Rachel Maddow and SHE IS A REAL PERSON WHAT WERE YOU EVEN THINKING?”  I can only hope that it at least doesn’t offend her.  I wrote it out of love.

9. How are you planning to market your book? What advice do you have for other writers who have signed a publishing contract and are preparing to debut as an author?

Welllll . . . I have like three to five day jobs at any given time, two young children all the time, and another book to write in between all that.  So I think my own marketing plan is kind of like how I write books:  put myself out there without a specific plan and hope for the best!  Advice—my writer people with day jobs, I feel you.  I say don’t fret.  Don’t kill yourself.  Do what brings you life and joy or in which you find fun (like blog interviews!)  Try to be brave and step outside your comfort zone if you can.  I try to do readings when someone asks, whereas I’m not big on public speaking.  But if you have to work or take a kid to pottery class, don’t beat yourself up.  You wrote a book.  You are freaking amazing.  Write another one as a reward.  Also never, ever look at your reviews on Goodreads. 

10. Thank you! I have a day job, and you're taking away some of my insecurities on how to handle it all. What are you working on now?

A book about queer girl birders/nature photographers who reluctantly become environmental activists.  Dare I say it’s a lot of fun and just little hawkward.  Hee. 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Adrienne. You can find Adrienne at www.adriennekisner.com

Adrienne generously offered an ARC of DEAR RACHEL MADDOW 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 June 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. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, June 11th I have an interview with debut author Kit Frick and a giveaway of her YA thriller SEE ALL THE STARS

Wednesday, June 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Gabrielle Piraino

Thursday, June 14th I'm participating in the Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 18th I have a guest post by author Chrys Frey to celebrate the release of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You From Idea to Publication

Monday, June 25th I have a guest post by MG author Diane Magras and her agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen with a query critique giveaway by Adriann and a book giveaway of THE MAD WOLF'S DAUGHTER by Diane

Wednesday, June 27th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Colleen Oefelein

Hope to see you on Monday!