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.

GWENDOLYN CLARE INTERVIEW and INK, IRON, AND GLASS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Gwendolyn Clare here to share about her YA fantasy INK, IRON, AND GLASS. It sounds like a fantastic story with diverse characters, a page-turning plot, and an amazing world. I can't wait to read it. Before I get to my interview, I've got two things to share.

WriteOnCon Is Back

WriteOnCon is back! It's an online conference, and this year's conference is Friday, Feb. 9th through Sunday, Feb 11th. It looks really good and has a lot of good agents and writers. I think I'm going to go. The new organizers do charge a fee, but the maximum is $15.

LoveAtFirstChapter

LoveAtFirstChapter is a new online service launching on Feb. 14th by some YA authors who are friends. You can sign up to receive free first chapters of YA books and if you are an author, submit your book to them. If they like it, they may offer your first chapter too.

Now back to my interview with Gwendolyn!

Here’s a blurb of her book from Goodreads:

Can she write a world gone wrong?

A certain pen, a certain book, and a certain person can craft entirely new worlds through a branch of science called scriptology. Elsa comes from one such world that was written into creation by her mother—a noted scriptologist.

But when her home is attacked and her mother abducted, Elsa must cross into the real world and use her own scriptology gifts to find her. In an alternative 19th-century Italy, Elsa finds a secret society of pazzerellones—young people with a gift for mechanics, alchemy or scriptology—and meets Leo, a gorgeous mechanist with a smart mouth and a tragic past. She recruits the help of these fellow geniuses just as an assassin arrives on their doorstep.

In this thrilling debut, worlds collide as Elsa unveils a deep political conspiracy seeking to unlock the most dangerous weapon ever created—and only she can stop it.

Hi Gwendolyn! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

In college I was very focused on becoming a scientist. I double-majored in biology and geology, and in winter I practically never saw the sun because of all the labs. But then I took a year off before grad school and had some time to breathe, and that's when I started writing seriously with the aim of publication.

2. That's awesome that you were able to take a break and write like you wanted. Where did you get the idea for your story?

I'm a big fan of the Myst video game series, and I wanted to write a story about an artificial world that explicitly addressed the parallels to colonialism. This idea began as a short story about Elsa's mother, but as I was writing it I realized that the implications for the next generation were fertile ground for a novel. So Elsa became the protagonist, and that entire story became backstory.

3. What a fun way to come up with a story idea. I love your world building. The scriptology, magic ink, and steampunk sound really unique. What was your world building process like?

The Agatha Heterodyne law (or the inverse of Clarke's law) states that any sufficiently analyzed
magic is indistinguishable from science. My world-building process leaned on this principle -- scriptology is effectively portal magic that has been analyzed and harnessed into a scientific discipline. That's my speculative element, from which the rest can be extrapolated.

So how would Italian history change if scientists had access to magical abilities? Probably the biggest world-building challenge was figuring out how to not send all of European history completely off the rails. For that I needed a secret society of scientists whose primary goal is to keep their amazing skills away from the political field -- a goal which may not always align with Elsa's mission to rescue her mother.


4. Wow! You're making me wish that I had a science background like you. In INK, IRON, AND GLASS, scriptology is a branch of science. Did you draw on your scientific background in creating your story? If so, how?

My love of science definitely influenced the decision to write a novel that centers a bunch of mad scientists as main characters, instead of casting the scientists only as villains. But real-life science is often slow, meticulous, tedious work that wouldn't make for very compelling reading, so it was actually a challenge to strike the right balance between realism and reader expectation. I hope the story communicates the excitement of science without getting too bogged down in the frustration of it.

I did draw on computer science as a direct influence when figuring out how scriptology should work. While I couldn't make that connection explicit in the book -- there aren't any computers! -- scriptology functions a lot like an object-oriented programming language, where ink is the code and the universe itself executes the program.

5. Your story has been described as a real page turner with a fantastic plot and plot twists. Are you a punster or plotter and how did that work for you when writing this story? Share some of your plot secrets with the rest of us.

I used to think I was a plotter, until I met serious plotters and realized they actually wrote down their outlines. (Weirdos.) So I'm somewhere in the middle of the spectrum -- I like to know where the story begins, where it ends, and a few of the major set-pieces I need to hit along the way before I begin drafting. More of a plot skeleton than an exact road map. While I still mostly identify as a plotter, I also believe that no outline survives contact with the first draft, nor should it.

The best plot twists arise organically from decisions the characters make. Surprising the reader with plot twists isn't the most important part; the most important part is that the twists feel consistent and believable in retrospect. To set that up you need a deep understanding of your characters, which you may not have yet at the outlining stage. So I do like to leave room for the characters to run off in an unexpected direction, and not cling too tightly to the original outline.

6. I'm more of a plotter like you, so your advice is really helpful. Tell us a bit about Elsa as a character. Was there anything that surprised you about her?

lsa's a socially maladjusted introvert who's too smart for her own good -- which makes her probably the most similar to teenage-Gwen of all the characters I've written. But she does still manage to surprise me, because her homeworld is so different from Europe and she's observing everything with an outsider's perspective. I set the novel in Italy partly because I'm half Italian, and there's something particularly delightful about Elsa's mental commentary on a culture I identify with.

7. You’ve also written a lot of short fiction, poetry, and flash fiction. Did any of that help you with writing your novel?

When I was teaching myself how to write for publication, I exclusively worked on short stories for the first couple years. Short fiction is a great training ground for developing your craft toolkit. While not all of the techniques transfer over to novels, short stories have the advantage that you can practice the whole process -- drafting a beginning, middle, and end; revising; even submitting and dealing with rejections -- all with a relatively low investment. So my time focusing on short fiction absolutely prepared me both to write the novel, and also to survive the (occasionally soul-crushing) submission process.

8. Your agent is Jennifer Azantian. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication.

I landed an agent the old-fashioned way, through the query process. (And you can too, I promise! There's only three ways to stop being an aspiring writer: you quit, you die, or you get published.)

That's not to say it wasn't a struggle. INK, IRON, AND GLASS was the fourth novel I completed and queried. Partly it was a matter of improving my craft with each project, and partly it was a matter of getting the right material in front of the right agent at the right time. I also did an epic quantity of research on how to write query letters and on the agents themselves, so I could aim my queries in the right direction. Even after you sign with an agent, the need to keep yourself informed about the business side of the industry never goes away, so best get used to it now!

9. That's great to know that querying works! I saw on your website that you went to the Baltimore Book Fest and the SWFA Nebula conference this year. How did you arrange those events? How else are you spreading the word about your book?

Some YA book festivals are pretty exclusive and your publicist has to wrangle you a spot, but with science fiction and fantasy conventions, it's often just a matter of volunteering to participate as a panelist. I don't know that I'd recommend festivals and conventions as the best return on investment -- the travel expenses add up quick -- but if you enjoy going to cons, then the promotional and networking opportunities are nice side-effects.

I am also promoting in the usual ways -- a blog tour, a local release party, etc -- but the truth is that writers don't sell books, at least not directly. Readers are the ones who determine which books become successful. So my philosophy is to focus on having genuine interactions (online or in meat-space) with other people who are passionate about the genre, and hopefully some of them will fall in love with my book and advocate for it.

10. What are you working on now?

I've just finished a draft of the sequel to INK, IRON, AND GLASS, so while I'm waiting on editorial comments, I'm giving the creative coffers time to refill.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Gwendolyn. You can find Gwendolyn at:
Website: www.gwendolynclare.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gwendoclare
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gwendolynclare/

Gwendolyn has generously offered an ARC of INK, IRON, AND GLASS 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 February 10th. 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 international.

Here's what's coming up:

Friday, February 2nd I'm participating in the For the Love of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 5th I'll have a Q&A with agent Peter Knapp

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary WHERE I LIVE and my IWSG post

Monday, February 12th I have a guest post by debut author Linda Williams Jackson and her agent Elizabeth Bewley and a giveaway of her MG contemporary MIDNIGHT WITHOUT A MOON

Monday, February 19th I will be off for President's Day!

Monday, February 26th I have a guest post by debut author Kaitlin Sage Patterson and her agent Brent Taylor with a giveaway of her YA fantasy THE DIMINISHED and a query critique giveaway by Brent.

Hope to see you on Friday!

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH MOLLY O’NEILL AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Molly O’Neill here. She is a literary agent at Root Literary.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi Molly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I actually became an agent exactly two years ago this week! This week also marks my 15 year anniversary of working in the kids/YA publishing industry. So while I’m on the newer side as an agent; I have a deep background in the industry and bring a lot of different skill sets to my approach. The first 5 years or so of my career I worked on the Marketing and Publicity side of the business at Clarion Books and later at HarperCollins (it feels like yesterday, but it was such a different time! We were all trying to understand what these new-fangled things called blogs were. And I spent many a phone call telling authors that, yes, it would be a good idea if they set up a website so they could be found on the internet); then I moved to the Editorial side the industry for a number of years (some of which were particularly intense years, since one of the first projects I signed up as a young HarperCollins editor was a dystopian trilogy by a then-unknown author named Veronica Roth! :)

After working as an editor , I briefly side-stepped into a 2-year stint at an Executive at hybrid tech/publishing start-up; when that role ended I knew I wanted to come back into books, but from a different angle than any of those I’d already explored. Agenting seemed the natural way to bring all those seemingly-disparate layers of my career together, and I dearly love the work of building books and bookmakers and careers all at the same time.

About the Agency:
2. Share a bit about your agency and what it offers to its authors.

Root Literary is a new agency founded by veteran agent Holly Root. Currently there are three of us full-time: Holly, Taylor Haggerty, and myself. Our clients benefit from our proven skills in identifying talent, negotiating advantageous deals, and advocating for our books all the way from submission to publication. We offer our clients broad-based industry insights as well as individualized strategic thinking to empower each author to define and pursue their own unique path to success. We love what we do, and we do it best in partnership with authors who combine skillful storytelling with the drive to build a lasting body of work. We’re also a future-focused agency, borrowing tools and systems from the tech, sales, and start-up industries to help maximize the impact, efficiency, and global reach of the work we do on our clients’ behalf.

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 middle grade and YA, both fiction and nonfiction. I represent illustrators who do work across the full publishing spectrum (picture book illustrations, jackets/covers, spot art and interiors, etc). I represent a number of illustrators who are also authors. And while some of my author clients write picture books, they typically work in other genres, too; I’m not actively seeking clients who only write picture books. I also selectively represent clients in a handful of adult genres/categories.

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

I love a book that makes me laugh, in any category. I’d also be thrilled to add a great love story to my list, one that feels sweeping and epic and memorable, with stakes that somehow rise above ordinary high school life. Epic friendships, vibrant settings and/or smart world-building thrill me, as do stories that play with our accepted notions and understandings of things like memory, time, faith/belief, science, or language in unexpected ways. I’m on a perpetual hunt for magical realism (and authors who understand that magical realism isn’t just a synonym for fantasy); for stories that bend and meld genres; and for dance/theatre/arts-themed books, or any story that pulls the curtain back on a microcosm of tween/teen experience. And it’s vastly important to me that the books on my list thoughtfully represent the diversity of the world that and uphold the common dignity and humanity that we all share; if that’s something you’ve likewise aimed for in your writing, you should send it my way!

What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I’m not seeking picture book texts unless you are also an illustrator. Otherwise, I’m pretty open, and it thrills me to no end when I get surprised by/fall in love with books or types of stories that I didn’t even know I was looking for, so I’m hesitant to put too many parameters on my inbox.

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?

A dedication to the craft of writing always impresses me: I like to say that a common thread between all of my clients is that they are perpetually growing, evolving, and challenging themselves to become better authors and illustrators today (and tomorrow!) than they were yesterday. I also think it’s important that my clients care as much or more about the young readers they’re writing for than they do their own fame or success -- that sense of purpose can help steady the course when a client might otherwise lose heart or get frustrated by the inevitable highs and lows of a creative career.
As an agent, strategy guides me -- the strategy looks different for each of my clients, because the work that each one is doing is different, but if you’re my client we will always spend time thinking and talking about the why behind each of the choices we’re making about your career. I also care about helping my clients to thrive as creatives and successfully balance the complex layers of having a creative/professional/sometimes-public life, so we tend to talk often about navigating the many steps of one’s career as an author/illustrator beyond the first “yes.”

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 & no! Having been an editor for a number of years, editorial muscles are ones that I can flex easily. However, as an agent, the kind of editorial work I’m doing is very different than an editor  will later do, and just because I was once an editor doesn’t mean I’m trying to overstep my role & do their jobs for them. Most of my “editorial” work would better be described as early-stage developmental work -- trying to help the author/illustrator identify the heart of the story they are telling and how that awareness should impact the shape of the narrative. That same understanding of what the creator feels is most important about their story in turn guides me when I think about who would be the right editors to submit to, who would potentially know how to support that author and/or illustrator’s work. I’m also using my knowledge of the industry’s trends, evolution, and history to help a reader think about how to set apart their story in distinctive ways, so that it has the best possible chance at finding a publishing home, and, ultimately, readers.

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?


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

Not a dislike, but I do have a preference, if you’re a novelist. If you have one readily available, please send a synopsis along with your query and first ten pages (and since someone will surely wonder: the synopsis “counts” separately; you don’t have to reduce the sample pages to less than ten to include the length of your synopsis); it’s not essential, but I do find it a useful tool. And this is definitely a personal taste--my colleagues Holly and Taylor don’t find synopses useful in nearly the same way I do, which just goes to show that there are a million different kinds of readers, even among publishing professionals.

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

I’ve just re-opened to queries this week after moving over to Root Literary, so I don’t have a precise gauge on this yet.

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?

Yes, but with the caveat than an author has to be willing to see self-published work with new eyes. If you’re inviting agents and publishers into the process, it requires a different flexibility than working own your own. Traditional publishing means a collaborative process, which in turn often means re-thinking and re-defining what it means to reach an audience and tell a story that resonates. For authors who have published with smaller presses, their next book likely needs to be one whose themes will connect with a larger audience (rather than being niche or overly regional) in order to successfully make the leap to a larger house.

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?

If anything, I think the role of an agent has become more important, in helping clients navigate the myriad of possibilities and determine how best their goals can be served by the different possibilities available to them. I also think that agents tend to have an granular understanding of the industry and its players and evolutions--historical, present, and future--from being immersed in it day after day, year after year, that’s hard for a writer to gain from the outside looking in, and that expertise is part of what an agent shares with their clients.

Clients:
13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I represent:
       Remarkable educator and Nerdy Book Club / Nerd Camp co-founder Colby Sharp. (His debut, THE CREATIVITY PROJECT, comes out in March so you should all go pre-order it right now!);
       Ambassador to School Libraries and great friend to book creators, publishers, and readers alike, John Schumacher (AKA Mr. Schu);
       Middle grade author Lynne Kelly whose utterly wonderful SONG FOR A WHALE comes out in March 2019;
       Debut Iranian-American YA Author Adib Khorram whose DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY should be one of your most anticipated reads of Fall 2018;
       Temre Beltz whose middle grade THE SECRET STORY OF BIRDIE BLOOM is one of the books I most want to travel back in time & give to my own past kid-self (Winter 2019);
       Author-illustrator and naturalist Emily Dove, who is currently illustrating SPENCER AND VINCENT, a tale of two jellyfish brothers coming in Spring 2019;
       Debut author K. J. Reilly’s WORDS WE DON’T SAY, a powerful contemporary YA;
       Insta-famous illustrators like Taryn Knight (AKA Taryn Draws) and Joy Hwang (AKA Mom is Drawing); and other artistic author/illustrator talents like #KidlitChat co-moderator Blythe Russo; writer/maker/educator Emmy Kastner;
       and many others you’ll hear about soon!

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


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

Give yourself permission to take creative risks; they can pay off tremendously! And even if they don’t, you’ll have grown as a writer/illustrator by stretching yourself, and growth can only get you closer to your goals!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Molly.

Molly 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 February 3rd. 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: 5/19/2020
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.

CALL FOR QUESTIONS FOR AGENT PETER KNAPP

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Peter Knapp, an agent at Park Literary & Media, has generously agreed to answer some of your questions. You can read his updated Agent Spotlight that he recently approved to see what he's looking for. Please leave your questions for Peter by the end of Wednesday, January 24th. Peter will pick questions to answer that I will post on Monday, February 5th.

Here's your opportunity to ask your burning questions. Hope you'll take advantage of it.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, January 22nd I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with Molly O'Neill and query critique giveaway

Monday, January 29th I have an interview with debut author Gwendolyn Clark and a giveaway of her YA fantasy INK, IRON, and GLASS

Friday, February 2nd I'm participating in the For the Love of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 5th I'll have a Q&A with agent Peter Knapp

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary WHERE I LIVE

Hope to see you Monday!










EMILY X.R. PAN INTERVIEW AND THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Emily X.R. Pan here to share about her YA THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER that releases 3/20/18. It sounds like a super compelling story with a setting in Taiwan, contemporary themes, diversity, mysteries, and a touch of magic. This is definitely on my TBR list.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Hi Emily! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks for having me! I’ve told stories all my life. I guess it’s sort of in my blood, and in the way I was raised: My mom is also a writer, and I grew up with my dad making up bedtime stories on the spot instead of reading to me from books. Once I was old enough to have ideas of my own, we made up the stories together.

2. Awesome how you come from a family of writers. Where did you get the idea for your story?

It started with my grandmother, who’s had many incredible (and often stranger than fiction) life experiences—I wanted to capture those in a novel. So I began with a character based on her, and then ended up reframing the story through the eyes of her teenage granddaughter…and it all grew from there. And of course, it completely changed itself, because books have minds of their own.

3. Yes, that is a strange think about stories--their own mind and opinions on where a story should go. Your story is set in Taiwan. How did you research the places where Leigh travels to in Taiwan?

Even though I had been to Taiwan multiple times, I made a special research trip specifically so that I could visit all the places Leigh goes. There was quite a lot that I was rewriting from scratch in order to make some giant structural changes, and my trip ended up guiding the story in several parts where I hadn’t yet worked out exactly what needed to happen.

4. I love this part of your blurb: “Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.” How were you able to bring so many issues and emotions into your story?

This question sort of made me laugh, because I didn’t do any of it intentionally. As I mentioned before, I began with my characters. I worked to pin down who they were, and what was important to them, and it all just spun out from there. I wanted the emotions and experiences in the book to feel real, so I guess the additional facets carved themselves out from my seeking that verisimilitude—things in life are rarely ever simple and clean.

5. I read that your book started out as an adult literary/historical novel. What made you decide that it needed to be a YA story instead and how did you go about changing and revising it? I read that it went through about seven more revisions once you made the switch to a YA story. Share a bit about your revision process.

I never set out to write a specific age category or genre—I was always simply trying to rewrite it in a way that worked best for the story. So it wasn’t like I sat down and decided, “Oh, I guess this’ll be young adult instead.” I tried many styles and many voices, and when I found the one that worked, it was with a teen protagonist and a YA voice.

The way I revise changes based on which part of the process I’m in. If I’m early on in a project, I usually just end up redrafting again and again from scratch. Like, literal scratch. Blank page. Not even looking at what I wrote before.

If I’ve reached the point of believing in the version I’ve got, then most commonly what I end up doing to improve the book is “re-outlining” the whole draft—writing a breakdown of each chapter in bullet points in order to get a bird’s eye view of the whole novel. From there I can much more easily spot pacing issues, and clashing plot points, and where the emotional logic goes wrong. Then I write color-coded notes to myself for what changes to make, and I go through the entire novel in multiple rounds, focusing on a specific category of changes with each pass, until I feel like I’ve made all the changes I need. At that point I try to put the book aside and take a break, maybe work on a different story, do some relaxing, and then I come back and do it all again, starting with another round of re-outlining. Rinse, lather, repeat, until I’ve solved all the problems I can pin down myself. Then it’s ready for feedback from another pair of eyes.

6. I really admire your willingness to so dramatically revise and change your story so much to make it the best it could be. And I've done the color coding for revisions too. One of the most compelling things I’ve read about THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER is how emotionally gripping it is. Share how you were able to delve into and express Leigh’s emotions and grief in such a compelling fashion. What advice do you have for other writers?

Well, I’m grateful to hear that people find it emotionally gripping! I’m not sure I could reverse
engineer my brain or process to tell you how I did it. I would guess that it comes from writing the things that are true to me, that matter to me. It was less about inventing situations / imagining how the characters would feel in those circumstances, and more of me fictionalizing the real things that I’ve experienced, and finding a way to trap those feelings on the page.

7. Your agent is Michael Bourret. Share how he became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

I queried Michael just by following the guidelines laid out on the DG&B site. I wrote a pretty lengthy blog post about my querying experience, and that’s archived here for anyone interested: http://exrpan.tumblr.com/post/165342814359/how-i-signed-with-my-agent

But to jump straight to the end of querying: By some great stroke of luck, I had offers from my top choices, and I spoke to them all on the phone. I was looking for a very specific click factor, and when I spoke to Michael I felt within minutes like he was a telepathic extension of my brain I’d never realized was missing. It was clear he just got my book in a very magical way. He understands my writing and my intentions so well that as I was revising, he was at many times an extremely crucial soundboard for me. Not to mention, he is a class act and simply amazing at his job. So I’m grateful to have him on my team. Oh, oops, I guess this turned into a gush-about-my agent moment!

As for the road to publication: I signed with Michael, and he gave me big picture notes so I could get to work on sharpening the book for submission, and then I spent about a month revising. After that, he sent the book out, got an auction going, and sold it in two weeks. It was a wild ride, to say the least. That’s not typically the speed of publishing, so I got extremely lucky.

8. What a great road to agent and publication story. You used to work at Penguin Random House marketing children’s books and have held other jobs in marketing. How has this helped you to develop your social media platform and market your debut book?

I worked in trade marketing, which is very different from digital marketing. I don’t think my job there helped me with social media—I was already very into social media on my own by the time I started working at Penguin. (Plus, before that I had worked at a tech company doing online marketing, so I think I actually learned more about online platforms from that.)

But my experience working in publishing has been helpful in that I have a good understanding of the timeline of things happening behind the curtain, and that’s definitely allowed me to stay calmer. And, I really understand just how much is in my control…which is pretty much nothing, aside from the words in the book itself.

The thing about trying to market one’s book is that unless you’re a celebrity, you don’t have the reach that your publisher has, and you don’t have the ability to influence the key people who decide to stock your book and to push it hard. Regarding marketing online specifically: I think anything you do online is useless unless you’re enjoying it yourself. For an author, good online marketing is born organically out of that.

9. That's great how you are realistic about the lack of control of so much in a writer's life. It's so true, and I think that many writers can avoid some heartache by understanding this. I noticed on your website that you were at the YALSA’s 2017 Young Adult Services Symposium and the YALL Fest in November 2017. You also have a number of events scheduled in 2018, including the ABA Winter Institute, The Muse and the Marketplace Conference, and the North Texas Teen Book Festival. What made you decide on these events and how we you able to arrange to attend them?

I simply received invitations and said yes! In some cases the invitations came directly to me and in some cases they came through my publisher. I’m really excited for opportunities to meet more readers and fellow writers.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m working on a couple of other young adult novels, and I’m also working on FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology with the brilliant Nova Ren Suma. The latter is a new online venue for young adult short stories, with the intent of boosting marginalized writers and showcasing brand new voices, and we already have some incredible people on board! Check us out at https://foreshadowya.com/.

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/exrpan
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/exrpan/
Website: https://exrpan.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35604686-the-astonishing-color-of-after

Emily has generously offered an ARC giveaway of THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER. 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 January 27th. 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, January 17th I have a Call for Questions for Agent Peter Knapp who will pick questions to answer on Monday, February 5th

Monday, January 22nd I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with Molly O'Neill and query critique giveaway

Monday, January 29th I have an interview with debut author Gwendolyn Clark and a giveaway of her YA fantasy INK, IRON, and GLASS

Friday, February 2nd I'm participating in the For the Love of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 5th I'll have a Q&A with agent Peter Knapp

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary WHERE I LIVE

Hope to see you Wednesday!







BEST OF 2017 GIVEAWAY HOP




Happy Sunday Everyone! I am excited to be participating in the Best of 2017 Giveaway Hop hosted by Bookhounds. This is my first for 2018, and I already have others scheduled in February and March. I hope that you are excited for the start of 2018 and lots of good books to read. I hope you'll enter more of these contests and also the ones I run every time I post an interview or guest post with a debut or other author. And I have agent spotlight interviews with literary agents with query critique giveaways for aspiring authors. Please take advantage of this all and enter my contests.

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 favorites from 2017. I've also included some interesting looking books by debut authors that are coming out in January. 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.

Here are  some Best of 2017:

 




 




 





 




 




 















And here are some January 2018 debuts to check out:


 


 


 



And a follower's new book release.


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 January 31st 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:

Tomorrow, Monday, January 15th I have an interview with debut author Elizabeth X.R. Pan and a giveaway of her YA contemporary THE ASTONISHING COLOR AFTER

Wednesday, January 17th I have a Call for Questions for Agent Peter Knapp who will pick questions to answer on Monday, February 5th

Monday, January 22nd I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with Molly O'Neill and query critique giveaway

Monday, January 29th I have an interview with debut author Gwendolyn Clark and a giveaway of her YA fantasy INK, IRON, and GLASS

Friday, February 2nd I'm participating in the For the Love of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 5th I'll have a Q&A with agent Peter Knapp

Wednesday, February 7th I have an interview with debut author Brenda Rufener and a giveaway of her YA contemporary WHERE I LIVE

Hope to see you tomorrow!

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





AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH BEWLEY AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Elizabeth Bewley here. She is a literary agent at Sterling Lord Literistic.

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 commenting will win a query critique from the agent being interviewed.

Status: Open to submissions.

Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Elizabeth:


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

I joined SLL in 2017 after 15 years of being an editor. My first six months as an agent were a thrill. I signed on new clients and help to shape projects that I hope to sell in 2018. I’m currently focused on middle-grade and YA fiction, but I hope to add more nonfiction to my list soon.

About the Agency:

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

Our official company bio is below, but I’d also like to add that, as an editor, I always considered SLL to be one of the top-notch agencies in town. When editors get a submission from an SLL agent, it’s considered a priority project. As I decided to make the switch from being an editor to being an agent, I knew that I wanted to work somewhere with a trusted and established reputation.
And now, an official description!... Sterling Lord Literistic is defined by its rich heritage as well as the energy and commitment of agents who are passionate about the writers they represent. One of the most dynamic independent agencies in New York, Sterling Lord Literistic combines a long tradition of literary excellence with a diverse and successful client list unparalleled in the industry. We represent a wide range of authors, including National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners, New York Times bestsellers, literary and commercial novelists, politicians, journalists, scientists, and noted writers in children’s literature. The winning combination of established authors and newly emerging voices attests to the past achievement and future promise of the agency.

Sterling Lord Literistic has deep roots in the world of publishing. In 1952, Sterling Lord founded his distinguished agency and counted such literary icons as Jack Kerouac and Ken Kesey among his early clients. Peter Matson established his firm Literistic in 1979 and rose to prominence representing such writers as Dee Brown and John Irving. In 1987, the two joined forces creating the prestigious agency that continues to flourish today. With its sustained presence and impeccable reputation in the publishing industry, as well as its innovative approach to capitalizing on trends in today’s marketplace, Sterling Lord Literistic is equipped to represent every aspect of an author’s professional life. Our offices are located in the landmark U.S. Realty Building at 115 Broadway between Thames and Cedar Streets.

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 focus on YA and MG fiction and narrative nonfiction. I gravitate towards contemporary realistic fiction, relationship stories, novels about complicated family dynamics, and unusual narrative voices. I would also be excited to represent memoirs geared towards MG and YA readers.

Update 12/31/2022:

Elizabeth’s current submission wish list includes high-concept young adult novels, especially from underrepresented voices, accessible middle grade novels that will foster a love of reading (think: fun, funny, or both!), young adult romance, high-concept adult love stories similar to One Day by David Nicholls, and any upmarket commercial fiction with a witty voice and eye for detail. She also loves working with clients who are boldly creating positive change in our world. (From the agency website)   

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

Bold, uninhibited voices; stories that capture the feeling of being a teenager on the brink of adulthood; narratives that illuminate and humanize current events.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Horror, high-fantasy, picture book manuscripts, detective stories, graphic novels.

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? 

As a reader and as an agent, I love finding authors who write well and write often! There is nothing better than discovering with an author who has a body of work to enjoy. So, as an agent, I’m looking for long-term relationships with writers who want to write many books. I focus on open communication with clients and with publishing partners. As a former editor, I know firsthand all of the hard work and decisions that go into a book’s publication, and I will happily walk clients through each and every stage of the process.

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, I’m definitely an editorial agent. My clients can expect early feedback from me on their manuscripts. Every project is different, but I typically send editorial letters and then follow-up with phone chats.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter? 

Please email me with your query + the first 10 pages of your manuscript pasted into the body of the email. In your query letter, please tell me a little bit about yourself and your book. If you have a sense of your ideal reader/audience, that can be helpful to know, too.

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

Not that I can think of!

Response Time:

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

I try to respond within a month; faster when I can.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11. Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them? 

Yes, I’m open to hearing from any authors. Self-published folks often have great marketing and business ideas, which interests me very much.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why? 

I think that authors are usually best served by engaging a reputable representative who has a knowledge of how publishers work. The changes are exciting and have opened doors for a lot of writers. In my mind, there’s more opportunities for smart agents to explore.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent? 

I am proud to represent Linda Williams Jackson, Roland Smith, Joan Bauer, Shana Youngdahl, Cherish Smith, Melissa Cabrera, Elizabeth Penney. As an editor, I had the pleasure of working with Jennifer E. Smith, Estelle Laure, Claire LaZebnik, Linda Williams Jackson, Ashley Herring Blake, Sophie Flack, Kass Morgan, Josh Sundquist, Alyson Noël, and Nic Sheff, amongst others.

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 12/31/2022:

Manuscript Wishlist
Interview with Amy Trueblood Author (03/2019)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Writers can email me at ebewley@sll.com. Our website is www.sll.com. You can find me on Twitter @elizbewley. I’ll look forward to hearing from your readers!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth 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 January 27th. 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.

Last Updated: 12/31/22.
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.

RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON INTERVIEW and YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon here to share about her YA contemporary YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE. It sounds like a riveting dual POV story about twins who are very different.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old twins Adina and Tovah have little in common besides their ambitious nature. Viola prodigy Adina yearns to become a soloist—and to convince her music teacher he wants her the way she wants him. Overachiever Tovah awaits her acceptance to Johns Hopkins, the first step on her path toward med school and a career as a surgeon.

But one thing could wreck their carefully planned futures: a genetic test for Huntington’s, a rare degenerative disease that slowly steals control of the body and mind. It’s turned their Israeli mother into a near stranger and fractured the sisters’ own bond in ways they’ll never admit. While Tovah finds comfort in their Jewish religion, Adina rebels against its rules.

When the results come in, one twin tests negative for Huntington’s. The other tests positive.

These opposite outcomes push them farther apart as they wrestle with guilt, betrayal, and the unexpected thrill of first love. How can they repair their relationship, and is it even worth saving?

From debut author Rachel Lynn Solomon comes a luminous, heartbreaking tale of life, death, and the fragile bond between sisters.

Hi Rachel! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you for having me! I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, but I became serious about it six years ago after graduating from college. My degree is in journalism, and I worked for a Seattle NPR station for a few years, in addition to freelance writing for various other news outlets. My first job out of college was as a producer on a morning radio show that started at 5 a.m. I had to be at the station at 2 a.m., and there were a few eerie hours where I was the only one there. So on days (nights) I had free time, I opened up email drafts and worked on what would become my first completed manuscript. (I was too nervous to save anything to a work computer.)

I worked on that book for a couple years, eventually leaving the journalism field to work in education. In my spare time, I continued writing. YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE was my fifth completed manuscript.

These days, I work full-time for a tutoring company in addition to writing. I love tap dancing, my tiny rescue dog, gloomy Seattle weather, and collecting red lipstick.

2. Your job at NPR sounds fascinating. And it's great how you are balancing a job and writing. You're giving me hope I can too. Where did you get the idea for YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE?

The idea first sparked when I was browsing through Wikipedia and landed on a page about Huntington’s disease. I’m not sure how I landed on the page, exactly—you know how Wikipedia black holes can go. I remembered a storyline about Huntington’s on the old WB show Everwood, which stuck me with many years after I saw it, so I knew a little about the disease. As I continued researching—my research began on Wikipedia, I’ll admit, but it definitely did not end there—I learned that a child of a parent with Huntington’s has a 50/50 chance of developing it themselves. It made me wonder: what if sisters—twins, even—received opposite from a genetic test for Huntington’s? It was a staggering, heartbreaking thought, and I knew I wanted to explore all the complicated feelings associate with it in alternating POVs.

3. I love how your random research blossomed into your book. Adina and Tovah are such different characters with very different passions in life. Share a bit about them and how they developed as characters for you.

When I decided to write twins, I knew I wanted them to be different, of course, but I wanted to shy
away from what I feel is the “typical” twin narrative: one’s a slacker and one’s an overachiever. I wanted to write two ambitious girls.

Adina came to me first; I wanted to write a sexually confident girl unafraid to go after what she wants when it comes to her passion (playing the viola) or her relationships. Tovah was a bit harder to get to know. She went through a few different personalities before I decided she was a science whiz who wants to become a surgeon. The genetic test results turn both their futures uncertain.

There’s a line near the climax of the book that describes the sisters really well, I think. This is in Tovah’s POV:

“She’s the girl who always gets what she wants, and I’m the girl who tries and tries and tries but can never quite get there.”

4. I think a lot of siblings could relate to that quote. Your writing of this in a dual POV has been described as masterful. Share your tips for writing a book from the POV of more than one character.

Thank you! Dual POV can definitely be a challenge, especially with two female characters—and especially with sisters. I wanted Adina’s identity as a musician to influence her voice. Her voice is more lyrical, languid, with longer sentences and plenty of music metaphors. Contrasted with Adina’s, Tovah’s voice is more logical and to the point. I made lists of music- and science-related words for each character, which I referred to while revising. While I wrote the book chronologically, I tried to revise each character separately—as in, I worked on a few Adina chapters, and then a few Tovah chapters, and so forth—so I could stay in each girl’s head as best I could.

5. Those are such great dual POV ideas. I would have never thought of the word list! Your book also deals with the heavy issue of Adina’s and Tovah’s mom’s Huntington’s disease and the effects of this disorder on their own lives. What research did you do into the disease and how did you weave this into the story without becoming preachy?

Research was absolutely crucial to this book. Before I spoke to anyone affected by Huntington’s, I read articles, watched videos, browsed message boards, took detailed notes. I used that information to sketch out a first draft, and then I talked to a friend whose family had been touched by Huntington’s as well as a genetic counselor who gave me fascinating, heartbreaking insight into what happens when she delivers test results.

It was important to me that the twins’ mother felt like a rich, fully realized person. She has multiple hobbies and interests: she loves knitting and watching old movies, and she has a complicated relationship with her Israeli heritage. I also gave their parents a fun meet-cute backstory.

I think I was able to prevent the book from becoming preachy by digging in to all the complex, sometimes ugly emotions teen girls experience, amplified here by receiving opposite test results. I allowed them to be messy, and I hope that makes them feel authentic.

6. Share a challenge that you faced in writing your manuscript either before or after you got your publishing contract and what you learned from overcoming the challenge?

When I started writing it, I had no idea how YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE should end. I cycled through a lot of potential endings, including sappy, unrealistic ones and shockingly sad ones. Once I began working with my editor, I realized there was only going to be one version of this book out in the world, and I labored over the last lines of the book for a long time. Ultimately, I believe (and hope!) I found something bittersweet and satisfying.

7. I'm struggling a bit with my own ending in a story I'm working on. Interesting how you figured yours out with your editor. I’m an aspiring fantasy writer and have never tried to write contemporary. What are your tips for those of us wanting to make the leap to write a contemporary story that is compelling like yours?

I’m awed by the worlds fantasy writers create! The best advice I can give is to read voraciously in the genre you wish to write. You have to know what’s already out there in order to create something fresh.

8. Your agent is Laura Bradford. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Laura is my second agent, and she is an absolute rock star. I queried her in October 2015, after leaving my first agent, and she offered rep in March of 2016. YOU’LL MISS ME WHEN I’M GONE sold at the end of May 2016 in a two-book deal to Simon Pulse. Publishing is eternal periods of waiting punctuated by occasional lightning-fast good news. The only thing we ever have control over is what we write, and stubbornness absolutely pays off. I had two other books on submission that didn’t sell, and two books before that that I queried that didn’t find an agent.

9. So true what you say about what we can control. What are your favorite social media platforms to connect with readers and authors? Why and how have you used it to reach out to others?

I’m a bit obsessed with Twitter! It’s where I’ve met most of my friends, including those who live nearby. There are downsides to it, of course, but mainly, I love the feeling of closeness it fosters within the YA community. I’m also trying to get better at Instagram.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m revising my 2019 YA, which is another dual POV about a kidney transplant between best friends, complicated by the fact that the donor is in love with the recipient. On breaks from that, I’m working on a YA romantic comedy.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Rachel. You can find Rachel here:

Twitter: @rlynn_solomon
Instagram: @rlynn_solomon
Purchase book: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | IndieBound

Rachel has generously offered a signed hardback of YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE 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 January 20th. 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, January 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Elizabeth Bewley and critique query giveaway

Sunday, January 14th I'm participating in the Best of 2017 Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 15th I have an interview with debut author Elizabeth X.R. Pan and a giveaway of her YA contemporary THE ASTONISHING COLOR AFTER

Wednesday, January 17th I have a Call for Questions for Agent Peter Knapp who will pick questions to answer on Monday, February 5th

Monday, January 22nd I have an Agent Spotlight Interview with Molly O'Neill and query critique giveaway

Monday, January 29th I have an interview with debut author Gwendolyn Clark and a giveaway of her YA fantasy INK, IRON, and GLASS

Hope to see you on Wednesday!