Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

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.


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to be participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop hosted by StuckInBooks. I'm especially excited because this blog hop falls on my regular Monday blogging day (because we're encouraged to post a day early). There's a lot of new books that have recently released or will be published soon, and I'm excited to share them with you.

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 May 15th 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:

Wednesday, May 2nd I have an interview with debut co-authors Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and a giveaway of their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING and my IWSG post

Monday, May 7th I have an interview with debut author Kristin Perez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Monday, May 21st I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Natascha Morris

Thursday, May 31st I'm participating in the Beach Reads Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Jennifer March Soloway here. She is an associate literary agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Status: Open to submissions.

Update on 1/5/2023: Jennifer has been promoted to a senior literary agent.

Hi­ Jennifer! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thanks! I’m thrilled to be here!

About Jennifer:

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

Before I joined ABLA, I worked in public relations and marketing in a number of industries, including banking, health care, and toys—and except for banking, there was always a focus on kids. When I worked for the toy company, in addition to managing public relations and producing the catalog, I was the toy inventor liaison, which meant several times a year I would travel around the country to meet with toy inventors, who would pitch their toy ideas to me. It was the coolest job!

Selling an invention to our company was tough. We had a very strong internal design team, and we almost never bought outside ideas, so it was difficult to place with us. But every once in a while, I would find an invention that was perfect for our new line. It was my job to then negotiate the terms and the contract with the inventor.

Sounds a bit like agenting, doesn’t it?
Not long after, I decided to pursue my passion for literature and got an MFA in English and Creative Writing with an emphasis on young adult literature. I was first introduced to the Andrea Brown Literary Agency at the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop, and later, I got the opportunity to be Executive Agent Laura Rennert’s assistant. I found the publishing industry fascinating. I enjoyed reviewing contracts and thinking strategically on behalf of the clients. I had fun writing pitches. I even liked reviewing royalty statements. Most of all, I loved editorial. I discovered it gives me great joy to help writers find their story. I love to champion others.

In mid-2016, I was promoted to Associate Agent. Laura has been an amazing mentor and teacher, and our entire agency is incredibly collaborative and supportive. I feel so fortunate and grateful to work with such a dynamic group of women.

Today, I represent a handful of clients—picture book author/illustrators and MG/YA novelists, as well as a few adult writers—and I’m actively looking for new clients to add to my list.

About the Agency:

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

The Andrea Brown Literary Agency is a mid-sized literary agency headquartered in Northern California with offices in Southern California, Chicago, and New York. Our is to make sure clients are not only published, but published well. Most recently, two of our clients were longlisted for the National Book Award: Mitali Perkins for YOU BRING THE DISTANT NEAR (FSG/Macmillan, 2017), and Meg Medina for BURN BABY BURN (Candlewick, 2016), and Neal Shusterman won the 2017 Michael L. Prinz Honor for SCYTHE (BFYR/S&S, 2016). Our agency invests a great deal of care and time into each project and client. We seek long-term relationships with our clients and work with clients at every stage of the writing process, from editorial to submission and beyond. We handle everything from domestic deals to foreign rights, plus film and TV, etc.

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 authors and illustrators of picture book, middle grade, and young adult stories, as select adult fiction, both literary and commercial, particularly crime, suspense and horror projects. (I like to be scared!)

For picture books, I am drawn to a wide range of stories from silly to sweet, but I especially love funny, interactive read-aloud’s with some kind of surprise at the end. When it comes to middle grade, I like all kinds of genres, including adventures, mysteries, spooky-but-not-too-scary ghost stories, humor, realistic contemporary and fantasies grounded in reality.

Young adult is my sweet spot. I adore high-concept commercial page-turners of any genre, full of unexpected twists. I’m a huge fan of scary, psychological suspense that blurs the lines between the real and the imagined. But as much as I love a good thriller, my favorite novels are literary stories about ordinary teens, especially those focused on family, relationships, sexuality, mental illness, or addiction.

Regardless of genre, I am actively seeking fresh new voices and perspectives underrepresented in literature. I love literature that allows me to see the world in a way I would never experience on my own.

That’s my wish list, but an author might have something I have never considered before, and it might be absolutely perfect for me. I am open to any good story that is well written with a strong, authentic voice. Surprise me!

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

I would love to find a magical MG fantasy with friendship and/or family themes; a spooky-but-not-too-scary MG ghost story; or a YA about good teens making bad decisions that lead to dire consequences. (Cheating? Check! Bad girlfriends or boyfriends? Check! Shipped off to summer reform camp? Yes!)

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I am not the right agent for chapter books or novels in verse. I like both, but neither area is my editorial strength. Also, as much as I love a good, gritty story (I will go very dark and violent), if it’s misogynist or gratuitously abusive against women and/or children, I’m out. I’ve passed on numerous projects for that reason.

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?

First, I look to fall in love with a project. I want to represent stories and art that explore universal truths and evoke strong emotions: joy, sadness, fear, compassion, excitement, or better yet, all of the above. Then, I talk to the creator. Do my editorial suggestions for the project resonate with them? Is it easy for us to talk to one another? Are we aligned in our goals for the working relationship? If the answer is yes, yes, and yes, then I will offer representation, and if I’m lucky, they will accept.

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?

My goal is to help my clients revise and polish their manuscripts for publication and make their project the best it can be, so I spend a lot of time reading client manuscripts and providing editorial feedback. In other words, if you sign with me, I’m going to make you work, but only because I want to put our very best foot forward.

I believe giving good feedback is an art. I try to give editorial suggestions worded in such a way that the author not only understands the issue but also feels inspired and encouraged to revise. My style is detailed and encouraging; I don’t like to be harsh or blunt. If that’s the style you want, I am not the right agent for you.

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?

I like to see the following in a query letter:
  • A simple salutation, and perhaps the reason why you think I’d be a good fit for your project;
  • A description of the project (category, genre, word-count, and comparable books in the market);
  • A 1-2 paragraph pitch (or a 1-2 sentence pitch for a picture book project); and
  • A brief bio, and contact information (email, Twitter handle, etc.)
Per our submission guidelines, authors can query me at soloway@andreabrownlit.com. Please put “Query” in the subject of the email and include the following in the body of the email text:

  • ​A query letter; and
  • The first 10 pages of the manuscript​ or the complete text of a picture book project copied into the body of the email text.
  • Please no attachments, except for illustrations (in jpeg format), or picture book dummy (either a PDF or a Dropbox link, etc. works well)
9.  Do you have any specific dislikes in query letters or the first pages submitted to you?

I think the biggest mistake I see is authors submitting work too soon. I see potential in almost every submission, but most projects I receive are at too early a stage for me to offer representation. The drafts tend to be too raw and in need of more work. Often, I can tell the author is still writing to discover, or if they have discovered the end, they have yet to rework the beginning and middle.

I am looking for something with potential, something I think I can sell. I want to read the story and have a vision for how the work could be elevated and polished. A manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but at the same time, it has to be really good.

Response Time:

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

I am grateful for the opportunity to consider all submissions. I read every query carefully, and I wish I could respond to everyone personally. Unfortunately, as we state in our submissions guidelines, because of the high volume of material that we receive, we are no longer able to respond personally to every submission. If an author has not heard from me within six weeks, the author can assume that the material submitted is not right for our agency at this time.

If I request a manuscript, my goal is to read and respond to the author within 6-8 weeks, or sooner if possible. Sometimes, I am able to respond quickly, but unfortunately, I occasionally fall behind in my submissions. When I do, I try to reach out to the author to let them know I’m behind.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

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

I am open to authors who have self-published or have been published by smaller presses, as long as they are submitting new, unpublished projects for my consideration. My advice to previously published authors is to be honest about their past publication history. It’s helpful for me to know everything up front, so I can best support and strategize a client’s career moving forward.

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?

It is really difficult to get published traditionally without an agent. Many houses do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, although there are exceptions like Chronicle Books, for example. A good agent will have strong working relationships with many editors at the various houses and will help devise a strategy to find the best editor/house in terms of fit.

It can be especially helpful to have an agent who knows and understands what terms to negotiate for an author, considering the stage of their career and future projects, etc., as well as the best terms such as advance, royalty percentages, rights, future options, etc. A good agent will also be thinking about a client’s career long-term and what kinds of projects will best support that client’s brand, etc.

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.

Stories Unbound Podcast, Part 1: http://chrisoatley.com/su17/
Stories Unbound Podcast, Part 2: http://chrisoatley.com/su18/
Manuscript Wish List: Persevering Through the Process, by Jennifer March Soloway: http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/2017/10/persevering-through-the-process/
Sarah Nicholas Podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_8PQLUDUgw (9/2020)

6/6/2024 Update:

Meet the Agent: Jennifer March Soloway Meet the Agent: Jennifer March Soloway at Writers' Digest (06/2024)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please query me at soloway@andreabrownlit.com
Andrea Brown Literary Agency: www.andreabrownlit.com
For my latest conference schedule, craft tips and more, follow me on Twitter at @marchsoloway.

Additional Advice:

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

Please have a complete manuscript that you’ve revised extensively before you query. Revise and polish it as much as you can, then revise and polish one more time before you submit. Send queries in rounds; don’t hit everyone at once. Give yourself time to rethink and regroup after each round. If someone gives feedback, listen. If you don’t hear anything, take a look at your query letter and your opening pages. Look for ways to make both more enticing and engaging. Then send out another round of queries.

Most importantly, don’t give up. Keep writing. Keep revising. And as your preparing to submit, please keep me in mind. I love a good story, and I’d love to read yours.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jennifer.

You are so welcome. Thank you again for having me!

­Jennifer 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 May 5th. 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: 6/1/2020
Agent Contacted For Review? Yes.
Reviewed By Agent? N/A

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com
Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author Jerry Mahoney here to share about his new MG humorous science fiction BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE. It sounds like a hilarious science fiction story that would be great to read when you need a laugh. Jerry also has a number of other funny MG fairytale-based stories.

Here’s a blurb of BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE from Goodreads

The buttheads have landed--and they're trying to wipe us out!

My best friend Lloyd and I had the perfect plan.

We started a blog to invite aliens to come to Earth and hang out--but only with us. That way, they wouldn't have to meet any boring world leaders or get cut open by scientists or anything like that. We'd just chill out, eat junk food, and play video games together. Sweet, right? And it worked! Two aliens showed up one night in the bathroom of my favorite restaurant, and we snuck them home to my room.

The problem is, they're total buttheads! Literally. They have butts on their heads, and they talk in farts. They're rude, disgusting, and they love Earth so much, they just invited 70 billion of their friends to join them here.


Now it's up to us--two sixth graders with B-pluses in science--to save the planet from the sickest extraterrestrials in the universe. (Preferably without my parents finding out.)

Sorry, everyone. Better get used to talking out of your butts, because we're all probably doomed...

Hi Jerry! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I've been writing since I was a kid, back when I had to type up my stories on a typewriter and make my own "books" by stapling stacks of paper together and coloring in the illustrations with magic marker. I never had the self-confidence to be a class clown or make wisecracks out loud, but I discovered that I could make people laugh by writing funny stuff down and showing it to them in the cafeteria or at recess. I was such a quiet kid that my weird sense of humor would always surprise people. They'd laugh and then go, "You wrote this?!" That was always the highest compliment!

Once my kids were born, I rediscovered children's books, and I found a whole new bunch of writers I admired, from Mo Willems to Chris Grabenstein, Lemony Snicket, Tom Angleberger and R.J. Palacio. (My all-time favorite is still Judy Blume.) I thought back to all the crazy stuff I wrote as a kid and realized I had a whole new audience I could try to entertain with my writing. Instead of my classmates, now it was my own kids and their friends! So I started writing middle grade, and it's been the most fun, most fulfilling writing I've ever done.

2. I can remember those typewriter days too! Where did you get the idea for BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE?

The first time I went to another country, I was in my 20's, and I took a trip to London with my friend
Greg. London is a beautiful city, rich with culture and history, full of amazing restaurants and wonderful people… but what was the first thing we did? We found an arcade to see what kinds of video games they had there, and we ate all the weird foreign candy out of the vending machine.

When I was trying to imagine how a 12-year-old would think about aliens, I thought back to that trip. If aliens traveled all the way across the cosmos to visit our planet, how would they want to spend their time here? By doing all the things people typically make aliens do in books, like meeting with boring world leaders and submitting to invasive scientific experiments? No way! They'd want to have fun!

So I sat down and wrote "An Open Letter From Two Cool Earthlings to any Extraterrestrials Who Want to Visit Our Planet (but Not Kill Us)." It was just a creative writing project at first, but as I wrote it, the characters really came to life for me, and I wanted to spend more time with them and send them on a fun adventure. That open letter ended up in Chapter One of the book pretty much as I wrote it that day. The idea that the aliens had butts on their heads was just a random joke I threw in. The kind of wacky detail my characters would come up with. Originally, I didn't intend for the aliens' anatomy to match Josh and Lloyd's description. But as I started writing, I thought, "Why not?" And I couldn't resist the title BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE.

3. Your story about your trip to London made me laugh. It's really funny. This sounds like a hilarious but also plot-driven story that will appeal to boys as well as girls—not always easy. How did you balance humor and plot in this story?

Nothing bums me out more than reading a book that's really funny but that goes nowhere. If a book doesn't have a good story, I won't finish reading it, no matter how much it makes me laugh. So I knew I could write some funny jokes about aliens, but I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to go somewhere with the plot. After I wrote the open letter, I put it aside and did a ton of outlining. I thought of all the different routes my story could take. At one point, Josh and Lloyd were going to be the ones who betrayed the Earth and helped aliens take over. I tried it lots of ways to see what would work the best.

I'll be honest -- plot is hard. It's harder than comedy, at least for me. But it's so much more important than jokes. I have dozens of ideas on my computer that I think would make really funny books, but I just can't crack the story. I won't start writing something until I know where it's going and I can be sure the reader will be surprised along the way.

4. I'm too serious to be funny so I'd say that is harder than plot for me. Josh and Lloyd are the two main characters. I can’t tell from the blurb if you tell your story from both character’s POV or just one of them. Share about this and what you like about both characters in general.

The story is all told from Josh's point of view. He's the more level-headed and rational of the two kids, and yet he's never the one who gets his way. So it was fun describing everything from his perspective, knowing what the right choice would be and then seeing how Lloyd would manipulate him into doing the opposite.

I love that Lloyd is so charming and self-confident that he can get people to do things they wouldn't normally do. What I love about Josh is that he knows Lloyd is manipulating him, but he goes along with it anyway, because ultimately, when they do things Lloyd's way, it's more fun. Lloyd is always taking Josh down the road less traveled, which Josh would never have the guts to do on his own.

One of my favorite parts of the book is when Lloyd admits that he couldn't do all the crazy things he does without Josh by his side. They're two characters who complement each other perfectly, and neither one would be who they are without the other as his buddy.

5. Sounds like a very interesting friendship. This is not your first book. Tell us a little bit about your My Rotten Stepbrother series.

I had so much fun working on the My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Fairy Tales series. The books are about a girl named Maddie who loves fairy tales, but she has an obnoxious stepbrother named Holden who keeps pointing out the plot holes in them. Things like "Wouldn't Cinderella's glass slipper have fit a lot of women?" and "If the Beast was cursed for being too shallow, how come he gets to break the curse by marrying a total babe?" He actually makes some good points -- so good that he breaks the stories, and the two feuding stepsiblings have to go into the books to try to fix them from within.

I loved writing for Maddie and Holden. They have such an interesting dynamic as step-siblings. Most siblings fight, but they also have so much history together that there's a foundation of love underneath. Maddie and Holden have only recently come into each other's lives, through their parents' marriage. So they fight like siblings, but they have no idea how to relate to each other or get along in any way. And they never might, either, except that they're thrust into this adventure that forces them to work together, and through that, they become the siblings they were meant to be. They still fight, of course, but ultimately, they love and respect each other, too.

I wrote the books in a way that you can start with any one of them, but if you read them all, you're rewarded with some extra plot and character detail, and you really feel like you've gone on a fulfilling journey with them.
6. Your agent is Laurie Abkemeier. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like? What was the submission process like for this book?

I queried Laurie back in 2011 with a memoir. She wrote back 7 minutes later, and then she
immediately tweeted that it was the fastest she'd ever replied to a query. That was obviously a great sign that she connected with my writing. After that book, I decided I wanted to write middle grade fiction, and she stood by me through what was obviously a very big shift.

I only wish the submission process for the book had gone as quickly as finding an agent did. My experience there was far more typical, I'd imagine. Lots of waiting, plenty of rejections, me constantly doubting myself and wondering if I'd ever write another book… and then Sky Pony came in and loved it. When I talked to my editor, Becky Herrick, it was all worth it, because I knew that Becky "got" it. She told me where she laughed out loud, she had some great suggestions and she knew just how she wanted to market the book.

So, it was a long process for sure, but thankfully it all worked out in the end. 

7. That's great that your agent could guide you through the changes in what you write. You have been writing and publishing books for a number of years. How have you built your readership and spread the word better about your books as you publish more books?

My first published book was a memoir about how I became a dad. It grew out of a dad blog I wrote called Mommy Man. The blog was a great way to build a readership, because it connected me with people who were interested in my writing and my parenting advice. They'd help share my posts, and I built up a good base of subscribers who would read everything I wrote. Then, when my book came out, they were a natural audience to reach out to.

I've been fortunate to hold onto that audience as I've branched out into writing for kids. Those blog followers are still there, so even though I don't write about parenting as much as I used to, I'll always make sure to let those readers know when I have a new book coming out!

8. What are some of the most effective ways that you’ve found to market your books?

To be honest, I'm still learning the ropes of marketing kids' books. Middle grade readers are too young for social media and too young to collect email addresses from. So to the extent I can market myself online, it's usually to parents, teachers, librarians and adult fans of kids' books. The best way I've discovered to reach kids is to actually go meet them. Do school visits, book fairs, readings, anything to meet kids in person. Of course, that's a lot of work. A blog post might reach tens of thousands of readers a day, but the most kids I can meet in person is a few dozen at a time. So I'm just starting to build my readership. I have a lot of work ahead of me! The good thing is, I love meeting kids and introducing them to my writing, so I'm in this for the long run.
9. Great advice. And I'm sure your blog has connected you to some of the parents at least. What advice do you have for aspiring writers about building their social network through Twitter or, if you don’t use it much, through your favorite social media site?

Twitter is great, because so many people I admire are on there. I follow a bunch of authors I like, just to keep up on what they're doing and what they have to say. I also follow a bunch of agents, editors, librarians and book bloggers to see what people in the kidlit world are talking about. There's so much information out there, there's no excuse these days for writers not studying the market.

My advice for tweeting is first of all, to be yourself. Tweet about what interests you, even if it's unrelated to the kinds of books you write. These days, almost everyone tweets about politics, so don't shy away from sharing your views if there's something you feel strongly about. As I like to say, you can't please everyone, but you can bore everyone. Take a stand, and more people will pay attention.

That being said, Twitter feuds will get you nowhere. I've learned that lesson the hard way. When you engage with people, be respectful and constructive. If you don't think you have something positive to add, just move on and find something else to tweet about. I know that can be hard when there are actual Nazis on Twitter, saying things that will get you all riled up if you let them. But shouting at crazy people over the internet is a waste of time, and it only makes you feel crummier. Boost the messages you agree with, and you'll feel better and connect with more people at the same time.

Also, don't sell too hard. Remind people when you have a book coming out, and let people know when there's a new article about your work or you have a positive review to share. But if people think you're only tweeting to sell your books, it's a big turn-off. You have to find other interesting things to discuss, too. At the very least, say nice things about other authors' books. (Again, avoid being overly negative. If you don't like a book, don't trash it, because there's a chance the author will see it herself or himself. It doesn't make you look cooler than other people if you hate something that's popular. It just makes you look petty. Ignore it and find a book you CAN say nice things about.)
10. What are you working on now? 

I have a few different book ideas I'm working on, and I'm just finishing up a scripted podcast for kids. It's called THE WEIRDNESS, and it's for a company called Gen-Z media, which did THE UNEXPLAINABLE DISAPPEARANCE OF MARS PATEL and THE GHOST OF JESSICA MAJORS. It's about a couple of kids who meet Bigfoot and go on an adventure around the world to help him save other mythical creatures from a creepy monster who's kidnapping them all. It's going to be really fun -- scary, wild and funny, too. I can't wait until it's done and everyone can hear it. Look for it soon wherever you get your podcasts!
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jerry. You can find Jerry at

Twitter: @WhyJerryWhy

Jerry has generously offered a paperback of BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE 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 April 28th. 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. and Canada.
Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 23rd I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with associate agent Jennifer March Soloway

Monday, April 30th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, May 2nd I have an interview with debut co-authors Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and a giveaway of their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING and my IWSG post

Monday, May 7th I have an interview with debut author Kristin Perez and a giveaway of her YA fantasy SWEET BLACK WAVES

Wednesday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amanda Ayers Barnett

Monday, May 14th I have an interview with debut author Megan Bannon and a giveaway of her YA fantasy

Hope to see you on Monday!


Happy Monday Everyone! Hope you're having a great start to spring. Today I'm excited to have debut author Alexa Donne and her agent Elana Roth Parker to help celebrate the release of Alexa's YA science fiction BRIGHTLY BURNING. It's a retelling of Jane Eyre, one of my favorites when I was a teen, so can't wait to read this.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere—anywhere—else. Her home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, having been orbiting an ice-encased Earth for two hundred years. When a private ship hires her as a governess, Stella jumps at the chance. The captain of the Rochester, nineteen-year-old Hugo Fairfax, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a moody recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he’s kind.

But the Rochester harbors secrets: Stella is certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, and the more she discovers, the more questions she has about his role in a conspiracy threatening the fleet.

Now here's Alexa ad Elana interviewing each other.

Questions for Elana

AD: I find the story of how you got into agenting really fascinating! You’ve come to agenting via a unique pathway, which lends you particular strengths as an agent. Do you mind sharing a bit about where you started to how you ended up where you are now?

EP: So yeah. I feel like my entire career is a roundabout path...though the focus has always been in children’s books. In college, I interned at Nickelodeon Magazine, which was a dream come true. But my first real job out of college was as an editorial assistant at a book packager. I didn’t know what that was when I interviewed, and I bet most people still don’t know what it is, even though packagers create some of the most successful books in the industry.

Packagers are independent producers...coming up with concepts, hiring writers, and selling the
“package” to a publisher. They’re like creative think-tanks that are also ways for publishers to outsource a lot of work. I got my start at a packager that focused on licensed properties for kids, so I got to learn every part of the business from concept creation to production. I spent 5 years there before wanting to do something that had me working more directly with authors, and I made the leap to agenting. I had no idea how helpful all those pieces of my education would be. But I entered agenting with a solid list of editors at different houses that I already had relationships with, and I knew how a book was made start to finish.

AD: What was it that drew you to BRIGHTLY BURNING when the query landed in your inbox?  At what point did you know you were going to offer?

EP: First, the query was excellently written, and the pitch was a total no-brainer: Jane Eyre in space! I’ve seen a lot of bad adaptations float through my inbox over the years (if I never see another Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, or Alice in Wonderland retelling it’ll be too soon). But I don’t get much by way of the Brontes, and hadn’t seen that spin yet. Plus the sample pages were really good, so I requested it. I started reading it on a train ride to upstate New York where my husband and I were going for a weekend away. I ended up reading it the whole train ride, and the bulk of the trip. That’s when I knew I’d be giving Alexa a call.

AD: What is something you wish more authors asked you on offer calls?

EP: A lot of authors come into the call so shocked or nervous that they haven’t often thought sincerely about what they want in an agent or the relationship. And not everyone has the luxury of fielding more than one offer of representation in order to have points of comparison—I worry that people just take the first offer that comes along. Or sign with someone they just think is really great on Twitter. So what I wish more authors had ready was a list of questions about working style based on THEIR OWN preferred working style. And then do due diligence. Ask to talk to other clients. Get into the thick of it to find out how you’re REALLY going to be working together. You really want to feel comfortable signing with someone who is going to be a great partner with you.

AD: Can you talk about how you approach your relationship with editors, both with regard to submission and with how to act as a buffer between client and editor post-sale?

EP: Since being an agent is like being a matchmaker, a middle-man, and a therapist sometimes, I have to be a rational, helpful teamplayer between the editor and my client. First, keeping good, friendly relationships with editors is really important, as I need them to trust my judgment in the projects and authors I send their way, but my primary responsibility is to my client. After a book is sold, we’ve changed the dynamic and added a new relationship that I need to honor. My client is still my primary responsibility, so I will be that advocate and save the author from having to have tough conversations about any business stuff. I can play the bad guy for them. But it’s also my job to know when to step back and let the editor and author do their thing. While I’m always still making sure things are running smoothly, I want my clients to have trusting, supportive relationships with their editors, because I want the books to be as successful as possible. So I get out of the way when the real editorial work is happening as not to gum up the works.

AD: What is the number one thing you see writers doing wrong in your query inbox? (other than calling you Elena)

EP: Just plain not following directions. It feels like everyone thinks they are an exception to the rule these days. The rules aren’t there for me to be a jerk. They’re there so I can read queries easily and get to everyone in a timely matter. When people try other methods, assuming that’ll get them noticed, it does the opposite.

AD: You’re currently closed to queries, but what will you be looking for when you reopen? You are, of course, always looking high concept, commercial kidlit, but are there any particular types of projects you are looking to add to your small but mighty client list?

EP: That’s kind of it, really! I really do want more middle-grade to go with my YA. High-concept. Commercial. Big stories. Broad range of characters. Fun. Enjoyable. I read for pleasure and to escape. I want to give kids those kind of “get you out of your world” kind of books. I have a great selection in my YA list right now, but would love to get more for the middle-grade audience.

Questions for Alexa

EP: I think you have one of the best “persistence and hard work” stories in the business. Do you want to give readers a short run-down of your path to getting published?

AD: I am terrible at keeping long stories short, so I will point anyone who wants the long version to a YouTube video I made about this! [hyperlink: https://youtu.be/iVhmjUB2su0] And so my short-ish version:

I completed my first YA novel in early 2013, when I was 29, and was lucky to get into two contests--Pitch Madness and The Writer’s Voice that spring. After some full requests, and a few revisions for one particular agent, I got an offer! I was with my first agent for about two years, during which time I spent 1.5 years on submission without selling (and received about 30 rejections). During that time, I wrote a second book--my dream project, and what I considered the book of my heart--which my agent at the time just didn’t connect with and wasn’t sure how to pitch. It was heartbreaking, but I was heading firmly in the direction of SFF YA, and the fit was no longer perfect--it happens! We parted ways summer 2015, I queried book #2, but could tell from early query response that it just wasn’t going to work for the market.

I’m a generally pragmatic and positive person, but honestly I felt like giving up! I was so sure my second book was the best I could do, and no one wanted it. At this point I was 3 years and 2 novels into my journey, and approaching 32. Losing my agent felt like the end of the world! And then on the third day of NaNoWriMo 2015, I got really annoyed at myself and at the industry, and decided to say “eff it” and write an idea I’d been sitting on for years because I was sure I couldn’t do it justice. That idea was Jane Eyre in space. I wrote every single day for 3 months straight, and finished the 105K draft in early February 2016.

I queried later that month, and it was like night and day, re: my querying experience of the second book. So many amazing agents requested the full, and I was so grateful. Still, it took two months to get an offer (not complaining, but nothing in this journey has been overnight or fast!), and I ended up lucky enough to choose between two fantastic agents. I actually queried you (Elana) on a whim--I saw your MSWL tweet and took a chance, and THANK GOD I did!!!

Then… submission again, which we went on in the fall of 2016 after I revised the book over the summer. We got really close during first round submission, including going to acquisitions at a fantastic publisher, but ultimately received 13 “No”s by February 2017. But, I was determined, and my agent a consummate pro who was able to interpret our rejection feedback and help me formulate a revision plan. I knocked it out in 10 days, you read the manuscript in 3, and then I was back out on submission not even 3 weeks after our final rejection from round 1. And the revision worked like magic--HMH offered 4 weeks later, it turned into a pre-empt, and a year later my book will be on shelves. Which is BONKERS FAST!

I want to say (sorry, this is not short at all!), that I was 100% wrong about my second book. I could and did write a much, much better book, that I love with all of my heart. And every book I’ve worked on subsequently has gotten better. Push through disappointment and setbacks, even when it’s hard, because your next book can always be better, and be “the one.”

EP: You’re my most “in the know” client, always keeping up on deals and new releases and networking with other writers. While that’s not for everyone, what do you find has been the most helpful part of that habit? Also...what’s the biggest downside?

AD: I get incredibly anxious when I don’t have enough information, so knowing ALL THE THINGS actually calms me--more data is good, for me (also why I read all my rejections!). Keeping up on deals, trends, industry moves, and new releases keeps me grounded in the realities of the industry--how random it can be (and tied to pure luck), who’s buying what and for how much, who is good to work with and why, etc.--all of this data helps me to remain pragmatic, and as positive as possible. It’s also just amazing to connect with so many writers, and forge new friendships. I feel less alone and neurotic and odd for all the relationships I’ve formed. I also was able to get a good sense of what to expect from the murkier parts of publishing by supporting friends who were published before me.

Biggest downside is that all of this requires a lot of emotional energy! Keeping up can be exhausting, and it’s also easy to get swept up in things that take you away from the writing. Also sometimes it can invite serious imposter syndrome, especially when you see a deal that is similar to one of your ideas, or you know the particulars of someone’s deal or marketing plan. But, again, knowing all of this stuff, I remind myself: so much of this is out of my control, and comparing yourself to others doesn’t help anything! Collect the information, but don’t let it eat away at or define you. (And then I love to use my knowledge to help others!)

EP: What’s been the most surprising part of the process post-book deal for you?

AD: How overwhelming and emotional it would be + exactly how much would be completely out of my control! Even knowing a lot of this ahead of time--I’d heard from so many people to expect lots of highs and lows and to be overwhelmed, and that publishing was madness--I was and am still surprised actually going through it. And specifically, balancing promotion for the book coming out against drafting the next book has been incredibly difficult to manage, even harder than I had anticipated. You’re juggling so much during your debut year, and nothing could accurately prepare me for what being crashed would feel like. I feel like I’m on a high speed train or a rollercoaster, so even though it’s fun a lot of the time, I’m also hyper aware of being on a very fast thing.

EP: What piece of advice would you give writers who are just starting on the querying process?

AD: Be selective with who you query! I don’t think enough emphasis is placed on carefully curating your query list. You should never query anyone you wouldn’t be happy to accept an offer of representation from. This sounds like common sense, but I have advised far too many writers who don’t do their research until after they have an offer from someone that they don’t actually want to work with. There’s a fantasy of getting an offer from someone you don’t really want, and using that to leverage “better” agents into counter-offering, but this can seriously backfire! And often the writer will feel bad or guilty or desperate--especially if it’s the only offer they receive--and say yes, ending up locked in a bad relationship that wastes years of their career. It’s better to shelve a book and move onto a new project than to accept representation from a lacklustre agent or from one who is a poor fit.

EP: What about writers who are currently on submission to publishers?

AD: Surround yourself with writer friends who understand what you are going through! This can be other writers on sub at the same time (though beware of jealousy that may arise if/when they get a splashy deal before you do), or writers who already have deals and who had a variety of sub experiences. You need someone to vent to privately, or cry with, or even a buddy to read your rejections for you. CPs who have read your book are particularly invaluable, because they will remind you why they love your book and why you should keep going! Your agent is also there to shore you up, but I don’t advise venting too much to them--writer friends are invaluable!

EP: Writers are always asking me how I think they should handle social media to help promote themselves. But I’m curious what you, someone who’s very active on several channels, would suggest.

AD: For aspiring authors, my top recommendations are Twitter and Instagram. Twitter is the best place to be to stay “in the know” of the industry, and also to engage organically with fellow authors, industry professionals and readers. You can demonstrate your personality and passions, and organically slip in a bit of book promotion every so often. It’s my favorite social channel for forging connections and staying on top of things. Twitter is often the first place people search for authors now, so it’s important to be on there.

Instagram is the best place to be for fun, positive book/brand promotion. You do have to be decent at photography and typing on your phone though! That said, you don’t have to be an Instagram maven by any means with a carefully curated aesthetic. But you should post semi-frequently, with well-composed/dynamic images and should write interesting captions--giving a snapshot of your life, writing advice, etc. And use Instagram Stories! Readers love seeing fun little bits from your life.

And then if you aren’t afraid of video as a medium and are willing to put in the work, I do recommend taking the YouTube plunge! I’ve been shocked at how much I love it, and there’s a vibrant reader and writer community there who are interested in hearing from more authors. It can actually help a lot with public speaking, and just talking about your book/yourself in general. I’ve gained a lot of confidence filming and editing videos, and it’s been a great tool for reaching new readers!

Elana Roth Parker has specialized in children's publishing from the beginning of her career, from her very first internship at Nickelodeon Magazine followed by 5 years as an editor at Parachute Publishing. She's been an agent since 2008, joining LDLA in 2016 after running her own agency, Red Tree Literary.
Elana is a graduate of Barnard College and the Jewish Theological Seminary, with degrees in English literature and Bible. It all adds up to her loving books that expertly combine the timely and the timeless. 
Elana is currently closed to queries, but look for updates on Twitter at @elanaroth.

Alexa Donne is a Ravenclaw who wears many hats, including teen mentoring, college admissions essay consulting, fan convention organizing, YouTube-ing and podcasting. When she’s not writing science fiction and fantasy for teens, Alexa works in international television marketing. A proud Boston University Terrier, she lives in Los Angeles with two fluffy ginger cats named after YA literature characters. Visit her at www.alexadonne.com or on most social media spaces @alexadonne. Brightly Burning is her debut novel. Look for it on May 1, 2018 everywhere books are sold.

You can find Elana at:

And Alexa can be found at:

Alexa is generously offering an ARC of BRIGHTLY BURNING and Elana is offering a query critique 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 April 21st. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The ARC giveaway is U.S. and Canada and the critique giveaway is international.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, April 16th I have an interview with author Jerry Mahoney and a giveaway of his MG science fiction BUTTHEADS FROM OUTER SPACE

Monday, April 23rd I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with associate agent Jennifer March Soloway

Monday, April 30th I'm participating in the May I Suggest Giveaway Hop!

Wednesday, May 2nd I have an interview with debut co-authors Laurie Morrison and Cordelia Jensen and a giveaway of their MG contemporary EVERY SHINY THING and my IWSG post

Hope to see you on Monday!