Here are my current Giveaway Contests

EVERY STOLEN BREATH through November 23rd
Gratitude Giveaway Hop through November 30th
TIGER QUEEN through November 30th

Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews and Guest Posts w/ Debut Authors & Query Critique Giveaways

Kari Sutherland Query Critique & GRAVEMAIDENS Giveaway on 12/9/2019

Katelyn Detweiler Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 1/20/2020

Hilary Jacobson Query Critique & ALL THE STARS AND TEETH Giveaway on 2/5/2020

Megan Manzano Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 2/24/2020


Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have Annie Sullivan here to share about her new YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN. It’s set somewhere we don’t really see in fantasies that much—the desert—and sounds like a real page turner. I also interviewed Annie when she was a debut author last year and A TOUCH OF GOLD released. I’m excited to learn what it’s like to transition that first year of being an author.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom. Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Hi Annie! Thanks so much for visiting again!

1. For people who don’t know you, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

I’m the author of fantasy and fairytale retelling young adult novels. I love writing about strong female protagonists and characters who deserve their own story. I’ve been writing little stories since I was a kid, but I didn’t seriously start considering becoming a writer until college. I loved the creative writing classes I took, and from there, the rest is history.

2. TIGER QUEEN is a retelling of “The Lady, or the Tiger?” What made you decide to retell this story?

I read this short story in middle school, and the infamous cliffhanger ending always made me wonder what the true ending to the story might be. From there, I knew I had to retell this story and give it the ending that it always should have had. But in my version, I focus on a warrior princess who fights suitors in an arena to win her right to rule, but when her last opponent is announced as the one man she’s never been able to beat in fight, she has to scramble to keep her throne. But if she’s not careful, she’ll end up facing a tiger in the arena instead of her next opponent.

3. Your story is set in the desert. I’ve read that you did a really good job grounding your story in your setting. What research did you do in creating your world? Was there anything about it that surprised you as you created it?

Surprisingly, I wrote most of Tiger Queen while I was in Antarctica, which is actually one of the largest deserts because of how dry it is. So I turned the stretches of endless white and the spiraling snow into endless sand dunes and stinging sand blowing. But I also did a lot of research into desert creatures and desert characteristics so the desert felt real despite being a fantastical setting. Finally, I did work with a sensitivity reader just to be sure I wasn’t portraying any harmful stereotypes of desert cultures.

4. That's so funny that you wrote this in Antarctica. Kateri sounds like a strong protagonist determined to do what she has to for herself and her people. What was her character development like for you?

Kateri is one of the hardest characters I’ve ever written because she is so strong and stubborn. Her character arc really became one of showing that she could still keep her strength while opening up to people and asking for help. So I really enjoyed going on that journey with her, and I can’t wait for others to see how she grows through the story.

5. When did you write this story in relation to the release of A TOUCH OF GOLD? Was it challenging writing this on more of a deadline and while you at least had marketing to do for your first book?

I already had a draft of Tiger Queen written before A Touch of Gold ever came out. But I was revising while waiting for A Touch of Gold to release, and it’s hard to really put all your marketing on hold as you enter a whole new world and try to make it as perfect as you can. Plus, I was writing the sequel to A Touch of Gold in there too. So you really have to learn how to manage deadlines while still giving yourself time to have a life.

6. That would be challenging. Was the process of working with your editor the same or different for your second book than your debut book? Why?

I had a new editor for Tiger Queen, but I loved working with her. I think every editor brings something different to the table, and I took what I learned from my first editor and what my new editor taught me and combined them to create the best story I possibly could. So in the end, I think the book turned out even stronger because of that.

7. Looking back on your debut year, what are things that you think worked and didn’t work in terms of building your social media platform and marketing your book? What advice do you have to debut authors?

My best advice is to be where your readers are, so I try to reach people where they’re primed to be
thinking about books. And a lot of my readers are on Facebook and Instagram, so that’s where I focus my time, content, and ads on hashtags like #bookstagram and book groups on Facebook. I’ve tried sitting in local bookstores hoping I’ll sell books, but that doesn’t always work if the crowd just isn’t coming in that day.

My advice for debut authors is to build up your following by giving away books that are similar to yours. Build up a fan base of people who like similar things to your style and genre. Have entrants follow you and tag a friend or two to be entered—and hopefully those friends will come follow you too. Also, form a street team. Get them to start posting for you and helping spread the word because you can’t do it all yourself no matter how hard you try.

8. That's great advice. TIGER QUEEN released September 10, 2019. What have you been doing to promote it and what made you decide to this marketing plan?

I’ve been doing a lot of ads on Facebook and Instagram. I’ve always heard it takes someone seeing your book cover seven to eight times before they stop and take notice. So you really need them to see it over and over again, which you can do with targeted ads. My publisher also sent me on a tour this year, so it helps to get the word out that way as well. Otherwise, I’ve just been shouting from the rooftops about my book because you never know who might see it when you post about it.

9. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m finishing up the sequel to A Touch of Gold called A CURSE OF GOLD. It’s full of even more mythology and heart-pounding action! I can’t wait for readers to dive in when it releases in 2020. Plus, I’m working on a few new things, so stay tuned!

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

Annie has generously offered a hardback of TIGER QUEEN 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 November 30th. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 to wherever Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday, December 4th. Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Gratitude Giveway Hop hosted by by BookHounds. I am so grateful to Mary at BookHounds for continuing to host these giveaways because I know they take time for her organize. And I'm grateful to all of my followers because I would not enjoy my blog without your support. Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by, read my posts, and comment.

So here are your choices. I've got a combination of MG and YA books and recent books by followers that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Remember, 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 of this blog and leave a comment telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through November 30th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. I will also give you an extra entry if you follow me on Twitter and let me know this. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This giveaway is International as long as the Book Depository ships there for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari and my IWSG post

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!

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


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Kimberly Gabriel here to share about her YA thriller EVERY STOLEN BREATH. It sounds like a real page turner, and I can’t wait to read it. Not sure if any of you remember Kimberly. She used to have a blog and was a part of this group.


Before I get to Kimberly's post, I have my IWSG post.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

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

The co-hosts this month are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

I'm going to skip the optional question. I don't have much to report writing-wise because I've been
taking care of necessary things like figuring out my mom's and my health insurance for next year. I'm almost done with all my business and then I can thankfully focus on writing.

Instead, I'm going to shout out about C. Lee McKenzie's new contemporary YA NOT GUILTY that just released. I was lucky to read an ARC and really enjoyed it. Devon is a compelling character that my heart was with from page 1 of the story. This is a real page turner, and I found Devon's time in the Juvenile Hall realistic and riveting. The characters and mystery make this story fantastic. It was a real fast read for me, which doesn't always happen for me these  days. I highly recommend it. Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

A blood-smeared knife. One young man’s word against another. A lifetime dream crushed.

The evidence points to Devon Carlyle. He was there when it happened. Everyone knows he had it in for Renzo Costa. And Costa says Devon was the one. In the judge’s rap of a gavel Devon’s found guilty of assault. The star of the Oceanside High’s basketball team loses his shot at the one thing he’s worked so hard for—the championship game where college scouts could see how good he is.

Now he makes his great shots in Juvenile Hall with kids far different from those that have always been in his life.
Angry? Hell, yes.

He’s bent on finding who did the crime. He’s bent on making them pay because he’s Not Guilty.

And here are some links:

Now onto Kimberly's interview. Can't wait to read her book!!!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

The Swarm is unrecognizable, untraceable, and unpredictable—random attacks on the streets of Chicago by a mob of crazed teens that leaves death in its wake. It’s been two years since the last attack, but Lia Finch has found clues that reveal the Swarm is ready to claim a new victim.

Lia is the only one still pursuing her father’s killers, two years after attorney Steven Finch’s murder by the Swarm. Devastated and desperate for answers, Lia will do anything to uncover the reasons behind his death and to stop someone else from being struck down. But due to debilitating asthma and PTSD that leaves her with a tenuous hold on reality, Lia is the last person to mount a crusade on her own.

After a close encounter with the Swarm puts Lia on their radar, she teams up with a teen hacker, a reporter, and a mysterious stranger who knows firsthand how the mob works. Together, they work to uncover the master puppeteer behind the group. Though if Lia and her network don’t stop the person pulling the strings—and fast—Lia may end up the next target.

Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you so much for having me, Natalie. I’ve been a fan of Literary Rambles for over a decade, and I’m so thrilled to be here with you today!

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of it is from fourth grade, when I decided to make a mini-anthology of poems I’d written to give as a holiday gift to everyone I knew. I vividly remember spreading out sheets of poetry on the floor of my mom’s bedroom and binding them together with those sliding bar report covers that were really big in the eighties. Titled It’s Nice to Be Free, my bound “books” featured a poem about vampire babies and included the kind of laughable poetry only my mom could be proud of. But it sparked my dream to be a writer and publish a book one day. I didn’t take my writing seriously though until decades later. In 2010, I queried my first book, a 100,000 word YA paranormal with eight characters and eight (yes, eight) POVs. I made all the “first-book mistakes” writing it. When I queried it, however, it got some attention from agents—enough that I decided to write a second manuscript, which became EVERY STOLEN BREATH. 

2. My first book with all those first-book mistakes actually made it to acquisitions at a major publisher years ago. Then I realized it needed major revisions. Where did you get the idea for EVERY STOLEN BREATH?

I’ve always been drawn to sad books—the harder I cried, the more I enjoyed what I was reading. But then after experiencing my own trauma, I suddenly couldn’t handle sad books or even sad news stories, and I became drawn to thrillers and any story packed with tension. Then in 2011, a series of “flash-mob” attacks broke out in proclaimed safe areas of Chicago very close to where I lived. I remember reading stories where dozens of teenagers would suddenly emerge from the crowd and descend on one tourist to mug and attack. The stories terrified me so much that I eventually took that concept, made it worse, added elements of mystery and romance to it, and turned it into the basis of EVERY STOLEN BREATH.

3. My reading tastes changed too after I experienced a major trauma. Your book has been described as a real page turn with lots of plot twists. How did you plot out your story? What advice do you have for other writers on how to create such a good plot-driven story?

When I started EVERY STOLEN BREATH, I was still writing for me. I drafted the first half of it as a pantser with no idea where the story was going. Then when I hit the middle, my vision became very clear, and I plotted the rest of the book. For the longest time, I thought this was definitely the “wrong” way to write a book until I recently sat on a panel with Scott Westerfeld, a writer I’ve admired for years. After writing 28 books, he said he still writes this way. For my second book, I had to put together a proposal, which included a twenty-page synopsis. I’ve found that outline helps me stay on track for deadlines, but I find myself straying from it all the time.  

4. I hope I can get more into outlining like you. EVERY STOLEN BREATH is based in part on the mob violence in Chicago in 2011. How did you balance the truth of this event with creating your own story? Did you have to do research on the event?

The real attacks from 2011 had about twenty participants. Using texting and social media to communicate, the assailants would emerge from the crowd and descend upon a single victim to beat and mug. Those attacks were scary enough, but they really only sparked the idea in my story. From there, I started asking what if questions. What if the attacks were even bigger (50-100)? What if they became an epidemic? What if these attacks were organized and premeditated? For research, I read about attacks in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and wove in facts from those attacks into my writing.

5. It also sounds like Lia and the other characters in your story are really ones that pull at readers’ hearts. Share about Lia and how she developed as a character for you.

It took me a long time to figure out who Lia was and find her voice. My first drafts tend to focus on
the action of each scene. Then I flesh out voice and characterization during the revision process. For Lia, it took several stages of revisions before she really started to come alive on the page, but now she’s such a defined character in my head. Because of the physical violence in the book, I wanted a character who was mentally strong. Being a teacher, I see all types of strength, and very often, I see strength in my students who have struggles and push through them daily. Lia has asthma, anxiety, and PTSD, which she perceives are weaknesses. But her strength lies in her determination and her ability to persevere despite her challenges.

6. Jenny Herrera is your agent. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I found Jenny through querying. She set up a call after starting my manuscript, and I knew during that first phone conversation that she was the agent I wanted to work with. I ended up getting multiple offers, but Jenny’s vision for my manuscript and my career aligned so well with mine. Once I accepted representation from Jenny, she had me revise—she has a fantastic editorial eye. Then we went on sub a few months later. Luckily, Blink showed interest pretty early on in that process.

7. Good to know querying works. Besides being an author, you are a teacher, wife, and mother. I know you may have your summers off, but you still must have to work on your author career during the school year. How do you juggle it all and what advice do you have for others who work and want to get published?

I’ve become very good at compartmentalizing and staying present in the moment. I wake up every morning between 4 and 4:30, and I write for two hours. During that time, I try to stay focused on writing, and I try not to think about teaching or worry about my kids. Then, when I head to work for the day, I don’t think about writing. I stay focused on teaching. When I’m with my kids and husband in the evening, I stay present with them. That time, of course, is most important. Being a successful a writer, teacher, or mom, takes time and hard work, and I’m not willing to neglect any one of those three parts of my life. Luckily, I’m become very good at getting a lot done in a short amount of time. If I had any advice, it would be to make sure you’re still enjoying life. Hard work is only worth it in the end if you’re able to find joy and balance in what you’re doing.

8. That's great advice on how to stay productive. From your website, I see that you have already started going to events to promote your book. How did you get invited to the ALA Conference and the other events you have scheduled this fall?

My publisher set up my signing at ALA. I just spent back to back weekends at Heartland Fall Forum and Anderson’s YA Literature Conference and YA Fandom Frenzy. Later in November, I’ll be at the Alan Conference as part of NCTE. My publisher has been really great about sending me to conferences, and I’ve loved the opportunity to be a part of them.

9. How else are you planning to market your book?

In addition to conferences and festivals, I’ll be at book store events near Chicago, New York, Cleveland, and Baltimore in November and December. I’ll be giving a few school presentations throughout the year. I also remain active on Twitter and Instagram.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently juggling two projects. One of them is a new thriller that begins with a dead girl, a gamer, and a bus stop bench. And from there it spirals out of control with secrets, revenge, social media, regret, denial, and, of course, murder. Set in Chicago, this one has a slight paranormal twist to it, which I’m excited about.

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


Kimberly is generously offering a hardback of EVERY STOLEN BREATH 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 November 23rd. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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 to wherever Book Depository ships for free.

Here's what's coming up:

Thursday, November 14th I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Wednesday, December 4th I have a guest post with debut author Kelly Coon and her agent Kari Sutherland and a giveaway of Kelly's YA fantasy GRAVEMAIDENS and a query critique giveaway by Kari

Monday, December 9th I have an interview with debut author Kim Long and a giveaway of her MG contemporary LEXI MAGILL AND THE TELEPORTATION TOURNAMENT

Saturday, December 14th I'm participating in the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Thursday!


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Jessica Reino here. She is a junior literary agent at Metamorphosis Literary Agency.

Hi­ Jessica! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Jessica:

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

First off, thank you so much for having me! I officially came into my role as a Junior Agent this past August, but, while I am new to agenting, I am not new to the publishing industry. I am a multi-genre author myself and have worked for many years as a freelance editor. One of my favorite parts of editing was as a developmental editor working directly with authors. When I saw an internship open up with Metamorphosis, I jumped at the chance. I fell in love and the rest is history!
Since I am a new agent, I am still building my list and have been very busy reading queries, signing clients, and speaking with editors. It’s been a lot of fun and great to jump right in.

About the Agency:

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

As stated on our website, Metamorphosis Literary Agency’s mission is to help authors become traditionally published and we work with our authors to make sure that their projects are in the best possible shape. We have a great team of agents and interns who care about our clients and their careers. When you sign with Metamorphosis, it is very much a team atmosphere and that was one of the things that drew me to the agency as an agent.

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?

Right now, I represent MG and YA as well as adult projects in both fiction and nonfiction. While I am not looking to sign strictly PB authors, if an author has a MG or YA project as well as a PB, I would be open to that.
In fiction I’m looking to represent contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I’m looking to add more YA contemporary romance to my list as well.

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

I am a big advocate for invisible illnesses, chronic illness, autoimmune issues, and mental health so characters dealing with these are always welcome.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I’m not looking for picture books or anything historical at this time.

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 an agent, I am looking to sign authors for the scope of their career not just one project. We’re a team and I will always be honest and have my authors’ best interests. I want to work with authors who are willing to put in the hard work and be open to feedback and advice to make their work the best it can possibly be. I want to represent books that make an impact on their readers and evoke emotions.

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?

Absolutely! I am definitely an editorial agent and I think this comes from my background as a freelance editor. Before submitting to editors, I go over my authors’ manuscripts several times and make comments/suggestions utilizing Tracked Changes in Microsoft Word. We have a back and forth to make it the strongest manuscript it can possibly be before sending it off. I make a list of editors that I think would be a good fit and we discuss the list along with comments and revisions.

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 utilize Query Manager and authors can query me by going to this link:
The link is also posted on our Metamorphosis Literary Agency’s website under the Submissions tab.
In a query, I like to see the usual things like the word count and genre, but most importantly, I need to know what the book is about. If an author is querying me for a specific reason then that’s great, but if not, feel free to jump right into the query as long as it fits what I am looking for.
I also like to remind authors that the query letter is to entice an agent to read more. It is not meant to be a synopsis, but it does have to give enough information that I know what the book is going to be about.

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

Most queries I receive are professional and well-done. However, I have gotten a few that talk down to the suggested target audience, which is an automatic pass from me.

Response Time:

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

I try to give an initial response to queries within two weeks which would be either a pass or request for more pages. I am extremely behind in my partials and fulls. I am currently still reading my partials and fulls from August, but I hope to give a definitive response in the next few weeks. I have gotten some great manuscripts and thank you to all who have queried me with your work!

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?

Of course! With that being said, I cannot sell an already self-published work, but please feel free to query me with a new project. For self-published authors or authors who have been published with a small press, I think it is important to ask why they want an agent. Some authors I know who are self-published or who have sold to smaller presses are very content with doing it all themselves. I think it is important to decide what they want out of their writing career. There are a bunch of great resources to look for agents like Manuscript Wishlist, Twitter, writing or critique groups, other authors, and blog interviews like this.

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?

This is such a great question. The publishing landscape has changed immensely and I think the role of agents has definitely changed over the years to encompass giving assistance to their authors editorially or even giving advice about approaching social media/marketing although these things are not technically something an agent needs to do. First and foremost, and something that will never change, is that an agent is their client’s best advocate. Agents need to be able to advise clients on the right publishing path for them and their manuscript, as well as be knowledgeable of the marketplace to sell books.

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I have a wonderful group of authors. My clients include:
MG fantasy writer Stephenie Peterson;
YA gothic/paranormal fantasy writer Destiny Rae Smith;
YA contemporary writer Heather DiAngelis; and
Family Saga/Contemporary writer Rene Perez II.

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.

I was interviewed on Kate Foster’s blog this past August regarding how I work as an agent and what I’m looking for. Here is the link:

Links and Contact Info:

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

To submit a query, writers can query me through Query Manager. Here is the link again:
The link to our agency website is:
I can always be found on Twitter @JNRlitauthor
I run a monthly Twitter chat the first Sunday of every month at 8 PM (Eastern) to help writers stress less during the writing process #thewriterszen and would love to have anyone join in.

Additional Advice:

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

I can’t say this enough, but if you write, then you’re a writer. Own that title and be proud of the work you are doing. I think it is also important to say that this business is still subjective and what might not sell one minute might sell the next. Never write for trends, but write the story that you want to tell.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jessica.

Thanks so much for having me and for being such a great resource for writers!

­Jessica 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 November 9th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Katie Zhao here to share about her MG fantasy THE DRAGON WARRIOR. It sounds like a fantastic story steeped in Chinese mythology but set in modern times. I'm super excited to read it!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret.

Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon--and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year.

With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny?

Inspired by Chinese mythology, this richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

Hi Katie! Thanks for joining us.

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

I was born and raised in Michigan. From a young age, I loved reading, and knew I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I came to write for children because I’m a child at heart who simply loves children’s books. I strongly believe that not only are kids’ books fun to read, but they also are powerful in that they can shape readers’ minds from a young age. This is especially important to me because I am passionate about Asian American representation in literature.

Growing up in Michigan, I had access to a limited Asian American population, but mostly felt removed from the community. I struggled a lot with my identity as a child, and I wish more than anything that I could have grown up with stories featuring heroes who looked like me. Now that I’m older and have been fortunate enough to receive the opportunity to write those stories, I’m committed to writing Asian American protagonists for the next generation of Asian American children to be able to look up to.

 2. My daughter is adopted from China, and we wished there were more characters that looked like her too. Where did you get the idea for THE DRAGON WARRIOR?

work of Grace Lin. Much of the story, specifically the elements of Chinese mythology and culture, was inspired by the stories I consumed as a child - most notably the beloved Chinese cartoon Journey to the West, an animated adaptation of the classic text by Wu Cheng’en.

I created a cast of Chinese American characters based off the family and friends I knew, who I’d rarely seen represented in books before. Even the food that the characters eat during their quest is the food that I ate as a child (Asian snacks like Pocky, shrimp crackers, etc). I did my best to write THE DRAGON WARRIOR in the fun, adventurous, accessible manner of PERCY JACKSON, fusing together the stories I grew up with from two cultures to create THE DRAGON WARRIOR. Finally, the Chinatown settings are inspired by the family trips from my childhood; my parents always sought out Chinatowns wherever possible in each new travel destination.

3. Yum! My daughter and I love Pocky! I love that you set the story in San Francisco but is based on Chinese mythology. Were there challenges in mixing them vs. using an older setting in China?

I deliberately set THE DRAGON WARRIOR in a US-based Chinatown but incorporated Chinese mythology because I wanted the story to ring true to a Chinese American readership. Growing up as Chinese American, I always felt removed from the rich stories and mythology of China, and yet felt removed from Western stories as well. The greatest challenge in blending American and Chinese elements was doing so in a respectable manner. As a Chinese American, I have long worried that I’m not “Chinese” enough to claim to be part of China’s rich culture and mythology. I knew that no matter how much research I did, I’d probably get some of the Chinese mythology “wrong” in THE DRAGON WARRIOR. The greatest challenge was accepting that I did my best to write the Chinese American contemporary fantasy story of my heart, and that I’m enough, and that this story is enough.

4. I can relate to those worries because I'm writing a story about a Mexican-American girl. I've been in my husband's family for 30+ years but worry I'm not "deep" enough into the culture. What research did you do into the Chinese mythology you used in your story?

As I mentioned earlier, much of the story is based off of Wu Cheng’en’s classic tale JOURNEY TO THE WEST; luckily, that means I already did this research when I was a kid, watching the cartoon adaptation. Outside of that, I did online research and read various texts to learn more about Chinese mythology, like CHINESE MYTHOLOGY FROM A TO Z by Jeremy Roberts.

5. It sounds like Faryn, Alex, and the other characters have great voices and are memorable characters. Share a bit about your character development process.

Thank you! I’d like to think that my characters have great voice and are memorable, because in school my teachers always seemed to agree that “voice and style” was my strong suit. While developing my characters, I knew I wanted the protagonist to be a Chinese American girl (like me), who had a younger sibling (also like me - I have two, in fact). As I wrote and rewrote the story, the characters’ personalities came to me, more defined with each draft. It was almost like Faryn, Alex, Moli, and co. told me who they were, and as their author, I simply did my best to accommodate their interesting stories and personalities!

6. You graduated from University of Michigan in 2017 with a B.A. in English and Political Science, and you’re now pursuing a master’s degree there in Accounting. What’s your secret for juggling the demands of college with your writing career?

Well, I have since graduated with my accounting degree, and I’ve actually been working full time for the past year (since September 2018). It’s not easy, but I make time for my writing. I write on almost every lunch break at work, and often in the evenings after work as well. When I’m really crunched for time, I also write on my commute to and from work, since I take the train and don’t have much else to do for that time anyway. I also write on the weekends, which means I often have to say no to social outings to meet a deadline, but it’s worth it to me to be able to work my dream career.

7. That's true dedication to your writing! What was your road to obtaining representation by your agent and signing a book deal like?

I’ve known that I’ve wanted to be a published author since late elementary school. I started writing novels in eighth grade. During my senior year of high school, I seriously began pursuing publication with my fourth completed novel, which was also my first #ownvoices novel featuring a plus-sized Chinese American protagonist. I queried a bunch of agents, but it didn’t go anywhere, so I gave up on writing for three years while college life kept me busy.

During my fourth year of college while studying accounting, I realized that I was heading down a path that would only lead me further from my life’s greatest dream. I wrote intensely, and queried three separate projects during 2017 and early 2018. The third project I queried for only two weeks before receiving an offer of representation from my current literary agent, Penny Moore. Penny took the project onto submission to editors in March 2018, and two weeks later the book went to auction and we accepted an offer with Bloomsbury. When the cards fell into the right place, everything happened quickly, but I would still say that my road from publishing desire to fruition was not short by any means.

8. That's a great road to publication story. How are you planning to market THE DRAGON WARRIOR? What made you decide on your plan?

I’m mostly using Twitter and Instagram to market my book. Thankfully, my publisher (Bloomsbury) has taken the lead on reaching out to conferences and festivals for me to attend to pitch my book, which has been the most successful in terms of making connections with industry professionals and getting the word out there.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m currently in-between projects as I wait for my editor to send the next round of notes for the sequel to THE DRAGON WARRIOR. I also have a YA social thriller scheduled for publication in winter 2021, titled HOW WE FALL APART. It’s ONE OF US IS LYING meets CRAZY RICH ASIANS, and chronicles the story of four high-achieving Asian American students attending an elite prep school, who suddenly become the prime suspects when their valedictorian best friend turns up dead.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Katie. You can find Katie at her website (, Twitter (@ktzhaoauthor), and Instagram (@ktzhaoauthor).

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is hosted by Greg Pattridge. You can find the participating blogs on his blog.

Katie has generously offered an ARC of THE DRAGON WARRIOR 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 November 2nd. 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 or follow me on Twitter, 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.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, October 28th, I've got an agent spotlight interview with Jessica Reino and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, November 6th I have an interview with debut author Kimberly Gabriel and a giveaway of her YA mystery EVERY STOLEN BREATH and my IWSG post

Thursday, November 14th I'm participating in the Gratitude Giveaway Hop

Monday, November 18th I have an interview with author Annie Sullivan and a giveaway of her YA fantasy TIGER QUEEN

Hope to see you on Monday!