CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests


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

Kirsten Wolf Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 6/12/19

Connor Eck Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 7/10/19

Danielle Burby/Rosary Munda Guest Post & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/2/19

Stacy Glick/Jennifer Camicca Guest Post & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/14/19

JEANNE ZULICK FERRUOLO INTERVIEW AND RUBY IN THE SKY GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo here to share about her MG contemporary RUBY IN THE SKY. It sounds like it has a diverse cast of characters and deals with hard issues while staying positive. I can’t wait to read this! I even entered the Goodreads giveaway when writing out Jeanne’s questions, something I rarely do anymore.

Here’s a blurb:
When twelve-year-old Ruby Moon Hayes and her mother move to Vermont, Ruby’s goal is to stay as silent and invisible as a new moon in the frozen sky. She doesn’t want kids at school asking about her missing father or discovering that her mother has been arrested. But keeping to herself isn’t easy when Ahmad Saleem, a Syrian refugee in her class, decides he’s her new best friend. Or when she meets “the Bird Lady,” a recluse named Abigail who lives in a ramshackle shed near Ruby’s house. No one in town understands Abigail — people whisper about her, about her boarded-up house and the terrible secrets she must be hiding.

As Mom’s trial draws near and Abigail faces eviction, Ruby is forced to make a choice: break her silence or risk losing everyone she loves. Ruby’s story is about the walls we hide behind and the magic that can happen when we are brave enough to break free.
Ruby in the Sky has won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award for Middle Grade Fiction (2016), the PEN-New England, Susan Bloom Discovery Award (2016), the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature Award (2015), and the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship at the spring NE-SCBWI annual conference (2016). It will be published by Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan February 5, 2019.

  
Hi Jeanne! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

Hi! Thank you for having me! I don’t feel that I became a writer – as much as writing has always been a part of who I am. Growing up, I dealt with challenges by writing about them in journals (most of which I still have!). Writing gave me the perspective I needed to get through difficult times. But when I “grew up,” I didn’t know how to translate my love of writing into a career (or maybe I just didn’t have the confidence to try…) anyway, I ended up working in the United States Congress, and later as an attorney. In both settings, I experienced the power of the written word, firsthand. Ultimately, I returned to writing for my favorite audience – kids.

2. You're part of the trend of attorneys becoming writers! Where did you get the idea for RUBY IN THE SKY?

There are so many parts of Ruby that come from my life. The “spark” that ignited Ruby’s story emerged from a memory of an elderly neighbor who, every afternoon after school, would bring my brother and I to handfeed chickadees at an abandoned house in our rural town. It seemed so normal at the time (didn’t all kids do that?).  But now, amidst the noise of my present-day world, I think back to the quiet solitude of those visits – the neglected house in winter and the fact that this lonely man took time to make sure the birds were fed – and I realize how magical it all really was. That memory was the initial idea that outlined Ruby’s story, but so many more of my experiences have colored in the lines – especially the years I spent as a public defender.

3. That's great that you've drawn on your legal career. Your book tackles some hard issues—homelessness, a missing dad, and a mother who was arrested. Yet I’ve read that you kept a good balance of Ruby feeling sad and staying positive. How did you create this balance in your writing? What advice do you have about tackling hard topics like this in a middle grade novel?

I once heard an interview in which Natalie Babbitt was asked if she thought children should be exposed to difficult topics (such as death in Tuck Everlasting). She gave a marvelous answer about how children face tragedy all the time, and are much more resilient than given credit. I completely agree. As a public defender for many years, I met the children of my clients who came to criminal court with their parents. In my experience, these kids were incredibly brave and resilient. Beauty and strength can be found in some of the most difficult situations. I wanted to make sure Ruby realized that strength, too.
  
4. Ruby’s new friend is Ahmad, a Syrian refugee in her class. How did you learn about his culture enough to feel like you could accurately portray him in your story?

I love this question because I get to talk about the AMAZING refugees I have been so honored to
meet through the organization, Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRISCT.org) in New Haven, CT. A group of young men and women refugees read Ruby as paid cultural consultants. Over several months, we met and discussed the story. I learned so much from these amazing young men and women and am still in awe of their stories, insight, intelligence and courage. I am so lucky that I’ve been able to continue to work with IRIS and continue to meet people who inspire me every day.

5. That's great how you connected with refugees. Your story is really about memorable characters that grow with the story, especially Ruby. What did you learn about character development from writing your story and what advice do you have for the rest of us?

I learned a lot about the value of time – especially taking the time to live with your characters. Over the course of writing Ruby, I took time to live with each character and get to know them. I don’t know how else to explain it, but it got so that I was so excited to get back to my manuscript just so I could re-enter their world and spend more time with each of them.

6. Your book has won the SCBWI Work-in-progress Award in the Middle Grade Category (2016), the PEN-New England, Susan Bloom Discovery Award (2016), the Tassy Walden, New Voices in Children’s Literature Award (2015), and the Ruth Landers Glass Scholarship at the spring NE-SCBWI conference (2016). Wow! Share about how this all came about and how this helped you improve your writing and story.

For me, submitting to contests was a way to critically improve my writing. But, it is important to know that with each of the aforementioned successes came many rejections. But I never gave up. With each submission, I revised, tightened and re-worked Ruby’s story, making it better and better. The Tassy Walden Award was Ruby’s first success and it changed everything for me. I am so honored that Ruby has been recognized by each of these organizations and am so grateful for each vote of confidence that kept me writing, revising, submitting, and ultimately led to publication.

7. Your agent is Stacey Glick. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?
8. I read on your website that you were part of Brenda Drake’s pitch wars community in 2016. What was that like and how did it help your writing?

The answer to both of these questions actually go together! PitchWars was an incredible experience. My mentors were the amazing authors Laura Shovan and Tricia Clasen. When I think of those months working with them on Ruby, I seriously tear-up with nostalgia because it was such an incredible experience. Ruby in the Sky had won a lot of awards, but the story still wasn’t working. Laura and Tricia really dug into my manuscript to help me find the heart of Ruby’s story. The entire PitchWars community was kind and nurturing and so amazingly supportive…and let’s not forget talented! It was a phenomenal experience that led me to my wonderful agent, Stacey Glick! Stacey requested my manuscript from the Agent Showcase at the culmination of PitchWars. I had seen Stacey speak at the Rutgers One-on-one conference and already admired her so much. So, when she offered representation, I was beyond thrilled.

9. That's a great story! How are you marketing your book when it releases? What made you decide to promote your book in this way?

I am a member of the #Novel19s and would highly recommend joining a debut group. Even though I haven’t had the opportunity to meet any of my fellow debut novelists in person (yet), I already feel like I know them. Everyone has been so supportive and encouraging – like a big kid-lit family. I’ve reached out to area schools, bookstores and libraries and have already begun setting up talks and even a graduation address! Additionally, I was a Girl Scout leader for many years and have reached out to scout organizations. My goal is to meet as many young readers as possible!

10. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on another middle grade novel titled A Galaxy of Sea Stars:
As Izzy Vitale (12) begins sixth grade at the new regional middle school, she wants nothing more than to keep her tight-knit group of friends – dubbed the Sea Star Posse since kindergarten – together. But when Sitara (12) and her family leave Afghanistan and move into the upstairs apartment at the marina where Izzy lives with her father and grandmother, Izzy begins to realize there exists a world much larger than her small, safe harbor in Seabury, Rhode Island. When someone starts leaving hateful notes in Sitara’s locker, Izzy is determined to find their source. But what she learns will force Izzy to make a decision:  remain silent and betray Sitara or speak up for what she knows is right and possibly lose the Sea Star Posse forever.  A Galaxy of Sea Stars is a story about family, loyalty, and the hard choices we face in the name of friendship.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jeanne! You can find Jeanne at:






Jeanne has generously offered an ARC of RUBY IN THE SKY for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 9th. 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. This giveaway is U.S.

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

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, February 6th I have a guest post by debut author Addie Thorley with her agent Katelyn Detweiler with a giveaway of Addie's YA historical fantasy AN AFFAIR OF POISONS and a query critique giveaway by Katelyn

Monday, February 11th I have an interview with debut author Astrid Scholte and a giveaway of her YA fantasy FOUR DEAD QUEENS

Wednesday, February 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amy Stapp

Monday, February 18th I'm off for President's Day

Monday, February 25th I have a guest post by Mary Kole who has her own editorial service

Hope to see you on Wednesday, February 6th!




AMY TIPTON INTERVIEW AND QUERY CRITIQUE/FIRST FIVE PAGES CRITIQUE


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Amy Tipton here to share about her editorial service, Feral Girl Books. She is also a former literary agent and brings this experience to her new venture.

Hi Amy! Thanks so much for joining us!

1.  Tell us a bit about yourself and your experience as a literary agent.

I graduated from Naropa University with a B.A. in Writing and Literature and received my MFA from New College of California in Writing. I have been working in the publishing industry for 13 years and started freelance editing in 2018. Prior to that, I was a literary agent at Signature Literary Agency since 2009. (I first stepped into the role of literary agent at Peter Rubie Literary Agency, now FinePrint Literary Management, in 2007.) I started out as an assistant and office manager at several agencies including JCA Literary Agency, Diana Finch Literary Agency, Gina Maccoby Literary Agency, and Liza Dawson Associates, as a book scout for Aram Fox, Inc., and as a freelance editor for Lauren Weisberger (author of The Devil Wears Prada). My years of experience culling books from the slush pile gives me confidence I can help you too!

2. What made you decide to start your editorial service Feral Girl Books? How long have you been providing this service?

One of my brilliant (ex) writers (sob!), Lyn Fairchild Hawks, wrote an awesome blog post, praising my editorial/hands-on agenting style and (ironically enough) that blog post made me realize I am pretty great! That blog post gave me confidence in my editorial skills. I will forever be grateful to her—and all the writers who allowed me to work with them—for building me up.

I did think about opening up my own agency—I did research—but a friend who runs her own agency said you can’t be creative, or as creative as you want, since it’s more paperwork/business stuff. So I just decided to go the freelance editor route. (Not to say there isn’t paperwork or business stuff involved but it’s certainly less.)

It wasn’t an easy decision. I knew I was turning 40, I knew most of the stuff I represented wasn’t big or splashy—these books weren’t necessarily blockbuster/fun reads—and I knew that if I was getting older and unwilling to sacrifice my tastes in literature (which, h-e-double hockey sticks n-o), I’d need to find a way to survive—and not on handouts from my mom or living off my husband’s paycheck. I knew I had a skill and wanted to use it. I say it wasn’t an easy decision, but maybe it was? I love writers. ALL writers. It was a no-brainer I was going to keep working with them in some capacity.

Just 4-5 months ago, I officially quit agenting and started FGB.

I had worked—for a major publisher—as a freelance editor (just doing some light proofreading/being a second pair of eyes), so it just kinda seemed natural. And since I have always been drawn to females/female voices, opening up an editorial service for women (including female-identifying and genderqueer writers) just fit. I am pretty in-your-face female and like Lala called Stassi (on Season 6 of Vanderpump Rules) a “gangster b*tch” for being unapologetic, for speaking her mind, I say me too! I am a bit of a “gangster b*tch” myself. Hahaha!

(This is not just a service for those looking for an agent either … Maybe there’s already an agent in the picture BUT they are less editorial-minded or they are busy and you are going on sub or got an RR from an editor … Maybe you’re self publishing … Whatever the situation, consider me your professional CP!)

3. What editorial services do you provide?

Any and all! I am easily persuaded! Hahaha!

I’ll do query letters (in my 13 [almost 14] years as an agent, I read a lot of them so know I can help) and I have even started doing consulting work—looking over submission lists (basically, seeing what agent/agency fits your book best [you provide the list—I am not going to create one for you] which is surprisingly fun)—it’s not something a lot of freelance editors do. (Or can do as well—mind you, I was an agent and I do know this industry…)

 I also offer developmental reads (both partials and fulls). This is my favorite kind of edit–looking at character, dialogue, plot, and pacing. A good developmental read might cut/rearrange/entirely reshape the manuscript; it can be hard for authors to accept this criticism but it will make a stronger book. (However, if your manuscript is already great, this read confirms it–not much work will need to be done.) A developmental read is pretty much the last read you need before a copy edit/proofread.

I do offer copy editing and proofreading but it’s light—I am not (and was not) an official copy editor or proofreader—but it’s better (probably a lot better) than the average writer’s (just FYI)…

I’d also like to add that I work FAST. I can do a query in a day and read a full in about a week/week and a half!—if timing is right… (In an industry known for being slow, I actually work very fast/efficiently. There are plenty of testimonials on my website that corroborate this too!)

4. What genres and age groups do you represent?

My specialty has always been reality-based, girl-centric YA–I believe in truthful storytelling, even if/when hard to tell/read. But I also enjoy awkward, goofy, light-hearted romances (including chick lit or beach reads and Bridget Jones is a perfect character!—just sayin’…) and fun-filled adventures as well as bone-chilling, spooky stories and quirky paranormal or fantastical tales. I also love mysteries and murder and love that podcast, My Favorite Murder, and Megan Abbott and Gillian Flynn and Tana French are three amazing dark/thriller/mystery writers I adore and that type of book is a treat to work on!

Also, when I work with bigger pub houses, I tend to work on [adult] romance—so I am quite adept in that area as well.

5. Is there anything that you would be especially excited to work on?

See the books/authors I repped—those are the types of stories I’d like BUT…

How about I pick 4 books—1 adult, 1 YA, 1 MG, & 1 nonfiction book—I recently enjoyed and wish I could work on something similar?

Adult: Vox by Christina Dalcher. (Though, Shame On You by Amy Heydenrych is a very close second! And I have My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite in my TBR pile—I can’t wait…)

YA: This is SO hard (there are many, many worthy YAs!) but let’s say The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas (but I loved Loved LOVED The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks—but it’s older so…). I am also dying to read Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (it’s in my TBR pile)!

MG: Breakout by Kate Messner AND Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (it’s a tie).

Nonfiction: Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper and/or Bye Felipe: Disses, Dick Pics, and Other Delights of Modern Dating by Alexandra Tweten (I can’t pick).

I’d also be remiss to not mention the collection Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft here (it’s just so good)!

6. Has being an agent helped you in providing editorial services to your clients? How?

I forget I know things! Haha! But I definitely think my experience as an agent has helped me tremendously. I have knowledge and access that the average freelance editor might not; I also know people in this industry that your average freelance editor might not.

7. At what point in revising a manuscript can an author best benefit from your services? Why?

I say if you’re looking for an agent, I’d love to help you before (to minimize rejections) but I am helpful at any stage of the sub process, really. If you get an RR (revise/rewrite & resubmit)—from an agent or editor (and you find your agent is not as editorial or busy and/or you feel neglected), I am available!

If you’re self publishing, you might want a second pair of eyes at the end—I’d be delighted to read!

8. Share a bit about your focus when providing editorial services? Is it on improving the plot, character development, etc.?

I do have a creative eye and I find it hard to turn off parts of my brain—like compartmentalize plot and characters and world building, etc. I can’t just say to myself Ok, today we’re only looking at plot/plot holes… I read the book entirely and make notes about EVERYTHING. (I even make little “fixes” such as commas or misspellings.) I might focus more on plot/plot holes or character or dialogue—whatever—if the writer requests it. (This is also super beneficial to self published folks, just sayin’…)

9. There are a lot of editorial services out there. What should a writer consider when trying to find an editor that is a good fit for him/her?

You should look at their track record, their experience, who the editor worked with prior/what they tend to work on now (like you wouldn’t necessarily want a children’s editor for your erotica, right?)—just research, see who’s said what, and go with your gut.

I have been in this industry for years—I’ve sold lots of books (one of those books just made it as a NYT Best Seller), I have done interviews, been to conferences and my bio lists agencies I’ve worked for—I am quite easy to research! I think (I hope! hahaha!) that makes me legit!

10. How can a writer using your service obtain the most benefit from your critique?

I’d like to say, you will benefit the most if you just do what I say (ha!), but that’s not appropriate, is it?

11. Who are some of the authors and writers that you have worked with?

Well, as an agent, I got to work with a lot of well known writers—like Courtney Summers and Amy Reed and Kirstin Cronn-Mills and Paul Greci and Barbara Stewart and Katya de Becerra and Kayla Ancrum and Jennifer Fenn … They’re all YA authors. But I also had the privilege of working with adult writers such as Marci Blackman and Kathy Cooperman and Scot Sothern and Lynn Zubernis (of Fangasm—she did the TV Supernatural anthology). This just a small example of the writers I was proud to have on my list …

You might not know—I worked with them before they published—I also worked with Victoria Schwab, Tahereh Mafi, Suzanne Young, and Daisy Whitney. I am thrilled at their success—so happy for them! They are crazy talented ladies and deserve nothing but the best! (Again, I have nothing to do with their published books except Victoria’s debut, The Near Witch…)

12. How can people interested in using your service contact you? How quickly do you respond to an inquiry and how long does it take for you to provide a critique?

Query me by telling me a bit about your project and what you hope I can do for you, also send the first 5 pages included in the body of your email. (Just like you would for an agent.)

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

feralgirlbooks@gmail.com

Amy is generously offering a query or first five-page critique giveaway--winner's choice. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 26th. 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. This giveaway is international.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, January 21st I'm off

Monday, January 28th I have an interview with debut author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo and a giveaway of her MG contemporary RUBY IN THE SKY

Wednesday, February 6th I have a guest post by debut author Addie Thorley with her agent Katelyn Detweiler with a giveaway of Addie's YA historical fantasy AN AFFAIR OF POISONS and a query critique giveaway by Katelyn

Monday, February 11th I have an interview with debut author Astrid Scholte and a giveaway of her YA fantasy FOUR DEAD QUEENS

Wednesday, February 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amy Stapp

Monday, February 18th I'm off for President's Day

Monday, February 25th I have a guest post by Mary Kole who has her own editorial service

Hope to see you on Monday, January 28th!


DEMETRA BRODSKY INTERVIEW AND DIVE SMACK GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Demetra Brodsky here to share about her YA psychological thriller DIVE SMACK. The blurb already has me intrigued. Demetra’s book released in June 2018 so I’m excited to pick her brain about what worked and what didn’t when her book released.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Theo Mackey only remembers one thing for certain about the fire that destroyed his home: he lit the match.

Sure, it was an accident. But the blaze killed his mom and set his dad on a path to self-destruction. Everything else about that fateful night is full of gaping holes in Theo’s mind, for good reason. Maybe it’s better that way. As captain of the Ellis Hollow Diving Team, with straight A's and solid friends, he's only one semester away from securing a scholarship, and leaving his past behind.

But when a family history project gets assigned at school, new memories come rushing to the surface, memories that make him question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.

Hi Demetra! Thanks so much for joining us!

Thank you so much for having me. I’m so happy to share my writing journey with Literary Rambles readers.

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

I have a B.F.A. from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. I’m a three-time award winning Designer/Art Director. But the way I became a writer was a bit circumstantial. I lost my job as an Artist Manager in 2009 during the recession, like so many other people who were negatively affected, and decided to turn what some might see as a negative setback into an opportunity to follow a lifelong dream. I started freelancing designing and visiting the library with my youngest daughter who was devouring the Percy Jackson novels at the time. Being a first generation Greek American, the novels piqued my interest and led me to think about how much I’ve always wanted to write a book, even though I was pushed by family as a teenager to do something they deemed more practical. I took the chance I had, for better or worse, to freelance and dive (pun acknowledge, not intended) into writing. I knew virtually nothing about writing a book, but I set off for my local library to read as many books on the craft of writing as I could carry. That led to my first manuscript, which was, of course, a Greek Mythology. The rest is a long string of workshops, conferences, queries, and rejections until I was lucky enough to find representation that led to the publication of my debut novel.

2. Great how you transformed a hard situation into a positive change in your life. Where did you get the idea for DIVE SMACK?

I’ve always been drawn to stories about dark family secrets, but one of the seminal ideas for Dive Smack came from my friendship with 1992 Olympic Springboard Diver, Karen LaFace. The other comes from my love of hearing about people’s personal histories, as well as hearing about my own family’s history. My parents are Greek immigrants, and I’ve heard so many stories, both heartwarming and horrific about their lives, and the lives of my grandparents, that I began toying with the idea of writing a book about a boy who goes looking into his mother’s past. While I was deciding on a sport to give him, the idea for springboard diving presented itself as a great metaphor for his life spinning out of control. There’s a little more to it than that, but diving deeper into the novel’s inspiration would spoil all the twists.

3. What a great way to come up with an idea for a story.Your story sounds like a real page turner from reviews I read. How did you plot this out and make it a gripping story you don’t want to put down?

Thank you for the compliment. I did lay down a lot of breadcrumbs throughout the story and the way
I did that was by editing while I wrote the drafts, if I’m being honest. I know there’s a lot of advice out there that advises drafting quickly, but that’s not a technique that works for me. If I put something on page eighty-seven that I know I can reference with a hint on, let’s say, page seven, I go back and put that breadcrumb in, or at least a note to self that reminds me to do so, before going forward. The DIVE SMACK that eventually got printed is version thirteen of the story. I guess we can say some of those breadcrumbs got gobbled up in the revising. But if you read Dive Smack more than once, after getting through the twists and reveals, you should be able to spot the clues I left for the reader.

4. I write a lot like you. This is a psychological thriller with Theo trying to figure out what happened the night his mom died. What are some things you learned from writing this story about writing in this genre? 

DIVE SMACK taught me how much I prefer writing about monsters that exist in our everyday lives over mythical ones. Truth be told, Scooby Doo probably taught me that as I child, and I’ve held onto my love of seeing real monsters being unmasked by clever teens. I also learned to hold back gratification in order to make a reader suffer, by dropping smaller clues that built on each other over the course of a story. And I learned that I had the ability to scare myself. I really wanted DIVE SMACK to keep readers teetering on the edge of a proverbial diving board while they read.

5. Share a bit about Theo, your main character. Was it challenging at all to write from a male POV? Why? 

I honestly never had a problem writing from a male POV. Theo came to me fully formed. I always knew I was going to write this from his perspective. For me, writing is a bit like method acting. I just wholly assumed the characterization. I have two daughters, and I’m the youngest of three girls. My mother is also one of three daughters, and my father is the only male child in his family with five sisters. I guess that makes me a bit of outlier when it comes to writing what you know, but perhaps having a lot of male friends in high school helped.

Theo Mackey is a high school springboard diver that outwardly appears to have it all. He has good grades, good friends, and the girl he’s interested in is finally beginning to take notice. But underneath this façade there’s a darkness. He believes he’s responsible for the fire that took his mother’s life. And his dad, having never recovered from her death, dies in an car accident a year later. This leave Theo living with his alcoholic grandfather, a former fire chief that has no idea Theo feels responsible for the fire. To keep his grades up, Theo starts popping Adderall, a prescription given to him by his Uncle Phil, a psychiatrist and head of research at the local psychiatric hospital. When Theo gets assigned a family history project at school, new memories about the night of fire come rushing to the surface, making Theo question what he really knows about his family, the night of the fire, and if he can trust anyone—including himself.

Here are some random facts about Theo Mackey and why I love him:
He would do anything for his friends.
He likes his best friend Chip’s house better than his own.
He’s afraid of failure.
His crush on Iris Fiorello is hardcore.
He does the right thing even when he doesn’t want to.
He has two moles on his face.
He likes classic rock.
His car is named after Bumblebee the Transformer.
His teammates call him The Big Mack because he’s tall for a diver.

6. Your agents are Suzie Townsend and Devin Ross. How did they become your agents and what was your road to publication like? I know that you’ve described it as bumpy.

Suzie and Devin are amazing, first off, but they weren’t my first agents. I was represented by someone else for four years, and that’s the agent that sold Dive Smack. As you get further along in this business you start to assess what kind of partnership you want for your career. I adored my first agent, but I was looking for an agent, or agents in my case, that were a bit more proactive and could give me strong direction in terms of marketing, publicity, and my long-term career goals. It was a hard decision to leave my first agent and query again, considering it took me six years to find the first one, but in the end I know I made the right decision. I couldn’t be happier about my team, and I’m grateful every single day that they brought me into the New Leaf Literary family.

In terms of my journey being bumpy, I think new authors often fantasize that once they get the first book deal all the subsequent books will fall easily into place. That’s the dream, but it wasn’t the case for me. I offered my next book to my editor, and she didn’t love it enough to want to take on the project. That was quite a blow, because that book is hands down my favorite book I’ve written. When I was done licking my wounds, I went back to her with 13 new pitches and she chose the one that she liked the most, and that’s the book I’m currently working on.

7. I like your idea of pitches to an editor before writing a whole book. Your book released about seven months ago. What has surprised you about the time leading up to your book release and the months afterward? 

One of the things that surprised me the most around the entire publishing process was how slowly everything moves along, at least initially. Timelines quickly turns into a frenetic race to get everything done in the month or two leading to publication. Those two months are when the publisher and the author are trying to build awareness and momentum for the book and you’re answering a lot of interview questions and going to events and conferences, all while planning your launch party. In the months after, it’s important to keep that momentum going, which is no small feat. I had it in my head that people must be getting sick of hearing about my book, but I also didn’t want it to fall out of sight. I think there’s a delicate and precarious balance between keeping awareness going and cramming your book down the everyone’s social media feeds.

8. What did you do to promote your book both leading up to its release and once it did release? What do you think worked and what didn’t? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Bloggers, like yourself, have been a godsend for me. I reached out to some bloggers a few months before release, choosing a handful that posted about loving thrillers, and so many of them got back to me with great enthusiasm. Not only that, they helped me make contact with other bloggers in their circle, and the love for DIVE SMACK spread outward from those connections. They raised so much awareness for my book, helped me with giveaways and cross-promotion, invited me to be a guest on their podcasts, and hosted blog tours. I honestly couldn’t have done it without them. They were a lifeline filled with hope and possibility that made the journey so enjoyable. Another thing I did was get on the phone with an outside publicist, suggested to me by favorite blogger. I spoke to that publicist for an hour, which worked for my budget, and she made some valuable suggestions about my social media marketing efforts. I joined International Thriller Writers, who has an incredible debut author program. I reached out to different festivals and said yes to any and all panels invitations. I also joined forces with other debut thrillers authors so we could put together monthly group giveaways. That was fun and a great way to gain more followers and readers.

One of my biggest and best supporters is Mysterious Galaxy, my local bookstore here in San Diego. The owners and booksellers were instrumental in spreading the word about my book. They even got it into the local newspaper, and helped get me a spot on a panel at Comic Con International. I am so grateful to have this incredible, and actively bookish group of people so close to home. They once introduced me before a panel by saying I felt like family. The feeling is mutual.

There wasn’t anything I found that didn’t work. All awareness for a book is good awareness. If I had to do anything differently, I might have started making new contacts at least six months or more before publication to accommodate the schedules of bloggers. 

9. All this is such great advice. Thanks for sharing everything that worked for you. Now that you have gone through a debut book release, what advice do you have for other writers who will become a debut author in the future?

Learn about book marketing and try to develop a plan for how you’re going to raise awareness for you book early on. Make schedules and stick to them. And above all else be gracious, giving, and kind to bloggers and booksellers. Many of them blog and evangelize the books they love for free and on their own time, out of a place of devotion to reading, and they are truly the most giving group of people I’ve ever met.

10. What are you working on now?

At the moment, my projects are slightly under wraps, but I can say I have a YA thriller about three sisters who uncover some secrets close to home, and maybe the end of the world as we know it. I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to . . . Well, I’m a thriller writer, you know how the rest of that saying goes. But please, stay tuned for things to news to come. I’m looking forward to making some announcements soon.

Thanks so much for sharing, Demetra. You can find Demetra at:

Instagram: @demebrodsky
Twitter: @demetrabrodsky.
Tumblr: http://demetrabrodsky.tumblr.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32173182-dive-smack
Website: http://www.demetrabrodsky.com

Demetra has generously offered a signed hardback of DIVE SMACK for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 19th. 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. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up

Monday, January 14th I have an interview with Amy Tipton, a former agent who has an editorial service with a query critique or five-page critique giveaway--winner's choice

Monday, January 21st I'm off

Monday, January 28th I have an interview with debut author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo and a giveaway of her MG contemporary RUBY IN THE SKY

Wednesday, February 6th I have a guest post by debut author Addie Thorley with her agent Katelyn Detweiler with a giveaway of Addie's YA historical fantasy AN AFFAIR OF POISONS and a query critique giveaway by Katelyn

Monday, February 11th I have an interview with debut author Astrid Scholte and a giveaway of her YA fantasy FOUR DEAD QUEENS

Wednesday, February 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amy Stapp

Hope to see you on Monday!

GITA TRELEASE INTERVIEW AND ENCHANTÉE GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST


Happy New Year and Happy Wednesday! Hope you had a fantastic holiday season. I actually had time off this year and really relaxed, enjoyed family and friends, and read a lot. It was great. And I'm excited for this new year in general. I already have many agent query critique opportunities for those who are interested as well as some great debut author interviews scheduled. Hope you're excited for 2019 too.

Today I have debut author Gita Trelease here to share about her YA historical fantasy ENCHANTÉE and the setting of the story in the French Revolution in 1789. It sounds like a great page turner with a great setting. 

Before I get to my interview, 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:  Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

I'm going to skip the optional question this month. I just want to share that I am finally getting more excited about my writing and started writing on a more regular basis over the holidays. It feels really good. Not sure if it's just for myself or going further, but it doesn't really matter. I'm enjoying the creative process.

I'm at the point in my story where I have to confront the blank pages and put words down. That's the hardest part for me. I'm outlining as I write my chapters. But I wrote sentences at the bottom of the outline of the scenes I know that I need. I think that will keep me motivated and confident that I can write the chapters I still need. I have about 80 solid pages written, but I still have many pages to go. So no insecurities for me this month. 

To top it off, I'm going to be an IWSG co-host next month. My first time. I'm excited.

What about you? Where are you in your writing?


Now let's get back to Gita's fascinating interview. Here’s a blurb of ENCHANTÉE from Goodreads

Paris in 1789 is a labyrinth of twisted streets, filled with beggars, thieves, revolutionaries—and magicians...

When smallpox kills her parents, Camille Durbonne must find a way to provide for her frail, naive sister while managing her volatile brother. Relying on petty magic—la magie ordinaire—Camille painstakingly transforms scraps of metal into money to buy the food and medicine they need. But when the coins won’t hold their shape and her brother disappears with the family’s savings, Camille must pursue a richer, more dangerous mark: the glittering court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

With dark magic forbidden by her mother, Camille transforms herself into the ‘Baroness de la Fontaine’ and is swept up into life at the Palace of Versailles, where aristocrats both fear and hunger for la magie. There, she gambles at cards, desperate to have enough to keep herself and her sister safe. Yet the longer she stays at court, the more difficult it becomes to reconcile her resentment of the nobles with the enchantments of Versailles. And when she returns to Paris, Camille meets a handsome young balloonist—who dares her to hope that love and liberty may both be possible.

But la magie has its costs. And when Camille loses control of her secrets, the game she's playing turns deadly. Then revolution erupts, and she must choose—love or loyalty, democracy or aristocracy, freedom or magic—before Paris burns…
 

Hi Gita! Thanks so much for joining us. 

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

Thanks so much for having me, Natalie! I read your blog before querying so it feels like coming full circle to do this interview. I started writing in grade school, and dreamed of being a writer even back then. In high school and college I thought of myself as a poet, but no one encouraged me to write and I couldn’t see how it could become a career—this was before the huge surge in the YA market. After college, I decided to get a PhD in literature and embarked on an academic career. I really loved teaching, but deep down, I knew I wanted to write a novel. It took me a long time to let go of the safety of doing something I knew I was good at in order to wade into the unknown.

2. Yes, it's hard to let go of the security of a career that provides a pay check. Glad you could take the plunge. Where did you get the idea for ENCHANTÉE?

I had a daydream in which I saw a girl sitting at a gilded desk, writing a letter. Somehow I knew the ink she was using was made from her tears. When I looked closer, I could tell she was at the palace of Versailles, and the idea grew from there. I love characters who travel between worlds, so I gave her magic made from sorrow—the one thing she had plenty of—to help her move between the decadent world of the French court and the gritty streets of Paris. Around the same time, I happened to read a true story of a girl who rescued a hot-air balloonist in the 1780s—so that had to go in the book, too. Those three things—Paris, the magic, and the balloon—were the beginning.

3. That's such a cool way to get a story idea. What research did you do about the French Revolution? What advice do you have for other writers who want to write a part historical story?

While I would have loved to have had a time machine, nearly as good was immersing myself in historical documents from that time: letters, journals, newspapers, memoirs, political cartoons, music, and paintings that gave me a vivid sense of what it was like to be alive then. I was also lucky enough to be able to travel to Versailles and Paris, where many of the settings in ENCHANTÉE are still the way they were in 1789. As for advice, I’d say that if you want to set a story in the past, you should read and research until that world seems as real and alive to you as 2019, because then you’ll be able to vividly recreate the past for your readers.
  
4. Your story has been described as having high stakes and being a page turner. How did you plot this out and keep the pace moving? 

ENCHANTÉE is my first novel, and I pretty much “pantsed” the first draft, having only the vaguest sense of what the story arc was. Reading a lot of craft books about story structure—Story Engineering, The Secrets of Story, Anatomy of Story—helped me see that by fine-tuning the important plot points (for example, a midpoint event that turns everything upside down) I could create more conflict for my protagonist and raise the stakes.

5. You were a teacher of writing and fairy tales. How has this influenced your writing process?

 I fell in love with Grimms’ fairy tales when I was little, and teaching fairy tales and cultural history
to teenagers helped me see how important these stories could be. Because I spent so much time reading and talking about fairy tales, they’ve seeped into my writing: in many ways, ENCHANTÉE is a Cinderella story (the Grimms’ version) and my next book has echoes of “Bluebeard.” In terms of teaching writing, I learned that revision is the most important part of creation—no matter what you’re writing. In the first draft of a 450-page novel, you might have one or two chapters that come out perfectly. The rest comes together through revision after revision.

6. Good to know how important the revision process is. It's my favorite part of writing! Share a bit about Camille, your main character and how she grew as you wrote her story.

 At the beginning of the story, Camille finds herself caring for her fragile sister after their parents die of smallpox. She’s determined to make a better life for her and her sister, but chafes against the injustice of what she has to go through to make it happen. Torn between being responsible and wanting to be free, Camille makes some dangerous mistakes, but because she’s willing to face the consequences of what she’s done, she’s able to grow into a stronger person by the end of the story.

7. Your agent is Molly Ker Hawn. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like? 

My road to publication was unusual, because after spending two and a half years writing the book, everything happened so fast. When the manuscript was as good as I could make it, I queried a small group of agents who seemed like they would be a good fit for my manuscript. I got a request for a full within 24 hours, and my first offer soon thereafter. I was lucky to have many great offers, but in the end it came down to a feeling of who would suit me best as a partner in my writing career, and that was Molly. She’s insightful and knowledgeable, and has a ton of experience both as a former editor and an agent; she also has a great sense of humor and is always in my corner. After I signed with her, she gave me several pages of excellent revision notes. I revised nonstop for two weeks and then we went on sub! It was a whirlwind—my book sold at auction ten days later.

8. Wow! That is fast. How are you preparing to promote your book? What advice do you have for other debut authors? 

I’ve run giveaways, become more active on social media, and expanded my network of readers, author friends, and bloggers. I’m doing interviews for blogs and podcasts, and I look forward to attending festivals this year. I feel very lucky to have a publisher, Flatiron Books, that does a wonderful job of getting my book out there. My advice for other debut authors would be to join a debut group, find a few close writer friends you can rely on (I am so lucky to have friends like this!), and to remember that the road to publication is a roller coaster, with ups and down for everyone—no matter how big their deal or how much attention they seem to be getting. Try to enjoy as much of it as you can, and take care of yourself! I struggle with this myself, but I know it’s absolutely necessary. And write your next book.

9. What are you working on now? 

The sequel to ENCHANTÉE! It’s one year later and the Palace of Versailles has been shuttered, nobles stripped of their titles, and magic banned. And when Camille and her friends join the French Revolution, they discover that in this turbulent world, to be a hero is to question everything they thought was true.

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



Gita and her publisher have generously offered an ARC of ENCHANTÉE for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through January 19th. 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. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, January 7th I have an interview with debut author Demetra Brodsky and a giveaway of her YA psychological thriller DIVE SMACK

Monday, January 14th I have an interview with Amy Tipton, a former agent who has an editorial service with a query critique or five-page critique giveaway--winner's choice

Monday, January 21st I'm off

Monday, January 28th I have an interview with debut author Jeanne Zulick Ferruolo and a giveaway of her MG contemporary RUBY IN THE SKY

Wednesday, February 6th I have a guest post by debut author Addie Thorley with her agent Katelyn Detweiler with a giveaway of Addie's YA historical fantasy AN AFFAIR OF POISONS and a query critique giveaway by Katelyn

Monday, February 11th I have an interview with debut author Astrid Scholte and a giveaway of her YA fantasy FOUR DEAD QUEENS

Wednesday, February 13th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Amy Stapp

Hope to see you on Monday!