CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Melissa Richeson Query Critique through September 7th
CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL through September 21st
THE TENTH GIRL through September 21st

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

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

Jessica Reino Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/28/19

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH MARLO BERLINER AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Marlo Berliner here. She is an associate literary agent at The Jennifer de Chiara Literary Agency.

Hi­ Marlo! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Marlo:

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

I was originally an accounting manager for a Fortune 500 company, but I’ve been involved in publishing now for over twelve years, as a writer, the chair of a major publishing conference, a published author, a freelance editor, and finally a children’s lead bookseller for Barnes & Noble. As a freelance editor, I’ve always enjoyed helping other writers develop their stories. After a while, I realized I was able to recognize which stories in my inbox had much more potential than others. So when I saw an opportunity to intern at The Bent Agency, I jumped at it. I learned a great deal from that first year long internship with Molly Ker Hawn, and then even more from my second internship with Colleen Oefelein at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. After interning at JDLA for about nine months, Jennifer made me an Associate Agent in November 2018. The last ten months have been a whirlwind of reading queries/manuscripts, signing clients, attending conferences and events such as BEA, and reaching out to editors.

About the Agency:

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

The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is a New York City-based full-service literary agency founded in 2001 and named one of the top 25 literary agencies in the country by Writer’s Digest. The agency represents children’s literature for all agespicture books and middle-grade and young adult novelsbut also represents high-quality adult fiction and non-fiction in a wide range of genres. JDLA is proud to represent illustrators, as well as screenwriters for both television and film, including Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writers and illustrators. What sets JDLA apart from other agencies is our holistic approach to managing every aspect of an author’s career to make the most of their project's potential. We offer:

·         A designated Foreign Rights team, with co-agents in every country and an established presence at Book Expo and book fairs throughout the world.
·         A designated Film/TV/Media agent based in Hollywood.

·         An affiliated Presentation Service and Media trainer to help authors communicate with clarity, precision, and greater impact.

·         An affiliated Speakers Services agent who coordinates booking speaking engagements.
·         Strong affiliations with top merchandising agents to handle merchandising opportunities as they arise.

 What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres? 

I represent PB, MG and YA in all genres, but am particularly interested in contemporary, fantasy, mystery, suspense, paranormal, horror and speculative. I believe the best submissions have both compelling characters and tight, emotionally involving plotlines. If your writing can translate emotion to the page and give me a visceral reaction of humor, fear, joy, sadness, intrigue, or romance, then I will keep turning pages. Basically, I’m looking for a book I simply can’t put down.

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

I would be especially excited to see more magic, magical realism, unusual settings, pirates, ghosts, dark elements, gothic tone, secrets or secretive characters, treasure hunts, and unreliable narrators. I’d also like to see some emotional friendship stories, twisty mysteries that are well-plotted, and YA romance with a funnier/happier/lighter tone.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

While I do like contemporary tales, I may not be the best fit for ‘issue’ books where the central conflict revolves primarily around rape/rape-culture, drugs, or illness.

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? 

An ideal author I would want to work with is someone who reads voraciously, writes consistently, and wants a career (not just to sell one book). An ideal client would also show patience, be open to critique and revisions, and always be seeking to improve their craft. I believe in giving 100% effort to my author’s career; all I ask is that they do the same. Once I take on an author and their book, I will work tirelessly to give that author their best shot at getting published.

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?

I am very editorially hands-on with my clients. I will work hard with my authors to get their work 100% ready for submission to editors, through multiple revisions if that’s what it takes. I thoroughly enjoy editing at all levels, from big-picture right down to line-editing, and would want to be sure we are sending out an author’s very best work.

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?

Authors can query me by first reviewing my most up-to-date guidelines here: https://www.jdlit.com/marloberliner and then using my query form here: QueryMe.Online/marloberliner

To me a successful query begins with the title, genre and word count, so I know what I’m supposed to be considering. It’s a bonus if you can add some personalization of why you specifically queried me (i.e. you met me at a conference, saw something I mentioned on #MSWL, read an interview about me, etc.) From there, the query should clearly describe who the main character is, what the dilemma is that they’ve been thrown into, and what the stakes are. This is the ‘meat’ of the query, so be sure to show me the hook, or what makes your story unique. End the query with a short bio that tells me a bit about yourself, particularly your writing pursuits, publications and any accolades. Then upload the most sparkling first twenty pages you canshow me a well-thought-out original concept, with memorable characters, a great voice, and solid, polished writing. Draw me into your story, your world, and your character’s dilemma immediately. Make those first twenty pages so great I simply have to ask for more. And if I do, then send me a full manuscript that has all of the above through to the very last page.

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

I can sometimes forgive a muddled up query letter, one which doesn’t follow what I’ve outlined in the previous question, but it usually puts me on alert that the pages may not hold up either. In most cases, I will still read a few pages of the writing to give the writer a chance. But if the writing doesn’t wow me by page ten, I stop reading. One of the more common mistakes is writing that feels too distant and doesn’t make me feel as if I am taking a journey along with the main POV character. Another mistake I see quite frequently, particularly in fantasy, is what I like to call the ‘imagination dump’too many confusing fantasy elements that don’t seem to fit well together or make sense, tons of characters that aren’t fleshed out enough, and plots that wander all over the place. Info dumps in the beginning are equally off-putting. Head-hopping within a scene will also make me reject quickly. Telling a story through multiple POVs is fine; head-hopping is not. And if a writer doesn’t know the difference between the two, then it makes me question how well they really know their craft.

Response Time:

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

I usually respond to queries within six weeks. Requested full manuscripts may take longer than six weeks to read, so please be patient. All queries and requested material will get a response.


Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

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

I am open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses, but only if they query me with something new that has never been published. I don’t take on previously self-published manuscripts because in 99.9% of cases, major publishers simply will not acquire them. Believe me, as a highly successful self-published author myself I wish this wasn’t the case, but it is. One day a Big-5 publisher might acquire THE GHOST CHRONICLES series, but probably only after I become the next Stephen King or Lauren Oliver. So, my best advice would be to query agents with a manuscript that is completely new.

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

I only see the role of agents changing slightly, in that they may need to support their authors’ efforts if they decide to go hybrid. Other than that, I believe our role will continue to be to find great authors and submit them to houses which might otherwise be inaccessible.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?
I’m happy to represent authors, Mimi Cross, Timothy Power, Kristin Smith, Rina Heisel, Courtney King Walker, and Brittany Kelley.

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.


Links and Contact Info:

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

Authors can query me by first reviewing my most up-to-date guidelines here: https://www.jdlit.com/marloberliner and then using my query form here: QueryMe.Online/marloberliner

You can also follow me on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MarloBerliner and Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/marloberliner/ (But please do not query me on any form of social media.)

Additional Advice:

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

My best advice would be to join writing organizations, learn your craft, revise, revise, revise, revise some more, and then put your book through the paces with multiple beta readers and critique partners before you send it out to agents. I see way too many manuscripts that could be promising, but the writing falls apart at some point. It all begins with a great book!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Marlo.

­Marlo 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 October 5th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

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


SARA FARING INTERVIEW AND THE TENTH GIRL GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Sara Faring here to share about her YA psychological thriller THE TENTH GIRL. It sounds like a page-turner that is also creepy. That’s my kind of book!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Simmering in Patagonian myth, The Tenth Girl is a gothic psychological thriller with a haunting twist.

At the very southern tip of South America looms an isolated finishing school. Legend has it that the land will curse those who settle there. But for Mavi—a bold Buenos Aires native fleeing the military regime that took her mother—it offers an escape to a new life as a young teacher to Argentina’s elite girls.

Mavi tries to embrace the strangeness of the imposing house—despite warnings not to roam at night, threats from an enigmatic young man, and rumors of mysterious Others. But one of Mavi’s ten students is missing, and when students and teachers alike begin to behave as if possessed, the forces haunting this unholy cliff will no longer be ignored.

One of these spirits holds a secret that could unravel Mavi's existence. In order to survive she must solve a cosmic mystery—and then fight for her life.

Hi Sara! Thanks so much for joining us!

1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
It all started for me when I was in my single-digits: after devouring my dozenth mystery book, I sat down to write my own. Sadly, it was plotless (and essentially a list of inventions). I abandoned the manuscript after “inventing” a 3D printer that could print out pizza and feeling too hungry to continue.

2. Where did you get the idea for THE TENTH GIRL?
Growing up, my grandmother told me the most magical (and, frankly, ghastliest) stories from her home country of Argentina. I knew I wanted to weave them into my own spooky tales one day. I only wish I could have fit in the story about the poisoned tomatoes, but that one will have to wait for my next book.*

*(Haunted pizza?)

3. That's awesome that you got the idea from your grandmother's stories to you. Your story is a psychological thriller and sounds like a page-turner. How did you plot it out? What advice do you have to other writers who want to write a psychological thriller?

Experimentation and rumination! Let your mind run wild with the terrifying scenarios that exist for your protagonist and capture the MOST (insert adjective—I pick “heinous”) of them on the page.

4. Share a challenge you had in writing THE TENTH GIRL. How did you overcome it?

On various occasions, I woke up in the middle of the night and decided I had no option but to completely rewrite THE TENTH GIRL in order to shift the tone (be it because I am a perfectionist or because I was trying to torture myself). I read the writing book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and that helped me through it. To quote the brilliant Anne: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said, 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'" [SF exhales serenely]
  
5. Your agent is Sarah Bedingfield. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

While researching agents, I came upon my agent’s list of favorite books and thought I must be dreaming: the gloomy, the moody, the atmospheric, the sublime! I loved her list of favorite books immediately, and I am so fortunate her list loved THE TENTH GIRL back. My advice: don’t throw queries out like spaghetti at a wall, even if you’re awfully tired and canned spaghetti sounds just fine.
With google’s help, find the agents whose taste aligns with yours, and carefully craft your queries accordingly. Don’t give up—please don’t—and know that eventually you will find an ally. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve almost given up on this journey (truly, I can’t, because I’m still a sensitive and soft baby author who believes it could all disappear if I turn around too fast).

6. That's great advice about querying. One of your former jobs was at Random House. Did that experience help you at all in writing or marketing your book? How?

I gained access to a wide range of manuscripts while working there, and at the urging of my very well-read colleagues, I began to read outside of my literary comfort zone. There is no better way to learn how to write well than to read widely. When I was a child, I would read everything and anything. As I got older, I became pickier because I “didn’t want to waste time” on a book that didn’t appear to be up my alley. I’m so glad I broke that bad habit, because I’ve gained so much from reading across genres and tastes. That’s partly why I adore genre-bending books that feel so surprising and fresh.

7. I saw that you have agents for film/TV rights? Are you actively pursuing this and at what stage are you at?

I’m afraid I’ll have to lean on an old Dad joke here: I’d love to tell you all about it, but I’d have to
kill you, etc. (did I bungle that?). I will say this: even though I grew up near Hollywood, it was a surprise to learn you can’t just lob your book into the backyard of Tilda Swinton’s holiday home, cross your fingers, and call it a day. Happily, my agents, Michelle Kroes and Michelle Weiner, are superb at what they do.

8. How are you planning to market your book? Why did you choose this marketing plan?
My team at Imprint (one of the wittiest imprints at Macmillan, but don’t tell anyone I said that) is full of marketing geniuses. It has been such a privilege to defer to them in every way. I will suggest, to debut authors looking for advice, that you take some time to seek out and get to know other debut authors (there are Facebook groups, Twitter groups, Instagram groups, in-person (!) groups), because it is a special pleasure to read and excitedly shout about each other’s debut work.

9. What are you working on now?

At the moment, I am polishing a secret project for my editor that we hope to announce very soon. It’s set on a mysterious volcanic island, and it follows two sisters who are drawn into an intricate web of the darkest lies. I’m practically levitating with excitement over it.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Sara. You can find Sara at www.sarafaring.com or www.instagram.com/sarafaring or www.twitter.com/sarafaring

Sara has generously offered an ARC of THE TENTH GIRL 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 September 21st. 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, September 16th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Marlo Berliner

Monday, September 23rd I have a guest post by Martin Cavannagh from Reedsy

Monday, October 2nd I have a guest post by debut author Rosaria Munda and her agent Danielle Burby with an ARC giveaway of  Rosaria's YA fantasy FIREBORNE and a query critique by Danielle and my IWSG post

Monday, October 7th I have an interview with debut author Sharon Mayhew and a giveaway of her MG historical KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON

Monday, October 14th I have a guest post debut author Jennifer Camiccia and her agent Stacey Glick and giveaway of Jennifer's MG THE MEMORY KEEPER and a query critique by Stacey

Hope to see you on Monday, September 16th!

MARA RUTHERFORD INTERVIEW AND CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Mara Rutherford here to share about her YA fantasy CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL. It sounds like a real page turner filled with mystery and high stakes. I’m really looking forward to reading it.

Before I get to Mara’s 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: The co-hosts this month are Gwen Gardner,Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!


Optional Question: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would you write it and why?

That's an easy one for me. I'd write at home. I already write five days a week at home for my job. I love just wearing what I want, taking a walk when I want to, and being in a really comfortable space for me. That's where I write for myself too.

What about you? Where would you choose to write?


Now let's get to Mara's interview. Here’s a blurb of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL from Goodreads

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.
 

Hi Mara! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you so much for having me! I’m originally from California, but I’ve spent the second half of my life living all over the world with my husband, who was in the military before joining the Foreign Service. We have two sons and a small red poodle and currently live in Belgrade, Serbia.

I studied cultural anthropology in school and started my career in journalism. I knew I wanted to move over to publishing, but we were living in San Diego at the time, so my options were limited. I worked for a book distributor while interning for a literary agency and started writing women’s fiction in my mid-twenties, then switched over to young adult a few years later. My fourth YA novel (set in Russia, where we were living) got into Pitch Wars, and that’s how I signed with my first agent.
  
2. I bet your travels gives you lots of story ideas. Where did you get the idea for your story?

This was a story that had been brewing in my head for a while – twin sisters whose lives are a competition, whether they like it or not. Other elements, like diving for pearls and a mountain castle, came to me in bits and pieces in the form of magazine articles, photographs, and music.

3. CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL has been described as a real page turner that readers couldn’t put down. How did you keep the plot moving and what are your tips for other writers?

That’s great to hear! I once did a writing exercise where I had to choose a word that I wanted to describe my writing, and mine was “compelling.” My favorite books are the ones that keep me up past my bedtime. I would say my biggest tip for writing a “page turner” is to always try to end each chapter on a cliff hanger. When the reader tells themselves they’ll just read until the end of the chapter, make it impossible for them to put the book down!

4. I love books I can't put down too. Good world building is so important when writing a fantasy. What was your world building process like?

Writing Varenia, the world in the ocean, was a lot of fun. It’s a limited environment in some ways, which made it easier, but it’s also completely different from anywhere I’ve ever lived. I didn’t want it to be too closely associated with any real place, so I made up my own sea creatures, like maiden’s hair jellyfish and windwhales. Ilara is a more typical fantasy kingdom, but the setting of New Castle, a mountain fortress, is also strange and otherworldly, with glowing fungus for lights and cave salamanders for fauna. I think it’s good to give yourself constraints to work within. Otherwise, it can feel overwhelming.

5. So funny that you picked somewhere so different from the many places you lived. Nor is a twin and chosen to marry the Crown Prince when her twin Zadie is seriously injured. You’re a triplet. Did this help you develop Nor’s character and her relationship with Zadie?

Twins are a popular trope in fiction, and I actually had an agent tell me I shouldn’t write them. But
not only is it completely vital to this story; it’s also probably the most intrinsic part of my identity. While I am a triplet, I have an identical sister and a brother – so I’m both an identical and a fraternal twin. My sister and I have never traded places (except for a brief desk swap in fifth grade that lasted about ten minutes), but we would do anything for each other. We talk every day and always have, even though we’ve both lived and traveled all over the world (Sarah is a producer at National Geographic). Essentially, I couldn’t have written this book if it weren’t for my relationship with my twin. I hope that comes across in the novel!

6. Your agent is Uwe Stender. Tell us about how you got your agent and your publishing contract.

Uwe and I actually met through Pitch Wars, when I signed with a different agent. When that book didn’t sell, I asked Uwe if he’d like to see CoCaP, and I ended up signing with him not long after. CoCaP sold to Inkyard about a year later. I’ve been with Uwe for almost three years now, and I can’t say enough good things about him. He is the fastest responder in the business, always open to talk, and he has a great sense of humor (something you need to have in publishing!). It has been really fun to watch Team Triada grow over the years – I’m so proud to be a part of it.

7. What has been your favorite social media platform to develop after you signed your book contract and why?

Instagram is definitely my favorite social media platform, though I try to use Twitter. Bookstagrammers are so kind and positive, and I love looking at their gorgeous photos. I like taking photos too, so it’s a win-win for me.

8. How are you planning to market your book?

I’ve enjoyed marketing my book on IG, as I mentioned, and making my own swag. I just designed some bookplates that will go out with preorder gifts and I love them. Beyond that, I’ll be doing a lot of giveaways once my author copies come, and I’ll try to make it to as many conferences and events as I can, but it’s tough because I live overseas. Mostly, I know that authors can only do so much marketing on their own, and I’m okay with that. After fifteen years of writing, I’m trying to enjoy the debut experience without letting it stress me out too much.

9. That's true about only being able to do so much as an author. How have you connected with readers and librarians on your social media sites? What advice do you have for debut authors once they get a book deal? Should we start connecting even earlier than this?

I’m not sure if I’m doing the best job connecting with readers and librarians, though I certainly want to! When people post pictures of my book, I always make sure to compliment and thank them. I sincerely appreciate it! I have accepted every interview that has come my way, and I’ve been lucky that bloggers have approached me for tours. I don’t think you need to go out of your way on this stuff. Focus on your writing for now. The other things will come, and you can’t control it anyhow. What I think matters most is being a genuinely kind person. Publishing is a small world, and if you’re rude or a snob, word will get around. People remember the authors who were nice to them even when they weren’t published.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the sequel to CoCaP, KINGDOM OF SEA AND STONE! I’m so thrilled I get to finish telling Nor and Zadie’s story, and I hope readers are too!

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

Twitter: @mararaewrites

Mara has generously offered a hardback of CROWN OF CORAL AND PEARL 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 September 21st. 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, September 9th I have an interview with debut author Sara Faring and a giveaway of her YA psychological thriller THE TENTH GIRL

Monday, September 16th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Marlo Berliner

Monday, September 23rd I have a guest post by Martin Cavannagh from Reedsy

Hope to see you on Monday, September 9th!