CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests


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

Kristina Perez Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/17/20

Erin Casey Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/22/20

Veronica Roth Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/19/20

Carlisle Webber Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/7/20

Adria Goetz and G.Z. Schmidt Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/19/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/3/20

CHELSEA ICHASO AND KRISTY HUNTER GUEST POST WITH QUERY CRITIQUE AND LITTLE CREEPING THINGS GIVEAWAY AND IWSG POST

Happy Wednesday Everyone! I hope you are all staying safe and healthy during the continuing pandemic. This has been a really hard week with everything going on in our country. I am praying that something comes out of all the protests and outrage, which is so justified.

On a more positive note, Michigan has just mostly reopened, and the libraries can open on Monday. Not that I'm going out much but I would like to go to the library for my mom and me. She still can not have visitors, but that might be lifted by July 1st. I so hope so but am so grateful that no one has gotten the virus there.

Today I'm excited to have debut author Chelsea Ichaso here with her agent Kristy Hunter to share about Chelsea's debut YA psychological thriller LITTLE CREEPING THINGS. I was fortunate to read an ARC and really enjoyed it. It was a fast-paced story that kept me guessing until the end.

Before I get to Chelsea and Kristy's guest post, I have my IWSG Post and Follower News.

FOLLOWER NEWS

Lynda Young, writing as Elle Cardy has a new book out, WIELDERS CURSE, in her epic YA fantasy series. Here's a blurb:
Marooned on an island, stripped of her magic, Jasmine must find a way to mend her heart and defeat the oncoming storm.Her secrets have been laid bare. The one who was supposed to love her, stripped her of her magic. Now she’s been shipwrecked on a forsaken island with nothing but her anger and determination to keep her warm at night. Alone and defenseless against a powerful enemy, she must find a way to survive.
She will get her magic back.
She will escape the island.
She will face the enemy and defeat it once and for all.
But how can she when her heart feels like it’s been blistered to a crisp? One step at a time.
Wielder’s Fire is the thrilling conclusion to the sweeping Wielder’s Storm trilogy. Lose yourself in this epic YA fantasy adventure set on the high seas.
Book 1: Wielder’s Prize, Book 2: Wielder’s Curse. And a few links: Website, Blog, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon

And Jemi Fraser has a new romance series releasing.  Here's a blurb and some links: 
Welcome to Bloo Moose, Vermont where love is worth the risk! Small-town contemporary romance with an element of suspense. Each book is a stand-alone.
Reaching For Normal
She’s no damsel in distress. He’s no Prince Charming. But if they don’t team up it won’t be only wolves that’ll be dying.
Amazon.com.    Amazon.ca.    Apple.     Kobo.
Reaching For Risks
One Reno List for the B&B. One Risk List for herself. One sexy retailer who should be the last one she wants.
Amazon.com.    Amazon.ca.    Apple.    Kobo
Reaching For Everything
Love means nothing in tennis. Can he prove to her that love means everything in life?
Amazon.com.    Amazon.ca.     Apple.     Kobo


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

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!

The co-hosts this month are Pat Garcia, J.Q. Rose, and me!

I'm super excited to be a co-host this month. I'm going to skip the optional questions and instead share my progress in the agent spotlights. I've been plugging along at these since last month and determined as I did them that everyone had to be updated because there have been a lot of changes for agents I updated in 2017-2019. I had about 175 to update and am now down to my last 23. I'm doing 3 a day so should be done in less than 10 days.

I'm really happy to finally get them done, and it's been a great way to do something good for the world in the safety of my home. I know they help so many writers, and it's given a good sense of purpose to get them all up-to-date. And as soon as I finish this project, I feel inspired to get back into my writing and spend much of the time I've been spending on the agent spotlights on writing regularly. If I do, it will be the first time in my life that I've been able to do this.

Chelsea and Kristy's Guest Post

Here's a blurb about LITTLE CREEPING THINGS from Goodreads:

When she was a child, Cassidy Pratt accidentally started a fire that killed her neighbor. At least, that’s what she’s been told. She can’t remember anything from that day, and her town’s bullies, particularly the cruel and beautiful Melody Davenport, have never let her live it down.

But then Melody goes missing, and Cassidy thinks she may have information. She knows she should go to the cops, but she recently joked about how much she’d like to get rid of Melody. She even planned out the perfect way to do it. And then she gets a chilling text from an unknown number: I’m so glad we’re in this together.

Now it’s up to Cassidy to figure out what really happened before the truth behind Melody’s disappearance sets the whole town ablaze.

Chelsea Ichaso interviewing Kristy Hunter:

Hi, Kristy! Literary agents have so many different responsibilities, requiring an array of skills. Can you walk us through a typical workday? And what do you enjoy most about your job?

There is really no typical workday—which I love! Any number of things could pop up that require my attention. That said, a lot of my job includes negotiating deals and contracts, reviewing royalty statements, reviewing queries, reading submissions, reading and editing client projects, and reaching out to editors regarding the incredible projects that I represent—just to name a few. Often, I do my editing and submission reading at night when there are no distractions. Fewer emails to interrupt my focus!
What do I enjoy most? That’s a hard question! There’s so much that I love about my job. But there are two moments that for me are always very special—and my favorite parts of the gig. First, when I open a new project and there’s that instant spark. As I’m reading, I’m buzzing with excitement and possibility. I can’t get to the end fast enough. And second, when I see a client’s book cover for the first time, and it is REALLY good. Yes, telling the author about the offer is amazing, don’t get me wrong. I could deliver good news like that all day. But there’s something magical about finally being able to visualize the book on shelves and in the hands of readers after months and months of it simply existing as a Word document. Suddenly, everything feels a little more real.      

How has your job changed due to the pandemic?

Very few industries seem to be impervious to the effects of the pandemic and publishing is no exception. We are seeing publishers across the board take measures to reduce costs. And it’s always going to be more of a challenge to reach consumers when they’re in their homes—and when their disposable income may not be what it once was. We’ve seen a lot of rallying around local bookstores during this time, and I hope that continues. They are such a vital part of the industry.
That said, deals are still happening, and people still need amazing stories. Publishing may have to adapt and shift, but people need books just as much as ever, and I see no signs of that ever going away.
For me, as with so many parents, my day to day life looks a little different. As I balance childcare, I’m working longer hours and my weekends are even more essential to getting work done. Burnout is a real thing.  But I’ve tried to follow the same advice that I give my clients—remember that this is a pandemic, not a productivity contest. Focus on the things you can control and give yourself a little grace along the way.

What is the toughest part of being a literary agent?

Oh gosh, probably the rejection (which I know authors are no strangers to as well). As an agent, you never sign every project, nor do you sell every project that you do sign. But rejection is part of the job. And for me, the high points—working with amazing writers; that fabulous feeling when a book does sell—easily make up for the momentary lows. It’s important for both agents and writers to keep the long game in mind and take the ups and downs in stride.

How do you decide which projects to work on? Is there a most important element for you? (the query, the writing, the author’s credentials, etc.)

Because I work with fiction, the author’s credentials are very rarely a consideration. Really it comes down to voice and concept. In both cases, I’m looking for something that feels fresh and pulls me in.

What’s your best advice on finding the right literary agent for querying authors?

Research, research, research. Sometimes I get queries for genres I don’t even represent, which is a
waste of the querying author’s time. So first and for most, make sure you are querying an agent who could at least potentially be interested in representing your work. Check out agency websites, the manuscript wishlist website, and #MSWL hashtags on twitter to get an even better sense as to whether or not your project might be a fit for an agent.
Once you’ve done that, you want to narrow your list down to agents who might actually be a fit for you—not just your project. Thanks to the internet, there are so many great resources out there about literary agents—who people have had a great experience with, and who you might want to avoid. Make sure you are sending your query to a reputable agency and agent (tools such as QueryTracker and Writers Beware can be helpful here).
That said, no one agent works for all authors. It’s important to pay attention to what the agent sees as their agenting style and how they describe their relationship with their clients. Most agents have been interviewed on blogs (like this fabulous one right here) and for podcasts, so you can get an initial sense of your compatibility.  
If you get an offer, this is something you should discuss in more depth during the offer call with the agent. What is their communication style? Are they an editorial agent? If so, what sort of changes do they see as necessary before taking your project out on submission? What happens if this initial project doesn’t sell? And be honest with yourself. There are many wonderful agents that perhaps just aren’t a fit for you and your career, and that’s ok! Think about your ideal communication style and the way you’d like to see your career progress. Are these things the agent you are querying can provide? Do their clients’ careers (or perhaps the clients of a more senior member of the agency) mirror the trajectory that you’d like to see for your own?
If you’ve done your research—and I mean thoroughly done your research, the next step is to trust your gut. You probably have an even greater sense of what will work best for you and your career than you realize.

What made you want to represent LITTLE CREEPING THINGS?

LITTLE CREEPING THINGS was one of the few projects that when I saw the title in my inbox, I was immediately intrigued. I’m sure I told you this at the time, but I just loved the title—and how you used it within the manuscript itself (I had chills when it reappeared!). Because a title can change throughout the publication process, it’s not really something that I give too much thought to, but I’ll admit, this one hooked me. And I was thrilled that it made it all the way to your book cover.
While titles are great, what REALLY matters is the concept and the voice. Your query was very strong, and it posed a unique idea—of what happens when a murder unfolds just the way you planned, but you are not the one committing the crime? With murder, you are usually either involved or you’re not. And here was this unique in between state.
Then of course, the writing was fantastic. I’m a sucker for unreliable narrators and Cass did not disappoint. I think this was one where I finished the manuscript in only a few nights? Maybe even just one or two unless I am misremembering? When we hopped on the phone and it seemed like we had the same goals and visions, I was very eager to represent LITTLE CREEPING THINGS (and was overjoyed when you decided to accept my offer!).   

How would an author query you?
Authors can query me using Query Manager here: https://querymanager.com/query/Kristy_Hunter_TKA   

Social media links?
Twitter: @kristyshunter
Instagram: @kristyshunter

Kristy Hunter interviewing Chelsea Ichaso:

Since you mentioned a typical workday, I wondered if there is anything special you do to get into the writing state of mind? Especially with the craziness going on now. Is there any sort of helpful ritual that gets you in the zone?

Life is definitely more chaotic than usual these days. With three elementary-aged children to homeschool, I have to spread out writing sessions throughout the day. I try to write once in the morning, before my kids realize I’m awake, and then once after their schoolwork is done. As for rituals, I always make a cup of coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon/evening. Then, funny as it may sound, lighting a candle does something to get me in the proper, creative mindset. I never really listened to music while writing before, but it has become a new part of the process during the pandemic. With the kids here all day, I’ve found instrumental music and headphones to be essential for focus.

Your query was excellent, and as I mentioned, piqued my interest right away. Is there anything you learned along your querying journey that you wish you had known from the beginning or earlier on in the process?

Looking back, I wish I’d waited longer to reassess my query letter and pages before worrying. When agents didn’t respond right away, I spent the majority of the query period second-guessing myself. At one point, I even started sending out different sets of opening pages. I now know that agents work at differing paces, and it can take much longer than a few days or weeks for them to even look at a query.
I think reading too many agent success stories definitely played a factor in my mentality. While it can be nice to glean encouragement from authors’ individual experiences, it’s important to remember that outliers are outliers. Don’t read an author’s account of how they received twenty full requests within a few hours, and then beat yourself up when your path doesn’t match. Even reading too much into what’s considered an “average” experience could be harmful. Patience is key. Throw yourself into the next manuscript and wait for the responses on your batch of queries before taking the next step.

The woods in LITTLE CREEPING THINGS is such an essential part of the story—and I felt like I was right there along with Cass and Gideon. Was there a specific location that you were picturing as you wrote those scenes?

Yes! We travel up to the mountains in Bear Big, California twice a year, and the woods there are so beautiful and invigorating. I started visiting when I was a kid and my grandparents owned a cabin. My cousins and I would play for hours in the woods, and now I get to watch my own kids play there. I tried to channel my memories—sights, smells, feelings—as I wrote those scenes.

What is something that has surprised you now that you are a soon-to-be published author? Any advice you can share with other future debuts?

It’s just as busy and stressful as everyone says it is! For some (foolish) reason, I thought I would be impervious and would be able to ignore everything and focus on my next project. But there is so much that goes into promo for a new book, and I think the pandemic has magnified stress levels. I’m definitely going to take a step back on my launch day and enjoy it. That would be my recommendation. It’s such a long and arduous journey, and there’s the moving goalpost phenomenon, in which we start to focus on the next objective without even appreciating the first achievement. I would advise future debuts to celebrate every milestone. Tell that goalpost to sit tight for a minute.

What inspired you to become a writer?

Even though I was an English major in college, I never actually considered writing as a career until years later. I’ve always loved reading, and that led me to become a high school English teacher. While I was in the classroom, teaching primarily classic literature, the students started really getting into young adult books, the Twilight series in particular. My students insisted I read the series (one of the girls in my class was so sure I’d love it that she gifted me a hardcopy of the first book). She ended up being right and I read the whole series, which led me to other YA books. By the time I got into The Hunger Games, I had paused teaching to stay at home with my kids. And I realized that a lot of authors of some of the very books I was enjoying were moms like me. Suddenly, I was reading books and experiencing something new: the desire to create. I had to know if I was capable of crafting my own stories. 

Without giving anything away (which I realize may be hard!), do you have a favorite moment or aspect of LITTLE CREEPING THINGS?

I think Cass as a protagonist is my favorite aspect of Little Creeping Things. We often want to think in terms of black and white, or good and evil, but Cass isn’t sure where she fits. She wants to do the right thing and pursue justice, but her mission in the story is never purely selfless. She’s a victim of bullying, but as the lines between bully and victim become blurred, nothing is clear-cut. Cass learns a lot over the course of the story, but not without mistakes and never without a cost.

When you go to draft a story, what does your process entail? Would you consider yourself a plotter or a pantser?

I’m definitely a plotter. I allow myself freedom on a scene level as I’m drafting (and some of my favorite twists happen spur-of-the-moment), but all of the major plot points are outlined ahead of time. I usually start by jotting down every possible idea for my new project into a clean notebook, stream-of-consciousness-style. My notes are a jumbled mess, but I pick out any promising thoughts and work from there. Once I have a decently-formed story, I type up a chapter-by-chapter outline. I begin my draft right inside that document, erasing the outline as I go. At the very end, the outline is gone and a new draft is in its place!

Links?
Twitter: @chelseaichaso
Instagram: @chelseaichaso

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Chelsea and Kristy!

Chelsea and her publisher have generously offered a hardback of LITTLE CREEPIING THINGS and Kristy has offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through June 20th. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

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 book giveaway is U.S. and the query critique giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, June 8th I have an interview with debut author Josh Roberts and a giveaway of her MG fantasy THE WITCHES OF WILLOW COVE

Monday, June 15th I have a guest post by MG and picture book author Elaine Kaye and a giveaway of three of her picture books

Wednesday, June 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Kristina Perez and a query critique giveaway

Monday, June 22nd I have an interview with author Niki Lenz and a giveaway of her MG humorous contemporary THE STEPMOM SHAKEUP

Wednesday, July 1st I have Chrys Fey here with a guest post and an e-book giveaway of one of her books

Hope to see you on Monday!