Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Lawrence Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/11/2024
  • Stuti Telidevara Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/20/2024
  • Agent Rachel Orr and Author Cathy Carr Guest Post and Lost Kites and Other Treasures Giveaway on 3/25/2024
  • Paula Weiman Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/8/2024
  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "H" as of 5/11/2023 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Megan Manzano here. She is a literary agent at D4EO Literary.

Hi­ Megan! Thanks so much for joining us.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me!

About Megan:

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

I’m a newer agent, but started off as a literary intern/apprentice for about a year and a half before joining D4EO Literary. Prior to agenting, I worked in editorial for academic and indie fantasy publishers for about four years and freelanced alongside that. I am currently building my client list and am really on the hunt for new and fresh voices in kidlit.
About the Agency:

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

Robert G. (Bob) Diforio launched the eponymous D4EO Literary Agency in 1989 after a long career at the New American Library (NAL/Dutton), now an imprint of Penguin Random House. The agency is named after him (D4EO, for Diforio). 

Today D4EO is a full-service, multi-agent literary agency representing authors of a very broad range of commercial fiction and non-fiction for children, young adults, and adults.

Books represented by the agency have topped the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, and agency authors have received awards that include the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense and the Nero Award, as well as nominations for the Hugo Award, among many other notable successes.

With over 2,000 published books under contract, the agency has launched the writing careers of more than two hundred authors.

What D4EO really offers to authors is a wealth of knowledge about the industry and agents who are passionate about the clients they take on.

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 MG and YA across most genres; I do not accept nonfiction, chapter books, picture books, or graphic novels however.
What I’m most looking for are strong character voices, stories from marginalized authors, and stories that keep me hungry for more or I read in one sitting. Whenever I read I want to fall into the world and walk alongside the characters. I’m a sucker for punchy openings, darker characters, and speculative elements.

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

Absolutely. These are the genres I’m most interested in and what I’m looking for, but at the moment, I’d love some contemporary MG!
  • Science Fiction: Literally everything. Give me your end of the world disasters, your post-apocalyptic societies, your stories of survival, your stories set in space, time travel, your gripping futuristic worlds filled with robots. Give me virtual reality, AIs, and overall chaos.

  • Fantasy: Give me a spin on classic fairytales, light fantasy, magical realism, your everyday societies with a spark of magic, and your gritty urban underground worlds. Got Fae? Yes, please. Got someone overthrowing a magical overlord? Even better.

  • Contemporary: Give me some darker contemporary with complex family dynamics or odd jobs or shadows lurking in a forest. I am also massively requesting quiet young adult stories – ie stories with more personal and character driven stakes.

  • Romance: I’d absolutely love more diverse romances, best friends to lovers, slow burn, and stories that make me feel good while reading.
What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
I am not the best fit for:
  • Stories containing vivid descriptions of demon possession, exorcisms, or hauntings. Gore, creepy elements, and atmosphere are fine.
  • Animal protagonists
  • Erotica
  • Historical Fiction
Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

As an agent, I’m here to work alongside an author and make their work as strong as it can be while also trying to get it into the hands of publishers who will love it as much as I do. I’m not an agent that’s around for a project but rather an author’s career. I want to see an author grow and bring their stories into the world. I want an author who’s passionate and hardworking and open to revisions.
I want books that will be able to reflect someone in its pages. Being a kid/teen is challenging and the more stories we have to show them they’re not alone, the better.

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’m 100% an editorial agent. With every manuscript I read, I’m taking notes as I go about plot structure, character development, pacing, etc. If I offer on a client and they choose to work with me, I will go over the notes I have with them via an edit letter and then through a call so we can brainstorm how to work through them together. I like the editing process to be a collaborative experience so the author’s message doesn’t get lost, but also so they understand where I’m coming from. I go over what’s working and what isn’t and come up with solutions to make the manuscript as polished as possible.
For some manuscripts, this may be one round of edits. For others, it may be multiple. But once the developmental editing is done, I will line edit and proof read before going out on submission to editors.

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 should query me with their query, synopsis, and first five pages of their manuscript via QueryManager. What I love to see in a query is who your main character is, what they want, what is preventing them from getting what they want, and the stakes of the story. I also want to know the brief technical details of your story: title, word count, genre, and comp titles.

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

For query letters, I’m not a fan of submissions that only include a biography about an author. While I’d like to know a little bit about a writer, I’m more interested in getting the hook of the story.
For first pages, I’m not a fan of submissions that are exposition heavy (more focused on details than character) or pages that start directly in the action. While the latter can work, oftentimes I don’t get enough about the character or the world to properly ground myself in the story.

Response Time:

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

This really depends on my day job and what’s happening in my life but I try to be as time effective as possible with responses. You can expect to hear back from me within 24 hours to a month and a half for most queries or requests. If it’s taking me longer, I’ll post about it on my twitter or leave a note on my submission form. 

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?

Absolutely. If you have self-published or been published by smaller presses, makes sure to include the titles and publishers in the bio section of your query so agents are able to easily find your books. 

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 don’t think the role of the agent will change as there will always be authors who want to pursue the traditional publishing route. However, I can see more hybrid authors in the future or more authors with self-published works prior to seeking representation. An agent will still be an author’s champion and advocate regardless of how the industry changes.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Natalie Crown who is a pro at writing vivid and plot twist galore YA fantasy.
Esme Symes-Smith who is so good at writing characters that stick with you in MG and YA.

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.

How to Craft Strong Opening Pages:
The QueryHack Series – Where me and former literary agent Meg LaTorre review opening pages/queries and answer questions about the industry:
Podcast with Sarah Nicolas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abewI_ybmIQ (11/2020)

Links and Contact Info:  

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

Writers should always query me via QueryManager. Any queries sent to my personal or work email will be deleted, unread. If you’d like to find me, here are my social media accounts.

Additional Advice:

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

Always do your research when building a list of agents to query as well as if you get an offer of representation. You want to make sure an agent is the best fit for not just you as a person but for your career goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during the call, whether it’s about the agency contract, an author’s clients, where they foresee submitting your book to, etc. You want to have all the answers and information needed to make the right decision for your work.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Megan.

­Megan 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 March 7th.  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.


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Romance Is in the Air Giveaway Hop hosted by BookHounds. I've got a combination of newly released MG and YA books that I hope you're looking forward to reading. Some do have romance in them.

Remember, if you want an earlier book in any of these series, you can pick that instead as long as it doesn't cost more than the book here. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads. Here are your choices:


If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of this blog and leave a comment telling me what book you want or that you want the gift card through February 29th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest.

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

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, February 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with agent Megan Manzano and a query critique giveaway 

Wednesday, March 4th I have a guest post by debut author EM Castellan and her agent Carrie Pestritto and a giveaway of IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN, a YA historical fantasy, and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 9 I have an interview with debut author Tanya Guerrero and a giveaway of her MG contemporary HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA

Saturday, March 14 I am participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop 

Monday, March 16 I have an interview with author Beverly McClure and a giveaway of her YA contemporary GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL

Monday, March 18 I have an agent spotlight interview with Ann Rose and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 25 I have an interview with debut author Alechia Dow  and giveaway of her YA sci-fi THE SOUND OF STARS

Hope to see you on Monday, February 24th!

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


Happy Monday Everyone. Today I’m excited to have Katya de Becerra back here to share about her new YA supernatural thriller, OASIS, which is set in a fantastic setting—the desert. I interviewed her when her debut book, WHAT THE WOODS KEEP, came out in 2018 and am excited to pick her brain about what’s she’s learned since then.

Here’s a blurb of OASIS from Goodreads:

The oasis saved them. But who will save them from the oasis?

Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archaeological dig site in the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.

With their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.

The answers turn Alif and her friends against one another, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave . . .

Katya de Becerra’s new supernatural thriller hides a mystery in plain sight, and will keep you guessing right up to its terrifying conclusion.

Hi Katya! Thanks so much for joining us!

Thank you for having me again, Natalie! It’s truly exciting to be back J

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got your agent and your first book contract.

I was born in Russia, studied in California and now call Melbourne (Australia) home. I’m an academic by day and work at a university as a lecturer and researcher. I am also a co-founder and co-host of #SpecLitChat and a writing mentor with the 1st5pages workshop. My debut WHAT THE WOODS KEEP and my latest novel OASIS are both YA genre-benders inspired by things I love: mysteries, science fiction and mythology.

I got my first agent in 2015 and sold my first two books in 2016. There isn’t really much of a “how I got my agent” story as it one of those “I was discovered in the slush pile” lucky break situations. Leading up to the moment of being discovered by the wonderful Amy Tipton (now editor with Feral Girl Books), I’ve been querying on and off throughout 2013 and 2014 with mixed success. Having written and queried two books by then, I’ve received many full or partial read requests but no offers. That’s when I started to see what mistakes I kept making and realized how to best revise one of these books to increase my chances of success. I’ve focused on the book that eventually became WHAT THE WOODS KEEP, as it felt very close to my heart but perhaps was missing something – that essential X factor that would make it unique in agents’ eyes. I don’t remember exactly how I came up with the idea of using “found documents” as part of the narrative, but that was truly a breakthrough moment for me. Amy requested to read the manuscript within an hour of me querying her and offered to represent me within the week. It was amazing and so surreal! We went on sub pretty quickly with it but it’s been about 7 or 8 months before we had a solid offer (I had to do a “Revise and Resubmit” first). By then, I’ve completed a pretty solid draft of OASIS, so Amy pitched it to the same publisher (Imprint at Macmillan) who was already interested in WHAT THE WOODS KEEP. The rest is history!

2. Where did you get the idea for OASIS?

OASIS is linked to a specific place and that place is Dubai. I won’t say that travelling to Dubai gave me the idea to write OASIS but it definitely influenced the book’s setting and context. I used to be a big archaeology nerd as a kid and teen and I think if things played out differently in my professional life and I became a field archeologist, I’d make a really good one! I’ve tons of patience and perseverance, so I’d be great at careful work that is required when unearthing ancient history. 

That aside, it’s difficult for me to trace it all back to the very inception of a specific idea as my brain is very busy and constantly thinking and coming up with scenarios (I can’t even just sit down and read a book for enjoyment – I’m constantly jotting down ideas that either build on what I’m reading or just emerge via random association). Though after a darker kind of story that was WHAT THE WOODS KEEP I felt like writing a different kind of book, perhaps one that’s more action-focused, while also drawing on all the things I love like the interaction between science fiction and philosophy as is the case of OASIS.

3. I'm sure your students and readers are glad you decided not to be a field archeologist. Oasis is a supernatural thriller with a mystery to solve. How did you plot it out? Do you have any tips and/or craft books you recommend for writers wanting to write in this genre?

My first and foremost advice on writing a book in any genre is to read a lot in/outside of that genre. It’s always helpful to familiarize oneself with various genre expectations and tropes. Having said that, as I tend to write genre-benders, I write them around a specific premise. I develop a situation and main characters first and then go from there. The idea is that the plot will emerge naturally from the characters’ hopes and dreams and motivations. What I found particularly helpful when plotting OASIS was to keep character descriptions (I use hand-written index cards) somewhere close so that I could refresh my mind once in a while as I was writing. It became especially important toward the end of the book when the characters’ differences as well as their specific desires and fears became absolutely critical for the mystery’s resolution. In terms of craft books… I have a complicated relationship with them, to be honest. I’ve read a few and skimmed the rest, always finding something useful as well as something that made me cringe in disagreement in most of them. Most recently, I’ve read Stephen King’s ON WRITING and found it very interesting as a craft book in the context of a thriller/horror writer’s memoir (King’s been a huge part of my reading diet as a teenager, so it was really cool to read about how his seminal books came to be).   

4. Oasis is set outside Dubai. I’ve read that you lived there once. How did this help you in building your setting?

I haven’t actually lived in Dubai but it’s one of my absolute favorite places to visit. It was such an
incredible experience to travel there as I could really feel the heat on my skin and see it all with my own eyes. Being out in the desert was one of the most interesting things I’ve done – and also one of the scariest, in the sense that you really feel like you’re in a beautiful but unforgiving place and that if you find yourself out there alone and without help or provisions, you’re screwed. I’ve also experienced a sand storm (a minor one!) when I was there and that really helped me write one of the earlier key scenes in OASIS when the excavation site where Alif and her friends are volunteering is under attack by a much bigger and scarier sand storm.

5. I bet your visit and experiences, like with the sand storm, really helped you get your story right. Your book sounds like a haunting, page-turner. Share your tips on how to keep the pace and tension up.

To me, it’s really all about when to reveal a critical piece of information and how – and also what it means in terms of future events (the cause and effect thing). OASIS is more fast-paced book than my debut (though, I must add that “pace” and “speed” are still subject to reader’s perception and expectations, which we authors can’t fully control), so it meant I couldn’t let my narrator contemplate too long on something because the next danger was already here and she had to deal with it. But still, no matter what I’m writing I always keep in mind my premise and the what-if question at its core, so the steps of my plot all need to eventually lead to the resolution of that question. 

6. Was the process of writing your second book different than your debut book? How do you deal with the pressures to write your books more quickly now that you have publishing contracts?

OASIS was a much faster book to write compared to my debut. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve written it while WHAT THE WOODS KEEP was on submission with editors. Plus, as I’ve partially written OASIS during a NaNoWriMo, by the time I came back to it after getting an agent all I had to do was just write the third part of it and then revise. Given my first two books were fully written before they sold, the only thing I had to do to specific deadlines is revision, which was still lots of work but doable as I had an excellent editor and his notes were spot-on, complete with useful suggestions on how to fix things.

7.  That's great advise to try to get the second book written while the first one is on submission, especially when you are writing stand-alones. Are you still working as a teacher and researcher full-time? How has juggling your writing and day job been going?

Yes, I am. I can’t imagine quitting my “day job” and going full time with my writing at this point of my life. I worked pretty hard to get where I am now in my academic job, so it’d have to be a pretty compelling case for me to leave all that behind, especially considering how unstable the income from publishing is for most of writers who are just starting out. What helps though is that academic jobs, especially those research-focused like mine, can be quite flexible. I schedule my writing around my academic duties and usually it works out pretty well.  

8. I totally agree with you on the not quitting your job. Even though my writing is way slower due a day job, my job was always fulfilling and made my life so much more financially stable. When I interviewed you in 2018, you said that you did a lot of your book promotions through blog tours and giveaways on Twitter and Instagram. Is this still a big part of your marketing plan? Why?

OASIS was a very different experience for me in regards to publicity and promotion compared to WHAT THE WOODS KEEP. I’ve decided to organize a mini tour in the US to promote OASIS and have launched it in Books of Wonder in New York as well as in Once Upon a Time bookstore in Los Angeles. It was a wonderful experience and I’m so grateful to the booksellers, my fellow authors and my family who supported me as well as to my publisher and my wonderful publicist who was instrumental in setting up my US tour. I’ve also organized digital signings for OASIS via Good Choice Reading which was a great way to entice people to preorder the book as it’d then come signed, personalized and with a beautiful art print as a gift. I’m now back home and have four events lined up in Australia over the next two months, including a launch for OASIS in three cities. I’m coming back to the US in June for a family visit and am planning to do an author event in my local Barnes & Noble then.

In addition, with digital marketing for OASIS, similarly to WHAT THE WOODS KEEP I’ve only done what I like doing anyway. I worked with the wonderful team at The Nerd Daily to release an excerpt from OASIS and then I had a blog tour (organized by the publisher) and a few giveaways. I still have a few interviews and blog posts to write but everything I said yes to is exciting to me so it doesn’t feel like “work” to do this. Overall, though it’s difficult to talk about “return on investment” for things like tours and signings and blogging, the experience is great and I love doing it, which is what matters to me.

8. So interesting to see how you've handled marketing. What advice do you have for debut authors from your own experience?

Ask questions and be proactive. Ask to see your marketing plan, and if it warrants it, discuss with your publisher what you can do to supplement it - things like strategic giveaways as well as stock signings in your area. But don’t stress if you can’t do some or all of the promotional things you think you are supposed to be doing. Not everyone has the time or resources. Just write your next book then.

9. What are you working on now?

I’m working on my next YA – I’m still deciding what I want it to be though. I’ve also recently written a middle grade fantasy grounded in my own immigration experience, and I’m currently working with my agent on its revisions. I’m also looking at new ways to diversify my writing. For example, I’m planning on writing a historical fantasy as well as adult thrillers.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Katya. You can find Katya at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @KatyaDeBecerra or at her blog https://katyabecerra.blogspot.com/

Katya has generously offered a hardback of OASIS 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 22nd. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The book giveaway is International.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, February 12th I'm participating in the Love Is in the Air Giveaway Hop

Monday, February 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with agent Megan Manzano and a query critique giveaway 

Wednesday, March 4th I have a guest post by debut author EM Castellan and her agent Carrie Pestritto and a giveaway of IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN, a YA historical fantasy, and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 9 I have an interview with debut author Tanya Guerrero and a giveaway of her MG contemporary HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA

Saturday, March 14 I am participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop 

Monday, March 16 I have an interview with author Beverly McClure and a giveaway of her YA contemporary GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL

Monday, March 18 I have an agent spotlight interview with Ann Rose and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 25 I have an interview with debut author Alechia Dow  and giveaway of her YA sci-fi THE SOUND OF STARS

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Adalyn Grace here today to share about her YA fantasy ALL THE STARTS AND TEETH. I was lucky to obtain an ARC and loved it. The world building is fantastic, and this is a fast-paced page turner.

FYI, In addition to offering an ARC for a giveaway, Adalyn’s agent, Hillary Jacobson, is offering a query critique. 

Before I get to my interview with Adalyn, 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 
Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson!

Optional Question: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story?

No, though I can see how it could be inspiration. I did find a very weird button under strange conditions in my garden when we first bought this house where I've lived since. It's become an important part of the current fantasy I'm writing.

What about you? Where have you found inspiration?

Now onto my interview with Adalyn. Here’s a blurb of ALL THE STARS AND TEETH from Goodreads:

Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

Hi Adalyn! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you for having me! So I have a bit of a silly story about this. I always enjoyed writing in school, but it wasn’t until I was about eleven and discovered the roleplaying boards on Neopets that I really started to write for fun. My first stories on there were wolf roleplays, and I wrote about a female alpha wolf who killed her entire pack because of a curse, but was super misunderstood and wanted to start over. You know, super nice things. From there is moved onto vampires, then onto fantasy. I became obsessed with these roleplays. I had a group of 3 other girls around my same age, who lived all over the country, and somehow, we’d come together nearly every day to just write and write for hours. It wasn’t until a few years into those roleplays that I really recognized that writing could be a job. Twilight had just come out, and Stephenie Meyer was a local author in my town. The moment I went to one of her first Twilight book signings (they used to be so low key in the beginning!) and saw her signing books, I knew I wanted her job.

2. The role playing games are a cool way to get into writing. Where did you get the idea for your story?

The story really came first with Amora. This was the fourth book I’d written, but the process was so unlike any of the others! When I wrote the previous stories, I always felt like  I was forcing it, and writing always took me so much longer because of it. But when Amora popped into my head, I knew I had to write her story.

Writing her, I wanted to challenge the leniency male characters get throughout the media. They get away with so much more than female or non-binary characters, and I really wanted to examine that. I wanted to create a morally gray heroine who not only embraced her femininity, but who also embraces her moral grayness. Who embraces her desire for adventure, as much as her desire to date and court. Who wants to be in the thick of the action, and is unapologetic about what she wants.

From Amora, the rest of the story snapped into place. But it very much started with her. 

3. One of the things that I loved about ALL THE STARS AND TEETH was your world-building. It was unique and complicated with all the different islands in the realm. Share a bit about your world building process.

One of my main goals with the novel was to create a world that was entirely its own. I knew it was going to be a huge undertaking when I gave all of the seven islands their own magic system, but I wanted the world to feel really massive and fantastical, and like so many different things could happen within this world.

When writing fantasy, especially fantasy with magic, I always start pretty basic by just putting the magic on the page while drafting. In revisions is where I really let loose and grow, and there are a few elements I like to consider about the world and the magic, such as:

How can magic influence this setting? How does the setting influence the magic? How does the setting/magic influence outfits? Jobs? What people do? What they eat? In what ways would having magic in this setting be beneficial? What are some common and uncommon uses for this magic?

I love questions like this, because I feel like they can really help further develop the world I’m creating, and make it as distinctive as possible.  

4. I love those questions too. Amora is a flawed but strong, compelling character. Did her character come to you as a pretty developed character or did she grow over time as you worked on your manuscript?

I definitely knew who I wanted Amora to be from the very beginning. But only in writing her and learning
her story could I carve out why she’s who she is, and what she wants most. I definitely believe that you truly find out so much more about your world and character in editing, and that drafting is all about just getting the ideas on the page. So for me, she definitely grew over time, and is still growing in the sequel!

5. You also have worked in live theater and as an intern on Nickelodeon Animation’s series The Legend of Korra. Did this help you develop your storytelling abilities? How?

I think theater probably helped most in terms of staging! When writing characters, I’m usually able to see very clearly how they’re positioned in their surroundings, and what they might look like as they move. I’m not sure if this is fueled by my theater days, but it’s possible!

For Korra, I will always be incredibly grateful for my time there, and for the opportunity I had to study under such brilliant storytellers. I was only 18 when I went to Nickelodeon, and I think that having that opportunity at such a young age really helped to ignite my drive, and make me feel like anything was possible. Apart from that, it also helped me learn something very important about myself, which was that I could never feel fully satisfied working on someone else’s story, instead of working on my own. I think this was a very timely lesson for me, and more than anything about story or craft, this was the most important lesson I learned, and I’m so glad I was able to be honest with myself and use it as a drive to really push toward publishing. 

6. I saw on your website that were involved in Brenda Drake’s Pitch Wars and recommend writers who are querying participate. How did this help you and why do you recommend it to other writers?

I definitely recommend it, and think Pitch Wars is an incredible opportunity for querying writers to get mentorship from established authors! So many incredible books come out of Pitch Wars (Children of Blood and Bone, The Kiss Quotient, and Four Dead Queens among so many others), and so many writers end up finding their agents through this program. But Pitch Wars is about so much more than just finding an agent; it’s really about growing as a writer, and learning about the publishing industry. I did not get an agent through this program, or even with the manuscript I participated with. But what I did get is a wonderful community, brilliant critique partners, and the skills and knowledge I needed to move forward and write a stronger book.

7. The growing as a writer part of the pitch wars really appeals to me. Your agent is Hillary Jacobson. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Hillary became my agent through good old fashioned cold querying! With the aforementioned Pitch Wars manuscript, I’d had probably around 100 rejections, had spent years writing the book, and probably spent another year and a half querying and editing. It was incredibly difficult to shelf that book, but doing so and learning how to fast draft were the two best moves I could have made for my career.

After I set that manuscript aside, I wrote what would later become my debut novel, All the Stars and Teeth, in about a month, spent another month editing, and then got querying! My query process with this book was drastically different with my previous, in that I had multiple offers within the first 24 hours of querying. It was absolutely bewildering, and a totally lucky and abnormal experience. Once I decided to work with Hillary, she and I worked on editing for about a month or two before she submitted it to editors, and found it the perfect home with Macmillan!

8. I need to learn how to write faster. How are you planning to promote your book? Why have you chosen this strategy?

As I’m traditionally published, a lot of this is actually determined by my publisher! We do have conversations (like what angle do you think might be a good one to promote, or what have you noticed people having the most reception to while reading). But ultimately, so much of this comes down to your publisher and their sales and marketing team! I can focus on smaller things like trying to grow my social media presence, share exciting news, or possibly even work on promotional material (like art), but when you’re traditionally published, your publisher mostly influences strategy.

 9. How have you grown your online presence since signing with your agent and getting your book deal? What advice to you have to other writers on growing their social media 
platform and using it during the year leading up to their book’s release to promote it?

I really think the best way to grow your online presence is to do it organically and naturally. If you hate being on a certain platform so much that you’re basically never on it and it feels like work, don’t use it! Focus on a platform you genuinely enjoy. From there, try to find people with the same interests and in the same stage of this process as you. For querying writers, you can find so many others in our same position on the #amwriting or #pitchwars hashtag. And when you post, you want to make sure it’s organic. No one likes when they get an automatic DM the moment they follow someone, spamming them with a book pitch and a sales link. Don’t do that! It feels so spammy and gross, and like you’re a robot instead of a real person.

Be authentic and find your people. But also take care of your mental health. If you find social media too stressful or depressing, remember that you don’t need it to be an author. 

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on finishing up edits for the sequel of All the Stars and Teeth! There’s no set release date yet, but things are moving along well and I can’t wait to share more of Amora’s story!

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

Adalyn generously is offering a hardback of ALL THE STARS AND TEETH and her agent Hillary Jacobson is offering a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through February 22nd.  If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest.
If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog 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 giveaways are International.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, February 10th I have an interview with author Katya de Becerra and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Oasis

Monday, February 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with agent Megan Manzano and a query critique giveaway 

Wednesday, March 4th I have a guest post by debut author EM Castellan and her agent Carrie Pestritto and a giveaway of IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN, a YA historical fantasy, and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 9 I have an interview with debut author Tanya Guerrero and a giveaway of her MG contemporary HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA

Saturday, March 14 I am participating in the Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop 

Monday, March 16 I have an interview with author Beverly McClure and a giveaway of her YA contemporary GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL

Monday, March 18 I have an agent spotlight interview with Ann Rose and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 25 I have an interview with debut author Alechia Dow  and giveaway of her YA sci-fi THE SOUND OF STARS

Hope to see you on Monday!