Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

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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!


Jennifer Hawes said...

Your button discovery sounds fascinating! I'm intrigued. I am noticing a lot of mermaid books as of late. My daughter loves them!

Donna K. Weaver said...

A button and a fantasy. Love it.

Nice interview too!

J.Q. Rose said...

Now I'm curious to know what that button looks like! The fantasy sounds intriguing. Love those imaginative worlds. Best wishes to Adalyn.
JQ Rose

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Things like that intrigue me too. My grandparents had an old dump on their property. As kids, my cousins and I would dig through it. They were looking for treasure, I was most intrigued by things that revealed what kid of people had once lived there. That's why I love old houses. So much fun to imagine what secrets those walls have seen.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Working for Nickelodeon - what a great experience for a writer.

I'd love to hear more about the button story.

Jennifer Lane said...

Inspired by a button? How original! Hope your fantasy is going well.

Tamara Narayan said...

What a beautiful cover!

I remember a dump in the woods near our house. My sister claimed all the blue glass bottles and I was left to collect the green. Sigh. It can be tough being the younger sister.

Jemi Fraser said...

I love that the button you found is making its way into your writing - very cool!!
Gorgeous cover - and it sounds like a great story!

Pat Garcia said...

I enjoyed the interview. Reading about the process that Adalyn went through in getting an agent and about shelving her first book and beginning on a second book that has become her debut book has encouraged me. Thank you for sharing what you know and I wish you all the best.

Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I can relate to Adalyn writing on Neopets roleplay boards. I used to write on pro wrestling roleplay boards, and I was a heck of a lot older than 11. We all hone our writing in weird, though similar ways.

And working at Nickelodean, on Legend of Korra no less, at 18? Major respect and envy. I worked at my dad's drug store.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I'm intrigued by the button discovery, I'm sure you would have got quite inspired by it :)

Good luck to Adalyn for All the Stars and Teeth. It sounds amazing.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Oooo...I think we're all intrigued by that weird button!!

It's funny, but I just saw All the Teeth and Stars on Amazon yesterday. Sounds amazing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Button, button - who's got the button?

emaginette said...

Finding a button would certainly get my imagination going. Excuse me, I've got some looking around to do. hehehe

Anna from elements of emaginette

Loni Townsend said...

Ooooh, I like buttons!

Fun interview. Best of luck, Adalyn!

cleemckenzie said...

Creating a world that's entirely unique is a huge challenge. I admire fantasy writers who can pull that off. Congrats to Adalyn.

As to the button. That has story potential that I hope you'll share in the future.

Juneta key said...

Congrats Adalyn. Art and music often inspire me. Happy IWSG, thanks for visiting me.

Computer Tutor said...

The book sounds wonderful--and I like your feedback on pitch wars.

David Powers King said...

Congrats on your book, Adalyn! Been a while since I've heard of a mermaid tale this good. :)

Chemist Ken said...

Congratulations, Adalyn! Hearing about your journey to publication was fantastic, and gives me motivation to keep going.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Natalie, this is so intriguing! - "...I did find a very weird button under strange conditions in my garden when we first bought this house..." :)

Anonymous said...

I must say, the line: "...I did find a very weird button under strange conditions in my garden when we first bought this house..." brings up its own imagery. What a fun prompt that would be!

mshatch said...

This sounds like a really fun story! Congrats to Adalyn :)

Olga Godim said...

@Natalie: A button, huh? What an interesting object to insert into your fantasy story. I wonder if you have a photo of that button?
@Adalyn: your book sounds fascinating, and I love the cover.

Pat Hatt said...

Great to have questions as they sure help the world building indeed.

A weird button inspiring a story sounds interesting.

Chrys Fey said...

I've seen All the Stars and Teeth somewhere. Maybe in Book Page or Instagram. I'm not sure, but the cover and title did catch my attention. :)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH is definitely on my TBR list.

It's funny where inspiration can come from--the most unexpected places.

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Natalie! I really enjoyed your interview with Adalyn, and her description of how she got into writing was wonderful. I really appreciated her comment about focusing on social media platforms you enjoy. Her book cover is striking. All the best to you this month!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I like the button story. Now where are you going with that? Best to Adalyn.

Brenda said...

Curious about the button story as well, mine involves keys. All the Stars and Teeth sounds very intriguing, especially given the seven islands and unique magic.

Rita said...

I am writing a picture book about a boy crazy on pushing buttons and getting in trouble. Well done on your book! I can only try for the critique please and I tweeted

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...

Did I miss something, or where are the teeth in the story? I'm dying to find out!
I just posted to facebook and Twitter @DrCCClark

Music That Doesn't Suck said...

Great interview - looking forward to reading the book and could definitely use a query critique for my MG space opera.

waughwright (at) gmail

Tiffany J said...

Would love to read, great interview, thank you! Not entering for query critique

Tiffany J said...

drtiffanyjohnson (at) gmail.com

Julie S said...

I'm in awe at your fast drafting and editing for All the Stars and Teeth! Does anyone have any recommendations on fast editing resources/craft books?

spoffyumi said...

I can't wait to read All the Stars and Teeth!

Victoria Dixon said...

We loved "Korra!" What an amazing experience that must have been. Awesome book title, BTW. I'll keep an eye out for it.

Tonja Drecker said...

The button sounds so intriguing! Can't wait to see what you do with it :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Now I have to read about that weird button. Great interview. Another book to add to my reading list. Thank you.

tetewa said...

Would love to just to be in for a copy of the book! tWarner419@aol.com

Danielle H. said...

I'm amazed at all the exciting books that came out of pitch wars! Thank you for the interview--your background in theter sounds excellent. I would love to win a copy of this book, but please don't include me in the query contest. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/190685407757/adalyn-grace-interview-and-all-the-stars-and-teeth

Samantha Bryant said...

Thanks for the introduction to All the Stars and Teeth. Sounds right up my alley!

Diane Burton said...

I've been inspired by news articles but not pictures. Kind of ironic since I love Pinterest. I look forward to reading the fantasy with the button. Best wishes to Adalyn.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Natalie. Wonderful interview as always. Love Adalyn's cover. Gorgeous!
I'm hoping you get that story written. A button in the garden? Sounds intriguing!

Victoria Marie Lees said...

So many objects and things can inspire stories, Natalie. I have a piece of my mother's costume jewelry that always makes me think of countesses, with its blood red gem centered in a silver and black cross shape.

What an interesting interview, Natalie. Congratulations, Adalyn, on your new release. All the luck with the book. "Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls." The intriguing words here are "master of souls." Bravo! Have a beautiful weekend!

Jay Linden said...

Thanks for the wonderful reassurance about social media - if it doesn't feel good - don't do it. Would love to learn more about the fast drafting - I thought I was doing well only to take four months to get to a 4th draft edit - but two months to query and multiple offers! - Well done - and all the best for your book Adalyn.

Thanks for entering me into the query critique

Ellen Jacobson said...

Natalie - I'd love to see a picture of that button!

Congrats on the release, Adalyn. Gorgeous cover!

Empty Nest Insider said...

Interesting about the button. I'd love to learn more about it. Congrats to Adalyn!


kathrynjankowski said...

Congratulations to Adalyn! Sounds like an intriguing book.

Kacie Faith said...

Such a wonderful interview and a beautiful success story! My email is bookkace@gmail.com; I'm so grateful for the opportunity for a critique!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you really do move fast! I feel like I spend forever editing. Excited for the book giveaway!

Ilona Bray said...

Brilliant title, and I'm looking forward to getting to know this "morally gray" lead character.

Vahlaeity said...

I've just discovered Literary Rambles and I'm loving it! Such a treasure of advice and insight. The button discovery sounds like an intriguing spark for a story.

All the Stars and Teeth has been on my TBR list for a long time and I cannot wait to read it! (It was the title that sucked me in.)

Lauri Meyers said...

I love that you got in a serious zone where your debut came flowing out in a month! Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to Adalyn! I’m looking forward to reading All the Stars and Teeth, Amora sounds like an intriguing character : )

Lynn La Vita said...

I'm curious about the button and circumstances. Perfect for inspiring the imagination and chasing ideas.

I apologize for late comment. I was traveling from Mexico to the USA, then pre and post surgery on my carotid artery. You visited my site and it was important to me that I visit your site, too!

Thank you for co-hosting the Feb IWSG blog hop.

Anonymous said...

I can’t wait to see how the button appears in your next work!