CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests


Melanie Castillo Query Critique through November 7th

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

Tori Sharp Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/18/20

Maria Vincente Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/7/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/18/21

Tricia Skinner Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 1/20/21

Agent Spotlight Updates

All agent spotlights and interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated again in 2023.

ALECHIA DOW INTERVIEW AND THE SOUND OF STARS GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! I hope that you are all healthy and safe. I can't believe how much is changing every day with the coronavirus and how it is affecting your lives. After a few days of being shell shocked over the magnitude of it all, I am gathering all my inner strength to get through this. I haven't been able to see my mom who is independent living for over a week but we talk daily. I know it's for the best and no one there has become ill yet. Just trying to be thankful these days and hunker in almost total isolation. Hope your family and you are surviving this too.

Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Alechia Dow here to share about her YA dystopian/science fiction THE SOUND OF STARS. I’m super excited because it’s part dystopian and science fiction, two genres that I really like, and has secret books. Need I say more?

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads 

Can a girl who risks her life for books and an alien who loves forbidden pop music work together to save humanity?

Two years ago, a misunderstanding between the leaders of Earth and the invading Ilori resulted in the deaths of one-third of the world’s population.

Seventeen-year-old Janelle “Ellie” Baker survives in an Ilori-controlled center in New York City. Deemed dangerously volatile because of their initial reaction to the invasion, humanity’s emotional transgressions are now grounds for execution. All art, books and creative expression are illegal, but Ellie breaks the rules by keeping a secret library. When a book goes missing, Ellie is terrified that the Ilori will track it back to her and kill her.

Born in a lab, M0Rr1S (Morris) was raised to be emotionless. When he finds Ellie’s illegal library, he’s duty-bound to deliver her for execution. The trouble is, he finds himself drawn to human music and in desperate need of more. They’re both breaking the rules for love of art—and Ellie inspires the same feelings in him that music does.

Ellie’s—and humanity’s—fate rests in the hands of an alien she should fear. M0Rr1S has a lot of secrets, but also a potential solution—thousands of miles away. The two embark on a wild and dangerous road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums, all the while making a story and a song of their own that just might save them both.
 


Hi Alechia! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hello! My name is Alechia Dow, and I’m the author of The Sound of Stars. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but never thought I was talented enough to become a published author. Through working odd jobs, going to school, and reading a million books, I wrote stories. But not seriously until 2016, when I wrote my first heavy duty scifi book that was selected to be mentored by Tamara Mataya… and that I eventually shelved. Tamara taught me how to write smarter and better, and I applied that to my next book, which was THE SOUND OF STARS. I’ve been very lucky and humbled by this process, and grateful that Tamara, my agents, and Inkyard Press took a chance on me!

2. That's awesome that Tamara helped you so much. Where did you get the idea for THE SOUND OF STARS?

The Sound of Stars was that book that just felt right to write. Out of nowhere, I was inspired by the idea of a secret, illegal library. Which got me to thinking, why is it illegal? And then it evolved over the course of a long walk into a story about a rebel librarian and an alien who loves music. This is often how my mind works, one minute I have a fragment of an idea, and the next, it's a full-fledged plot bunny that I tend to follow on the page.

3. I love that this is a mishmash of two different genres. What made you decide to do this? Was it difficult to make your story part dystopian since publishers do not seem too interested in this genre after flooding the market with books in this genre?

Dystopian is a tough sell right now, but if you package it in a different way, publishers tend to give it a chance. That’s where I got lucky. The world after an alien invasion could have been bleak, yet I kept it sort of quirky and filled it with songs and stories. By making this not just a love story but a love letter to music and books, I feel like I snuck through publishing’s gatekeepers. This story has a big piece of my heart, and I’m lucky that Inkyard gave me this opportunity!

4. What was your plotting process like? Has it changed at all after writing THE SOUND OF STARS?

I’m a planster; half plotter, half seeing where the story takes me. I tend to write the first three chapters without an outline, and then by the time I’ve wrapped the first 30-ish pages, I understand what the plot should be, who the characters are, and what their arc will look like. I learned this process with THE SOUND OF STARS, and thankfully it’s the same process for all of my books now.

5. That's awesome that you found a process that works for you. People who have reviewed your book have said that your characters are memorable. Do you have your characters set before you start to write or do they grow with your story? What tips do you have for writers having challenges developing the characters in their stories?

It’s a bit of a both situation, ha! I write as if I’m creating a scene in a movie. The more details, the more attributes, sensory descriptions, and dialogue, the clearer the scene. I knew Ellie and Morris before I began writing their story, but I didn’t know them so completely until I was revising them. They didn’t show me every detail of their personality until I was working with my brilliant editor, Natashya Wilson. My biggest tip for writers who struggle to develop characters: write a paragraph about them—their strengths, weaknesses, goals, take personality quizzes as them, and find critique partners that you can trust, who can keep your voice consistent but also point out where you could make the scene and character clearer.

6. Your agent is Natalie Lakosil. How did you get your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Like most people, I wrote several books before I signed with an agent. I wrote The Sound of Stars in June 2017. I
pitched the story to Pitch Wars in August and didn't get in. Then I pitched it in #PitMad in September, and agents liked it! Three days later, I had an offer. After months of revising with that agent, we realized we had different visions and parted ways. Then I was back to querying this nearly finished book! A month later, I signed with a new agent. And six months later, we had an offer. It was wild, I didn't believe it was possible. But I was lucky to have the perfect editor for my story and Inkyard Press has been incredibly kind to me, not only giving me a *gorgeous* cover, but supporting me throughout this process. It's been an absolute dream.

7.  How have you built your social media platform and connected with your readers since you signed your book publishing contract?

I’m a black American living in Germany, and that is incredibly isolating sometimes. Social media helps me feel like a part of the book community, and introduced me to so many lovely friends! My platform has grown since getting a publishing deal, but I don’t treat it as a way to boost my career… if that makes sense. I’m very much myself online; I’m honest about my struggles and my lack of confidence, I want to congratulate everyone on their life news, and I care about the world and the people in it. I post pictures of my sweets, and generally have a good time.  There are some struggles with boundaries here and there, yet mostly, it’s nice to keep the communication open with readers, friends, and acquaintances. I want to be there for folks.

8. What have you been doing to promote your book? What are some crucial steps that you would advise writers getting ready for the publication of their debut book to take?

Inkyard Press is doing so much to promote my book! They’ve set up blog tours, interviews, and made adorable buttons. They’ve attended book conferences and handed out arcs, they’re superstars. Personally, I’ve shared quotes from my story and some of the amazing blurbs my book has received from incredible authors. I retweet the interviews and all the book love I receive… I try not to spam everyone online lol, but show that some people really like my book and think it’s worthwhile. I have launches coming up in a few weeks with a lot of great authors and friends, and again, I’m really grateful for all the support. People have been helping me from the beginning of this process, and I’m beyond lucky. My advice for writers getting ready for publication of their debut: be careful with your time, lean on your publisher, agent, and publicist for help (THEY WANT YOU TO SUCCEED!), and take a step back when you need to. It’s really overwhelming and you have to take care of yourself!

9. You are a former YA librarian. How has this helped you connect with libraries about your book? What advice do you have for the rest of us who sadly are not former librarians?

I am a former librarian, but I’m also over here in Germany. So I feel a bit cut-off from where I grew up and worked. That said, I did contact my colleagues and tell them about my book. Some were really excited and made sure their library purchased a copy or two! How cool is that? My advice for authors who want to make sure their books find a space on a library shelf: go to your public library, introduce yourself to the staff, and go to the programs when you can! Librarians want to support books and authors, they want to support literacy, and if you say hello each time you step inside, it can be such a positive interaction for you both.

10. What are you working on now?

Well, I wrote a YA foodie fantasy book that's just so foodtastic and fun. It includes recipes I've created over the years, and it's the kind of story I would have loved to read as a teen! I also wrote a dystopian-esque YA that's very daring and twisty, and I'm working on another scifi project, a space rom-com! I'm having fun writing all of these! 
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Alechia. You can find Alechia at:
Twitter: @alechiawrites
Instagram: @alechiadow
Website: alechiadow.com


Alechia has generously offered an ARC of THE SOUND OF STARS 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 April 4th. 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. This giveaway is international.

Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, April 1st I have an interview with debut author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical mystery THE SILENCE OF BONES

Monday, April 6 I have an interview with debut author Jessica Kim and a giveaway of her MG contemporary STAND UP YUMI CHUNG


Tuesday, April 14 I am participating in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop 

Monday, April 20th I have a guest post with debut author Lorial Ryon and her agent Kristy Hunter and a giveaway of Lorial's MG magical realism INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS and a query critique by Kristy

Monday, April 27th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lindsay Davis and query critique giveaway 

Hope to see you on Wednesday, April 1st!




AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH ANN ROSE AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Ann Rose here. She is a literary agent at Prospect Agency.

Hi­ Ann! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Ann:

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

I didn’t become an agent the “typical” way for sure. I wasn’t a creative writing major. I didn’t always dream of being a writer. Actually, I never thought either of these things were in the cards for me. But I couldn’t be more happy with how I ended up here. It all started about a million years ago (okay, maybe not that long, but go with me on this) my niece asked me to read some books with her. She was a vivacious reader, and her friends really weren’t, but she wanted someone to fangirl with over books. I told her to tell me what to buy, and we started our own little book club. After one of her favorite characters died, and she called me sobbing, (ten points if you can name the book and the character) I told her I’d write her a book. This is where my story truly begins. I decided if I was going to write her a book I was going to learn everything there was to know about the publishing industry which included getting an internship at an agency on top of my forty hour(+) a week job managing a portfolio of applications for all of America and part of Latin America.
I found agenting to be fascinating, and I loved how each day brought different challenges to conquer, so after a few years, and my day job being eliminated (thanks corporate America) I took to agenting full time and found a home with Prospect Agency. I call it serendipity because really all the stars aligned to make it happen, and I haven’t regretted it a day since. 
As an agent, I do all the things agents do. I represent my clients work to publishers. I work with them on edits to make sure they have the best chance at getting their books picked up. Since I’m remote, I schedule calls with editors to connect with them and discuss projects they are interested in. I’m a sounding board for my client’s ideas and also a shoulder to cry on when imposter syndrome hits hard. There’s probably not a lot of things I wouldn’t do for my authors, really.

About the Agency:

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

Prospect Agency has a motto: We see the forest and the trees. Basically, meaning that not only do we notice the small things, but we are always looking at the bigger picture. It’s not just one book, it’s an author’s whole career we are interested in. Prospect has a solid reputation in this community, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.

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 rep MG and YA of all genres. And in the adult realm, I enjoy light sci-fi/fantasy, romance, and stories with humor and heart. Overall, I’m always looking for great writing, and for stories I haven’t heard a million times before. I love stories that will keep me guessing. I enjoy thriller but not horror. (I’m not into all the blood and gore.) I’m excited to be opening up to Author/Illustrator graphic novels as well. For a more comprehensive list of what I’m looking for, check my website at http://www.prospectagency.com/agent.html#ann_rose or https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/ann-rose/

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

I’m very excited to be opening up to graphic novels so I can’t wait to see what comes my way. I’m still very interested in a YA version of CLUE with the same kind of wit and humor. I’d love more LGBTQIA stories, and would love a story about two girls who are both running for class president that fall in love. Stories that take me to new places I’ve never been before whether in contemporary or fantasy.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

This is much easier than what I am looking for as sometimes I don’t know unless I see it but this list is pretty solid below on what I don’t really want…
Horror (I don't love all the blood and guts stuff)
Erotica
Non-fiction
Picture Books
Poetry (books in verse are the exception) 
Screenplays
Novellas
Stories that start with a character waking up
Stories with graphic rape
Misogynist stories 
Stories that depict animal cruelty - if the dog dies, I don't want it
Books set in the 80s-90s - Unless there's a darn good reason. If you can pick up the plot and move it present day, you probably should. 

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?

I want to work with career authors. Authors who understand that sometimes the first book isn’t the breakout they dreamed it would be and they have to write two or three or four… more. I want to work with professionals who are able to understand we need to value each other’s time. All my clients have my cell number and are open to text when they need, but not one single one of them has ever abused this.
I want to rep books that represent the world we live in and also books that explore new worlds and ideas. Books that challenge the norms of today. Books with strong, capable women that don’t need men saving them. Books that make me think and keep my on the edge of my seat and guessing until the very end.

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 very editorial, any of my clients would tell you this. We will go through a number of rounds of revisions—as many as it takes—to get the best book possible. In the end we both have the same goal, sell books, so I want to give each client/book the best chance possible.

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?

Submissions are all done through our online website at: https://www.prospectagency.com/submit.html
I want to see letter that shows me the author has at least Googled, “How to write a query letter.” They don’t have to be perfect, rarely they are, but it is obvious when an author has done their homework and when they haven’t.
Make sure to follow guidelines which means for our submission process that you include the query, a synopsis (preferably not longer than 2 pages) and the first 3 chapters or 30 pages in one document that you will attach right there on the submission site. I get so many submissions that are just pages because maybe authors think the Q&A part of the submission is their query. It isn’t. You still have to send a query letter. Lots of authors also love to leave out the synopsis—which I get they suck, but for me, I need to see where you think the story is going and how it ends before I can commit to reading it. And yes, the synopsis has to tell the ending, spoilers and all. A lot of authors think the query and synopsis are the same thing, and they are not. So do your homework.

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

For queries, I don’t love it when people don’t even address the letter to me. Not even that they get my name wrong, because yes, this happens a lot, but that there is nothing. No greeting at all—like they just did a quick copy paste, and I wasn’t even worth the time to say hi to.
I don’t love queries that spend more time talking about the author than they do talking about the story.
When they pitch me multiple books at a time, and I don’t mean “series potential” but saying book 1 is this, and book 2 is that, and so on. Or after they pitch book one they say, I also have this other book about XYZ if you want. Pitch me your best book.
Queries that don’t tell me the word count or genre of the book. (And for kidlit the age group.) I need these details.
For first pages my biggest pet peeve is a character waking up. I see it ALL THE TIME. Yes, there are exceptions to every rule, but my rule of thumb is—don’t think you are the exception. Try starting in a different place, and who knows, you might surprise yourself how much more awesome your story is. 
I’m also not a huge fan of prologues as most of the time they aren’t needed. This won’t make me immediately reject or anything, but I would suggest asking yourself—does the reader need this information now? Or do I just think they do?

Response Time:

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

Prospect has a no response is a no because of the number of queries we receive. I average at least 40 hours a month just reading query letters if that give you any idea how many I personally see.
When I request pages, it takes me more time than I like, and I’m working on picking up my speed. But I want to make sure I give each submission the time and attention it deserves. I don’t mind an occasional nudge email to check on the status—I just suggest not doing it the week after pages are sent.

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?

Yes, I’m open to previously published authors whether they are small press or self-published. The only caveat would be that they must submit a new project, meaning one that hasn’t been published before. If it is or has been on Amazon for sale, it’s published.
Be upfront with agents on what you want is the advice I can give. If it’s “I need someone to market my self-published books for me” then they haven’t done their homework on what agents do.

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

In the YA space, I represent C.M. McGuire who’s book Ironspark will be coming out this fall! Be on the lookout for this amazing story—seriously go add it to your Goodreads List right now.
Amalie Jahn, USA Today Best Selling Author of The Clay Lion Series, and The Next to Last Mistake is also on my list. If you want heartfelt contemporary YA, she is your girl.
Honestly, I’d love to shout out about all my authors, but I don’t think we have the time. If you are curious to know more check out the #RosebudAuthor hashtag and you’re bound to find them.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

13. 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:

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

If people want to query me, they should go to the submission page on the prospect agency website.
If people just want to know about my shenanigans, I’m best found on Twitter @annmrose

Additional Advice:

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

Keep writing. This industry is so subjective and what doesn’t work for one person might be exactly what someone else is looking for. If this is your dream don’t give up.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Ann.

­Ann 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 April 4th.  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.

BEVERLY STOWE MCCLURE INTERVIEW AND GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday, Beverly! Today I’m excited to have Beverly Stowe McClure here to share about her new contemporary YA GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL. I don’t usually read contemporary YA, but Gabe’s story sounds compelling.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Gabe Montana's clumsy. He's overweight, and he's dyslexic. Worse yet, the bullies make his fifteen-year-old life even more miserable--so miserable he wants to die.

Charley, his guardian angel, says no to that idea, and comes up with a different plan. He'll give Gabe self-confidence so he can solve his problems, not run away from them. But Gabe wonders why the angel doesn't just help with the bullies. What's with this self-confidence stuff?

Can Charley help Gabe stand on his own two feet? Will Gabe give up hope life can improve for him? Or will he finally listen to the angel's advice?

Hi Beverly! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

This goes way back to when I was in eighth grade and my teacher sent my poem to a high school contest. To my surprise, it was published in the anthology Young America Sings. At the time, I thought nothing about it. Went on to the university and became a teacher. And there is where my life took a turn I never expected. When I was teaching fifth-grade science we did a lot of experiments, and the students really enjoyed them. They also liked to read the articles and activities in the magazines we had in the classroom. And I started thinking. Could I write for those magazines? My poem was published, although a long time earlier. Could I write something different? I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. So, I wrote an article on how to do a simple experiment and sent it to one of the popular kid magazines. Guess what? It was published. So, I sent more articles and short stories to magazines like Jack and Jill, Clubhouse Jr., and others, and they were also published. That was the beginning. I tried writing novels next and haven’t stopped for twenty plus years.

2. Awesome story of how you got into writing. Where did you get the ideas for GABE’S GUARDIAN ANGEL?

Mostly, the idea came to me from all the news reports and stories I read and heard about the bullying going on in schools, in homes, and just about everywhere. I know it probably was the same when I was young, we just didn’t hear about it. Then, when a sad incident occurred near to where I live, where some boys told a classmate to go kill himself and he did just that, I knew there was a story that needed to be told. Putting it together was the tough part.

3. Oh, that is so sad. Gabe is overweight and dyslexic and is being bullied. He is totally depressed and ready to give up on life. Was it hard to write his story and show his emotions? Was it any harder to write the story from a male’s point of view?

Writing Gabe’s story was hard because I wanted it to be real, to show the emotions of not only Gabe but the other characters, as well. I hope I caught his feelings, the bad but also the good, since he had moments when he was happy. Since I have three sons, all grown, I enjoy writing from the male’s point of view.

4. I'm imagining having sons or brothers would help. How did you plot out your story? What’s your advice on plotting for writers who write contemporary stories?

Shh! I don’t really plot. I start out with the major characters, like Gabe and his sister and Mick. I like to know a little about them, although they may change as the story progresses. The characters make the story for me. What does Gabe want? Who/what keeps him from getting his desire? They have to be like real people, not perfect, but doing the best they can. I have an idea of what will happen in the story. Like Gabe is bullied, but I didn’t know why Mick was bullying him at first. It came to me, though. Each character has his/her role to play and discovering what it is sometimes surprises me. In writing contemporary stories, we have to be careful and not use language that’s in the past, which means a lot of research listening to teens today and seeing what their lives are like. It isn’t easy, and I read a lot to understand the minds of teens, if that’s possible. If plotting is the way you write, great, plot the story from beginning to the crisis point and then the end. That may be the best way. Just do what seems right. And write your story.
  
5. You ask your characters interesting questions. You’ve written PB to YA in your writing career. What draws you to write for so many different age groups?

Yes, I love all ages, from babies to teens, and even adults. Each age has something special that makes
me want to tell their particular story. Sometimes, I have no plans to write for a certain age, but I’ll hear something interesting or see four baby armadillos in the pasture that resulted in my picture book Frankie’s Perfect Home. I never know when or where I’ll discover the next story. Each age group is special and different to write for. Young Adult and teens present a challenge because their lives are so complicated. A tough age, but I learn from them. And middle grade boys and girls are so interesting as characters. They’re learning about their world.


6. Tell us about your publication journey.

I started writing articles and short stories for children’s magazines as I mentioned. It was fun, and I sold quite a few of my submissions. Thinking about children reading my words was so exciting, so I decided to be brave and write a novel. In 2000, Secrets I Have Kept was published by a publisher that went out of business soon after the book came out. It was not in print, but on a disk, which I still have.  I sold the story again, and in 2016 it was published in paperback and e-book by another publisher. Since then I’ve had fourteen novels published and then two of the older ones have been returned to me. I haven’t decided what to do with them. It’s been a fun journey. I’m looking forward to the next one, Gabe’s Guardian Angel, YA novel due out March 17, 2020.
  
7. Dancing Lemur Press is your publisher. It sounds like a fantastic small press to work with. What are some of the benefits you’ve experienced in working with your current and other small press publishers?

Dancing Lemur Press is a great place to be. The publisher, L Diane Wolfe, helps me and all her authors in so many different ways. She’s an expert at editing and finds every little thing that needs fixing. She helps with the promotion of my work by making great posters, finding reviewers and places to talk about my work. Being the owner of a small press, she stays busy. but she still has time to answer my questions.

Other small press publishers I’ve worked for and still do, like 4RV, seem like family in helping each other out, no matter what the problem is. I think with small publishers we know each other better and are able to communicate with each other when things are running smoothly or when there’s a problem. I’ll keep my small publishing houses, thank you.

8. That's good to know that small press publishers can be really good to work with. How are you planning to market your book? What advice do you have for other writers from your years of promoting your books?

Promotion is not easy. There are so many books out there one can get lost in the crowd. Book reviews and interviews are on my list to spread the word about my novel. Thank you, Natalie, for this great interview. Which helps spread the word. Author Donna McDine recently interviewed me and also reviewed Gabe’s Guardian Angel. She did a marvelous job. I have a Blog-Talk Radio discussion scheduled for March. I’ve joined Instagram and am learning how it works. I like Good Reads and Library Thing to spread the word, along with Book Bub, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’m thinking about a Face Book Party for a couple of hours one day. Not sure about that. Still looking for good ideas.

9. What are you working on now?

I have a middle grade story in the works. Also, titles and rough ideas for another middle grade, a young adult, and possibly an historical story. It’s strange, I know, but the titles usually come to me first.

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


 Beverly has generously offered a paperback of GABE'S GUARDIAN ANGEL 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 March 27th. 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. This giveaway is U.S.

Here's what's coming up:

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


Wednesday, April 1st I have an interview with debut author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical mystery THE SILENCE OF BONES

Monday, April 6 I have an interview with debut author Jessica Kim and a giveaway of her MG contemporary STAND UP YUMI CHUNG

Tuesday, April 14 I am participating in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop 

Hope to see you on Monday!


LUCKY LEPRECHAUN GIVEAWAY HOP



Happy Saturday Everyone! Are you getting excited for Spring like me? It's been feeling great to finally get out and take walks with my dog. And I've been really into reading lately. It's great!

Today I'm excited to participate in the Lucky Leprechaun 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.

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 March 31st. 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, 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


Wednesday, April 1st I have an interview with debut author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical mystery THE SILENCE OF BONES

Monday, April 6 I have an interview with debut author Jessica Kim and a giveaway of her MG contemporary STAND UP YUMI CHUNG

Tuesday, April 14 I am participating in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza Giveaway Hop 

Hope to see you on Monday!


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






TANYA GUERRERO INTERVIEW AND HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Tanya Guerrero here to share about her MG contemporary HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA. It sounds like a page-turning story that will pull at your heart. And it’s set in a fantastic setting—the Philippines.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Pablo is homesick.

He’s only twelve years old, but he’s lived in more countries than he can count. After his parents divorced, he and his mother have moved from place to place for years, never settling anywhere long enough to call it home. And along the way, Pablo has collected more and more fears: of dirt, of germs, and most of all, of the ocean.

Now they’re living in the Philippines, and his mother, a zoologist who works at a local wildlife refuge, is too busy saving animals to notice that Pablo might need saving, too. Then his mother takes in Chiqui, an orphaned girl with a cleft lip—and Pablo finds that through being strong for Chiqui, his own fears don’t seem so scary.

He might even find the courage to face his biggest fear of all…and learn how to make friends with the sea.

Hi Tanya! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi! I’m Tanya Guerrero, a Filipino-Spanish MG author based in the Philippines. In my free time, I love to bake sourdough bread, grow my own fruits and veggies, collect houseplants, and of course read. I also volunteer for an animal welfare organization, and have my own mini-rescue at home, with three dogs and twenty-five cats, (yep, you read that right!)
My writing journey started in my late thirties, I guess you could say I was having an early mid-life crisis of sorts. I’d always dreamed of being an author, but all my life, I was convinced it was an unattainable career choice. As I was nearing my forties, though, I thought why not give it a shot?

2. That's awesome that you took the leap. Where did you get the idea for your story?

Travel has always been a huge part of my life. I have no real memory of it, but I got my first passport when I was only a few months old. And when I was quite young, my older sister and I would often travel solo from the Philippines to Spain to visit family. When my parents separated, I went to live with my maternal grandparents in Barcelona for a couple of years, and even though I’d been to Spain on vacations, living there full-time was a pretty big adjustment. I wasn’t fluent in Spanish, and the lifestyle was so different to what I was used to. And just when we were settling into our lives there, we moved to New York City to live with my mom. That was an even bigger adjustment. I knew nothing about American life and culture other than the TV shows I’d seen. For the longest time, I felt like an awkward immigrant kid who didn’t quite fit in. Between the ages of twelve and eighteen, I went back and forth, between Manila and New York City quite a few times.
Although there were a lot of advantages to this kind of childhood, the one negative aspect for me was anxiety. I worried a lot about everything. So that’s basically what inspired HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA, and its main character, Pablo.

3. That's great that you could tap into your own feelings. Your story is set in the Philippines and you currently live there. How has that helped you get the setting and cultural aspects of your story right?

As someone who grew up in three different countries and traveled extensively as a child and adult, I’ve always found tons of inspiration in the places I’ve lived and visited. Paying attention to the sounds, the smells, the colors, the textures of a particular setting is so important in getting to know the heart of a destination and the heart of its culture.
Though I am half-Filipino, for a big chunk of my life, I lived away from the Philippines. So when I moved back to Manila at the age of twelve, I felt completely removed from my own culture—like a foreigner even though my father is Filipino. 
Because of my unique situation, I broached my setting and characters in a very specific manner. I purposely made Pablo, half-Spanish and half-American to reflect my mom’s side of the family and the many years I lived in the US. The way Pablo feels disconnected to his life in the Philippines, mirrors the same feelings I had when I moved back. Through his character, I show what it was like to learn, to discover, to appreciate the Philippines, its culture, and especially the Filipino people.
Living in the Philippines, definitely helped me make the setting as vivid and authentic as possible. There are plenty of details I included to make sure that readers who have never been to the Philippines, might feel more connected, more familiar with the place, as if they’ve taken a short trip, or watched a documentary about it. I hope that it’ll encourage American kids to become curious about other parts of the world besides their own.

4. People who have read an ARC of HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA are raving about it and saying that they couldn’t put it down. I think it can be harder to make a contemporary story a page turner. How did you do this and what are your tips for other writers?

Admittedly, contemporary MG books are not as easy to sell as other sub-genres, like fantasy or mysteries. For me, what is essential in a good contemporary story, is that sweet spot that hits just the right amount of heartbreak, heartfelt emotion, humor, adventure—all wrapped up with a big dose of hopefulness at the end. I also think it’s important to include a high-stakes plot element, since in contemporary stories, there usually isn’t a villain to propel the plot forward.

5. That's great advice. Did Pablo come to you as a fully formed character or did he grow as you wrote his story?

When I first started envisioning Pablo’s character, he came to me quite fully formed. However, since I am a pantser, many of the nuances of his character came to me as I was writing. I find this method to be quite effective in creating a multi-layered character, because he/she/they can grow in a realistic manner as the story progresses.

6. What was a challenge that you had in writing your manuscript? How did you overcome it?

I'll be completely honest here. When I started writing HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA,
I had this fear that readers would be turned off by a book set in a different country with a lot of Tagalog and Spanish dialogue. But as soon as my ARCs went out, and I started getting reviews, I was surprised that readers could really relate to Pablo's story, despite all the cultural differences and language barriers. It's made me a lot more confident about writing in settings outside of the US, as well as including as much non-English dialogue as I want.

My publisher did end up requesting a glossary in the back of the book with Tagalog words and phrases, so that readers can look stuff up should they want to, as they read along. It’s not a necessity to enjoy the story, but it’s just an additional resource that teachers can also use an an educational tool.

7. Your agent is Wendy Schmaltz. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

It took me two books to get my agent. The first book I wrote got nothing but rejections. Gosh, I must have gotten at least a hundred! My second book though, was a lot more encouraging. I received plenty of partial and full requests, one of those was from my agent Wendy. She only took a couple of weeks to read my entire manuscript, and afterwards, we had a phone conversation which led to an offer of representation. Once I had my agent, I was feeling a lot more hopeful that becoming a published author could possibly become a reality for me.
HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA was the third book I wrote, my first two were YA books that went on sub with a couple of close calls, but ultimately ended up being shelved. I had gotten feedback from one editor that my voice seemed quite young—more juvenile than the YA market. So I decided to give MG a chance. In a way moving to a different age group kind of refreshed my creative juices. I wrote the draft fairly quickly, in about three to four months. And when my agent read it, she felt quite strongly that it was polished enough for submissions, (I edit heavily when I draft). It initially went out to six editors and after six weeks it went out to two more. One of those editors adored it, and requested a call with me to discuss a revise and resubmit she wanted to suggest. I loved her ideas, so I rolled my sleeves up and revised the first fifty pages. About three months into subs, my agent got the call that they loved my revision and that acquisitions had an offer.
So that’s basically how I decided to pursue writing, and how my journey to becoming a traditionally published author happened. All in all, the process took about five years.

8. That's awesome that you decided to try to write MG instead of YA and actually did it. How are your planning to market your book? How are you planning to promote it in the U.S. given that you live in another country?

Living outside the US is definitely a challenge when it comes to promoting a book published in the US. However, there are so many resources online these days to help get the word out, whether it’s book reviewers, book bloggers, trade reviews, platforms such a Goodreads, etc. I also interact with as many teachers, librarians and readers, as possible on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Skype visits are also a way for me to connect to kids at schools around the world. It’s also helped immensely to be part of the 2020 debut groups, The Roaring 20’s Debuts and Class of 2K20 Books, since we support each other’s books, schedule Twitter chats, organize promotional mailings and giveaways. Ideally, I’d also like to do some events and conferences in the US. This year, I’ll hopefully get to do that once or even twice so that I can meet with readers and educators face to face.

9. You are the secretary of the Class of 2K20 Books, a debut group of MG and YA authors. How did you find out about and start this group? When should an author who signs a book contract reach out to a debut group for their year and how do you find these groups at their beginning stages?

As I stated above, I’m a member of two debut groups, but I am secretary of the Class of 2K20 Books. I joined The Roaring 20’s Debut group pretty soon after my book deal announcement, when I saw some chatter about it on Twitter. Once I was in the group, I connected with a few MG authors, and we’ve had an ongoing Facebook chat ever since. One of the authors, is Janae Marks, whose debut, FROM THE DESK OF ZOE WASHINGTON, came out on January 14th. She asked me if I was interested in becoming co-admins of the Class of 2K20 Books, (a smaller debut group with only 20 members), and I immediately agreed. It’s been a wonderful support system, and as an author living outside the US, an amazing way for me to get the much needed promotion for HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA.

I would recommend joining a debut group as soon as possible, because it really is the best way to make author friends and to find the support that is necessary during your debut year.

10. I totally agree that joining a debut group would be so helpful .What are you working on now?

I actually just finished my second round of revision for my next book, ALL YOU KNEAD IS LOVE, which will be published by FSG BYR in 2021. Here is the short synopsis that was included in the Publisher's Weekly announcement:
The middle grade novel is about a 13-year-old girl of Filipino and Spanish descent who goes to live with her estranged grandmother in Barcelona to escape a domestic violence situation at home, and who finds new friends, rediscovers family, and uncovers a hidden talent for bread baking. 
My main character is named, Alba, and I hope readers will love her as much as they love Pablo.
In between revisions, I also have a WIP, which I’m hoping will be my third book. It’s a historical MG set in 1986 with a sprinkling of magic and fantasy. Hopefully, you’ll hear more about this soon! 

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

HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA is available for pre-order now on Amazon, Book Depository and other outlets, but will release on March 31st, 2020.
https://www.bookdepository.com/How-Make-Friends-with-Sea-Tanya-Guerrero/9780374311995
Please make sure to add it up on Goodreads here:

I can also be reached through my website:

And social media:

Tanya has generously offered a pre-order of HOW TO MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE SEA 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 March 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 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. This giveaway is International as long as The Book Depository ships there for free.

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

Here's what's coming up:

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 Saturday!