Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.


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!


mshatch said...

Congrats to Alechia! This sounds like a great book. I love secrets and libraries and aliens!

Crystal @ Lost in Storyland said...

I love that this book features a forbidden library. It's also great to hear how social media keeps you connected with the book community, Alechia!

Natalie, I follow you on Twitter.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That is really a unique idea for a story. An alien who likes to rock!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think dystopia is going to prove very popular right about now! Congratulations, Alechia!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

It has been a quick change to life, that's for sure. Prayers your mom is safe through it all.

It sounds like a great read. I love the cover.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

A very interesting interview. Congratulations on your book. Sounds fascinating. Best wishes to you.

Unknown said...

My students will love reading this book! It sounds amazing. I follow on twitter.

Unknown said...

My students will love reading this book! It sounds amazing. I follow on Twitter. carrolla@sw1.k12.wy.us

Jenni said...

I really like the combo of music with sci fi in this book! We need more books about music! And sign me up for the foodie fantasy when it comes out! Thanks for a great interview, Natalie! Glad you've been able to keep in close contact with your mom despite all that's going on

Flower T. said...

Thanks for sharing your journey. I really like the idea of the foodie fantasy and look forward to reading it someday.

Carolyn Chambers Clark said...

This sounds wonderful and so does Alechia! All best wishes with your book. Hope I win a copy.

Debra Branigan said...

This book sounds fantastic. Congratulations to the author on the new release. Thanks for the chance. I also shared as well (https://twitter.com/BraniganDebra/status/1242428671677341696?s=20).

Danielle H. said...

Congratulations on your debut! Thank you for the interview. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/613482450922995712/alechia-dow-interview-and-the-sound-of-stars

Sherry Ellis said...

Sound of Stars sounds fascinating! Congratulations on the new book!

tetewa said...

Congrats on the release, my kind of read! tWarner419@aol.com

Rosi said...

Congratulations to Alechia. Sounds like a terrific book.I will pass on the giveaway.

Anonymous said...

This sounds fun! Art, librarians, sci-fi--all stuff I enjoy. Thank you!

Sara Wilhoite said...

Sounds interesting. I am following. Thank you!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Congratulations to Alechia. This sounds like such an interesting premise. An alien raised to be unemotional, yet he loves music. (And music is so emotional.) And then, too, I'm drawn to the idea of an illegal library. An interesting combination. I'll pass on the giveaway, though. I'm still making my way through an enormous TBR stack. Stay safe and well.

Denise Covey said...

I was intrigued by the title - Sound of Stars. This sounds like a beautiful book Alechia. Thanks for hosting her, Natalie.

Jemi Fraser said...

The title is beautiful and the premise is so intriguing! Good luck with it!!

Megan said...

I'd love to enter the giveaway!
Email: megan(dot)clarsach(at)gmail(dot)com
GFC: Megan S.
I tweeted here: https://twitter.com/WordsThatStay1/status/1246391619630370816