CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

The Mutant Mushroom Giveaway through November 28th



Tori Sharp Query Critique through December 8th

Reeni's Turn through December 8th

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

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

Pam Gruber Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 2/17/2021

Allyson Hellegers and Sam Taylor Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 2/22/2021

Caryn Wiseman and Merriam Sarcia Saunders Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/15/2021

Jennifer Herrington Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 3/17/2021

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.

AGENT SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW WITH LINDSAY DAVIS AULD AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY


Today I’m thrilled to have agent Lindsay Davis Auld here. She is a literary agent at Writers House.
  
Hi­ Lindsay! Thanks so much for joining us.
  
About Lindsay:

1. Tell us how you became an agent, how long you’ve been one, and what you’ve been doing as an agent.
Thanks so much, Natalie! I’ve always loved stories, but I fell in love with children’s books again while working as a fourth-grade teacher in the Teach for America program. I found that I especially looked forward to the part of each day when we’d read a book together as a class, and I loved seeing my students get excited and inspired by stories. It made me want to be a part of bringing children’s and YA books into the world.
My first job in children’s publishing was at Harcourt Children’s Books. I then joined Writers House as Steven Malk’s assistant, where I had the chance to work with some of the very best authors and artists in the industry. I eventually began building my own list, and, before taking time off to start a family, I helped launch the careers of several bestselling and award-winning authors. I rejoined Writers House in 2018, and I’m actively building my list of authors and illustrators.



About the Agency:

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



Writers House is a leading full-service literary agency and is known for providing an extraordinary amount of individual client attention combined with the benefits of full-service foreign rights and subsidiary rights departments. It offers the many resources of a large company and the personal attention of a small agency. 

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 am open to picture books through YA—including middle grade, chapter books, and graphic novels. I'm particularly drawn to mysteries, fantasy, historical fiction, friendship stories, romance, magical realism, adventure, and books with humor. I would love to see submissions from diverse or underrepresented authors. I’d also be excited to see illustrated MG and graphic novel submissions.
 4. Is there anything you would be especially excited to see in the genres you are interested in?
As someone who adores animals and has always been an environmentalist at heart, I’d love to see more submissions with an environmental element or streak, perhaps in the vein of Hoot by Carl Hiassen, The Last Wild by Piers Torday, or The Line Tender by Kate Allen. 
What She Isn’t Looking For:
5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?
Screenplays
 Editorial Agent:
6. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?
Yes, I love working with clients to develop their story, and to help ensure a book is as strong as possible before it’s submitted to editors. My process tends to vary depending on what works best for each author or artist. For a MG or YA project, I’ll usually chat with the author about the book before sending an editorial letter with suggestions and thoughts on how the manuscript could be strengthened. After they’ve had time to work on the revision, we’ll discuss again and work on more 
minor changes and tweaks until it feels ready to share with editors.

Query Methods and Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

7. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?
I accept queries via email only (please see my submission guidelines below). Just as a manuscript can have a fantastic narrative voice, I believe the best query letters do as well. My favorite queries tend to give a sense of the author’s unique style and approach by mirroring the tone, voice, and rhythm of 
their work.

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

Sometimes writers forget to put their name in the query, and, as I always like to address the author 
directly in my response, it can be tricky when it’s not included in the letter.

Response Time:

9. What’s your response time to queries and requests for more pages of a manuscript?
My response time can range from a few minutes to a few weeks, but I usually respond to most queries within two weeks. If it’s been longer than three weeks, writers are welcome to send me an 
email to follow up.

Clients:

10. Who are some of the authors you represent?
Since re-joining Writers House in 2018, some of the amazing authors and illustrators I have been honored to represent include: Cory Anderson, Linzie Hunter, Al Rodin, Jasmyn Wright, Edwina Wyatt, Lisa Stringfellow, Lisa Tolin, Rachel Stubbs, Jonathan McKee, Jody Lee Mott, and Sandra 
Salsbury.

Links and Contact Info:

11. Please share how writers should contact you to submit a query and your links on the Web.
I accept email submissions only. Queries can be sent to: lauld@writershouse.com
Please send a query, along with the first 10-15 pages of your manuscript pasted into the body of the email. For illustrators or graphic novelists, I prefer a link to a dummy or portfolio, or an attached PDF that is less than 3 MB. I do read each query carefully and will respond as soon as possible. If I haven't responded within three weeks, please feel free to follow up. I look forward to reading your work!
Links:



Thanks for sharing all your advice, Lindsay.

­Lindsay 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 May 9th. 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. Please be sure I have your email address.

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.

LORIEL RYON AND KRISTY HUNTER GUEST POST AND INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS AND QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I'm excited to have debut author Loriel Ryon and her agent Kristy Hunter here to share about Loriel's MG magical realism IN THE TALL, TALL GRASS. This sounds like a great book that has both magic and also deals with contemporary issues, like family, first love, and middle grade friendships.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Yolanda RodrĂ­guez-O’Connell has a secret. All the members of her family have a magical gift—all, that is, except for Yolanda. Still, it’s something she can never talk about, or the townsfolk will call her family brujas—witches. When her grandmother, Wela, falls into an unexplained sleep, Yolanda is scared. Her father is off fighting in a faraway war, her mother died long ago, and Yolanda has isolated herself from her best friend and twin sister. If she loses her grandmother, who will she have left?

When a strange grass emerges in the desert behind their house, Wela miraculously wakes, begging Yolanda to take her to the lone pecan tree left on their land. Determined not to lose her, Yolanda sets out on this journey with her sister, her ex-best friend, and a boy who has a crush on her. But what is the mysterious box that her grandmother needs to find? And how will going to the pecan tree make everything all right?


Now here's Loriel and Kristy!


Query Critique Giveaway and Guest Post for Literary Rambles


·         Hi Kristy, I’m so excited that I get chance to interview you today!

I’m thrilled as well!
  
·         Can you tell us a little bit about becoming a literary agent? What other roles have you held in the publishing industry?

I attended the Columbia Publishing Course after undergrad—a great introduction to all things publishing. From there, I interned in Bloomsbury Children’s Books’ editorial department before working in publicity at Grove/Atlantic and Random House Children’s Books. Of all my jobs, agenting has been the most challenging AND the most rewarding. What writers sometimes forget is that agents are people too—we’re crushed when a book we believe in doesn’t sell. Or when an author decides to go with someone else for representation. But there’s nothing better than working on an extraordinary story. And seeing your client’s book on the shelf for the first time? Amazing.

I wanted a new adventure in publishing—one that not only utilized my previous industry knowledge but also presented fresh challenges. Agenting was the obvious answer. As an agent, I’m a publicist, a cheerleader, an editor, and so much more—you get to do it all, and there’s never a dull moment. I was ecstatic to join The Knight Agency team in 2014 and have been here ever since.
  
·         What age groups and genres do you represent?

I represent middle grade, young adult, and adult.

·         Would you consider yourself an editorial agent? How do you work with your authors to ensure you submitting the strongest manuscript possible for consideration to editors?

Yes, I do! When I offer representation, I always highlight what I love about the project, but also

where I see room for improvement (what could be fleshed out more, things that could be cut for pacing, etc). Once a writer signs with me, they’re fully prepared for what comes next!

My first round of edits is usually the most in-depth. I send my clients a full editorial letter, as well as a marked-up manuscript. Typically, I suggest my clients take about a week or so with the notes to fully work through them. Then we hop on the phone to discuss further, confirm that we’re on the same page, and make a plan of attack.

After that, it really depends on the writer and the project, but we usually do several rounds of edits before going on submission. The editing process is always collaborative—my client and I work together to ensure the manuscript is in tip-top shape before we share it with editors.

·         What makes you pick up a manuscript and want to represent it? What elements draw you in?

A great voice and a strong hook—those are the key elements that draw me in. And, of course, it has
to be a genre I represent. If a project checks those three boxes, I’m going to be eager to read more. Then it becomes a question of, is this a project that I love enough that I could read it again and again? Because as an agent, that’s exactly what I’ll do. I’ll read it over and over, think of the story from every different angle, pitch it for months, and talk to countless editors about it. If I don’t think I can do that and maintain my initial level of enthusiasm, then I’m probably not the best champion for it.
  
·         What made you want to represent INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS?

SO. MANY. THINGS. First of all—the writing. I still remember your opening scene. Yolanda creeping into her abuela’s bedroom and seeing her lying there, butterflies nestled in her hair. I was intrigued. It was lovely and instantly made me eager to understand this world. Your story touched on feeling like an outsider in a town, even in your own family—important and relevant themes for all readers, but especially middle grade readers. And right away, I could tell this story was infused with a huge amount of heart, which was further confirmed when we spoke on the phone. So much drew from your personal life and I could feel that coming through the pages. I loved Yolanda and KNEW I had to represent this story.

·         What are some of your favorite media that you’ve consumed lately? Books, TV, movies, podcasts?

I just finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Really fantastic—I highly recommend. Currently, I’m re-reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. One of my all-time favorite comfort reads.

·         What is on your manuscript wish list right now? #MSWL?

Well, I wouldn’t say no to another project in the same vein as Into the Tall, Tall Grass! That’s always going to be a sweet spot for me.

Outside of that, I’m actively building my list right now and eager to take on additional middle grade, young adult, and adult clients. Fresh stories with unforgettable voices always capture my interest and I’d love to see even more ownvoices projects across all genres.
In middle grade, I’m looking for fun sweeping fantasy adventures, mysteries, heartfelt contemporaries, upbeat contemporaries, light fantasy and magical realism projects.
When it comes to young adult, I’m open to most genres, but I’m specifically interested in seeing light fantasy and magical realism projects, rom-coms, upbeat contemporaries, contemporary projects that deal with hard issues in a unique or quirky way, mysteries, thrillers, and historical projects with a modern sensibility (to name a few).
And finally, in adult, I’m eager for rom-coms as well as women's fiction/book club fiction (which could include contemporary, historical, speculative, magical realism, etc).
·         How would interested authors query you?
The Knight Agency uses Query Manager. The link to query me and submit your first twenty pages is here: https://querymanager.com/query/Kristy_Hunter_TKA

·         Social media links?
Twitter and Instagram: @kristyshunter
  
Book Giveaway and Interview questions for: Loriel Ryon

1.      Can you tell us a little about how you started writing? Was it something you’ve always done?

I was an avid reader. I read everything I could get my hands on, ignoring my family at meal-times and devouring a book a day, but I never imagined I could ever actually write a book. Not a whole one. I tried multiple times. I remember writing a book about a snowman when I was 8, some terrible YA-esque thing when I was a teen and some kind of literary story in my early twenties. But I never made more than a few scenes before my motivation sizzled out. After I had my daughter and we moved back to New Mexico, I was home a lot more, working as a nurse only once a week. I needed a creative outlet from the day to day monotony of taking care of small children. So, I decided to try a story. I figured, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like anyone would actually read it. So, I gave myself homework every single day. (My Ravenclaw is showing!) The first day, it was write a paragraph. Then a page. Then a paragraph. Before long, I had a whole book. It was a terrible book (as many first books are), but once I did it once, I knew I could do it again. And I did. And that second book became INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS.

2.      Rejections are a part of publishing. How do you handle rejections? What would say to someone who is afraid of rejections.

Oh yes, rejections are a part of publishing for sure, and I do have a tendency to keep my expectations pretty low. I read the statistics. I was realistic about it. So realistic in fact that I didn’t tell anyone (other than my husband) that I had started writing and querying for an agent. If I was going to fail at it, I wanted to fail in private and not have everyone asking how it was going.

But I wanted to try. Because I knew that I wouldn’t ever be published if I didn’t put myself out there.
I’d read somewhere that a goal of getting 100 rejections a year means you are really making an effort to put yourself out there. So, my goal was to get 100 rejections. It was like a game with a spreadsheet that I added to. And sure, the rejections weren’t fun. But because I made a game out of it, it helped to see that my tally was going up.

I did the same thing when we went on submission. For every rejection I got on submission, I put $10 in a jar. And then when I finally sold the manuscript, I bought myself something nice with it to celebrate.

To someone who is afraid of rejections:
1. GIVE IT A SHOT! Put yourself out there. Assume that you will get rejected. Everyone does. And if you don’t get rejected now, you will later. It will happen.
2. Have a plan for dealing with rejections, reward yourself for trying.
Cry if you need to.
Then, toughen up and see if you can glean anything useful from it. If not, then put it to the side and try again.

3.      What has debuting during a pandemic been like?

Phew. Well, to be perfectly honest, it hasn’t been all that easy. Not that debuting in general is easy. My friends like to tease me because I am a realist leaning toward pessimism at times. I tend to be a little suspicious of good news. So, during this whole publishing experience, I felt like at any moment, someone would realize they made a mistake and it wasn’t actually going to happen.

But then the pandemic started to happen, and everything started to get canceled. First one event, then another. Then another. I tried to lower my expectations a little more. Okay, no events, but at very least, the ONE thing I really wanted was go get a fancy coffee and take pictures of my book in real life on a shelf on launch day.

Then they closed all non-essential business in my state, and I cried. Kristy, my wonderful agent (and
the much-needed optimism to my pessimism) consoled me.

Because I realized in even trying to keep my expectations in check, that no matter how much I tried to push it away, somewhere deep inside, I still had the tiniest bit of hope that this was all going to happen. And that hurt the most. That I tried to protect myself from it, and I couldn’t.

My internet also went out three days before launch. (It’s actually still out as I type this). I have two kids under 6 that I’m “homeschooling”, I work as a nurse as well and the looming coronavirus in our state sucked up a lot of my thoughts and concerns, rightly so. I am worried I’ll get it at work. I’m worried I’ll get it at the grocery store. I’m worried I’ll bring it home. I was, and still am, concerned about having to change nursing roles to care for patients who are really sick, things I haven’t done in quite a while. I am concerned about the lack of PPE needed to keep me safe.

But through all of this, the thing that surprised me the most, was the level of support I received on my book launch day. I didn’t have that many twitter followers. I thought I’d get a few likes and move on with my day. But the outreach from the publishing, reading and writing community was more than I could have ever expected. I couldn’t believe the number of people who were excited and shouted out about my book and all the other debuts that day. I was astounded. And it ended up being a really, really great day.

But once this is all over, I can’t wait to get my fancy coffee and peruse my local bookstore so I can see it on the shelf in real life.

4.      Tell us about your book.

INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS is an upper middle grade novel set in the New Mexico desert. It is about a 12-year-old girl who is the only one in her family who lacks the magical familial trait. Her grandmother is very ill, social services is knocking on her door, and she’s isolated herself from her twin sister and ex-best friend. One day a mysterious grass grows up in the desert and her grandmother wakes up and asks Yolanda to take her to the last pecan tree on their property, in hopes of saving her life. So, Yolanda embarks on this journey with her grandmother, her twin sister, her ex-best friend, a boy who has a crush on her, and her naughty little dog. It has magical realism and STEM elements, sister-relationships, first crushes, and explores nature and grief. It came out on April 7th with Margaret K. McElderry books and is available in hardcover, e-book and audio. The hardcover is absolutely stunning in person with a shiny gold metallic cover. The narrator, Marisa Blake, did an amazing job, so you can’t go wrong with either medium. 

5.      Where can we get your book and find you on social media?

Book links:

Social Media Links
Twitter, Instagram, Facebook: @Lorielryon
Website: www.Lorielryon.com

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Loriel and Kristy!

Loriel has generously offered a signed hardback of INTO THE TALL, TALL GRASS and Kristy has offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment through May 2nd. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter either contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

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

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

Here's what's coming up. Please support these authors who are debuting in these challenging times by stopping by and commenting:

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

Wednesday, May 6th,I have an interview with Erin Bowman and a giveaway of her MG THE GIRL AND THE WITCH'S GARDEN and my IWSG post

Monday, May 18th Monday, May 18th I have an interview with Swati Teerdhala and a giveaway of THE ARCHER AT DAWN 

Wednesday, May 20th I have an agent spot light interview with Erin Clyburn and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, June 3rd I have a guest post by debut author Chelsea Ichaso and her agent Kristy Hunter and a giveaway of Chelsea's YA psychological thriller LITTLE CREEPY THINGS and a query critique by Kristy

Hope to see you on Monday!




HOPPY EASTER EGGSTRAVAGANZA GIVEAWAY HOP


Happy Tuesday Everyone! I hope you all are safe and healthy and holding up okay during these challenging times. I'm doing pretty good. It's hard living alone through this but I see my boyfriend a few nights a week and walk with a friend at a local park a few days a week. Not being completely isolated really helps. I haven't seen my mom in over a month, but no one at the independent living facility where she lives has gotten sick. We talk every day.

I'm lucky because I'm a contract writer and already work at home, so I'm still working part-time. I'm reading a lot more, which is great, and trying out some new authors. I'm getting a lot of my books through the Libby library app. I just read my first book by Harlan Coban, which I really enjoyed, and am now reading BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys. I read almost half of it in one day. I didn't realize how much I like historical fiction.

How are you are surviving the Coronavirus?

Today I'm excited to participate in the Hoppy Easter Eggstravaganza 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 April 30th. Please also leave your email address with your comment 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. FYI you can help these authors with their releases of their books by stopping by and entering the contest for a free copy:

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 a query critique giveaway 

Wednesday, May 6th,I have an interview with Erin Bowman and a giveaway of her MG THE GIRL AND THE WITCH'S GARDEN and my IWSG post

Monday, May 18th I have an interview with Swati Teerdhala and a giveaway of THE ARCHER AT DAWN 

Wednesday, May 20th, I have an agent spot light interview with Erin Clyburn and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, June 3rd I have a guest post by debut author Chelsea Ichaso and her agent Kristy Hunter and a giveaway of Chelsea's YA psychological thriller LITTLE CREEPY THINGS and a query critique by Kristy

Hope to see you on Monday!

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




JESSICA KIM INTERVIEW AND STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! I’m excited to have debut author Jessica Kim here to share about her middle grade contemporary, STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! It sounds like a fantastic blend of humor and dealing with heavy issues that many middle graders can relate to.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her "Yu-MEAT" because she smells like her family's Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she's reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she's a girl named Kay Nakamura--and Yumi doesn't correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.
 

Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for joining us.

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


To be honest, I’d never really considered becoming a writer. In my former life, I was a classroom teacher and I assumed that I’d retire as one. It wasn’t until I moved away to New York City for three years and started a personal blog that I realized how much I enjoy storytelling. As my readership grew beyond my friends and family, I started to hear the comment, “You should really write a book!” and that stuck with me. So much so that when we moved back to California, I decided not to return to the classroom as planned but decided to pursue publication seriously. I joined a critique group and took some writing classes and pretty soon found the writing community, which has been very supportive.

2. Love how you got into writing. Where did you get the idea for STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG!?

I really wanted to write about the complexities of being a second-generation American and the unique challenges we face toggling between our parents’ culture and the American one we grew up in. Specifically, I wanted to write about the desire to pursue something less conventional, something more creative, and more “risky.” At the time, I was dealing with my own conflicting feelings about a career in publishing and found myself second-guessing myself because of all the things I was taught when I was younger: do something practical, regular Americans aren’t interested in our stories, find a stable more predictable endeavor. At the same time, the passion I had for writing was growing and I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t at least try to chase my dream of writing a book. That inner turmoil became the seed for the idea of STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG!

3. I bet a lot of kid will relate to the feelings you were dealing with. Your story has a lot of humor and jokes that Yumi is working on. People who have read it said that they laughed out loud. Did the humor come easy to you? What tips do you have for authors who want to write stories that include humor? 

Some of the observational humor that’s included in the narrative was easy for me to write, but the jokes and bits she uses in her acts on stage were very difficult. I have my own notebook full of jokes that never made it into the book. Comedy truly is a craft and I needed to hard work on making those bits work. As far as tips, I’d suggest simply spending time with young people, watching the media they find funny, and immersing oneself in that world. Personally, I have a ten-year-old daughter so that part is not a choice for me.

4. Yumi also has to deal with a lot more issues in the story, like disappointing her parents and
risking her dream. How did you create a balance the humor and serious moments in your story? 

I really wanted to write a fun adventure story full of hijinks and high tension but also one that went deep into authentic family relations and the conflicts that happen there. In a sense, the nature of that friction between Yumi and her parents naturally led to some of the more serious moments in the book. I was careful to bring comic relief throughout to maintain a balance between light and heavy. It’s kind of like seasoning your food when you’re cooking. A little of this, but not too much, and a little of that, but not too much.

5. I like the food analogy. What was a challenge you had in writing STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG? How did you overcome it?

I wanted to be careful about stereotypes. It was important that I portrayed the characters in an
authentic light without turning them into caricatures. In the first draft, I may have over-corrected in my writing of Mrs. Chung, Yumi’s mother. I was keenly aware of the way Asian women are often painted in Western media: stern and harsh tiger moms. So, in the original version she spoke perfect English, had a crush on George Clooney, and joked around with her kids. But she never really rang true to me. In my revision, I tried a few more times to nail her down and finally ended up writing her based on the moms I grew up with in my community. At first glance, especially in the first chapters, Mrs. Chung might come off as your stereotypical strict academic-minded Asian mom. However, as you read on and come to know her, you see more dimensions of her personality and by the end you’re rooting for her because you understand her and the tremendous love she has for her daughter. I learned that I can’t just write in reaction to the stereotypes that are out there. I need to write deeper to explore what’s beneath the surface and then, in my specificity, I can tap into the universal. 

6. Thao Le is your agent. How did you get your agent and what was your road to publication like? 

A year before I signed with my dream agent, Thao Le, I actually queried her with a different manuscript. I’ll never forget receiving her rejection email, it said something about how she couldn’t “connect to my voice.” I was devastated because there are a lot of things I can change about my writing, but voice wasn’t one of them. I thought that’d be the end of Thao and me. But then a year later, I pitched my new story, STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! on #DVpit, a Twitter pitch event for marginalized writers and illustrators, and to my surprise she requested materials from me. I held my breath and sent it, bracing myself for another rejection. You know, because of my “voice.” But this time it was a YES! Just another reminder that we can’t give up hope and even if we get rejected, we can’t stop, we have to keep writing something else and keep trying.

7. That's a great story of how to get an agent that I think the rest of us wouldn't mind having. I saw on your website that you’ve planned a number of events since January 2020 outside of California, where you live. Were these events scheduled by your publisher or you? What was the experience like of attending them and making presentations as a new author? 

So far, all the events I’ve attended or will attend have been set up through my publisher. I haven’t been to a lot of events yet, but the few I attended were wonderful. It was so great talking about my book and the inspirations I had for it. I am currently working on making a presentation for my future school visits and I can’t wait to meet my young readers!

8. Besides events, what are other ways that you are promoting your book and building your social platform?

I’m working with my local indie bookstores to help boost other authors, moderating signings, and being active in my community promoting representation.

9. What are you working on now?

Currently working on writing book 2! Stay tuned for another fun middle grade novel soon.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jessica. You can find Kim at www.jesskimwrites.com and @jesskimwrites on all social platforms.


Jessica has generously offered an ARC of STAND UP, YUMI CHUNG! for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower  of my blog and leave a comment that includes your email address by April 18th. 

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

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

Here's what's coming up:

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 Tuesday!