CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Quintessance through August 1st

Not Another Love Story through August 8th

August of Books Giveaway Hop through August 3oth

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

Veronica Roth Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/19/20

Carlisle Webber Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/7/20

Erin Casey Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/16/20

Lauren Bieker Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 9/28/20

Adria Goetz and G.Z. Schmidt Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/19/20

Melanie Castillo Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/21/20

Amy Brewer and Dana Swift Guest Post and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/3/20

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.

Author Interview: Olivia Wildenstein and Not Another Love Song Giveaway


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I have YA author Olivia Wildenstein here to share about her new YA romantic contemporary NOT ANOTHER LOVE SONG. It sounds like a fun read about competing desires, which many teens and adults must grapple with.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

An aspiring teenage singer finds herself playing a different tune when she falls for a boy who could jeopardize her future dreams in Olivia Wildenstein's romantic YA novel, Not Another Love Song.

Angie has studied music her entire life, nurturing her talent as a singer. Now a high school senior, she has an opportunity to break into Nashville's music scene via a songwriting competition launched by her idol, Mona Stone. Discouraged by her mother, who wishes Angie would set more realistic life goals, she nonetheless pours her heart and soul into creating a song worthy of Mona.

But Angie's mother is the least of her concerns after she meets Reedwood High’s newest transfer student, Ten. With his endless collection of graphic tees, his infuriating attitude, smoldering good looks, and endearing little sister, Ten toys with the rhythm of Angie’s heart.

She’s never desired anything but success until Ten entered her life. Now she wants to be with him and to be a songwriter for Mona Stone, but she can’t have both.

And picking one means losing the other.
 

Hi Olivia! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi! Believe it or not, two factors contributed to my pursuit of a writing career: the 2008 crisis and the Twilight books. For five years after graduating from Brown, I worked in fashion and accessories, and then 2008 happened. I was pregnant with my first child at the time, and I no longer wanted a high stress job contingent on the world economy. This pushed me to find a new vocation. I’d always been a big reader but never had I devoured a series as fast as Twilight . . . and I thought, “I want to do what Stephenie does.”

2.      Where did you get the idea for NOT ANOTHER LOVE SONG?

Not Another Love Song was born from my love for music (I write to music, read to music, eat to music, drive to music . . . basically, there’s always music playing somewhere in my house, office or car) and my obsession with the TV show Nashville at the time I started writing it.

3.      Your story is set in Nashville, and you live in Switzerland. What research did you do so that you got your setting right?

I’d never traveled to Nashville so I researched the heck out of the music capital on the internet and then fact-checked with friends who lived there. Two years ago, I finally made a trip to Tennessee, and I was surprised by how familiar it all felt.

4.      Angie’s dream is to break into the music industry in Nashville. Did you know much about this industry already or did you have to learn about before you starting writing? How did you tackle learning enough to accurately write about it?

I actually have friends who own a record label (they’re the ones who put Angie’s song to music! It’s included in the audiobook, which is narrated by the amazing Eileen Stevens who read Dumplin’ and Geekerella.), so I asked them about the industry, and then researched the rest on my own. As for voice lessons, I actually used to take them, even though you would not want to hear me sing.

5.      What was your plotting process like? Share your tips for other writers on how to create a page turning plot when writing a contemporary romance.

At the beginning of each book, I’ll write a 5-7 page outline. And then I’ll set it aside, on a shelf somewhere, and won’t refer to it once during the writing process. You may wonder why I write the outline in the first place if I don’t use it. The reason I do this is because an outline has beats, and outlining helps me figure out when I want those beats to happen. The plot may take unexpected turns, but those initial beats will stay. If you think of it like a song, my outline gives my book its rhythm.
In romance, beats are especially important, as is making sure your main character and his/her romantic interest always orbit around one another. Those unputdownable love stories are unputdownable because there is constant friction between the two leads.

6.      Many writers (including me) don’t feel confident about developing the growth of a romantic relationship in our stories and intimate scenes. Share how you’ve developed this part of Angie’s story. What advice do you have for the rest of us?

The key to writing romance is reading romance (I know this is clichĂ© and sounds simplistic, but it’s
true), and then studying the books that made your heart beat the hardest. Also, romances are character-driven stories, which isn’t to say there’s no plot (the very best romances have gripping plots, think A Court of Mist and Fury or The Bridge Kingdom), but your reader needs to become attached to both your leads or they won’t get invested in the love story.

7.      Your book is being published by Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan publishing under Feiwel & Friends. Share what your road to publication for this book was like and for your earlier books.

There are two major differences between indie and trad: the first is time. In indie, your turnaround is quick. Most indies will write and publish a book every three months; it takes me double the time, which is slow for indie but lightning-fast for trad, which takes 1-2 years. The second big difference is the handling of your manuscript. In indie, the MS remains entirely yours (even though we have editors and proofreaders and beta readers). In trad, your MS becomes the property of someone else, which I’d equate to surrogacy.

8.      You’ve already written and published four series, which are in different genres, and one other standalone. What have you learned about marketing YA books from promoting these books and how has it affected your marketing plan for NOT ANOTHER LOVE SONG?

Marketing is something I’ve learned along the way, and that I’m still learning because it’s forever changing. There’s this word you might’ve already seen: authorpreneur. It describes the indie business to a tee. You have a team, but in the end, if you don’t work really hard at putting your book out there, it won’t reach the right readers. Also, nothing works better than word-of-mouth and a strong review team / reader group. Most recently, the bookstagram community has become pivotal in marketing.

9.      What is your advice for other writers for building their social media platform and marketing their books?

Connect with your readers! I really can’t stress this enough. They will make this journey so much more fun and bearable. By connecting, I don’t mean pushing your books at them; I mean interact, host giveaways, thank them when they take the time to read and review. Remember that without them, you wouldn’t be an author; you’d be a diarist.

10. What are you working on now?

I am currently working on Celestial, the second and last book in my angel romance series, which started with Feather (a Romeo and Juliet retelling), and simultaneously I’m co-writing a brand-new YA witchy romance duology, think Serpent and Dove.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Olivia. You can find Olivia on:

-          Instagram under @olives21 (her favorite haunt)
-          Facebook in her reader group Olivia’s Darling Readers (second favorite hangout place)
-          Her website: http://oliviawildenstein.com
-          Amazon
-          Goodreads
-          Bookbub
 Twitter under @OWildWrites

Giveaway Details

Olivia and her publisher have generously offered a hardback of NOT ANOTHER LOVE SONG for a giveaway.  To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment by August 8th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

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. and Canada.


Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways


Here's what's coming up:

Wednesday, August 6th I have an interview with debut author Sasha Laurens and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Wicked Magic and my IWSG post

Monday, August 10th I have an interview with debut author Chris Negron and a giveaway of his MG contemporary Unmasked

Monday, August 17th I have an interview with debut author KayLynn Flanders and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Shielded

Monday,  August 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Veronica Park and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Wednesday!








NEW RESOURCE AND GIVEAWAY: THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS WRITING GUIDE IS HERE!


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I have something fun to share...a special chance to win some help with your writing bills. Awesome, right?



Some of you may know Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers. Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I'm part of their street team. I'm handing the blog over to them today so they can tell you a bit about their Writer's Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!




Certain details can reveal a lot about a character, such as their goals, desires, and backstory wounds. But did you know there's another detail that can tie your character's arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the "get to know the character" curve for readers?

It's true. Your character's occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.





Think about it: how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles, or helping you live your truth?



Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life. The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.



Maybe you haven't thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character's personality, interests, and skills. It's okay, you aren't alone. The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. (Here's one of the job profiles we cover in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)

GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER'S SHOWCASE

To celebrate the release of a new book, Writers Helping Writers has a giveaway happening July 20th & July 23rd. You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within our Writer's Showcase. Stop by to enter!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles For Your Characters





Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past.



What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right?



To access this list, GO HERE



Happy writing to all!

Thanks for sharing all your advice and for providing writers with an awesome resource, Angela and Becca!

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, July 27th I have an interview with Olivia Wildenstein and a giveaway of her YA romance Not Another Love Song 

Wednesday, August 6th I have an interview with debut author Sasha Laurens and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Wicked Magic and my IWSG post

Monday, August 10th I have an interview with debut author Chris Negron and a giveaway of his MG contemporary Unmasked

Monday, August 17th I have an interview with debut author KayLynn Flanders and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Shielded

Monday,  August 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Veronica Park and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

JESS REDMAN INTERVIEW AND QUINTESSANCE GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Jess Redman here to share about her new MG magical realism/contemporary Quintessance. It sounds like it has sympathetic characters, some magic, and page-turning plot. It’s on my summer reading list. I also interviewed Jess last year when her debut THE MIRACULOUS released. You can read her interview here.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Three months ago, twelve-year-old Alma moved to the town of Four Points. Her panic attacks started a week later, and they haven’t stopped—even though she told her parents that they did. Every day she feels less and less like herself.

Then Alma meets the ShopKeeper in the town's junk shop, The Fifth Point. The ShopKeeper gives her a telescope and this message:

Find the Elements.
Grow the Light.
Save the Starling.

That night, Alma watches as a star—a star that looks like a child—falls from the sky and into her backyard. Alma knows what it’s like to be lost and afraid, to long for home, and with the help of some unlikely new friends from the Astronomy Club, she sets out on a quest that will take a little bit of astronomy, a little bit of alchemy, and her whole self.

QUINTESSENCE is a stunning story of friendship, self-discovery, interconnectedness, and the inexplicable elements that make you you.
 

Hi Jess! Thanks so much for joining us!

Hi, Natalie! I’m thrilled to be back on Literary Rambles!

1. For those who don’t know you, tell us about your road to getting your agent, Sara Crowe, and your first book deal.

I started writing my first middle-grade book about eight years ago. I sent that book out to many, many agents…no luck. Then I re-wrote it and sent it out again…no luck. Then I wrote another book and sent that one out…slightly better response but still, no luck.

Then I re-wrote that first book yet again, and I ended up with multiple offers of representation, including the fabulous Sara Crowe of Pippin Properties. Then we went on submission and…no luck!

I’ve found the best thing to do when I’m waiting for news or feedback or reviews is to write something new. So while that original book was still out on submission, I wrote THE MIRACULOUS, a story from my heart. And when that story went on submission nearly a year later, I was on the phone with multiple editors within two weeks.

What I take away from this: I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I was too afraid to actually try for many years because I knew it would involve a lot of rejection. AND I WAS RIGHT! Where I am now, having sold four books, there is still rejection and difficult edits and negative reviews. Katherine Paterson said, “To write, your heart has to be absolutely tender and you have to have the skin of a rhinoceros.” For me, that has been true.

2. I appreciate your honesty about the rejections as well as the happy moments of selling your manuscripts. Where did you get the idea for QUINTESSANCE?

QUINTESSENCE started off as a book being read by a character in another story I was working on. In that version, Alma was a two-dimensional girl on a quest. But as I worked on the story-within-a-story, Alma took on a life of her own and soon she was big enough and complex enough that I just had to give her her own book.

The story combines astronomy, alchemy, and mental health issues—specifically anxiety and panic disorders. I’ve always been fascinated by space, I’ve always loved all things magical, and I’m a former therapist. It took some time for these elements to fit together, but in the end, I did it.

3. It sounds like your story combines a lot of what you're interested in. Was writing this book harder than your first book because you had to write on deadline? What advice do you have for the rest of us about writing a book once we have a publishing contract and can’t take as much time to write it?

It definitely was! Learning to work on a deadline has been a challenge for me, but one that I am
gradually adjusting to.

One thing I wish I’d done was start working on something new a bit quicker. THE MIRACULOUS sold a little over two years before it was actually published, which is pretty standard for publishing. Once I knew Macmillan was going to publish the book, there was a gap of seven months before I actually started working on it with my editor. I wish I would have spent those seven months diving into something new!

Right now, I have QUINTESSENCE coming out next Tuesday (July 28th), I’m doing copy edits for the next book, and I’ve just turned in some options to my agent for what I hope will be the book after that. When writing was a hobby, I worked on one project at a time; now, I’ve learned to juggle multiple projects in various stages of completion.

4. I'd be happy just learning to write faster. it would be hard to juggle numerous projects. Alma sounds like a totally sympathetic and compelling character that you make readers care about. It sounds like one of your talents as a writer. How did you create her and your characters in general to make them so memorable?

That’s such a lovely compliment. In many ways, QUINTESSENCE and THE MIRACULOUS feel like companion stories. Both feature sensitive, thoughtful main characters who are trying to sort through some big feelings and big questions.

As a former therapist, I try to spend a lot of time getting to know my characters at a deep level. I write their backstories, I carry on imaginary conversations, and I just spend a lot of time with them mentally. Usually, if I stall out in my writing it’s because I don’t understand my characters well enough. I’m not letting them lead the action because I don’t know what they would do. So understanding my characters through and through is very important to me. The story wouldn’t get written at all otherwise.

5. I bet your experience as a therapist really help you know your characters better. What was your process of creating the magical realism aspect of your story? What appeals to you about writing in this genre?

So far, all of my stories that are published or under contract and all the ones for the foreseeable future contain some degree of magic. Fabulism and magical realism are also my favorite genres to read. I love exploring contemporary issues but with the volume turned up on reality.

For this story, I was inspired by the idea of the fifth element, which is sometimes called aether or quintessence. Stars were once thought to be made of this quintessence. So I started researching and drawing from both alchemy and astronomy, and then layering those ideas on this story of a girl who has moved to a new town. I experimented with turning the magic up and turning it down until I felt the balance was just right.

6. So the rest of us can learn from your experience as a debut author, share what you did to promote your book and what you would have done differently in retrospect assuming we weren’t in a pandemic?

When I was a debut, the first public “book thing” I did was sharing the Publishers Weekly announcement. Then, about seven months prior to pub date, I did a cover reveal, which was great fun.

Some other things I did: I made an unboxing video when I get my ARCs. I gave away copies at regular intervals on social media. I launched a pre-order campaign with prizes for everyone who preordered or requested the book from their library and a drawing for larger prizes. I developed a Teaching Guide with writing prompts, research prompts, and hands-on activities. I created a book trailer. I did lots of blog posts. I reached out to local media.

What I didn’t do: I didn’t do much in terms of in-person events. Being a debut author, I didn’t think many people would show up to a bookstore event other than my launch. If I were to do it again, I think I would have set up a few events with bookstores in my state in order to make more connections.

7. It's great to see what worked and what you'd add to what you did. How are you marketing Quintessence in light of the pandemic? What advice do you have for other authors who are having a book released during these challenging times? What’s the best way to find online opportunities?

This time around, I’ve done more media content. I made a character quiz using a free app, did several read aloud videos, and have posted more on Instagram. I did a book trailer again, which you can see here: https://youtu.be/EKMiQKojkeE and a pre-order campaign, which you can check out here: www.jessredman.com/preorder.

I had planned a small book tour for QUINTESSENCE. But—that’s not going to happen! However, I do have quite a few virtual events set up during publication week and throughout August. On July 28th my launch event will be hosted by Books & Books, and I’ll be in conversation with NYT bestselling author Natalie Lloyd (Snicker of Magic, The Problim Children series). So while I’m sad about the loss of in-person tour, I’m excited about the possibilities that virtual events have opened up. Would I have been able to get Natalie to fly to Florida for an in-person launch? Probably not. Would I be able to fly to Texas and North Carolina and NYC for events? Maybe, but maybe not.

So I’m trying to take this as an opportunity to explore new ways to connect with readers.

8. That's so awesome that you invited Natalie Lloyd to your book launch event.
What are you working on now?

My next middle-grade book comes out on May 4, 2021. It’s called THE ADVENTURE IS NOW It’s the story of video game-loving Milton P. Greene who has had the rottenest year of all time. Then it gets even rottener when his parents send him to stay with his research uncle on the electricity-free Lone Island for the summer. But on the island, Milton finds a field guide full of fantastical creatures, clues to a hidden treasure, and a definitely unrotten real-life adventure. I had so much fun writing this action-packed, quirky story.

As for what’s next…fingers crossed! My heart and my rhino skin are ready for anything.
  
Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jess. You can find Jess on Twitter and Instagram at @Jess__Red and at her website www.jessredman.com where she’s posted upcoming events, book trailers, a teaching guide, and information on the pre-order campaign. And you can purchase QUINTESSENCE here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374309763

Jess has generously offered a hardback of Quintessance for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment by August 1st. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

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:

Wednesday, July 22nd, Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers will be here to celebrate the release of THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS written by Becca Puglisi and her with a big giveaway  

Monday, July 27th I have an interview with Olivia Wildenstein and a giveaway of her YA romance Not Another Love Song 

Wednesday, August 6th I have an interview with debut author Sasha Laurens and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Wicked Magic and my IWSG post

Monday, August 10th I have an interview with debut author Chris Negron and a giveaway of his MG contemporary Unmasked

Monday, August 17th I have an interview with debut author KayLynn Flanders and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Shielded

Monday,  August 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Veronica Park and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

BIG AGENT SPOTLIGHT NEWS!


Happy Wednesday Everyone! It's my birthday today! And I'm very happy to celebrate by announcing that all agent spotlights and interviews have been updated for the first time in Literary Rambles' history. I'm SO excited!

I've wanted to update the agent spotlights for years. One of the silver linings of having to stay home due to the pandemic is that I started updating all the agent spotlights and agent spotlight interviews in April and recently finished updating all 175 of  them. It's made me feel good to do something to help writers in the safety of my home.

Many agents reviewed and corrected their information. You will be able to tell which agents reviewed theirs in the Profile Details at the bottom of the spotlights and interviews.

Going forward, I'm planning to try to update the spotlights for agents that switch agencies or start their own agency when this happens. I'm going to review and update all of the spotlights on a three-year schedule, which means they will be updated again in 2023.

Three Ways You Can Help Me

I'm hoping that everyone who uses these spotlights will find them more helpful now that they are up-to-date. Here's three ways you can help me:

  • Share on your social media sites that these agent spotlights have been updated so other writers know that they will helpful in their agent search and ask your followers to spread the word.
  • Be sure to let me know of any changes to the agent spotlights by leaving a comment on their post or emailing me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com.
  • Support the debut authors that I feature by reading their posts, leaving a comment, and spreading the word about their book or ARC giveaway contest. In these challenging times, debut authors need our help more than ever to spread the word about their book releases. 
Thanks so much for helping me! I really appreciate it.

And you can see all the agent spotlight interviews and author/agent guest posts that are scheduled at the top of the blog. These are great opportunities for you to have direct contact with an agent and get feedback on your query letter. You don't have to want to query the agent or have a submission in the genres that they are looking for to enter the contest.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, July 20th, I have an interview with Jess Redman and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Quintessence

Wednesday, July 22nd, Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers will be here to celebrate the release of THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS written by Becca Puglisi and her with a big giveaway  

Monday, July 27th I have an interview with Olivia Wildenstein and a giveaway of her YA romance Not Another Love Song

Wednesday, August 6th I have an interview with debut author Sasha Laurens and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Wicked Magic and my IWSG post

Monday, August 10th I have an interview with debut author Chris Negron and a giveaway of his MG contemporary Unmasked

Monday, August 17th I have an interview with debut author KayLynn Flanders and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Shielded

Monday,  August 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Veronica Park and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!


KARIN BIGGS INTERVIEW AND THE KING’S 100 GIVEAWAY


Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Karin Biggs here to share about her YA fantasy. It sounds like a fantastic story that combines science and fantasy. It’s gotten great reviews, and I’m really looking forward to reading it.


Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Piper Parish, princess of the loveless, STEM-only kingdom of Capalon, is a disappointment to her citizens and to her older sister, the queen. When Piper receives an anonymous note stating her mother is still alive and living in the enemy kingdom of Mondaria, Piper chooses to risk death in effort to prove once and for all that she's not just the queen's defective little sister. With the companionship of Chip, a piece of tech embedded in her wrist, Piper flees Capalon and enters a world where love and emotional expression are unrestricted.

Posing as a singer for the enemy king’s court of performers, the King’s 100, Piper risks death if she is revealed to be the Capalon princess, but discovers that living a life without the freedom to love might actually be the most dangerous risk of all.

The King’s 100 is a glittering and mysterious love story woven among the camaraderie singers, drummers and magicians in a future world by debut author, Karin Biggs.

Hi Karin! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you for having me! I’ve always had a vivid imagination and could be classified as a ‘professional daydreamer’ in school. Writing has always been a strong suit of mine, but I chose a career in hospitality and event planning. During my career, I would have a dream or get an idea for a story and write a snippet of it on my computer. It wasn’t until I left the events industry (8 years after graduating college) to become a stay at home mom, that I put the pedal to the metal and finished my first manuscript.

2. That's great that you wrote down your ideas. Where did you get the idea for THE KING’S 100?

It all started with a dream! (Sounds very Stephanie Meyer, eh?) In this dream, I saw a girl in a silver sequin gown, who was about to go on stage to perform for a king. That morning, I came up with the title The King’s 100 before I even knew what the story was about. Blending my love for romance, life experiences in performance groups and adoration for ‘fish out of water’ stories, I spent just over one year writing my first draft of The King’s 100.

3. Titles are hard, so it's awesome you came up with yours so easily. It really fits your story. One thing that sounds really interesting about your story is that the world Piper lives in is scientifically advanced. What made you decide to incorporate science as part of your world building? What was your world building process like?

Great question! I struggled at first with the world Piper would be leaving to have her ‘fish out of water’ experience. I knew that I wanted the ‘new world’ to be a stark contrast with music and emotional expression, so the idea for a very strict, emotionless, scientific kingdom felt like a good fit. The world building for the book had a complete make-over in draft two, changing from one kingdom with a class system to two feuding kingdoms with extremely different lifestyles and beliefs.

4. This sounds like a real page-turner. What were your strategies for keeping readers wanting to read on?

One great piece of advice I received when I started revising for draft two was to dissect the
books you love and pinpoint WHY you love them so much. One of my favorite books is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I stayed up almost all night reading her book because I couldn’t put it down! After re-reading Caraval multiple times, I realized that what kept me going was her blend of romantic tension, familial interactions and the big kicker - mystery. My first draft had NO mystery whatsoever and very little romance, so I amped those two areas up and also changed the familial conflict from mother-daughter to sister-sister.

5. I've been meaning to read her book. Now I have to. Romance also plays a big role in your story. It’s not always easy for fantasy writers focused on a quest or adventure plot to write. Was this aspect hard for you and what tips do you have for other writers?

I was surprised to get the feedback from my critique partners from the first draft review that they felt like there was not enough romance! I realized that I had been saving a ton of romantic scenes for book two, which pushed the romance to the background instead of the foreground which is where I intended for it to be. In draft two, I made the romantic plot the focal point, using their feuding kingdoms as the driving conflict.

6. Your publisher is Immortal Works Press. What was your road to publication like?

I queried maybe 10 or so agents with my first draft and I’m SO glad I put a pause on querying until after my second draft was completed and reviewed. Once the second draft was ready to go, I queried over 100 agents and about 20 or so small presses. I received two offers from small press, ultimately accepting the offer from Immortal Works. I think writers overlook small press, assuming they won’t have the resources to get them in the hands of readers, but I have been so happy with my publishing experience! I don’t feel any different from the agented, traditionally published authors and am so excited to see how the world reacts when The King’s 100 finally goes on sale in July!

7. That's a great piece of advice about smaller publishers. How are you planning to promote your book during the pandemic? How has it changed your marketing plans?

Honestly, my marketing plans have not changed at all! My plans were always to use social media as my main form of promotion, so it doesn’t feel like I’m losing anything. Also, I might be a special case because I wasn’t planning on an immediate in-person release event or tour because I am due with my second baby at the end of June! I’m hoping to start some (socially distant!) signings and book events this fall.

8. I can't believe that you are debuting just after becoming a new mom. What is something that surprised you about the process of getting published?

I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of editors provided by my publisher. My editor, John Olsen, taught me so much through his edits and suggestions, taking The King’s 100 to a higher level quality product. If there’s one mega-important piece of advice for writers who are seeking a publisher, it’s to check their list of qualified editors. Editors make all the difference when it comes to sending your book baby out to the world!

9. What are you working on now?

Oh, I’m so happy you asked! I have completed a new manuscript about the Roswell incident of 1947. It’s a YA historical fiction romance and I like pitching it as ‘The Da Vinci Code meets Roswell.’ I have not yet queried it out to any agents or publishers.

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


 Karin has generously offered a hardback o the The King's 100 for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment by July 25th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, July 20th, I have an interview with Jess Redman and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Quintessence

Wednesday, July 22nd, Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers will be here to celebrate the release of THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS written by Becca Puglisi and her with a big giveaway  

Monday, July 27th I have an interview with Olivia Wildenstein and a giveaway of her YA romance Not Another Love Song 

Hope to see you on Monday!


ASH VAN OTTERLOO INTERVIEW AND CATTYWAMPUS GIVEAWAY

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Ash Van Otterloo here to share about Ash’s MG fantasy Cattywampus. I was dying to read it just from the cover and was able to obtain an ARC from Edelweiss. I was so glad I did. I loved the magic of the hexes, but I especially enjoyed the middle grade issues of friendship, working together, and self-worth that the story explored.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

The magical story of a hex that goes haywire, and the power of friendship to set things right!

In the town of Howler's Hollow, conjuring magic is strictly off-limits. Only nothing makes Delpha McGill's skin crawl more than rules. So when she finds her family's secret book of hexes, she's itching to use it to banish her mama's money troubles. She just has to keep it quieter than a church mouse -- not exactly Delpha's specialty.

Trouble is, Katybird Hearn is hankering to get her hands on the spell book, too. The daughter of a rival witching family, Katy has reasons of her own for wanting to learn forbidden magic, and she's not going to let an age-old feud or Delpha's contrary ways stop her. But their quarrel accidentally unleashes a hex so heinous it resurrects a graveyard full of angry Hearn and McGill ancestors bent on total destruction. If Delpha and Katy want to reverse the spell in time to save everyone in the Hollow from rampaging zombies, they'll need to mend fences and work together.
 

Hi Ash! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

I was born in Charlotte, NC, and lived in southern Appalachia for over thirty years! Books have always been a passion and a lifeline for me—fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, non-fic, you name it! Then one day during a difficult period in my life, I began writing a short story with a group of friends, to reconnect with my imagination and having fun. They encouraged me to keep going, and I’ve written nonstop ever since!

2. Awesome how writing with friends got you started writing. Where did you get the idea for your story?

It was a combination of things! I saw a #mswl (manuscript wish list) post from an agent (not mine!) on twitter, asking for a book about Appalachian witches. That general concept stoked a fire inside my heart. I loved the idea so much, I thought about it day and night for weeks!

Then, one day while I was sitting under some trees at the park with my then-nine-year-old daughter, we played the “what-if?” game, a favorite of ours.

I said, “What if a spell went wrong, and you raised an entire graveyard of zombies by accident?” Without missing a beat, she added: “And what if you were RELATED to all of them?”

I whipped out my notebook and scribbled a scene (which is still in the book!) and the title, Cattywampus.

3. What a way to get an idea for a book! What does Cattywampus mean and was this always the title of your book?

Cattywampus means “a little wonky/askew” or “not quite straight.” (For instance, most of my homemade stack-cakes end up looking a little cattywampus! But they’re delicious.)

I’ve always liked the word because I think it reflects a worry most people share: that we’re not quite perfect or somehow weird. And the big secret is, that’s okay! We’re all works in progress, and it can be good and powerful to accept help from those who care about us.

It’s been the title from the very beginning.

4. Share a bit about how you developed the magical system in your story and the hexes that cause so many problems for Delpha and Katybird.

When I was growing up, the people around me often fixed, created, and built things out of odds and
ends they had on hand, coming up with clever ways to patch and repair. Waste not, want not! As a little girl, I was always experimenting with things by trial and error this way, and I wanted to reflect that—the ability to “make do” with sometimes-comical materials—in Delpha’s family magic! They innovate and think on their feet.  

Katy’s magic was borrowed heavily from stories about ancient Irish and Welsh nature deities. The legends about Flidais and Cerridwen especially influenced the Hearn’s magic, and their fierce family love and tendency to be at harmony with the nature around them.  

It was also important to show that magic, just like any skill, often isn’t easy when you first attempt it! And it always costs us something.

5. Delpha and Katybird are both such great, sympathetic characters. Was it hard writing from both of their POV’s? What tips do you have for other writers who want to write a middle grade story using dual POVs?

Confession: I love writing multiple POVs. If I could, I’d write them exclusively! This is likely because my brain acclimates to projects very quickly (read: I have attention span issues), so I find alternating voices helpful in keeping my imagination engaged.

My best tip for writing distinct characters is: get to know them, inside and out! So many things go into making a complex human: our hurts, memories, families, personalities…

A fun exercise is to spend a whole day thinking as your character. (What would they order at this food cart? If someone pays them a compliment, do they deflect? Return the praise? Blush? Why?) Eventually, they might start to remind you of someone you’ve met before, and you can borrow speech patterns or mannerisms that match their personality.

Or: launch a DnD campaign and play as your MC!

Drawing from your own different moods/personality facets can help, too! We talk differently on different days and in different situations. Every person contains multitudes.
  
6. That's a great idea for anyone to spend a whole day thinking like your character. What was a challenge you had in writing your story and how did you overcome it?

I had to scoop out some deep, personal places in my heart to get the characters’ emotional arcs where they needed to be! It was challenging, but well worth it.

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

Lauren first requested my manuscript during a #NoQS contest on Twitter! I was completely over the moon after talking to her on the phone. Not only had TriadaUS been my dream agency for a while (their website was pinned to my toolbar), I knew in my bones Lauren was a perfect fit. Over the course of our agent/client relationship, that gut feeling has been proven a thousand times over! She’s honest, passionate, and insightful.

Lauren suggested heavy revisions, which took a while, but the effort paid off! In late summer of 2017, we officially signed, and then…more revisions just as my family geared up for an across-the-country move!

My fantastic editor, Jenne Abramowitz, picked up CATTYWAMPUS in fall 2018, and the deal was announced shortly after I moved to WA in 2019. The best words to describe it all are “slow-motion whirlwind.”

8. How are you planning to promote your book given the Coronavirus? What is your advice to other writers who may also need to market their book during these challenging times?

Researching the purpose of in-person promotions and meetings has gone a long way to soothe my anxiety! For the most part, readings and events are joyful things that bring celebration to the book launch process. But most sales aren’t generated from in-person events, even though they can be very meaningful and fun. And many authors are doing their launches and readings online!

Personally, I’ve really enjoyed participating in online launches and readings this year that I wouldn’t have been able to attend otherwise! Innovative solutions and creative community are flourishing, even during this very difficult time.

So, my advice is this: borrow a page from Delpha’s book and think outside the box! Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Humans are so resourceful and resilient when we work together. It’s all going to be okay. <3 o:p="">

9. You're making me feel better about not doing so many in-person events. What are you working on now?

Right now, I’m fiddling with an outline for a third book while I wait on edit notes for my ghost book, A TOUCH OF RUCKUS, which comes out from Scholastic in fall 2021!

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

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

Ash is generously offering an ARC of Cattywampus for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog and leave a comment by July 18th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

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.

Here's what's coming up:

Monday, July 13th, I have an interview with debut author Karin Biggs and giveaway of her YA fantasy THE KING'S 100

Monday, July 20th, I have an interview with Jess Redman and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Quintessence

Wednesday, July 22nd, Angela Ackerman of Writers Helping Writers will be here to celebrate the release of THE OCCUPATION THESAURUS written by Becca Puglisi and her with a big giveaway  

Monday, July 27th I have an interview with Olivia Wildenstein and a giveaway of her YA romance Not Another Love Song 

Hope to see you on Monday!