CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Here are my current Giveaway Contests

Throwaway Girls through September 19th

Crownchasers through September 26th

Carlise Webber Query Critique through September 26th

Erin Casey Query Critique through October 3rd

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

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

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

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

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

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: Erin Casey Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Erin Casey here. She is an associate literary agent at the Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency.

 Hi­ Erin! Thanks so much for joining us.

 About Erin:

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


After two internships at another agency, my manager there heard that Marietta Zacker at Nancy Gallt Literary Agency was looking to hire an assistant. She put me in touch with Marietta, and the fit was wonderful! So I joined Gallt & Zacker (then Nancy Gallt Literary Agency) as an intern in 2015 and never left! I’ve been learning and moving forward since then, most recently getting promoted to associate agent in May of 2019. Since then I’ve been focused on building my list while assisting the office with international and audio rights.

About the Agency:

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

Established in 2000 by Nancy Gallt, and later joined by Marietta B. Zacker, we aim to bring to life stories and artwork that help young readers throughout the world become life-long book enthusiasts and to inspire and entertain readers of all ages. We represent authors and illustrators who share and, through their work, exemplify that vision. We are a small agency of 5 agents and one international rights director and we are committed to finding and advocating for authors who want to make the world a better, more thoughtful, more interesting place one book at a time.

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 represent all ages in kid lit, so PB through YA, and I am open to all genres. I am particularly drawn to the “genre” genres, like fantasy, speculative, fabulism, and magical realism but I often prefer stories that are grounded in our world. I do not have a devoted picture book author on my list yet, so I would love to find someone who is doing something special in that space. I find myself particularly picky about picture books, and I really want them to have something to say about the world, without being didactic. I am also open to nonfiction in all these age categories and prefer stories that center on the story of a moment or movement or object/invention.

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

I’ve been an athlete all my life and would love to see more sports books that have a unique angle, particularly by non-white, non-cisgendered authors. I’d love more stories featuring less “mainstream” sports (I’m still waiting for my ultimate frisbee book!). I’ve also been hoping for a womxn-in-the-outdoors story for some time, about hiking or camping or survival. I also love learning about monsters and myths, so I’d welcome fantasy, speculative, or even horror from authors of non-white backgrounds writing about non-western mythologies.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

As a white, able-bodied, cis-gendered woman, I have always had access to stories that reflect my identity and experience. The world needs more books that reflect a greater range of experiences, identities, and cultures, so please no books founded on heterosexual white kid high school drama.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

Thanks to great mentorship, I often ask myself, “Why does the world need this book?” while I’m reviewing submissions. Sometimes the answer is as simple as “Because it’s so fun to read!” but I always want to have an answer for that question for all the books I represent. I want to know why this book should get picked up off the shelf instead of the one next to it. Why is it special? Why should a child read it? What does the world look like with this book in it? I want the books I represent to bring joy and understanding and truth and entertainment! But I also want them to “do no harm” (well, except maybe tearing the reader’s heart into a million pieces because it’s so good!).

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

Yes I would call myself an editorial agent. I was a creative writing major in college and I decided to pursue a career in publishing because I realized I enjoyed helping make other people’s stories better more than writing my own. I always make margin comments while reading a new client manuscript and then I’ll often read the manuscript again once I have the whole picture in mind so I can see how each scene fits. I will often send a summary email with “Big Thoughts” along with the annotated manuscript so my client can keep larger ideas/changes in mind while they review my notes. I only write edit letters when I really need to organize my thoughts or explain myself in a more linear fashion – otherwise it just feels like double work! I try to keep in mind that I cannot acquire the book (more good mentorship!), so while I may have subjective opinions that I can talk to the author about, I want to make suggestions that objectively make the book better (at least to 90% of people!) and will give it a better chance of being acquired by an editor. I will go through as many rounds of revision as it takes for the author and I to both feel confident that the story is the best we can make it objectively, while always keeping in mind that this is the author’s story and their vision is most important.

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

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

Please follow our submission guidelines at www.galltzacker.com/submissions and submit to my query specific email. Note that I am currently closed to queries but will be reopening in October.

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

I will always read the sample as long as the querier did their best to follow our submissions guidelines! That being said, I find it slightly off-putting when the query is written from the perspective of the main character.

Response Time:

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

On our website, we say that if you haven’t heard back from us in 4 weeks you can feel free to query another agent at the agency or elsewhere. I will say that, since Covid-19, I have not caught back up to this 4 week timeline! That is why I am currently closed and hopefully I will be able to respond in that timeframe when I reopen in October. Regarding requested pages, I am currently responding to partials within 4 weeks and fulls within 4-6 weeks.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

Yes! I will say I have no experience with self-publishing, so I will not be able to help you self-publish your book. However, if you want to traditionally publish, I will do my best to help you achieve your goal no matter the size of the publisher and no matter your publishing history. My advice would be to be upfront with your publishing history (it’s helpful, not harmful) and if you are querying a previously self-published book, know that the route toward traditionally publishing the title may be difficult but it is possible, depending on how many copies you’ve sold. In general, having a self-published past should not negatively impact your ability to traditionally publish in the future!

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

I see agents doing more to protect their clients and advocate for them when Publishers are required to put their company first (negotiating morality and confidentiality clauses, advocating for virtual event protections, etc.). I also see agents finding more and more ways to connect with potential clients, through Instagram or Tiktok for example. Agents are becoming more versatile and innovative, but their role as advocates for their clients is the same as always.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Derick Brooks – check out THE BRIGHT FAMILY on Epic!

Robin Yardi – author of THE MIDNIGHT WAR OF MATEO MARTINEZ, OWL’S OUTSTANDING DONUTS, and THEY JUST KNOW: ANIMAL INSTINCTS.

Laura Williams McCaffrey (co-represented with Nancy Gallt) – author of MARKED, WATER SHAPER, and ALIA WAKING.

And others whose work I hope you’ll be seeing soon!!

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

For picture book writers/illustrators: https://www.pbspotlight.com/single-post/2020/01/28/Agent-Spotlight-Erin-Casey

https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/erin-casey/

Links and Contact Info:

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

Our submissions guidelines: https://www.galltzacker.com/submissions.html

My Twitter handle: @erin_michelle_C

Additional Advice:

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

Do your research! Particularly if you are a writer/illustrator from a marginalized background. There is an amazing push for work from diverse creators right now, but please make sure that the agents you are querying are good people who want to help you and your work and will protect and support you. There are people looking to take advantage of unsuspecting writers, and those who may not be making the effort to understand BIPOC, disabled, or queer clients in a way that will make them good representatives for your work. So look them up on every platform you can, ask friends, and ask the agent questions if you do have a phone call. As hard as I know it is to hear when you’re trying to achieve your dream, a bad agent is worse than no agent.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Erin.

Giveaway Details

­Erin is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through October 3rd. 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 do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments. 

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debut Author Interview: Rebecca Coffindaffer and Crownchasers Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Rebecca Coffindaffer here to share about her YA space opera Crownchasers. It sounds like it’s got fantastic space world building and a compelling plot with high stakes. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Follower News

Before I get to my interview with Rebecca, I have Follower News.

Patricia Josephine recently released Influenced, a romance and fantasy short story collection. Here's a


blurb: 
Influencers are the voices that whisper in our ears. Tiny Angels and Devils sitting on our shoulders and guiding our choices. They are sworn to thwart the other. It is their duty.

Or so they thought…

And here are a few links:

Interview With Rebecca Coffindaffer

Here’s a blurb of Crownchasers from Goodreads:


A deadly competition for the throne will determine more than just the fate of the empire in this riveting duology opener, perfect for fans of The Hunger GamesAurora Rising, and Three Dark Crowns.


Alyssa Farshot has spent her whole life trying to outrun her family legacy. Her mother sacrificed everything to bring peace to the quadrant, and her uncle has successfully ruled as emperor for decades. But the last thing Alyssa wants is to follow in their footsteps as the next in line for the throne. Why would she choose to be trapped in a palace when she could be having wild adventures exploring a thousand-and-one planets in her own ship?

But when Alyssa’s uncle becomes gravely ill, his dying wish surprises the entire galaxy. Instead of naming her as his successor, he calls for a crownchase, the first in seven centuries. Representatives from each of the empire’s prime families—including Alyssa—are thrown into a race to find the royal seal, which has been hidden somewhere in the empire. The first to find the seal wins the throne.

Alyssa’s experience as an explorer makes her the favorite to win the crown she never wanted. And though she doesn’t want to be empress, her duty to her uncle compels her to participate in this one last epic adventure. But when the chase turns deadly, it’s clear that more than just the fate of the empire is at stake. Alyssa is on her most important quest yet—and only time will tell if she’ll survive it.


Hi Rebecca! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I started writing when I was pretty young — about seven or eight years old — and it was always just something that I did. I have notebooks full of all kinds of stories going back years, things I scribbled away at during school and summers, and I’m not quite sure when but somewhere along the way it just became the goal. To get published. To be an author.

 2. That's great that you've written since you were a kid. Where did you get the idea for Crownchasers? 

I tend to either build out a story main character first or world building first. Crownchasers was definitely the former, and it kind of all spiraled out of the idea of the character of Alyssa Farshot. I needed the challenge of doing something voice-driven, something in first person, and came around to this concept of a fast-talking, gender-flipped Han Solo or space Indiana Jones. And then it was just a matter of sitting down and brainstorming what world is this character in, what’s her place in it, what are the big problems she’s facing and what are her conflicts about it. So it all kind of came from there.

3. I’ve read that your story includes awesome alien worlds and cool technology. What was your world building process like and what advice do you have for others who write science fiction?

 Most of my world building is a brainstorming process, a lot like my plotting. I usually start with a single idea or visual to give me a jumping off point and then I just start writing out questions for myself — and answering them — as I go along. So I’ll take a planet concept and start asking myself: who lives there? What does the landscape look like? How do they live? What are their customs? And so on and so on. I think it’s important to have fun with it. I think it’s also important — and something I’m definitely working on — to push it farther than what we know here on our world. Get weird with it. And then, get even weirder.

4. That's a great way to develop a world. You decided to write a duology instead of a trilogy. Had you always planned it this way? How do you think the fact that Crownchasers was the first of two instead of three books affected your plotting process?

I think, initially, I thought it had the potential to be a trilogy, but it sold as a duology, and I honestly think that was the best thing. Because there’s a lot to explore in this world and a lot of moving pieces, but plotting it as a duology meant that I had to keep a strong focus on what was important, what was at the core of these two books. There’s not as much space for side quests, as much as I love a good side quest, so I trim it down to just the questions I wanted to tackle and the adventures that needed to happen in this specific frame of time.

 5. Yes, I think the strong focus is a plus of a two-book series. Alyssa sounds like an adventurer who must make some really hard decisions about her life and her role in the kingdom. Did you understand all of her personal challenges when you started the book or did they develop as you wrote her story? And was it hard for you to weave in her internal character conflicts into a fast-paced story?

Once the idea of her being the niece of the emperor, of her coming from one of these imperial families


but not having ambition for the throne necessarily — once all that came about, I knew pretty early on I wanted to tackle this question of personal responsibility in a system of power. Because if she was just someone who didn’t want to be empress and didn’t care about imperial politics, then the choice is simple: she can just flunk herself out of the race and go about her life. I wanted her to be faced with this question of: what does someone in her position in the galaxy have a responsibility to do? What does she owe as part of this greater society she’s in? I think those are the questions of the whole duology, really.

It is definitely a fast-paced story, but luckily, space is big! So there are naturally occurring moments when she is traveling across multiple star systems where she’d have a moment to stop, to think, to process everything that’s happening and deal with these internal challenges to her old self.

6. Your agent is Lara Perkins. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I signed with Lara in January 2016. I had a book I’d been querying to adult scifi and fantasy agents for several months, and I had an author friend — Tessa Gratton — read it for her input. She said, “You should try this as YA, and you should definitely send it to Lara Perkins.” And she gave me a recommendation because Lara was closed to queries at that time, and Lara and I just…hit it off. She has an incredible editorial eye and helped me make take that book to the next level. We didn’t end up selling it, but working with her has helped me hone my voice and pushed me to become an even better writer.

7. You were a Pitch Wars mentor in 2019. Share about your involvement in Pitch Wars and how it’s helped your own writing.

 I was actually a mentor in the very first PitchWars ever in 2012, and I was so excited to come back to it after years away and have a chance again to see all the amazing things being written right now. I paired up with Michelle Wong this year, who’s so freaking talented and imaginative, and I hope more people get to experience her stories very soon. I think mostly PitchWars has helped me in terms of building connections. Writing can be so lonely, and PitchWars, whether you’re a mentor or an applicant, is a chance to find a place in a larger community that can help you keep going when the grind of publishing gets you down.

 8. How are you marketing your book in light of the pandemic and stay at home orders? What advice do you have for other authors whose debut book is releasing in the next year?

 It is definitely a WEIRD year to try and carve out a debut platform. Honestly, I think it’s weird for every author to try and shout about an upcoming book when the world feels like such a hot mess. Back in the spring, I really scrambled to try to do EVERYTHING. Like, I was gonna launch a YouTube channel and a virtual bookfest and hustle to get involved with every possible thing ever in the world, and I quickly found out that that made me stressed and unhappy. So these days, I’m just doing the marketing stuff that makes me happy. Like this interview! J And I’m trash for swag, so I had a lot of fun putting together and launching a preorder campaign (LINK: https://rebeccacoffindaffer.com/crownchasers-preorder-campaign/). But beyond that, the best thing I can do both for my career and for my readers is to focus on making book two the best it can be and dreaming up whatever project is next for me after Crownchasers.

 9. I really like your attitude about marketing. I saw on your website that you are on Twitter and Instagram. Which is your favorite social media platform for connecting with other readers, librarians, and writers? Why?

 I think I’ve done most of my connecting on Twitter. Partly because I’ve just been on there for so much longer, and partly because I’m a little better at it! I can tweet all day, but I agonize over what/how to get a good post together on Instagram. But it’s such a great platform with amazing people — especially all the talented bookstagrammers — so I love to go on, to see all the incredible visuals. Basically, I’m an excellent Instagram lurker.

 10. What are you working on now?

 Right now the main focus is on revising and editing book 2 of the duology. It doesn’t have an official title yet, but it comes out in fall of 2021, so I’m working on perfecting it with my editors right now. I have some other project ideas on the backburner — more fast-paced science fantasy, more adventurous girls — but mostly I just want to make sure I get the ending of Alyssa’s story right.

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


https://rebeccacoffindaffer.com/
https://twitter.com/callmebecks
https://www.instagram.com/beccacoffindaffer/
https://www.harpercollins.com/products/crownchasers-rebecca-coffindaffer

Giveaway Details

Rebecca has generously offered a hardback of Crownchasers for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by September 26th. 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 International to wherever Book Depository ships for free.


Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, September 16th I have an agent spotlight interview with Erin Casey and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 21st I have an interview with debut author Laura Stegman and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Summer of Luck

Monday, September 28th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Bieker and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, October 7th I have an interview with Jennifer Nielsen and a giveaway of The Captive Kingdom and my IWSG post

Monday, October 12th I have an interview with Sherry Ellis as part of her MG adventure Squirt's Mayan Adventure blog tour

Monday, October 19 I have a guest post by debut author G.Z. Schmidt and her agent Adria Goetz and a query critique giveaway by Adria and a giveaway of No Ordinary Thing by Adria

Hope to see you on Monday!


Agent Spotlight: Carlisle Webber Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Carlisle Webber here. She is a literary agent at Fuse Literary.

Hi­ Carlisle! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Carlisle:

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


I became an agent after years of working as a YA librarian. I lost my job due to budget cuts and decided to explore my interest in the business side of books. I attended the Columbia Publishing Course and pretty much knew going in that I wanted to be an agent. Agenting combines my interests in reading trends, editing, and advocating for authors. After working for a couple of New York agencies, I opened my own agency when I moved to California in 2013. It wasn’t a good idea. I’m an extrovert and really missed having other brains around! I joined Fuse Literary in 2017 and am still there.

About the Agency:

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

Fuse Literary is an entirely virtual agency with nine agents in New York, California, Texas, and Ontario. Each of us gets to choose what we want to represent, and as a result the agency is open to just about all genres of fiction and popular nonfiction for adults and picture books, MG, and YA fiction and nonfiction, including graphic novels. Because of our varied work backgrounds in areas like editing, marketing, and contracts, we’re able to offer authors answers to just about any questions they have. We work with our authors on maintaining a strong social media presence, and many of our clients are members of Fuse Club, a Facebook group open to all clients where they can discuss topics from editing to playlists to cover art.

Our philosophy at Fuse is that we want to represent authors for the life of their career. Publishing is such a subjective business that we may not always have success with clients’ books that we love. Because of this, we’re always willing to brainstorm with our authors about book ideas and try different paths to publication.

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 represent MG and YA, but not picture books. I rep almost all genres for MG and YA and am especially interested in contemporary fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, and horror. For science fiction and fantasy, it’s important that I see elements of the world we live in. I like witches and fairies but not dragons or talking animals.

In terms of what I’m looking for in submissions, the most important thing is an authentic voice. The joy of reading YA and MG is seeing a character change and develop through the course of the book without the benefit of wisdom we’ve earned as adults. Regardless of genre, if I don’t believe the voice, I’m not going to enjoy the book. 

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

Right now, I’d love to see more books about mental health issues and both visible and invisible disabilities. I’m always on the lookout for Own Voices stories as well. Although I have some specific items on my Manuscript Wish List, most of the time I don’t really know what I want until I see it. It’s more important that a book makes me feel something than if it hits specific wishlist items. Anyone who writes in the genres I represent is welcome to query me, even if your book doesn’t include anything on my wishlist. 

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

I am not the right agent for epic fantasy, portal fantasy, historical fiction, or steampunk. I also don’t like books about kids who want to be writers or journalists.

Agent Philosophy:

6. What is your philosophy as an agent both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you want to represent?

I want to work with authors who plan for long writing careers. At Fuse, we want to work with authors who have lots of ideas and a vision for their author brand that we can help them develop. When I’m on a call with a potential client, I always ask them what they’re working on besides the book they’ve queried me with. It’s important to me that an author has more than one book in them.

As far as the books I want to represent, the most important thing is that I find the characters interesting. I like to point to three of my favorite TV shows: Scandal, Sons of Anarchy, and Succession. The one thing they all have in common is that they all made me say, “These people are completely terrible, and I cannot wait to see what they do next.” A character can be good and likeable or not, it doesn’t matter, as long as the author makes me want to see how they overcome their obstacles. Regardless of genre, a book has to draw me in with the voice and make me feel something, whether that’s anger, happiness, fright, or something else. 

Editorial Agent:

7. Are you an editorial agent? If so, what is your process like when you’re working with your authors before submitting to editors?

I think most agents are editorial to one degree or another. Usually, I read what a client sends me and offer feedback after their first round. Sometimes it’s an edit letter, sometimes it’s a line edit with an edit letter. A lot of the editorial process depends on how I feel about the book’s ability to sell in the current marketplace. All of my authors can already write great books. That’s why I signed them! When I edit, I prefer to ask questions about how they can go deeper with characterization, or streamline parts of the plot, or pick up the pacing, the things that will keep readers glued to the page and talking about the books with their friends. I do expect when I sign clients that they will be open to getting editorial feedback, because I won’t be the only one giving it to them.

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

8. How should authors query you and what do you want to see with the query letter?

Authors can query me through email or Query Manager. The details are on my Fuse Literary page, which is linked below. Besides the letter, I like to see the first ten pages of the book.

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

I’m not a fan of query letters that tell me how I’m going to feel about the characters or the story, because every reader gets something different out of every book, and it’s not a failure on my part if I don’t feel the way the author wants me to.

The most common openings I see that don’t work for me include prologues, action scenes with no background or emotion, and scenes where the author fills in backstory by having people sitting and talking. The opening of a book should be a balance of action and emotion, because these create tension. Ideally, the opening of a book invites the reader to see the mystery of who the main character is. Then, by the time the inciting event happens, we know how it will affect the main character’s trajectory.

Response Time:

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

A lot depends on how much work I’m doing for current clients at the time. Queries, unfortunately, have to come last on my priority list. I try to get to my queries within eight weeks or so, and I usually reply to manuscript requests within six weeks, give or take.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to representing authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses? What advice do you have for them if they want to try to find an agent to represent them?

I am open to previously published authors as long as they’re coming to me with a brand-new book. The quality of the book is ninety-eight percent of my decision to represent an author. Many authors come to agents after self-publishing first or negotiating their own contracts with a small press and deciding it’s not right for them. To self-publish well, an author has to become their own publishing company. Doing things like marketing and publicity takes time, and I find that most writers want to spend that time writing, so they want to pursue representation. If the book perhaps didn’t have a great sales record, there are ways to work with that. My advice to these authors is to be honest with your potential agent about your publishing record and write the best book you can.

12. With all the changes in publishing—self-publishing, hybrid authors, more small publishers—do you see the role of agents changing at all? Why?

It’s my job as an agent to guide an author on their best publication path, and I think that work can only increase with the number of publishing opportunities authors have. Fuse has always been very supportive of hybrid authors and our clients self-publishing when or if it’s right for them. So in that regard, I believe agenting will change in the way that there will be more to learn about new companies and ways to publish, and we’ll have to keep on top of which publishers and contract terms are best for our clients.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I’m excited to be going out with new thrillers from previously published clients J. Todd Scott and Heather Hansen. I’m also looking for a home for some debuts, including a MG contemporary by Joni Pope, a YA Own Voices romance by James Acker, and a YA horror by Finola Prendergast Davidson. I mean it when I say I only work with the best people. My authors are all talented and tenacious. Fun fact: I’ve found several of them through pitch contests on Twitter.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews and guest posts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

I recently did an interview with Darling Axe Editing, and I hope writers will find it useful.

Links and Contact Info:

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

To learn more about what I’m looking for and how to submit, check out my Fuse Literary page. All the details writers need to know are listed there. For social media, anyone is welcome to follow me on Twitter: @carliebeth or Instagram: carliereads.

Additional Advice:

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

The best thing you can do to turn yourself into a great writer is read widely. Every time I do a writers conference, I always meet at least one author who doesn’t read in the genre in which they write. There isn’t a lot in this profession that shocks me, but this is something that does. I can always tell when a writer doesn’t read in their genre, because they either get the voice wrong or will pitch to me and tell me that the reason they wrote their book is that there are no good books out there for their intended audience. Of course, that’s not true. Writing is an art, but publishing is a business, and it’s important to me that writers are aware of what the current marketplace looks like. 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Carlisle.

Giveaway Details

­Carlisle is generously offering a query critique to one lucky winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment through September 26th. 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 do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments. 

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. This is an international giveaway.

Have any experience with this agent? See something that needs updating? Please leave a comment or e-mail me at natalieiaguirre7@gmail.com

Note: These agent profiles and interviews presently focus on agents who accept children's fiction. Please take the time to verify anything you might use here before querying an agent. The information found here is subject to change.

 

 

Debut Author Interview: Andrea Contos and Throwaway Girls Giveaway and IWSG Post

 Happy Wednesday Everyone! Can you believe it's September already? I hope you're all hanging in there and staying healthy. I am and am grateful that everyone I know and love is healthy.

Today I’m thrilled to have Andrea Contos here to share about her YA debut thriller Throwaway Girls. I was lucky to get an ARC on NetGalley and loved it! It was fast-paced and kept me guessing till the end. And I just discovered that Andrea lives not that far from me when I was preparing her interview. Before I get to my interview with Andrea, I have Follower News and my IWSG Post.

Follower News

Long-time follower Julie Able recently debuted with her MG fantasy Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch. Here's a blurb and some links:

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch is a Japanese-inspired middle grade fantasy that follows the adventures of 12-year-old Eva, a girl with a pinch of magic who must travel to a seaside town in order to complete her witch training, or risk losing her magic forever. Perfect for Ghibli fans of Kiki's Delivery Service or MG fantasies like Aru Shah, Kirkus called it "bewitching, a must-read for fantasy lovers" in their starred review, and Publisher's Weekly said "In this thoroughly charming debut, Abe centers Eva’s ingenuity, resilience, and adaptability, as well as the strength of friendship" in their starred review.

Here's a few links:
Eva Evergreen Ordering Links Page: www.julieabebooks.com/eva-evergreen

FYI I'm offering Julie's book as a choice in my September to Remember Giveaway Hop.

IWSG Post


Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the September 2 posting of the IWSG are PJ Colando, J Lenni Dorner, Deniz Bevan, Kim Lajevardi, Louise - Fundy Blue and me!

Optional Question: If you could chose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?

This is a fun one. I'd definitely pick Jennifer Nielsen. I fell in love with her as an author when I read her debut MG The False Prince, which I nominated for a Cybils award that she won. Since then, she's written many MG and YA fantasy and historical fiction. She is incredibly versatile and talented. I love how she writes. Her plots are fast-moving and she has a great writing style where every word counts. Plus she's a super nice person.

I just finished her YA fantasy series, The Traitor's Game, and the whole series was  fantastic. And guess what? She's going to be here for an interview and giveaway of her latest book, The Captive Kingdom, on Wednesday, October 7th, our next IWSG meeting. I can't wait!

Who would you pick as your beta partner?

Interview With Andrea Contos

Here’s a blurb of Throwaway Girls from Goodreads

Caroline Lawson is three months away from freedom, otherwise known as graduation day. That's when she'll finally escape her rigid prep school and the parents who thought they could convert her to being straight.


Until then, Caroline is keeping her head down, pretending to be the perfect student even though she is crushed by her family and heartbroken over the girlfriend who left for California.

But when her best friend Madison disappears, Caroline feels compelled to get involved in the investigation. She has her own reasons not to trust the police, and she owes Madison — big time.

Suddenly Caroline realizes how little she knew of what her friend was up to. Caroline has some uncomfortable secrets about the hours before Madison disappeared, but they're nothing compared to the secrets Madison has been hiding. And why does Mr. McCormack, their teacher, seem to know so much about them?

It's only when Caroline discovers other missing girls that she begins to close in on the truth. Unlike Madison, the other girls are from the wrong side of the tracks. Unlike Madison's, their disappearances haven't received much attention. Caroline is determined to find out what happened to them and why no one seems to notice. But as every new discovery leads Caroline closer to the connection between these girls and Madison, she faces an unsettling truth.

There's only one common denominator between the disappearances: Caroline herself.

Hi Andrea! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

I always say I became a writer because I was bored.

I loved reading as a kid, and I used write stories to entertain my friends, but I never considered becoming a writer. I grew up in Detroit, was one of five kids, paid for my own college and therefore graduated many thousands of dollars in debt, and that meant all my focus went into finding a job that was stable and paid well. I spent the next decade climbing the corporate ladder, until my daughter was born, and I realized my complete lack of work/life balance and a partner who traveled more weeks than not was really not conducive to newborns.

So I made the very scary decision to cut our income in half and stay home with her!

I loved being able to spend so much time with her, but 6 month-olds are not very good conversationalists, and my brain clearly needed something to do. So I wrote a book.

It was terrible. Despite reading plenty of books, my brain didn’t seem to absorb even basic things like how to punctuate dialogue. But I fell in love with writing. It made me think, it became a way to put my emotions on the page, and I could do it in the wee hours of the night when my house was silent.

There were several periods where I had to walk away from it (like when the second child came along) but I always found myself going back. But it wasn’t until about four years ago that I actually got serious about trying to pursue publication.

It was definitely not a straight road, but I’m not sure I’d have gotten here any other way!

2. I think many of us have had those times when we didn't have time to write. Where did you get the idea for Throwaway Girls?

Throwaway Girls started the way most of my ideas do—from a spark. In this case, it was the opening

scene: a girl who finds the body of another girl lying next to a lake. So many crime novels start a dead woman or girl, but far too often, she’s just a plot device to spur the detective to going after the bad guy. But in this case, she’s found by someone who cares, and who can see herself in the victim in a lot of ways.

From there, this voice popped into my head that I couldn’t get rid of, and the story unraveled from there!

3. I’m imagining that you have to really plot out a thriller. And you planted a lot of clues in yours but kept the mystery going all the way to the end. How did you plot your story out and what tips do you have for the rest of us?

Ha! I am not a plotter! I like to call myself a capri-pantser. For me, that means when I start writing a book, I know the main character, the basic conflict, a few plot points along the way, and the end (which helps me know what I’m writing toward.) But the vast majority of the book is still a mystery to me at that point.

If that’s not strange enough, around the 50% mark, I start plotting a scene-by-scene outline, pulling the threads I’ve started at the beginning through to the end, and setting up the climax and resolution.

I always say my brain withholds things from me while drafting, because I’ve lost track of the times I’ve included something in the beginning without quite knowing why, but that ends up being critical to the main conflict.

Suffice it to say, I don’t think you need to be a plotter in order to write a mystery—or any other genre for that matter! But I’m always amazed by the skill it takes to plot an entire book!
As for tips, I can’t point you in the direction of beat sheets or 3-act structure outlines, but there are some “rules” I follow for every book I write.

I think knowing how your book ends is one of the most important aspects, especially for a mystery/thriller. It’s really hard to include clues for something you don’t know exists. And for every action your main character takes, you should have an understanding of what the villain is doing in the background. That’s very hard to do if you don’t know who they are!

I also think it’s important to tie the main conflict to your main character. The conflict should be something that forces them to confront a fear or misbelief—something that directly influences their character arc. You want for your reader to be invested in all those plot threads you’re weaving.

Speaking of plot threads, it’s important to pull them all through. If you plant a seed in the beginning, you want it to bloom by the end of the book. Too many dangling threads makes a book feel unfinished and unsatisfying.

I also plan for misdirection. Part of writing anything is getting readers to believe in the story you’re telling, and you can use that skill to your advantage. Plan for your main character to get things wrong, but make it convincing. Give your characters and your readers concrete reasons for coming to the wrong conclusions!

Don’t forget the subplots! They make for a more layered, richer story!

4. I like how you plot. You tackle some difficult issues in your story like forgotten girls that no one cares about and Caroline’s secret relationship with her girlfriend. Share how you approached these issues in developing your story to avoid it sounding preachy, which you did a good job of avoiding.

Ah thanks! That’s always a big worry when dealing with difficult topics. Any book that even borders on an “issue book” always feels extra challenging, because you want to do it justice, but still write an enjoyable story. It’s a very delicate balance.

My approach was just to be as real and honest as possible. And I think it certainly helps if there are personal experiences you can draw from. This book was intensely personal to me for a number of reasons, and I think that made several elements feel more authentic, but much harder to write.

That aside, I firmly believe that the story drives the themes. I don’t write books to teach lessons. Lessons emerge from the story. So I go into the book with a focus on telling the story of these characters to the best of my ability, and my hope is that readers become invested in their lives, and maybe that opens their eyes to different points of view, or gives a voice to their own experiences.

5. You were a Pitch Wars mentee and mentor. How did being a mentee help you with this story and your writing in general? At what stage of a manuscript should a writer consider submitting as a mentee?

Yes! I was a mentee in 2017, and a mentor every year after, including this year! I love Pitch Wars so much and I’m honored to be part of such an amazing program that’s made such a huge difference in the careers of so many writers.

Throwaway Girls was actually my Pitch Wars novel, and it connected me to my mentors, Sonia Hartl and Annette Christie, who are both amazing writers whose books you should definitely buy! They helped me zero in on who Caroline was and really bring the heart of the story forward. And I can’t understate the value of having someone else truly love and understand your book. Their support and guidance gave me so much confidence in my story, especially since it was not only the first mystery/thriller I’d ever written, but the first young adult book as well!
As for when you should submit as a mentee, you want a completed manuscript that’s been polished to the best of your ability.

We’re not looking for perfection! A perfect manuscript doesn’t need a mentor!

But competition in Pitch Wars is serious. There are thousands of applicants and each mentor can only pick one, and there is so much talent out there. That means it’s in any applicant’s best interest to get their manuscript in the best shape it can be.

I’d never disqualify anyone for a typo, but if I find several in your first few paragraphs, I’m going to question how much time you’ve invested, and how much time you’re willing to invest in the future.

Workshop queries and first chapters with other hopefuls—you can find them on the Pitch Wars # and the forums. Then, while you’re waiting for the submission window to open, apply as much as you’ve learned to the rest of your manuscript.

I tend to shy away from “rules” because there is always an exception, but ideally, you’d have a manuscript you’ve had time to write, send to betas, and revise based on their feedback. Are betas absolutely necessary? Nope. But they can’t hurt, and anything that can help improve your manuscript (and therefore, your odds!) is worth doing!
As for queries—write the best one you can. They’re tough! And it’s a completely different skill than book writing. But queries are pretty easy to fix, and even a terrible query wouldn’t stop me from picking a book I really loved.

The least of your worries? The synopsis. Again, do your best. Hit all the major plot points. Streamline it. Aim for clarity above all else. Have someone read it who has never read your book and make sure they’re not totally lost. But a synopsis will not make or break your submission.

6. Your agent is Sarah Davies. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Sarah is an incredible agent and I am so lucky to have her in my corner! My road to publication was not a quick one. I actually started out writing adult SFF. I wrote and queried two manuscripts, but sent them out to fewer than 40 agents. I got tons of requests, but was perpetually stuck in the “I love your writing, but…” realms of rejections. Then the idea for Throwaway Girls took hold.

Once I’d finished and revised it, I sent it to about ten agents, just to see what kind of interest I’d get. I’d never written a mystery/thriller before, or YA, and I had no idea whether this book would even be something agents would want!

Sarah requested the full, as did most of the agents I queried. I opted not to send more, because the submission period for Pitch Wars was coming up, and I’d planned to enter.

I eternally glad I did, because I got chosen for Pitch Wars! It was an amazing experience and introduced me to some of my best writing friends. Throwaway Girls did very well in the showcase (my mentors tell me I got the second highest number of requests but I’ve never actually confirmed that) and I went on to receive a number of offers of representation, including one from Sarah.

I was blown away—and completely unprepared—for the level of interest, and that two week decision period remains one of the most stressful/wonderful times of my career.

But I loved Sarah’s experience with the industry, her overwhelming knowledge, her approach to editing, and how I immediately knew that she’d be a tireless advocate for me and my books.

I signed with Sarah in 2018 and we’ve gone on to sell three books together, and hopefully many more to come, so I think I made the right choice!

7. How are you promoting your book given the pandemic? What advice do you have for other authors whose books will be published before life goes back to “normal?”

The elusive “normal”.  Truthfully, I’m not sure “normal” will ever look the same, which makes some things much harder, including book promo!

The truth is, as authors, there isn’t much we can do to “move the needle” on book sales, even without a pandemic. But we can still do preorder campaigns, talks with other authors on Instagram, posting about our books online, or virtual launches.

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the fabulous Class of 2K20 books (https://classof2k20books.com/) which is made up of 20 Middle Grade and Young Adult novels debuting in 2020. We’ve been able to advertise through Book Riot, Storygram Tours, and School Library Journal, as well as marketing our books through our website, blog, and twitter and insta chats.

Debut is really stressful for a lot of authors though, so I think it’s important to point out that all those things are optional, and no one should feel pressured.

 8. What have you done to build your social network platform since you signed your publishing contract? How do you advise other writers to build theirs?

I think the best way to build a following is to just have genuine interaction with people. People figure out pretty quickly if you’re just attempting to use them to build your followers.

Getting involved in the writing community is a great way to build your platform and make new connections! Participating in contests or twitter chats can introduce you to new people and help show commonalities you may not have otherwise known!

 9. Your next book, Out of the Fire, will be published in the Fall 2021 by Scholastic. Has it been different writing your second book with a deadline to get it completed? How has it been working with two publishers?

I am so incredibly excited about OUT OF THE FIRE and can’t wait to introduce everyone to this fabulous group of girls! I actually just sent my latest revision to my editor, and I’m thrilled with how the book has turned out so far. But I didn’t actually write it on a deadline.

I was able to write Out Of The Fire while in the midst of finishing up final edits for Throwaway Girls, and I couldn’t wait to get it out on sub, which happened earlier this year. We had our first offer within the first week. The final deal with Scholastic is for two books, so I am in the process of writing under a deadline now.

I’m not quite panicking yet because I have some time, but drafting an entire book in a few months while having two young children remote schooling is honestly not something I’m looking forward to!

Working with two publishers hasn’t been an issue at all, mostly because all of the editorial work for Throwaway Girls was basically done prior to starting on edits for Out Of The Fire. But OOTF revisions have been so amazingly painless—so many thanks to my amazing editor—that I don’t think it would’ve been a problem even if I had to do them simultaneously!

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


https://twitter.com/Andrea_Contos
https://www.andreacontos.com/
https://www.instagram.com/andreaacontos/

Giveaway Details

Andrea has generously offered an ARC of Throwaway Girls for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by September 19th. 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.


Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, September 7th I have an agent spotlight interview with Carlisle Weber and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 14th I have an interview with debut author Rebecca Coffindaffer and a giveaway of her YA space opera Crownchasers

Wednesday, September 16th I have an agent spotlight interview with Erin Casey and a query critique giveaway

Monday, September 21st I have an interview with debut author Laura Stegman and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Summer of Luck

Monday, September 28th I have an agent spotlight interview with Lauren Bieker and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, October 7th I have an interview with Jennifer Nielsen and a giveaway of The Captive Kingdom

Hope to see you on Monday!