Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

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

Asking a Favor: Please Nominate Literary Rambles for Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites

Happy Monday Everyone! I hope you had a safe and happy Thanksgiving. Mine was very quiet with my boyfriend. It's okay. I'm grateful that all my family and friends are safe and healthy. Next year should be so much better.

I'm also grateful to all of you wonderful followers. Thank you so much for visiting Literary Rambles, reading my posts, and leaving comments. 

I have a favor to ask you. If you like Literary Rambles and find it helpful, I would appreciate it if you would nominate my blog for Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites. They are doing it differently this year, and you need to fill out a form to nominate a blog or website. In the blog post announcing the call for nominations, they say that you can nominate yourself and ask your followers to also nominate you. FYI I nominated myself in the everything agent category, which seems to fit my blog the best.

This is the Writer's Digest post that contains the nomination form. The deadline for nominations is December 18, 2020. 

I am asking this favor not because I want the recognition, which is gratifying I admit, but because it will give Literary Rambles more exposure to writers who may not know about it and who can benefit from my author interviews and agent spotlight interviews. My mission here is to help other aspiring writers and debut authors on their publishing journey. Being named a 101 best website would really help with this goal.

Thanks so much if you decide to nominate Literary Rambles. I really appreciate your help. You can nominate as many blogs as you want, and I encourage you to do so. 

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, December 2nd I have an interview with debut author Diana Pinguicha and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Curse of Roses and my IWSG post

Thursday, December 3rd I'm participating in the Winter Is Coming Giveaway Hop

Saturday, December 5th I'm participating in the December 2020 of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 14th I have a guest post by debut author M.L. Tarpley about marketing and school visits during COVID-19 and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Malie and the Maize

Wednesday, January 6th I have an interview with debut author Olivia Chadha and a giveaway of her YA dystopian Rise of the Red Hand and my IWSG post

Monday, January 11th I have an interview with debut author Caroline Gertler and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Many Points of Me

Monday, January 18th I have a guest post by debut author Dana Swift and her agent Amy Brewer and a query critique giveaway and book giveaway of Dana's YA fantasy Cast in Firelight 

Hope to see you tomorrow!

Debut Author Interview: Carol Coven Grannick and Reeni’s Turn Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Carol Coven Grannick here to share about her MG contemporary Reeni’s Turn. It sounds like a great novel in verse about issues of body size and dieting that many tween girls grapple with.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Eleven-year-old Reeni’s world is changing. Her star-of-the-senior-class, college-bound sister has no time for her, sixth grade is full of girls into makeup and diets and crushes, and something deep inside tells Reeni it’s time to become more than a shy girl in the shadows. But when she commits to dancing a solo for her retiring ballet teacher’s final recital, her lifelong fear of performing expands along with her newly-changing body. Lunch friends convince Reeni that a diet will give her courage and self-confidence, but the diet wreaks havoc with Reeni’s life. She lies to her parents, breaks up with her best friend, and loses focus on school work and dance. Reeni faces a painful choice: should she break her commitment to solo and quit dance? Or might she have hidden strengths that could help her come out of the shadows and become the girl she wants to be?

Hi Carol! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

            I scribbled poems and short ‘creative non-fiction’ as a child, fell in love with poetry, and got some encouragement from home and school that I was a writer. But in my young childhood, most of my ‘writing’ stayed in my head, with the exception of some passionate, issue/social justice-related rhyming poems, some essays that won little awards, and all my school writing. I was quiet in many ways, kept things to myself. Reading written words comforted me, and writing them seemed to give names to what was inside.

            But I didn’t realize what ‘being a writer’ meant until I was in social work school, and was writing a lot—process recordings that read like stories, and tons of poetry. Through my internship in an amazing YMHA, I met an older poet who became my mentor and told me it was time for me to submit work. “When you finish a poem, it does not belong to you anymore. It belongs to the world.” That gave meaning to my work that I hadn’t felt before, and I began submitting, receiving some acceptances, and even did a poetry reading at the Y.

            A persistent writing life requires emotional resilience, though, and I didn’t make that happen for myself until the early 1990s. Learning resilience (thank you, Martin Seligman!) opened up lots of possibilities, mainly for submitting more often and not being side-swiped by rejections. As a clinical social worker, I published many articles and scholarly papers.

            My passion for writing for children grew as our son grew. We read hundreds of old and new picture books and children’s magazines, and I began to volunteer in his school’s magnificent library. I wrote a story in 1999, saw it published in Cricket in 2001, and embarked on what would become a joyful, challenging, obstacle-filled journey.

2. That's awesome that you've loved poetry since you were a kid. Where did you get the idea for Reeni’s Turn?

            The story behind Reeni’s Turn came with me from childhood, where I learned—quite incorrectly—that my value was tied to the size and shape of my body. My first story for children, “The Inside Ballerina” appeared in Cricket in 2001. I wrote it in order to address an issue I didn’t see much in middle grade literature—a positive portrayal of a non-thin character within a story that undermined traditional stereotypes. The responses I received left me feeling that one day, I would develop the story into a novel. Even later on, “The Inside Ballerina” influenced the award-winning experimental film, La Folia, and the public response to that kept me believing that writing about these issues was important.

3. I read that you started writing this in prose and then switched to a novel in verse. What made you decide to make the switch and how far along in writing your story were you when you did this?

            Yes, I wrote the first draft in prose in 2008, nine years after writing “The Inside Ballerina”. After my then-critique group read and responded, my second draft came out in verse. It didn’t feel like a choice—it felt like the language and rhythm that my brain wanted on paper. I rewrote it in prose at the request of an extraordinary editor I consulted a couple of years later, which helped to put the story in a solid middle grade context. But I wasn’t happy with the prose. I tried hard to make it work, and respected the request, but it felt foreign to what my brain was hearing. Multiple revisions after that, I attended a workshop with another mentor. Before she began my 10-page critique, she asked, “Is there some reason you didn’t write this in verse? It just seems like it should be verse.” (Thank you, Claudia Mills!)

            That was a major turning point in my writing journey, and in Reeni’s Turn. I began to trust that the story needed to be in verse, but I also realized that the verse had to be more honest and accomplished than it was at the time. The decision to write it in verse felt ‘true’ to how I heard the story unfolding. I saw and felt snapshots of time and experience, of events and emotions. The heart of the story is full of intense emotions—joy, passion, longing, love as well as fear, anxiety, anger, and loss. I believed readers would need the white space, too, for rest, comfort, breaks between the emotion—just as I did.

4. That's great that you realized that you needed to write your story in verse and made the switch. What were some of the challenges you faced in writing Reeni’s story in verse? What advice do you have for other writers who want to write a story in verse vs. prose?

            The most significant craft challenges were creating emotionally authentic experiences in honest verse, and organizing the verse into a coherent, organic story flow. The dialogue, and Reeni’s “loud, huge voice” are not strictly verse.

            The other challenges were opportunities to sign with agents I admired and respected who asked me to write it in prose so it would sell more easily. I passed on them with regret, but with commitment to my manuscript.

            In terms of advice, I think the first piece would be similar to advice for any other form: read, read, read. There are many exquisite and diverse novels in verse. Learn the history of the genre by reading older novels in verse, not just recent. Sylvia Vardell has yearly lists; Sarah Tregay has lists divided by age group. Libraries can find and reserve for you. Learn what you like, what you don’t, what feels like poetry to you, and what may not.

            Practice. Experiment. Write a draft in prose to flesh out the plot. Even within a verse framework, experiment with free vs. formal poetry vs. poetic prose. Every story is not meant to be verse.

            Tell yourself the truth about why your work must be in verse—is it the topic? the lyrical quality of the story? the need for white space, broken lines, form? What would be different if it was in prose? And would that detract from the story, or add to it?

            I’ve been experimenting lately with different poetic forms, and am learning how each one is differently linked to storytelling. I’m currently in love with trimerics. They have a little narrative arc all their own.

            My best advice? Not everything wants to be a poem, and not everything is a poem. But what feels like it must be a poem, can become one. Be true to your story. Be true to yourself. And be true to poetry.

5. You deal with a lot of hard topics in Reeni’s Turn, like body image, dieting, and being shy, that many girls deal with. How did you incorporate these themes in your story without become preachy? How did your work with women and girls dealing with these issues help you craft your story?

            This is actually the simplest answer for the most complex part of the writing. It began with a fair amount of telling. My work as a therapist had clarified a pattern I knew I wanted to show in the book—the impact of the diet culture on young tweens, often children who’d been perfectly comfortable with their bodies, food, and themselves before puberty began. I wanted a story that could address this underrepresented issue in young middle grade work, and also address some of the stereotypes around fat characters. I wanted a shy, introverted, somewhat anxious character who at the same time longed to be in the spotlight. And I wanted to demonstrate the quiet strengths of introverts and the sometimes complicated journey to maintain emotional resilience.

            I worked hard, and then even harder. I needed to get to know my character over and over. I did many revisions, small and massive, changing the story, the characters, the events. I removed the antagonist to make the diet culture the appositional force. I delved deeply into memory and emotion and experience to show and not tell about the experiences Reeni went through. Ultimately, when I gently pushed myself to get to know my character in a much deeper way, she moved the story forward.

6. You were able to get some scholarships, awards, a Ragdale Writer’s Residency, and an Illinois Arts Council Grant over the years that you worked on revising your story. Share a bit about how they helped you in your writing journey.

            I would hate to have anyone think that without these things, we cannot write the book of our dreams. I don’t believe that. There was no question in my mind that my mission to write Reeni’s Turn was independent from these events and awards.

            However…these opportunities did provide unique help, support, and definite turning points. Most added meaning and joy to my writing life. The Highlights Novel in Verse workshop in 2013 with Sonya Sones, Virginia Euwer Wolff, and Linda Oatman High exposed me to a community of extraordinary teachers and fellow poets, where I learned how much work I had yet to do and the standards I wanted to meet. Being a Finalist in the Katherine Paterson Award steered me to an experience with an agent that turned out to be a painful and disappointing detour, but one that taught me to trust myself as a writer and business woman. The Honorable Mention in the Sydney Taylor Manuscript Award provided honest and extremely helpful critique relating to the Jewish content in the book, and the 2018 Illinois Arts Council Grant allowed me to attend Esther Hershenhorn’s Vermont Manuscript Workshop, where we thought through many aspects of the marketing of Reeni’s Turn. And I just received a 2020 IACA grant to allow me to create a short video for my website!  

            What is significant, I believe, is that each of these experiences came because I looked for and attended to potential opportunities, and still do. There’s a part of me that says, This may not work, but then I respond, Now I’m going to do whatever I can to keep that from happening. I win some, I lose some, and I know that when I give it a go, the rest is out of my control. 

 7. What was your road to publication like?

            Challenging, joyful, filled with ups and downs, and meaningful. I wrote my first story in 1999 and the story was accepted. “Wow. This is going to be easier than I thought,” I told myself. Nope. Not at all. I worked hard, wrote, revised, found critique partners, learned, failed, had some successes. My writing life, as with most writers and illustrators, has been a journey fueled by the passion to write and the joy and meaning of doing the work, and filled with obstacles, occasional successes, and a wonderful community of supportive, encouraging colleagues and friends.

            Reeni’s Turn went through a huge number of drafts, had a number of “close calls” and “Beautiful, but”s (“I love your writing, but…”). I received a lot of encouragement, my share of discouragement, lots of requests for adding or removing things that were or were not important to me (but I tried everything).

            The topic disturbed some people, and thrilled others. The Jewish content put some people off, and delighted others. I parted ways from the agent I worked with after the Katherine Paterson Finalist award, and returned to the simpler story I preferred. I created the book I wanted. I submitted to one last round of agents and at the same time, researched and identified a handful of small, traditional publishers that might be good matches for Reeni’s Turn. I had the book I wanted, felt I’d spent enough ‘waiting time’ over the years, and in early 2018 accepted an offer from a small, traditional literary press. I worked with my editor, who is also the publisher, did several more revisions, and added some crucial verses. It was time for Reeni to be out in the world.

           8. How have you been promoting your book given the pandemic? What advice do you have for other authors who will have a book release during these challenging times?

            I’m an introvert. But even introverts are all different. I didn’t look forward to the promotion aspect of the writing life, but I jumped in with high energy because I love my book. Some things I’m doing are easier, some are very hard.

            I had a broad and detailed plan that included many familiar, some new, and some uncomfortable activities. I listened to every promotion workshop and webinar I could in order to add to my list and confirm that most marketing workshops say the same things. I organized my plan, and began with the things I was most comfortable with—articles, my regular columns, and a dozen guest blog posts. All before or around the launch. And now I’m pitching more.

            I’d set up the launch with a favorite indie bookstore shortly after I received a contract in March, 2019. I had plenty of time to write the posts, articles, and columns, and I spent lots of time doing them. Before I knew it, the launch was near…so, lots of time spent on that. I was fine with the virtual launch. I’m an introvert who’s comfortable with presenting, as long as I’m secure in the material. In fact, more people attended than could ever have come to The Bookstall, who hosted it!

            I took a brief break after the launch to think about my next project, and now I’m on to the outreach to schools, libraries, book groups, podcasts, bookstores, conferences, and more. The pandemic has actually made these things a bit easier for me, because everything is via email. One thing I learned in one book launch workshop was that I didn’t have to do everything before the book launch.

            Social Media? No advice from me. I’m not great with it, although I post once a day, most of the time, on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I do my best. I’m better in person and through my writing.

            What I’ve learned that seems like good advice to me? Since my advice in my chronicles leans toward the psychological/emotional, here’s what I’d say:

 1.      Identify why you want to promote your book. What are your dreams and hopes? What are your objectives? Who is your imaginary reader and where will she find your book?

2.      Learn all you can about the “things to do”. There are tons of online resources, not only through SCBWI and other writing sites, but through business-related sites, as well. You’ll end up with a list of familiar items that overlap, and perhaps a new idea or two. Take into account your realistic budget. I wanted to do everything I could that didn’t cost anything,

but I had some funds set aside for posters, stickers, giveaway books, etc.

3.      Organize the promotion activities that have a straight line to your target audience and that are connected to your objectives. Identify the ones that are most likely to be the best for you/your book—those are your priorities.

a.       What things would be easiest for you to do or plan? Start with those.

b.      What things are a little more difficult, but your strengths make you capable of doing them? Do one at a time, so you can recover and/or enjoy the success.

c.       What things seem beyond your capacity but may be very important for your book?

                   Rev yourself up, practice if you need to, then go!          

9. Thanks for the tips. It's a great one to start with what you're most comfortable with. You also do school visits and workshops at schools. How are you connecting with schools and setting up these visits now?

            I am reaching out to schools on an individual basis. Whether or not I’ll succeed in setting up visits, I do not know—but it’s an effort worth the time (and small expense). I’ve done many workshops in schools as a pre-published author but this feels quite different. I am lucky to have two middle grade teachers as critique partners!

            I’m in the process of having curriculum guides developed for Reeni’s Turn, and I believe these will be useful in bringing Reeni into classrooms, if not me.

            I also offer no-cost virtual visits to underserved schools, and to schools connected to individuals (school social workers, librarians, teachers) who promote the book in certain ways. 

10. What are you working on now?

            I’m planning to write a first draft of a chapter book during November—which means I should almost be done by now!

            I have a poetry chapbook for adults I’m revising for submission.

            I have a couple of new drafts of picture books to send to my agent, whom I found during the pandemic through her interview at Literary Rambles!

            I continue to write and submit poetry for very young children.

            All this is always one thing at a time. When one piece is ready for a rest, I do something else. I love being busy with my writing life.

 Thank you for all the great questions, and the opportunity to be here!

 Thanks for sharing all your advice, Carol. You can find Carol at https://carolcovengrannick.com

Giveaway Details

Carol has generously offered a paperback of Reeni's Turn 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 December 5th. 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.

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, December 2nd  I have an interview with debut author Diana Pinguicha and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Miracle of Roses and my IWSG post

Thursday, December 3rd I'm participating in the Winter Is Coming Giveaway Hop

Saturday, December 5th I'm participating in the December 2020 of Books Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 7th I have an agent spotlight interview with Maria Vincente and a query critique giveway

Monday, December 14th I have a guest post by debut author M.L. Tarpley about marketing and school visits during COVID-19 and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Malie and the Maize

Hope to see you on Tuesday, December 1st!


Agent Spotlight: Tori Sharp Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Tori Sharp here. She is an associate literary agent at The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency.

Hi­ Tori! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Tori:

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

I’ve been an Associate Literary Agent with The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency since August 2020. Before that, I was an assistant to Jennifer De Chiara and an intern for two years. So far, I’ve been reading through queries, signing clients, helping my clients through revisions, and preparing to go on submission with multiple projects.

About the Agency:

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

The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency is a full-service NYC agency; we do it all. Each agent has unique preferences about the projects we represent (for instance, I currently represent children’s literature exclusively and am not seeking adult projects) but we do as an agency represent every age category and genre. If querying authors look through the JDLA agents’ profiles, then it’s likely they’ll find someone who represents their type of book. JDLA’s 20th anniversary is coming up in a couple of months, and as a whole the agency represents hundreds of clients and regularly lives up to our motto of “making dreams come true” for authors. We also work with dedicated co-agents for foreign, film and television, and audiobook rights.

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?

So far, I represent MG and YA, and I’ll happily consider any children’s literature, including picture books and chapter books. I’m looking for all genres, though I’m probably not the best agent for horror. I love seeing submissions with a witty voice and playful tone. I also like seeing that the writer knows how to tell a story; that each scene and paragraph and line has a function or, ideally, multiple functions. It’s the same for comic pages; if the sequential narrative moves at an effective pace while also developing characters, foreshadowing, hitting emotional beats, etc., that shows a level of craft that excites me.

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

I’m always excited to see graphic novel proposals, since I’m a graphic novelist myself and majored in Sequential Art at SCAD. Recently, across genres, I’ve been craving something with loving and zany family dynamics. (Hilary McKay does this brilliantly in SAFFY’S ANGEL and, more recently, her BINNY books, where the characters are sometimes at odds but ultimately love and accept each other.) I also hope to see more #ownvoices neurodiverse books from autistic and ADHD writers and artists. I always enjoy fantasy stories with casual magic or “modern” witchcraft that’s considered commonplace wherever the story is set, and I’ve been craving a middle-grade story that’s really action-packed and thrilling.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

At the moment, I don’t represent anything for the adult market, and I am not interested in horror. And while I love looking at submissions that wrestle with serious topics, I tend not to like “issue books” or grimdark stories.

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?

Authors and agents are people. So are editors and readers. It’s important to me that everyone I work with treats each other as a human being, with kindness. This has absolutely been my experience with my own agent and the whole team at my publisher, and it’s the experience I want all my clients to have throughout their careers. As an agent, I intentionally foster open communication and transparency, and I make sure my clients always know they can approach me with any question—I work for them, after all.

Publishing is an industry that can feel opaque and mysterious, so I seek to demystify the process for my clients and let them know what’s happening step-by-step so they can feel confident we’re taking every measure to ensure their success.

The books I represent usually call out to me because I’m intrigued by a specific theme—something that ties in perfectly with the plot and makes me excited about the book’s potential to bring a new perspective or confidence or joy to readers. That’s what makes me want to drop everything and fight for a project. On top of the story being engaging and smart, it has to express a shared human experience in a way I haven’t seen before.

Unfortunately, that’s a nebulous thing to try to communicate to anyone who’s querying me, since neither of us will know exactly what will pique my interest until you happen to hit on it. So far I’ve been drawn to projects about living authentically as yourself and pursuing the things that make you happy, but what might inspire me changes day-by-day, and every time I look through queries I’m so excited because I don’t know what I’ll fall in love with next.

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 am an editorial agent! Once you submit to an editor and get a pass, that’s a closed door, so I like to make sure all of our submissions sparkle before we send them out. I’ll typically go through more than one round of revision with an author before bringing their project to editors.

The first thing I do with a new client manuscript is to ask questions about the story’s theme, character dynamics, and resolution to make sure I fully understand the author’s intentions with their story, and then I write an edit letter and mark up the manuscript with comments. The complexity of this will vary based on how polished the manuscript already is when it hits my inbox. My role is to help the author identify and internalize their own purpose with their book and then ask questions that will help them draw their own conclusions about how to achieve it, rather than superimposing my own vision on top of their work. This process of helping authors think about aspects of their story from a slightly new angle and then watching them come up with brilliant solutions is one of my favorite things in the world.

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?

As of now, I accept queries only via email. My submission guidelines are detailed on my agency’s website, which is included below with all my links. I really love when query letters include specifics about the story in the pitch, rather than a bunch of generalities. Being too vague is one of the most common problems with queries; I need to get a sense of what your unique story is about. I personally think it’s great to start with a quick logline before you launch into the bulk of the pitch. You should also include your manuscript’s word count or the projected page count for a graphic novel.

Lastly – it’s delightful when queries include links to Spotify playlists or Pinterest boards related to the project, and I appreciate seeing links to authors’ Twitter accounts or writing blogs if they feel inclined to include them. None of that is necessary, and the story itself is the most important factor in a query, but those extra additions can be fun to see.

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

Just be sure to follow submission guidelines! Don’t send your entire manuscript or any attachments with a query unless an agent explicitly requests that in their guidelines. Many authors try to show confidence by saying things like “this is the best book you’ll ever read and will be a bestseller,” but, ultimately, the writing should speak for itself, and this industry is so subjective that personal taste is a huge factor, so it’s better to keep it simple in a query and follow the standard format with concision. If you have multiple projects, please query me with one at a time.

As for the first pages, it’s common advice to start your story with action or during an exciting moment, but that can be dull or even disorienting to the reader if you don’t first show them who your character is. Your first pages should make me care about your lead character so that I can be invested in whether they’ll accomplish their goal.

Response Time:

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

I try my best to respond within a week, but it really depends. When I’m in the middle of reading manuscripts, preparing a submission, or conducting other business on behalf of my clients, querying authors might have to wait up to six weeks for a reply because I’ll always prioritize the needs of my existing clients. Generally, though, the longer it takes me to respond, the more likely it is I’ve got your query in a “maybe” folder and really, really want to request it. Since I get so many queries, I have to be very selective and honest with myself about which ones I’d do the best job of representing.

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 representing anyone who sends me a project I fall in love with, whether or not it’s your first book. If you’re querying a book that has been previously self-published or published by smaller presses, I would be less likely to represent that specific project, though it depends on what rights you’ve retained with that work. My advice for all querying authors, generally, is to keep writing the next thing.

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 don’t think the role of agents will greatly change any time soon, since being an agent has always meant being able to adapt. For instance, agents being “editorial” is a relatively new normal, in the grand scheme of publishing. Agents adapt in tandem with the publishing industry overall and take notice of what the market is hungry for. More agents are representing graphic novelists and illustrators in general compared to just a few years ago, just as an example, after the success of certain comics. Agents will continue to serve an important role in advocating for their clients, but there will also always be options for authors who decide not to seek representation or who have the desire and business savvy to succeed on their own with self-publishing.


13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

As a new agent, I’m being very selective with my client list. I represent Dane Erbach, who writes incredibly funny and smart YA contemporary novels. I also represent the graphic novelists Eric Lide and Vanessa Stefaniuk, both of whom are exceptional graphic novelists and webcomic artists.

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.

You can find a PDF of my zine SLUSH: A GUIDE TO QUERYING LITERARY AGENTS on Gumroad, and this is definitely my best resource about querying. It’s up for $5 but I periodically waive the cost, so keep an eye on my Twitter for the occasional free resource. It’s gotten a very positive response from querying authors. You can find that here: https://gum.co/TKJjQ

Links and Contact Info:

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

Find my submission guidelines here: https://www.jdlit.com/tori-sharp

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NovelTori

My website: https://noveltori.com/

 Additional Advice:

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

Join a critique group! Or start one. You can use services like Zoom or Discord to run writing groups virtually. Reading other peoples’ work critically is the best way to improve your own craft, which will ultimately help you get agents’ attention. Other than that, keep being curious about everything writing- and publishing-related. Learn all you can about what a career as an author actually entails. Listen to tons of podcast interviews with writers and just soak up first-hand accounts about how those authors got their start and the sort of things that helped them on their way to publication. Keep yourself inspired so you can keep trying!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Tori.

­Tori 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 December 5th.  If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. If you do not want to enter the contest, that's okay. Just let me know in the comments.

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

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

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












Debut Author Interview: Summer Rachel Short and The Mutant Mushroom Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Summer Rachel Short here to share about her MG spooky mystery The Mutant Mushroom Takeover. It sounds like a great story that combines science, a mystery, and contemporary issues.

 Here’s a blurb from Goodreads

Ever since Magnolia Stone’s scientist dad left Shady Pines to find a new job, Maggie’s been stuck in her gramma’s mobile home with her grumpy older brother, Ezra. Now she’s on a mission to put her family back together by winning the Vitaccino Junior Naturalist Merit Award.

When Maggie and her best friend, Nate, a wannabe YouTube star and alien conspiracy theorist, scout out a rare bioluminescent fungus, Maggie is certain she’s a shoo-in to win. But after animals around town start sprouting unusual growths and Ezra develops a bluish glow and hacking cough, Maggie wonders what they’ve really stumbled onto.Follower News

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

Tyrean Martinson has a new science fiction release, Liftoff: The Rayatana Series Book 1. Here's a blurb and a few links:

A spaceship in disguise,
An Earth girl searching for a sense of home,
And a Thousand Years’ War between alien races,
All collide on a summer afternoon.

LINKS: Kindle           Barnes and Noble                  Kobo               Smashwords                Bookbub            Goodreads

Interview With Summer Rachel Short

Hi Summer! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thank you for having me! My writing journey kicked off back in college. I majored in journalism and wrote for my university’s newspaper. I also took a number of creative writing classes, wrote short stories, and dreamed of one day writing a novel. After graduation, I worked in public relations for a number of years, later had kids, and sort of put the dream on the back burner. Every now and then, I’d pick up a pad of paper and jot out the first bits and pieces of a story idea, but I never did much more than that. Then about five years ago, I watched a movie set in Iceland and the scenery got my creative wheels spinning again. I didn’t end up writing a novel set in that country, but I did get very serious about finishing a manuscript. But first I had to figure out the mechanics of writing a full-length novel. I joined critique groups, attended conferences, and read all I could about the craft. From that time on, writing went from something on the back shelf to a very intense passion.

 2. Where did you get the idea for The Mutant Mushroom Takeover? 

A couple things got me going. One was a documentary my kids and I stumbled upon on YouTube called Fungi: The Rotten World Around Us. It had spooky music and was loaded with fascinating tidbits about mushrooms. I was so intrigued I kept reading and learned about even more bizarre types. I sort of tucked away those facts in the back of my mind. Then later my son had an idea for a character he wanted me to write about. It was a pirate named Root Beard whose beard would be made of living tree roots. Root Beard didn’t make it into my book, but the notion of a character who was part human part something else did. It’s funny how different pieces come together on projects. I keep a folder of story ideas and whenever I hear about something that sparks my interest, I add it.

 3. That's cool that your son gave you the kernel of an idea for your story. You’ve tied science into your plot, and I read that you included an author’s note about what scientific facts were true and not true at the end of the story. What research did you have to do on the science behind what was going on with the strange mushrooms that Maggie and Nate found? What advice do you have for other writers wanting to weave science into their story? 

I did quite a bit of research on a variety of fungi, including bioluminescent mushrooms which produce light using the same chemical found in fireflies. I also learned more about parasites, slime molds, and the behavior of certain kinds of insects. My advice would be follow your interests. If some bit of science is fascinating to you, then there’s a good chance you can weave it into your story in a way that is natural and interesting to your readers.

4. That's great advice. I'm not sure I could research so much about mushrooms. What was your plotting process like?

I like to come up with a rough outline of where I’m going before I start writing. I write down things like the inciting incident, midpoint, climax and resolution. For The Mutant Mushroom Takeover, I had an idea of who my main character would be and the problem she was up against. But as I wrote, certain things changed as I got to know my story and characters better. For example, my main character’s best friend started out as a bully character who was not friends with Maggie. But the more I wrote of Nate, the more he kept coming out with funny lines. Eventually, I completely reinvented him to be Maggie’s funny, conspiracy-theorist, wanna-be YouTube star BFF.

5.  Your plotting process is similar to mine. I read that you participated in the Pitch Wars. How did that help you strengthen your manuscript? 

Pitch Wars was a great experience for me. My mentors read my entire manuscript and then gave me insightful feedback that helped me revise my story. One thing they helped me focus on in particular was my character’s internal journey. They recommended craft books, brainstormed with me, and offered suggestions. The whole process allowed me to see my story in a new way and gave me a set of tools for revising future stories.

6. That all sounds so helpful. What was something that surprised you in working with your editor?

I think before we sold my book I had a picture that editors were very intimidating people but really they’re fellow book lovers who are great champions for authors and their stories. My editor, Krista, has been fantastic to work with and is also very warm and personable.

7. Your agent is Alyssa Eisner. Share how she became your agent and your road to publication. As part of the Pitch Wars contest, there is an agent showcase where mentees share excerpts of their manuscripts and agents can request their materials. 

Once the Pitch Wars agent showcase ended, I sent out my requested materials, followed by a handful of

other queries. After I hit send, I spent my time biting my nails and continuously refreshing my email. About a week later, I received an email from one of the agents I'd subbed to requesting a call to talk about my book. I reached out to my Pitch Wars mentors and we shared virtual squeals and jumping up and down. I was really nervous leading up to the call, but everything went smoothly and we had a great talk. Following my mentors' advice, I nudged all the other agents I'd submitted to or queried and let them know I'd had an offer of representation. The next couple of weeks were a flurry of emotions as agents responded, many requesting the full manuscript or saying they were reading it fast to meet my deadline. About a week before my decision window closed, I had another agent call. This time with Alyssa Eisner Henkin of Trident Media Group. From the moment we got on the phone, I felt she would be the perfect champion for my work. She was passionate and knowledgeable and had so many great ideas right off the bat for positioning my book and for revisions. I signed with her shortly after that call and have been so glad I did.

8. What a great way to get an agent! Your book released on 9/22/2020. Share how you’ve been promoting it given the pandemic. What worked and what would you have done differently? 

Because of the pandemic, I had my book launch online with a local independent book store instead of in
person as I’d originally envisioned. The virtual launch ended up being great and allowed me to connect with many people I wouldn’t have otherwise. The video got nearly 900 views, so I feel like that was a success. I also have a couple of Zoom classroom visits coming up that I’m looking forward to. As far as other promotion ideas, I’m pretty new to all this, so I can’t really say what works or doesn’t just yet. But I try to stay active on social media––interacting with teachers, librarians and other authors. I think that trying to develop relationships with people who love books is a good way to let them know you’re out there.

9. What are you working on now? 

I’m currently revising the sequel to The Mutant Mushroom Takeover. That book’s slated for release in 2021. It’s set in Yellowstone National Park and features a brand new mystery for Maggie and Nate to solve. I’ve seen a sneak peek of the cover and it looks amazing!

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

Thank you, Natalie!

Website: https://srachelshort.com 

Instagram: @summerrachelwrites

Twitter: @Summer_Rachel_ 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/summerrachelshort

Giveaway Details

Summer has generously offered a hardback of The Mutant Mushroom Giveaway 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 November 28th. 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.

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, November 18th I have an agent spotlight interview with Tori Sharp and a query critique giveaway

Monday, November 23rd I have an interview with debut author Carol Coven Grannick and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Renni's Turn

Wednesday, December 2nd  I have an interview with debut author Diana Pinguicha and a giveaway of her YA fantasy A Miracle of Roses and my IWSG post

Thursday, December 3rd I'm participating in the Winter Is Coming Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 7th I have an agent spotlight interview with Maria Vincente and a query critique giveway

Monday, December 14th I have a guest post by debut author M.L. Tarpley about marketing and school visits during COVID-19 and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Malie and the Maize

Hope to see you on Wednesday!