Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent/Author Jennifer Unter and Melissa Dassori Guest Post & Query Critique & JR Silver Writes Her World Giveaway on 7/11/2022
  • Alex Slater Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/20/2022

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • All Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated as of 7/15/2020, and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for them to be fully updated in 2023.

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!


  1. That's cool that a film set in Iceland could jumpstart Summer's creativity and make her want to write. Congratulations to her!

    1. Thanks so much, Elizabeth! Inspiration comes in the most unexpected places!

  2. Root Beard and mushrooms - what great inspirations for a book!

    1. Thank you, Alex! My kids give me lots of good food for thought!

  3. I loved this one! Creepy and... slimy!

    1. Thank you so much!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!!

  4. Thanks for the shout-out, Natalie!
    Rachel - wow, you had me at bioluminescent mushrooms. This sounds like a super fun read! :)

  5. The title alone is an attention grabber. I'm sure kids will feel the same. What a successful journey for Summer. Best of luck on the sequel, too. And thanks Natalie for featuring the interview on today's MMGM.

  6. Mutant Mushrooms. Wow! With a title like tht I have to read it. Congratulations on what sounds like fascinating story.

  7. Congratulations Summer! What a great title and an offbeat story that will certainly inspire readers. (Made me think of the movie Avatar). Really enjoyed learning about Summer's journey in the interview.

  8. I love how the book idea came together. This book sounds so unique and I can't wait to read it. I shared on tumblr: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/634970021683200000/debut-author-interview-summer-rachel-short-and

    1. Thanks so much, Danielle! I hope you enjoy the story!!

  9. It's great that the book shows how interesting science can be. Sometimes I think readers think that they're only into reading and might not like other topics.

    1. Thanks, Liz! It was lots of fun to share some of the bizarre aspects of nature in the story!

  10. What an interesting concept for a book. This sounds great. Thanks for another informative interview.

  11. So much went into this book by way of research and polishing! I'll look forward to reading it.

  12. Thank you, Ilona! It was a really fun book to work on. I hope you enjoy the story!

  13. LIftOff is terrific!!

    Congrats to Summer - this book sounds like a lot of fun with a unique premise!

  14. What a neat-sounding book! It was neat to hear Summer's experience with Pitch Wars. I'll let somebody else win this copy, but thank you both so much for the great interview!

  15. So many good books. I need more reading time.

  16. I love the idea for this story. It sounds like such a fun idea. Congrats on your book, and best of luck with the sequel! Thanks for taking the time to share your writing journey with us.

  17. I had no idea about these types of mushrooms. Very cool. Can't wait to read your new book! Congrats and best wishes!

    Will share on Twitter. angelecolline at yahoo dot com

  18. gfc - thank you! This looks so good

  19. I've seen this book on my online journeys. Great title! And I hope Summer will end up helping her son write his own book about Root Beard!

    1. Thanks, Joanne! Helping him write a story about Root Beard would be lots of fun!

  20. Sounds like a fun and interesting story. Congrats to Rachel. Hope wonderful that she is working on the sequel. Interesting learning about her path to publication. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. :)

  21. I always love to hear how authors get their inspiration for writing their books! Sounds like a great read!

  22. I love the title, and it sounds like a wonderful read.

  23. I follow you on GFC as Carol Ezovski.
    This looks like a fun book!
    digicats {at} sbcglobal {dot} net

  24. I love the premise of The Mutant Mushroom Takeover and would love a copy. Thanks for this interview!
    carlakkessler@outlook.com I am sharing this on Twitter and FB

  25. Hi Summer and congratulations on your release! Thank you for sharing your journey with us as it is always helpful to know each of us are various unique paths. Wishing the best with this and all the following novels you share with the world.

    Thank you for another great interview, Natalie :-)

    1. Thanks so much, Angela! And best wishes on your literary journey as well!

  26. Great interview. I love mushrooms (although, I don't know a lot about them.)

  27. Congrats to the author on what appears to be a wonderful book and sure to be a success. Loved the post Natalie thanks,


  28. Congratulations to the author on the book. It sounds like a fun read.