Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

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.

Debut Author Interview: Jessica Olson and Sing Me Forgotten Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Jessica Olson here to share about her YA fantasy Sing Me Forgotten, which is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. It’s a highly anticipated release for 2021, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.

Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, Isda was saved by Cyril, the opera house's owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high--and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.

But Isda breaks Cyril's cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she's ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.

Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.

Hi Jessica! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’ve been writing books since kindergarten, and I’m pretty sure my parents still have stacks of the books I wrote and illustrated as a kid moldering up in their attic. Compelling stories about little girls that got castles for Christmas and went on picnics and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When I fell in love with Harry Potter as a young teen was when I moved on from writing (terrible) picture books to writing (even worse) novels. I was constantly scribbling stories in notebooks instead of paying attention in class during middle school and high school, much to my teachers’ frustration.

I started querying with the intent of getting literary representation in 2009. A lot of rejections ensued, and more drafts and rewrites and new books and, finally, in 2018 I decided to submit to Pitch Wars for this new Phantom of the Opera story I’d just written. I was chosen, I signed with an agent shortly after the Pitch Wars showcase, and we sold a few months later to Inkyard/HarperCollins!

2. That’s so cool you have written for so long and that you parents saved some of your early stories. Where did you get the idea for Sing Me Forgotten?

Initially it was just a thought that struck me in the shower one day: What if memories were currency? Like you could buy and sell things with your memories? When this idea hit me, I’d been playing around with the concept of doing some kind of Phantom of the Opera retelling from the phantom’s perspective, and the two ideas kind of exploded together into what became Sing Me Forgotten. Initially, I’d wanted to write a Phantom story for a while, as I had always connected much more with the Phantom than with Christine and wanted to tell the story from that perspective, so when the idea of memory magic popped into my head that day, it sort of all took off from there.

3. I love how a fleeting thought while taking a shower gave you the initial idea for your story. I think many of us can agree to having ideas pop up in our minds when we are in the shower. I read that you wrote the first draft of Sing Me Forgotten really fast. Tell us a bit about how quickly you wrote the first draft and how long you spent revising it after that.

It was May of 2018 I believe, and I really wanted to enter Pitch Wars in August that year, but the book I’d been querying was on its last leg and I knew it didn’t stand a chance. So I decided to dive into this new Phantom idea and see if I could get it done in time for Pitch Wars. I wrote constantly, and was able to finish the first (very, very rough draft) within a month. Then I spent the remaining time until the Pitch Wars submission window trying to revise it, though at the time I still had a lot to learn about plot and story, so I still consider the draft I submitted for the contest to be very rough. 

But, in spite of the rough shape the book was in, I was lucky enough to be chosen, and after talking with my mentors and hearing their constructive critical feedback, I realized that the way I’d written the story was not the best way it could be written. So I scrapped the whole thing, put together a scene-by-scene outline for a new version, and wrote an entire new book from scratch in four weeks. I then did some revision with my mentors to get it ready for the Pitch Wars showcase, and then, once I signed with my agent, I did a small round with her before we went on submission. So from starting the first draft in May 2018 to going on submission in March 2019, it was a whirlwind ten months!

4. Wow! I would love to write a rough draft in a month. I also read that you used to be a panster but are now a plotter. When did you make the switch and how has it improved your writing? Which were you when you wrote Sing Me Forgotten?

Sing Me Forgotten was actually the book that taught me I worked better with an outline. I’d written several books before it, and I very solidly considered myself a pantser. I didn’t want to take away the surprise of discovery! But then, when I was in Pitch Wars and needed to turn around a whole new draft in a very short time frame, I realized I didn’t have time to pants it and possibly end up with something else that didn’t work and would need an overhaul. I needed to get it right the first time. So I gritted my teeth and forced myself to do an extensive outline for my new version of Sing Me Forgotten.

The result was eons better than anything I had ever written up to that point in my life. I also loved how quickly I was able to draft—since I’d already outlined the book, I didn’t need to do any thinking while drafting. I could simply sit down and GO. I have never written a book without an outline since!

5. Sing Me Forgotten is a standalone. Many fantasies are series. What made you decide to tell your story as a standalone instead?

Personal preference came into this decision for sure. I very much prefer reading standalone books, and even when books are a part of a series, I don’t often read the sequels unless I absolutely adored the first book. I think I just get antsy to see new worlds and meet new characters as a reader, and it seems that as a writer, I am no different.

Also, the story I told in Sing Me Forgotten very much came to the conclusion I wanted it to at the end. I felt that adding to it and writing a sequel would take away some of the wonder, the hope, and the mystery of Isda’s story, and it just felt complete to me the way it was.

6. You submitted this story to PitchWars in 2018. Tell us how being in the PitchWars helped strengthen your manuscript and help you get your agent, Christa Heschke.

Well, I think I’ve already expressed how much Pitch Wars taught me about my own process! I learned that I write much better books when I outline them first. I also learned a lot about what it’s like working with an agent or editor, because the mentor/mentee relationship mimics that author/editor relationship pretty well.

I certainly don’t think Sing Me Forgotten could have gotten me an agent in the state it was in before Pitch Wars, so I think the critique my mentors gave me, the things I learned about the craft, and the revision I did to the manuscript helped me obtain that offer of representation I’d been seeking for a decade. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to be selected for Pitch Wars. It truly changed my life.

7. Many of the authors I’ve interviewed also say how much Pitch Wars helped them on their writing journey. Your book was sold at auction to Inkyard/Harper Collins. What was it like to go through the process of selling your book at auction?

Oh, it was absolutely terrifying and exciting and nerve-wracking. The auction actually took place over a two-week time period, and I barely slept or ate the whole time. I was glued to my phone waiting for updates from my agent, wondering what was happening on her end and whether we’d get another offer or who would respond next. It was also very surreal that not only did one publisher want to purchase the rights to publish my book, but multiple did. I vacillated between ecstasy and all-encompassing anxiety at least thirty times a day throughout the whole process.

8. How did you celebrate your cover release? What advise do you have for other authors about revealing their cover and creating buzz for their book?

I worked together with YABooksCentral, as well as Storygram Tours and MTMC Tours on Instagram to help reveal and spread the word. I think my best advice for other authors handling their own cover reveal is to do what works for you—there’s no one right way to reveal a cover. Ultimately, people will be excited no matter what, and you need to aim to do whatever is going to feel right for you and your book. So if that’s simply announcing on your twitter account or if that’s pitching to big media outlets, the choice you make should be entirely about what brings you joy. Many people have told me that cover reveals don’t move the needle in sales at all, so it’s really just a fun way to celebrate the book finally starting its public journey into the world.

9. How are you planning to market your book, especially given the pandemic?

With lots of virtual engagement! I’ve been having so much fun meeting readers and writers on Instagram. I also recently just started using TikTok, and it really has done a lot to make such a lonely time not feel quite as isolating. I only hope that once life goes back to “normal” (if such a thing ever exists again), we can continue all these fun virtual launch parties and Instagram Live chats! It’s been so fun to be able to attend and support authors in events I normally wouldn’t be able to attend because of geographical location.

10. I really hope we can have some fun virtual events too when things are more normal. I’ve been able to connect with so many more authors through them. What are you working on now?

I’ve got a second contracted book with Inkyard/HarperCollins releasing tentatively in March 2022, so we’re finishing up final edits on that and getting it ready for ARCs soon! It’s surreal to already be working on another novel when Sing Me Forgotten is so fresh in the world, but I am beyond excited to continue to grow my career. I also am continuing to work on other projects that will hopefully find a home soon!

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

http://www.jessicasolson.com

http://www.instagram.com/jessicaolson123

http://www.twitter.com/jessicaolson123

https://www.tiktok.com/@jessicaolson123?lang=en

Giveaway Details

Jessica has generously offered a hardback of Sing Me Forgotten 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 April 10th. 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. The giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tuesday, April 6th I’m participating in the April Showers Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 7th I have an interview with debut author Alexandra Overy and a giveaway of her YA fantasy These Feathered Flames and my IWSG post

Monday, April 12th I have an interview with debut author Kaela Rivera and a giveaway of her MG fantasy based on Mexican mythology Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

Wednesday, April 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Emily Fortney and a query critique giveaway

Friday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rainbow on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 19th I have an interview with debut author Laekan Kemp and a giveaway of her YA contemporary Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet

Monday, April 26th I’m reviewing and giving away Rescue, a MG historical by Jennifer Nielsen, one of my favorite authors

Hope to see you next Tuesday!

 

 

 

Publisher Spotlight: Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press

Today I’m excited to have Maria Dismondy here. She is the CEO of Cardinal Rule Press.

Hi Maria! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Maria:

1.  Tell us how you became the CEO of Cardinal Rule Press and what made you decide to found it.

The answer to this question is pretty funny because I never wanted to start a company! I went to college

to become a teacher. As a teacher, I found children’s literature was lacking stories that were realistic fiction. I decided to write a book and a few years later, it was released by a local publisher and the book was called Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun. Ten books down the road, I decided I wanted to share the knowledge I had learned as an author and started Cardinal Rule Press.

About Your Publishing Company:


2.  Share a bit about your publishing company and what it offers to its authors and illustrators.

Cardinal Rule Press produces children’s picture books that reflect modern day diversity. I carried out the mission of wanting to add realistic fiction to the literacy world. We offer education to our authors which is not common for a traditional publishing company. If our authors know how to build an author platform to market their books, then our publishing company, our distributor and the author ALL benefit from their efforts. We feel our commitment does the same for our distributor and author. We are #bettertogether.

What the Publishing Company Is Looking For:

3. Cardinal Press publishes picture books. What genres/types of books does your publishing company focus on and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres/types of books?

We are looking for books for children that are less than 1000 words, are realistic fiction and offer an important life message for children indirectly while offering an entertaining storyline.

4.  Is there anything you would be especially excited to see in the genres/types of books that your company is interested in publishing?

We would love to see a picture book that is “based on a true story.” We love to be able to connect the story with the real life character who inspired it. We also haven’t seen a ton of historical fiction land in our inbox but would be delighted if these types of manuscripts did!

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Honestly, we really just want authors and writers to follow the rules of our submissions. It’s a waste of their time and ours when the general guidelines are not followed. A sci-fi picture book is not realistic fiction. When this comes into our submissions inbox, we know the author didn’t take the time to research our company mission and purpose.

Editorial Publisher:

6.  Share what it would be like for an author or illustrator to work with an editor at Cardinal Rule Press. 

The editorial process is pretty simple and digital. Our content editor reviews the manuscript in a Google Doc format and leaves comments for editing in the document. Our authors usually only require one round of edits which is pretty amazing! Once we move into the copy editing phase, the book is already illustrated and laid out. Again, this is not usually a big deal and there are only small changes made at this time. 

Submission Guidelines: (Always verify before submitting)

7. How should authors and illustrators submit to Cardinal Rule Press and what should they include with the submission?

We ask for a complete manuscript along with a cover letter (also known as a query letter in the book industry). Something that may seem unusual is that we ask the writer to include three comparable titles in their cover letter. We spend a lot of time researching the market before offering a contract on one of our books. We like to see that writers are doing their research as well and making sure that their story is unique to the book world.

8.  Do you have any specific dislikes in cover letters or the manuscript submitted to your company? 

Again, we go right back to following the guidelines. Make sure you add in the comp titles and that you tell us why your story needs to be sold to the market. What makes your book special? You are selling not only your manuscript but yourself as an author as well. How will you go the extra mile to promote your book once it’s launched? We like to see that those would join our team are eager to put in 150%. 

Response Time:

9.  What’s your company’s response time to submissions? 

We have an open submissions period which runs from November 1st to February 1st each year. We make our decisions within 4 to 6 weeks after that. 

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

10.  Can authors and illustrators who have self-published or been published by other smaller presses submit to Cardinal Rule Press? 

Absolutely! All are welcome! 

Clients:

11. Who are some of your published authors and illustrators?

Our list of authors and illustrators contains debut releases, meaning we were the first published book they released. Some of our team are veterans in the industry. It’s a beautiful, diverse mix. You can find out more on our website here. https://cardinalrulepress.com/creatives/ 

Links and Contact Info:

12. Please share how writers and illustrators should contact Cardinal Rule Press to submit a manuscript and its links on the Web. 

Check out those important guidelines here. https://cardinalrulepress.com/submissions/

Marketing?

13. How does Cardinal Rule Press market the books it publishes? How does it support its authors and illustrators in promoting their books? 

This is an area where we feel our team really thrives, in marketing. Being that I was an author before I was a publisher, I know what was and was not helpful. We offer a free, six week mentorship to our authors when they first join the team. We meet weekly and go over several topics to help them on their journey. Most of it pertains to marketing their author platform and books. After they complete this course, they are welcome to join our monthly office hours where members from the CRP team work with authors to solve problems or brainstorm creative ideas with them. Once a quarter, we hire speakers to educate our authors in areas like website messaging, YouTube with authors, productivity and more! 

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Maria! 

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Herrington and a query critique giveaway 

Monday, March 22nd I have an interview with debut author Christina Li and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Clues to the Universe 

Wednesday, March 24th I have an interview with publisher Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press 

Monday, March 29th I have an interview with debut author Jessica Olsen and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Sing Me Forgotten 

Tuesday, April 6th I’m participating in the April Showers Giveaway Hop 

Wednesday, April 7th I have an interview with debut author Alexandra Overy and a giveaway of her YA fantasy These Feathered Flames and my IWSG post 

Monday, April 12th I have an interview with debut author Kaela Rivera and a giveaway of her MG fantasy based on Mexican mythology Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls 

Wednesday, April 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Emily Fortney and a query critique giveaway 

Friday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rainbow on Roses Giveaway Hop 

Hope to see you tomorrow!

 

 

Debut Author Interview: Christina Li and Clues to the Universe

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Christina Li here to share about her MG historical Clues to the Universe. It sounds like a heart-pulling story set in 1983 that I can’t wait to read.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


This #ownvoices debut about losing and finding family, forging unlikely friendships, and searching for answers to big questions will resonate with fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Rebecca Stead.

The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.

Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.

Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?

As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.

Hi Christina! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

Thank you so much for having me here! I’ve been a longtime fan of Literary Rambles, so I’m so thrilled to get to be here today.

I’m a kidlit author and a college senior. I remember wanting to be an author ever since I was around 10, and I started writing a (very bad) draft of my first novel when I was 11 through National Novel Writing Month. I loved the experience, and then I wrote another book, and another, and eventually I got around to writing CLUES TO THE UNIVERSE the summer after my high school graduation and the rest is history.

2. That’s awesome how dedicated you were to your writing, even as a kid. Where did you get the idea for Clues to the Universe?

I’ve always wanted to write a story about a scientist and an artist -- I remember attending an author event a while ago and hearing her say that science and art were the same in that they both draw patterns out of chaos. That line stuck with me for a long time. I also participated in my middle school science fair, and it was such a formative experience that I eventually realized that I wanted to write about it. And then slowly, I began thinking more and more about my scientist and my artist, and eventually the characters for Ro and Benji came to me, along with their passion for space and their curiosity. I knew that ultimately, I didn’t just simply want to write about art and science -- I wanted to write a story about friendship and family and loss, and Ro and Benji were such kind and gentle narrators for that story.

3. Once you started working on Clues to the Universe, how long did it take you to write your first draft and then revise it. What was harder for you and why?

I wrote my first draft in the year after I graduated high school, with stops and starts in between. I started revising the book somewhere around my sophomore year of college, and then it sold the summer after my sophomore year. So all in all, about a year to draft and a year to revise. I think that for me, I had such a mental block during drafting -- it was my first time writing middle grade, and I was feeling all sorts of imposter syndrome and wasn’t sure if my writing was readable. By the time I started revising it, I could see the story come together and felt slightly more confident in what I was doing.

4. That’s amazing how you wrote it during the craziness of going to college. What research, if any, did you do to get the setting and time period right for your story? What advise do you have for other writers who want to write historical fiction?

I did a lot of research into the 1980’s -- I interviewed people around me who were growing up during that time, I did a lot of research on my own, and most importantly, I got a 1976 edition of The Handbook of Model Rocketry by G. Harry Stine, the edition that Ro probably would have owned back in 1983. I think something that really helped me in writing historical fiction was keeping in consideration the details that might seem minor, but could really influence things in certain ways. For example, something I discovered in my research was that long-distance calls used to cost a ton of money, and so it added to the sense were not as accessible back then as they are now. Historical fiction isn’t just about writing 100 years back -- even things 10, 20, 30 years back are different than they are now.

5. Yes, long distance calls did cost a lot back then. My late husband lived in Texas for a year before he moved to Ann Arbor to live with me, and we could only afford to talk on the phone once a week. We wrote letters to each other to stay in touch the rest of the time. Your story sounds like a really heart-pulling sweet story. How did you draft it in a way that wasn’t preachy about some of the sad issues, like Rosalind’s grief, but that really elicited an emotional response from readers?

I tried to write grief in a way in which I had felt grief before. I didn’t want to have it come off in a way that sounded preachy -- but I really wanted to show the ways in which grief and loss can permeate one’s daily life. How does Ro feel when she sees pictures of her mother and father when they were younger? How does Ro feel when she is incapable of building her rocket because her father isn’t there to guide her? These were scenes that I really tried to put emotion into, and through those scenes, I hoped that readers would be able to grasp grief and loss the way that Ro would.

6. I’ve gone through a lot of grief too and am excited to read your book to see how Ro learned to handle it. You tell your story from both Ro and Benji’s point of view. Which was easier for you write from and why?

Ro came to me first, and I’ve always found it super natural to write in her voice. With Benji, I had to really sort of put myself out there -- I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly funny or humorous person, and Benji really is kind of the goofy, class clown type. But the more I wrote in Benji’s voice, the more naturally it came to me. I was definitely coming up with jokes that I didn’t realize I could come up with!

7. I don’t see myself as funny either and would struggle to write someone who is humorous. Your agent is Jessica Regel. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

I actually pitched a YA novel to Jess at a Writer’s Digest conference, and that’s what she initially signed me for! I was terribly nervous and was pretty sure I fumbled my way through my pitch, but she was cool and calm and collected and I just thought, it would be so cool if she became my agent. I also totally read her Literary Rambles interview, and again, she sounded like a fantastic advocate for her authors. She signed me when I was 16, and we initially subbed around the YA manuscript, but it didn’t sell. But Jess was patient and encouraging as ever, and we turned to the “next thing” (which is very helpful in publishing!). Eventually I began writing CLUES and, lo and behold, it sold.

8. That’s amazing that you got your agent at 16! Your book released on January 12, 2021. I saw on your website that you did two virtual events to celebrate your release. How did those go and what else have you been doing to promote your book? What advice do you have for authors who will be releasing their debut book?


My launch week was an absolute dream! I was completely blown away in the best way possible by all of the love and support that CLUES received from everyone in the book community, and with family and friends. I was lucky enough to get to converse with Erin Entrada Kelly (author of the Newberry-winning Hello, Universe, among other fantastic books!), one of my absolute book heroes, with my hometown indie bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy Books, and also conduct another amazing event with the indie I frequented while at college, Books Inc. As for promotion, I did a fair amount of publicity and self-promo around my book release to get the word out there. 

As for advice, I’d tell debut authors to focus on what they enjoy (whether it’s making Canva graphics, tweeting a lot, making TikToks, or posting on Instagram), don’t sweat what they don’t enjoy, and connect with the online book community, especially educators and librarians -- everyone is so passionate and kind. 

9. You are also a college student at Stanford University studying economics. How do you balance your studies and writing so that make enough progress on the manuscripts you’re writing? Has it been harder to write on a deadline while in school?

It’s definitely a juggling act! I think carving time out for writing is really important, and I’ve gotten used to sort of writing anywhere, anytime, but also making it a priority to carve out routine when I can. Deadlines can be daunting, especially in school, but thankfully, I’ve been able to do them all and turn them in on time so far.

10. It sounds like you’ve learned to juggle it all well. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on another middle grade book -- hopefully I can share more about it soon!

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

https://christinaliwrites.com/

@CLiwrites

https://www.instagram.com/christinaliwrites/?hl=en

Giveaway Details

Christina has generously offered a hardback of Clues to the Universe 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 April 3rd.  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. The giveaway is U.S.  

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, March 24th I have an interview with publisher Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press

Monday, March 29th I have an interview with debut author Jessica Olsen and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Sing Me Forgotten

Tuesday, April 6th I’m participating in the April Showers Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 7th I have an interview with debut author Alexandra Overy and a giveaway of her YA fantasy These Feathered Flames and my IWSG post

Monday, April 12th I have an interview with debut author Kaela Rivera and a giveaway of her MG fantasy based on Mexican mythology Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

Wednesday, April 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Emily Fortney and a query critique giveaway

Friday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rainbow on Roses Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

 

 

 

Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Tuesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I can’t believe that it’s the middle of March already. I’m glad time is flying by so that we can get closer to spring and warmer weather, flower and vegetable gardening, and more vaccinations for all of us. 

I’ve got a lot of exciting newly releases MG and YA book choices this month to help you get through this month.

 

FYI I am participating in two book giveaway blog hops every month so that I can feature more books that you'll hopefully want to read. You can enter my other giveaway by clicking on the link in the Current Giveaways at the top of the blog. FYI it ends today. My upcoming ones are listed in my Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways at the bottom of this post.

 

Here are the newly released MG and YA books I'm offering in this giveaway hop. You can also choose another book in the series by these authors. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads. Here are your choices:














If you haven't found a book you want, you can win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Giveaway Details

 One lucky entrant selected by the entry form will receive a book of their choice listed above or a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Open to entrants internationally as long as Book Depository ships to you for free, 13 years and older. Open for entry from 3/16 – 3/31/2021 at 11:59 pm EST. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The selected winner will have 48 hours to respond to the notification email to claim this prize or a new winner will be selected.

Please note that you must be a blog follower and leave a blog comment to enter the contest. 


Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Herrington and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 22nd I have an interview with debut author Christina Li and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Clues to the Universe

Wednesday, March 24th I have an interview with publisher Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press

Monday, March 29th I have an interview with debut author Jessica Olsen and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Sing Me Forgotten

Tuesday, April 6th I’m participating in the April Showers Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 7th I have an interview with debut author Alexandra Overy and a giveaway of her YA fantasy These Feathered Flames and my IWSG post

Monday, April 12th I have an interview with debut author Kaela Rivera and a giveaway of her MG fantasy based on Mexican mythology Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

Wednesday, April 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Emily Fortney and a query critique giveaway

Friday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rainbow on Roses Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you tomorrow!

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

MamatheFox and all participating blogs are not held responsible for sponsors who fail to fulfill their prize obligations.

Guest Post: Agent Caryn Wiseman and Debut Author Merriam Sarcia Saunders and Trouble With a Tiny t and Query Critique Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have a guest post by debut author Merriam Sarcia Saunders and her agent Caryn Wiseman to celebrate Merriam’s contemporary MG Trouble With a Tiny t. It sounds like a great story about a boy who gets into trouble a lot and has ADHD. And there’s a touch of magic!

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:


Twelve-year-old Westin Hopper gets in trouble--a lot. At home, at school, at his grandparents' house. . . . His ADHD always seems to mess with his brain, making him do impulsive things. So when Westin finds a magic bag that makes his thoughts come alive, he thinks it's the ticket to fixing his life. Instead, his wandering brain strikes again, conjuring up a mini T. rex, an army of headless plastic men, and a six-inch Thor. Now they all live in his bedroom, eating lunchmeat, wreaking havoc, and growing. And Westin doesn't know how to make them go away. He enlists his fellow social outcast, Lenora, to help him make things right. Lenora helps Westin realize that his talent for drawing could be the key to solving his problems. If Westin can focus while drawing, maybe he can learn to control the magic and get rid of the creatures in his room. But he'd better learn quickly. Tiny T is growing--and fast.

Now here’s Merriam and Caryn!

Questions to Merriam

1.     What have you found most helpful about having an agent, outside of editorial help and contract negotiation?

Caryn is truly a partner. She’s my cheerleader. My mirror. And a good set of brakes. When I’m feeling
bent and broken from rejection, she manages to say something that inspires me to forge on. She isn’t

afraid to praise, and she isn’t afraid to tell me when I haven’t even come close to nailing what I’m trying to do. If I show her the beginnings of something new, she’ll encourage me to keep going or stop me before I waste too much time.  She is also my finger on the pulse of the market and what editors are looking for now. I feel super lucky to be represented by such a wise woman. Get it? Wiseman? (I’m hopelessly corny)

2.     You’re a licensed psychotherapist. How does that influence your writing?

Because of my clinical training, I love digging deep to the layer of magma that heats people’s


motivations, their wounds, their misunderstandings and mistakes. Characters naturally fascinate me—especially the fact that, as a writer, I can make them do what I want, wreak havoc for them, but then show a path to healing. I feel fortunate that I can weave mental health into stories in a way that can create empathy and correct misconceptions and also act as a mirror to normalize children’s experiences. It’s meaningful that, through writing, I can help a greater audience than only my client base.

What inspired you to write TROUBLE? How do you usually find inspiration?

I specialize in ADHD in children, and when I wrote TROUBLE, there were very few children’s titles that portrayed ADHD characters. I wanted to show a realistic boy with realistic ADHD traits—but because I love silly and magic, I wanted the story to be fun and accessible to all. In a writer’s workshop, the instructor had us pick three random objects and write a short story with them. I picked a silk bag, a turtle and a crocodile. My “what if” moment was: what if this bag were magic, and a boy with ADHD found it? The piece I wrote wound up as the book’s first chapter—a million revisions later.

3.     What is the most important writing craft or tool you’ve learned to use, e.g. sparkling dialogue, making sure to show instead of tell, etc.

Reading. Such a vague answer, I know, but I read not only craft books, but also a lot of fiction—looking for what I’ve learned in the craft books, highlighting, dog-earing, underlining. It’s one thing to read about showing, not telling or creating tension or objective correlatives, (I mean, what the heck is that?) but if you don’t see it applied, sometimes it’s hard (for me, anyway) to really get it, and then especially, use it in my own writing.

4.     Do you have a favorite moment or character in TROUBLE?

The main character, Westin, is an amalgamation of me, my brother, my kids and my husband so of course he is deep in my heart. But hands down my fave is Thor. 100% I had SO much fun writing this mythical six-inch Norse god who is totally full of himself and desperately in love with Westin’s best friend Lenora. He’s nothing like Marvel’s Thor—in fact I stayed clear of their movies because I didn’t want to be influenced. But he’s so fun and I hope he makes kids laugh.

5.     What is the one thing you would advise aspiring authors?

Read! And find critique partners. Join SCBWI and plug into your community. It’s a long road and a tough business, and it helps to have trusted eyes on your work and writer friends that understand what you’re going through.

Questions to Caryn 

  1. What was it about TROUBLE that made you offer representation?


I read TROUBLE in one sitting on a cross-country flight coming back from New York (remember those days?) and, first of all, I didn't fall asleep while reading on a plane!  I laughed, I ugly cried, and I just felt so strongly for the frustrations that Westin (the main character) faced.  I could picture him in my mind.  I was so emotionally invested in his struggles, and I rooted for him all the way.  Westin read like a real kid, not a mini-grown-up, and I knew that readers would love the tiny-T, Thor, the little army men, and all the fun playthings that come to life in the story.  I knew that there weren't a lot of honest portrayals of kids with ADHD in the marketplace, and I really felt that Merriam hit it out of the park.  I had some thoughts for revision in mind, but they were definitely doable.   I emailed Merriam immediately and offered representation.

  1. Can you walk us through a typical workday? What do you enjoy most about your job? 

There is no typical workday!  Every day is different and that's what I enjoy most about my job.  I'm in California, so I usually get up pretty early, check my email, and respond to anything pressing over breakfast.  I check social media and read the news and trade journals to see if anything's happening that I need to be aware of.  Then I plan out my day (rarely do I stick to the plan!) and try to get a little exercise in before really getting started.  My day might consist of any combination of the following: meetings with editors, an agency meeting, preparing submissions, following up on submissions, reviewing and negotiating contracts, talking to clients, putting out “fires,” doing mundane admin tasks, Slacking with my colleagues, and reading and editing manuscripts (although that usually gets relegated to nights and weekends).  If an offer comes in, all bets are off.  Then I get to make the best phone call in the world, and let a client know that their manuscript and/or art will be published! 

  1. In a submission, what is it that makes you want to request the full manuscript? The concept? The query? The pages?   

The pages!  It's all about the pages!  You can write the best query in the world, but if you don't grab me in your opening pages, I'm not going to continue reading.  By the same token, you can have a fantastic concept or a fantastic voice, or fantastic line-level writing, but if it doesn't all come together in a fantastic package, I don't want to read it.   And, there's far less leeway for a slow opening in children's books than in adult.  In adult fiction, I might be willing to slog through some gorgeous expository pages, but that’s not the case in children’s books.  The book needs to capture my heart right away and make me want to keep turning the pages.

  1. What is the one thing you wish aspiring authors knew about you, or literary agents in general.   

That I understand disappointment and rejection, too.  I only offer representation to creators whose work I am passionately in love with, and if they don’t come with me, it’s disappointing.  But, I always cheer when I see the book sell, and root for its success.  I know that my colleagues would agree.  By the same token, when we go out on submission with a project, it’s like sending your babies out into the world.  Sometimes they get bruised and battered before they find the right home.   So, we empathize with the ups and downs of the query/submissions process. 

  1. How do you decide which editors to submit to, and how do you get to know their changing tastes when there are so many?

That is a fantastic question.   I am so very lucky to work at such a collaborative agency with thirteen

other agents; we are all constantly in touch with editors.   We have a proprietary database that we update with information about new editors and changes to what editors are looking for.   I search that database, and triangulate it with Publishers Marketplace.  I also use my institutional knowledge of editors with whom I’ve been working for years.  I’m very careful not to fall into the trap of only working with a limited number of editors.  This past week, I just closed a deal with an editor who was one of the first editors I met many years ago when I was a brand new agent and she was a brand new editor; we had never worked together until now.  I also closed deals with two young editors with whom I’ve never worked before, and a deal with an editor with whom I’ve been working for quite some time.  It was a good week!  Finally, again, because our agency is so collaborative, I often ask my colleagues for their thoughts on who might be the best fit for a particular manuscript.  We all support each other this way, and it’s an invaluable resource.

6.     What are you looking for at the moment?

The most important work that I do is lifting the voices of creators who can help erase hate from our world.  So, at the moment, I am looking for the following: diverse illustrators and graphic novelists; untold Jewish and Muslim stories; layered YA romcom by and about non-white and/or queer creators; timeless, heartwarming middle-grade like THE VANDERBEEKERS; and MG and YA graphic or narrative nonfiction.   I am open to work that doesn’t fit into these categories, but I have a strong preference for work by creators whose voices have been traditionally underrepresented in publishing.

Thanks for sharing your advice Merriam and Caryn. You can find Merriam at:

Merriamsbooks.com
ANovelMind.com Co-founder

 Giveaway Details

 Merriam has generously offered an ARC of Trouble With a Tiny t and Caryn has offered a query critique 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 March 27th. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter 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. The book giveaway is U.S. and the query critique giveaway is international. 

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tomorrow, March 16th I’m participating in the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, March 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Herrington and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 22nd I have an interview with debut author Christina Li and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Clues to the Universe

Wednesday, March 24th I have an interview with publisher Maria Dismondy of Cardinal Rule Press

Monday, March 29th I have an interview with debut author Jessica Olsen and a giveaway of her YA fantasy Sing Me Forgotten

Hope to see you tomorrow!