Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent Melissa Nasson/Author Alex Perry Guest Post + Query Critique & Book Giveaway on 10/18/21
  • Ginger Clark Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/25/21
  • Danielle Chiotti Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/15/21
  • Agent Cortney Radocaj/Author Claire Winn Guest Post + Query Critique & Book Giveaway on 12/1/2021
  • Jemma Cooper Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/13/2021
  • Stacey Kondla Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/15/2021

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.

Guest Post: Jessica Lawson on the Twists and Turns on the Way to Publication and Tina Dubois Query Critique and How to Save a Queendom Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have Jessica Lawson here to share about her new MG fantasy How to Save a Queendom. I’ve had her on the blog many times since she was a debut author and have loved watching her continue grow as an author. I’m super excited to read her new book. I want to find out more about the little wizard in Stub’s pocket.

New Literary Agent Database

Before I get to Jessica’s guest post, I want to share about a new agent database created by Humayun Khan, an author who has a YA book being published in 2022. The database is QueryCat and features agents who represent PB through adult fiction. It looks like a good resource that you may want to check out. I've added a link to it on my sidebar.

Interview with Jessica Lawson

How to Save a Queendom Book Summary:

From critically acclaimed author Jessica Lawson comes a whimsical fantasy about an orphaned twelve-year-old girl who is called upon to save her queendom when she finds a tiny wizard in her pocket.

Life’s never been kind to twelve-year-old Stub. Orphaned and left in the care of the cruel Matron Tratte, Stub’s learned that the best way to keep the peace is to do as she’s told. No matter that she’s bullied and that her only friend is her pet chicken, Peck, Stub’s accepted the fact that her life just isn’t made for adventure. Then she finds a tiny wizard in her pocket.

Orlen, the royal wizard to Maradon’s queen, is magically bound to Stub. And it’s up to her to ferry Orlen back to Maradon Cross, the country’s capital, or else the delicate peace of the queendom will crumble under the power of an evil wizard queen. Suddenly Stub’s unexciting life is chock-full of adventure. But how can one orphan girl possibly save the entire queendom?

Now here’s Jessica! 

Twists & Turns on the Way to Publication- A post (and giveaway!) by Jessica Lawson

Let’s talk about dance parties and pizza. Every time I’ve been fortunate enough to sell a book, I’ve celebrated with those two things, rocking out with my daughters and scarfing up slices of cheesy goodness. After all, there’s nothing quite as exciting as getting a phone call or an email letting you know that a publishing dream has come true, and that a book you wrote will be in the world in just a year or two! But what happens after the book deal when your story takes a little (or a lot) longer to make its way into the world?

How to Save a Queendom is the story of a girl named Stub, who’s only friend in the world is a runty chicken. Stories come to writers in so many ways—when I first came up with the idea for this tale, I was browsing through items at a craft festival. I picked up tiny handmade pewter statues of a wizard and a chicken, and instantly knew that they had stories inside them. About a week later, a young girl named Stub leapt into my imagination. She was feeling trapped and needed a way to set herself free—with those elements set firmly in my mind, the adventure began!

My manuscript was sold on proposal in February of 2017. At that point, I was lucky enough to have had a middle grade book coming out every year since 2014. Suffice to say, I was a bit spoiled by previous experiences and expectations, and thought that maybe the book would be published in 2018.  

Selling on proposal can be a tricky business. QUEENDOM was not my first time with that experience, but this story was different for me. While I had plot points nailed down and knew the direction I wanted for my protagonist, my execution of a first full draft didn’t turn out to be as clear and focused as I intended. It was my first story in the fantasy genre, and there were SO many paths I could have traveled in order to reach the end of Stub’s journey. The result? A longer amount of time needed to finish a complete manuscript, and LOTS of revisions.

Writing Stub’s story was a journey in itself. Characters were both removed and created. Beasts were taken out of the manuscript or reworked. While fulfilling her quest, Stub constantly reminded me that life is full of ups and downs, ins and outs, monotonous routines and magnificent surprises. And, of course, hope.

My editor was extremely supportive as we worked through the direction of the book, but inevitably, the publication date was pushed back. It was a little disheartening, especially when having conversations with friends and family (THEM: “When’s your book coming out?” ME: “Um, I don’t know.”), but I was determined to work toward a manuscript that my editor and I could both be proud of. There were phone calls and email exchanges and long documents written by me about world-building, plot, and strategy. I rewrote the manuscript to change it from 3rd person to 1st person. The publication date was pushed back again.

And then, in early 2020, right around the time when my daughters’ schools closed down because of the pandemic, I got a phone call from my literary agent. My editor had changed jobs and was now with another publishing company. This happens a lot in publishing—it can be a marvelously flexible world, where people are encouraged to grow and pursue new opportunities while retaining relationships within the industry. I completely understood why the scheduled release of the book was delayed again. And I also understood how hard it must have been for a new editor to be assigned to an unfamiliar author and manuscript.

My new editor jumped into the manuscript with enthusiasm, and we revised some more. And now, four years from the time the book sold, How to Save a Queendom is in the world!

Here’s the thing: I wouldn’t trade the long-haul nature of this book for anything. The writing lessons I learned during the process were invaluable, and I’m so grateful for them, and for everyone who supported me along the way. Publishing can be unpredictable, and our writing journeys can sometimes be more challenging than expected. But in the end, it’s always worth it!

Now, back to dance parties and pizza. I’m a big believer in celebrating every milestone of a book’s journey, whether it’s writing that first paragraph, typing THE END on a first draft, or having a post published on one of your very favorite blogs (I’m looking at you, Literary Rambles!). So on that note, I’m off to have a cheesy slice and dance with my daughters again. Thank you to Natalie for hosting this post, and to all of you readers and writers out there. As Stub often says to her chicken friend Peck, I’m here. You’re here. We’re here together.

Thanks for sharing your enlightening story with us, Jessica! You can find Jessica at:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JS_Lawson

Website: http://jessicalawsonbooks.com/

To Buy HOW TO SAVE A QUEENDOM: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/How-to-Save-a-Queendom/Jessica-Lawson/9781534414341

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

Giveaway Details

Jessica has generously offered a hardback of How to Save a Queendom and her agent Tina Dubois 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 May 22nd.  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 giveaway is U.S. for the book giveaway and international for the query critique.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, May 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Joyce Sweeney and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, May 16th I’m participating in the Moms Rock Giveaway Hop

Monday, May 17th I have an interview with debut author Payal Doshi and a giveaway of her MG fantasy set in India Rea and the Blood of the Nectar

Wednesday, May 18th I have an agent spotlight interview with Michelle Hauck and a query critique giveaway

Monday, May 26th I have a guest post with agent Maura Kye-Casella and debut author Sam Subity with a query critique giveaway by Maura and a giveaway of The Last Shadow Warrior, a MG fantasy by Sam

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

 

44 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview Natalie, I know only too well about the twist and turns on getting published but with my latest book......I first have to complete it as this pandemic has got my motivation disrupted.
    Hope all is well.
    Yvonne.

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  2. I have just completed a manuscript. I am wondering how to get the critique. It's my first one in English after about twenty years in the United States. My email is htxueditor@gmail.com.

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    1. You're entered into the contest by leaving a comment with your email address. I'll email you if you win it.

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  3. A long time to the finished book but I bet the tale is even better for the journey.
    Cool there is a new agent database.

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  4. Four years! What an amazing story, Jessica. Congratulations on it finally reaching the bookshelves!

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  5. I admire your dedication and persistence to achieve your goals. Congrats! Please enter me for a copy of this exciting book, but not for the critique. I follow Natalie on Twitter.

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  6. What a fascinating journey it has been for you Jessica in bringing "How to Save a Queendom" to readers! It sounds like an intriguing fantasy -- and I do enjoy a good fantasy! I really enjoyed the interview and being introduced to your work! (Not interested in critique.)

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  7. Wow, what a journey! The book sounds amazing. Such a great character name. Can’t wait to read it. [I would like to be entered into the giveaway.]

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  8. Huge congratulations to Jessica on your upcoming release, can't wait to read Stub's story. No need to enter me in the critique Natalie, I follow by Twitter and posted a retweet. Hope you both have a lovely week.

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  9. A book a year is a massive accomplishment. This new fantasy has me intrigued and should be popular with young readers. Thanks for the heads-up on the agent database and for featuring your post on MMGM today.

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  10. Sometimes things just take longer than you expect. Glad the book is finally getting published.

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  11. I've seen this book a few places. I am intrigued. Thanks for posting!

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  12. What a great guest post! I really enjoyed Ms. Lawson's novel Nooks and Crannies a few years back, so I'll see if I can cram this one into my reading schedule! It sounds like a crazy ride, revising and changing to 1st-person and then even switching editors, but it's wonderful the book is finally out in the world. I'll pass on both giveaways, but thanks so much for the wonderful post!

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  13. Tiny handmade pewter statues of a wizard and a chicken found at a craft festival leads to a books long journey, great story! Thanks for sharing.

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  14. Thanks for sharing! I shared this giveaway on Twitter and also follow Natalie. -orchardka@gmail.com

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  15. "How to Save a Queendom" sounds amazing. I love the cover!
    My email is sgallison01@gmail.com.

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  16. Great blog post on the four-year journey of this book's creation, and I'd love to win a copy of How to Save a Queendom. Please don't put me in for the critique giveaway.
    Thank you! Julie

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  17. This sounds so fun! I love that Stub has Peck as a friend, and a tiny wizard in her pocket! I can't wait to read it. Congratulations!

    I shared this on Twitter. angelecolline at yahoo dot com

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  18. What a cute sounding story! I'm going to mark it on my list.
    Also, thanks for the heads-up on QueryCat.

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  19. It was interesting to read about "selling on proposal." Wow. It must have felt rather disheartening to have the publication take so much longer than expected. But maybe that makes the release of the book feel extra special? Congrats. azylstra.StayBack@gmail.com

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  20. I loved hearing how you got your inspiration for the book. Thank you for the interview!
    sketch.linked@gmail.com

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  21. Sounds like a lot of mental muscle and heart went into this. Many congrats.
    'Lo, Natlie:)

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  22. This sounds fab! I am so in love with the idea of a tiny pocket-sized wizard. Gotta read this one for sure. Congrats on finally getting to the pub date!

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  23. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview. Congratulations Jessica and good luck. My cousin's granddaughter loves chickens. She calls them 'bawk bawks.' She inspired me to write a PB manuscript involving chickens.

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  24. Thanks for sharing your ups and downs and encouragement to persevere. And for reminding us to celebrate big and small victories!

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  25. Wow. Changing editors mid-book! That's crazy. And yet, it seems to have worked out. Thanks for sharing this story to publication. Great post. I will pass on the giveaways.

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  26. I love that you found two of your characters at a craft sale - it's amazing how stories and characters find their authors, even if the form they arrive in goes through many changes to get to the final version. Best of luck with Stubb - it looks like a fun read.

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  27. Congrats on finally getting the book published, would love to get a copy! Hope you dance many more times and have many more pizza parties!

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  28. What a journey and a great perspective. Very excited to check out your book! (re:entries- I'm a Twitter follower and will retweet now.)

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  29. Thanks for the interview and details on the book's backstory! Following you on Twitter & Sharing the contest via Twitter :)

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  30. This books sounds very fun and I enjoyed hearing about your process! Congrats!

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  31. As always thank you for the helpful content Natalie! Wonderful informative interview!

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  32. So good to "see" you again, Jessica, and to offer congratulations on another book. It sounds wonderful! From an old blogging friend of the past... :-)

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    1. Kenda!!! Thank you so much for commenting--it's been a long time, blog buddy!

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  33. I enjoyed the interview! Follow you via email at amweeksoc at comcast dot net. I'd love to win the book, but the critique not needed. Thank you!

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  34. I tweeted! https://twitter.com/amweeks00/status/1392595335558705162

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  35. Again, a wonderful chance to win two amazing prizes!
    I follow you and Jessica on Twitter.
    owens@wsd3.org

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  36. great interview! shared on twitter :)

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  37. Though your book took longer than you expected, I have no doubt the wizard and the chicken you met at the craft festival enjoyed the extra time they had with you. Sounds like a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing your journey.

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  39. I just checked out Query Cat. What an amazing resource!

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  40. How to Save a Queendom sounds wonderful, love the story of what inspired the book! And I agree that pizza is the best way to celebrate writing wins, though I do like to change it up with sushi sometimes!! Here's my email for the giveaway: hajjagrace@aol.com

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