Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Kristin Ostby Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 10/11/21
  • 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 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.

New Literary Development Company Spotlight: Sacha Wunsch Interview and Five First Page/Query or 10 First Page Query Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Sacha Wunsch here to share about a new literary development company, As You Wish Literary, that she recently founded with Stacey Hertz. Sacha is a debut YA author, and I will be interviewing her on 10/6/21 to celebrate the release of her YA psychological mystery, Lies My Memories Told Me.

Hi Sacha! Thanks so much for joining us.

Thank you so much for having me, Natalie!

About Sacha:

1. Tell us about yourself and your background as an author and in the publishing industry. What is Stacey’s background?

Sure! I was a bookseller for years and have been writing and editing for the better part of two decades. I am a USA Today bestseller under a romance pseudonym, and my first YA, Lies My Memory Told Me, which is under my own name, comes out in October with Inkyard Press.

Stacey has a background in journalism and communications and has also been writing and editing for the better part of two decades. She holds a BA in English and a Masters of Novel Writing from the University of Middlesex (London).

2. What made you decide to found As You Wish Literary?

We believe there’s a gap in the publishing industry that we can help with. As publishing houses continue to merge and/or downsize, more and more work gets piled on the shoulders of hardworking publishing employees. There’s no question that people in the book world are overworked! It’s our aim at As You Wish Literary Development to help ease that burden, as every project we create will have a multitude of eyes on it at each stage of the process – before it ever finds its way to an acquiring editor, as well as after. As such, we are able to deliver a product where great structure, writing, and editing are always ensured.

About As You Wish Literary:

3. Tell us about As You Wish Literary and what it has to offer to authors?

As You Wish Literary has a unique business model in that we’re not a literary agent, nor are we a publisher. We’re all about developing high-concept ideas and producing detailed book blueprints - then finding the perfect writer to bring that idea to life, before it gets to the agent or editor stage.

As writers ourselves, we know it’s hard to stand out in publishing. We want more artists to be able to make a living doing what they love and hope to be a bridge toward making that dream a reality for as many writers as possible. As such, we are continuously hiring writers on a freelance basis to bring their magic to each of our projects.  

4. How are authors paid for their work?

We are proud to offer high royalty rates because we believe the best work comes from writers who have the most to gain. When a writer is chosen for a project, they receive an up-front advance on royalties, and then every time the book creates revenue, they get paid again (this includes advances, book royalties, foreign, and audio rights sales).

5. Is an author you hire listed as the author once a submission is published?

The determination of what name the book will be published under will be decided on a project-by-project basis depending on the goals of the writer, As You Wish, as well as input from the publisher. Some authors prefer to have their name (or pen name) attached to a project, while others prefer not to (for example, when a project is very different from their usual writing, if they have social anxiety, or for any number of other reasons).

What She’s Looking For:

6. What age groups do you develop stories for—picture books, MG, YA, and/or adult? What genres do you work in?

As You Wish Literary develops high-concept, high-quality stories in various genres including Commercial Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Upmarket, Speculative, Romance, and genre-defying hybrids. As far as age groups, we are currently working with mostly adult projects, but hope to expand to YA and MG in the coming months.

7. What types of writers are you looking for?

We have a few types of ideal writers that we love to work with:

        Prolific authors that are already traditionally published but find the publishing industry can’t keep up with their abundant output

        Authors who would like to try a new genre

        Successful self-published authors who’d like to try the traditional publishing market

        Unpublished writers who can show us something we’ve never seen before. We love to be wowed and we want unique voices!

        Other experienced writers - tell us why you’d be a great fit!

Publisher Philosophy:

8. What is your philosophy as a story developer both in terms of the authors you want to work with and the books you develop?

We love to bring unputdownable stories and fresh ideas to the marketplace. It is our greatest wish to help ease the workload in the publishing world, as well as give more writers hands-on guidance through the publishing process. Working with story developers is a great way to learn everything you need to know - it’s like a master class in writing a novel . . . and you get paid to do it!

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

9. How should authors submit to you?

We’re always on the lookout for more writers to add to our roster! We have a lot more information available for anyone interested on our website at https://www.asyouwishliterary.com/writers, but in general, we’d like the following materials sent to: contact@asyouwishliterary.com.

        CV/resume (including any writing credits)

        a short biography - tell us about what you love in literature (genres, authors, favorite titles, etc.) and about your life outside of it (hobbies, interests, and unique experiences)

        a 25-page writing sample that you think is a good representation of what you can do

10. Can authors submit to you through their agent?

Yes! We work with both agented and unagented writers.

Self-Published and Small Press Authors:

11.  Are you open to work with authors who have self-published or been published by smaller presses?

Absolutely! 

Links and Contact Info:

12. Please share how writers should contact As You Wish Literary?

Our email is contact@asyouwishliterary.com. If you’re interested, we can also be found on Twitter: @AsYouWishLit and on Instagram: @AsYouWishLiterary.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Sacha!

Giveaway Details

Sacha has generously offered a five first pages + query critique or first 10 pages query critique—winner’s choice—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 telling me which critique you want by July 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 don’t want to enter the giveaway contest, that’s fine. Just let me know in the comments.

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 international.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Thursday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 7th I have an interview with debut author Kate Norris and a giveaway of her YA contemporary When You and I Collide

Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family

Wednesday, July 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Analieze Cervantes and a query critique giveaway

Friday, July 16th I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 19th I have an interview with debut author Alysa Wishingrad and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Verdigris Pawn

Wednesday, July 21st I have an agent spotlight interview with Mary Cummings and a query critique giveaway

Monday, July 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Allison Hellegers and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Thursday!

 

 

 

Author Interview: Mike Thayer and The Double Life of Danny D Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author Mike Thayer here to share about his new MG contemporary/fantasy The Double Life of Danny D. It sounds like a funny contemporary that also has fantasy elements.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

A boy who lives every day twice uses his ability to bring down bullies at his new school in Mike Thayer's humor-filled middle grade novel, The Double Life of Danny Day.

My name is Danny Day, and I live every day twice.

The first time, it’s a “discard day.” It’s kind of like a practice run. At the end of the day, I go to bed, wake up, and poof everything gets reset, everything except my memory, that is.

The second time, everything is normal, just like it is for everyone else. That’s when everything counts and my actions stick. As you could probably guess, “Sticky Day” Danny is very different from “Discard Day” Danny.

When Danny’s family moves across the country, he suddenly has to use his ability for more than just slacking off and playing video games. Now he's making new friends, fending off jerks, exposing a ring of cheaters in the lunchtime video game tournament, and taking down bullies one day at a time ... or is it two days at a time?

Hi Mike! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I’m a proud father of three, lucky husband of one, passionate author, budding podcaster, lifelong gamer, viral blogger, degreed engineer, decent impressionist, inept hunter, erstwhile jock, and nerd.

Even though my dad was a creative professor for over half a century (teaching the likes of Orson Scott Card, Brandon Sanderson, and Brandon Mull) I didn’t do much novel writing in my youth. Heck, I hardly even read (outside the required books for school, of course). I was far too busy with football, video games, and thinking about girls. I went on to get a degree in chemical engineering, got married, had kids, and started my career in oil & gas before I even thought to put pen to paper. I always enjoyed writing and storytelling, but never thought to actually try to write a novel until watching Return of the King for probably the fifth time. I wanted to know if I could come up with something that awesome. I tinkered around on ideas for a long time before jumping headfirst into writing. I did online courses, listened to podcasts, watched lectures, but most importantly, I wrote. I spent 7 years cutting my teeth on a 200,000-word behemoth of a novel that will thankfully never see the light of day. After that, I began work on The Epic Adventures of Techno Wizard, which I self-published in April 2018. I’ve got three of those books out now. I started writing another novel (The Double Life of Danny Day) as a little side project between Techno Wizard 2 and 3 and it got actually picked up an agent and then a major publisher (Macmillan). That’s how it works sometimes. The big moments come when you least expect them.

2. Wow! Your dad taught some amazing authors. Glad you followed in his tradition of getting into creative writing. Where did you get the idea for The Double Life of Danny Day and the idea of living each day twice?

All my ideas basically come from two thoughts: “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” and “Man, I wish I could…”

Techno Wizard was “wouldn’t it be cool if in a portal fantasy, the main character still had cell phone signal back to earth?” Danny Day was from all the times that I thought “man, I wish I could redo today, knowing what I know now.” It was a such a cool hook with endless possibilities, I just knew I had to write it to see how it would play out.

3. Those are great thoughts to generate story ideas. How did you plot out your story and keep track of Danny living every day twice?

As you can imagine, writing a book like this comes with some pretty unique plotting challenges. To map out the days I used a gigantic sheet of paper and laid out each of the days, making sure that not only were the “discard” and “sticky” days aligned for every calendar day, but that all the actions that Danny performed on discard days were completely forgotten by everyone else. It definitely added a layer of complexity that I wasn’t used to. The editing was the most difficult part. If my editor wanted a scene pulled up or pushed back, I had to either move around both iterations of the day or completely unzip the discard day from the sticky day and try to perform literary surgery with what was left. I had some definite head-scratching moments pulling this one off. 

4. Your first series, The Epic Adventure of The Techno Wizard, is an epic fantasy series. This is more of a contemporary story with a bit of fantasy. Do you have a preference for either genre? Why?

I obviously enjoy both, but my heart and soul is with big epic fantasy and superhero stories. It might not be immediately obvious, but Danny is a kind of super hero. He has a very unique power and he uses it to “fight against evil”, which in his case is taking on bullies. I even sneak in a pretty fantastical environment by having a bunch of action take place inside Champions Royale, the video game around which a lot of the main conflict revolves. I could write a dozen more Danny Day books, but I very much want to return to writing epic/super hero fantasy.

5. I love fantasies too. Humor is hard for many writers to include in their stories, but it really appeals to kids. Share how you incorporated it in The Double Life of Danny Day. What advice do you have for other writers on how to make their stories more humorous?

Humor has always been such a big part of my life. Growing up, conversations in my family were often clever and witty with a lot of word play. Any time I’m with my old friends, I laugh so hard my body hurts. Humor is such an essential part of my life that any story I read or movie I see that doesn’t have humor ends up lacking a certain degree of authenticity for me. Some humor comes naturally when you write, but there are a lot of jokes or opportunities for jokes that I won’t see until later drafts. Sometimes I won’t know the joke off hand, but I can just tell the situation has set itself up for a joke or two if I kick it around long enough. I guess my advice would be to always look for where you can believably slip in a joke, especially in later drafts. Think of the funniest people you know and try to imagine how they would react or the kinds of things they might say in a certain situation. Heck, you could even ask them what they would do or say in a given situation.

6. Share a bit about Danny and your three favorite things about him.

1) He has a unique super power that I would LOVE to have. 2) He’s not afraid to really push the boundaries on a discard day and really have some fun. 3) He loves his family. Too many books have family members always at each other’s throats. He loves his little twin sisters and he loves his mom enough to try and protect her from all mayhem that his sisters cause. I also focus a lot on Danny’s relationship with his dad, which is always a meaningful thing for me to explore since I lost my dad in 2017 to cancer.

7. You started out as a self-published author. The Double Life of Danny Day is being traditionally published. What was your road to getting a contract with a publisher like?

Like many authors, my road to getting published was full of rejection and a lot of waiting. The Techno Wizard, while an incredible book series, never landed an agent or a book deal. The book I wrote before Techno Wizard also never landed an agent or a book deal. By the time I had written Danny Day, I was actually pretty disillusioned with the whole traditional publishing route. I really considered not even querying agents, but ended up writing a really quirky query letter and sent it out, thinking I had nothing to lose. I got agents biting immediately. I couldn’t believe it worked. My current agent was one of the first ones who got back to me. She loved the story, always believed it, and it was because of this that I ended up signing with her. We did some pretty hefty revisions and then put it on submission to editors. I thought the offers would come flooding in immediately as they had done for many of my friends. I was wrong. Weeks went by, then months. I had all but given up hope when Macmillan finally showed interest after five months. Then a bunch of other publishers showed interest. It’s a weird thing. No one cares until someone cares, then everyone seems to care. I eventually signed a two-book deal with Macmillan and it was as glorious of a moment as I had always dreamed it would be.

8. That’s an awesome way to get an agent. I saw on your website that you’ve done a lot of school visits, which I assume were before COVID. Some of them were with big groups of kids. How did you set up all your school visits and presentations? What advice do you have to other authors wanting to set them up once schools are open full-time again?

Yes, my school visits were pre-COVID although I was recently able to return in person to one school, which is awesome. Even though I did virtual school visits during COVID, nothing compares to doing a big group in person. It’s one of my absolute favorite parts of being an author. I’ve always loved presenting and public speaking, so doing school visits was a very natural thing for me to do. I started by doing presentations to my kids’ classes, then just began contacting librarians at nearby schools. I did the presentations for free at first and then was quickly told by a librarian that I needed to charge for my assemblies and workshops. Librarians talked to other librarians and more and more schools started getting back to me and opening up doors. I would tell new authors to start small, really hone your presentation (it’s very similar to a stand-up comedy routine), notice when kids laugh and play up those parts. Take note of when they seem bored and cut those parts out. To get good, you need reps and you don’t want your first one to be in front of 500 kids on a Friday afternoon. Talk to librarians, give out free bookmarks, free books, make yourself available, be flexible. If budget is an issue to a school, be flexible. My goal is always to just get in front of kids, educate them, inspire them, and entertain them. If you have a passion for your stories, public speaking, and engaging with kids, let these emotions shine through, dial it up.

9. Those are great tips. How are you planning to market this book? Are your plans any different than for your first series? If so, why did you decide on these changes?

I’ve gone much more aggressive with this book on contacting book reviewers, bloggers, bookstagrammers, doing giveaways, etc. I haven’t been able to do in-person school visits, so that’s hurt, but I’ve tried to do as many virtual visits as possible. My wife also went around to all thirty schools in my town and handed out bookmarks. I’ve chatted with local bookstores about coordinating events (COVID protocols willing). Some of what I’m doing this time is the same, some of it is different because I know the ropes now, and still other parts I’m able to pull off now because I have the backing of a major publisher. I really prefer to do as many in-person events as possible, which in the current environment is limited, but things are opening back up, so I’d love to hit schools hard in the fall.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the final edits of my next novel, which comes out June, 2022. It’s called The Talent Thief and is about a girl who suddenly gets the ability to steal people’s talents for a day. It’s my first book with a female protagonist and I think it turned out awesome. Hopefully I’ll get a contract to work on sequels for The Double Life of Danny Day because I have a million ideas for cool scenarios for Danny.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Mike. You can find Mike at www.Mike-Thayer.com, www.TheTechnoWizardBooks.com, and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

Giveaway Details

Mike has generously offered a hardback of The Double Life of Danny Day 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 July 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. (Contiguous 48 states).

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, June 28th I have an interview with Sacha Wunsch, founder of As You Wish Literary, with a 5 first pages plus query critique or 10 first page critique giveaway

Thursday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 7th I have an interview with debut author Kate Norris and a giveaway of her YA contemporary When You and I Collide

Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family

Wednesday, July 14th I have an agent spotlight interview with Analieze Cervantes and a query critique giveaway

Friday, July 16th I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 19th I have an interview with debut author Alysa Wishingrad and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Verdigris Pawn

Monday, July 26th I have an agent spotlight interview with Allison Hellegers and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!

 

Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I’m doing this giveaway a little differently this time.

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card

I am offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon or The Book Depository. I’m looking forward to seeing what books everyone is looking forward to reading. If you don’t have 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 for $20 or less at Amazon or The Book Depository or a $10 Amazon Gift Card. Open to entrants internationally as long The Book Depository ships to you for free, 13 years and older. Open for entry from 6/16 – 6/30/2021 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. 

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, June 21st I have an interview with debut author Mike Thayer and a giveaway of his MG fantasy The Double Life of Danny Day

Monday, June 28th I have an interview with Sacha Wunsch, founder of As You Wish Literary, with a 5 first pages plus query critique or 10 first page critique giveaway

Thursday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 7th I have an interview with debut author Kate Norris and a giveaway of her YA contemporary When You and I Collide

Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family

Hope to see you on Monday!

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.

 

Debut Author Interview: Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and Everywhere Blue Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have debut author Joanne Rossmassler Fritz here to share about her contemporary MG Everywhere Blue. I’m super excited to have Joanne here because we’ve been blogger friends since I started reading blogs over 10 years ago. It’s thrilling to see her debut as an author. And I can’t wait to read her book. Maddie sounds like a fantastic character, and I’m curious to learn how the story addresses mental illness and the climate crisis—which are both so relevant right now.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads: 

A brother's disappearance turns one family upside down, revealing painful secrets that threaten the life they've always known.

After twelve-year-old Maddie's older brother vanishes from his college campus, her carefully ordered world falls apart. Nothing will fill the void of her beloved oldest sibling. When her parents fly out to Strum's college to search for answers, Maddie is left in the care of her sixteen-year-old sister, who seeks solace in rebellion and ignores Maddie. Drowning in grief and confusion, the family's musical household falls silent.

Though Maddie is the youngest, she knows Strum better than anyone. He used to confide in her, sharing his fears about the climate crisis and their planet's future. So, Maddie starts looking for clues: Was Strum unhappy? Were the arguments with their dad getting worse? Or could his disappearance have something to do with those endangered butterflies he loved . . .

Scared and on her own, Maddie picks up the pieces of her family's fractured lives. Maybe her parents aren't who she thought they were. Maybe her nervous thoughts and compulsive counting mean she needs help. And maybe finding Strum won't solve everything--but she knows he's out there, and she has to try.

Follower News

Before I get to my interview with Joanne, I have Follower News to share. Reonne Haslett has a new tween book that just released, JAKE/GEEK: Quest for Oshi. Here’s a blurb and a few links:  

Gripping story of a 15-yr-old cyber-genius whose best friend, Oshi O’Malley, disappears. Jake enlists the help of his sister, Sara, and his protégé, Paulie, to help find her. Using psychic cloaking, an implanted microchip and spyware from the Paranormal Research Lab at Stanford, they overcome obstacles that lead to Oshi. Jake’s beliefs are shaken to the core when he enters the particle transmutation pod and is transported into the World Wide Web.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1737057301/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58196715-jake-geek

Website: www.reonnehaslett.com

Interview With Joanne Rossmassler Fritz

Hi Joanne! Thanks so much for joining us!

Thank you so much for having me here, Natalie! It’s an honor. I’ve been following your blog for years.

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

I’ve been writing most of my life. I remember writing secret little stories when I was 8 or 9 years old but I never told anyone back then that I wanted to be a writer. In high school and college, I wrote a lot of angsty poetry. But I never got serious about writing until I survived my first brain aneurysm rupture in 2005. Between that first rupture and the second (in 2017), I managed to write at least a dozen picture books and five novels.

2. You wrote a lot of books since then. I’m impressed. Where did you get the idea for Everywhere Blue?

Quite a few ideas came together to form what would eventually become Everywhere Blue. I started with a poem I wrote in 2013, about taking oboe lessons, and hating the early darkness in November and December after the lesson was over. Then in 2014, my husband and I were fortunate enough to go on vacation to the island of St Martin, where we visited the Butterfly Farm. I always knew I wanted those blue morpho butterflies to be in the book. Other threads included: being raised by classical music fans, my lifelong passion for the environment, and an unsolved missing person case in my hometown (although to protect the family, I changed all the details).

3. What made you decide to write Everywhere Blue as a story in verse rather than prose?

It actually started out in prose in the spring of 2015! But after writing three short chapters, I knew it wasn’t working. I had already read quite a few novels in verse, but had one of those “aha” moments, after reading yet another novel in verse. And right away, I realized I already had what would eventually become part of the first poem in the book, the poem I wrote back in 2013 about oboe lessons! I’d never attempted anything like this before but it felt right from the first moment.

4. That’s great that it fell all in place for you. It sounds really hard to me. Every word counts when you write a story in verse. How did this affect your drafting and revision process?

The draft that got me an agent and a book deal was only 22,000 words. My wonderful editor, Sally Morgridge, guided me to add another 3000 words, with more poems about Strum, and about Maddie’s best friend, Emma, more flashbacks, and even a few more poems about the climate crisis. She even had me add a few lines to some of the existing poems! Because it’s a verse novel, some stages of editing were very brief. An additional word here or there, or a word change here or there. We were even going back and forth about one word, out of the entire book, in the last pass of page proofs.

5. This is a very character-driven story. Share about Maddie’s character development and two of your favorite things about her.

Maddie started out a lot like me, and then changed over the years of revision. It’s one of those mysterious things that happen when you write – the characters take over and become real people to you! At first, she was obsessed with the birth and death dates of classical musicians! That disappeared by draft 3 or 4. During revisions, I realized I had to keep giving her more positive characteristics, like her love of math, and her love of reading.

Two of my favorite things about Maddie: She’s a math genius (I am definitely not!), and she’s a very loyal friend.

6. I’m so not a math whiz either. Everywhere Blue is also in part a mystery because Maddie is trying to figure out what happened to Strum. How did you plot out this aspect of your story?

Once I realized my story idea involved a missing person, I seized on the mystery aspect of that. I hope it added an element of intrigue. That was one of the aspects Sally liked in the first place. Plotting it out wasn’t that difficult. I always knew the climate crisis would be a big part of Strum’s disappearance, so I decided I needed to have Maddie make some assumptions about where Strum would go. Since polar bears play a part in this book, it seemed natural for her to assume at first that Strum would head north. But then there are those butterflies…

7. Your agent is Barbara Krasner. How did she become your agent and what was your road to publication like?

Well, actually, as of May 2021, Barbara is no longer my agent. She’s decided on a different career path, so she quit being an agent at all! Therefore, I’m now agentless, and will be studying your extensive list of Agent Spotlight interviews, Natalie! It’s a wonderful resource.

As for my road to publication, Barbara and I both attended two Novel in Verse Workshops in 2016 and 2017 at the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale, PA. She didn’t become an agent until 2018, but because of my extensive illness in 2017-2018, I didn’t learn this until 2019, when I was corresponding with another Highlights Attendee. I submitted my complete manuscript to Barbara during the summer of 2019. She made me revise it first and then offered representation Sept 24, 2019. She sent the manuscript out to several editors, and Sally Morgridge of Holiday House made an offer Oct 22, 2019. So it sounds really fast! But since I’ve been writing for more than 50 years, it really wasn’t fast at all.

8. So sorry that your agent changed career paths. I hope my agent spotlights help you. You’re a member of The 21ders. How has this helped you as a debut author?

Oh, the 21ders are fabulous! So supportive! They can serve as a shoulder to cry on when things don’t go well, but mostly as a cheering squad when things do. We all support each other’s social media posts. We read each other’s books and review them on Goodreads and Amazon. It’s an absolutely lovely group of people, many of whom I’m now proud to call friends.

9. How else are you planning to market your book? What advice do you have for other authors who are planning the release of a book?

I’m fairly active on Twitter, which has a large kidlit community. I’m not at all comfortable with Zoom, but I’m appearing on quite a few other blogs, either answering interview questions or writing guest posts, throughout this summer. And there are lots of giveaways going on. My publisher, Holiday House, is targeting indie bookstores and parenting groups, especially. 

My advice for other authors planning a release? Take notes! Keep a notebook (or a document) with everything that happens during the process, from the book deal on, everything you’re learning about making your debut. You’ll find there’s such a wealth of information, it might be difficult to remember and/or absorb. Join a debut group. It’s invaluable. Also, take full advantage of your publisher’s marketing department. They arranged several of my blog interviews and guest posts. Others I arranged on my own.

And if you’re planning to order bookmarks or stickers, don’t leave that until the last minute!

10. That’s all such great advice. What are you working on now?

I don’t want to say too much, because nothing’s finished yet (I’m a slow writer!), but I’m working on a YA novel in verse and another MG novel, that’s NOT in verse!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Joanne.  My pleasure, Natalie.

You can find Joanne at her website: https://www.joannerossmasslerfritz.com/

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoanneRFritz

The 21ders website: https://the21ders.com/about/middle-grade-authors/

Giveaway Details

Joanne has generously offered a hardback of Everywhere Blue 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 June 26th. If your e-mail is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. The 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, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 21st I have an interview with debut author Mike Thayer and a giveaway of his MG fantasy The Double Life of Danny Day

Monday, June 28th I have an interview with Sacha Wunsch, founder of As You Wish Literary, with a 5 first pages plus query critique or 10 first page critique giveaway

Thursday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 7th I have an interview with debut author Kate Norris and a giveaway of her YA contemporary When You and I Collide

Monday, July 12th I have an interview with debut author Cliff Burke and a giveaway of his MG contemporary An Occasionally Happy Family

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agent Spotlight: Katherine Wessbecher Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Katherine Wessbecher here. She is a literary agent at Bradford Literary Agency.

Hi­ Katherine! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Katherine:

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

I joined Bradford as an agent in 2020 (right before the pandemic!), but I’ve been working in publishing since 2011, and was formerly on the other side of the desk as an editor at Putnam (an imprint of Penguin Young Readers) where I worked with authors such as Sherri L. Smith, Keir Graff, and Maggie Hall.

When I left NYC a few years ago I wasn’t sure whether I’d find my way back to the world of book publishing, but found that I missed it: the thrill of getting swept up by an amazing story in my submissions pile, collaborating with authors to hone their writing, working behind the scenes to champion books to the people who could help get them in the hands of readers. I was fortunate to get plugged into the vibrant agenting community in San Diego when we moved here, and now have the privilege of being part of the Bradford team and partnering with talented authors and illustrators across genres.

About the Agency:

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

Bradford Literary Agency was founded by Laura Bradford in 2001. Bradford’s philosophy is to form lasting partnerships with authors that extend from writing the first draft through the length of the author’s career. We don’t just sell clients’ books to publishers but come alongside our authors as listeners, advisors, troubleshooters, and advocates.

As a boutique agency, we’re a flexible and collaborative group! We share resources and wisdom (and submissions when we come across projects that feel like a better fit for a colleague). We also partner with the intrepid Taryn Fagerness who handles foreign subrights for our clients. 

What She’s Looking For:

3. What age groups do you represent—picture books, MG, and/or YA? What genres do you represent and what are you looking for in submissions for these genres?

I work with children’s authors and author-illustrators across the board (PB, MG, YA, graphic novel), and adult too! My genre interests are pretty broad—I’m a history geek, so I have a soft spot in my heart for historical fiction; fantasy was my favorite genre as a kid, so I’m constantly on the hunt for the next generation of fantasy and speculative writers. But I’m hungry for nonfiction, contemporary, magic, and everything in between.

The best way to narrow it down would be to say I’m looking for fresh, distinctive voices, for writing that surprises me somehow—this is probably not as helpful for queriers, but I know it when I see it. 

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

I was obsessed with the Dear America series as a kid (anyone else?) and I’ve been an epistolary novel enthusiast ever since. Pretty much any story that plays with format and unexpected narrative techniques—I want to see that. I’m also a fan of stories that blur the line between genres, or that tell stories the history books left out. 

Also: humor! I’m an absolute sucker for a well-executed funny voice. I loved the dark comedy I, Tonya and would love to find stories that encapsulate that odd blend of subversive and over-the-top ridiculous. Insert humor into any of the above genres and I’m going to be intrigued (a.k.a. comedic, revisionist history in the vein of My Lady Jane or a goofy STEM picture book like I’m Trying to Love Spiders).

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

In the picture book realm, I’m not the best fit for rhyming texts and I generally prefer shorter word counts. I like story/character-driven texts over concept-driven ones. Familiar genres like bedtime stories, picture book biographies, etc. really need to break the mold in some way for me to be able to take them on. (But please send your weird and/or nontraditional biographies my way!) 

More generally, I would also say that I’m probably not the best fit for projects where the moral or the message overshadows the story and characters.

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?

My story probably isn’t so different from a lot of those who write or work with children’s books: I was a voracious reader growing up, and I’m on a mission to turn more kids into voracious readers. I truly believe a lifelong love of reading is most often forged in childhood, and I’m forever chasing that high from the books swept me up when I was twelve, the ones kept me awake reading until 3am on a school night.

I hope to play a small part in cultivating the next generation of lifelong readers by championing books that cultivate empathy, awaken curiosity, challenge preconceptions, and offer an escape (from lame homework or boring summer vacations—just kidding). I’m looking for authors who share those goals.

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?

Obviously, my number one goal is to help my clients find editors who will be that editorial partner to help them fully realize the story. So I don’t want to get in the way of that special editor-author relationship! But before we go out on submission, clients can expect to do a round (or more) of revision with me to give their project the best possible shot at finding a publisher.

Before offering representation, I always like to hop on the phone with prospective clients to gauge their openness to revisions, and go over some of my revision ideas to make sure we’re on roughly the same page.

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?

Ideally, your query letter will quickly give me a sense of the flavor of your project. The online form I use breaks out a lot of the key information into separate fields (e.g. word count, your publishing history, etc), but if this information is also incorporated in your query letter, that’s totally fine.

Most importantly, the query letter needs to tell me: what’s the hook of this story? How will it make me feel? Feel free to use books, movies, and pop culture as a kind of shorthand here (“my MG novel combines the family dynamics of The Incredibles with the tragic irony of A Series of Unfortunate Events…”)

At the end of the day, it comes down to the pages. At any given time, I have several hundred queries in my inbox, so I’m not just looking for “flawless” query letters; I’m looking for pages that feel truly fresh and exceptional.

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

Not really! My number one advice: send me your very best work. Ask yourself: if I were browsing in the bookstore, would this excerpt make me want to keep reading? Does my query letter give the reader an accurate and enticing sense of what to expect from the story?

Also - the Query Shark blog (https://queryshark.blogspot.com) is a helpful (slash funny, if blunt) resource for writers looking for query letter tips.   

Response Time:

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

Getting responses out within 8 weeks is my goal, but sometimes life gets in the way, and I’m always grateful for a querier’s patience! You can expect a response from me even if it’s a pass.

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?

Certainly! With small press– or self-published books, unless we’re talking mega-huge sales, the number of copies sold isn’t going to be persuasive (or discouraging) to an agent. Also, I wouldn’t recommend querying agents with, say, book 2 or 3 of a series where the first installment is already published. And please don’t query me with already-self-published projects. You really need to be going out with something new. 

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?

One thing is certain—between consolidations, new publishers, and the ongoing digital revolution, publishing isn’t getting any simpler. Authors have many options and paths to publication that don’t require a traditional publishing deal.

But in my opinion, for authors looking to be traditionally published, agents are as vital as ever in navigating this complicated world—the book deal and beyond. There are a few independent publishers that accept unsolicited submissions but if your goal is to work with a traditional publisher, your best bet is still going to be finding an agent first.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I’m new enough to agenting that my clients’ books aren’t out yet, but they are all stars! The Bradford website has an up-to-date list.

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 read an interview and first pages critique at Kathy Temean’s blog: https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2020/06/12/agent-of-the-month-interview-part-one/

If you want to see even more of what my thought process is like when I evaluate first pages, check out the Authoress—I was a Secret Agent on the blog in August 2020: http://misssnarksfirstvictim.blogspot.com/2020/08/secret-agent-unveiled.html

Links and Contact Info:

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

I take queries exclusively via Querymanager (please don’t query me via email). Check out my profile on the agency website for instructions: https://bradfordlit.com/about/katherine-wessbecher/

More details about what I’m looking for can be found at my manuscript wish list profile:  https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/katherine-wessbecher/

Finally, I tweet (rarely) @KatWessbecher, and you can find news about all of Bradford’s team @Bradford_Agents.   

Additional Advice:

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

Write because you love it! At the end of the day, you don’t have to have a book deal with a traditional publisher to be a writer. And find your community—whether online or IRL—the people you can meet up with to write and critique each others’ writing. Writing and querying can be lonely work, but having friends in the trenches can help keep you sane (and make you a better writer) in the process.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Katherine.

­Katherine 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 June 19th. FYI Katherine will not contact you until sometime the first two weeks of July because she will be out-of-town the end of June. 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.