Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Agent Chole Seager/Author Brianna Bourne Guest Post + Query Critique & Book Giveaway on 9/20/21
  • Crystal Orazu Agent Spotlight Interview & Query Critique Giveaway on 9/22/21
  • 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.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

42 comments:

  1. Congratulations Joanne! What a journey it has been and the book sounds like one MGers would thoroughly enjoy. Mysteries are always popular. I can't wait to give this one a go and look forward to hearing more about your future writing projects.

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    1. Thanks so much, Greg! It's been a surreal experience, debuting during a pandemic, and especially after so many decades of writing. I'm so sorry I haven't had time to visit MMGM for a while.

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  2. Congrats to Joanne. I'm terrible with poetry, so a book in verse sounds hard to me. lol

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    1. Thank you, Weaver! I realize novels in verse are not everyone's cup of tea, but for some odd reason, the writing of it was a joy for me. A challenge, certainly, but one I loved.

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  3. Congratulations, Joanne! I think I saw a pitch for this story in a Twitter event. I’m so happy to see it’s becoming a real, live BOOK!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa. I'm mystified by the Twitter event where you saw a pitch for this, since I don't recall doing anything like that! Yes, it's a real book! I appreciate your enthusiasm.

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  4. Written in verse - that's quite unique.

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    1. Hi Alex! Thank you. Novels in verse seem to be getting more popular all the time. You should read STARFISh by Lisa Fipps, ALONE, by Megan E. Freeman, and UNSETTLED by Reem Faruqi. Those are just the other 21ders' MG novels in verse. But Ellen Hopkins has been writing YA novels in verse for many years, and quite a few other authors have too.

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  5. What a fun interview! This sounds like a wonderful mystery. Thanks for sharing, Joanne! And congratulations!

    I tweeted this post, Natalie. I follow by email. angelecolline at yahoo dot com

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  6. Congratulations, Joanne! Saw a review of your book last week. But I really enjoyed reading your interview with Natalie! You've had an interesting journey with this book. And, it touches on themes readers will be drawn to. Love that it's a novel in verse.

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    1. Thank you so much, Patricia! I hope you get a chance to read it.

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  7. This book sounds so good! I've added it to my goodreads :) Thanks so much for sharing your journey! My email is: kristabarrett (at) yahoo .com

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  8. Congratulations, Joanne! I can't wait to read your book. I'm so happy for you. I have your book on my wish list. I follow Natalie on Twitter.

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  9. Congrats, Joanne! The various inspirations behind your book are so interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading and seeing how you've pulled it all together!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kristin! I hope you enjoy the book!

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  10. Congrats, Joanne! It was really interesting to read your book and writing journey. I recently read a novel in verse for children and loved it. I'm definitely adding Everywhere Blue to my TBR list.

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    1. Thank you, Tyrean! Hope you get a chance to read it.

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  11. Best wishes for the release! Congratulations, Joanne. :)

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  12. What a wonderful interview! I've enjoyed reading Fritz's blog for a long time and was very excited to see this book debut. It was interesting to hear about the debate over one word in the draft, and I also didn't realize Fritz's agent had now left that industry—that's a shame. I'll pass on the giveaway because I have already read and reviewed the book, but thanks so much for the great post!

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    1. Hi Completely! And thanks again for reviewing my book recently. I really appreciated your kind words.

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  13. This book sounds great! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!
    owens@wsd3.org

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  14. Thanks so much for introducing us to Joanne Rossmassler Fritz via your blog. Her book really captured my interest, and I'd be grateful to win a copy!

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  15. I'm seeing so many novels in verse lately. I am amazed at the talent of those that can pull that off.

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  16. I just received this book (I pre-ordered!)and cannot wait to read it! Congrats Joanne :)

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  17. Congratulations, Joanne! This sounds like an amazing book. I love the music aspect and morpho butterflies too! It's so exciting to see a fellow MMGM blogger reach her writing dreams and goals.
    I can't wait to read this!

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  18. Congratulations, Joanne!!! Everywhere Blue sounds amazing, adding it to the TBR. Have a lovely week Natalie.

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  19. Congrats to Joanne and Reonne on their releases. Woot. Woot.
    Natalie, have a wondrous day.

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  20. What a lovely interview. I really need to get my hands on a copy of Everywhere Blue. It sounds terrific. Thanks for a great post.

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  21. What a great interview! So fascinating to write a story in verse. Adding this one to my wishlist!

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  22. Sounds like my kind of read, congratulations!

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  23. Yay, Joanne! So excited about your book! Good luck with your current writing projects and with finding a new agent. Great interview; thanks, Natalie.

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  24. So wonderful to hear about this novel and how it developed. Joanne, you really inspire me with your perseverance through just about anything! So excited to read your book.

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