Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • 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.

Goal Setting as an Aspiring Writer and Author by Agent/Author Charlotte Wenger and Nancy Tandon + Query Critique and The Way I Say It Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Nancy Tandon and her agent Charlotte Wenger here to share about Nancy’s MG contemporary The Way I Say It. It sounds like a fantastic story that tackles hard issues middle graders face like bullying and friendship as well as dealing with a speech impediment. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Rory still can’t say his r’s, but that’s just the beginning of his troubles. First Rory’s ex-best-friend Brent started hanging out with the mean lacrosse kids. But then, a terrible accident takes Brent out of school, and Rory struggles with how to feel.

Rory and his new speech teacher put their heads together on Rory’s r’s (not to mention a serious love of hard rock and boxing legend Muhammad Ali), but nobody seems to be able to solve the problem of Rory’s complicated feelings about Brent. Brent’s accident left him with brain-damage and he’s struggling. Should Rory stand up for his old friend at school–even after Brent failed to do the same for him?

Follower News

Before I get to Nancy and Charlotte's guest post, I have Follower News to share. Rebecca Bailey has a new YA fantasy, Burn This Book: The 10,000-Year Plan. Her book is about an epic fight to take over the world and was nominated for a Pulitzer as the first book to harness the power of literature to mobilize a generation to work for the common good. Here are a few links:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5O4dCnjhn3s Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burn-This-Book-000-Year-Plan/dp/1636255086/ref=?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1634347949&sr=8-1 Website: https://www.tharriman.com/

Nancy Tandon and Charlotte Wenger Guest Post

Little and Often Makes Much  

-a fortune cookie guide to moving from blank page to finished work-

Nancy: Hello, Literary Rambles readers! The new year seems like a great time to talk about how to break down your big “New Year’s level” goals into an action plan of measurable tasks. I am so excited that my first book, THE WAY I SAY IT, releases on January 18th. But like many debut novelists, it took me years of trial and error and good old fashioned slogging away at the keyboard to make this dream a reality. The process can be overwhelming, but setting daily achievable goals is one of the best ways I know of to keep your work moving forward. In my early writing days, I came across a fortune cookie fortune that read: little and often makes much. I put it on my bulletin board and set an intention to follow it. Even if I only wrote one paragraph a day, or one sentence, I knew I was still achieving my “little and often” goal!

Charlotte, what’s the first thing you do when you’re faced with a big, formidable task?

Charlotte: I take a deep breath and break it down into manageable steps, which is pretty similar to your “little and often” goal, Nancy!  It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed if I think about a large task as a whole, so I try to take it one step at a time. For instance, you might have to clean your whole house, but it’s less intimidating when you clean it one room at a time. I also love making lists, so crossing something off a list is a tangible way for me to feel like I accomplished something. And lists also help me prepare for what the next steps will be.

Nancy: Lists are the best! I’ll admit to writing something down that I’ve already done, just so I can have the satisfaction of crossing it off. Ha! But once I’ve written things down, I know I also need a solid idea for next steps. After all, if I had stayed at my one sentence per day word count, I’d still be back somewhere in chapter ten or so. Luckily, I had another hankering for takeout. This time my fortune read: The measure of time to your next goal is the measure of your discipline. Daily objectives and tasks should have a time associated with them. Be realistic and hold yourself accountable. Decide how often and how much time you intend to commit to your goal. Be as precise as you can and don’t underestimate the power of setting specific self-imposed deadlines. Put in dates, times, and amounts of work you expect to be produced. Write as if someone is waiting for your work, even if no one is yet. This is a good way to let the people around you know you are serious, too. Practice saying things like: “I can’t go out this weekend, I need to finish this project by Monday.” When you get your book deal, you will need to write to deadlines, so this is good practice!

Here are some tips to help yourself really stay on track: 

  1. Get an accountability buddy/bully. Surround yourself with people who know what you’re capable of and won’t let you off the hook.
  2. Assign a fun element and self-reward whenever possible! For me, pages = popcorn! 
  3. Review your objectives, your to-do list, frequently. Make sure you’re keeping up with your written daily, weekly, and monthly action plan. It’s amazing how fast a month can pass without tackling a single item! 

Charlotte, do you have any deadline horror stories? Are you a planner or a procrastinator?

Charlotte: Is it boring that I don’t have any deadline horror stories? :) I’m definitely a planner, but I do pretty well under pressure too, if something comes up that I have to turn around quickly. I set reminders in my phone to help me keep track of certain recurring tasks, but assigning deadlines helps me even more. Deadlines help me stay accountable, and I’ve learned that if something doesn’t have a deadline, giving it one makes me more motivated to finish it in a timely manner because I’m someone who likes to be on time. :) I’ll admit that it’s sometimes easier said than done, though, because I feel like I’ve fallen out of practice with it a bit. This is a good reminder for me to reinstate it into my planning!

Nancy: I’m a planner, too. I love that we have that in common, and wonder if that’s one of the reasons we click so well! Looking back to when I was querying my polished manuscript, the process felt daunting and overwhelming, in part because it’s so subjective and as an author there is only so much you can control. So of course I ordered more Chinese food. And in came one of my most vocal accountability buddies in the form of, you guessed it, another fortune: 

If you really want something, you’ll find a way. Otherwise, you’ll find an excuse. As painful as it felt to be judged by my dessert, I had to admit this was oh so true. 

Here are some specific examples from my goal setting journal of what I did to find a way.

Goal: to get an agent.


1.     Research conference with opportunities for feedback from agents (monthly)

2.     Read at least two blog posts with agent interviews (weekly). (Hello, Literary Rambles!)

3.     Follow agents and engage with the #amquerying community on Twitter (daily)

4.     Review sales on Publisher’s Marketplace and add names to agent list (weekly)

5.     Deep-dive research into agents who have come onto your radar, tweak query letter accordingly, and SEND THE QUERY (two new submissions/week)

6.     Set up system for tracking queries (one-time task) and update it (weekly)

The point of sharing this is to show you how time-specific and detailed I made each task. “Get an agent” is an overwhelming goal. “Read an agent-related blog post” is something you can check off your list at this very moment! And speaking of that, Charlotte, can you  tell us what you’re looking for right now?

Charlotte: For picture books, I’m especially looking for author-illustrators right now. I’d love to find stories starring spunky characters as well as stories that feature a craft or hobby. I’m also interested in more middle-grade authors. I love sister stories, not-too-creepy mysteries, and touches of magic. You can find out more from my MSWL linked below.

Nancy: Friends, what is one thing you can do, today, to move your writing career forward? Write it down and act on it. Because someday is right now. 

Nancy's bio: 

Nancy Tandon is a former speech/language pathologist and author of two middle grade novels, The Way I Say It (Charlesbridge, 1/18/22) and The Ghost of Spruce Point (Aladdin, 8/2/22). Nancy lives in Connecticut with her family and is a fan of popcorn, reading, and pestering her critique group about their writing goals. 

Charlotte's bio: Charlotte Wenger is a literary agent in the Boston area with Prospect Agency. Prior to joining Prospect, she was an associate editor at Page Street Kids. She has her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from Simmons College (now University) and serves on the national advisory board of the Mazza Museum, which celebrates the original art of picture books using education, exhibits, events, and artist visits. Charlotte is drawn to children's literature and art for all ages—board books through YA, but especially picture books.

Links for Nancy:


Twitter @NancyTandon

Instagram @_NancyTandon_


Order a signed copy of THE WAY I SAY IT

Links for Charlotte:



Twitter: @WilbursBF_Char

Manuscript Wish List: www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/charlotte-wenger

Giveaway Details

Nancy has generously offered a hardback of The Way I Say It and Charlotte 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 January 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 book giveaway is U.S. and Canada 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

Wednesday, January 12th I have an agent spotlight interview with Haley Casey and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, January 16th I’m participating in the Winter Wishes Giveaway Hop

Monday, January 17th I have an agent spotlight interview with Shannon Snow and a query critique giveaway

Monday, January 24th I have an interview with debut author Shawn Peters and a giveaway of his MG adventure The Unforgettable Logan Foster

Tuesday, February 1st I’m participating in the Heart to Heart Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, February 2nd I have an agent/author guest post with Nicole Resciniti and Lillie Lainoff and a giveaway of Lisa’s YA fairytale retelling All for One and a query critique giveaway and my IWSG post

 Hope to see you on Monday!




Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nothing like being judged by your desert!
Congratulations, Nancy.

Nancy said...

Thanks, Alex! Those pesky cookies sure are good with tea though.

Sue Heavenrich said...

I see I am not the only one to pin fortune cookies to my wall to guide me. I love the whole break-things-into-smaller-bits idea. I also find it hard to do. Fortunately, this year I have found an accountability buddy to help me stay on track.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Thanks for the interview! I'm deep in the query trenches, so I'd love to win a query critique.

Nancy said...

Keep at it and good luck!

Nancy said...

Ha - fortune cookie wisdom & an accountability buddy ; you are on your way to sweet success!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great tips here for the entire process! I'm a fan of lists, too. :)

Danielle H. said...

Thank you for the interview! I laughed about the list making because my family checks mine everyday, knowing if they need a favor they add it to my list. I shared on tumblr and follow Natalie on Twitter: https://yesreaderwriterpoetmusician.tumblr.com/post/673014549980528640/goal-setting-as-an-aspiring-writer-and-author-by

mshatch said...

Great interview as always but I'll pass on the critique as Charlotte doesn't rep what I write so no point in wasting her time!

Greg Pattridge said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences in publishing. Nancy's new book is highly recommended. It was a recent read and one of my favorites so far in 2022. I'll back away from the book giveaway but do include me in the query critique.

A.Millarhouse said...

I love this! And thanks for sharing your querying task breakdown. I am dipping my toes in now and sometimes it can easily feel overwhelming.

Liz A. said...

I am quite fond of "you can find a way or you'll find an excuse". I find this explains student behavior quite well.

Sue Hodara said...

Amazing how messages find us when we need them, even through dessert! My MG novel features a lot of desserts, so I know how important they can be. ;) Your MG sounds fascinating (especially as a mom to a child with a speech disorder). Thanks for a wonderful interview and the generous book and critique giveaway. Retweeted on Twitter (quote tweeted Charlotte's tweet), following all of you on Twitter. Happy New Year!

Katsuke said...

Thank you for the interview! I'm looking forward to seeing your book, I've never read one that involved a speech therapist before (and they do amazing work).

Mary Warth said...

Thanks for the great interview! I appreciate your take on goal setting.

Nancy said...

I would be so lost without lists! Good luck!

Nancy said...

Haha - I've put "hug your wife" on my husband's to-do list. ;)

Nancy said...

Thanks and good luck finding that perfect fit!

Nancy said...

Thank you so much, Greg! Best wishes on your own writing journey!

Nancy said...

Baby steps!

TLWaldrop said...

Loved all the practical advice and encouragement. Being a list maker myself, I have also written down things I've already done just to be able to mark them off (usually with bright, neon markers - so satisfying, lol)! After reading Charlotte's wishlist and finding out she's a musician, I'd be honored to win a query critique on my music-themed middle grade novel. Thanks for the offer! Tammy

Cristina Raymer said...

Thank you for this great interview! I follow you on twitter and retweeted!

Liz Lehnhof said...

As one list maker to another, thanks for sharing!

Gayleen Rabakukk said...

Awesome post! Natalie, I follow you on Twitter and also tweeted about this post: https://twitter.com/gayleenrabakukk/status/1480981659910426625 I'm actively querying & would love to win the critique.

Kim A. Larson said...

I enjoyed the interview. Congratulations, Nancy!

Mary said...

Thanks for this opportunity, Natalie! I'd love a chance to win a query critique with Charlotte.


Mary said...

Also posted on Facebook>

tetewa said...

Enjoyed the interview, love to get a copy! tWarner419@aol.com

Sandra Cox said...

Many congrats to Rebecca. That's quite an honor. AND Congrats to Nancy.
Great interview.
'Lo, Natalie;)

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

This is an excellent guest post—I really enjoyed hearing Nancy and Charlotte's tips for staying productive and actually getting things written! And I've heard great things about The Way I Say It as well. I'll pass on the giveaways, but thank you so much for the wonderful post, Natalie!

Tara Cerven said...

This was a great read but I especially felt the call to action in the very last line. I now know the next step I need to take in moving my writing forward. Thank you!!

Maria Powell said...

Wow, this was a great bedtime read. Had to climb out of bed to check what MY fortune cookie desk-quote says. "If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough." Great reminders, giveaway, and writing goal tips! Thanks! mariadawnpowell@gmail.com

Karen Rafeedie said...

Great interview. Definitely will be borrowing some of the specific "find-an-agent" tips.
Congrats on the THE WAY I SAY IT.

Jodi Cardillo said...

Excellent interview, and congratulations, Nancy, on your book! I'm in the query trenches and would love to enter this query critique giveaway contest.

Rosi said...

Wow. What a rich post. I love "If you really want something, you’ll find a way. Otherwise, you’ll find an excuse." Best fortune ever. So much to take from this post. I will save it and read it again and again. Thanks!

Angie Quantrell said...

Great interview! Thank you, Nancy and Charlotte!

I shared this post on Twitter. :)
angelecolline at yahoo dot com

Judith L. Roth said...

Thanks for the interview. These are always helpful. Also currently in the query trenches....

pippirose said...

Thanks for the great interview! I love finding out more about authors. The book sounds wonderful.

pippirose said...

Oh, and I shared to my Facebook.

T. HarRiMaN said...

Thank you so much for the great suggestions to stay on track with our goals. They're so helpful for new year's resolutions!

Judy Sobanski said...

Thank you Nancy and Charlotte for sharing ways to tackle tasks and avoid being overwhelmed. Setting goals but reaching them by doing little and often is my MO for 2022!

Chaya said...

Thank you both for the great advice! Would love to win either of these prizes!

Angie B. said...

Total procrastinator here. But love list and have a calendar pasted inside my writing journal to keep track of submissions/webinars. This is inspiring me to add goals on that calendar. Thank you!

Karen K. said...

Thanks so much for the interview. I especially appreciated the examples of goal setting. Very helpful!

Sarah K. Rose said...

Thank you for sharing! I enjoyed reading. -Sarah

Sarah K. Rose said...

I also Tweeted! Thanks for the opportunity!

S. Lee said...

Time-specific tasks are so helpful. So are desserts that nudge you in the right direction!

Claire Wallace said...

Thanks--very helpful advice! I like the idea of breaking down the larger goal into smaller pieces. Would love to enter to win a query critique.

Joyce Ray said...

So many great tips here. I am especially grateful for the Agent Goal List. That's where I tend to get bogged down, but now I'm excited to find new direction. Your book sounds amazing, so I'd love a chance at a signed copy. Please enter me in opportunity for Charlotte's query critique, as well. I followed you on Twitter, as well as this generous blog. joyceray (at) gsinet (dot) net.

Nancy P said...

Sounds fantastic. Follow on Twitter. positive.ideas.4youATgmail.com