Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Sarah Stephens Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveawawy on 10/10/2022
  • Eve Adler Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 10/17/2022
  • Adria Goetz Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 11/14/2022
  • Kelly Dyksterhouse Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/12/2022
  • Savannah Brooks Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 12/19/2022

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: Ann Fraistat on Writing a Page Turner and What We Harvest Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Ann Fraistat here to share about her YA contemporary fantasy What We Harvest. It sounds like a riveting tale and one I’d really like.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

For fans of Wilder Girls comes a nightmarish debut guaranteed to keep you up through the night, about an idyllic small town poisoned by its past, and one girl who must fight the strange disease that's slowly claiming everyone she loves.

Wren owes everything she has to her home, Hollow’s End, a centuries-old, picture perfect American town. Tourists travel miles to marvel at its miracle crops, including the shimmering, iridescent wheat of Wren’s family farm. Until five months ago.

That’s when the quicksilver mercury blight first surfaced, poisoning the farms of Hollow’s End one by one. It began by consuming the crops--thick, silver sludge bleeding from the earth. Next were the animals. Infected livestock and wild creatures alike staggered off into the woods by day—only to return at night, their eyes, fogged white, leering from the trees.

Then, the blight came for the neighbors.

Wren is among the last locals standing. And the blight has finally come for her, too. Now, the only one she can turn to is the last person she wants to call: her ex, Derek. They haven’t spoken in months, but Wren and Derek still have one thing in common—Hollow’s End means everything to them. Only there’s much they don’t know about their hometown and its renowned miracle crops. And they’re about to discover that miracles aren’t free.

Their ancestors have an awful lot to pay for, and Wren and Derek are the only ones left to settle old debts.

Hi Ann! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Thanks so much for having me! I’m an author, playwright, and narrative designer, who loves all things monsters and magic. Outside of writing, I’ve worked on stages in the Washington, D.C.-area as an actor and director. Other loves include reading, gaming, baking, and drinking as much tea as humanly possible.

While being an author has been my dream since I was ten, it was a long journey. My big break came through Pitch Wars, an author mentorship program that culminates in an agent showcase. I was a mentee in 2018 and then again in 2019—that time with the book that would become my debut, What We Harvest.

2. It’s so interesting that you’re a director and actor too. Where did you get the idea for When We Harvest?

Growing up, I always loved horror, but I hadn’t considered fully embracing the genre in my own writing until I read Claire Legrand’s Sawkill Girls. I was so inspired by the hope in that book. Another big inspiration was Midsommar, which sets horror alongside vivid flowers and sunshine. The dichotomy was fascinating to me. That’s when I knew what I wanted to create—beautiful, hopeful horror.

But the specific seed of What We Harvest was planted by a dream. Honestly, I was between projects at the time. Deeply burned out. And this image stuck with me: a glimmering field of rainbow-colored wheat. When I sat down to explore it as a freewriting exercise, that wheat became the inspiration for Rainbow Fields, one of the four founding farms of Hollow’s End. In a place that was touched by magic—that needed to be protected—blight was the natural enemy.

And the book sprouted a life of its own from there. It grew so organically, I think, because this was the story I needed to hear. The horror. The beauty. The endless grit of its characters, and the hope to be found in that perseverance.

On Writing a Page Turner

3. What is your plotting process like? Do you think this helped in making your story a page turner?

Oddly enough, What We Harvest was the book that converted me from a plotter to a pantser. I’d always thought of myself as the type to plan and outline my plots, but I was in a creative rut and wanted to try something different. At the time I was reading Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, which recommends a freewriting exercise in which the goal is to keep moving your pen (or your fingers over the keyboard) as quickly as possible, not stopping to judge anything. Essentially, letting the writing flow from the back of your brain, not the front.

As I wrote What We Harvest, that was my goal—to let my unconscious do the driving. I deliberately tried to surprise myself. And I do think that helped to make it a page turner. In that first draft, I was discovering the story in the moment, as a reader might, having no idea what would happen next and making decisions based on whatever choice I found most compelling. When I got stuck, my go-to prompt was: “Okay, now what’s the worst thing that can happen?” I wanted to see just how many obstacles I could throw at these characters. Just how much they could overcome.

It also didn’t hurt that I was familiar with structural guidelines from craft books like Save the Cat (my personal go-to!). For instance, when I reached what felt like the midpoint, I knew I needed an earth-shattering beat. And planned a big attack by the blighted horde accordingly.

4. It’s funny that you went from a plotter to pantser. Most writers make the opposite transition. People who have read your story say they couldn’t put it down. Share your top three tips on writing a story that makes readers keep wanting to turn the page.

First and foremost, you need your scenes to build on each other. One craft tip I found really helpful was to think about structuring the manuscript with scenes (Goal-Conflict-Disaster) and sequels (Reaction-Dilemma-Decision). This method was recommended to me by one of my 2018 Pitch Wars mentors, Laura Lashley, and this article by Randy Ingermanson has a great breakdown: https://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/articles/writing-the-perfect-scene/.

The second tip comes courtesy of one of my 2019 Pitch Wars mentors, Kylie Schachte, who talked about the importance of building two kinds of tension in a book: fast-paced action and slow-paced dread. It can be easy to remember the former and forget the latter, but, as Kylie pointed out, they’re both critical! For example, in What We Harvest, there are visceral chase sequences with the blighted horde. But the slower dread comes from Wren’s creeping fear that her exposure to the blight in Chapter One is leading to an irreversible infection. The dread also mounts with the blight’s progress through her farm, Rainbow Fields. At first, only the violet wheat at the back of the field is infected. From there, slowly but surely, the blight devours each and every shade of wheat: indigo, blue, green, etc., until it reaches the red at the front. (Nerdy little tidbit: I write in Scrivener and color-coded the chapters based on how far into the wheat the blight had eaten, which helped me remember the book’s current level of urgency.)

Third, another easily overlooked aspect of writing page turners: establish that emotional connection between the reader and your characters. This is part of why it helps me to remember that structure of Goal-Conflict-Disaster followed by Reaction-Dilemma-Decision. Those Reaction-Dilemma-Decision points bake in time for the characters to respond to the plot—to build their relationships and reaffirm their personal stakes. These intimate moments are opportunities for valuable bonding time with your reader. And the more emotionally invested the reader, the more they want to turn those pages to see if the characters can escape whatever sadistic situation you’ve written them into!

5. Those tips are great. What did you learn from working with your editor that made your plot stronger and the stakes higher?

My editor is so sharp and amazing to work with—I adore her! Since What We Harvest had already undergone multiple revisions between my Pitch Wars mentors and agent, my editor was less focused on the plot and more on pulling deeper themes to the surface and bringing the world of the book into sharper focus. She poked all the holes she could find, so that we could fill them. And she was excellent at anticipating which worldbuilding questions readers would want answers to, and when those answers should land.

The more effortlessly the reader can follow along with the world and story, the better they can connect with the plot and understand the stakes. So, I do believe it’s all related!

On Your Road to Publication and Marketing Your Book

6. Tell us how Christa Heschke became your agent and what your road to publication was like.

Although I’ve been writing books since I was a kid—and quietly stockpiling them on my hard-drive—I only began to seriously search for an agent in 2017, with the third manuscript I’d written. I wasn’t getting many bites. Then came Pitch Wars, that author mentorship program I mentioned. Laura Lashley and Ian Barnes rescued me from the slush pile and mentored me over a period of four months. I gave it more than everything I had—stayed up past 3 AM way too many nights, writing and editing and writing and editing until I burnt myself all the way out. I grew so much in the process, but my book wasn’t one of the splashy Pitch Wars break-outs.

Some fellow mentees who weren’t having quick luck with agents started talking about reapplying to the next round of Pitch Wars. My previous book had taken me ten years to write, so that seemed impossible to me. But, with nothing to lose, I tried Julia Cameron’s freewriting technique. That’s when What We Harvest was born. And I was selected by mentors, Kylie Schachte and Aty Behsam, for Pitch Wars 2019.

This time, What We Harvest did get a big response from agents in the showcase. My first offer came a week or two later. I notified the other agents considering the book and was lucky enough to talk to several before making a decision. Christa Heschke was the last one I spoke with, the day before my deadline. But from her first email, I’d felt an instant click. Christa and her assistant, Daniele, loved the same things I loved about the book, had a specific and well-considered submission plan, and answered every question to my more-than-complete satisfaction. Combine that with kindness, professionalism, excellent experience, glowing client reviews, and . . . yep, I’d found my agent!

As soon as I submitted my next round of edits, Christa sent the book out on submission. We got quick interest and even went to auction. But again, one person stood out to me from the start—Krista Marino from Delacorte Press. She was actually the one who’d proposed the biggest changes to the book, but her reasoning was so smart and clear, and when we chatted via phone, I felt such a friendly and inspiring connection.

So, overall, there was a definite whiplash effect. The road to publication was slow and bumpy . . . until it became shockingly smooth. Technically, my debut is the fourth book I’ve written.

7. What are your plans for marketing your book? What did you do in the year leading up to its release to spread the word about it?

The most important thing I’ve done is to connect with the online writing community. Making author friends is such a joy, and it’s so moving to see how folks support each other. I’ve also really loved getting to chat with readers and bookstagrammers, once the advanced review copies came out.

Beyond that, there are some specific things I did, like overhauling my website, starting a newsletter, and getting a Canva Pro subscription to make promotional graphics. I also collaborated with a couple of artist friends to create swag for What We Harvest’s preorder campaign. And I partnered with a fabulous local bookstore—shout-out to One More Page Books in Arlington, VA—to coordinate a launch event.

A couple of more in-depth resources I found really valuable, while navigating the process:

https://www.aiden-thomas.com/survival-guide

http://www.rachelsolomonbooks.com/blog/my-promo-breakdown

Highly recommend those tips! But, I admit, I didn’t manage to follow all those recommendations, and definitely not on those timelines. I’ve heard many times from other authors that, in truth, what we can do for our book’s visibility is such a small fraction of what a publisher is capable of. The advice I’ve gotten is to do what I can handle promotion-wise and what brings me the most joy—and to try not to freak out over all the things I can’t control. Mixed success on that front, but I’m doing my best!

8. I bookmarked your links. They look really good. It can be overwhelming to become a debut author. Have there been any groups or individuals that have given you guidance as you’ve navigated the process?

Yes. Definitely overwhelming. I connected early on with the #22debuts group, which has been an indispensable support network. And I’m still in touch with the Pitch Wars community, including my former mentors. My agent and editor are always available to answer questions and help where they can. I’m also lucky to have such supportive critique partners, friends, and family, who have been rocks throughout.

9. What are you working on now?

My upcoming book is another standalone YA horror/supernatural thriller. It’s a mental health recovery story set against the backdrop of a haunted house, full of seances and mysterious masks, and crawling with bugs and blue roses. Very excited to share more about that soon!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Ann. You can find Ann at annfraistat.com, and on Instagram and Twitter @annfrai.

Giveaway Details

Ann has generously offered an ARC of What We Harvest for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by April 9th. 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. This giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Tuesday, April 5th I’m participating in the April Shows Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 6th I have an interview with debut author Dannie Olgiun with a giveaway of her YA contemporary Between Safe and Real and my IWSG post.

Monday, April 11th I have and agent spotlight interview with Kari Sutherland and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, April 13th I have a guest post by editor Mary Kole with a giveaway of one of her books

Saturday, April 16th I’m participating in the Raindrops on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

Monday, April 25th I have a guest post by debut author Christina Matula with a giveaway of her MG contemporary The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei

Wednesday, May 4th I have an interview with debut author Betty Yee and a giveaway of her YA historical Gold Mountain

Monday, May 9th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jennifer Unter and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Tuesday, April 5th!

 

Top Three Tips to Finding Your Author Voice by Debut Author J.C. Peterson and Being Mary Bennet Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author J.C. Peterson here to share about her YA rom-com Being Mary Bennet. It sounds like a fantastic story about a teen girl who’s a bookworm trying to reinvent herself. I wish I had this book when I was a bookworm teen.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Acerbic and delightful, this YA rom-com about a girl who resolves to become the main character of her own story is perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Becky Albertalli.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that every bookworm secretly wishes to be Lizzie Bennet.

A less acknowledged truth is that Mary Bennet might be a better fit.

For seventeen-year-old Marnie Barnes, who’s convinced she is the long-suffering protagonist of her life, this revelation comes at the end of a series of self-induced disasters that force her to confront a devastating truth: Marnie has more in common with Mary Bennet—the utterly forgettable middle sister—than the effervescent Lizzie.

Determined to reinvent herself, she enlists the help of her bubbly roommate and opens herself up to the world—leading lady style. And between new friends, a very cute boy, and a rescue pup named Sir Pat, Marnie realizes that being the main character doesn’t mean rewriting your life entirely. It’s about finding the right cast of characters, the love interest of your dreams, and, most important, embracing your story, flaws and all.

With a hilariously sharp voice, a sweet and fulfilling romance that features a meet-cute in an animal shelter, and a big family that revels in causing big problems, this charming comedy of errors will have readers cheering for Marnie during every step of her obstacle-ridden journey toward embracing who she truly is.
 

Top Three Tips to Finding Your Author Voice

The first book I attempted was a mess. It was like one of those laminated fold-out menus that has fourteen sections and none of them seem to go together. Portal world? Yup. Nineteenth century boarding school. Of course. A dude who spoke to birds? Why not.

You know what it didn’t have? Any discernible voice. It was a barrel of ideas with nothing to bind it together. I did the same thing for book two. (Magic island, breathing underwater, also … trolls? I’ve blocked it out.) And the same for book three. (Best not to talk about it.)

And then I tried something totally different, a YA rom-com. Writing it was joyful and satisfying. Not necessarily easier, but a gut-level, this-is-true right. Because my voice—the thing that marks who I am as an author—is banter and humor and quippy sentences.

So. What have I learned? (Other than I don’t want to write trolls again.) I’ve learned to develop—and trust—my voice. Here’s how.

Write. Write a lot.

Look. I’m sure some of you sprint out of the gate with a sparkling voice and a genre-defining story. Love that for you. Truly.

For the rest of us, developing your voice takes time. It takes practice, failure and experimentation. You know how they say there are only a handful of story types? It’s true! And the thing that makes your story stand out is the particular way you craft it.

Maybe your voicey home is lush description or sentences that jolt. Perhaps it’s quiet and thoughtful or shouty and fun. But you’ll never know if you don’t continue writing. The more you do, the easier it becomes.

No matter the specifics of each separate story, your voice will be the thing that unites everything.

Read. Also a lot.

When you visit the library, what sort of story are you drawn to?

Read deeply within your favorite categories or genres with an eye toward what is drawing you in. Was it the fast-paced dialogue between characters or the wandering descriptions that pulled you in deeper? Was it a certain way it made you feel? Pinpointing what you love most about your favorite authors may help you define where your voice lives.

For me, I always loved YA fantasy (which is why I tried writing that at first) but if I’d been paying attention, I would have realized what I loved most were stories that were sharp-tongued and witty. (Think: Buffy, less Interview with a Vampire)

Don’t be afraid to experiment

First person. Third person. Second person for those of you who really want to live dangerously.

Try out some different styles and see what feels natural to you. And yeah, this definitely goes back to writing a lot.

On the sentence level, locating your voice may come down to the way you structure each paragraph and the choice of individual words. The difference in tone a single word can make is huge. Perhaps writing first person feels too immediate, or third too remote. Calling a portal “an ethereal passage to parts unknown” might make you roll your eyes when you really want to say “that strange as hell swirling mist thingy.”

Read your writing out loud and ask yourself, would I like to read that … would my character say that? Remember, you’re writing for your ideal reader, but that should definitely include you. Right? 

When it comes down to it, developing your author voice means the difference between a passable story, and an unforgettable one. It takes work and practice, but it’s worth it.

LINKS

Website: https://www.jcpetersonwrites.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenC_P

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jcpwrites/

Bookshop: https://bit.ly/3bEPPw7

Thanks for sharing your fantastic tips, J.C.!

Giveaway Details

J.C. has generously offered a hardback of Being Mary Bennet for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by April 9th. 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. This giveaway is U.S. and Canada.

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Monday, March 28th I have an interview with debut author Ann Fraistat and a giveaway of her thriller/horror What We Harvest

Tuesday, April 5th I’m participating in the April Shows Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 6th I have an interview with debut author Dannie Olgiun with a giveaway of her YA contemporary Between Safe and Real and my IWSG Post

Monday, April 11th I have and agent spotlight interview with Kari Sutherland and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, April 13th I have a guest post by editor Mary Kole with a giveaway of one of her books

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

Hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

 

Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're having a good start to your spring. I'm so excited for warmer weather. I'm glad when it even gets into the 40's. And I'm grateful that life is going back to a little more like normal now that the Omincron surge has passed.

I'm also really happy that I'm progressing in my YA fantasy maunsucript. I'm working on chapter 3 of a three-chapter climax. I can only have a few more chapters before I get to type: THE END. Yay!

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 3/16 – 3/31/2022 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.

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

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

Today I also have an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Eisner Henkin with a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 21st I have a guest post by debut author JC Peterson with a giveaway of her YA rom com Being Mary Bennett

Monday, March 28th I have an interview with debut author Ann Fraistat and a giveaway of her YA thriller/horror What We Harvest

Tuesday, April 5th I’m participating in the April Shows Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 6th I have an interview with debut author Dannie Olgiun with a giveaway of her YA contemporary Between Safe and Real

Monday, April 11th I have and agent spotlight interview with Kari Sutherland and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, April 13th I have a guest post by editor Mary Kole with a giveaway of one of her books

Saturday, April 16th I'm participating in the Rain Drops on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

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.

Agent Spotlight: Alyssa Eisner Henkin Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Alyssa Eisner Henkin here. She is a literary agent and the founder of Birch Path Literary.

Hi­ Alyssa! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Alyssa:

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

I began my career in editorial at S&S Books for Young Readers. Kidlit captivated me from the start –shaping book ideas with my authors and illustrators, the craft of editing, and learning from my brilliant mentor colleagues. Seven years in, I was seeking something less corporate and more entrepreneurial long-term. Soon after, Trident Media Group hired me for a children’s book agent position. The job was the perfect blend of editor and entrepreneur. I spent the next fourteen years there building a list of amazing, bestselling, and multi-award-winning authors and learning how to serve their creative and fiduciary needs within a large, global agency. I have negotiated hundreds of book deals as well as film deals, set up a merchandising program, and even helped put a Broadway musical in motion. And my favorite part of the job is still shaping and fostering new ideas.

 About the Agency:

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

 Birch Path is a full-service boutique agency born from vast experience on both sides of the agent/publisher desk. We provide a nurturing foundation for career growth for debut and seasoned authors and illustrators alike. Contract negotiation and international rights are overseen by two brilliant colleagues, Lauren Carnali and Claire Roberts. We work with several talented film agents in L.A. My goal at Birch Path is to make each client feel that he/she/they is my only client each time we negotiate a deal. Every path is a little different and whether that means championing a project that falls a bit outside the norm, making copious edits before submission, fighting to retain international rights, or appealing to a publisher to keep a book in hardcover years after publication, I am always working for the good of my projects. When you love what you do, it doesn’t even feel like work.

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 represent board book through young adult, and I welcome select upmarket fiction and romcoms for adults. I’ve been growing my stable of author-illustrators and am eager to review more illustrated picture book, young middle grade, and graphic novel projects.

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

I’d love to see a fiction project in the vein of Julie and Julia about America's Early Female College Students Held Illicit Fudge Parties - Gastro Obscura (atlasobscura.com)  that incorporates themes of body positivity.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in? I am usually not a fit for dragons, paranormal, sci-fi, or gory horror.

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?

I’m a big fan of transparent communication, hard work, and laughter. I don’t believe in following trends. I’m proud to have worked with many of my clients for many years. Several of my projects illuminate underrepresented voices and break new ground in the market with innovative formats and little-known topics. There’s no greater professional joy than championing a book that you believe in and watching the world delight in it.

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?

Yes, I tend to do several rounds of back-and-forth edits on novels, and sometimes dozens on picture books, until they are ready to be shared with the world. Of course, every path is different.

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?

Please send submissions to submissions@birchpathliterary.com.

Submission directions are available through this link. Submissions | Birch Path Literary

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

No. I’ll forgive almost anything for a story that speaks to my heart.

Response Time:

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

Due to the large volume of submissions, I am now only able to respond to projects that interest me. I try to respond to requested manuscripts within two months, although sometimes it can be longer. If a query goes unanswered for over two months, please consider it 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?

Yes. I think it’s a robust time to be publishing independently. In the genres that I represent, I have witnessed success in both romcoms and kids’ activity/nonfiction. The best advice for any author is to do research and assess what agents seem best suited. There is no dearth of information out there!

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?

As major publishers continue to request only agented submissions, agents remain vital to the process. Further, even when books are self-published or published by hybrid publishers, there are still ancillary rights to develop and important contractual matters that benefit greatly from agent involvement. With that said, sometimes major publishers focus on the “main course” books rather than the “dessert” or “appetizer” books. It’s exciting when they find success in indie channels.

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Ruth Behar, Julie Berry, Jen Bryant, Lisa Greenwald, Aya Morton, R.J. Palacio, Bobbie Pyron, and Gail Villanueva.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

14. Please share the links to any interviews, guest posts, and podcasts you think would be helpful to writers interested in querying you.

Alyssa Eisner Henkin - The Official Manuscript Wish List Website

Not just for kids: Young adult books are big sellers - CBS News

Agent Interview: Alyssa Eisner Henkin (Trident Media Group) - Only Picture Books

Agent Spotlight: An Interview with Alyssa Henkin, by Laura Parnum | EasternPennPoints (wordpress.com)

Links and Contact Info:

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

Submissions | Birch Path Literary

Additional Advice:

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

Sometimes I find that “analysis paralysis” can be exhausting when one is researching agents and editors with all the information out there. While research is important, it should never outshine the writing itself. I recommend Kendra Levin’s wonderful book The Hero Is You for wise advice on how to prioritize craft.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Alyssa.

­Alyssa 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 April 2nd. 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.

 

Working on Revisions of Your Manuscript With Your Agent by Agent/Author Ronald Gerber and Sonja Thomas & Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence & Query Critique Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Sonja Thomas and her agent Ronald Gerber here to share about her debut MG contemporary Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence. It sounds like a fantastic story that I’ve been excited to read just from knowing the comps used to describe it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

 

From the Desk of Zoe Washington meets Ways to Make Sunshine in this heartfelt middle grade novel about a determined young girl who must rely on her ingenuity and scientific know-how to save her beloved cat.

Twelve-year-old Mira’s summer is looking pretty bleak. Her best friend Thomas just moved a billion and one miles away from Florida to Washington, DC. Her dad is job searching and he’s been super down lately. Her phone screen cracked after a home science experiment gone wrong. And of all people who could have moved into Thomas’s old house down the street, Mira gets stuck with Tamika Smith, her know-it-all nemesis who’s kept Mira in second place at the school science fair four years running.

Mira’s beloved cat, Sir Fig Newton, has been the most stable thing in her life lately, but now he seems off, too. With her phone gone and no internet over the weekend at her strict Gran’s house, Mira must research Fig’s symptoms the old-fashioned way: at the library. She determines that he has “the silent cat killer” diabetes. A visit to the vet confirms her diagnosis, but that one appointment stretched family funds to the limit—they’ll never be able to afford cat insulin shots.

When Mira’s parents tell her they may have to give Fig up to people who can afford his treatment, Mira insists she can earn the $2,000 needed within a month. Armed with ingenuity, determination, and one surprising ally, can Mira save her best (four-legged) friend before it’s too late?

 

Follower News

 

Before I get to my guest post with Sonja and Ronald, I have Follower News to share

 


Anita Fitch Pazner, who’s my critique partner, has a picture book, The Topsy-Turvy Bus, that released on March 1, 2022. Here a blurb: Let’s face it, The world feels Topsy-Turvy right now, and kids hear all about it. Global warming and pollution are topics all over the news. What’s a kid to do? Nothing, until they hop aboard the Topsy-Turvy Bus, which gives kids a look at alternative energy sources and ways to care for the earth so they know they can make the world a better, cleaner, healthier place one step at a time. Reuse, recycle, renew and rethink! Here’s a few links: Website https://anitapazner.com Buy links McLean & Eakin Barnes & Noble Amazon

 

Alex Cavanaugh has a new adult science fiction/space opera, CassaDark, releasing on April 6, 2022. Here’s a blurb: Despite saving the eleven races years ago, Bassan’s world is unraveling now. Can he summon the courage to be a hero again? Here’s a few links: Website www.alexjcavanaugh.com Buy links Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0982FL3SH

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940164947033

 


Jemima Pett recently released a science fiction, Zanzibar’s Rings. Here’s a blurb: A galactic crisis: the entire comms system destroyed. No waypoints, no navigation aids, no database access... and how will spaceships in flight get home--or to any destination? Dolores is stuck in warp with a very dangerous passenger, Pete gets his shuttle back home on manual. But why does anything in close contact with pure orichalcum fix itself? Just flying through Zanzibar's Rings solves the problem--as the Federation's Fighters find, as they descend on the Viridian System to take possession of the planets. Here’s a few links: Website jemimapett.com Buy links Amazon B&N (Nook)

 


Amy Bernstein has a new audio release of her YA novel, Fran, the Second Time Around. Here’s a blurb: Fran Singer is a regular 8th grader, when suddenly, everything changes. A tragic accident with major consequences shoots her out of her ordinary world into one racked with guilt, shame, and complete alienation. Starting over after all that is not easy— but is it possible? Will Fran’s life be better, the second time around? Here a few links: Website amywrites.live  Buy link https://amzn.to/3APGqxt


L. Diane Wolfe is offering free publishing and marketing webinars. Here the details: Free publishing and promoting webinars from Dancing Lemur Press LLC owner, L. Diane Wolfe.

Anyone can register. Handout provided and sessions feature Power Point presentation.

101 – publishing, 9-12 pm EST

102 – marketing, 1-4 pm EST

Register here: https://www.ncsbc.net/center.aspx?center=75570

Sonja Thomas and Ronald Gerber Guest Post

 

Ronald: I’ll start with how I generally approach novel revisions. Most of the time, I start with a few major points on a phone call, then follow up with an editorial letter, then provide margin notes and line edits on subsequent drafts. The letter is usually several pages long and identifies overarching points of improvement, and I try my best to offer solutions that fit with the flow of the existing story. Agent revisions are typically less radical than most people think. Many authors I meet at conferences are afraid that an agent is going to come in and change their entire basic plot, but it’s important to remember that unlike editors, agents don’t have publishing house mandates to worry about. I want to make sure the book is saleable, of course, but if I signed you, I’m confident in your work and my ability to sell it! My main concern is making sure the book is the best version of itself and delivers on everything I’m going to promise editors in my letter. I want everyone who reads it to love it. In the case of SIR FIG NEWTON & THE SCIENCE OF PERSISTENCE, I had nothing to worry about. It is every bit as charming and funny and heartwarming as I could have possibly described it!


My editorial letter for SIR FIG was a bit unusual in that I did actually ask Sonja to change a couple central details, like the time period. When she queried me the story was set in the 1990s and all the characters’ goals were accomplished with analog technology. It is one of the few times I’ve asked for a major change solely because I felt that we’d have an easier time selling the book, and I did my best to provide suggestions for how to update the time period without sacrificing any of the existing character motivations. I took longer to reflect on those notes than any of the others in the letter.

 

Sonja, what changes were the most and/or least challenging for you to implement on SIR FIG? Was my advice about the time period different or similar to what you’d heard from writing peers and readers?

 

Sonja: Updating SIR FIG from the 1990s to present day was the most challenging to implement; however, this wasn’t the first time I’d received this feedback. Some critique partners and beta readers mentioned early on that unless there was a compelling reason for setting the story in the 90s, then I should consider changing it to present day. Once you offered this advice, I really sat with why I’d made this choice. I realized that this time period wasn’t an integral part of the story and that my original reasoning was done out of fear. I grew up in the ‘80s and was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to realistically portray a tween’s modern-day experience. Thankfully, I faced my fears and SIR FIG feels much stronger because of it. Turns out, it wasn’t as difficult as I’d anticipated. The main story and emotional arcs remained the same. It was updating the technology (and finding ways to keep it from my main character LOL), along with slang and pop culture references, and ensuring that all these threads were fixed throughout that was the most challenging.

 

Ronald: Something people don’t often realize about revisions is how nerve-wracking they are for agents! We want to make sure we’re being clear, that all our suggestions are actually helpful, and that our feedback is constructive and shows we’re on the author’s team. The toughest part for me—and it only gets tougher during a pandemic—is how solitary manuscript editing is. I often chat with agent friends about suggestions I’m debating including, but by and large they haven’t read the book and can only give general advice.

 

By contrast, many authors have a lot more community when working on their manuscripts: beta readers, writer friends, non-writer friends, people who can weigh in on the direction of the story and how to implement notes. A number of my clients have mentioned how my feedback relates to advice they got from readers at a different point in the drafting process.

 

Sonja, how has community influenced your approach to revisions? Did you consult readers on each draft of SIR FIG, or only when you had bigger questions? And how has the pandemic affected your ability to engage with others when drafting and revising?

 

Sonja: I wrote my first draft of SIR FIG NEWTON as I received feedback from my critique group. Every three weeks, I’d submit a few chapters and then sit with their thoughts. At the time, this routine was perfect for me. It gave me the accountability and outside deadline to keep writing and finish my first draft. One major drawback, however, was that I often allowed some comments to dictate what direction to take my story, rather than have a clear plan of what I wanted to accomplish in order to evaluate their critiques. After finishing the first draft, I made major plot revisions and sent it to beta readers for big-picture feedback.

 

I no longer consult readers until I have a firm grasp on the point of my story, including a loose idea of the story and emotional arcs. I have a few friends that I reach out to if I get stuck and just need someone to talk out loud with, like a specific scene. But I don’t give it to readers until I have a complete draft ready for the big-picture stuff.

 

The worst thing about the pandemic is that I rarely write outside of the house. I used to write in coffee shops or at the library at least once or twice a week, often with a writer friend. There’s just something about writing in a different space that ignites my motivation. Plus, it’s great to have someone there in person to bounce around ideas or ask for quick input. I still reach out to a few writers for revision feedback. If I’m in a really tough space while drafting, then I’ll schedule a phone or virtual call for help.

 

Ronald: A lot of writers ask me about how quickly they should turn around edits. Each agent has their own preference, but I don’t usually set strict deadlines for drafts with a debut project unless the author requests one or there’s an element of timeliness in the narrative we need to use to our advantage. Otherwise, it takes as long as it takes to shape the book into the best version of itself. I would much rather the author take the time needed to consider my comments and think creatively about how to improve the story. Ironically, a manuscript that the author rushes to get back to their agent will often take longer in the end because we have to go through more editorial rounds before it’s ready to send out to publishers.

 

As you can probably tell from the rest of this post, the process did not take very long at all in the case of SIR FIG! Sonja has been very on top of edits in our time working together and always takes every note into account. Between the editorial letter and subsequent comments, it only took several weeks for her to turn around new drafts—I sent Sonja my editorial letter for SIR FIG in August 2019 and it went out on submission in January 2020. I recall her being just as quick with notes from her editor at Simon & Schuster, Aly Heller.

 

Sonja, since we revised SIR FIG, you’ve written writer-for-hire stories that have required faster responses to edits. Do you thrive in a time crunch? Do you still have time to reach out to people other than me for feedback?

 

Sonja: I love having that outside deadline and usually the time crunch doesn’t allow the space to get caught up in negative mind chatter (i.e. my writing sucks; nobody will like this; etc.). On the flip side, I don’t have time to reach out to writer friends to see the “uglier” earlier versions of my stories, which as a perfectionist isn’t easy to let you see my work when it’s not at its best.

 

Ronald: Knowing when a book is “done” is one of the biggest challenges about revising for me, and I’m sure for authors too. It mostly comes down to instinct. As revision rounds go on, I have fewer and fewer notes and the manuscript eventually has no remaining issues that I think would overshadow the positives about the book—even though I know I could keep tinkering. There’s no such thing as perfection in publishing. Agents know that editors will likely have their own revisions if and when the book sells, so it’s a matter of doing enough without taking away any of the magic. I knew SIR FIG was ready when I read the latest draft and thought: “I can’t imagine an editor saying no to this!”

 

Sonja, do you find it hard to let go and stop working on your writing once revisions are done?

 

Sonja: Yes and no! Like I said earlier, I’m a perfectionist, so I know there’s always room for improvement. But there are so many other stories that I want to write! I’m getting better at accepting that I’ve written the best story that I could with the knowledge and tools I had at the time.

 

I really love what you said about doing enough without taking away any of the magic. Letting go is (somewhat) easier knowing that the story and its magic will live on and expand in the readers’ imagination.

 

Ronald’s Bio and Links: Ronald Gerber (he/him) is a literary agent and manages foreign rights, permissions, and contracts at Lowenstein Associates. Before joining the Lowenstein team in 2019, he spent several years in literary scouting and supported two agents at Writers House. Ronald’s clients have books forthcoming from Simon & Schuster, St. Martin’s Press, and more.  He is a proud graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock and received his B.A., summa cum laude with high honors, from Clark University. He resides in Queens with his wife and their massive collection of books and DVDs.

 

Website: lowensteinassociates.com

Twitter: @RGerberAgent

 

Sonja’s Bio and Links:

Sonja Thomas (she/her) writes stories for readers of all ages, often featuring brave, everyday girls doing extraordinary things. Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence is her debut middle grade novel. She's also a contributing author for Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Real-Life Tales of Black Girl Magic. Raised in Central Florida—home of the wonderful world of Disney, humidity, and hurricanes—and a Washington, DC, transplant for eleven years (go Nats!), she’s now “keeping it weird” in the Pacific Northwest with her roommate and four pawesome cats.

 

Website: bysonjathomas.com

Twitter: @bysonjathomas

Instagram: @bysonjathomas

Order Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence meow: https://www.bysonjathomas.com/books

Giveaway Details

Sonja has generously offered a hardback of Sir Fig Newton and the Science of Persistence and Ronald has offered a query critique for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by March 26th. 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 the query critique giveaways are U.S.

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

Upcoming Interviews and Giveaways

Wednesday, March 16th I'm participating in the Chasing Rainbow Giveaway Hop and have an agent spotlight interview with Alyssa Eisner Henkin with a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 21st I have a guest post by debut author JC Peterson with a giveaway of her YA rom com Being Mary Bennett

Monday, March 28th I have an interview with debut author Ann Fraistat and a giveaway of her YA thriller/horror What We Harvest

Tuesday, April 5th I’m participating in the April Shows Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 6th I have an interview with debut author Dannie Olgiun with a giveaway of her YA contemporary Between Safe and Real

Monday, April 11th I have and agent spotlight interview with Kari Sutherland and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, April 13th I have a guest post by editor Mary Kole with a giveaway of one of her books

Saturday, April 16th I'm participating in the Raindrops on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 18th I have an agent/author guest post with Andrea Somberg and Carolyn Tara O’Neil and a giveaway of Carolyn’s YA historical fiction Daughters of a Dead Empire and a query critique by Andrea

Hope to see you on Wednesday!