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.

Debut Author Jitters and Agent Support by Debut Author Maria José Fitzgerald and Turtles of the Midnight Moon and Sara Crowe Query Critique Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Maria José Fitzgerald here to share about her MG contemporary mystery Turtles of the Midnight Moon and her agent Sara Crowe. I’m super excited to read Maria’s book because I’m really into reading mysteries these days, and this one is set in Honduras.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

TURTLES OF THE MIDNIGHT MOON, by Honduran American debut author Maria Jose Fitzgerald, is a middle-grade eco-mystery with magical elements set in Honduras. The story follows Barana and Abby, who reluctantly come together to solve a sea turtle egg poaching mystery plaguing Barana's coastal village, and learn the true meaning of friendship, courage, and community along the way. Publication is set for the Spring of 2023 by Knopf Books for Young Readers.

When poachers threaten the island they love, two girls team up to save the turtles—and each other. An eco-mystery with an unforgettable friendship story at its heart from a fresh new voice in middle grade.

Twelve-year-old Barana lives in a coastal village in Honduras, where she spends every spare minute visiting the sea turtles that nest on the beach.

Abby is feeling adrift in sixth grade, trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs after her best friend moved away from New Jersey.

Follower News

Before I get to Maria’s guest post, I have Follower News to share.

Sandra Cox recently released Return to Silverhills. Here’s a blurb: The Wade saga continues with: A trail boss with a fast gun. A damaged woman. A cattle drive fraught with danger. And a combustible attraction.

Available for pre-order at: https://www.amazon.com/Return-Silverhills-Sandra-Cox-ebook/dp/B0BS77JXFV

Shannon Lawrence has a new release, Happy Ghouidays II. Here's a blurb: The holidays elicit a mixture of emotions, from joy and revelry to despair and rage. In these stories, we examine the dark side of the holidays with a twisted Easter egg hunt, a desperate St. Patrick's Day curse, a monster that's only visible in the light of fireworks, a mother's guilt on Halloween, and more in this follow up to Happy Ghoulidays that embraces the underlying shadows of our favorite holidays.

And here are a few buy links: Available for pre-order on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Scribd, and Smashwords. E-book pre-order link (universal): https://books2read.com/u/bzKnrq

Dancing Lemur Press recently published an awesome book, Tales From the Valley by WATCH Youth

Here's a blurb: The Ohio Valley’s rich stories and fables…join us on our travels! WATCH Youth Writers is a creative writing group open to all youth in the Ohio Valley. And here are some links: 

iTunes - https://books.apple.com/us/book/x/id6445685444

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTV1MJ1J

Barnes & Nobel - https://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940166012302

And here's a resource for writers that you might find helpful by Dr. Diana Stout. Here's a description: Interested in top-notch, how-to advice from experts in the field? Whether your writing long or short, fiction or nonfiction, playwriting, screenwriting, need information about the business of writing, academic writing, writing for contests and more, check out  Sharpened Pencils Productions' Recommended Reading page. A relatively new page to the website, resources are added by writer and former professor of writing, Dr. Diana Stout as she makes new discoveries or is posting old favorites, most of which are still available.

Agent-Author Spotlight: Maria José Fitzgerald and Sara Crowe

Thank you, Natalie, for spotlighting me and my wonderful agent, Sara Crowe. Let’s start with a little bit about Sara: Sara is a Senior Agent at Pippin Properties, where she represents books for children and adults. She began her career at The Wylie Agency, where she worked in foreign rights for 8 years. Her clients include debut authors like me, Newbery and Printz winners, and New York Times Bestselling authors. I can say from my lived experience with Sara that she champions debut authors and is a master at nurturing and developing careers. She is warm, approachable, and has a keen eye for stories and characters that will win your heart. She’s also smart and knows the industry well.

My path to signing with Sara was somewhat unusual. While I’d been querying agents the traditional way for about six months, it wasn’t until I was selected for Pitch Wars (class of 2020) that things started to seem hopeful for me and my novel. For readers who are not familiar with Pitch Wars, it was a long-standing, volunteer-run mentorship program for aspiring authors. After a rigorous application process, Pitch Wars mentors selected one writer to work with. I was selected by a dynamic duo mentorship team: Jessica Vitalis and Julie Artz. I worked with them for several months rewriting and polishing up my manuscript. Pitch Wars culminated with an “Agent Showcase,” where agents were able to read our pitches and the first page of our novel “live” on the Pitch Wars website. From there, agents requested full or partial manuscripts from authors whose books they were interested in, so rather than authors going to agents, the agents came to the authors via the showcase.


It turns out, I had already heard about Sara from my mentor, Jessica, who is also one of Sara’s clients. After the showcase was live, Jessica and I weren’t sure if Sara was going to request my manuscript, but we were hopeful! When she did request it, I think both Jessica and I did a little happy dance! The rest, is, of course, history. Sara read my full manuscript, and we had the much anticipated “call.” Sara made me feel instantly supported and comfortable as a debut author. I wanted someone with experience in the industry who also “got” my voice, my story, and my career goals. Sara is kind and fierce, sweet, and professional. Whenever there has been an urgent matter, she’s quick to call me, text, or email. She’s my advocate and voice in an industry that can be very challenging, especially for underrepresented voices. 

As a debut author in 2023, jitters, imposter syndrome, deadlines, and a whole bunch of other stressors can sometimes get the best of you. Having Sara in my corner has been a constant reminder that I am in good hands. She’s helped me navigate publishing questions, book 2 concerns, and rejections; through it all, she’s been a light in my author-ring corner. The publishing industry is definitely not for the faint of heart. Things can move slowly, and our creativity can sometimes lose its spark because of the externals we have no control over. I have learned, with Sara’s help, to let go, trust the process, and go inward. I’m excited to keep working with Sara on my second novel, and beyond!


How to connect with Sara:





More about Maria and how to connect:

Maria José is a writer of children’s books. Her favorite stories usually include animals, friendships, family, and magic. She grew up snorkeling and hiking in her homeland of Honduras, where nature and culture nourished her soul. Her debut novel, Turtles of the Midnight Moon, will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on March 14th, 2023. When she’s not writing, you can find Maria reading, walking her dogs, teaching, or maybe out on a bike ride with her husband and two daughters.

You can visit Maria’s website and socials at:


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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MariaJoseFitzg2

Giveaway Details

Maria is generously offering a hardback of Turtles of the Midnight Moon and Sara is generously offering 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 25th. If you do not want to be included in the critique giveaway, please let me know in the comments.  If your email 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 or Maria on her social media sites, 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 book 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 Guest Posts

Thursday, March 16, I’m participating in the Chasing Rainbows Giveaway Hop

Monday, March 20 I have an agent spotlight interview with Kristen Terrette and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 27 I’m doing a post about a scam authors need to watch out for

Saturday, April 1 I’m participating in the Honey Bunny Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, April 5 I have an interview with debut author Lauren Thoman with a giveaway of her YA mystery I’ll Stop the World and my IWSG post

Thursday, April 6 I’m participating in the Dancing in the Rain Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 10 I have an interview with debut author Meg Eden Kuyatt and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Good Different

Hope to see you on Monday!





Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Maria, Pitch Wars was a total blessing for you!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks for the kids' anthology!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Sara sounds like a blessing.

Thanks for mentioning Tales From the Valley.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Glad Sara has been such a helpful agent and that Pitch Wars worked out so well!

Computer Tutor said...

Congratulations, Maria, on your debut novel. What an amazing book--eco-mystery? Hadn't heard that before, but it sounds like an important topic. And congrats to Sandra Cox on her latest Western. Woot! I love that woman.

Danielle H. said...

I'm so excited to read this novel--the synopsis sounds amazing. Congrats to the author on her debut novel! I shared this post on tumblr and follow both Natalie and the author on Twitter and Instagram: https://www.tumblr.com/yesreaderwriterpoetmusician/711689559435558912/debut-author-jitters-and-agent-support-by-debut?source=share

Please do not include my name for the critique chance.

Samantha Bryant said...

What a great title! I'll have to check it out. @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Jayme Inman said...

The book sounds fascinating and I was very interested to hear more about how Pitch Wars works. Would love to get a query review from Sara.


Rachel said...

I love middle grade mysteries - looking forward to reading!

Faith said...

Looking forward to reading this one! Pitch Wars is such a great learning experience, isn't it? Participating challenged me in so many good ways.
No need to enter me in the query critique, as I already have an agent. :)

Anonymous said...

I’d love to be considered for either giveaway. I follow via email! Thank you so much for this opportunity!

helloelizabethjames at gmail dot com

Patricia T. said...

I love stories about kids helping the environment. We have a number of books with that theme today. Enjoyed the interview with Sara and learning about her path to publishing! I pass on the query critique.
I am from the Ohio Valley (Miami Valley in SW Ohio). Like that it involves creative youth writing groups. Will check out the links. Thanks for sharing!

Andi Chitty said...

This sounds like such a wonderful story, thank you for sharing! I love hearing about the journeys authors embark on that eventually lead them to their agent, too. Great interview!
email: chittystone@gmail.com

Brenda said...

Congratulations on your upcoming debut!

Greg Pattridge said...

Great insights by Maria on the road to getting her debut out. The environmental aspect of the plot sounds like a winner. Thanks for being a part of Marvelous Middle Grade Monday (MMGM) today.

Sandra Appleby said...

I love the concept of your book Maria (Turtles of the Midnight Moon)! I'm going to read it this week once I can get my hands on it. Meanwhile, I'll be looking up the 'pitch wars', sounds like a great resource.

gowri said...

Lovely interview. Congratulations Maria! Love the eco-mystery theme.
Following Natalie and Maria on Twitter now. Thanks, Gowri

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks for the interview and the giveaway. I follow you, Natalie, and will share this on Twitter. Carol

Liz A. said...

Yay for Pitch Wars.

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

This is a wonderful story of becoming agented! And María's book sounds like a wonderful read as well. I'll pass on the giveaways, but thank you for sharing this wonderful post, Natalie!

Katie said...

This sounds like such a fun book - my 5th graders LOVE turtles. Thank you both for the giveaways!

I'm a blog subscriber via 1logonaut with gmail.
I follow all three of you on Twitter and tweeted about the post. @katie_mcenaney

Anneliese Schultz said...

So exciting that Maria's book is coming out - tomorrow!

Rosi said...

Congratulations on your debut novel, Maria. I LOVE the title! And thanks for an interesting post, Natalie.

Nancy Garcia said...

I look forward to reading maria's book when it comes out!

Valinora Troy said...

Pitch Wars sounds such a super idea, I hadn't realised how it worked although I hear people talk about it occasionally. The book sounds lovely, anything about turtles appeals to me, and best of luck to Maria with her launch!

Eileen said...

Thank you for this, Maria and Sara, and congratulations on your debut novel, Maria! I would love to be entered for the query critique giveaway and the book giveaway. Have posted it on Twitter and FB (& LinkedIn!).

Judith L. Roth said...

Oh, this book sounds like it's right up my reading alley! Can't wait to see it. Congrats, Maria!

Anonymous said...

Maria, congratulations ! Kids need more stories set in under-represented locations. This sounds like a fantastic story. I’d love to win either your book or Sarah’s critique. My email is joyceray at gsinet dot net.

Natalie G.B. said...

Turtles of the Midnight Moon sounds wonderfully heartfelt! I'm excited to read it. I would love to have the chance to do a query critique with Sara Crowe. My email is nataliegb43@gmail.com

tetewa said...

Congrats on the release, would love to get a copy!

Laddy Lau said...

Love the book concept as my daughter and I have been learning more about sea turtles lately. Congrats on the debut!

Erin Pearson said...

Congrats on your book release, Maria! It sounds wonderful. And I loved reading about how you found your agent.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Bravo, Maria, on your debut novel! All the luck with this new release. Having Sara and Jessica and Julie in your corner is a blessing. All best to you!

Laya said...

Congrats, Maria! So interesting to hear about your path to publication. And Sara sounds like an amazing agent. I would love to be entered for the query critique giveaway and the book giveaway. laya(at)layasteinberg(dot)com

Kerry Hansen (she/her) said...

As always, another wonderful interview. I love getting to know authors and agents this way. I've also put the contest on Twitter. I'd love to be entered for the book and critique. kerryhansen@outlook.com

Elizabeth Curry said...

Congratulations, Maria! Your novel sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it. Thank you for the great interview.

Jay Linden said...

I've swum with wild turtles in Samoa - they are amazing creatures, soulful and gentle. Maria's eco mystery friendship book sounds wonderful - I'll make sure our library gets a copy. Great to hear what a wonderful agent Sara has been for you Maria - she has long been at the top of my query list. Thanks Natalie, I'd love to be in for the query critique.

Anonymous said...

My email is caseygarvey74@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I’d love to see live turtles! Thanks for the giveaway

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Anakellyinla@gmail.com said...

Maria's story and Sara's guidance inspire. Natalie: I'm an email subscriber, a follower on Twitter...and just followed Maria. Thank you for the giveaway opportunity!

Shamaila J said...

great interview! I would love to enter the critique giveaway - shamaila.siddique@gmail.com

Evie R. said...

This sounds like a really cool book! I would love to enter the giveaway for the book and query critique. Thanks for doing this interviews. What a great resource!!! I follow you via email. :)

Kamilla said...

This book sounds awesome! I would also be really appreciative of a critique.

jcaritas said...

The book sounds fascinating -- I'm excited to read it with my daughter! I'd also love to be entered into the drawing for the critique with Sara. jennifer@stylefish.com

PMDooling said...

Looking forward to reading this story! Thank you so much for the interview. I love Pitch Wars...such a gem for the writing community!