Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Caroline Trussell Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/20/2024
  • Jenna Satterthwaite Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/10/2024
  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024

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.

Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop-$10 Amazon Gift Card

 


Happy Sunday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. Are you having a good summer? I am. My daughter's wedding shower was last Saturday, and it was a lot of fun. It was a tea party. And yesterday was my birthday.

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

 I'm offering a $10 gift card to Amazon for this giveaway.

 


Giveaway Details

I'm making this giveaway simple. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 31st telling me how you plan to use the gift card and your email address. Be sure to include your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites 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 International.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

FYI, I do not have as much planned this summer. I’m taking a little break to enjoy my daughter’s wedding celebrations and to help get ready for the wedding.

Tuesday, August 1 I’m participating in the Apple a Day Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, August 2 I have an interview with debut author Vanessa Montalban and a giveaway of her YA contemporary fantasy A Tall Dark Promise and my IWSG post

Monday, August 7 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jane Chun and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, August 16 I’m participating in the Old School Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Tuesday, August 1st!

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

And here are all the other blogs participating in this blog hop:


Author Interview: Refe Tuma and Frances and the Monster Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Refe Tuma here to share about his MG contemporary fantasy, Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest. He and his agent did a guest post when his debut book, Frances and the Monster released. I really enjoy contemporary fantasies and am excited to read his new book.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

 

"A joy to read!" --New York Times bestselling author Margaret Peterson Haddix

Child genius and budding inventor Frances is in trouble. Her dreams of scientific glory were dashed when her first big experiment nearly destroyed her whole town. So when a prestigious society invites her to their symposium, Frances sees it as a chance to redeem herself.

On the way there, her train is hijacked, and she and her friend Luca flee into the Black Forest. Seeking shelter with a group of orphans, Frances learns the rules of the woods: Never travel alone. Never make a sound. Because something hunts in the shadows, something with glowing eyes and sharp teeth.

Frances is no stranger to monsters, but she quickly learns there are forces more terrifying than she ever imagined...and that the key to defeating them might lie in her own scientific discoveries. With Luca and the orphans at her side, Frances must again face the horrifying, this time determined to stop evil and make a name for herself, once and for all.

Filled with friendship, humor, daring deeds, and a spunky main character who will definitely steal your heart, this historical fantasy is perfect for fans of Serafina and the Black Cloak and Greenglass House.

Hi Refe! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi Natalie! Thank you for having me back on your blog.

I taught myself to read when I was very young and started writing shortly after. My dad was an illustrator and I liked to tag along to the art supplies store to stock up on these big sketchbooks with black, faux-leather covers. The plan was always to fill every page with words and drawings so that, at the end, I’d have a complete book. I think the furthest I ever got was around twelve or thirteen pages, which included a title page, dedication, and a (highly aspirational) table of contents.

In middle school and high school, my focus shifted to music. I wrote songs and played in local bands and spent a lot of time I should have been in class tinkering with the music notation software in the band room. After that, I studied filmmaking and wrote a few short screenplays I never got around to shooting.

Through it all, I never stopped telling stories. It took different forms—music, movies, picture books, novels—but I was always writing.

2. Where did you get the idea for this series?

Mary Shelley’s groundbreaking Frankenstein and the classic monster movies it spawned were of course a major inspiration for Frances and the Monster. Eagle-eyed Frankenstein fans will find all sorts of easter eggs from Shelley’s life and works in both Frances and the Monster and Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest, with even more obscure references to things like Frankenstein VS the Wolfman in the latter.

But the first seeds of the Frances series were actually planted by the ‘Magician’s Apprentice’ sequence of Disney’s Fantasia. The idea of the apprentice being so impatient to skip ahead get to the good stuff—mastery—really resonated with me. That was me as a kid. Always impatient to jump straight to adulthood, and cocky enough to think I was ready. So, Frances ended up with a healthy dose of both qualities. And like the magician’s apprentice, when she gives into those impulses, she creates a monster.

About Your Writing Process

3. What was your plotting process for Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest? Has it changed at all since you wrote your first book? If so, how?

Frances and the Monster was such an evolution. The plot emerged as I wrote, and the themes, structure, and voice took shape in revision. The process took years, and I was learning as I went along.

Writing Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest was a very different experience. I was working under deadline, for one thing. I couldn’t spend as much time exploring and experimenting without a clear path to completion. Thankfully, I had a strong sense of the story I wanted to tell with Frances’s second adventure, and the emotional journey I wanted to take her on. The major beats and turning points were there before I had even completed book one.

The biggest challenge was the book’s opening chapters. I considered a number of scenarios and different ways to kick off the events of the story before settling on what I feel is the perfect balance of fun and quirky and intimate. I love the way the reader is reintroduced to Frances and her life after the shocking events at the end of book one, and how that reintroduction frames the larger adventure.

Maybe someday I’ll clean up the Hobbes-gets-kidnapped version of the opening and put it up on my blog…

4. You already had a publishing contract and deadlines to meet when you wrote your second book. How did you draft your manuscript and revise it on a schedule? What are your tips for other writers like me who are afraid that they write too slowly to finish a manuscript on a publisher’s schedule?

Writing a first novel is like climbing a mountain where you can’t see the top. It can feel so impossible, the path so often undefined—right up to the moment you type ‘The End.’ Then you’re there, at the summit, and the clouds have cleared and the path you climbed doesn’t seem quite so long anymore.

That view from ‘The End’ was an incredible benefit when I started book two. I had done it once, so I knew I could do it again. More than that, I knew so much more about myself as a writer. I knew what I did and did not need to achieve in my first draft, and my second. I could trust myself a little more and trust the process.

And never underestimate the value of a good editor! Yes, you have a deadline, but that means you also have a partner whose skill and talent and dedication to your manuscript is there to keep you moving forward and pry you loose when you get stuck. It’s a huge advantage most writers don’t have until much later in the process while crafting their debut.

5. It’s reassuring to know that it’s possible to write on contract, one of my greatest fears. What was a challenge you faced in writing your second book? How did you overcome it?

Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest expands the world I built for Frances and the Monster in a few significant ways. One of those ways is the addition of a much larger ensemble of characters. I kept the cast of Frances and the Monster tight because even the handful of people Frances meets along her journey represent a massive shift in her life, which is so isolated until her search for the monster begins. Writing for so many characters in the sequel added a new layer of complexity—ensuring each new character had a voice that was engaging and distinct, and that every member of the cast was both interesting and irreplaceable. I love writing dialogue, so having so many voices and personalities to play with was a dream come true. The biggest challenge was determining what to cut!

The new characters also gave me the opportunity to write in more of one thing that is very important to me: sign language. Several members of my extended family are hard of hearing or deaf, and I had an appreciation for signing instilled in me from a young age. I remember visiting my grandparents and sitting up with my grandfather, learning signs well past my bedtime. I worked with authenticity readers to help make sure that my depiction of the sign languages in the book and of a deaf character were as accurate as possible. I learned a ton, and I sincerely hope reading Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest will be a great experience for kids who sign.

Your Road to Publication

6. That’s great that you were able to write more in sign language. You had to find a new agent after your debut book was released. How did you find your new agent? Do you think it was easier to find a new agent as a published author?

I had a good relationship with my previous agent, so when she had to step away, there was obviously a period of uncertainty. I was also in the middle of revisions for Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest, which added to the unknowns.

Thankfully, that uncertainty didn’t last long. My agency, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency, was committed to keeping me on and quickly connected me with Senior Agent Marie Lamba. We spoke a few times on the phone to make sure we’d be a good match, and I reached out to a few of her clients to get their perspectives on working with her. Their glowing feedback made it an obvious choice. Marie has already proven to be a great partner and advocate.

When it comes to your question about previous publishing credits, I think they function in much the same way for agents as an agent’s client list does for authors. We look at an agents list to help us figure out if their tastes and networks will be a good fit for our work. So, it makes sense that agents would look at our body of work to determine if we’ll be a good fit for them. In the end, though, the manuscript reigns supreme. My agent might have liked my What the Dinosaurs Did picture books, but I don’t think that would have made much difference if they didn’t think they could sell and continue to advocate for Frances and the Monster and Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest.

7. Share what it was like to work with a new agent when you already were working on a manuscript that you were under contract to write? What tips do you have for other authors who find themselves looking for a new agent in a similar situation?

I’m not going to lie—it was a little nerve-wracking! Even remaining in-house at the same agency and connecting with such a talented agent so quickly, taking on a new partner in the middle of a deadline has its risks. Every interaction between you and your new agent, and your new agent and your editor, is a first. Can I rely on this person? Will everyone get along?

My advice to authors in similar situations is to focus on the work. Agents are important and a great author-agent partnership are invaluable. But, in the end, it’s the work that matters. Put your energy into your characters and your story. Hit your deadlines. Meet your contractual obligations. Even the best agents in the world can’t do that for you. Then, when the work is in a good place, focus on representation.

Marketing

8. How are you planning to market Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest? Is it different from how you promoted your first book? If so, why did you make the change?

School and library visits will be my primary focus when Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest hits shelves this summer. My top priority is getting my books into the hands of the kids who will enjoy them most, and there’s no better way to do that than visiting them where they are. I’ve already started building my visits and events schedule for next year, focusing on the Chicagoland area, then moving out from there. I try to do as many as I can in-person, but virtual visits have been a lot of fun, too. I’ll also be speaking at the NCTE Conference in Ohio this November, so I’m hoping to book a few visits in the area for while I’m there.

9. I’m envious. It sounds like your marketing is all under control. Share some tips on marketing a debut book that you learned from being a debut author.

The best advice I can give to an author preparing for their debut is to take the long view. Launch day is important because you can sometimes make a bigger splash, but it’s ultimately just a single day. Many books—especially for the middle grade category—take time to find readers and build awareness. Give yourself some time and space to figure out what about your book or your message is resonating with people and find ways to look for them there.

10. What are you working on now?

I’ve got a few projects up my sleeve. I’m hoping for the opportunity to finish the Frances trilogy with the third and final book, so I’ve been focused on that along with another middle grade story that has been percolating a while. I’ve also been exploring few different picture book concepts with my wife and frequent co-author Susan Tuma that I’m very excited about. But really, this summer is all about Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Refe. You can find more information about Refe and his books at www.refetuma.com, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/refeup, and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/refetuma. Frances and the Monster is now available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, and Frances and the Werewolves of the Black Forest hits shelves August 22.

Giveaway Details




Refe is generously offering a hardback of Frances and the Monster, stickers, and bookmarks for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 22nd. 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 Refe on his 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.

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

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

FYI, I do not have as much planned this summer. I’m taking a little break to enjoy my daughter’s wedding celebrations and to help get ready for the wedding.

Saturday, July 15 I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 25 I have an agent spotlight interview with Danielle Hunter and a query critique giveaway

Tuesday, August 1 I’m participating in the Apple a Day Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, August 2 I have an interview with debut author Vanessa Montalban and a giveaway of her YA contemporary fantasy A Tall Dark Promise

Monday, August 7 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jane Chun and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, August 16 I’m participating in the Old School Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Saturday!

 

 

Debut Author Interview: Kacy Ritter and The Great Texas Dragon Race Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have Kacy Ritter here to share about her debut MG contemporary fantasy The Great Texas Dragon Race. I’m a huge fan of contemporary fantasies, and this one is set in Texas where my late husband is from. So, I’m super excited to read Kacy’s book.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

Wings of Fire meets The Hunger Games in this debut contemporary middle grade fantasy stand-alone about thirteen-year-old Cassidy Drake, who enters the dangerous Great Texas Dragon Race to save her family’s dragon sanctuary.

Thirteen-year-old Cassidy Drake wants nothing more than to race with her best dragon, Ranga, in the annual Great Texas Dragon Race. Her mother was a racing legacy, and growing up on her family's dragon sanctuary ranch, Cassidy lives and breathes dragons. She knows she could win against the exploitative FireCorp team that cares more about corporate greed than caring for the dragons. 

Cassidy is so determined to race that she sneaks out of her house against her father's wishes and enters the competition. Soon, Cassidy takes to the skies with Ranga across her glorious Lone Star State. But with five grueling tasks ahead of her, dangerous dragon challenges waiting at each one, and more enemies than allies on the course, Cassidy will need to know more than just dragons to survive. 

 


Before I get to Kacy’s interview I have my IWSG Post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts this month are: PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, Gwen Gardner, Pat Garcia, and me!

Optional Question: 99% of my ideas come from dreams. Where do yours predominantly come from?

Mine definitely do not come from dreams. I hardly ever remember mine. My ideas come from asking “What if?” and seeing things in my everyday life. For example, the idea for my current YA fantasy came from finding a very weird ugly button I found in a flower bed soon after I moved into this house. Here’s a picture of the button:


In my story, the button has a tiny gold rope and a key that are magical.

Where do your ideas come from?

Interview With Kacy Ritter

Hi Kacy! Thanks so much for joining us!

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

Like many writers, I grew up with my nose in a book. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, and many of my best friends were—and still are—fictional characters. I LOVE worldbuilding and am such a fantasy geek at heart.

2. Where did you get the idea for The Great Texas Dragon Race?

They say, “Write what you know.” Well, as a Texas fantasy geek, I know dragons and I know Texas… so I thought, “Why not?” I decided to write a contemporary American fantasy that played on familiar Wild West themes, and when I envisioned a young girl in red cowboy boots racing across the West Texas sky on her bestie dragon, everything fell into place. I loved the idea of usurping a familiar horse trope and turning it on its head. The “ranch story”a plot in which a large landowner attempts to force out the proper underdog rancher—is a classic Western archetype. My protagonist, Cassidy Drake, seemed like the perfect dragon rider to save her farm and dragons from abuse and exploitation.

Your Writing Process

3. How did you develop the world-building for the magical elements of your world that is set in a modern-day world? Share tips for other writers who write contemporary fantasies.

My novel doesn’t actually feature magic at all! In The Great Texas Dragon Race, everything is the same as our world, except that it’s filled with dragons. The dragons don’t talk, though they are very expressive, and they don’t possess supernatural abilities. This allowed me to create a grounded fantasy in which dragons are treated—and sometimes abused—like any other animal in our world. I think it’s critical for writers to remember that fantasy can look like whatever they want. For some, that can include well-planned, hard magic systems. (Which I also love!) For others, like me, it can simply be adding a dash of the fantastical to the modern world.

4. That’s a good point about contemporary fantasies and fantasies in general. It sounds like your book is a real page-turner from the first page. Share about how you kept the plot moving. Did you have any slow parts in your earlier drafts? How did you pick up the pace?

I had soooo many slow parts in earlier drafts. Yeesh! I’m also in the middle of drafting a second (unrelated) modern Texas fantasy, and while I think I’m moving the plot forward, I know there will be slow parts that get the proverbial ax in subsequent drafts. Because you really do have to kill your darlings. Over the course of the past few years, I’ve become a huge fan of beat sheets and plotting beforehand really helps me keep up the pace. That way, I don’t waste valuable words explaining settings and characters… Which I used to do ALL of the time. Instead, I let the characters interact with the scenery as they move on to the next beat.

5. You have a full-time job. What’s your writing schedule like and how do you complete your manuscripts fast enough when you have another career?

Fun fact: I also have a one-year-old daughter, so the past year has been… interesting. Honestly, I have no idea how I’ve gotten through. I imagine it has been some combination of coffee, therapy, and a strict weekend writing schedule. ;)

Your Road to Publication

6. What was your road to publication like?

The most interesting aspect of my road to publication was that I originally wrote my novel as YA! When I queried, I had a relatively “good” request rate, but many agents said they couldn't see where the novel would fit in the market. Fortunately, I ended up with two offers of representation anyway! The agent I decided to work with, Adriann Zurhellen, had a fantastic editorial vision for my story and suggested I age Cassidy down and tweak the novel to middle grade. Lo and behold, something clicked! I’d been a middle grade writer in disguise the whole time.

7. That’s great that you were flexible enough to switch from YA to middle grade. How did your editor help you strengthen your story? What did you learn about the craft of writing from working with your editor?

My editor, Emilia Rhodes, really is a rockstar. She has the innate ability to see the diamond in the rough. I *thought* my novel was pretty polished by the time it hit her desk, but it didn’t have the sparkle it has now. She guided me to streamline the story and eliminate plot threads that didn’t need to be there. At the same time, she helped me breathe life into the social dynamics at work during the brief “down times” within the race. So… what did I learn? A whole heck of a lot.

Marketing

8. What are you planning to do to promote your book and celebrate its release?

I’ve been sending bookplates and bookmarks to any indie who will take them. (Hey, indie bookstores: Do you want bookplates? Let’s connect!) I’m also celebrating my launch at a fantastic Houston indie, Blue Willow Bookshop. There will be books. There will be cookies. And maybe—just maybe— there will be a LARGE INFLATABLE DRAGON.

I also have dragon-y events planned in Dallas, Arlington, Plano, Denton, San Antonio. Check out my website for more info!

9. How are you using Twitter and Instagram to connect with readers, teachers, and librarians?

For me, it’s all about hashtags and forming meaningful digital relationships with readers and writers who love MG. The outpouring of support, especially from teachers, indies, and librarians, has also been so lovely and unexpected. But our 2023 debut class has been critical in amplifying content. Both @2023debuts and the brilliant middle grade debut authors at @MGin23 are always ready and willing to boost the signal, share the love, and spread the word!

10. What are you working on now?

My next book was just announced last week! Tentatively called The Marfa Monster Mystery, it’s about a 13-year-old half-siren and her friends solving a mystery in the hopes of saving their monster-friendly community from the human skeptics. It’s also set in Texas (because I just can’t help myself) and features a Vintage Trailer Park Inn for Monsters. Yeehaw!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Kacy. You can find Kacy at https://www.kcritter.com/, https://twitter.com/KC_Ritter, and https://www.instagram.com/kc_ritter/.

Giveaway Details

Kacy is generously offering a pre-order of The Great Texas Dragon Race for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 15th. 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 Kacy 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.

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

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

FYI, I do not have as much planned this summer. I’m taking a little break to enjoy my daughter’s wedding celebrations and to help get ready for the wedding.

Monday, July 10 I have an interview with author Refe Tuma and a giveaway of his MG adventure story Frances and the Monster

Saturday, July 15 I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 25 I have an agent spotlight interview with Danielle Hunter and a query critique giveaway

Tuesday, August 1 I’m participating in the Apple a Day Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, August 2 I have an interview with debut author Vanessa Montalban and a giveaway of her YA contemporary fantasy A Tall Dark Promise

Monday, August 7 I have an agent spotlight interview with Jane Chun and a query critique giveaway

Wednesday, August 16 I’m participating in the Old School Giveaway Hop

Hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Saturday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're having a good summer. I am. I'm hosting my daughter's wedding shower next weekend, and my birthday is coming up on July 15th. I'm busy getting ready for the shower today and having lunch with two cousins.

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card

 I am offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon. 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.


Here are some new books being released that you might want to consider.









If you don't want a book, I'm offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


Giveaway Details

To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by July 15th telling me whether you want a book, and if so, which one, or the Amazon gift card and your email address. Be sure to include your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites 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. only and the Amazon gift card giveaway is International.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Wednesday, July 7 I have an interview with debut author Kacy Ritter and a giveaway of her MG contemporary fantasy The Great Texas Dragon Race and my IWSG post

Monday, July 10 I have an interview with author Refe Tuma and a giveaway of his MG adventure story Frances and the Monster

Saturday, July 15 I’m participating in the Sip Sip Hooray Giveaway Hop

Monday, July 25 I have an agent spotlight interview with Danielle Hunter and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

And here are all the blogs participating in this blog hop:



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