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.

Author Interview: Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and Ruptured Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have Joanne Rossmassler Fritz back to share about her new MG novel in verse Ruptured. Joanne’s debut MG book was Everywhere Blue, a beautiful novel in verse dealing with a mystery about how Maddie’s older brother disappeared. I interviewed Joanne when her book was released, and here’s the link to her interview. I’m especially excited to read Ruptured because this topic hits home. My daughter and I had to navigate my late husband’s near-death experiences more than once, and I wish I had this book to share with my daughter back then.

Here's a blurb from Goodreads:

Is it wrong to grieve for someone who is still alive?

Claire's mom and dad don't talk to each other much anymore. And they definitely don't laugh or dance the way they used to. Their tense, stilted stand offs leave thirteen-year-old Claire, an only child, caught in the middle. So when the family takes their annual summer vacation, Claire sticks her nose in a book and hopes for the best. Maybe the sunshine and ocean breeze will fix what's gone wrong.

But while the family is away, Claire's mother has a ruptured brain aneurysm--right after she reveals a huge secret to Claire. Though she survives the rupture, it seems like she is an entirely different person. Claire has no idea if her mom meant what she said, or if she even remembers saying it. With the weight of her mom's confession on her shoulders, Claire must navigate fear, grief, and prospects for recovery.

Will her mom ever be the same? Will her parents stay together? And if the answer to either question is yes, how will Claire learn to live with what she knows? This beautifully written novel speaks to kids' fears and credits their strength, and stems from the author's incredible experience surviving two ruptured aneurysms.

Hi Joanne! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Tell us how you became a writer and what it was like to be a debut author.

Hi Natalie! Thank you so much for having me back. Like many writers, I spent years reading widely, and realized while I was still in school that I wanted to write books like the ones I loved. But it took me a very long time to get there! I spent many years trying to write picture books, and essays and short stories, before finally turning to novels after my first brain aneurysm rupture. And it took me more than ten years of writing novels to get an agent and then an offer from a traditional publisher.

I loved being a debut author. A lot of it was confusing, I’ll admit, and publishing can be a brutal business, but most of it was wonderful! What surprised me the most was how close I became to some of my fellow 21ders, my debut author group.

2. That’s great that you enjoyed your debut year. Where did you get the idea for Ruptured?

I’m a survivor of two ruptured brain aneurysms, twelve years apart. Yes, I’m very lucky! But most people don’t realize only about half of those ruptures lead to death. The other half survive! We may have some deficits, but they’re mostly inside, where you can’t see them. Ever since my first rupture in 2005, I looked for a kids’ book where the mother lives after a brain aneurysm rupture, instead of dying, as so many of them do in fiction. Eventually, I realized I needed to write it myself.

About Your Writing Process

3. How long did it take you to write and revise Ruptured before submitting it to your editor? What advice do you have for other writers who have to learn to write a manuscript on a publishing deadline?

Ruptured, as my second book, was different from the first, which took four and a half years to write before I ever got the agent. My wonderful editor, Sally Morgridge at Holiday House, offered me a contract this time based on a proposal and the first very rough 5000 words of a verse novel which I had started in April 2021. It was so rough I’m embarrassed that I ever showed it to her. But Sally saw something there, a spark of an idea, that she thought could become a novel. I don’t recommend submitting a rough, unfinished novel to anyone, but luckily, she gave me some pointers and four months to finish the rough draft. I finished it in October 2021. Then we spent all of 2022 revising. By the fourth draft (the one you’ll read), we had a finished novel that is very different from that first terrible rough draft!

4. It’s great to hear that your editor worked with you for so long on your edits. Ruptured is in part drawn on your own experiences surviving two aneurysms. How did you make this Claire’s story and not yours?

Excellent question, Natalie! It was hard. There were times I started to stray into an autobiographical tone, and Sally would nudge me back. But by inventing the Sloan family in the first place, and writing from Claire’s POV, it gave me the distance I needed to write the story as a story, not a memoir. In real life, I don’t have a daughter. I have two grown sons. And my own family is very different from Claire’s family.

5. I love the first line of the blurb: “Is it wrong to grieve for someone who is still alive?” How did you come up with it? What’s your advice on creating captivating sentences like this one in your blurb?

I wish I could give you advice for that, but that tagline was the very first sentence I wrote. Originally that was how the story started, followed by a few lines like “This is a story/about a girl/ and a mother/and a father.” Those lines were quickly axed, but I liked the first line so much I asked Sally if we could use it as a tagline. I think that line encapsulated all the pent-up feelings I had held inside about my second rupture and how I learned from my family that I’d been out of my mind for six months. I have no memory of Sept 29, 2017 to early April 2018. If I was to try to give advice to writers about coming up with captivating sentences, I’d say go with your gut and your emotions and let it spill out into words.

Your Road to Publication

6. You had a literary agent who left agenting, and now you are unrepresented. How has it been entering into a publishing contract and navigating all the business aspects of your contract? What advice do you have for other writers wanting to submit to publishers directly?

It was quite different! Luckily, Holiday House is friendly to unagented authors. And in my case, Sally offered me almost exactly the same contract that I’d had with Everywhere Blue. Very little changed. It also happened just three weeks after the publication of that first novel! I didn’t have much time to worry about it, to be honest. I was floored that they would make an offer like that, and of course thrilled. As for advice for other writers, do your research into the publishers that accept unagented submissions. There are quite a few. Bitsy Kemper has a list. But please be respectful: these publishers get a lot of slush pile stuff. Try not to overwhelm them. And don’t nudge them to ask if they’ve read it yet! Be patient.

7. That’s great advice and thanks for the link to Bitsy’s list. Share some tips you’ve learned from getting published the first time that you used in working with your editor on this book.

I knew from working on Everywhere Blue that Sally is very good at what she does, and I should probably just listen to her! However, I did occasionally disagree with her during revisions this time. For instance, I insisted on one minor thing about describing the rupture itself. When Mom grabs her head and moans about the pain and the pressure, Sally wanted to delete the lines about pressure. I had to insist that the pressure inside her head was just as important as the pain. Any brain aneurysm rupture survivor will tell you that!

Promoting Your Book

8. What would you have done differently in terms of developing a social media platform and marketing your debut book now that you’ve gone through the experience of being a debut author? What advice on this do you have for authors who will debut in the next year?

I already had one social media platform and added Instagram before my debut. I believe I did all that was possible, considering my health and my family obligations. A good publisher does a lot of the marketing and publicity for MG books, even if it’s things we don’t see because they’re aimed mostly at schools and libraries. So I don’t know what I would have done differently, other than try to relax and enjoy it more! And that would be my main advice to authors: you only get one debut. Try to savor it. Another small piece of advice: Expect the unexpected! Realize that something will inevitably go wrong, whether it’s a terrible typo in your book, or an error on the copyright page, or people getting your title wrong. Try to accept the things you can’t change and move on.

9.  I really like your tip to relax and enjoy it. How are your marketing plans for Ruptured different from for Everywhere Blue? Why did you make these changes?

I’m not doing as many interviews/guest posts as I did for Everywhere Blue. This is more because of my family situation (my husband has cancer, so I need to be here for him, and not be spending all my time on marketing my own book). I’m also not sure all those interviews I did for the first book led to many sales, anyway!

10. I’m sorry to hear about your husband, but I’m glad you’re keeping your focus on him. What are you working on now?

I really can’t talk about it because it’s not very far along. I have a character and a setting but no real story problem yet! It’s living in my head at the moment.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Joanne.

Thanks for having me, Natalie!

You can find Joanne at www.joannerossmasslerfritz.com 

@JoanneRFritz on X/Twitter

@joannerossfritz on Instagram

Giveaway Details

Joanne’s publisher is generously offering a hardback of Ruptured 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 December 31st. 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 Joanne 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

Monday, January 1st I’m participating in the New Year New You Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 3rd I have an interview with debut author Mary Averling and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Curse of Eelgrass Bog and my IWSG post

Monday, January 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Leah Moss and a query critique giveaway

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

Monday, January 22nd I have an interview with debut author Anthony Nerada and a giveaway of his YA contemporary Skater Boy

Monday, January 29th I have a guest post by author Shutta Crum

Wednesday, January 31st I I have an agent spotlight interview with Laura Gruska and a query critique giveaway

Happy Holidays! I hope to see you on Monday, January 1!


Dashing December Giveaway Hop



Happy Saturday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you’re all going to take some time to relax and enjoy the holiday season, whatever holidays you celebrate. It’s hard to believe that it’s the end of the year.

Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

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

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 December 31st telling me how you plan to spend 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 is an International giveaway.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, December 20th I have an interview with author Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Ruptured

Monday, January 1st I’m participating in the New Year New You Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 3rd I have an interview with debut author Mary Averling and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Curse of Eelgrass Bog and my IWSG post

Monday, January 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Leah Moss and a query critique giveaway

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

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.

Literary Agent Interview: Ashley Reisinger Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Ashley Reisinger here. She is an assistant literary agent at TriadaUS Literary Agency.

Hi­ Ashley! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Ashley:

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

I had been involved in the writing community for a number of years before making the pivot to agenting. The more I learned about the industry, and about what a literary agent is and does, the more interested I became. An internship with Triada further solidified my desire to champion and represent authors, and early 2023 I was officially brought on as an Assistant Literary Agent. I’ve been building my client list in Adult, YA, and MG ever since, and am excited to continue doing so.  

About the Agency:

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

Triada US represents a wide variety of fiction and nonfiction from picture books through adult and is committed to providing quality representation to our clients. Some Triada authors include the NYT bestselling Chloe Gong, Olivie Blake, Hannah Nicole Maehrer, Adiba Jaigirdar, and Sayantani DasGupta.

 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 primarily represent MG and YA. In MG, I am interested in contemporary narratives that tackle meaningful topics, explore themes of belonging and friendship, and/or touch on the awkwardness of first crushes. I am also interested in spooky MG, fantasy, and magical-academy type stories. Across the board, I love a fun, quirky, and/or snarky voice in MG.

In YA, I’m particularly interested in romcoms with lots of heart and a strong hook. I can also be enticed by the odd spec fic (I love horror and contemporary fantasy).

Anything a little bit genre-blendy, I’m always here for. Contemporary fantasy with a mystery or puzzle involved? Romance with a speculative twist? Thriller with a sci-fi element? Yes, yes, and yes!

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

While I’m picky about my spec fic tastes, I love a good ghost story done in a fresh or unexpected way. I also really enjoy when a horror concept is a little bit meta or satirical. In addition, I adore a contemporary fantasy that skews a bit spookier.

On the flip side, I love the pure escapism of a voicey romcom that makes me laugh out loud (and maybe cringe a little with second-hand embarrassment too).

What She Isn’t Looking For:

5. What types of submissions are you not interested in?

I try not to have hard “no’s” about anything, because you never know what you’ll end up falling in love with, but there are a few things I’ll say I tend not to be the right fit for:

-high fantasy

-high sci-fi

-historical fiction

-dystopian

-animal protagonists

-“sick lit”

-stories that center eating disorders, self-harm, or sexual assault

-teen pregnancies

-horse stories

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?

As a whole, I want to work with authors on books that meaningfully reflect the world—particularly underrepresented voices and experiences.

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 really enjoy the editorial side of things, and tend to put manuscripts through revisions and edits before putting them on submission. The scope of this, of course, will vary depending on the project, but by and large, this is a stage of the process I like to be quite involved in as I find revisions a little bit magic.

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?

Authors can query me via my email (ashley@triadaus.com) with the first 10 pages of their manuscript and the word “query” somewhere in the subject line. I don’t require a synopsis and won’t typically read one if it’s provided.

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

My biggest thing is when submission guidelines aren’t followed. While I don’t mind if people forget to send pages so follow up with an email including them, or if a little bit more or less than ten pages is included to complete a scene or thought, it makes it very difficult for me when people don’t send pages at all, send the first three chapters instead of the first ten pages, don’t include a query, don’t include the word “query” in the subject line (so it gets misfiltered in my emails), etc. The submission doesn’t have to be perfect, and if I can tell an author was sincerely trying to follow guidelines but maybe just missed something, that doesn’t bother me at all. But it often creates a lot more work for me when guidelines aren’t followed, so I dislike it when this is done intentionally.     

Response Time:

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

I typically respond to a query within 2 weeks, and to pages within 4-8 weeks where possible. There are times (when I’m really swamped, have a ton of fulls I’ve requested, am getting a lot of offer of rep notifications and have to shuffle things around, and/or am really mulling) where this may be longer, but it’s the aim to respond before 8 weeks—particularly while I’m still newer in the industry and have the ability to get back more quickly.  

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?

Definitely! In terms of advice, I feel—the same as with other querying writers—it just comes down to making sure your submission materials are on point. That said, I think it helps to be clear what you’re looking for in an agent as you navigate the query trenches if you have previously self-pubbed or published with a smaller press. I.e.: are you shifting to trad publishing completely, do you want a hybrid career, are you self-publishing a certain genre and looking at traditionally publishing another, do you want to continue subbing to smaller presses and/or continue to publish with the smaller press you’ve already worked with, etc.? Also, personally, if the self-published or small-press works are published in a wildly different genre than what’s being queried (particularly if it’s a genre I don’t rep), I like to have some idea if the intention is to continue writing in that genre for trad as that may help determine if I’m the right fit or not. It doesn’t mean it’s an automatic “no” from me if the author wants to shift their audience from indie to trad with a genre I don’t typically represent, but it’s something I feel is worth knowing and potentially discussing further if I end up loving the submission materials.

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?

I’m not sure if I’d say it’s changing, per se—an agent’s role is still to represent their clients well and advocate for their best interests, and while this may look a little different for a hybrid author than a traditional author, or for a self-published author looking to retain print rights but sell audio and foreign, etc., I think the role of the agent is still largely unchanged. They’re a partner and an advocate to help make decisions for your career, and they’re there to have the connections and know the intricacies of the market they’re exploring for their client.        

Clients:

13. Who are some of the authors you represent?

While I am just starting to build my list, one of my wonderful clients includes Jackie Morera whose debut PB, Abuelo’s Flower Shop, comes out in 2024!

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.

Interviews:

https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/2023/06/23/agent-of-the-month-ashley-reisinger/

https://www.chapter-break.com/p/celebrate-every-success-and-send

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please query me at ashley@triadaus.com with the query and first 10 pages. My wishlist and sub guidelines can be found on the Triada website (triadaus.com/agents). I can also be found on Twitter (@awritesinger) and Instagram (@a.writesinger).

Additional Advice:

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

I am the eternal advocate for remembering to celebrate your successes. It’s so easy in this industry to get caught up in the comparison game and to forget how incredible everything you’re accomplishing is. Writing a book is huge, sending your first query is a big step, putting your work out there is so brave, working to self-publish is impressive, getting representation is exciting! Just because you’re maybe not published (yet), or haven’t made the NYT (yet), or aren’t hitting the same lists as those in your community (yet), doesn’t make what you’ve accomplished any less remarkable. Mark milestones, celebrate each step, and remember to be proud of yourself.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Ashley.

Giveaway Details

­Ashley 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 December 31st. If your email 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 follow me on Twitter or 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 email 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.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Saturday, December 16th I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 20th I have an interview with author Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Ruptured

Monday, January 1st I’m participating in the New Year New You Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 3rd I have an interview with debut author Mary Averling and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Curse of Eelgrass Bog and my IWSG post

Monday, January 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Leah Moss and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Saturday!

Let It Snow Giveaway Hop

 

Happy Thursday Everyone! Today I'm thrilled to be participating in the Let it Snow Giveaway Hop hosted by The Mommy Island and The Kids Did It. I hope you’re having a good December and are excited about the holidays. I’m looking forward to having a good holiday with my family. I’m grateful we get to spend it together.

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.

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 December 28th 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

Monday, December 11th I have an agent spotlight interview with Ashley Reisinger and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, December 16th I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 20th I have an interview with author Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Ruptured

Monday, January 1st I’m participating in the New Year New You Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 3rd I have an interview with debut author Mary Averling and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Curse of Eelgrass Bog and my IWSG post

Monday, January 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Leah Moss and a query critique giveaway

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

Hope to see you on Monday!

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


How Your Writing Community Fertilizes Your Writing by Dana VanderLugt and Enemies in the Orchard Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Dana VanderLugt to share about her MG historical novel in verse, Enemies in the Orchard. It sounds like a fascinating WWII story and I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

 

Set against the backdrop of WWII, this achingly beautiful middle grade novel in verse based on American history presents the dual perspectives of Claire, a Midwestern girl who longs for college even as she worries for her soldier brother, and Karl, a German POW who’s processing the war as he works on Claire’s family farm. This poignant and moving story of an unlikely connection will stay with readers long after the final page.

It’s October 1944, and while Claire’s older brother, Danny, is off fighting in World War II, her dad hires a group of German POWs to help with the apple harvest on their farm. Claire wants nothing to do with the enemies in the orchard, until she begins to notice soft-spoken, hardworking Karl. Could she really have something in common with a German soldier?

Karl, meanwhile, grapples with his role in the war as he realizes how many lies Hitler’s regime has spread. But his encounters with Claire—the serious girl with gentle eyes—give him hope that he can change and become the person he wants to be.

Inspired by the little-known history of POW labor camps in the United States, this lyrical verse novel is told in alternating first-person poems by two young people on opposite sides of the war. Against a vivid backdrop of home front tensions and daily life, intimate entries reveal Claire’s and Karl's hopes and struggles, and their growing attraction to each other even as the war rages on. What are their chances of connection, of redemption, of peace?

 


Before I get to Mackenzie’s guest post, 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:  C. Lee McKenzie, JQ Rose, Jennifer Lane, and Jacqui Murray!

Optional Question: Book reviews are for the readers. When you leave a book reviews do you review for the Reader or the Author? Is it about what you liked and enjoyed about your reading experience, or do you critique the author?

I write reviews to support authors but write them for readers. I only review books I like because I don’t want to be unsupportive of authors. I don’t have time to write lengthy reviews. I only write a few sentences highlighting what I liked about the book. Sometimes I just rate them.

I have good news to share. In November, I reached 10 million page views. I'm really happy that so many followers are visiting Literary Rambles even if fewer people are stopping by and commenting on blog posts. I'm very grateful that so many people hopefully find Literary Rambles a helpful resource in their writing journey and to discover and support authors.

Follower News

 

I’m including Follower News in my IWSG post today. C. Lee McKenzie has a new YA release, Rattlesnake. Here’s a blurb: The desert town of Rattlesnake isn’t a destination. It’s a last resort. When Jonah's sure nothing can become worse, he discovers Catherine who’s been dead for over a hundred year. Now, she needs his help. And here are a few links: Website and Amazon

Now here’s Dana!

How Your Writing Community Fertilizes Your Writing

In 2018, I made the leap and began a low-residency writing program. During my first weekend of my first residency, I remember sitting around a table to introduce myself to other new students. We were asked to share a bit about our backgrounds and what had brought us there. Ranging from 20-something to 70-something, we had a diverse set of stories, experiences, and goals. But the one unifying characteristic was that each of us was committed to taking our writing lives more seriously. One person made a joke that she was willing to pay a lot of money to make someone do what she sometimes wanted to do and sometimes really wanted to avoid: write.

I understood this. I was a middle-school teacher and mom to three kids ages 12 and under. Part of the reason I entered a writing program was for its accountability. I deeply desired to write a book, but I knew that was less likely to happen under conditions that were self-imposed and based solely on my own willpower. I knew the burden of deadlines, something that many people are glad to leave behind when they finish school, were just what I needed again.

I completed a manuscript while in my MFA program, which became my novel, Enemies in the Orchard: A World War 2 Novel in Verse, that was published this fall. The enormous gift of mentorship and accountability that allowed me to make my writing a priority is not something I take for granted. And while I learned much in my MFA program about craft and technique, perhaps the bigger gift I was given was the relationships that apprenticed me in how to make writing a life rhythm. While the act of writing is often a solitary practice, words blossom and grow with the fertilizer of a community who provides encouragement, accountability, and necessary nudging.

I have a friend who started as a classmate—we now call each other writing soulmates—who meets me at my computer, via email, every morning. Because of the pandemic, we spent only two residencies together in person. We haven’t seen each other in person for more than four years, and yet we’ve walked together through early drafts, revisions, rejections, and the ups and downs of publishing. We also have journeyed through two cancer diagnoses, job changes, grief, and joy. We applaud each other’s messy drafts, are overly dramatic about the injustices of our setbacks, and exuberantly joyful at each other’s successes. She has earned the right to give me advice and to nag me when I’m procrastinating.

Students often ask me for writing advice, and I tell them to find others who like to write and share their work. But I know this is not simple. Pursuing relationships with other writers, joining writing groups, and being vulnerable enough to show up for workshops is not easy. Finding just the right partner whose life and writing style fits well enough to provide a symbiotic relationship involves equal parts coincidence and grace.

 In Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life, Dani Shapiro writes about having a tribe. “I’ve never really understood competition and envy among writers,” she says. “We are competing with ourselves—not each other…We realize that we are part of the same species and that we need one another to survive. Though we write our books alone, ultimately everything we do involves some collaboration. Every good book you’ll ever read has the thumbprints of other writers all over it.”

When I stand in front of audiences to talk about my process or read excerpts, I’m aware of all the thumbprints on my work. I see the purple pen of my mentor who prodded me to delete every unnecessary word. I see the exclamation-mark laded email of my writing soulmate after I worked up the confidence to write a scene I was avoiding. I see the pages and pages of research provided by my go-to historian. I feel the prodding of my editor whose wise questions pushed me just a bit further with character development. And I remember my dad’s voice, whose family stories planted the novel’s earliest seeds.

I call my school presentations “From Seed to Story,” and talk to students about the way a story idea is like an apple seed that is planted, which given time, attention, and pruning, can eventually grow into a tree that produces a harvest.

My dad, the apple farmer, uses fertilizer. He tells people that if he didn’t, they wouldn’t want to eat, or even look at, the apples he’d produce. My community, all those whose thumbprints I see all over my new novel, are my fertilizers. Without them, there would be no harvest.

Thanks for sharing your advice, Dana. You can find Dana at:

Dana’s website: https://danavanderlugt.com/

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danavanderlugtwriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/danavanderlugt

Giveaway Details

Dana is generously offering a hardback of Enemies in the Orchard 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 December 16th. 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 Dana 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, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Tomorrow I'm participating in the Let It Snow Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 11th I have an agent spotlight interview with Ashley Reisinger and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, December 16th I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 20th I have an interview with author Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Ruptured

Monday, January 1st I’m participating in the New Year New You Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, January 3rd I have an interview with debut author Mary Averling and a giveaway of her MG fantasy The Curse of Eelgrass Bog and my IWSG post

Monday, January 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Leah Moss and a query critique giveaway

Hope to see you on Monday!

Holly Jolly Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Friday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Holly Jolly Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you had a good Thanksgiving and have lots to be thankful for. I had a great Thanksgiving, and I’m grateful for so much this year. And I’m getting holiday shopping, which is always fun.

And I have good news to share. In November, I reached 10 million page views. I'm really happy that so many followers are visiting Literary Rambles even if fewer people are stopping by and commenting on blog posts. I'm very grateful that so many people hopefully find Literary Rambles a helpful resource in their writing journey and to discover and support authors.

I’ve got a lot of exciting newly released MG and YA book choices this month that you might like. You can also choose another book in the series by these authors. You can find descriptions of these books on Goodreads. Here are your choices:







If you haven't found a book you want, you can win 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 December 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, December 6th I have a guest post by debut author Dana VanderLugt and a giveaway of her MG historical Enemies in the Orchard

Thursday, December 7th I’m participating in the Let It Snow Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 11th I have an agent spotlight interview with Ashley Reisinger and a query critique giveaway

Saturday, December 16th I’m participating in the Dashing December Giveaway Hop

Monday, December 20th I have an interview with author Joanne Rossmassler Fritz and a giveaway of her MG contemporary Ruptured

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

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: