Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Hillary Fazzari Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 4/22/2024
  • Miriam Cortinovis Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/6/2024
  • Jenniea Carter Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 5/8/2024
  • 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 6/24/2024

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.

Ten Tips for Debut Authors by Agent Rachel Orr and Author Cathy Carr and Lost Kites and Other Treasures Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m thrilled to have author Cathy Carr and her agent Rachel Orr here to share their tips for debut authors to celebrate the release of Cathy’s new MG contemporary Lost Kites and Other Treasures. It sounds like a fantastic story that really nails the complexities of family dynamics and is a real page-turner. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads: 

Cathy Carr’s Lost Kites and Other Treasures is a moving and heartfelt middle-grade novel about mental illness, the transformative power of art, and the ever-changing complications and joys of family life.

Twelve-year-old Franny Petroski never lets anyone know how often she thinks of the charismatic, troubled mom who left her years ago—any more than she talks about the unaccountable things Mom did while she was still in the picture. Life with Nana is safe and secure, and Franny’s innovative art projects fill in any lonesome times.

But when Nana has an accident and Franny’s estranged uncle comes home to help out for a while, some long-guarded family secrets come to light. Franny has to use all of her courage, as well as all of her creativity, to come to terms with the discoveries she makes about her mother—and herself.

 

Ten Tips for Debut Authors

First off, who are Cathy Carr and Rachel Orr?

Cathy is the author. She was born in western Nebraska and grew up in Wisconsin. Since high school, she has lived in four different US states, plus overseas, and worked a variety of jobs, from burger flipping to technical writing. Wherever she goes, her observations of the natural world give her inspiration. Her first book, 365 Days to Alaska, was called “a wonderful debut novel about compassion, belonging, and finding your way home” by Lynne Kelly, author of Song for a Whale. 365 Days to Alaska was a Junior Library Guild selection and chosen for Bank Street’s Best Children’s Books of the Year. Carr now lives in the New Jersey suburbs with her family and two scrappy cats.

Rachel is the agent. Prior to joining Prospect Agency in 2007, she worked as an editor at HarperCollins Children's Books. Because of her editorial background, Rachel continues to do a lot of hands-on work with her clients before sending their projects out on submission. As a literary agent, Rachel loves working with clients who come from diverse backgrounds and have fresh perspectives to offer readers.

Cathy’s literary debut, 365 Days to Alaska, left her with some firm ideas about what fledgling writers needed to know about their literary debuts. Rachel also had plenty of ideas to share based on her experience working with debut creators. So, without further ado, let’s get cracking with their 10 Tips for Literary Debuts.

#1: Get ready for all the feels!

Cathy:

You've fulfilled a hard-won dream, a major life goal. Your first book is coming out. It’s on your publisher’s list, you’ve finally seen your name in places like Publishers Marketplace and Publisher’s Weekly. Kind of like getting into Studio 54 back in the 1970s. Or maybe even a backstage pass for a Beyoncé concert. You can barely believe this has happened. But now that it has, be prepared for uncertainty, anxiety, anger, a fair dash of envy (more on that later), and even some ennui. These are all normal feelings to have. You can't control having them--but you can control how to respond to them.

Rachel:

Well, Cathy, I don’t really know much about either Studio 54 or Beyoncé, but I do know that many creators (especially debuts) tend to get the Pub Day Blues. They wake up that morning, expecting the day to be dramatically different from every other day before it, and yet. . . they still have to put on clothes and maybe pack lunches and (God forbid!) go into the office if they have a day job. Just like everyone else who has never even written a book! But it’s important to make it a point to celebrate, too. (More on that later!)

#2: Find communities.

Cathy:

Debut groups, which are full of first-time authors who band together to support each other, can be super helpful to a new author. There are also communities like kidlit411.com and the many different groups SCBWI creates and promotes. Look around and see what’s there. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow authors if they know of any supportive groups open to new members.

There are also your friends from your writing workshops, your old friends from college, that high-school alumni group you joined on Facebook—all of these communities can be helpful and supportive when your book comes out. Don’t discount your non-writer friends. Many of them will be thrilled that you are publishing a book, and happy to support you.

Writers, this is no time to give in to our inner introverts, the ones that help us stay focused when we’re doing the actual writing. Get out there and get involved. Be kind to other people in the writing community. Not just writers and readers. Librarians, teachers, agents, and editors: they’re part of our world too. Offer suggestions and support. Boost their social media posts. You might be pleasantly surprised at how many of them are willing to do the same for you. And you may also be surprised at how many of your fellow authors will remember a year or two later—to the letter—the people who gave them reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, and the people who forgot or were too busy to get that done.

Rachel:

Yes, exactly! And don’t forget about your agency family, either. At Prospect, we work hard to create and nurture a sense of community among our clients, and I know many other agencies do as well. I believe that you’ve been in touch with several other Prospect writers, Cathy, and that you frequently promote each other’s work on social media. Many other Prospect clients have already started pulling together a promotional group for their 2025 releases that will involve sharing cover reveals, book birthdays, reviews, and good news. That’s really smart (and really thinking ahead, too. I don’t know what I’m making for dinner tomorrow, let alone what I’ll be doing in 2025!).

Cathy:

Mike Ciccotello was the first person who told me we were “agency family,” because we were both at Prospect Agency. I had never heard of that concept, and it was such a relief to know that more experienced writers had my back. When you have that attitude of community in your literary agency, it’s the ultimate cozy feeling.

#3: Be thoughtful about your social media presence.

Cathy:

Most publishers now expect you to have an active social media presence. (Some even require it. You might find it in your contract.) So figure out now which platforms you're most comfortable with, and start establishing a coherent presence on the ones you prefer. Get in the habit of posting frequently. It’s also the moment to get your website ready for prime time. Your website doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It’s more important for it to be coherent, well organized, and up to date. It’s very easy to let a website get “dusty,” as the publicists say. But try not to bite off more than you can chew. It's easy to imagine you can send a monthly newsletter or blog frequently, but my experience is not many people keep that up long term.

Rachel:

I totally concur! As you said, it’s important to pick the platform that works the best for you. But, also, just remember that there is no substitute for writing a good book. That should always remain your top priority.

#4: Get organized.

Cathy:  

Early on, make a list of everything you need to get done and when it needs to be finished. Make sure deadlines for interviews and articles all go on your calendar. Don't be late with your promised responses or ask for extensions. Update your website and order your swag. It may seem overwhelming, but just remember that you eat an elephant bite by bite. Also remember that time and effort you spend on book promotion is time spent on your literary career.

Rachel:

Yes, book promotion is an important investment, and shows that you’re taking yourself seriously as an author. After all, once you’ve written a good book, you want people to know about it. So carve out the time in your schedule to make that happen, and give yourself permission to take those necessary steps to further your career. It’s not wasting time; it’s time well spent.

#5: Guard your time and money. Think about what’s really going to move the needle.

Cathy:

Getting a book advance is exciting. Perhaps, like me, you spent years submitting to literary magazines that paid in copies. Now all of a sudden there’s money from a publishing house deposited in your bank account. Now that it’s there, let’s not be in a rush to spend it all at once. (Sorry for sounding like your parents, or your tax accountant.)

If ordering thematic stuffed animals and book-cover cookies for your swag completes your happiness, go for it. I once made an entire no-sew fleece blanket for a book giveaway, so I get it. But—be realistic about what's really going to move the needle in terms of sales and publicity. It worries me when I see authors ordering expensive swag like key chains or mugs, knowing that most folks will toss them straight into a drawer or the recycling bin. The simple old standards of bookmarks, postcards, and stickers are often the best. This isn’t just my opinion. Many of my librarian friends confirm that these simple items are the kids’ favorites. With that in mind, my personal rule is that all my swag should fit into a standard #10 envelope and mail with a Forever stamp.

There are other things people try that are often rarely worth the time and money. I’ve known some authors who have sent their swag postcards to every independent bookstore in the United States. Again, if this gives you joy and a sense of control, go ahead—but most bookstores rely on trade reviews to decide which books to stock. Your postcards might not make much of a difference, and the time and money they require may be better spent elsewhere. Like working on your next book.

I’d also like to mention professional publicists. You’re going to be hearing from some of them. I got several unsolicited emails. One guy actually got my home phone number and called more than once. I admired his enterprise, although he didn’t get the title of my book right. Some of these publicists will promise amazing things. Let me be clear: publicists can be great. I have one I consult occasionally. She gives me advice on the stuff I should be doing to publicize my book and how to establish an appropriate, professional online presence. I feel as if she’s worth every penny. But if I was going to pay for a publicity package of $10,000 or $15,000 (and, yes, I know of writers who have done this) I would want to know exactly what I was likely to gain in exchange for that money. To be clear, at most of the usual royalty rates you’d need to sell around 5,000 books to make $10,000 back. That’s a lot of books.

Okay, so what does seem to make a difference? School visits! If you can develop a good school visit, and get out there regularly, they can move the needle in terms of sales. And the money you charge for those visits will come in handy too.

Rachel:

You can always feel free to ask your agent for publicity and marketing advice as well.  We can help you to decipher publishing marketing plans and offer wisdom as to how you might best promote your book. While we might not have all the answers, we can always do some asking around to find out. As your agent, we’re invested in helping you to build your career—and we’re always on your side.

#6: Vent away about the book business—but it might be better to vent to family and friends instead of the Internet.

Cathy: 

There's plenty to complain about in the publishing landscape today, from major chains dropping MG hardbacks to a lack of publicity from publishers to professionals who ghost us. However. . . please do consider seriously whether it's wise to complain about your advance, your publisher's publicity department, or your literary agency on social media for everyone to see. Remember that everyone at your agency and publishing house knows how to use the Internet, and they'll see your tossed-off complaints, and may take them really personally.

Rachel:

Exactly, Cathy! And just remember that your agent is a safe person to vent to (unless you’re venting about your agent, of course. Then, vent to your cat). Agents can also help you to discern whether you have a legitimate complaint (and what to do about it, if so) or if your frustration is something that is, unfortunately, commonplace in the publishing industry. (And maybe, in that case, there’s not much you can do about it. But, hey—don’t you feel better now that you’ve vented?)

#7: A thick skin can be useful.

Cathy:

Lately I’m grateful for my years in publishing when I sent out short stories to literary magazines. My record for rejections was 72 for one story. Why am I grateful for those years of repeated failure? Because they gave me the hide of a rhino.

You are going to reach out to a lot of people who decline to review your book on their popular Youtube channel or website. Most of them won't even bother to respond to your email. You are going to get negative reviews, some of which are stupid, and others of which really hurt. (It's hard to know which are worse.) People are going to say petty, unnecessary things to you about your book. I know someone who let me know she didn’t like the cover of Lost Kites and Other Treasures and Franny as a blonde was all wrong. So get ready for stuff like that. It’ll happen.

Rachel:

It’s definitely natural to feel the sting of rejection—but it also shows that you take pride in your work. It’s kind of like being nervous before a recital. If you didn’t get the pre-performance jitters it would mean that you didn’t care—which, of course, is not a good thing. But it’s also important to keep in mind that criticism is subjective (so, so subjective). Some professional reviewers seem to be more in the business of flaunting their own writing skills than giving useful feedback. Try the best you can to dismiss those hurtful jabs. However, if you’re getting the same criticism from several different sources, then you may want to start paying attention to those remarks. It might be good feedback that you could consider implementing in your next work.

#8: Get ready for visits from the green-eyed monster.

Cathy:

I'm talking about envy. It's one of the most common emotions for debut authors to feel, and not the prettiest one. Perhaps, as with so many other things, it's best to just accept its presence and move on.

As an author, you will always know people whose books have more reviews than yours on Goodreads, whose book gets four starred reviews while your book is having trouble scraping up any reviews at all, who get chosen for an interview in Horn Book or Publishers Weekly. This will not seem fair to you. Period. Just please understand that public envy is an ugly look. (I've had friends who dismissed envious social media posts as natural, but I've never seen anyone who really admired one or thought better of someone for posting it.) This is what your friends and family are for.

Rachel:

Yes, the hard truth about publishing (and life in general, really) is that there is always going to be someone who gets more recognition than you. But my advice would be to make your envy work for you, rather than against you. Use it as the fuel to help you focus on your own individual goals and keep your eye on the milestones you can control (finishing that next novel draft!) rather than the things you can’t (winning the Newbery). You’ll never be able to achieve that second goal without finishing that first.   

Cathy:

I love the idea of turning that envy into rocket fuel.

#9: Be yourself. Unleash your inner anchovy pizza.

Cathy:

When Lost Kites and Other Treasures came out, I posted a photograph of myself on social media that I honestly find embarrassing. I have a look of utter joy on my face, I'm holding Lost Kites up over my head, and my coat pockets are bulging in a weird way because my mittens are stuffed in them. I almost didn't post the picture¾but people loved it! So don't be afraid to express your real self¾your love of anchovy pizza, your extensive knowledge of top 40 hits, the picture of you when you were eight in awful eyeglasses with your hair flipped up on one side. Dance like no one's watching.

Rachel:

Have you been watching me dance, Cathy? Darn it! I thought no one had seen my killer Flashdance moves. Seriously though, genuineness is a highly likable trait, and one that kids (who are truly your main audience, lest we forget) especially value. Just think of the popularity of the BeReal app with teens. And they can spot a phony a mile away, which is why it’s all the more important to be yourself. (Speaking of, I’ve got to get back to my split leaps now. Where are my leg warmers?)

#10: Enjoy your debut!

Cathy:

It's so easy to forget this. So add it to your calendar. I'm serious about that. You've achieved a magnificent accomplishment, probably something you worked toward for years. Plan a great day for yourself. Treat yourself to some flowers, some good food, a long walk, or whatever you would enjoy the most. You did it!

Rachel:

You did do it. It’s a hard-won dream—and it’s certainly something to celebrate. You may just have to be intentional about it—just like you did this year when Lost Kites and Other Treasures came out, didn’t you?

CC: I did. We had pizza, wine, and Italian pastry—all on one fabulous weeknight. And I hope everyone with a book coming out this year has a debut day that gives them that much joy.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Cathy and Rachel. You can find Cathy at:

www.cathycarrwrites.com, Facebook at cathycarrwrites, and Twitter and Instagram @cathycarrwrites 

You can find Rachel at: https://www.prospectagency.com/ and Twitter @rachelprospect

Giveaway Details

Cathy is generously offering a hardback of Lost Kites and Other Treasures 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 6th. 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 Cathy 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 international.

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

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

Wednesday, April 3rd I have an interview with debut author Trish Lundy and a giveaway of her YA thriller The One That Got Away With Murder and my IWSG post

Monday, April 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Paula Weiman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Friday!

 

 

 

Literary Agent Interview: Stuti Telidevara Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Stuti Telidevara here. She is an associate literary agent at Park & Fine Literary and Media.

Hi­ Stuti! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Stuti:

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

When I signed up to be an English major, publishing was an industry that immediately jumped out to me. As a teen I always read the acknowledgments at the end of my favorite books to prolong the experience, and so I was aware of the role of a literary agent earlier than I might otherwise have been—and when I was first exploring publishing, my earliest internships were with agencies, first with Transatlantic and then with Raven Quill. Still, I wasn’t entirely sure that I didn’t want to be an editor instead, and a fantastic summer at Orbit Books at Hachette didn’t make the decision any easier. But when I started at Park & Fine in 2021, I was told I’d be convinced this was the path that was right for me—and I quite conclusively have been!

 In the nearly-three years since, I’ve learned the ropes alongside one of the agency’s partners and have helped support incredibly talented and bestselling authors. Now I’m looking to grow my own list of YA and adult fiction, with a special focus on genre. I bring a sharp editorial eye to every project I work on, and am lucky to have the support of a robust, experienced team at Park & Fine.

About the Agency:

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

Home to dozens of #1 New York Times bestsellers, Park & Fine Literary and Media is a literary agency designed to discover and support bestselling authors across categories and genres, who require a uniquely robust kind of representation. Park & Fine is independently funded and founded by Theresa Park and Celeste Fine. We recognize that authors are expected to do more than ever: write a great book, market to readers, and shine in media and on tour, all while composing their next bestseller. Our team brings unparalleled expertise to these conversations, drawing from backgrounds in editorial, law, sales, branding, international rights, and television and film.

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?

In kidlit (I work on adult fiction as well), my focus is on YA, but I am open to middle grade, where I’m only looking to take on select adventure and fantasy novels. I’m not looking for picture books or chapter books! Across all genres I am especially looking for books featuring marginalized perspectives.

In YA, my tastes lean speculative and I’m eager to find fresh, exciting new voices in fantasy (whether contemporary or second-world) and horror. I enjoy a sprawling, well-constructed setting, but I love to see that lived-in, imaginative backdrop even in a fantasy set in our world—I need the read to be truly transporting. I am a fan of an ensemble cast and multiple POVs, but I do want the stakes for each character to be abundantly clear from the outset, so that I’m invested right away. Some of my perennial faves are Legendborn, Strike the Zither, If You Could See the Sun, and House of Hollow. I prefer horror that is using genre in service of social commentary, and psychological over gory—though I’m not too squeamish! I’m less interested in slashers, unless they are in some way subversive.

I’m interested in mysteries and thrillers that come with a heavy dose of drama and/or darkness, and prefer to see these stories really delve deep into character. But by no means does this mean I don’t like humor in this space—I am a big Truly Devious fan, and I am always on the lookout for a Veronica Mars-esque novel.

In contemporary, voice is key, and I’m most excited by characters who leap off the page. I’ve always been drawn to protagonists who are troublemakers or “unlikeable” in whatever way. If a contemporary novel makes me laugh out loud and cry, then I’m sold!

In middle grade, I would love a propulsive, unusual fantasy premise, and also anything adventure-y in the vein of The Mysterious Benedict Society.

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

Absolutely! In no particular order:

·       Fantasy worlds influenced by real-life history, particularly outside of European history; I would love to see the accessible, hilarious voices of My Lady Jane or Gwen & Art Are Not in Love applied to less-(re)told histories and folktales

·       Myth-inspired fantasy that’s not Greek or Roman

·       South Asian fantasy, especially ones telling stories of marginalized perspectives within South Asia

·       School and/or university settings (a dash of magic is a plus)

·       Anything Austen-inspired

·       Contemporary stories centering a fun game or school tradition (like This May End Badly, or the game of assassins in P.S. I Still Love You)

What She Isn't Looking For:

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

As mentioned earlier, I’m not looking for anything younger than middle grade. I’m not a good fit for stories centering wholly around social issues, without any kind of genre element. I’m also not looking for MG historical fiction devoid of any genre elements—not YA, though, I would love something like The Davenports!

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 am looking for authors who are thinking big—both in terms of the scale and imagination they bring to their writing, and in terms of their ambitions for their career. Is there a niche they want to claim for themselves, or are they excited to write different kinds of books? They might not have an answer right away, but I enjoy starting to unearth how they consider their own careers over the course of editorial work and conversations. I am especially interested in books and authors who are adding something to the literary conversation—and diversifying 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?

Certainly—digging into a project editorially is one of my favorite things about this job. The process looks different for each book, as some require a bit more revision work to really sharpen the project, while others can be closer to ready. But I always want to make sure that the client and I are both confident in and happy with where the book is before it’s in an editor’s inbox. Every author will receive a robust editorial letter on the first draft we’re working on together, and the focus there is to spell out what I’m seeing in the manuscript—I think of it like holding up a mirror to the book. Is that reflection what the author was going for? Or do we now realize there’s places where we can push the manuscript a little further? At the same time, I’m not looking to upend the author’s own vision, and more often than not, an edit I suggest only prompts them to come up with something better. Usually we go through a couple more passes, depending on how long it takes for us all to feel really great about the manuscript. Then we do a line edit and clean-up to make sure the edits haven’t raised any continuity issues and we catch any little typos.

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?

I currently welcome queries only by email.

Please put "Stuti Telidevara" as well as the category and genre of your submission (i.e.: “Stuti Telidevara – YA Fantasy”) in the subject line of the email. Send your query letter and approximately the first 10 manuscript pages for MG/YA (OR 25 pages for adult manuscripts) to queries@parkfine.com in the body of the email. (No attachments, please!) I aim to respond to all queries within 12 weeks of receiving them.

I wrote a Substack post about the nuts and bolts of query letters, as well as some do’s and don’ts. But all a query letter (to me) needs is the pitch itself and one line summarizing your bio. Don’t overburden it with a synopsis, and make sure you learn how to write the pitch in a query—it’s not the same as how you might verbally describe your book!

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

When the pitch isn’t actually a pitch, as mentioned—when it’s a synopsis, or a big paragraph of “this book is about” or “this book is for fans of.”

In first pages, I find it very disorienting when the query is organized around a character who doesn’t appear early on in the sample. If you have a prologue, I prefer that it’s short, and if for some reason your main character doesn’t appear in the first 10 pages…consider reorienting your query.

Response Time:

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

I aim to get back to queries within 12 weeks, and generally my passes are quicker than that. I try not to take longer than that to request a full manuscript, and have requested same-day fulls more than once. My maybe pile takes a while to parse through, and I wish that weren’t the case, but I hope authors understand that I’d rather fully consider a query than pass because I’m too rushed to read.

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, definitely! I would even add that I’m looking for authors who write online or in fan spaces—it’s its own little beast that comes with its own learning experiences, not just about writing but about self-promotion and cultivating readership. But I will say that those authors should be sure they want to delve into traditional publishing, and as with all my clients, I’m looking for writers who are seeking editorial feedback and partnership. 

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

I’ve sold a number of unannounced projects at this stage—that I can’t wait to talk about!—but among the books I have sold are QUEEN OF FACES by Petra Lord, a truly transcendental young adult fantasy about a trans girl who’s roped into a complicated world of politics and magic as she tries to earn enough money to replace her dying male body; SPIRIT SERVICE, a fun, spooky middle grade novel by Sarena and Sasha Nanua pitched as Ghost Squad meets Babysitters’ Club, which I co-represented with my colleague Pete Knapp. I also now represent the incredibly talented Elle Tesch, whose debut YA fantasy WHAT WAKES THE BELLS comes out from Feiwel & Friends next year.

Interviews and Guest Posts:

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

N/a

Links and Contact Info:

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

Please query me only via email at queries@parkfine.com! You can read more about me on the agency’s website, as well as find what I’m looking for on MSWL and on Publishers Marketplace. You can also find me on Twitter/X @StutiTelidevara. And I write the occasional Substack post here.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Stuti.

Giveaway Details

­Stuti 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 March 30th. 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

Monday, March 27th I have an agent/author guest post by agent Rachel Orr and debut author Cathy Carr and a giveaway of Cathy’s MG contemporary Lost Kites and Other Treasures

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

Wednesday, April 3rd I have an interview with debut author Trish Lundy and a giveaway of her YA thriller The One That Got Away With Murder and my IWSG post

Monday, April 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Paula Weiman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!

 

 

 

Debut Author Interview: Anne Rellihan Interview and Not the Worst Friend in the World Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Anne Rellihan here to share about her debut MG contemporary mystery Not the Worst Friend in the World. I’m excited to read it after reading the blurb that describes the main character as a modern-day Harriet the Spy.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

 

Can Lou Bennett keep a secret? She’ll do just about anything to prove herself to her new friend—and the best friend she betrayed—in this debut novel that is a modern-day Harriet the Spy with high emotional stakes.

It’s the thirty-fourth day of sixth grade at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Missouri, and eleven-year-old Lou wishes she could rewind time.

Lou wants to go back to the ninth day of sixth grade—the day before she fought with her best friend Francie and said the terrible, horrible things she can’t unsay. Or better yet, she would go back to fifth grade when Francie was still the Old Francie.

Then the new girl, Cece Clark-Duncan, passes Lou a mysterious note. It says she was kidnapped. (!) If Lou can help Cece, maybe she can prove she’s not the world’s worst friend.

But as observant Lou uncovers the complicated truth about Cece’s family, she starts to panic. Can she help Cece without hurting her? Or will Lou end up losing another friend instead?

Anchored by an outstanding voice and a page-turning mystery, this remarkable debut novel honors the powerful middle school friendships that can both break and heal a tender eleven-year-old heart. Perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and My Jasper June.

Follower News

Before I get to Anne’s interview, I have Follower News to share. Shannon Lawrence has a new release, Myth Stalker: Wendigo Nights. Here’s a blurb: When Selina gets a shocking call from her mentor she must set aside everything she knows about Wendigo and find a solution that will save a loved one's soul. Here are a few links: 

Website: www.thewarriormuse.com Purchase link: https://books2read.com/u/4AaOJd

Interview With Anne Rellihan

Hi Anne! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

I grew up wanting to be an author. I was constantly reading and writing, and I would write books and gift them to my friends, family, and teachers. As I got older, I thought the way to have a career in writing was to be a journalist, so I majored in Journalism, but English, too, because I still loved literature and creative writing. I quickly figured out that I didn’t love reporting the news, so I joined Teach For America after college and spent ten years teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. After my second son was born in 2017, I left the classroom and got serious about writing. Not the Worst Friend in the World was the first book I wrote—although it’s changed a lot from the initial draft to the book it is now.

2. Where did you get the idea for Not the Worst Friend in the World?

I drew inspiration from the books I loved to read as a kid, my own experiences growing up, and my students over the years. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, so I included that experience in the book. I also have such strong memories of my friendships at that age, and how important they were to me, so that was a big part of the inspiration.

Your Writing Process

3. That’s great that you drew on your own experiences for the idea for this book. How did you plot out the mystery of Cece’s kidnapping and Lou’s attempts to find her? Do you have any tips and resources for MG and YA writers who want to write a mystery, including me?

A lot of the specific scenes where Cece and Lou find clues and are actively trying to track down Cece’s mom were added on revision. The general plot remained the same, but I added a lot to make the story more mysterious and tie all the clues together. So my best piece of advice is to not be afraid to revise. Drafting is the hardest part of the process for me, so I would say the most important thing is to get a story down because once it’s there you can add, change, and cut as much as you need to make it work together the way you want it to.

4. Drafting is hardest for me too. One of the appeals of your story is that Lou is such a compelling character, and it sounds like your story tugs at readers’ hearts. How did you develop Lou as a character?

I tried to get inside Lou’s head as much as possible by envisioning what she would do in a number of different situations. I also wrote scenes from her perspective that weren’t included in the book just to make sure I really knew her inside and out and could convey her convincingly on the page.

5. I saw that you were in the Author Match Program. Tell us about what that program is and how it helped you strengthen your writing and your manuscript.

Author Mentor Match was an invaluable experience for me. I submitted my manuscript to a number of agented and published middle grade authors, and it was selected my Megan E. Freeman and Nicole M. Hewitt. They read my full manuscript, sent me a detailed editorial letter, and we met over Zoom to discuss their proposed changes. They were both so insightful and really understood the book and the characters, and so all of their feedback was spot on and was critical in helping me tell the story I had set out to tell.

Your Road to Publication

6. That’s great that your mentors were so helpful. Your agent is Elizabeth Bennett. How did she become your agent and what was your road to getting a publishing contract like?

I finished working with Megan and Nicole in September of 2021. Elizabeth, who is not usually open to unsolicited queries, opened for a short time in December 2021. She posted that she was looking for a heartfelt middle grade or YA story, so I queried her right away. I got another offer of rep shortly after submitting to her, and then Elizabeth offered, too. I felt confident in Elizabeth’s experience and belief in the story, and I couldn’t be happier or feel luckier to have her as my agent. I signed with her in January 2022, and she took my manuscript out on submission a few weeks later. The book was out on submission for three weeks before we got an offer from Sally Morgridge at Holiday House. Sally and Holiday House have been amazing and such a wonderful fit for me and my book. I’ve felt incredibly lucky and like the stars have aligned for me more than once on this journey.

7. Wow! That’s an amazingly quick turn around time from getting an agent to getting a publishing contract. Share something you learned from working with your agent or editor about your writing craft and how this strengthened your manuscript.

Sally had some really helpful insights into some of the side characters, especially Cece’s grandmother and Francie. That helped me to grow in the ways that I develop all characters and make sure that every person who appears in the book is a full and complete character.

Promoting Your Book

8. Your book was recently released. What did you do to celebrate it, and how are you promoting your book?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had lots of launch celebrations with my family, my friends, and my community. Launch day was February 6th, and that afternoon I had an After School Book Party at The Learning Tree, a local toy and book store. We had a great turn out and that was my first opportunity to sign books! I also did a private launch party for family and friends, presented to the middle schoolers at my kids’ school, and had the incredible opportunity to discuss the book and lead a writing workshop for young writers at Rainy Day Books, an amazing independent bookstore here in Kansas City.

9. What advice do you have for those of us who are unpublished about developing your social media platform and getting ready for your book’s release?

Make sure you have a website so readers have an easy way to learn about the book and can also contact you. I try to keep my website and social media platforms consistent. And the most important aspect of social media for me is connecting with other writers.

10. What are you working on now?

I’m drafting a second middle grade novel now, but it’s been slow going as I’m juggling writing, this book release, and my four kiddos, who are eight, seven, four, and almost one. My goal is complete it within the year!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Anne. You can find Anne at annerellihan.com, @anne.rellihan on Instagram, and @annerellihan on X

Giveaway Details

Anne’s publisher is generously offering a hardback of Not the Worst Friend in the World 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 30th. 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 Anne 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

Wednesday, March 20th I have an agent spotlight interview with Stuti Telidevara and a query critique giveaway

Monday, March 27th I have an agent/author guest post by agent Rachel Orr and debut author Cathy Carr and a giveaway of Cathy’s MG contemporary Lost Kites and Other Treasures

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

Wednesday, April 3rd I have an interview with debut author Trish Lundy and a giveaway of her YA thriller The One That Got Away With Murder and my IWSG post

Monday, April 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Paula Weiman and a query critique giveaway

Monday, April 15th I have a review and giveaway of Finally Heard by Kelly Yang

Tuesday, April 16th I’m participating in the Rain Drop on Roses Giveaway Hop

Monday, April 22nd I have an agent spotlight interview with Hillary Fazzari and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Wednesday!