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.

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!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Sounds like a great MG mystery! Good luck with juggling four kids and the second novel. :)

Eileen said...

Thanks for the interview--encouraging to a fellow mom-of-many who is also trying to complete her novel and bring it to publication.
I look forward to reading your book!
I've shared this on FB & X.

Danielle H. said...

I love reading middle grade mysteries and I have so much in common with this character already based on the interview with the author. I can't wait to read this book and have it on my Goodreads. I shared this post on tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook and follow both Natalie and the author on Twitter and Instagram.

Brenda said...

Lovely interview and congratulations to Anne Rellihan on the release of her book. I have a copy of Not The Worst Friend in the World already so no need to enter me in the giveaway. Happy MMGM to you Natalie.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Sounds like a really good MG book. Naturally I like the mystery element :)

Greg Pattridge said...

Such an inspiring journey to getting this new book published. Anne did all the right things to ensure getting a good home for her story. Thanks for the great interview as a part of today's MMGM.

Kate Larkindale said...

Sounds like a great read! Best of luck with the release, Anne.

Anonymous said...

I’m a follower via email and would love to win this!
helloelizabethjames at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I also follow you on Twitter (@elizjameswrites)

helloelizabethjames at gmail dot com

Kasey @ The Story Sanctuary said...

This sounds like such a cool story. I'm adding it to my TBR! Thanks for the interview. :)

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Carol Baldwin said...

I would love to win this book and pass it along to one of tween reviewers to review. Sounds great! Thanks and happy MMGM.

Liz A. said...

That is a great title.

Max @ Completely Full Bookshelf said...

This is an excellent interview as always, Natalie! It's wonderful to hear about Ms. Rellihan's exciting journey to publication—her book sounds incredibly compelling, and it's so cool to see how much revision shaped it into the story it is now. I'll pass on the giveaway, but thanks so much for the wonderful post, and take care!

Jen Raudenbush said...

This looks wonderful. And thanks for the inspiring story.

Computer Tutor said...

Shannon's book looks great

Sandra Cox said...

Many congrats. It sounds like a great read.
'Lo, Natalie.

T Painter said...

I can't imagine getting a note from someone claiming to have been kidnapped. I'm hooked and have to read this.

Rosi said...

Ooooooh. This sounds really, really good. I love the title. I'm going to be looking for this one. Love the interview. Thanks for the heads up.

E. T. Charles said...

Congratulations. Thanks for sharing your story. Does the Author Mentor Match still exist? If yes, would you share a link or contact. Many thanks

Kelly said...

Would love to win a copy of the book! Thanks :)

Natalie Aguirre said...

Author Mentor Match still exists, E.T. Here's the link: https://linktr.ee/authormentorm

Sue said...

Sounds fun.

I'm a follower.

polly said...


traveler said...

Congratulations and best wishes! Wonderful novel. I am an e-mail subscriber. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com