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.

On Juggling Your Writing With a Day Job: Interview With Debut Author Leah Stecher and The Things We Miss Giveaway

Happy Monday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have debut author Leah Stecher here to share about her MG contemporary The Things We Miss. I love that her story includes a magical element, which makes me want to read it even more.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

J.P. Green has always felt out of step. She doesn't wear the right clothes, she doesn't say the right things, and her body…well, she'd rather not talk about it. And seventh grade is shaping up to be the worst year notorious bully Miranda O'Donnell won't stop offering unsolicited diet advice and her mom keeps trying to turn J.P. into someone she's not.

When J.P. discovers a mysterious door in her neighbor's treehouse, she doesn't hesitate before walking through. The door sends her three days forward in time. Suddenly, J.P. can skip all the worst parts of seventh Fitness tests in P.E., oral book reports, awkward conversations with her mom…she can avoid them all and no one even knows she was gone.

But can you live a life without any of the bad parts? Are there experiences out there that you can't miss?

This moving middle grade novel about mental health, body acceptance, and self-confidence asks what it truly means to show up for the people you love-and for yourself.

Hi Leah! Thanks so much for joining us.

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

Hi Natalie! Thank you for having me. Professionally, I was an editor before I became I writer. I’ve always loved books and I love the puzzle-solving element of editing a narrative. I was an editor at the nonfiction publishing imprint Basic Books for about eight years, and I never really thought I would cross to the other side of the desk. But after spending time with so many other talented writers’ voices, I got curious about what my own writing would sound like and slowly revived that childhood dream of writing a book. Cut to about a decade later, and my debut novel THE THINGS WE MISS just came out on May 7!

2. That’s so cool that you started as an editor. Where did you get the idea for The Things We Miss and the door that J.P. goes through?

I originally wanted to write a scifi/fantasy novel—some big galaxy-spanning time travel adventure like the ones I used to love reading when I was in middle school. But even as a reader, I never really resonated with the plucky, brave heroines of those stories. The truth is, I never would have said yes to going on a galaxy-spanning time travel adventure when I was twelve. I would have been way too scared. And when I tried to write that big adventure story, I couldn’t get inside the head of a main character who would be excited to hop on board a spaceship—every time I put pen to paper it felt hollow.

So, in many ways this book started with J.P., who the opposite of that plucky, brave heroine. She is full of self-doubt and feels like everything about her is wrong (from the TV show she loves to the body she exists in). And if that’s your main character, what kind of magical invitation would she say yes to?

Something small. Something easy. Something seemingly without consequences. That’s where the three-day time jump came from. I wanted to keep that original element of time travel but shrank it way, way down. To a kid like J.P., a three day jump doesn’t seem scary—it seems like a wish come true. Of course—spoiler alert—you have to be careful what you wish for.

Your Writing Process and Juggling Writing and a Day Job

3. Were you a panster or a plotter when you wrote The Things We Miss? Has your process changed since you wrote this story?

I’m a plotter, but absolutely the worst and least efficient one you’ve ever met! I think that the point of plotting is to try and work out the kinks of the story before you start writing? Annoyingly, my brain has to see the whole story on the page before I can start to identify what’s wrong with it. Which means that my “process” (which is a generous term for it) is to outline and then write an entire draft, read it through, grimace, and start over from zero. And then do that about three or four times before I get a workable/editable draft. Unfortunately, my process has not changed since writing THE THINGS WE MISS, which I suspect has been a bit of a roller coaster for my poor editor. She keeps offering edits on drafts of my next book and then is surprised when I show up to the next round with essentially a whole new book.

0/10, cannot recommend this process to anyone else.

4. That’s dedication to getting it right to keep starting over like you do. In your bio, you mention that you edit policy papers for an environmental nonprofit as your day job and write middle grade stories at night. What’s your writing schedule like and how do you stay productive in your writing with your day job?

I’m extremely lucky to have a day job that I love that is emotionally fulfilling, provides a steady paycheck, and is also pretty regularly 9-5ish, so I can count on having other hours in my day available to me. To be completely transparent however, I’m pretty sure the secret is to not have kids—I have no idea how my fellow authors with children do it! I’ve built my life in such a way where, for the moment, my time is really my own and I can schedule it exactly as I like. I’m lucky I was able to do that, but it also was a conscious choice. One of the reasons I no longer work in publishing is because it was never a 9-5 job, and I wanted to reclaim those “nonwork” hours for myself.

In the day to day, my writing schedule is weirdly seasonal: in the winter I write after work and in the summer, I write before work. Additionally, I tend to write for a few hours in the morning on the weekends. But I don’t write every day unless I’m actively drafting and am worried about “falling out” of a story.

5. Share how it’s been working with your editor and having stricter deadlines after you signed your publishing contract. What are your tips for revising your book with your editor? How do you think it made The Things We Miss stronger?

My editor, Camille Kellogg at Bloomsbury, is the best! She is an absolute hero, and it was great to have someone come in with fresh eyes. By the time Camille was reading THE THINGS WE MISS, I’d been working on it for years, going through beta readers and critique partners, and then my agent gave me some fantastic edits as well. My brain was absolutely fried when it came to this book. But Camille was reading it for the first time, and she saw so many small things I never would have noticed! I also love edits (probably because I’m an editor myself). And I love that Camille tends to phrase her edits as “here’s something that’s not working and here’s one suggestion of how to fix it—but feel free to come up with a different approach.” Even if I don’t always agree with Camille’s suggestions of how to fix a problem, I have so far always agreed that the problem exists. And I’d much rather Camille point it out now than have a reader stumble over it later.

I think that’s my biggest tip for working with your editor: Remember that you’re on the same side, working toward the same goal of making the book the best it possibly can be. But also remember that it’s your name that goes on the cover. You don’t have to take your editor’s suggestions on how to resolve an issue in your book, as long as you do resolve it.

6. Thanks for the great tip. Writing on a deadline after becoming a published author is scary for many of us aspiring writers, especially when we have a day job like you. Now that you’re a published author, you must be writing a second book on a contract or at least trying to finish a second book quicker that you can try to sell to keep the momentum of your author career going. How are you writing your second book and making it polished enough to submit to your agent and publisher in a year or less when you only have evenings and weekends to write?

It’s hard! I was lucky enough to get a two-book deal with Bloomsbury and we’re hoping to publish the second book in May 2025-ish (a year after THE THINGS WE MISS comes out). I’d heard other authors talk about how hard it is to write under deadline after having all the time in the world to spend drafting your debut, but I didn’t really understand it until I was trying to cram my (awful, horrible, unwieldy) writing process into just a few months. I’ve had to be much more disciplined about creating timelines and sticking to them. After I finish a draft, I need to step away from the manuscript for a few days (preferably a few weeks) before I can go back in and start revising, so I’ve had to be smart about accounting for that down time when I think about what deadlines are realistic. Especially in the runup to the launch of THE THINGS WE MISS where my time and attention was going toward events and publicity, it was tough to focus on the next project. I had to ask for an extension on the last round of revisions and was grateful that my editor was willing to give it.

Your Road to Publication

7. Sam Farkas is your agent. Share how she became your agent and what your road to getting a publishing contract was like?

I got so lucky with Sam! THE THINGS WE MISS was the second project I queried. Sam had requested a full of my first novel and ultimately sent me a very kind rejection asking that I be sure to query her with any new projects in the future. I went back to her when I started querying THE THINGS WE MISS, and she was very quick to request a full and then offered representation. I believe we did one or two rounds of revisions to the manuscript before we went on submission.

8. How long did you go on submission before you sold The Things We Miss? Was there anything in the process that surprised you?

I was on submission for over a year before I sold THE THINGS WE MISS, and honestly was giving up hope! But my agent, Sam Farkas, never did. She believed the right editor was out there—and we kept getting very thoughtful and kind rejections that didn’t give us any reason to believe there was something wrong with the manuscript itself. It’s funny, Camille wasn’t even at Bloomsbury when we first went on submission. Sam sent it to her after she started her new job at Bloomsbury Children’s, and the rest is history.

Promoting Your Book

9. It’s great that your agent didn’t give up hope on trying to sell your manuscript. How are you celebrating the release of your book and marketing your book in general? What advice do you have for other authors about marketing their debut book, especially if they have another career like you do?

I had an event on for publication date at my local bookstore in Portland, Maine, and then another one at a bookstore in NYC the following weekend. I also bought myself a cake—just for me!

When it comes to marketing, I’m aware that I’m not hustling to market/promote my book the way that I see so many really smart and creative authors doing these days, and it’s hard not to compare and wonder if I should be doing more. But the honest answer is that when it comes to marketing THE THINGS WE MISS, I’m mostly relying on my publisher. I’ve been posting on social media as I’m able, but the truth is that doing proper self-marketing would require time and effort (and creativity! and skill!) that I just don’t have. I’m lucky that that is so far an acceptable answer, both to Bloomsbury and also for my genre/age group. With Middle Grade/KidLit, we’re not really marketing directly to our readers—we’re trying to reach the gatekeepers (teachers, librarians, parents, etc). And that’s something that I trust Bloomsbury to have more of an entry point into than I would.

10. You’re a member of the 2024 Debuts. How did you connect with this group and how has it helped you navigate being a debut author?

I got connected to the 2024 Debuts through a Facebook group for querying authors. My understanding is that these debut year groups really gained traction during the pandemic, and now exist for most upcoming debut years. The 2024 Debuts is for traditionally published authors debuting (or debuting in a new genre) in 2024, across publishers and across genres. What I’ve loved about being in contact with this fantastic group of writers is that I’ve gotten to see how the debut process is playing out for folks in other genres or at other houses, and it’s given me a much more expansive picture of what the debut experience can be. I’m encountering folks who are lead titles with six-figure deals and midlist authors with modest advances, and we’re all stressing about similar things. Being in a group like that makes the whole process feel less solitary, and you have a whole hivemind of fellow authors to check your fears and questions against. People have—with a few notable exceptions—been extremely supportive and kind, and celebratory of everyone’s wins.

11. What are you working on now?

I’m working on another middle grade novel, similarly contemporary but with a speculative twist. Keep an eye out for it in Spring 2025!

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Leah. You can find Leah on Instagram at @l.stech and at leahstecherbooks.com.

Giveaway Details

Leah is generously offering a hardback of The Things We Miss 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 June 29th. 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 follow Leah 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, June 22nd I have a guest post by author M.R. Fournet and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Darkness & Demon Song

Wednesday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Bethany Weaver

Monday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Amber Chen and a giveaway of her YA mystery fantasy Of Jade and Dragons and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Rebecca Williamson and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!

 

Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

 


Happy Sunday Everyone! Today I'm excited to participate in the Dad-O-Mite Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're enjoying your summer and are leaving more time to read. I sure am, and I have so many books I always want to read.

 Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card


I am offering a book of your choice that is $20 or less on Amazon or The Book Depository. 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 June 30th 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, June 17th I have an interview with debut author Leah Stecher and a giveaway of her MG magical realism The Things We Miss

Monday, June 22nd I have a guest post by author M.R. Fournet and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Darkness & Demon Song

Wednesday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Bethany Weaver

Monday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Amber Chen and a giveaway of her YA mystery fantasy Of Jade and Dragons and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Rebecca Williamson and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!


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

Literary Agent Interview: Jenna Satterthwaite Interview and Query Critique Giveaway

 

Today I’m thrilled to have agent Jenna Satterthwaite here. She’s an associate literary agent at Storm Literary Agency.

Hi­ Jenna! Thanks so much for joining us.

About Jenna:

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

Hi Natalie, and thanks for having me! I joined Storm in January 2024, and I opened to queries in February. Since then, I’ve been going through a windfall of incredible queries and trying to find those manuscripts that make my heart go pitter-pat. I have signed my first clients and feeling very lucky that I’m in the middle of negotiating my first contract for a client (not announced yet but hopefully soon)!

My journey to becoming an agent came from the authoring side. I’ve been writing for close to ten years, and I signed with an agent (Lauren Bieker from FinePrint) after about 4 years in the query trenches. After working with Lauren over many manuscripts and many years, we finally signed my debut thriller, Made for You, in a 2-book deal with Mira/HarperCollins (yay!), and shortly after, sold another thriller, Beach Bodies, to Transworld/PRH UK (double yay!). It was through working with Lauren, writing book after book, researching editors, watching the market, fine-tuning our pitches, etc. that I realized—I actually think I might love the agenting side of things as well as the authoring side! Not to mention, I’ve been in sales through my various day jobs for 20 years, so I am all about crafting the perfect pitch, targeting the right people, and doing all the nitty gritty work of contracts. It was when I was contemplating my 40th birthday and evaluating my life (as one does) that I realized, “I should go for this.” I found an internship, then another internship, and was very lucky to land a position as Associate Literary Agent with Storm this year. For anyone interested, the longer version of the story is on my Substack newsletter, which you can subscribe to for free (http://jennasatterthwaite.substack.com)!

About the Agency:

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

Storm is one of those incredible agencies that offers more than what I’ve seen is standard out there. We have a lovely marketing person, Heidi Vance, who we offer as a (free) additional resource to our authors. We have an amazing foreign rights team and are bringing on someone who specializes in merchandising rights as well. We work as a team, so authors are getting not only the expertise of one agent, but multiple agents with decades of collective experience. We also have a contracts lawyer who is an extra set of eyes on our contracts as we go through all the negotiation steps. We like to be thorough!

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?

All age groups, and most genres! It’s honestly easier to say what I’m not looking for—erotica, hardcore gory horror, and military SFF. I’m looking for nearly all commercial genres. I’m an omnivorous reader, and I would love to represent authors across a broad swath of ages and genres. For picture books, my experience is much more limited though, so at this time I’m only accepting queries from author/illustrators in a narrow range of focuses. My complete submission wish list is on the Storm website:

That said, I’m looking for projects that make me feel. If you make me cry, or give me goosebumps, whether it’s through an epic fantasy battle scene, a lover’s reunion in a romance, or a dark twist in a thriller, we are onto something. I’m also looking to sign authors who are willing to revise and are simultaneously passionate about what they’ve created and not precious about their words; authors who know that perseverance and tenacity through rejection is the name of the game. It’s just the reality of publishing.

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

Within the adult nonfiction space, I’d love to find a book by a death doula or hospice nurse. After losing my sister to cancer, my eyes really opened in terms of what’s possible in the dying process, and alternative ways families can either celebrate or grieve. I’d love to represent that project.

What She Isn’t Looking For:

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

Erotica, hardcore horror and gore, and military SFF. Alternately, if your book has already been self-published, it would be very hard to pitch to editors unless it’s been a runaway success. However, I’d love to represent self-published authors on their new work!

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 see the author-agent relationship as a partnership. There has to be mutual respect, and willingness to listen to each other. I would never force an author, for example, to make a change in their manuscript that they don’t want to make. However, I would be honest with them about elements that might make it harder to sell. I’m excited to collaborate with authors during revisions, and be their advocate during the submission process and beyond!

I want to represent authors over the course of their careers, not just for a single book. I want to put books on the shelves that introduce new viewpoints, highlight marginalized perspectives; books that instruct, and books that entertain, and everything in between.

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 would say I follow the progression an editor would: first, a big-picture developmental edit. Rinse and repeat until any pacing or plot of other issues are resolved and everything flows. The final step would be a line edit. Revisions are my jam, both as an author and as an agent; I love helping shape the ‘raw material’ of a first draft into its best possible shape.

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?

In your query letter, tell me up front the age group, genre, and word count of your project, and ideally (not required, though) give me at least 2 comps that were published in the last 5 or so years (though I do also love getting a book comp and a movie or show comp!).

The pitch for your manuscript should read like a book jacket; in fact, you can study book jackets to help you write a better query! I love it when a pitch starts with a log line—that’s always an attention grabber (though also not required!), and then proceeds into the protagonist/setting/antagonist/stakes.

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

I’d just say, keep your query letter professional and confident! First pages should be super polished, and if you’re the only one who has ever set eyes on them, I highly encourage you to find a beta reader or critique partner. There are always things we simply can’t see ourselves.

Response Time:

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

I try to respond to queries within 3 months. Ditto for full manuscripts—if you haven’t heard after 12 weeks (from the full requests), please nudge! I strive to be as fast as possible but there is SO much talent out there, and I receive SO many queries, that it’s just not realistic to answer everything as speedily as I’d like!

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?

Absolutely! Just share what you’ve previously done in your bio, and make sure you’re querying a “fresh” (previously unpublished) manuscript!

Clients:

12. Who are some of the authors you represent?

Kalla Harris, Ashley Tropea, Anna Carew, Colleen Alles, Kate Stapleton, and Taylor Leamey! My list is growing though, so stay tuned…

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.

You can subscribe to my Substack (http://jennasatterthwaite.substack.com), and check out my full wishlist here:

https://www.stormliteraryagency.com/submission-guidelines

https://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/mswl-post/jenna-satterthwaite/

I’m also pretty active on Twitter and Instagram, so come find me!

Links and Contact Info:

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

Query me on QueryManager: https://querymanager.com/query/Jenna_S

Twitter: @jennaschmenna

Insta: @jenna.satterthwaite.author

Facebook: jenna.satterthwaite.author

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenna-satterthwaite-61136710a/

TikTok: @jennaschmenna

Additional Advice:

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

Honestly, try to enjoy writing for your own sake. Publishing is a brutal industry. It’s okay to feel beaten up by it, but if you can find joy and satisfaction in the work and the process (while still having those publishing ambitions!) that will help you in the long term. Promise! (From someone who’s been through it!)

Thanks for sharing all your advice, Jenna.

Giveaway Details

­Jenna 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 June 22nd. 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

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 17th I have an interview with debut author Leah Stecher and a giveaway of her MG magical realism The Things We Miss

Monday, June 22nd I have a guest post by author M.R. Fournet and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Darkness & Demon Song

Wednesday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Bethany Weaver

Monday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Amber Chen and a giveaway of her YA mystery fantasy Of Jade and Dragons and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Rebecca Williamson and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Sunday!

On Writing a Book a Year and Increasing Your Instagram Followers: Interview With June Hur and A Crane Among Wolves Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author June Hur here to share about her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves. I interviewed June when she was a debut author in 2020, and you can read her interview here. A Crane Among Wolves is based on a true story in Korean history, and I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

June Hur, bestselling author of The Red Palace, crafts a devastating and pulse-pounding tale that will feel all-too-relevant in today’s world, based on a true story from Korean history.

Hope is dangerous. Love is deadly.

1506, Joseon. The people suffer under the cruel reign of the tyrant King Yeonsan, powerless to stop him from commandeering their land for his recreational use, banning and burning books, and kidnapping and horrifically abusing women and girls as his personal playthings.

Seventeen-year-old Iseul has lived a sheltered, privileged life despite the kingdom’s turmoil. When her older sister, Suyeon, becomes the king’s latest prey, Iseul leaves the relative safety of her village, traveling through forbidden territory to reach the capital in hopes of stealing her sister back. But she soon discovers the king’s power is absolute, and to challenge his rule is to court certain death.

Prince Daehyun has lived his whole life in the terrifying shadow of his despicable half-brother, the king. Forced to watch King Yeonsan flaunt his predation through executions and rampant abuse of the common folk, Daehyun aches to find a way to dethrone his half-brother once and for all. When staging a coup, failure is fatal, and he’ll need help to pull it off—but there’s no way to know who he can trust.

When Iseul's and Daehyun's fates collide, their contempt for each other is transcended only by their mutual hate for the king. Armed with Iseul’s family connections and Daehyun’s royal access, they reluctantly join forces to launch the riskiest gamble the kingdom has ever

Save her sister. Free the people. Destroy a tyrant.

 


Before I get to June’s interview 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:  Liza at Middle Passages, Shannon Lawrence, Melissa Maygrove, and Olga Godim!

Optional Question: In this constantly evolving industry, what kind of offering/service do you think the IWSG should consider offering to members?

I think the IWSG is doing a good job helping members. The group offers help to writers and authors whatever their publishing path is. The X pitch contest is really helpful for writers trying to get an agent.

One wish I have is that we could encourage more of our members to blog regularly, at least on the first Wednesday of the month, and follow the guidelines to visit bloggers who read their posts and comment. And to do so when they post during the month, and others stop by to support them. I comment on way more people’s posts than I receive comments from. It’s time-consuming and discouraging.

Another helpful resource would be to provide new marketing ideas for authors, such as good blog tour companies, to help them market their books to new audiences. I think that's a struggle for many traditional, indie, and self-published authors. Maybe one of our monthly questions could be to suggest ideas and then add them to the mareting page on the IWSG website. 

I’d also like our group to grow. It’s shrunk a lot over the years. If we could get members to see that blogging only one day a month, which is all many members blog, is not that much of a burden for the benefit of being part of a supportive group of writers and making much deeper friendships than we can on other social media sites.

Interview With June Hur

Hi June! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Where did you get the idea for A Crane Among Wolves and what is the true story it’s based on?

While researching for my previous book, I came across an article about King Yeonsan, a real Korean tyrant who kidnapped over 1,000 women with a dream of “owning” 10,000 by the end of his reign. This king also banned literacy in an attempt to censor people from writing slanders about him. I was horrified by the atrocities King Yeonsan committed, and also curious to learn about what happened to those 1,000 captured women. This interest is what initially sparked the idea for my books.

2. What research did you do in creating your story both in terms of the true story A Crane Among Wolves is based on and Korea in the 1500s?

I research extensively, relying on scholarly sources that I manage to find through Jstor or through googlebooks. I also rely on Korean sources, lectures, alongside the Daily Records of Yeonsangun, a primary source about the king’s reign.

3. Yes, it sounds like you did intensive research for your story. Share a bit about Iseul and Prince Daehyun as characters. Do you have a favorite?

Iseul may initially appear unlikeable due to her selfish and spoiled nature, but as the story unfolds, she undergoes a transformation, showing a newfound maturity and genuine care for others. As for Prince Daehyun, the half-brother of the tyrant king, he wrestles with the trauma of living in the tyrant’s shadow by shutting away his emotions. But his encounter with Iseul sparks a journey of self-discovery and purpose. My favorite character is definitely Prince Daehyun!

Your Writing Process and How You Are Able to Write a Book a Year

4. Are you a plotter, pantser, or a combination of them? How has your writing process changed since you wrote your debut book The Silence of Bones was released?

I used to be an intense plotter. I’d have every chapter broken down into outlines before I even began writing. But now I’m a combination. Now I use a beat sheet to write out a loose outline, to have some kind of goal post to guide me as I pants-write.

 5. I’m a combination writer, too. It’s good to know that this works for writing manuscripts fairly fast. What’s your writing schedule like? Has it changed over the years?

It has most definitely changed! I used to have whole days to write, but these days I usually only have two hours. I write every day after I put my kids to sleep, and that’s when I get most of my work done. I sometimes write when my son naps (and my daughter is in school), but not always.

6. It’s reassuring to know that you can be so productive in two hours every day. Since the Silence of Bones was released, you’ve had three books published: Forest of Stolen Girls in 2021, The Red Palace in 2022, and A Crane Among Wolves this year. And you have another book, Adoration, scheduled to be released in 2026. How long did it take you to write these manuscripts and what are your tips on finishing manuscripts at a faster pace like you have once your debut book was released?

For THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS and THE RED PALACE, I was under a one year contract, meaning I’d only have around six months to draft, followed by multiple rounds of revisions. I’ve found that to write fast, I need to get my first draft written quickly, as that becomes a foundation to build on. One method I rely on is to use an aesthetically unappealing font, like comic sans, as the font constantly reminds me that the purpose of a first draft is to just have fun, it doesn’t need to be perfect. I also rely heavily on beat sheets, as following a clear story structure early on saves me the time I might have spent rewriting.

I’ve found, though, that my creativity burnt out really fast from writing a book a year. So I slowed down to one book every two years with CRANE and ADORATION.

Your Journey to Publication

7. Your second book was part of a two-book contract with your debut book. What has been the process for getting your next three books published?

For THE RED PALACE and A CRANE AMONG WOLVES, my agent sold the book in a one-book contract to my editor at Feiwel and Friends based on a proposal (basically a synopsis + the first few pages). But because I’ve established a really amazing working relationship with my editor, and want to continue working with her, my agent and I recently proposed a two-book deal, which turned into a six-figure book contract. So my fifth book, ADORATION, is actually part of that two-book deal.

8. Congrats on your publishing success. What advice do you have for other authors about continuing to get publishing contracts after their initial contract?


My tip is pretty straightforward: Be kind and respectful to your editor and your publishing team. Try to meet the deadlines. At the same time, I think it’s also important to note that if your publishing team isn’t supportive of your book or career, it’s never a bad idea to shop the book around to find a new home. 

Promoting Your Book

8. How are you planning to promote A Crane Among Wolves? How have your marketing plans for your books changed since your debut book was released?

Initially, I focused on promoting my debut book through Twitter, but I rarely touch twitter these days. Instead, I've shifted my marketing efforts to Instagram reels, and it's been a great way to engage with both existing and new readers. Interestingly enough, I haven't had the same level of success on TikTok despite sharing identical content on both platforms. It's been quite a contrast, with some of my TikTok videos barely reaching 1k views, while on reels, they've gone viral, hitting over 1 million views.

9. You have 55.4K followers on Instagram. How did you reach so many followers? What’s your advice to other writers and authors who want to increase their followers on Instagram?

My key advice is to diversify your content beyond just promoting your book. I've noticed that my reels focused solely on book promotion tend to receive the lowest engagement. Instead, the majority of my followers are drawn to the Korean history content I share. So while it's important to promote your book, I think it’s also important to find a niche related to your book but distinct from it. By catering to a broader audience interested in this general topic, you not only expand your follower base but also increase the likelihood that they'll develop an interest in your book over time.

10. That’s great advice. What are you working on now?

The next book I'm working on is a YA historical romance titled "Adoration," which is slated for a 2026 release. This Jane Austen homage set during the joseon dynasty follows a young woman transcribing forbidden books and an aloof, wealthy young man hiding his own literary secret, who must wrestle with questions of class, respectability, and carving out one's own destiny when a literary censor at the Ministry of Justice uncovers her secret and their connection. After this book, however, I'm hoping to write another dark historical/thriller again.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, June. You can find June at @junehwrites on tiktok and Instagram

Giveaway Details

June’s publisher is generously offering a hardback of A Crane Among Wolves 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 June 15th. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or follow June 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.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 17th I have an interview with debut author Leah Stecher and a giveaway of her MG magical realism The Things We Miss

Monday, June 22nd I have a guest post by author M.R. Fournet and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Darkness & Demon Song

Wednesday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Bethany Weaver and query critique giveaway 

Monday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Amber Chen and a giveaway of her YA mystery fantasy Of Jade and Dragons and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Rebecca Williamson and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!

Berry Good Giveaway Hop

 

Happy Saturday, Everyone! Today, I'm excited to participate in the Berry Good Giveaway Hop hosted by MamatheFox. I hope you're having a good summer. Mine is going great. I just finished producing a play for a community theater group I'm on the board of. I'm enjoying the freedom of not having to solve problems and being stress-free. My vegetable and flower gardens are already planted, and I'm looking forward to taking care of them, spending time with friends and family, and reading more this summer. What about you?

Book of Your Choice or Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

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 or a book of your choice. 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 June 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, June 5th I have an interview with author June Hur and a giveaway of her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves and my IWSG post

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 17th I have an interview with debut author Leah Stecher and a giveaway of her MG magical realism The Things We Miss

Monday,  June 22nd I have a guest post by author M.R. Fournet and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Darkness & Demon Song

Wednesday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview and query critique giveaway with Bethany Weaver

Monday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveawyhop

Wednesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Amber Chen and a giveaway of her YA mystery fantasy Of Jade and Dragons and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Rebecca Williamson and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Wednesday!

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.